New York half-time break over, we headed to Philadelphia.
Our keyboard/sax player, David Lackner, spent a number of years in the Philly jazz scene, so he was pretty excited to play there as those people would be seeing him do something entirely different than what he is known for there – I guess?
(I can’t testify as an expert on David’s reputation in Philadelphia.)
The venue, Johnny Brenda’s, is a gorgeous place that I was very happy to be playing. The stage layout is a bit peculiar as it is a smaller floorspace with very high balconies; it can give the performer a feeling of being in a lion’s den or a mini-coliseum, looking up and seeing all the people line two levels of railing.
So you better ‘bring it’, I suppose ….
The sound man was projecting The Rolling Stones “Some Girls” 1978 show from Dallas, which was some good fun. They had two screens there so we were able to project twice the weirdness. They also had a smoke machine. It was to be a real rock’n’roll show after all.
The place filled in nicely and we manipulated ourselves onto the rather tight stage and proceeded to have what was likely the best set of the entire tour. But, of course, the night belonged to David, I thought.
He always has a tremendous amount of energy every time he plays but I thought he was especially vibrant that evening. I know that David’s abilities and energy brings a lot to what I like to do with this music, so he helped me to play a better show, too.
And, in a somewhat cheesy (but sincere) moment, gave him a shout-out on stage, introducing him as “A gift to us all, David Lackner”……
(You may check out some of David’s solo music as well as other artists that he releases music by at his website here.)
A gentleman I believed to be the owner of Johnny Brenda’s was super nice. I enjoyed visiting with him. The entire complex was fantastic from the green room to the veggie burger I had. I loved Johnny Brenda’s and the good people there.
After the show, it took a long time to park in the rain before we retired to the home of a good friend of David’s.
The following morning we went out for coffee and walking around.
I nearly bought a pair of tacky dress shoes (I take foot fashion very seriously) but simply couldn’t tolerate the annoying-ass salesman who kept talking to me in this semi-confrontational manner like he had learned to sell clothes from watching “Glengary Glen Ross” or something.
The shoes were cheap, I loved them- but I simply didn’t want to give that guy my money. Oh well.
Our drive to Baltimore was fairly short. Meanwhile our drummer’s health was going downhill. We had all been experiencing a bit of a bug but it hit him the hardest on this day.
I have a love/hate relationship with Baltimore. It’s a rough place but its own brand of weirdness is all its own- something I love about it. My mother introduced me to John Waters movies when I was very young (don’t worry: it was “Hairspray”, 1988) and that likely started my education on the place.
We played the Ottobar which is at a different location than I (vaguely) remember from the past. We set-up a bit and I went for a walk around the area, looking for a mailbox to send some postcards. Down the street there was a terrible car accident. Weird day. Appropriately Baltimore.
Twas a special night as the opening band, Mopar Mountain Daredevils, featured Cotton Casino, a former member of Acid Mothers Temple. They opened the show and I enjoyed them quite a bit. Cotton’s vocals are awesomely weird! I liked watching their drummer a lot as well.
Our set was so-so. Energy was strange. The balcony to stage right was filled with seated guys which usually doesn’t bother me but, on this particular evening, it filled my mine with flashbacks of overweight seniors on the waterfront in Louisville, in lawn chairs, watching some honky blues band.
I Tweeted for someone to get either Mink Stole or John Waters to the show. No dice.
Acid Mothers Temple set was really great but I wasn’t feeling so hot. I was in and out of the green room, occasionally laying down. Cotton came out and joined them toward the end of their set and that was great. She was her usual, animated self, climbing the P.A. stacks and belting it out. I took some photos of that action.
There was a taper at this show (among others) and he has posted the AMT set here.
We got a motel room and there was a lot of sleep as the varying degrees of illness had dispatched itself among various members of the group. Myself included.
Sleep, switch from a night of Ny-Quil to a day of Day-Quil. Hit the road.
We parked near the monuments as most of the band wanted to go to the air and space museum. I had been there a few times so I chose to wander off in my own direction. We were near the National Museum of the American Indian, and I really wanted to go but, due to time restraints, I didn’t. I regretted this decision later when I was told that Jim Pepper’s saxophone is there as you enter. Damn.
I walked through the botanical garden which was reinvigorating. I enjoy it all but I especially liked the jungle area. I am not too much of a hippie in this area but I felt especially good when I laid my hands on the bark of a massive tree in there. It just felt good. The dust from its bark had a great scent that was left on my hands.
I walked to the venue from there which was only about two miles (I think?) so I beat the others there by a bit.
We were booked to play at The Red Palace, formerly the Red and Black Bar. I had played there once a number of years ago with Lucky Pineapple after that incarnation had opened (a show that, in itself was an odd adventure that deserves its own post one of these days).
The place was locked up but someone who worked there let me in as it had gotten pretty warm outside. The place itself was neat, a marriage between the former venue and the bar that was next door, if I recall correctly. It has a sort of Coney Island, freak show motif going on. My kinda’ decor, for sure.
It seemed like a long time before we played on this evening. The venue fed us and some of the guys watched part of a baseball game. The Washington team has a “W” logo that looks exactly like a Walgreens logo. Art my age, observations like that are the only interesting bits I can extract from sports.
The opening band, Buildings, were a super-tight, instrumental math rock/indie rock band that would have owned Louisville or Chicago 10 or so years ago. They played a fairly short set but got a good reception from the crowd that watched them. I think they were local?
Scotty came out and gave ‘em some Clang. I thought the crowd was pretty into it! Sadly, I am the personality type that probably enjoys seeing looks of confusion and light horror on their faces more than the other- but good for Scotty.
I really enjoyed our set on this night and had a lot of fun seeing people rock out to some of the more driving rock songs. “White Hot Gun” and “Master of the Universe” went over really well on this night.
I had been asked to start playing the solo on “…Gun” at some point during the tour which presented me with the predicament of having to solo on three or so different songs in the key of E. I don’t want to do anything like the same solo every time, especially within the same set, so it becomes a bit of impromptu, creative problem solving. But it’s fun.
AMT was great, of course. The taper was back again (super nice guy, btw). The sound man gave us soundboard recordings of both of our sets. Soundboard recordings can mess with your head (usually really loud vocals and drums) but, a brief listen made me feel OK about it. I don’t get much out of listening to that stuff (albums I am on, live recordings) – I’m not Prince.
A nice review of this show here.
Live recording of Acid Mothers Temple from this night here.