Henning: That's right, Brian, nice work. I added a few things here and there as well, just whatever memories I might have had. I don't keep a diary (because I'm not a troubled teenage girl like Brian) so I don't have many details.
H: The Steamtrain took a vacation in January. It had been years since any of us had a month with no gigs. None of us are fans of long winters so it was only fitting that we should venture to warmer worlds.
H: Oh, so much Brian, so much. But some things should remain unsaid, like that time you did that thing over in that place. I always like playing the Iron Horse. The sound is always great which means we can perform better and more relaxed. The crowd is always there to see a show rather than to just be somewhere with booze and people. Lucky for us, Bruce Tull came along and ran the soundboard for us, he did a great job. Highlights of the show for me: Russ and I acting out scenes from the VH-1 Original Movie "The Two Of Us", A nice version of "Now You Know" with Joe, and, of course, our duet with Amy, always been a sucker for Tom Petty.
H: Oh, that's right, you fell asleep before all the fun. Oh well, you're better off not knowing what you missed. The Livingroom is a lovely place to play. It's a little tough for us because we have to play so quietly but I still enjoy it quite a bit. It's a real listening environment usually. The sound guy, Morgan, is a fan of the same types of music that we love so that is nice. Some friends from the past came out to this show and Don came down with us. It turned into a late night but when we finally pulled into Northampton at around 4:30 we were treated to a glimpse of some Northern Lights. That's right, folks, a little Arora Borealis in your backyard, shifting silently above your sleeping heads. Observed only by The Aloha Steamtrain and a few tired truckers.
H: Well, Brian, it is CD release season in Northampton. Off the top of my head, the following bands have either just finished an album or are just about to: The Figments, King Radio, Humbert, The Maggies, Claudia Malibu, The Drunk Stuntmen and The Aloha Steamtrain. I am excited to hear each and ever one of them. As far as our gig at The Amherst Brewing Company, I had a good time. Some fans and friends were there, we played a long show which I always like. Some highlights include: While playing "Everybody's Talkin'" I glanced up and beheld three lovely young women doing a completely sychronized choreographed dance, seemed like a scene in a musical also, We managed to pull off a request for a Jefferson Airplane song though we hadn't played it for ages. I managed to speak to someone about changing their press releases so that they didn't describe us as groove rock anymore.
H: No beef, just an accidental collision. Hey, I'm tall, what am I gonna do if they hang rock star angels down from the ceiling? I'm gonna smash into them, that's what I'm gonna do. This was The Steamtrain's first show at Fire and Water. (Fitting since if you combine fire and water you get steam.) I loved it. I always enjoy shows where we have to mix things up a little. We played very quietly and I was complimented by a few folks afterwards on how nice it sounded. The crowd was quiet and attentive and perhaps, bemused. We played for some folks who were too young to come to our bar shows and some folks who were just passed the point of being able to tolerate the bar scenes. As well as a whole mix of people in between. I particularly enjoyed our version of "Listen" this evening. There was another excitement in the band that night as Russ and I had just come back from working with Steve Busch on the artwork design for the new record: "Now You Know The Aloha Steamtrain" and Brian had seen it and whole-heartedly approved. We were all feeling great about it and excited about the upsoming release of the new album.
H: Yep, sounds good, Brian, except you forgot to mention the guy who was passed out with his head on the bar. I feel these little details are important. After all he was there for a good 2 hours before he was removed from the bar, puking all the way out. These are the quaint niceties that we mustn't overlook.
H: Yeah, that was a good night. Ray borrowed my bass after breaking a string on his. I sat among many friends. We met some cute girls and had a late night breakfast with them later at Jake's. I had blueberry waffles.
H: The good old Lakeside. What a nice smiling crowd. Lots of familiar NY faces and some Northampton faces as well. I had a great evening and cajoled a couple of lovely young ladies into the famous photo booth with me for some souveneirs to take home. We hope to be back at this place soon.
H: The Knitting Factory is a strange place, there are four different shows going at once. We played down on the bottom floor in this great little room called The Old Office. The crowd was incredibly receptive and we played well. Hanging out in the green room with Jerod was enlightening, he has lots of energy and ideas about the music world. The ride home was fun, too, lots of jokes about teeth.
H: "How did we wind up here?" I kept asking myself as I strolled through the droves of well-dressed fancy folks. We hid in the dressing room eating incredible food and making set lists before cheching out the first band, The Big City Band, who were a large swingish group. I didn't see how our rock and roll would go over with the crowd, but I read them wrong. We were a huge hit. Tons of people dancing and singing along, even to our originals, and smiling and clapping and what have you. Amy Fairchild was enchanting on the stage with us and we even managed to get through the Greatful Dead covers that they requested. The rest of the evening after the show was distorted and obscene. We wound down watching some Beach Boys documentaries in our hotel suite.
H: Yeah, so is that so wrong? I don't know, though, I will probably give in and listen to the new XTC before the album is officially released. I Don't think I can wait a couple months. Our show at the Hot-L was pretty good. It was an interesting place. A very old salloon type feel to it, mixed with a Boston Rock decor. I wanted to play cowboys and indians and have fake shoot-outs and stuff but I forgot my cap gun. We all forgot our cap guns. We had a very friendly audience who seemed to enjoy the music. And like Brian said Bruce did a great job. It was a long and tiring show, physically exhausting. And outside, South Deerfield smelled like hot dogs.
H: First what's happening is you are going to stop calling my Henny. Now, as far as these dubious invitations go, I'm not sure why you think we are doing something wrong. Seems quite the opposite to me. I have to agree with you on Spouse's performance. Very enjoyable. Those guys are always impressing me. St. Patriot's Day is always an exciting time for me. Our theme song sticks with me all year. Partially because people come up and sing it to me year round. Unfortunately, this show had been inadvertently advertised as a CD-Release Show, so some folks were let down when they found out we don't yet have the cds. I hope that it doesn't effect the impact of our REAL CD-Release, whenever that is. Another highlight of the night was that Bruce did the sound for us and everything was very easy to hear, which is unusual for the Baystate. You can always count on Bruce.
H: Yes, well those of you familiar with Amherst at night are probably already aware of the phenomenon known as Antonio's Pizza. You won't believe me when I tell you that about 3 months before Antonio's moved in, I was trying to convince my friend to open up a pizza-by-the-slice place in that same exact spot. Well, I would have been a millionaire by now and The Steamtrain record would be out by now, but I won't dwell...the story is this: Every night when the bars close, 15 million drunk UMASS students go to Antonio's for a slice. The police barricade off sections of the road and stand guard as fight after fight after fight breaks out. It is a tiny riot every night. And so, that's what Brian and I watched while we stood by his car discussing the gig. Thanks for your time.
H: Poor Brian. Here's what really happened: Kevin Lamkins of WSAM was kind enough to invite us to play a show at The Hawk's Nest down at The University of Hartford. When we arrived on campus it was pretty clear that just about everyone had gone home for Easter Weekend. Everyone but the coyotes and tumbleweeds, that is. We met Matt Silberstein at the club and he was very friendly and apolgetic for the turn out. The Women's Center that set up this Benefit didn't even show up. Still we played a pretty fun show, there were no monitors, but I could see how it might be fun to play on a night when there were actually customers there. Anyway, they said they would love to have us back in the fall so that's cool. The phrase of the day was, "Chicken Flag". Wave it proudly, my friends, wave it proudly.
H: Boy oh boy, Brian, before the shows you were a curmudgeon. But, like we knew it would, your enthusiasm kicked in just in time. The NMF May Day Party was a lot of fun. I got to see a bunch of great shows - most notably, The Figments, The Maggies, Ray Mason, and King Radio (Who pulled off a feat involving importing some previously recorded orchestral tracks, beautiful). I really really enjoyed playing our show. The crowd was great. The sound was great. Bruce even gave us a little light show. It was an intense, fast paced sweaty set. Lovely people were dancing, including a couple members of the Maggies. Very nice. Very good gig.
H: Oh, great now we are putting in unrelated facts?!?! As if this dang diary ain't convoluted enough. Here's my unrelated fact..which is entirely related: I advertised our show at Fire and Water on MASSLive's local music forum Soundboard. A number of people wrote in saying that they would not attend our show because they felt that Fire and Water exploited musicians by not paying them enough. I wrote a response standing up for the venue and started a big online argument. Just for the record The Steamtrain loves to play shows for people, and we loved playing at Fire and Water. The people are always very attentive and friendly. The girls are always cute, the gentlemen are always handsome. This particular evening was incredibly hot and stifling but the crowd stuck it out. Two disembodied heads applauded us (figure that one out)from a street level window. It was a great show all around.
H: Just for the record, this was not our last baystate show. That was an error. It was nice playing all night at The Baystate. We debutted that new song without a name and gave a way a whole bunch of protractors to those in the audience that were intersted in angles and curves. Dunkin Donuts was excellent. Unrelated Fact 2: I did enjoy the Travis show but once again cursed the terrible sound quality of Pearl Street.
H: Yes, The Lakeside, It's always a pleasure. Despite the long drive and the parking, we always leave feeling satisfied. This was my first show in my new orange sneakers, I almost hit my head on the ceiling a number of times, they're just that bouncy. Russ used the two guitar amp stereo tremelo effect and it was pretty spacey. Nice. We had some friends and fans in the crowd who we hung out with a bit afterwards, took some pictures in the famous photobooth and played some tunes on the juke-box. The ride home was fun, too, we saw the sunrise over lovely Chicopee.
H: Yeah, I'm feeling better. Thanks so much for asking. But that night was a dizzy haze. I recall losing my voice half way through the evening. And I seem to remember staggering around a lot. And drinking a whole mess of water. Besides that, there is no use in me pretending I know anything about this show.
H: Well, yes, despite a small turn out, the people at The Equator were so
nice and accomodating that this show was a lot of fun. And they make a good
grilled cheese sandwich. Al had told us that he normally isn't open on the July
4th weekend but he DID stay open so that the headliners could play. Turns out
they decided to blow him off after seeing that there weren't a lot of people
I can't recall what Joe and Russ had either Brian. I think Joe had a hazelnut roll or some such thing. I'm looking forward to coming back to The Equator, hopefully this fall when school is back in session.
H: No, it's not all about role playing, Brian, some of it is, but not all of it. Don't forget that, my friend. The name of the waffle place was Bulgin' Waffles. This particular evening in NYC felt like autumn was kicking in. After Brian went into the club to get out of the cold, Russ and I sat outside on the lawn chairs they have on the sidewalk. We watched the people go by and absorbed a little bit of the city. We went in to catch the act before us, a very nice singer/songwriter (I'm an idiot so I can't remember his name.) I drew a picture of some ghost bunnies boxing. Eventually we went on. The crowd at The Livingroom is always so nice. We had a lot of familiar faces in the crowd and we made a new best friend or two. The show went very well. The vocals were very easy to hear. We did a perfect version of Here We Go and the new song worked out very well, it might be called "Over." After the show, Russ and I hung out for a while mingling. We got ourselves a Bagel and took off for Massachusetts, realizing as we shot out of the city, that Russ' famous green satchel was on the floor of The Livingroom. We were so confident in how nice the soundguy, Morgan, and the rest of the folks there are that we knew Russ could just call the next day and they would send it home with Brian who would be there playing a Figments show. It all worked out fine.
H: Well, Brian, I'm glad you asked me that. For the next couple of weeks,
I will be buried in my friend Chris' recording studio. Hopefully, I'll be finishing
up my long overdue solo record, "Henning's School For The Dead". It's been over
five years since my last album, and I am ashamed and embarrassed by how long
it is taking me to make this new one. It's all based on money, I tell you. Anyway,
that's what I will be doing on these lonely gigless nights.
The Baystate show was really nice. I was delighted to see how many people came out early to see us and it was an honor to support The Stuntmen and their second CD "More Bad News". They played an incredible show. They always do. And their stage decorations were enjoyed by all. The heat and humidity inside the Baystate that night was just above the intolerable level but playing was a lot of fun. Bruce did the sound for us and it sounded great on stage, I have been told it sounded very nice in front too. The crowd was excited and receptive, a few guys were yelling out lines from The Upright Citizens Brigade which is always nice. That is all.
Oh, nobody can possibly guess the answer of your little contest up there, Brian. It's far too obscure, which is good because we don't have an CDs to give away. Unles syou meant just any CD, I have a few I could live without.
H: Yeah, Russ and I were a little lost without Brian's tempo setting count-offs. We yelled into the other room a few times requesting him to count us in, but he didn't respond. Turns out he was too shy. What a little darling. The show was interesting, as bassist for the band I don't necessarily know all the proper chords to the Steamtrain songs so I had to try and sort of relearn some stuff which was a good exercize. I enjoyed playing guitar quite a bit. I don't remember too much else about that show. It was relaxing and Chaz was very good.
H: Tell your therapist to tell them, I'm busy. Little City Cafe was a strange venue. It is a good-sized room, with a nice bar and some pool tables. They even have a little stage and some cool lights. I saw some extra speakers lying around so I don't know if they normally have a better soundsystem or what, but the lack of monitors and the week P.A. definately left the band feeling flat. We were funny, and probably entertaining but I didn't feel very musical. Mostly because I couldn't hear a damn thing besides my bass and some cymbals. Maybe it was because the Republican National Convention was blazing from six TV Screens, maybe it was because I was starving and the Middletown Dunkin Donuts closes mysteriously at 7:30 PM! What's that all about?!?!? Anyway, we got to see a few songs by Siment before heading home. They sounded good. Funny Pop Music.
H: Big-ass month?!?! I don't know you anymore, Brian. The Brian I know doesn't use phrases like big-ass month. Yes, playing at The Huke Lau is an aural and viual pleasure. The sound on stage is SO good it feels like we are playing in a recording studio. And the lights are super cool. Too bad nobody was there to hear/see it. All the folks who work there are incredibly friendly. Even their sunsets are inspiring. Anyway, thankfully we had some good friends who came out and watched. At one point I had to tell some girl that we don't do any Matchbox 20 covers, she and her friends immediately left. Such is life, such is life.
H: I enjoy the Livingroom. It's a comforting place. The band before us, as Brian mentioned, was quite good, but our genres didn't quite gel together too well. Jesse Harris had a slight americana thing going on and I think that a lot of the folks that came out to see him were not ready for us. But we played well. Russ and I agreed later that we did not feel quite at ease on the stage and therefore weren't very funny or engaging in our between song banter. The show did have some other perks, as Brian mentioned, let's just say that the crowd was incredibly lovely and attentive. Also, we had quite a few folks sign our mailing list, so maybe next time we come to NYC we will bring in even more people. Our fan base is growing there quickly.
H: I love playing at these outdoor festivals. All the smiling faces, the little kids dancing, the local freaks squinting in the sun. Although the stage sound was not so great, I knew that we sounded good out front, because I had seen The Maggies on the same stage earlier in the week, and they were terrific. "Eat Up America!" I kept saying to myself. At one point, in the beginnning of I Want You (She's So Heavy) I jumped off the stage in order to let a young child play my bass but my cord was tangled and I became unplugged. I sheepishly turned and stepped back on the stage. Oh well. The song was requested by the WRNX gang, we hadn't planned on playing it. After the show, I saw a few tunes by Drunk Stuntmen but I had to go home to bed. I could still hear them through my open window as I dozed into some much needed sleep.
H: You are doing fine, Brian, don't worry. This show was performed in a haze. My nap seemed to only make things worse. I was coming down with something and the lack of sleep and proper food wasn't helping. The night was fun though. And I think the crowd dug us. The evening was beautiful, the moon was full, some folks were even watching from atop of the Parking Garage like so many snipers. After the show the four of us sat for a bit until it became Lord Russ official birthday after midnight and we blessed him the best that we could.
H: Antonio's never lets you down. It was clear how dead Amherst was this evening when we didn't have to claw our way through the usual drunken madness of the sidewalk outside of this famous pizza establishment. But, the show was very nice. Bruce did do an excellent job. Joe played his new guitar. Russ was extra funny. Upon arrival at the club I was wished a happy birthday by many strangers which was puzzling but certainly delightful. The boy and the girl danced and were obsessed with their chests. Lots of friends came out for the show, these names come to mind: George, Andrea, Devilboy, Rhonda, and Ken.
H: I had an enjoyable dinner with my family in the restaurant right next to
the club, "Christopher's". There I was presented a number of gifts, including
a digital camera, which will turn out to not just be a gift to me but also to
the band and our fans, as we now intend on publishing photographs from each
gig to go along with these gig diary entries. We intend on having pictures of
audiences, audience members, the club, and us. Maybe there are already some
here now. I am working on it. Any suggestions? Email me.
Toad was a very nice venue. Tiny and with questionable sound, but warm and friendly and appreciative. If felt like a real rock show tonight. Russ performed a stellar guitar solo on I Want You (She's So Heavy). And 80 degrees was a huge success. Thanks everyone for coming.
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H: I don't know who you are, Brian, speaking for the Steamtrain like that.
I for one am not saying goodbye to summer. We have plenty of summer weather
ahead of us. So you can just stop rushing the year by right this minute and
relax a little. Relax.
This venue was very cool. It felt like a post nuclear-armeggedon sanctuary. I half expected a gand of leather clad, mutant, renegades to come smashing throught the ceiling at any minute. Jose, of Spouse fame did a great job mixing our sound at this ill-attended but dreamscape of a gig. The movie projector cast a beam through the smoke directly into our faces and hipsters on sofas laughed half-heartedly at our misguided attempts at being funny. Large paintings of distorted women hung from the walls. A television was lit with poorly colored and re-edited 80's classics. Portland seems like a really cool little city, someday I hope to see more of it, well, we will be back in September at Bowdin College. The ride home was long and dark through squinting eyes.
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H: I love Transperformance it was an honor to participate and I thank everyone grandly.
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B: Henning, you and summer both fell for my trick. I was saying, "Bye, summer 2000. Nice knowing you. I understand, you were a little tired this year, it happens to all of us. Whatever, see you next year". And then summer read that, and said "Why, I'll show that little so and so...", and voila, it's 90 degrees and humid. Up in the Berkshires, on this night, it was a little cooler than in the Pioneer Valley, but still wet. This was a last-minute opening slot gig, which called for an acoustic duo. I came along anyway, to see the town, and the club. No, I'd never been to Great Barrington. It was quite nice. The Helsinki Club is inside a sort of mall--but a quaint, nice little mall, not a huge, everywhere-kind-of-mall. Once inside, through a fascinating maze of doors and secret chambers, mine eyes were treated to a decor, possibly reminicent of a real Helsinki tavern. No I've never been to Finland. The room had a long bar, a small stage, a couple big tables, a few small tables, art on the wall. Turn the corner, and the room has a sub-room, with a few more tables, and, most impressively, a long, velvet-covered couch, with lots of pillows, seeemingly meant for hashish and/or opium-fuelled make-out sessions. But there was none of that this evening. There was a performance by Lord Russ and Henning, which included all the usual Steamtrain favorites, including a finale of Nilsson's "Without You", which sent the two cute waitresses into mock hysterics. While they played, I sat at one of the small tables, with a Heinekin, sometimes listening, sometimes taking pictures, and sometimes making plans for our impending tour, which is now scheduled for the first week of November. They did a 40 minute set. The joke was that I misbehaved at our last show, so they made me sit this one out. I think the folks believed it, because no one talked to me all night. Well, that's not completely true. Anyway, Russ and Hen sounded great. I probably could have played drums, it turns out, but we'll rock next time. The character I was playing all night was that of a super fan, who knew everything about the Steamtrain, and I kept asking Russ and Hen trivial questions, and spouting out factoids all about the band.
H: The Helsinki Club is really cool. I almost felt like I was in Epcot Center or something, in the Helsinki section. That is a good thing for all of you Disney-Cynics out there. Russ and I played as a duo with bass and acoustic guitar. It worked out pretty well. On some of the songs, most notably "Beggars In Los Angeles", it was a little difficult to keep the same groove that I am used to without good-old Brian behind the drummy drums. Overall it was a pretty good show, though, and we have to thank Robbie Baier and his band for inviting us. Thank you. Hopefully we will be back at The Helsinki soon to headline a show. Those of you in the area keep your eyes peeled.
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B: This was a three-settter, which we arrived at with a sense of adventure, seeing as 1)we hadn't had a chance to practice for a few weeks and b) we hadn't played w/ Joe in a while. Lo and behold, this was one of the best played and most enjoyable 3-setters in a while! Henning, Russ and I arrived at the club around 7:30, and were greeted by our fave bartender, the soon-to-be-married Martha. She supplied us w/ menues, and we ordered our dinners. Mexican chicken sandwiches for me and Russ, a tuna melt for Henning. Chips and waters all around. I set up my drums while waiting for the food. Later, as we ate, Joe arrived, and we all wondered where Dr. Bruce Tull, PHD and soundman, was. He arrived and informed us that he was having dinner with Stephen Delicious (Desaulniers), his former Scud Mt. brother. We started more or less on time, and from the first song, poor Henning could not stop sneezing, tearing, sniffling, basically, doing all he could to enjoy performing in front of an audience. I believe halfway through the second set he brgan to feel better, thus sparking the theory that maybe he was allergic to something in th food. By the end of the night, he was fine. Or maybe it was that 1 hour virus that's all the rage. Between sets, I played Raiders of the Lost Arc pinball. Did well. So, the show. We brushed up on some songs we've not done in a while. I took my drum solo in "Happiness Waits" to new heights. Apparently I did a "rock and roll scream" at the beginning of 80 degrees, but in my defense, I'll say that was my chair squeeking. I don't scream. Except when Henning's punching me. End of the night: those who stayed to the end (at the most, 40 people were there, all ages, dancing and stuff), gave us lots of praise. The sweetheart of Terry from NRBQ (she works there) said she once held up the phone to the stage while we were playing, when he was on the other end, on tour somewhere. Phaw! The owner of "Black Apple Tatoo Parlor" said he'd hype our next show there to his constomers. BTW, we will be playing there again, the day after Thanksgiving. We'r'e told that should be a big party. Henning, what am I forgetting?
H: I'll tell you what you are forgetting, you're forgetting the twenty five bucks you owe me. Pay up, Cisco. The Mole's Eye is a very friendly basement room in a town settled in the shadow of a wall-like mountain. I don't think the clientele there knew quite what to expect from us, it seems that their general entertainment line-up is more traditional rock / blues, but once again we managed somehow to bridge that gap. There was dancing and smiling. I did have some problems there what with the sneezing, but Russ kept telling the folks that I was crying so everyone felt a little bit better. It was nice to play Rite For The Innocent You and Burnout again and we did a hellova crazy version of My Life. It was a fun show, hopefully we can get some of the same folks to come back for the Thanksgiving Show there. See ya.
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B: There was concern on the way to this show that I had faulty directions, but I, with fingers crossed, assured the boys that the directions I had were perfect. Y'know, it was raining, foggy, we're heading into foreign territory, there's cause for concern. In total, it was about a 3 1/2 or 4 hour ride, and the directions were perfect. Some students told us which building to enter through, and we were greeted by an ENORMOUS stuffed Polar Bear in a glass case, apparently shot by one of the founders of the school? Something like that?? We found the pub, found Adam, the everything-guy, and geared up for two 75 minute sets. There were posters for us all over the Student Union, and a photo/story on us in the daily campus papaer. Those who came to the show were very enthusiatic, dancing on tables, on the balcony, and the vast majority signed the mailing list. There were computers set up outside the pub, so i could check my e-mail during Russ' boring acoustic parts (aww.....just kidding). They let us have free food from the grill area, and they also had Sierra Nevada on tap for $3. The person dispensing the drinks was one Julie, who kept us company into the wee hours, in our deluxe guest suites. Good times. She wondered if Russ, Henning and I were just putting on a show for her, or if we always interact like this. Of course, it's the latter. Anyone can talk politics and literature, not everyone can be funny. Who am I, Carl Reiner? The next morning we ate at the Brunswick diner. All a diner can offer, and more! We all got the #1 breakfast, w/ various changes in the style of eggs and breakfast meat choices. . Upon arriving home, I was exhausted, but heard music in the distance. HEY! The Riverfest 2000 was happening at the Fairgrounds, less than a mile from my apartment! And, HEY!! I hear Sonic Youth playing "Kool Thing"!!! I hopped on my bicycle, and rode through the meadows, on the country back roads, while Kim's voice was getting louder and louder. I heard the song end, and they launched into what ended up being 10 minutes of guitar noise. I was half hoping I'd see a well-connected friend around the gates, who'd let me in, but all I saw were kids getting high in the parking lot. I couldn't see anything, and the sound from the closest spot I could get was still horrible, and bouncing off all the barns and stuff. So I turned around, headed home and took a nap, not too interested in the next act. And Henning, I'm not gonna describe the Dukes of Hazzard-crossed with-Keanu Reeves-crossed with-Brad Pitt stunt that we pulled on 95 on the way home. You feel like it?
H: Well, Brian, I'll get to it in a little bit, first my take on the weekend. Bowdoin is a lovely school, or at least the Student Union is. It used to be an enormous gymnasium, and has since been transformed into a cool hang-out. Unbelievably high ceilings and fancy light fixtures and furniture, sculptured walls with twists and turns, it put MY old student union at UMASS to shame. The pub we played in was nice, too. Although the vaulted ceilings created an overbearing reverberation at times. The show was fun, I enjoy playing college shows, I always feel a connection to the crowd, I guess. They seem to be there to have fun instead of a lot of the places we play where people are there to drown their loneliness (which can be nice, too.) Adam was very friendly and the suites they put us up in were great. I met a girl with orange sneakers. We all hung out and acted like idiots into the wee hours. The next morning had Maine written all over it - grey and cool. On the way home we passed a lovely girl in a Ford Taurus. The two cars hit it off and after several drive by smilings we snapped photos of each other. That's right, she surprised us all by firing back at Russ with a camera of her own. Eventually we all got cocky and without the use of stunt doubles, Russ managed to pass a note to her with our website on it. Hopefully, she'll check it out and find her picture below, perhaps we'll never know.
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B: Our trimphant return to Toad. The 12 hours before the gig found us in an intermittent state of scrambling for various things--namely an opening act, and mic stands. Not to mention, we were finally assured that our new CDs would be arriving the next day--after a very unfun scare. All problems were solved. The opening slot went to one of the strangest cats you'll ever meet, Tony Westcott.
Tony was a founding member of HUMBERT, and these days spends his time as a married dude in Haverhill, MA, occasionally writing slightly twisted masterpieces--and he's written a bushel of 'em. And he treated Toad to acoustic versions of some. The folks dug it, yes they did. I dug the free burger/fries we got from Christopher's next door. And Tony to boot. "I Like 'em Dead" is the necropheliac's "Desolation Row"; you just don't want it to end, even if it is 12 minutes long. Ironically, during Tony's set, I sat next to a woman who's boyfriend was playing in Haverhill that very night. Well, i guess now there's no hope for getting Haverhill kicked out of the Commonwealth.
So, yeah. Then the 3 of us began the first of our 2 sets. The crowd was very responsive, and we ended the set with "She's So Heavy"--during most of which, the floor tom was resting on my knee, after one of the legs collapsed. But, we got through it, and no one noticed my tears of pain. After the set, a person came up to me and said "I can't remember your name, but you like to drink red wine in order to get over a cold". Well, I thought; I used to do that in college, not anymore. Then it dawned on me---this was my old Sophomore year roomate Carter!! Looking totally different--i.e. grown up--whereas I still look like an unresponsible college slob. But, the dude still can party, and we had to pass on his invitation to hang out after the show, due to sheer exaustion.The BUTTERFIELD dorm at UMass, famous for music art and experimentation, has been coming back to haunt us. Carter, and the bartender at Toad, plus 3 or 4 other folks from Henning and Russ' days there, were all at this show.
Speaking of the show, back to it: The second set was just as groovy. Once again, Boston loves our tune 80 Degrees. It's that modern rock thing, I guess. The place erupted after it. Sweet Caroline went over very well, with a couple of women helping Henning sing his backing vocals, from their barstools.
After the show, we drove to my parents' place in North Andover, to help house sit while they were away. Henning gravitated towards the piano in the family room, and we sat around singing old standards in 3 part harmony, like three drunk old Shriners.
H: I noticed your floor tom debaucle, Brian, what a shame. You handled it like a real professional, (until you brought it up here, wining like a tiny baby)
This show was great. Toad is a really nice little club, if the sound system worked better on the stage the place would be perfect. The crowd really seemed to dig us and they were all very friendly.
My brother, Norbert, showed up with his teeny, digital spy camera (he provided the picture below of us on the stage.) And my old friend Matt was there, too. It was nice of both of them to come considering how busy they must be with their new families at home.
I hope we can be back at Toad soon, it's so nice to find a welcoming venue in the Boston area.
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B: Expectation: that all the press and radio and advertising we did would not pay off, that it'd be sparsely attended, etc. Reality: everything was absolutely beautiful. I arrived at this show with Lord Russ and Joni Devine; one of my best and oldest friends, visiting from California. I went to my prom with her, 10 years ago.
Anyway, we got lost on the way to the Huke Lau, because I'm totally dumb. But once there, we saw our opening acts, SPOUSE and CHRIS COLLINGWOOD from FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE and PHILLIP PRICE all getting ready. Bruce Tull was setting up the sage for sound. Already, 100 people were there. CONNOLLY RYAN, our MC for the night, was holding court in the upstairs dressing room. Instantly, I was a bundle of nerves. I spotted, and talked to members of the team that made all this possible: ERIC MARCIANO, guy who did our "MISTY PARADISE" video, THOM MONAHAN, who produced the record, and STEVE BUSCH and GABE LINDEN who did all the ingenius computer work. Boy, do they all deserve a thousand kisses.
I kept bouncing between my seat with Joni, the dressing room, and trying to be a good host. Upstairs, Russ was being painted green, and training his "stunt double". Henning had become stage manager. Joe was fixing his troubled guitar equipment. The first (and third) act of the night was CHRIS COLLINGWOOD of FOUNTAINS OF WAYNE, who played much of his act with PHILLIP PRICE of THE MAGGIES. They did a mix of FOW songs, GAY POTATOES songs and miscellania. They looked and sounded great. Hearing some of the Fountains songs gave me chills. Chris played acoustic and wore his glasses. Phillip played electric and also wore glasses.
Next was SPOUSE, one of my favorite "local" bands, even though they hail from Maine, Boston, NYC, etc. They had JJ O'Connell filling in on drums, and he gets an A+. They rocked the house with their upbeat, indie new wave party pop. Jose and I are gonna get married on the Tonight Show some day. So, yeah. Then us.
Henning, do you wanna describe the show?? All I will say is, I don't think anything sounded bad. I think there was some indecent exposure? I think I played a pretty good solo on "Happiness Waits", and lastly, our cover of "If I Can Dream" by Elvis Presley was dead on--even if it was sung by a guy painted 100% green, wearing nothing but panties. PS--I lost my nervousness as soon as I hit the stage. Take it, Ning Nning.
H: Brian calls me Ning Nning now. I couldn't have been happier with this show. We had some serious concerns about bringing people down to Chicopee, our home base is Northampton. It's not very far but northampton is one of those towns where people don't have much need or desire to leave. but we did it and we can't thank people enough for coming down. What a great way to celebrate our much delayed album.
The night was incredibly hectic for me as I became a sort of a stage manager, as Brian mentioned. Chris, Philip, and Spouse played wonderfully and the evening really was a rock and roll circus. Connolly Ryan had his first out-of-the-Pioneer-Valley performance and he helped us out more than any one can guess. He stretched when we needed him to and he rushed when called for. And he was funny and weird and we thank him for it.
Elizabeth McDuffy did a lovely little belly dance while our CD girls sauntered around selling our goods.
Our show was really fun. The smoke machine made me laugh. Bill Winslow came on for the first tune dressed as Russ, which fooled a few people and got a hearty chuckle out of many. The stage mix was perfect, I was really relaxed, felt like the crowd was really there for us.
We gave away some shirts to some pretty girls and took some pictures. Thanks everyone for coming.
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B: Most of us in the Steamtrain went to bed quite late after the Huke Lau show. However,we had to be up and atom by noon, prepared to drive 90 minutes SouthWest, to Torrington, CT. It was the last day of Bike Week--a biker ralley, which attracts lots o folks from all walks of life. But mainly, long time bikers. The ride down there was a difinitive New England, peak-fall-foliage treat!! Between the colorful leaves, and the insane cloud formations, our senses were hightened, suitably to deal with this gig. Lots of those bikers had been there all weekend, partying, and since we'd had quite a crazy weekend ourselves, we almost felt like one of them.
We were introduced to a 75 year old biker who keeps a toilet in the back of his bike, because "when you're my age, you need it". We also ate some food, and watched junky cars crash into each other, and jump over other cars. This whole experience was new to me, and I totally enjoyed it. The only thing that kept us from staying to see the TUNNEL OF FIRE was the RAPIDLY dropping temperature. The show? Um, well, we were watched by a few folks, and we all admitted to strange out of body experiences, possibly brought on by the array of fall foliage in front of us, mixed with fatigue and motorcycle fumes.
H: We play some out-there shows, man. 45 degrees and windy and a teeny crowd of dazed bikers. But we had fun as always. Our view from the "stage" was of an old worn out movie screen half hidden in foliage and vines. My favorite part of the performance was when I yelled into the mic, "Hey! You in the leather jacket!!" and nobody looked.
We saw some helmetless-no-seatbelt-wearing-geniuses smashing cars into each other and ate some questionable cheese burgers. I talked to a tiny biker child about the tunnel of fire that we never saw alight.
It was a funny gig and we made $49.00.
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B: On this day, we in the Steamtrain had all sorts of difficulties to overcome, and we passed with flying colors. The NMF (4 days,120 bands, 6 venues) , organized by our manager Don, began with an opening party on Thursday. Free beer and Mexican food made for a lovely happening. I was quoted in the paper as saying that i felt like Kevin Spacey--which I do every other day anyway, so big deal. Friday, I played at the Baystate with the Figments, and Russ joined in on lead vocals for "Heaven's Take", which is a usual happening--he and Thane from the Figments wrote that one together. But old Russy wasn't feeling so well. That night, he awoke with what turned out to be an ear infection, and had to ride his motorcycle to the hospital at 4am. Obstacle #1. But, he was hooked up with the best in modern medicine, and the following day, he became gradually 100%. A modern miracle for a modern guy.
Obstacles # 2-5 came compliments of me and Henning, for we had to play with other bands the same day--The Greenbergs in the afternoon, the Gay Potatoes in the early evening. Plus, Henning played a set of his solo stuff somewhere in there. NMF, baby. And we made it all the way through. Aloha Steamtrain gig # 1 had nothing to do with the NMF. Let's go there now.
October 14: 8-10pm - Northampton Center For the Arts - Private Wedding Reception for Dana, the owner of Pleasant St. Video. We were forewarned that this was going to be a wacky party, where there'd be more costumes than tuxes/gowns. So, we were forearmed, with spastic clothes. Turns out, it was about half and half, as far as the traditional/outrageous ratio goes. Many familiar faces at this wedding party. The cream of the Noho arts community. The food and drink (all top notch) were flowing, and the folks were ready to rock. We did 2 sets, and a 65/35 ratio of covers to originals. The backdrop was a psychedelic blue. The first set for me was a drag, because my anti-slippage rug had been misplaced, so my drum set had to be readjusted at least once per song. Luckily, Henning spotted it during the break, being used by the kitchen staff. I explained, they explained, we had a laugh, I had some food and we began the second set. I absolutely loved this set, as did the guests, and a heavenly mood overcame me, which lasted the rest of the night--just seeing so many happy people dancing to our music. I was due for a reminder of why I do all this. And this was a huge reminder. Everything was perfect. BEST DANCER AWARD--JOE O'ROURKE.
10:20--After a mini-set of 70's soul tunes by Check Please! (featuring the groom Dana, plus local radio personalities Johnny Memphis and Joe O'Rourke), we packed up our stuff IN RECORD TIME
10:40-Depart the Center for the Arts. We're in crazy moods. A mixture of (for me at least) alcohol, anticipation, the greatness the wedding gig, and the triumph of having made it 90% through this endless day.
10:45 - Arrive at Harry's for our NMF spot.
10:55 - setting up stuff on stage. The room is rapidly approaching full capacity (250 people?) 11:00-begin our set with "Come On Over", our newest song, first heard on Russ' recent solo CD, I'M FLYING. The crowd at Harry's is so happy and enthusiastic. Almost like the entire NMF was leading up to this show. In the crowd I see so many lovely faces. I see past and present band mates cheering us on. The sound is monstrous, and I could feel my bass drum pushing the dancers on. BEST DANCER AWARD; TRACE MEEK. Joe Boyle kept giving me these LONG stares with his Scorpio eyes as he played, which i think was a good thing. Either that or he wanted to kill me. This show also included our biggest ever on stage fuck up of a song--like I haven't been involved in a fuck-up like this since 9th grade. If anyone remembers it, I'm sorry. Hopefully Russ' Captain America spandex outfit was distracting enough. But, we got through it all, the crowd loved it, and for the second time in a year, after an NMF/Harry's show (see May 2000) I abandoned the rest of the group while I chased after some good times, leaving them without a car to throw their equipment in at the end of the night. Sorry R+H. Sometimes the real responsible guy in the band has to give it up, right?
H: Sorry that it took me so long to add my two cents in here..I just finished laughing at your last sentence...most responsible guy...wooeee!...you're killin' me!
This was perhaps my most musically busy day ever, playing in 5 different shows, but I will concentrate on The Steamtrain performances only. The wedding reception was lovely. Generally, I am not a fan of weddings. I enjoy playing at them but not the whole concept, the rituals, but Dana and Carolyn really managed to pull of an elegant and hip affair. The costumes and decor were surpassed only by the incredible enthusiasm of everyone there. The crowd had a lust for life that propelled our sets into new zones. Never before has an audience danced so well to the free-form breakdown in Misty Paradise. Frozen figures and spinning ladies, I felt like we were in a modern Warhol movie. I was proud of everybody there.
The NMF show was another amazing gig. (the two actually have blurred together into one crazy event) Dan Richardson actually managed to get a great sound at Harry's, a notoriously tough room for acoustics, and all the jumping boys and girls made it even better. The place was packed and we were still hopped up from the wedding show. My bass strap broke on the first song, I jumped too high I guess. Philip Price came up to try and fix it and after that didn't work Adam Greenberg lent me his. I have since bough a new one, it's green. Very green. The rest of the show went by so fast I hardly remember a thing. Just a lot of cheering, smiling, happy people. I remember we gave away a T-Shirt to a friend of Siment and we sold a bunch of CD's.
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Northampton Music Festival 2000
B: WHAT? NO PICTURES?? Shush, and listen for a second. You're lucky I'm here at all. I'll recount it as I remember. It was an average night for the Steamtrain, sans Joe, as we made our way to Manchester, CT. Some were a bit groggy from the previous night's Smith College party, and having to work that morning. But, we were excited to drink some gormet coffee and rap with Big Al--and dig the other bands. Folk duo Michael Grande w/ Lisa Martin were finishing their set when we arrived, to be followed by The Preachers, and their brand of jam-a-thon rock. I played 2 games of Twilight Zone Pinball, which was an omen of things to come. Soon it was our turn to rock. We took the stage and began our first song, and I'll be damned if I know what happened next. Al handing us something he was calling "Liquid Crack", in small paper cups. Suddenly there were flashing lights, heavy smoke concealing everything beyond 6 inches of me, and our music became not of this world, but telepathically sent to us from the brain of Al, causing our limbs to play the music he and his superior were dictating to us. Next thing I knew, we were on the street, our gear all packed up, Al thanking us for a fine show. The ride home, none of us really felt like discussing what had just happened to us. We couldn't have if we tried anyway--our memories, AS WELL AS HENNING'S DIGITAL CAMERA had been wiped clean of any memory of the past 90 minutes. Henning has taken it upon himself, however, to submit to regression therapy, where his doctor triggers memories, and he semiconciously draws them as they come back to him. The only other clues we may get are from the folks who bought our CD and signed the mailing list. Do these people know what happened that evening? Do you, Henning??
H: I don't recall much. I seem to remember Al's booming voice coming from the smoke, a clown painted on an enormous towering bass drum, and something about somebody hearing the animals speaking. The mystery is amplified by my missing digital camera memory (Was it the camera's memory card that failed? Or had I simply forgotten to take any pictures?) The Devil says that the road to hell is paved with missing memories, or at least that's what he/she would have said that night, if I were me. I was saddened by the lack of photographs, but today I went on a lovely ride in the foliage and came across a hot air balloon sinking dangerously close to the Connecticut river right here in Northampton. I snapped a shot whilst precariously sticking out of the sunroof and created this lovely post card for you all to download and print out. Consider it a token of our appreciation for everything that's ever happened.
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B: This was another acoustic set, associated with The River, WRSI 95.3 - who, that day, added "Here We Go" to their regular rotation. Quite an honor. Anyway, this was the first in a series of a competition/showcase sponsered by the River, called "The Skiffle Sessions" or something. Local bands are chosen to play 30 minute acoustic sets, and at the end of the 8 weeks (once a week, two bands each week), one band wins studio time and cd pressing, courtesy of Signature Sounds in Whately. We'll see about that, but in the meantime, it was fun to play in this small space, very softly. It seemed to be over very quickly. Henwheel, help me.
H: All right, yes, Bishop's Lounge is a very cozy little venue. The other band playing that evening was The Hart Cranes, a very nice brand new gentle pop band. The crowd was friendly and interested but, the sound system was wretched, like something you would find in the closet of an elementary school. We all managed to get passed it, however, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. It was a nice relaxing gig, and it was over so fast that we still had some of the evening free.
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B: Ok, then. Much of this day for me was spent trying to numb my thumb. Huh? Well, that morning I'd had a painful mishap at work which left part of my left thumb bruised and swollen. Could have been worse, I know, but still it left me not 100% for this show. Oh well, I was still pretty darn excited, and NYC was extremely accomodating, if perhaps in a post-World Series collective hangover. Damn Yankees. As soon as we parked our car, we were greeted by a parade of, oh, 150 folks on bikes, in costumes, with police escort, riding down Ave C. They were shouting pro-bike, anti-auto slogans. Some had babies, some had dogs. All were very happy, which made us happy.
We were 2 hours early, so we took our time making the set list and drawing up a day by day agenda for the coming tour. Soon, friends like Matt Fanuele and Lori from Galvanized were arriving, so I thankfully didn't have to keep talking to Nning and Russ (that's a joke, kids). This show was being webcast on www.dcn.com so we were all trying to look our best. Trying. Just before we started, a total surprise; super fans Beret and Sam showed up with HOMEMADE ALOHA STEAMTRAIN T-SHIRTS!! In fact, Sam also had 1)Russ-like glasses 2)Henning-like orange t-shirt and 3)Brian-like jacket (I guess). Beret was wearing Toni Basil-like pigtails, and danced half the set (which is now illegal in some clubs? Do I have that right?) Speaking of t-shirts, we've made one t-shirt for each show on this tour, to give away at each show. Tonight's winner was Lori, so it can also double as a wedding gift. Congrats! Y'know, who's a complete dumbass? I've wanted to meet the other Galvanized folk, and noted to myself, "Those women sitting next to Lori look vaguely familiar". But, duh, didn't realize until Henning told me, on the way home, that they were the band. Let's blame it on my thumb--it was taking the oxygen away from my brain.
The show? We played louder and faster than normal (especially for the Lakeside) Will have to watch the webcast to see if it was any good. The folks seemed to dig it. We sold some CDs, took some pictures, got some names on the list. Ran into Jeff Halpin, my predecessor, in the bathroom. He had no idea we were playing, but said he dug the sounds from the other room. Said it was like early Who, which I take as a compliment. Good to see him. The ride home was absolutely kind of funny. French guys, donkeys, and a guy who just wants a pies. Oh, how poorly it all translates in print. NEXT GOAL FOR THE WEBSITE: sound bytes of various characters.
H: Hmm...sound bytes of the characters sounds good. I'll look into that. Some of you may not be aware that we have a number of characters in the band, they develope mostly during late night long car rides. It's like a damn improv show sometimes. Whilst Brian slept like a baby in the back seat Russ and I spent at least an hour as Wethersfield and Glastonbury, two old time british explorers recounting their adventures in the Dark Continent and their exploits with their lovely houseboy, Patay. On second thought, maybe soundbytes would be a bad idea.
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B: Halloween Party sponsered by WRSI, 95.3, The River. Hey, now this was a fun-ass party. Thanks for coming and being in the spooky spirit. I've never been so scared in my life. No, actually, though we didn't have almost-nude dancers this year (see 1999 Halloween gig diary) we did have a great group of folks, who were treated to a (in my opinion) damn well-played 2 1/2 hour show. We did 60% original, 40% covers. Henning pogoed through most of "I Think I Love You". I felt very in control of the drums--it was one of those good nights where it's all an extention of my body. Dr. Bruce Tull PhD, had the ABC sounding A OK!! WRSI and The Amherst Brewing Company had given us many, many prizes to give away; CDs, frisbees, gift certificates, t-shirts, etc. We gave away 2 Aloha Steamtrain tour 2000 shirts; 1) a Henning orange pocket T 2)a fashionable and sensible white turtleneck. It's getting cold, kids--and it's only gonna git colder....... So, what did we wear??? We were goddamn DOCTORS!!! I dropped about 5 sticks throughout the show, because the arms were too long, and it was making things weird. Well, I also had some tape on my injured thumb, and so I was favoring it. But, what fun! See the photos, so I don't have to describe the good costumes of the fans. After the show, Russ and I hosted a small afterhours at our apartment, which included Joe Boyle, Henning, a newcomer from Japan named Junko, Dr. Bruce Tull, PhD, and Steve and Trudy Busch. Steve had made 2 Lord Russ masks, and Trudy was a fire fighter, with soot and the whole 9 yards. We turned the clocks back one hour, and enjoyed ourselves until 3 or so.
H: I love Halloween. I always have. I also love ABC shows. We had a very attentive audience, festive, and in the mood for weirdness. The costumes were scattered but added a wonderful surreal atmosphere. Cute boys and girls danced. Skeletons and bugs and fairies, and zombie brides, and autumnal princesses, and dominatrixes and glam-boys, hoboes and cowboys, firefighters, and lord russes. Just lovely. The friendly staff at ABC were dressed to the nines as well. Russ was not only a doctor but he also donned his famous super hero costume. I was stabbed in the heart as was a cuddly teddy bear. I love to give out prizes. A girl did a cart wheel for one of our cds. I realize we'd never pay off our debts if that was the asking price..but it would be nice.
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B: A traveling day. We bid goodbye to the few who cared, rented the car, tied-up any Noho-related loose ends, and by 1:30 pm were on the road. With Henning at the wheel, things went very smoothly like. Our plan was to make it only to Philly, perhaps try to find an Open Mic and/or do the town, stay over and resume the trip to Charlottesville the next day. Fate had other plans, as, before we knew it, we'd overshot Philly, and were over an hour ahead of schedule anyway. We hadn't yet stopped, so we opted for a Bob's Big Boy somewhere in Delaware. Russ and I got burgers, Henning a turkey club. All came with sad, sad fries, served by a very downbeat waitress. At 7pm, we were the only customers. We decided to stay in Baltimore, and I took the wheel and drove the rest. My Big Boy Burger was not sitting too well, and by the time we reached Baltimore, I was drained of all energy. The Best Inn, which was quite nice, was situated right next to a converted strip mall, which was now a Bible School. Got that? We watched the Last Hour of "Big Daddy" on HBO, and I was dragging, thinking of not exploring Baltimore w/ the guys. But something amazing happened. I started dancing. Oh, did I ever. Just a 2 minute explosion of dance, right there in the hotel room, while Russ and Hen clapped along, and Iwas a new man, ready to take in Baltimore, looking for fun. We passed on the Strip Bars, opting for sight seeing, walking aimlessly, and an end of the night Scotch Ale at Capitol City Brewing for me and Russ. We drove back, listening to a funny epiode of Loveline. Nighty Night
H: I had never spent any time in Baltimore before. It was pretty nice, we only saw a tiny portion of it, of course. Pretty funny that we managed to actually miss the entire city of Philadelphia, but I'm telling you for some reason the signs on 295 say 95. I swear they do. Anyway, it worked out fine. Let me say this here right now, Bob's Big Boy is ALWAYS a mistake.
B: This morning began with a continental breakfast (pure sustinance), but we were fresh as daisies and ready to hit the road. It was a PERFECT day; not a cloud, and 70 degrees. We drove 1 hour to Washington DC, and explored for 2 hours. On the steps of the Capitol Building, a life-like Christ was the centerpiece of an anti-democrat rally. 8 or 9 people showed up to voice their support. We got a hot dog, and soon were heading south. The drive to C-ville was nice enough. Mostly a 2-way rural highway (if that's correct terminology), which took us though farmlands and rolling hills. In the distance, we noticed a crazy haze surrounding the mountains. We soon realized the sky getting darker, and that we were heading straight towards this darkness and doom. Frighteningly enough, REM's "It's the End of the World" came on the radio twice in 15 minutes. We were scared. We stopped at a general store for some drinks and unwise purchases, and C-ville was less than an hour away. We learned from the boy at the store that a fire had been raging in the mountains for four days--thus the haze and dim orange sun. Soon, it was all behind us, after a 20 minute period of feeling like everyone in the car was smoking. C-ville by day was a charming college town, and we found Tokyo Rose in a strip mall, next to a Red Dragon Tattoo parlor. We loaded in at 5pm, and were greeted by 3 stunning employees, who were sweet and helpful to us all evening, even offering to put us up for the night, and telling us which afterhours parties to go to. Russ, Hen and I ordered a couple of big Japanese dishes, and shared amongst ourselves. Afterwards, we were pointed in the direction of "Historic Charlottesville", and we took a "constitutional" (walk) in search of coffee (me and Russ) and ice cream (Ning). We also briefly checked our e-mails. Soon it was showtime.
B: Total Ass Bummer that the Lilys cancelled !!!! So, opening the show was a guy named James, who relaxed us with his guitar/keyboard and voice stylings. Next were The Phobes, from DC--a mod/punk/pop band. Their singer played a Rickenbacker through a Vox amp, and the resulting sound was crystal clear. His look was Paul Weller/Liam Gallagher. His playing was Paul Weller/Pete Townsend/Jon Squire (Stone Roses). The songs were strong, the rhythm section very tight. I talked a bit to the bass player--tour stories--and he filled me in on why a certain Boston club had been so elusive. The Phobes ended their set with the Kinks' "Wicked Annabella". COOL!!!! We exchanged CDs and info. Hopefully, soon, a show.
B: Then, it was our turn to close the night. Most of the audience sat on the comfy couches or at the bar. Towards the end of the show, some were standing up front. We played a strong 45 minutes, sold some CDs, made some friends. Afterwards we drove over to the party that El and Katherine invited us to. Upon arriving, we realized that these folks were just at the start of a crazy night at 2am, whereas we were just not getting our much needed second wind. Who knows what kind of debauchery would have ensued if we weren't such old men? Naw. There were other reasons why we were too pooped to pop, but not worth going into here. We are usually more than willing to party. There was definitely fun and games in the air. But instead, we hit the road, in search of a hotel. Red Roof. The worst value we encountered on the trip. Oh well. Thanks, C-ville, for being so groovy!
H: Kathryn, Anne, and El were very nice to us, and it was great meeting them. There are people everywhere in the world and for the most part they are friendly. The forest fire we drove through (or the smoke from it anyway) was a nice introduction in to a blurry evening. Tokyo Rose is a cool little club and Charlottesville was a precious little city. I love a college town. Next time hopefully we will be able to enjoy the people a little bit more. Red Roof Inn should be ashamed of their Charlottesville hotel
B: We had a bagel breakfast at the Chesapeke Bagel next door to the Red Roof. Then we departed to parts south. We had this day off. Another warm, sunny day. I fell asleep in the back seat and awoke to the news that we were GOING TO VIRGINIA BEACH!! Deeper into VA, cotton and peanuts are all the rage. Postcards are not. We stayed at the Viking Inn, 50 yards from the mighty sea. HBO showed me Eyes Wide Shut and the Chris Rock show for the first time. We spent time on the beach, by day, by night, and by day again. Though beautiful, it was not quite swimming weather. Like that matters to me. At night, we went to a Haunted House amusement thing, and left genuinely frightened, convinced that the guy inside truly could have killed us. I sold a CD to a 20 year old miltary guy who was staying next door, and who was going to Yemen via Korea the next day. Russ could hear fornication in the room down the hall.
H: Very strange. I had been on this exact portion of Virginia beach several years ago. I took a nice walk on the beach at night while Russ slept and Brian watched TV. There were hoards of kids, my guess is that they were from a religious camp, riding bikes and skates up and down the boardwalk. Yelling like donkeys. There were spatterings of young couples and older folks walking their dogs. I passed one hotel that was obviously the place to go if you had a dog, and from the balcony canines of all shapes and sizes welcomed me to Virginia by night. I sat for a while in the sand in the dark. There were some lone boats out in the darkness.
B: We continued our tour morning tradition of video taping Henning playing a diffferent Paul Simon song, while Russ and I danced spastically around the hotel room. Different song, different room, each day. We drove down to Raleigh and checked into the Sleep Inn. Possibly my fave of the tour. We had dinner in Chapel Hill, at Good Fellows. A burger for Henning, veggie burgers for me and Russ. The waitress was named Ursula--how could we not flirt? I called the UNC Chapel Hill radio station to ask them to hype our show a bit. There were a few other very hip shows going on that night, so I felt threatened. Chapel Hill is a damn cool town, true to the hype. Back in Raleigh, we had coffee and bided time until the show. Oddly, the streets were very quiet all around the city. At the lakeside, there was a private party/blues jam happening, so we waited and drank beers while we waited. Those who stuck around were treated to a pretty energetic show. We did 3 covers, for when it felt like we were losing the audience. It always worked. I told Henning he should call Manager Don during one of the songs. He did. Whereas the NYC Lakesside has that beautiful East Villiage rock and roll charm, this one has an outdoor patiom and upstairs pool table and couches. Very cozy. Ashly was the bartender.
H: It was kind of a bummer evening at first. The private party went too long puching our show back, which meant a few of the people that had come for us had to leave before mosy of our set was done. Also, anyone from the outside world who wasn't part of the party was pretty much chased a way until close to our start time. nobody was really around to help us with the stage so Russ and I just had to guess which amps belongewd to the club and which ones belonged to the million guitarists who had just been playing. But once we got started things got better, as they always do. I enjoyed a cymbal signed by Stuart Copeland on the wall next to me. After the show we met the crowd and they were very cool. See the picture.
B: YES, YES, I KNOW. THE "GIG" DIARY IS NOW 5% SHOW, 95% EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITY. WE CANNOT HALT THE NATURAL COURSE OF NATURE, SO WE WILL GO WITH THE FLOW. JUST YOU WAIT.
B: Slept pretty well in Raleigh, and had breakfast at a New York Bagel place. Ironically, it seems the majority of he places we chose to ate had either "New York" or "Manhattan" in the title. How ironical. Sunday morning was beautiful, and we had over 3 hours of driving north to Richmond, VA. I had no preconceived notions of Richmond. I I I knew a) that our old pals Ari and Tony from HUMBERT used to live there and b) the word "hippie" is not seen as an insult. Arriving, we were ASTonished at how unchanged parts of it were, PARTICULARLY the Cary St. area where we were playing. Yet another inviting college town. We were even more ASTonished to see OUR PICTURE taking up 1/3 page in STYLE WEEKLY, to promote the show. At the Cary St. Cafe, Jerry is God. And the food is good. After checking into our last hotel, The Days Inn, we went to the Cary St. Cafe to get our free meal. Russ and I both got chicken parm, Henning waited to eat, and later got something.
B: We met the band we were playing with, RED LADY 21, who told us not to fear, they were doing all the sound, and we could share their equipment. So, we just sat and hung around, drinking the free Budweiser, talking to the staff. I also had a nice conversation with Howard from Red Lady, about touring and lost 70's pop hits. An odd thing. TAMMY from ULTRABAIT, who couldn't be there, but had booked the show, had done a great job putting up our posters. Curiously, HENNING'S HEAD was ripped off a few of them. We found that it was because Cleo, one of the waitstaff, found a disturbing resemblance between him and one of her close friends. After a bit of a delay, while Red Lady 21 worked out the bugs in the sound, we began our set. The sound issues continued for a couple songs, but we eventually hit our stride; until Russ broke a string. And then another. And then I broke a stick. And Henning lost an eye. And then a shoe. No, Henning didn't lose anything. But we made the Richmond folks very happy. A woman from the crowd offered to take our picture for this site.
B: After the show, we mingled, and watched half of Red Lady 21's show--great stuff, guys. Back at the Days Inn. Screaming and spazzing, like we do, in the car as we pulled up, we aroused the attention of a security guard, but he turned away when he saw we weren't trouble. Breakfast was pathetic and insulting, and so we got bagels at the (what else) New York Delicatesin on Cary St. Then, the 10 hour ride home. Russ took his first tour turn at the wheel, and got us over half way home. I kept dozing off, when I wasn't screaming and spazzing, with a cold landing ever so slightly on my head. Henning drove the next 3 hours, while we listened to Chris Rock and David Sedaris. During the latter, I fell asleep, and awoke with a plan for the Steamtrain's world domination. I drove the last 2 hours, and at 9:00 pm, we were back safely, without a scrape, in Northampton.
H: It's good to be home, but I am ready and willing to head out again right a way. Pack your things, next time you are coming along for the ride.
B: A sort of homecoming (if i may quote Jon Bon Jovi) We hadn't played on our home turf for nigh on 5 months. To mark the occasion, we decided to learn a new song, another Lord Russ future classic pop gem, entitled "Curious Attraction". Most of us had nary the time to practice, so we squeezed in a 2 hour slot that afternoon at SOUNDSTREAM REHEARSAL STUDIO in sunny downtown Noho. Joe Boyle was on board, and within an hour, ideas were thrown around, thrown out, thrown up and voila! This is Pop! After the practice, the other 3 walked across town to Packards for din din. I stopped and got some drumsticks, then met them for the foods. Later, we were at the Baystate, meeting the guys in On the Lam, a Brooklyn-based band with whom we shared the bill. Despite the Indie Rock exterior, I felt they could barely conceal (especially the rhythm section) their fondness for 80's virtuosos like Rush and the Police. This is not a crticism. Quite the opposite, in fact. So they did their 45 minutes, were damn tight and rockin', and the locals were still trickling into the club. Our show; a Baystate show can't not be fun. Especially when we have TOUR T-SHIRTS to give away, A BRAND NEW SONG to debut and Russ has NEW PANTS AND SILVER UNDERWEAR to show off. I don't know what to blame (the burger?), but by the end of the show, things were very dreamlike for me. Hazy and slow motion. Afterwards, we partied at Henning's, introducing On the Lam to some new fans. Russ departed with his partner in fur, and Henning and I had a new Mamas and Papas group happening with our pals who stayed up with us 'till 5.
H: Yeah, Brian, blame it on the burger. We both know it wasn't the burger creating that dream-like atmosphere. It was your ever growing insanity. Which I must say is rubbing off on me, because I also felt in a haze during this show - it all seems a blur now. Maybe it all had something to do with starting off the day walking around an old abandoned state mental institution while it blared out Bach music through hundreds of speakers on the first bleak - freezing rain November day of the year. But, I do recall some dancing folks. Some shy girls. Some T-Shirts given out. Playing a wonderful new song. An evening back at my place, that went into the wee hours and then continued on in my dreams. I just check out the pictures that Max Germer was kind enough to take for us, even those are blotched and blurred. There was something in the air and Max managed to catch it perfectly.
B: Our pal Joe Bartone and the rest of Fat Buddah were nice enough to get us on the bill of this pre-Thanksgiving/JFK murder party (just kidding about the latter, but the TVs near the stage were on some channel showing the Zapruder film at one point). We took separate cars, since eveyone's Thankgiving plans were different. I drove down with Russ, but was going to depart from the gig alone, to drive up to my sister Alyssa+ brother in law John's new house. Henning drove down with Joe, but had a similar plan to mine, only with HIS family. And manager Don was gonna meet us there and drive Joe and Russ back to Noho at the end of the night. Russ and I listened to stuff from the Zombies boxed set on the way down. So amazing. Upon arriving at the club, we saw Henning alone in a booth in the upstairs restaurant, patiently waiting for some food. We went downstairs to unpack, order one of Trinity's famous beers and make our presence known. Fat Buddah's drummer was cool enough to let me use his vintage Gretsch set. Our set kinda happened in the blink of an eye. I do believe we caught the attention of most of the folks in the room. "Hooked on a Feeling" went over well, and during the breakdown in "Misty Paradise", Henning and Russ did their best Bartone imitations, to the delight of the Buddah and their fans. I gotta admit, half of me was just worrying about getting out of Providence and not getting lost on the hitherto unchartered territory i was about to embark on. It turns out I had nothing to worry about in the big scheme of things. Others did.
H: Yes, Joe and I drove down together listening to Pete Townsend and later to that new Steamtrain song we have been doing. It was an incredibly cold night, I dropped off Joe at the club and drove around Providence many times looking for an open parking spot. The club was pretty OK, there were a lot of people there and they created a chamber of smoke and noise. It was great to see Fat Buddah again. The show was a blur - the sound was questionable, the audience was puzzled. But we did pretty good. But the night would remain very memorable for Russ, Don, and Joe.
B: Sob, sigh. Our first o canceled gig, which is sad. Almost as sad as why we were forced to cancel it. No, nobody got busted for drugs. Nobody joined a religious cult. Nobody couldn't fit out of their front doors after Thanksgiving. Nah. For legal reasons we can't go into too much detail, but here are the facts: In the early morning hours of November 23, Thanksgiving, manager Don Rooke, Lord Russ, and Joe Boyle were leaving Providence, after our Trinity Brewhouse show. Before getting out of the city, they were involved in a serious 2 car collision at an intersection. Joe was relatively unharmed. Lord Russ suffered rib damage and had to get stitches around his left eye. Don received a broken hand and banged-up face. Don's car, which was our official Steamtrainmobile, was rendered useless. The boys spent the night in a Providence hospital, and as I write this, Russ and Don are going door to door in Northampton's neighborhoods, seeing how many they can make scream and/or faint at their tragic appearances. I won't get too heavy, because I'm just getting over the black cloud that came over me in the wake of all this, but please send as much love as you feel to these guys, to make them feel better. Either way, nothing short of a coma would stop us from playing the Calvin Theater show on December 6, which by the way is my birthday. Buy us a drink at Bar 19 afterwards. We need it. See you there!
B: WHAT AN HONOR to be asked by the Valley Advocate/A Safe Passage to take part in this all-star tribute to the late Kathy Nylic. To play in this historic theater, where, just in the last year, Tom Jones, Brian Wilson and Willie Nelson have all played? Pinch me!! Well, well. That, in addition to it being my 28th b-day and all, we wanted to make this extra special--not just a glorified club show.
Earlier in the day I'd had my share of birthday sweets; Lord Russ baked me a cake (what a sweetheart!) and Bart's ice cream gave me a free birthday cup of their "Pillow Talk"--hate that name, love that ice cream. It got me so wired, due to the abundance of espresso beans. ROCK MOMENT: while in Bart's, Russ and I were reading an article ABOUT US with a picture OF US while the radio (WRSI) happened to play a song BY US. Ok, the article (in the Union News) was really about John Lennon, but it quoted Russ and me, and had an AST picture.
We met at the Calvin for load in at 5:00, and enjoyed the free food and beverages they had for the bands/staff. Later we went home. Russ was being made up and groomed by his woman friend, and I was practicing the alto sax, so graciously lent to me by the talented, fellow Sagittarius, Dave Trenholm of KING RADIO. We returned at around 8, to see Kim Zombik's Live on the Planet, who were putting a serious groove on.
In need of something to calm my sudden attack of nerves, I headed for the Calvin's Bar 19. Jeff the bartender made me a tall, complimentary birthday vodka tonic, and i mingled, talking with Jose from Spouse, an old friend Zoe (another Sagitarrius), Connolly Ryan (ditto), and Henning bestowed upon me his b-day gift to me; lots of music by They Might Be Giants and a very groovy card. Around this point, a woman, sitting with her girlfriend, told me she was psychic and proceeded to play a trick on me which I think I MAY know how it was done: She had me hold out both my hands, fists clenched. She then ashed her cigarette in her hand, and asked "did you feel that?". I said no. She said "open your right hand". Lo and behold, there was a smearing of ash in my palm. I freaked out. Now thinking back, I wonder if i shook her hand when she was wishing me a happy birthday. She probably created a diversion, but, just like those things work, I can't remember, because there were too many things going on. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt and declare that I took part in some real live magic. Why not?
I went up in the balcony and caught half the Ware River Club's rockin' set (including the Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait") After another vodka tonic my nerves were replaced with a nice wave of confidence, and I was psyched to show these 400 folks my hidden singing/sax talents....but not before my confidence steered me toward an attractive Smith student to whom I was introduced. THEN I went back down to the dressing rooms and met up with the boys while the Stone Coyotes did their thing on stage.
We had 3 climaxes planned for our short (35 minute) set, equally spaced. Climax #1 was at the start. We began "Hooked on a Feeling" with just Henning, Joe and me on stage, and Russ hiding somewhere in the audience with a cordless mic. The intro (ooga chacka) went on forever, as the cordless mic was acting up. Finally it kicked in and we were off and running. This was followed by a coupla three hits and a new one (Curious Attraction). Then it was my moment of truth. Climax #2. I came to the front of the stage, sax in hand, Henning went to the drums and Joe switched to bass. I did a little comical banter, and then began singing "Winter Wonderland". I even did a 2 bar sax solo in the middle. I didn't forget any words, didn't stammer during my stand up comedy part and fluffed nary a note during the solo. Got a pretty good ovation. I'd dedicated the song to Russ, Joe, and Don, the car accident victims (who are all recovering quite nicely, thank you. Russ did a great job last night, cracked ribs and all. He also looked very sexy.) I was quietly proud.
A coupla three more hits or what have you, then came Climax 3. In tribute to John Lennon, we ended with "I Want You (She's So Heavy)". People appreciated the gesture. After the show, Kim Zombik, New England's own Queen of Soul with a voice and a smile to melt Satan's heart (and yup, another Sagittarius--now, I don't go asking people's signs. It's just those who heard it was my b-day offered this info), told me that I sang well. Christ. There's some props for ya. So, expecting to find free birthday drugs booze and easy women upon re-entering the Bar 19 after this triumph of life and art, I entered only to find nothing much doing. Just some polite smiles. Oh well. So Russ and I made our way to Hugo's where I got one last birthday drink. Or 2. I can't remember. But once again, thanks to everyone who made my birthday so fine. It was like a circus, and that's how it should always be. Sans the poop and the abused animals.
H: The Calvin is a beautiful old historic concert hall in Northampton. I had only been to two shows there since the recent renovations, a lecture by George Martin and a concert by Steven Wright. I think this is the biggest stage we have played, indoors at least. The room wasn't full but an incredible amount of people came out for this great cause. It was a nice relaxed rock and roll atmosphere. The crowd was milling around, travelling from the bar and back, switching around seats, and dancing in the aisles. It was nice. I enjoyed The Ware River Club quite a bit, hadn't seen them play in a while and they translated really well to the big stage.
Our show was a "blast and a half." (To quote the kind of idiot who would say something like, "blast and a half") Couldn't see a damn thing for the spot lights, but the enormous stage was fun to move around on. I got to prove to everybody that I am NOT a drummer during Brian's moment of glory. Bruce and Dan did a great job, on short notice and for no money, on the sound. I could hear myself wonderfully, you can't imagine what a difference that makes. Thanks everyone who came out to this show.
B: The 20th anniversary of John Lennon's death, so, suitably (don't know if this was his intent), Big Al booked 2 pop purist groups: us, and Holiday Rain (whose CD, "Nightmare", I'm digging right now). Also on the bill were Chair 13--who are very sweet people, but alas, we couldn't stay for their set due to time and health constraints.
Since everyone's a bit wary of car transport since the accident, we were understandibly concerned with the icy/snowy conditions of the roads on this night. But, the 4 of us plus equipment, piled into my wagon and we were off. It's an hour plus change to get to Manchester. We arrived to find a three piece finishing their act. Didn't catch their name, but they did several Jethro Tull covers, with note perfect flute riffs. The female vocalist even talked about Tull between songs, about their newer material, now available on the web. I set up my drums on the side, and soon Holiday Rain were beginning their set.
I played 2 games of the Twilight Zone pinball--got an extra game on one of them. The machine ate one of my quarters on the other game, so I guess I broke even. I ordered a coffee from Uma Thurman's cuter, goth, little sister behind the bar. Meanwhile, Holiday Rain were displaying enormous songwriting talents. I was digging it. Like I said, as I write this, I'm listening to their CD for the first time. My mind's being blown by it, particularly by track 12--it's like a McCartney White Album outtake. And I wonder, who came first these guys or Guided By Voices?? Either way, good music is good music, hi or low fi. So, we begun our set after that.
We had twelve songs planned, but Al told us Chair 13 was running late, so could we play a few extras? Of course!! Alyssa (sister) and John (bro in law) were in the audience, as was CT music mogel Brian Sincalir. Our biggest CT fan, Kevin Lamkins wished me a happy belated birthday between songs. Al said this was a particularly "spunky" show, and invited us to play an outdoor festival this Summer. Details to follow. We had fun at this show, and I think we played with purpose. Coffee, rather than beer-fueled. Makes for a different vibe. Again, the smoke machine and light show were in full force. That smoke smells like Easter. Is that common knowledge?
After the show we sold some CDs and made lots of new friends. I met my sister's co-workers, who bought me a spring water and who were fun to talk to. Our last act was to have Al take our picture outside the Equator. Awesome.
The ride home was a fun time. Henning was in hyper-comedic mode. We decided that if we made it back in time, we'd catch last call at the NOW SMOKE FREE BAYSTATE (as of a week ago). "Wow", I remarked as I walked in, "it sure is packed. I guess the smoking ban made no difference after all" (all last week, the place had been DEAD). I then noticed the person I was saying this to was smoking. The ban was over!! Business over health, I guess is the bottom line. But it was good to see lots of folks out. The attraction was the always loveable Treefort and the newest Japanese import turned Noho superstar, Junko and her band Cyclub. Next stop, the Mole's Eye, for a make-up date. We can't wait! All the rest of our gigs for 2000 are sure to be a blast! Keep showing your love, and we will return it tenfold. In 2001, I'm booking a rocket and taking all my favorite people to a new life in a space colony.
H: The Equator is always a surreal experience (see last gig entry) and this was no different. Upon entering, I heard the lovely flute playing of the first act and mistakenly thought it was a recording playing over the house system. So, I started whistling along, loudly .... when I looked up and noticed it was actually a band playing the flutist was looking at me, I apologize.
While I worked on making the set list, Joe and I had some delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and some doritoes. I enjoyed the songs of Holiday Rain quite a bit and marvelled at the incredibly extravagant light show in this tiny coffee house.
Our set was a lot of fun and I am glad Al wanted us to play longer because I didn't want to stop. This room just exudes a passion for music, both in the crowd and the employees, that fuels the band - like water in a squirt gun, or some such nonsense. (Hey, yeah, hey there, Barabara, why don't you do me a favor and set me up with a 6 piece Chicken McGrabyas and then skootch yourself over to the fries machine and scoop me up some of them bastards. Put 'em in a big red cup. And get me one of them pies.....no i don't care what frickin' flavor! Who do I look like finicky Philipo?! Just get me a pies! ........... you people....)
After the show I talked to Kevin Lamkins and his stunning friend Francisca for a little bit, they told me the story of the self-motivated Doritoes bag.
Later when we were packing up the car, Al came out and told us another story in which he saw a dog and a stray cat becoome best friends as the dog licked all the snow off of the freezing black cat. Heart warming.
B: Our version of the Beatles' famous 1969 rooftop performance, sorta. But don't worry, this wasn't our last show, nor are we on the verge of splitting up. This is the story, as I know it. Our friend Stephanie Jones wanted to surprise her friend Mari-Ada on her birthday. She had the brilliant idea of having some form of the Steamtrain appear below her apartment window mid-party, and we'd be playing one of her favorite songs. In this case, "Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC. So, an hour before the premeditated time (8pm), Henning, Russ, SPECIAL GUEST BASSIST MAX GERMER (The Hart Cranes, Ex-Maggies), and I gathered at Henning's to run through it. Henning sang and played acoustic guitar, Russ played acoustic guitar, Max played an acoustic bass and I played maracas. We all sang back-up. The idea was that we'd be like a Mariachi band. We even developed opening and closing musical themes. At 7:55 we gathered in the alley behind Pleasant St. Theater, and Henning ran into the theater to get Marcus who had a light to shine on us. Stephanie Jones was in on this, and so she was expecting us. The light went on, we were illuminated, we played our opening theme, and Stephane called everyone to the window. BAM!! "You Shook Me All Night Long". It was the bomb, yo. The guests loved it, and soon we re-appeared at the party, had a coupla glasses of wine and that was that. We don't have any pictures of it, so I could be making all this up. Or I could have dreamt it.
H: Yes, what a better way to spend a cold Sunday night, than playing AC/DC in an alley? None. No better way. And who better to honor than Mari-Ada? Nobody. And who would have thought up such a nice surprise? Nobody but Stephanie Jones. We were honored to participate in a delightful celebration such as this. We need more outbreaks of musicality and movie-moments of surreal expression these days, I think we are all in agreement to that. It's up to us. You and me and maybe the babies ...... and a dog or two.
B: This was a make-up date for the cancelled Dec 1 show. Unfortunately, 2 things we learned: a) that on December1, the Mole's Eye was packed with folks who hadn't heard the show was cancelled. b) tonight, we were up against a few high-profile birthday/holiday parties taking place w/in the close-knit community of Brattleboro. Thus, all night, there was a small, but very loving crowd. Two other handicaps we had to (and DID!!) overcome: a) no Joe, so we had a few less songs to fill 3 long sets with and b) no Bruce Tull, so we borrowed a PA from Jay Flansbaum/the Crawdads, and worked it ourselves. Or rather, Henning worked it. ADDED BONUS CELEBRITY: Our Head of Security, Seth Tripp was along for the ride!! And he did a great job, above and beyond the call of duty. There can only be one Seth Tripp. We are blessed to have him on our team. Despite all this, we had a good time. Lotsa love in the air. Russ and Henning opened the show, doing acoustic solo and duo things, while I sat up front, with a beer. I compiled a 3 set song list. Martha the Uberwoman was working the door on this night, and charmed us all to ashes. On this night she introduced us to her fiance, who, despite the tough exterior, is really a sweet and funny guy. One day they shall have uberchildren who will alter the course of human history. So, the show; what's there to say? We did some long lost covers, we rearranged a song or two which we normally only play with Joe, we reprised Winter Wonderland (there was a freakin' X-mas tree near the stage) and I did a horrible kazoo solo in place of the sax. Actually, during what had been the monologue part of the piece (where I yell at the kids for knocking down my snowman in front of my girlfriend), Russ played the part of the bratty kids who are in dire need of respect for their elders. Lastly, Phillip Price of the Maggies / Potatoes was there with his gal pal Debbie. Ning, what else happened??
H: What else happened? I don't know, who am I? Patrick Knowssomestuff?!?!? I can tell you this. The Mole's Eye is home to some fo the friendliest people I've met. We were dismayed to find out that the lovely and charming Martha wasn't tending bar this night but then delighted to learn that she was, in fact, working the door. Armed with her space alien super hero boots, she introduced fiance Jared to us. What a great couple. Amy tended bar along with the most adorable grandmother you'll ever meet who's name I can't recall. We met a woman from Radio Free Brattleboro and a whole assortment of classic folks. We played some different versions of songs - we mixed it up - we were keepin' it real, yo. After the show, Seth and I stopped at The Whately Diner for some late-night breakfast and some serious talk. It was a good night.
For an incredible 2-day span, we in the Aloha Steamtrain straddled our fair lady Massachusetts. Sometimes I am impressed. The story begins in a tiny, hidden, riverside college town known to its closest friends as Cambridge.
B: A return to the place that was recently noted as "the most underrated place for live music in the Boston area" in the Boston Globe. We tend to agree. I, for one, was a tired man, after having slept 3 hours the night before, followed by 8 hours of a hectic workday. I slept half the ride there. Russ' friend Anisse came with us, a welcome presence, and we listened to a tape I just made of Neil Diamond, 1966-76. (2 questions for Neil: what's up with the word "brang", as past tense for "bring"? And a table cannot be made of "oak and wood"; or am I writing this gig diary entry on my "laptop and computer"? Either way, Neil, you are a saint.).
We stopped at a makeshift McDonalds for a fries and McCappucinos. Then Ifelt awake, and stayed awake for the duration. Arriving at Toad we were helped by an anonymous patron, who lifted things, held the door open for us, while another patron loudly announced that he was gonna leave as soon as we started playing. Russ was wearing his new fur cape. I was wearing an ensemble inspired by Mike Nesmith in "33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee". First things first, Jo Jo. We order our free meals. Here comes the pattern: Russ and I ordered the same thing: veggie burgers, but he got his with extra onions, for he is a man known to love the bolder tastes in one's lifes. Ning got the Chef's Salad or something. The Chef quickly took it back and said, "Why don't you get your OWN salad?" (thank you..) We hung in the downstairs band room, eating our meals, and as show time approached, came back up, for this is what was expected of us.
The place was slowly filling up. A tap on my shoulder: WOW!! GLENN SEVERENCE, FORMERLY OF THE MEAN WYOMING, NOW IN BAG OF PANTIES (see my bio to see who the Mean Wyoming were). What a trip to see that guy. We began the show much like the Mole's Eye; Russ and Henning each did acoustic solo sets, helping each other out on certain songs. Once again, I just had a beer and smacked people who weren't listening. Russ did Simon/Garfunkle's "Only Living Boy in NY" with Henning helping on vocals" and Henning did "The Bagel Song", with Russ helping on vocals. Ning also did his brand new song, "Everybody Loves Martha". Read the Mole's Eye entry and see why this is so.
Soon, we were beginning our first of 2 electric rock and roll sets, Beantown style. Now I could just buzz around the kit like some particular busy bee. First set: pretty good. The kids liked it. Two guys (Harvard science students) kept yelling for us to do an electric version of "The Bagel Song". Not possible at the present. And we are not a band to take risks. No sir, not us. During the break, we spotted Diana Riddle (any relation to Nelson?), who, if you go back to our October Huke Lau show, you'll see that she painted Russ' body green that night. On this night, she had a really groovy toy top which when you spun, played music and flashed about 10 different light patterns. Also during the break we sold a few CDs to some interesting folks. One guy said he planned to listen to it all the way on his holiday drive to Ohio. That's 8 listens, JoJo-good luck. Second set was a particularly loud and crazy one. We did "One Night With You" (Elvis) for the first time in like 2 years--very fun. The crowd was getting increasingly enthusiastic, and by the end, we had a few dancers. We ended with "All My Juices", which usually completely satiates the crowd's need to hear any music for the next 2 days.
After the show, I hung out with Glenn a bit more, and then we packed up and left. As we were loading stuff into the car, I happened to turn just in time to see a very drunk girl fall to the pavement in front of us. I was seeing stars just after witnessing that. As her posse helped her up, I went in the car before anything too ugly happened. I'm sure she didn't have the best Saturday morning. The ride home, I slept most of the way, and awoke to find that a new man was born: Jimmy McGrabya. I'm sorry I missed his birth, but like he'd say, "It's not so important". He is a tour de force of a character, but, like my therapist says, it's once again just a thinly-disguised, humourous outpouring of 'Ning's hatred of most people. And I don't even have a therapist.
H: Was Boston destined to be the city of our up-bringing? What once was a blur on the horizon as seen from Holt Hill was now a tiny excursion filled with laughing girls and no parking. Though Cambridge is not Boston proper it is still properly Boston. The people here just seem to love the Rock and Roll. It was a delight to see the familiar and friendliest of faces burst into the room as Diana arrived. She blossoms daily, folks. The low ceiling of the green rooms in this world force one to go face down in his salad, but is anyone complaining? No, because Boston just loves the Rock and Roll.
Note: Jimmy McGrabyas lives in us all. And just wait 'til you get a load of Daniel Explaination! The automobile journeys are not long enough!
B: WOAH!!! Like an enromous Dragon Swing, Lady Mass swings the other way, and we find ourselves, 24 hours later and none the wiser, in her Berkshires. Once again, I was a tired, cranky, humorless little baby because I had to wake up early and work another full day. When will it end?? But 'Ning drove my car again, and I got a good 30 minute nap in.
Aaah, Helinski, I mean Helsinki. Love that place--we all do. It is a lesson in extraordinarily lavish and inviting interior decorating, and hospitality. We arrived, began setting up for the soundcheck, and the lovely and friendly young waitress--name escapes me, stupid me--took our orders for our dinners. A purely Finlandic menu. This time, 'Ning and I got the same thing--Finlandic tuna melts, with plum tomatoes and swiss cheese, and light (as opposed to white) tuna, on pumpernickle bread. Russ got the something-fancy-with-cavier-and-creme-brulee, which was as pretty looking as I'm sure it was tasting. We sat in the room with the cracked mirrors, and took some photos, before Deborah, the totally hip and beautiful co-owner (?) hipped us to the Green Room downstairs. When we got there, we found her wrapping presents for her employees.
Don and Joe arrived, and we got ready for soundcheck. After the soundcheck, I relaxed with a beer, and more time in the greenroom. Soon it was time to play the first set. The famous Will Schillinger was there, and it was a pleasant surprise to see him. Great sounding room, and we were all in top shape. Not only was someone snapping tons of pictures of us, but we were also being filmed. We had no idea who either of these people were.
During the break, we went straight down to the Green Room, and Don informed us that the man filming was a USC film student, doing a documentary about unsigned bands. He did an interview with us, with both Deborah and Don putting in their pfennig's worth. That was a fun way to spend the break, and we rocked the second set, par usual. Added bonus: Will did the sound for the entire set. What an honor. He's worked with Sir Paul McCartney, you know. We ended that set, and on the way to the green room, could hear the clapping and stomping getting louder. We discussed what we'd do, and sort of agreed on "Juices". And that was that. Leaving the club, I flashed on the notion that perhaps we were really in Finland--it was god damn cold enough outside. Ning, 'Ning???
H: Sure, Bri, who's to say that while we were in the warmth of the den, enthwastled with thousands of lamps, the world outside wasn't, in fact, Finland. I could almost feel the icey darkness behind those thick walls. We were warm and safe inside the viking din of this cavern. I wept for my mother-land across the great North Sea. My bretheren took my hand and led me on a journey deep into the heart of the Norse Men. We fished with our own teeth for god's sake! The snow swept dunes of the coldest shores surrounded us, the campfire roaring with delight. This night all would be forgiven! The blood flowed forth, the women danced, the carnival was awakened in us all. And from out of the salty mist a bull-moose-saber-toothed-wooley-mammoth read us poems about whirlygigs and caterpillar love. I stubbed my toe on a handful of eels. The sand laughed.
END OF MILLENIUM, POST BLIZZARD SPACE ODDESSEY NEW YEARS EVE TOUR OF NORTHAMPTON, 2000-2001.
Northampton, Massachusetts is a town divided by "the tracks". So as not to alienate some of you readers, more simply stated, I speak of a modern miracle from the last millennium known as railroad tracks, where trains strut their stuff 24/7/365. On this night, The Aloha Steamtrain chugged along, throwing its freight (100% pure Love, American Style) out both windows, onto (gasp) BOTH SIDES OF THE TRACKS. Somebody had to do it, or else we may never have seen the new millenium, and been able to usher in TWO THOUSAND AND FUN!!!
B: This was part of FIRST NIGHT NORTHAMPTON, and we were honored to be a part of it. And it wasn't easy. Russ and I drove there (a half mile from our apartment) on this post blizzard, freezing night, and found no lights on, and all the doors locked. We drove back home and called manager Don, thinking "perhaps it was snowed out". But he called there, and called us back. "You guys went to the wrong building. They're waiting for you."
Arriving there (in what must be the church's function room), we found Henning in immense pain. He'd strained his back shoveling snow. Damn good-for-nothing snow. He took something for it, and it didn't work too well. This was a two set show, sans Joe. General admission, not a rock and roll room. Folding chairs, brownies and soda for sale, a BIG CROSS on the wall. We followed the Art Steele Band. For the first set, we had an audience of about 50 folks. The spotlights they had were SO bright, I had to wear shades. Russ and Henning were getting near-fatal shocks. A band with any less spirit and love for the rock and roll would have let all these odds dishearten them. But slowly, things came together.
Those nerf things were found to put on the mics--adios shocks. The crowd loved the jokes (except 2000 and Fun) and cheered enthusiastically. We were playing for people aged 1 to 70. Henning sat in a chair whenever he could, to rest his back, poor guy. During the break, we sold several CDs. I got a cup of coffee, which finally lifted me out of the hazy feeling I'd been feeling all day. The second set, a few of the same people stayed, but mostly, it was 60 fresh faces. An even more enthusiatic crowd. We repeated a couple songs from the first set. Much of the set was watched by some of the more well respected, seasoned pros of the Noho and beyond music scenes. Jim Armenti, Joe the owner of Downtown Sounds, and Keith Leverault, drummer extrordinaire. Keith complimented me on my playing, and I was honored. After the second set, we had to scoot right outta there, but not before selling some more CDs. The sound people, the MC, the staff and everyone else at this show were all totally sweet and kind to us. Thanks, everyone. Now it's time to gear up for the "adults only" show at the Baystate.
H:How weak does a fool have to be to become incapacitated after shovelling snow for approximately 5 seconds? It doesn't matter. What matters is, my walk to the othe side of the tracks was the final nail in the coffin, so to speak. When I showed up at the church even the chills running down my spine at the sight of all those crosses didn't help my aching back. I sat in the lobby moaning and listening to Art Steele's last set. The Doans that I had taken left me not only still in pain but also queezy and I ordered a chicken soup from the snack bar in the back of the room. The chicken soup was the most bland thing I had ever eaten. It was simply hot water with tasteless noodles. But, I think it helped.
When Russ and Brian showed up they were kind enough to carry my equipment for me and before I knew what was happening we had started a show. It was fun, but I was definately pre-occupied, if this had been anything but a rock show I would have been at home in bed crying. But enough wining from me. Let's just leave it at this, another nice show for a crowd who doesn't normally get to see us at the bars. Lots of friendly people who came up and talked to us between sets. A good time was had by all. Kudos.
B: Lord Russ and I may live on one side of the tracks, but our hearts live on the other side, where not only Henning lives, but it's where the Baystate stands as well. God, was that an awkward sentence. Sorry. Too tired to revise. Let it be.
So, this was a co-billing with the mighty SPOUSE. Between these shows, Henning took another pain reliever which worked better. Poor manager Don, with his one good arm, had to collect money at the door. And there was a steady stream of people all night. The Baystate on this night was a-rockin, and everybody seemed to be in a wonderful mood. We set it up so that we'd switch off sets w/ Spouse. Them, us, them, us. They went first. I went to a back booth to make a set list, and when I looked up, after focusing on the list for 10 minutes, I was pleasantly surprised to see the room near capacity.
Seth Tripp was there, doning his new Head of Security badge. Spouse was sounding great, with Ann from Tappan Zee newly on keyboards, and as I walked through the crowd, I saw so many friendly faces. Soon it was our turn. Joe was with us for this show, and I had fun doing some interplay with him on a few songs. The crowd spanned the entire room, and it felt so good to be playing at the Baystate on this special night, and to know that so many people chose to be here with us.It was 11:30, and we knew we'd be ushering in the New Year. The crowd was dancing up a storm, and the vibes were as euphoric as could be.
At 11:57, we began "Two of A Kind". Before it, Henning said "Keep an eye on your watch, and stop the song if it's almost midnight". Actually, I was wearing 2 watches, mine on the left wrist, my friend's on the right. Her watch was easier to see, being digital and all, and beginning the last verse of the song, I noticed the Spouse folks causing a commtion in the crowd, and I saw it was 11:59:45. So I signaled to Henning and we stopped. Russ and Joe caught on a couple seconds later, and the countdown was on. "5,4,3,2,1..HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!". Hillarity ensues, all the hugging and kissing and smiling and drinking. Someone got us shots of tequila, and I got kisses from Liz and Naomi from Spouse. Imagine the sweetness...gee whiz. The Ze (that's Jose Ayerve to you) also came up for a hug and peck on the cheek. The Ze.
Our first song of 2000-FUN was "Sweet Caroline", if I'm not mistaken, and Icould be. We finished our set, I had my Cuervo, and it was time to be a Spouse fan. Their second set made us wanna dance, made us wanna sway. I spent part of it in the other room, so I could inhale 200 cigarettes of second hand smoke, and wish more people Happy New Year. I looked at the television while waiting for Kevin to pour my beer, and saw THE BANGLES!! playing Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. Wow! When did that happen??
We had a wardrobe treat for the second set (see picture). We gave away a special edition t-shirt to an adoring, and I mean adoring fan (at least of Lord Russ). By the time we started our second set, I felt pretty intoxicated. I think half of it was fatigue. But I gave it my all, and of course we completely brought the walls down. One of the highlights was doing a verse and chorus of U2's "New Year's Day", with Jose doing his best Bono. We sent everyone home confident that they had chosen the right thing to do on the first night of the new millenium. And we love them for it. Thank you for joining us on this year's edition of "Brian's Gig Diary". We will be on hiatus until, oh, I don't know when. It won't be long. Sweet dreams.
H: This Baystate show will go down in my books as one of the best Steamtrain nights yet. Russ hooked me up with some stronger pain medication and it really helped, not completely, but enough to keep my mind on other things. Spouse and Steamtrain always magically work together well, I can't really explain it. I just love those people. Together we set up the stage (Jose taking charge, thank god, with the sound system). Remind me to thank him for all of that hard work. I had just bought some rope lights and they lay strewn around the stage, their spikes of lights crystallizing like a sci-fi laser gun. Other colored lights shining . Enormous glowing cats towered above the stage. Suddenly the room was packed full of people. There was hardly enough room to turn around in. And all the people were happy! Friendly faces and beautiful dancers, singing along.
Spouse put on the best show I've seen by them yet. Zeke Fiddler joined them as did Terry Flood. We switched off our shows each playing two sets, and it was so nice to have a chance to breathe between sets and take in the beautiful songs of The Se. The audience was a party of people all waiting for the new year. My favorite girls were there. My favorite boys were there. Next thing you know I'm counting down from 10. A flashback in my head to last year at The Northampton Brewery, another great show. Now people are kissing and cheering. Screaming just to scream. Four drunken girls form a pig pile. Men with blue painted faces hold up glasses of champagne. Flashes go off. The music gets louder. Everyone is dancing...
After the show a blue-lit party-til-dawn thrives enthwastled with small town incestuousness. Brian and I slouch on a couch enthralled in the beginning hours of what appears to be an incredible and memorable year for everyone. He leans over to me and says, "Remember, It's two thousand and fun." I look around the room and as stupid as his lame ass slogan sounds it makes perfect sense to me there and I relax and smile, content in this strange life I have built for myself. For me the madness of the night hasn't ended yet, three days later - I still feel like there is a blue light above me. The glowing cats peer out from behind trees. And the new year is constantly screaming.
Hey, guess what? That's it! A year has gone by. 2000 is over and it's time to start a new GIG DIARY! Thank you everyone for all the love and support this year. We'll see you in the 2001 Diary, complete with a new look and format! Thanks again,
The Aloha Steamtrain