AUGUST 1999

August 17 – Chataqua House, Boulder CO

It’s so nice to be home again. It’s such a luxury to be able to play a show and then drive home, to your own bed, to your own plants, and your own books and your own burrow with all of your own clothes in it, and to be able to take a bath without wondering who was in it last, and to listen to some music without head phones because you know no one else will hear.

Ah beautiful Chataqua underneath the flat irons. Those frontrange mountains that we live up against, all purple and brave. It rained yesterday the way it does in the summers here, an hour here – an hour there – but it hardly stops the sun from coming down at us. It merely cools us and breezes us and reminds us that there is an up in our three dimensional world. The clouds dug across the sky at us like boats, singular and heavy. And they release steadily, drawing water lines across the earth.

We played early. The venue was small and intimate. A community house built in the pre-teen years of the 20th-century, dwarfed by her sister theater “The Chataqua Arena” maybe ten years her senior and beautifully built. I imagined, as Rey the promoter, took me on a mini tour, that this is what it must have looked like inside the Trojan Horse.

August 19 – Back on the road after a much needed 2 week vacation….. Somewhere near the center of Nebraska.

The Sod museum. It’s been the highlight of our day. We stopped for gas off exit 211 in Nebraska and stumbled upon it right there in the parking lot of the Texaco. It’s not that The Sod Museum is a wonder to behold or any thing, save that everything that isn’t 1000s of miles of flat road becomes somewhat wondrous after a while.

A tiny woman met us at the door, her hair dyed orange like Sunny Delight and her jeans, more denim than usual jean. She took us through her spiel leading and pointing at artifacts and posters: “Those two jackets up there are bear skin and that one on the far right, that’s buffalo. All three of them well over a hundred years old… And that there is a giant mammoth tooth,” and she pointed to the rubix cube sized rock-like tooth. “And all these artifacts in this case were found in the area, except those moccasins there. And outside you’ll see a giant buffalo made out of 4 miles of barbed wire and a house of sod with a roof of cactus. Go on out and look see.” And we drifted like ghosts out into the silent heat of Nebraska to go look see.

It feels as though we never left the road. In the 300 plus miles we’ve traveled thus far toward Chicago, we’ve fallen pleasantly and without reluctance into our road lives until our recently spent vacation seems as distant as Colorado does, in the rear view mirror.

4:19pm

Bugs on the windshield
Cramped and cold legs
Sun in waves like silk
The smell of cole slaw (or what ever it is that Kenny ate for lunch)
Steely Dan Glad to be here, doing what I love most.

“Here at the Western World”

August 20 – Shuba’s, Chicago IL

The sky gets taller in the fall. With delight I watched it all my life, grow higher from late July to the middle of October when it begins to cloak itself sleepily in gray silent, breathless clouds. I love seeing it get deeper and deeper as the fall falls opened and the leaves glow golden and orange and begin to think about leaving. The ocean obediently reflects the sky and begins to look deeper too. Then, around November, the sea becomes too dark and ominous to imagine it even has a bottom.

But here I am in August, in Chicago, which is sunny and bright in that end of the summer, sitting on a porch with some friends way, wearing a red flannel shirt and some khaki shorts, drinking a long-necked bottle of beer, laughing, and feeling the winter forcing itself into the tails of the breeze which blows constantly and tangles teasingly into shivers and the hair you’ve tied back off your face.

We sit out on the patio at Shuba’s in the 6:00 of Friday evening watching people in red convertibles cruise by, and the girls whom the boys ogle (in an endearing and respectful way) as they walk by in outfits they stole off last weeks episode of “Friends.” They all look beautifully self-conscious in their Capris and pouting lipsticks. These Chicago boys all have baseball caps and look like they could be going to a photo shoot for Abercrombie and Fitch. Great Gatsby of the 90’s.

Kenny’s sneezing. He’s got allergies and takes an aller-pill which puts him out into a zombie like state for the rest of the night. But then, we’re all a little out of it and slightly worried that we don’t remember how to play (we didn’t get a rehearsal in before we left and we haven’t played together in 3 weeks). I write a set list on the back of a bill: WAIT, 40 YEARS, IN MY MIND, SOLDERS, DEVORIN, W/O ME, 1 STEP, RED ROOM, CONVINCE ME, FOR KIM, HAPPY NOW. I realize that the majority of the songs are new. Time to go back into the studio….November maybe, December.

Upstairs in the dressing room, I let Kenny and Brian dress me. I try on at least four jean, top scenarios before they agree that I look “tough enough.” They say I need to look more “rough rock chick” and then Brian ties my hair back “… now get some little wisps coming down on either side….no not too big….yeah that’s good……YEAH THAT’S GOOD!!!!” He seemed very pleased with himself.

The show goes really well, and gets a really good reception even though it seems looser than usual, I guess that’s to be expected and I’m delighted to see so many of my friends in the audience. Jason and Jake from the last time at Shuba’s are there, Jason Sites and Mike Isaac from Brown, and one of my best friends, Kate, from Boulder and her sister drove up all the way from Nashville, TN just to surprise me and see the show.

Afterward, I stand over by the merchandise table and sign CD’s by candle light. Some very drunk guy comes over and kisses me on my shoulder, stares double-sightedly at me then walks away and we leave soon after…around 1 am. Another really really fun night at Shuba’s. My friend Jason gives me a pair of leopard skin flip flops which I proceed to wear over my red three ring knee socks as he reenters the bar barefooted.

Kate and her sister grab a TO GO across the street and follow us toward the hotel. It’s late and I fall asleep in Soucy’s lap. When we’re there…whereever ‘there’ is….at the hotel, I wake up and Brian has forgotten his huge bag back at the club. It’s too late (3:00) and too far away to retrieve at this point and we end up spending 2 hours backtracking into Chicago to get Bri’s cloths.

I guess I’m a little out of it. We float melodically on 4 hours to “The Brand New Heavy’s” toward Detroit.

It’s really good to be back!!

August 21 – Inter mezzos, Detroit, MI

Detroit looks like a war zone. All of the buildings are boarded and gratified and bared and locked. All of the streets are worn out and empty, littered with cans and papers and glass and ghosts. Chaos crowds the eyes of the children and big hollow yells, without an origin, echo off brick and beam, emptying out in the drains of basements in gutters. This was my impression.

Here’s what’s weird. Just when we thought we’d be playing in some abandoned warehouse to an audience of wolverines, we pulled up to Inter Mezzos. The street it was on was lined with life, trees and smiling, laughing faces. And out of Inter Mezzos came the sweet aroma’s of an Italian kitchen. Pastas and peppers and oregano. Inside, the gig it was clean and mahogany and brick and mirrors and classy.

Relieved, we loaded in. The crew there to help us out with sound seemed confused.

“Where’s the singer gonna be on the stage?”
“I’ll just stand here.” I said.
“So where’s Sally gonna stand?”
“I am Sally.”
“But…but aren’t…..I must be thinking about a different band….I thought Johnny Taylor was you’re father.” Said one of the guys, confusedly and I looked back at him with squinted eyes (Johnny Taylor is a blues musician).
“Um, well,” I said trying to figure out whether the venue had booked us, thinking that I was somebody else, unintentionally. “My ol’ man’s name is James Taylor.” I said with hesitance, trying to estimate whether that was an acceptable alternative to them.
“Oh, well that explains why you’re not black,” And we all laughed, “we were just told that Johnny was your pop…..OK that’s all cool.”

But I still felt uncomfortable. I didn’t know how the venue had been advertising the show. What if everyone was coming to see The Blues?

Nick Capone, the owner, assured me that we were, in fact, the right band. He treated us to a grand dinner in his beautiful dinning room. I ordered the halibut which Brian ate after scarfing his own meal down. Since the hotel was only two blocks away, we figured we’d go check in and shower. I inappropriately, did vocal exercises in the delightfully acoustic and overly crowded lobby while Delucchi fought with the hotel manager who was saying he had no rooms to give us. A newlywed couple stood beside him, in full suit and gown apparently unable to get a room either. It was hard to imagine that in a 70 floored hotel, there wouldn’t be a single room available.

If you didn’t know it already, Delucchi’s nick name is “Shwing.” This is because, with him we can go anywhere, see any thing, and most of the time, for free. Needless to say we got our rooms.

With no time for showers, and 15 minutes before show time, we dashed dizzyingly around the room putting on clothing, deodorant and the sort. We made it out of the room with 10 minutes to spare, unfortunately we had no way of knowing that the “African World Festival” was taking place on Franklin St. and what did we do? We took Franklin St. They do this thing annually where they all get in their cars and boys chase girls and girls chase guys and grandparents reunite and grand children cry and dance and dream. They call it “The African Cruz.” It was all foreign to me. Grid lock is putting it mildly. Young men were taking out flashlights and shining them on young women walking down the street and yelling out cat calls while children made faces at us from the back seats of cars. I’m sure we must have looked pretty funny, being the only white folks at “The African Cruz.” Two blocks to the gig took us 45 minutes. We were late.

I was ruffled. I felt out of breath then, just when I felt I had settled into my pace, I made a hysterical but potentially detrimental mistake. I introduced ‘Sign Of Rain’ and talked about how the song’s about memories and how the rain plays a role in remembering my childhood. 1…2…3… Brian counted it off, and without a second thought, I started playing “Waiting on an angel.” I thought…’boy this is faster than we usually play it.’ I didn’t even realize I was playing the wrong song until I opened up my mouth to sing “Seagulls circle ’round the shore line…” and ‘Waiting on an angel….’ came out. What’s worse is that ‘Waiting on an Angel’ is in the key of A flat and Sign of Rain is in E. I motioned to Soucy and Kenny, who had recognized my error the second I started playing, that I would just play the song by myself. But they were so on top of it that they had already figured out how to transpose the song.

For every tour we take along a “Bud(wiser)” mascot. During the course of a tour the cooler heats up and cools down a lot making our Bud mascot SKUNK. The longer the tour the skunkier the beer gets. Who ever makes the biggest faux pas during the trip has to drink the mascot. It’s become quite the ritual. The person who had to drink the beer the tour before then hands the Bud off to the next “screw up” and so forth and so on. Kenny was the first to drink the beer after a “little accident” on the stage of the Howling Wolf in New Orleans. Needless to say, I am now in the running for this tour’s mascot.

We couldn’t wait to get out of Detroit but then Cleveland wasn’t much relief.

August 24-25 The Agora Ballroom – Cleveland

In a house that fits 700, there were only 10, 3 of which were the opening band.

It was raining in Cleveland. Drizzle, drizzle, drizzle and for the three days that we spent there, no one wanted to go outside. So we amused ourselves in the hotel. Brian and Kenny shared 776 and the Chris’s and myself took 772 with a foldaway. We watched, worked out, swam, telephoned, computered and made a habit out of the Denny’s next door, for dinner.

The morning of the 24th, a Tues., the boys took Moby (van) to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Soucy had got us all “shwung” there for free). I was having bad dreams and decided not to go but to rather get some work done and spend the day alone. The boy’s were on a mission. It was Brian’s day to drink the beer mascot from last tour’s faux pas where he ended one of the song 8 bars too short the night we opened for Big Head Todd. That night, after his mistake and in the strange silence that ensued after, I heard Brian in back of me whisper in a sorry and sympathetic tone “…I’m drinking the Bud.”

We loaded into the Agora at 6, sound checked and went out to grab a bite. The Agora and everything in the surrounding area smelled like urine. Old yellowed news stories collaged the laminated tables and walls. I felt haunted by the thousands of bands that played before us, their drugs, their booze, their stage fright, their 15 minutes in the sun, and their tragic, inevitable downfalls. This rutted looking guy approached us outside. He told us that he’d just been released from the penitentiary and tried to sell Soucy a brass ring, he insisted was silver. No one wanted to argue. Waiting right outside the door were 7 people who were eagerly waiting for doors to opened so they could get a good seat for the show. Little did we know they’d be the only people to come.

Needless to say the show was a bust. Kenny played his butt off though and we ended up chalking it up to good experience. The 7 that were there already had the CD and sang along….which made us feel not so bad, but there were no CD sales after the gig and packing up seemed lonely. Dean, the owner, took pity on us and gave us the OK to abbreviate our second set. I can’t say I was sad to leave Cleveland either.

On the way out of the diluted, empty downtown of Cleveland the band made up songs: “1 little 2 little 3 little crack heads,” “Jimmy Crack Whore and I don’t care….” And “What should we do with a (drunken sailor) broken crack pipe?” The songs made driving the scary way home, not so scary.

August 26 – The Muse at Gray Goose, Londonderry, NH

Man, I was so nervous last night. I was playing before my ol’ man for the first time.

He put us all up the night before in Stockbridge at the Red Lion Inn, a delicate little worn in beauty of a bed and breakfast and he and his groovy girlfriend, Kim, cooked us dinner. We all sat ’round the table discussing the horrors of the music business, the dark enveloping us into the truth behind our laughter and the light from dizzy, flickering candles, strobed familiar smiles, and lasted on our faces long after the night was blown out.

It rained the next day and we did laundry at Kim’s. Dad came up to the show in the van with us. The boys absolutely loved him! It was a little extra congested in Moby due mostly to the way our cloth’s stuck to us in a velcro like love. Every vehicle over 22 feet that passed us was fair game for dad to say: “That would be a good ride to tour in.” We all agreed. I must admit, Moby has been getting smaller, the way my preschool, which once felt huge to me, now looks tiny. I guess it’s about time to grow a little.

We had a great Opener, a guy named Mark Erelli, who sang some great tunes. The antique room was flooded with tables, candles and people. The night was sold out. It had been for 2 weeks, said Meredith and Kent, the beautiful couple who own the gig. They’d supposedly had to turn twice the capacity away.

I was shaking nervous and stayed back in the changing area doing jumping jacks and leg exchanges to get out some of the nerves. Some nerves are good. Once an audience laughs, nerves really start to dissipate. The show went really well and dad ended coming and joining me for a song. We played “Close your eyes.” And that was the night. Sweet and joyous and familiar. With dad’s support and approval we forge ahead.

August 27 – Jonathan’s, Oqunquit, Maine

101 goes slowly up the coast. Kenny Sleeps, Mcrae zones, Soucy fingers the map, I type and, as is most often the case, Delucch drives. I had a radio interview for the Martha’s Vineyard gig at 12:30 and a phone interview with a very nice chap in Pennsylvania at 1:30. That’s one of the reasons it took us so long to wind up to Maine, we had to keep stopping at phone booths on the sides of the road. The radio interview took place right outside a toll booth. On a phone splattered with some brown beverage…coffee or coke or something. It was hard to hear, what with truckers changing gears and 18 wheelers screeching tires on their way to pay toll, and the boys playing Frisbee and cleaning out the cooler. And even though I tried to do the PA interview on my cellular, I ended up on the side of the road (on my mom’s phone card) on a pay phone on the wall of “The Road Kill Restaurant.” The aroma of fried food stuck on the walls as a permanent fixture. And I could feel the yellow, mafia lights, etching their way into my conversation.

The rocky coast of Maine was exquisite. The fog sitting patiently above the water and tiny children in polka dots, wading out into the waves, jumping up in the air in an ecstatic synchronized dance, to miss the wave.

The other reason it took us so long to drive from NH to Maine was due to the # of people who use Oqunquit as their weekend vacationing spot. We were stuck in traffic most of the way. We stopped at Soucy’s cousin Fritz’s house. They said that if you drink 40 bucks worth of booze at this local joint, you’d get a free lobster form “The Lobster in the Rough.” He and his wife, Tammy, somehow got hold of 16 lobsters and graciously invited us along. It was exactly what we were looking for, but by the end of an exhausting sound check, I just wanted to rest. Soucy went anyhow and had fun for the rest of us sleepy heads.

The show was good and sleep was even better. I dreamt I had given birth to a beautiful little girl “Theadocia” and even though I knew it wasn’t the right time to have her, I’ve never woken up so happy in my life.

August 28 – The Hot Tin Roof, Martha’s Vineyard Island

“Home, Home On The Road…..”

We got on Island at 4. My brother, Ben, was supposed to meet us but he never showed up. The Saturday was overcast and hot in my jeans on and my favorite purple rainbow fish T-shirt. The Island was bustling with white starched shorts with tourist’s legs in them. We went straight to “The Roof.” My best friend, Adam and his band, Natusch Knight, were opening up for us and he met us at the loading dock as we were getting in. I pounced on him like Tigger, nearly taking him down and showed him and his roommate, proudly around the van, as though it was my house…. “Here’s our kitchen,” I said pointing at the cooler, “in the back bench is the bed room, where we sleep. The living area is this front row and the way back is storage.” It was so good to see him. Their band sounds really really tight and cool. I used to play in a disco band with the guys in Natusch Knight, called The Boogies. Whooo, the time’s we had….Playing for the President, the naked show, the glitter, the platforms! That was a time I tell you what!!

The night proved to be very dark in that fall sort of way. It was chilly too, like it is on Halloween, and trees whirled their leaves like pompoms in the dark. The venue was packed and I felt really good. Mom even came up and sang “Actress” with us which was an honor and a blast. She came out swinging in a strut which was so familiar to me and we hammed it up playfully, to the Nth.

It was a gas to see so many of my friends in the crowd. “Wow,” I joked “I think it’s fair to say I’m either related to you or I’ve dated you at one point or another.” And after, when most people had gone and the scent of amber had drifted out into the room from the wood in the rafters, and faded echoes of laughter were draining apologetically off the rivets in the Hot Tin Roof, the leftovers huddled around the bar, in the beige, ferry dust filled overhead lighting. It was just like old times, throwing limes and sliding beers and smoking if you smoked and drinking if you drank. As a summer job, I use to take tickets at the Hot Tin Roof and I remember sitting slumped over, shoes off, in the periphery of light which encircled the bar, after the last encore was sung and before the next day brushed the middle of the night out of it’s way. It was nice to see that that tradition still intact.

T-Bone Wolk was there and honored us with his critiques and praise. He said if we wanted any help on the next album he’d be glad to be of service. “Are you kidding? I mean Yeah!!!” I said.

Jeremy, our old guitar player was there and it was good to see him after so long. He said he was playing in a cover band called Weed. We’d parted ways under not so good terms but there’s no longer any hard feelings. Just goes to show how time really does heal.

August 31 – Stephen Talkhouse, Amagansett, Long Island

Like a Yo Yo we travel past the miles we left behind yesterday. They are lovely and groomed and wind like doodles on a bored phone pad. The highway is a zipper whose tracks we do and undo and do up again. Gigs begin to feel like well worn habits. Like days they come to be expected. The sun comes up like a curtain on another day and, though we are grateful, we are not surprised or amazed.

We’ve taken 8 ferries in the past 24 hours. 4 to Long Island and 4 Back to Cape Cod for the Nantucket gig tonight. My friend, Heidi, from Martha’s Vineyard is traveling with us. It’s nice to have another girl on the road. Her boyfriend, Brandon Fisher, painted us this huge tapestry back drop for the stage with flowering guitars on it. It definitely adds to our increasingly unique stage. We now have: The new banner, 1 Betty Boop doll, 3 feather boas (red, black, and white) 1 Yellow Smiley Face Critter and 1 Puff (daddy) the Magic Dragon courtesy of Kenny’s daughter, Brittany, and, of course, various colored sun glasses strung about for “Actress.”

We left the Vineyard after a 2 day hiatus during which we ate, slept and beached. I was in a foul mood for really no good reason yesterday. I’ve just been overly emotional the last few days. Going home does that to me sometimes. I was also a little stressed due to the fact that we had nowhere to stay in Long Island. All the hotels were either sold out or cost upwards of $165. I figured if worse came to worse we could get 1 room and Heidi, Delucchi and I could sleep in the van but I’ll be honest with you, the idea didn’t really thrill me. I was overjoyed when my friend Ian, in NYC called me and told me we could stay at his house just 3 minutes down the road from the venue.

We were warmly welcomed back into the Talkhouse and immediately felt at home. Even the photos on the wall seemed to call out their greetings to us: “Like welcome back to the Talkhouse, Sally,” they seemed to say, “lets catch up and like that, yeah, good to see you….” and the staff all remembered us by name. They told us that we were the only new group to be invited back this season. We were honored. Drew, the house sound man, had hugs for all of us and Brett assured me we’d have more people this time at the show.

Pre-show we watched the X files (I’d never seen it before on account that I don’t have a TV back in Colorado) and the boys dressed me in various mis-matching outfits, scrunching up their noses or raising their eye brows to show their approval or lack there of.

Indeed there were more people at the gig….many more people including Suzanne Vega and my lawyer, Fred Goldring and some of his friends. The show went really well. I think people really got into it. I felt like inviting them all over to Ian’s for a dip in the pool (of course I didn’t Ian). But they all felt like my friends.

At the end of the show, after I’d played my encore and after I’d thanked everyone so much for coming and I’d gone upstairs to grab the CD’s and was ready to sell some andpack up and be gone, the audience persuaded me to sing yet another. It was the first time, I think, I really did an encore. Encores, for the most part, are songs prewritten as encores into the set. The performer goes off stage and is seemingly “persuaded” to do “just one more!!” Meanwhile the audience is already in on the trick. They all know to expect a few more tunes after the performer has initially gone off stage and said goodnight. They know to wait and hold up lighters and clap and bang and whistle and cheer really loud when the artist reapears, as though they’d made it happen. And yet the premeditated encore still exists. Well….I didn’t have anything left on my set list written down and I already had two boxes of CD’s in my arms but I put them down, picked up my Gibson and I played a solo version of “In My Mind.” And that, my friends, is the power of an audience.