Colorado- Aug '05
Colorado Tour Dairy July 29-Aug. 7, 2005
Salt Lake City, backstage at the Velvet Room, July 29- Two weeks before we leave for Colorado and we've got no wheels- the green bus sleeps with its proud new pappas Bat Makumba and the white sleeps in the same dirt lot by the side of the road near Monticello, Utah it's been in since March. When two David's friends with veggie buses don't pan out we get desperate and place an ad on Craigslist and are introduced to Azziz- quite possibly the nicest human being currently residing in San Jose, California, who grants us use of his Ford E350 diesel mini-bus, the kind normally used to ferry the wheelchair-chair bound. As we roll past Sacramento towards Salt Lake we're counting our blessings and wondering if our luck is finally changing- until we pull over for gas (real diesel, sad to say) near Aubern and can't get the bus started again. Two hours and a couple friendly jump-starts later, we're still sitting on the curb contemplating career changes with a bus that refuses to spring to life and a clock in Salt Lake City that keeps ticking 12 hours away. When Marie, the gas station attendant, wanders over on a smoke break we're almost beyond consoling, but it turns out she knows more about cars than the ten of us put together. Floor the gas pedal don't pump it, she tells Ezra, because you're flooding the engine. Now turn the key, she says, and as the bus roars to life again the rest of the band leaps up from the curb and catches more air than Michael Jordan shooting over Steve Kerr to win the '96 NBA title (remember that, Salt Lake?). We've gone from utter despondency (what am I doing here I don't even like you people and here I am stuck on the side of the road with you AGAIN) to utter elation (I will never ever ever do anything else with my life ever) in a matter of seconds. We beg Marie to come on the road with us, we need you, we want you, we tell her, but she's too smart for that and settles for an autographed CD instead.
As we plow on through the night and over the Sierras, we blast the Gravediggaz and decide breaking down on the first night is a good thing (as long as you get going again). Otherwise, this is all a little unreal, a little too easy. If nothing goes wrong, it almost seems normal to pile in a bus and drive over mountain ranges to play music for people you don't know. Now we appreciate it more- it's not normal, it's downright insane, and as we cruise over a mountain pass named for an 1850's pioneer who got stuck here over the winter and resorted to cannabalism to survive we're crammed into a bus in conditions that would give even the road warriors in the Mexican baseball league pause.
Somehow most of us manage to sleep- sort of- as we scoot through the giant sandbox that is Nevada and Utah in the middle of the night to spare Azziz's radiator the daytime desert heat. Arriving in Salt Lake we set up in a park overlooking the Mormon Temple in 90+ degree heat with a small tent for shade and play a surprisingly energetic set for a mixture of seniors, little kids playing in the pond in front of us, businessmen on lunch breaks and homeless people (see Colorado Tour Dairy paragraph 2, THIS IS NOT NORMAL). Afterwards we spend our afternoon at the local waterpark sliding down waterslides, flipping off rope swings and generally drawing stares from the locals as by far the oldest non-parents in the place. Then we drive back into town to the Velvet Room, where we set up, catch a few winks on the bean bag chairs backstage and wonder where we're we're staying tonight in Salt Lake City, a city where the beer just makes you bloated and where we know absolutely nobody.
Of course, knowing absolutely no one is where the fun starts. After the Velvet Room show David asks a completely inebriated girl from the dance club next door if a 10-piece band can crash at her house. We're not sure why she says yes, but she does, and after leading us back to her house in the 'ghetto' (Salt lake City translation- the 'suburbs') we have one of the funnier nights we've had in a while crashing on hardwood floors and watching Candy drain the dregs from the beers on the mirrored coffee table and taking in the drama between Candy, her cousin, and some random guy 'using' the extra bedroom with Candy's cousin. Candy is a sweetheart and the best sport in town, who even drives us to the freeway in the morning because we have no idea where we are. Candy rocks. We want Candy.
Carbondale, CO, Buffalo Valley Inn rm. 12, Sun. July 31
The drive to Durango takes us over two 11,000 foot passes and through some of the most beautiful mountains we've ever seen- sure would be nice to come back here when we don't have to worry about making sound check on time. To that end we spend an hour in the Safeway parking lot in Montrose when the bus won't start again...but this time we figure out the problem. The problem is, we're being too uptight about this 'starting the bus again' thing. As we discover, the real key to getting the bus started again is to take a deep breath, go get some beers, play some frisbee or toss a baseball, and then try it again. It works like a charm.
Durango is worth it in every way- a crowd that's dancing from the first note, a packed club asking us when we're coming back to town. After the nighttime gig in Salt Lake- where we give it up for a cool crowd that numbers in the low double digits- it's nice to feel like this is all worth it. We play one of the better nights we have in a while, and afterwards retire to the Days End for some much needed sleep, which ends at 7 AM when we have to get up to drive to Carbondale (is anyone seeing a pattern here?). Never mind the utter boredom of sitting in a short bus with 9 other people for six hours in a row. Once we get to the Carbondale Mountain Fair we're instructed not to touch any of our gear- just point and someone will move it where it needs to go. The hospitality and general great vibes here inspire us to tear it up for a crowd that keeps partying even as a storm is brewing- during the last couple songs we look out on lightning flashes over a dancing festival, and literally as soon as we finish our encore of "No Agreement" the skies open up and everyone runs for cover. You couldn't plan this timing better even if you could plan this timing.
While we play an artist paints a wildly colorful canvas of us on stage. Later he says he's going to touch it up and finish it, but we hope not, cause it's already awesome.
Rt. 113, en route to Crested Butte, Sunday, August 7
Three days in the Maroon-Bells wilderness after Carbondale recharges our batteries, and on the way out we soak by the side of a river in hot springs as it rains on us and a rainbow forms across the valley. We get the feeling- like we did on an off day in Mt. Shasta after the High Sierra Festival in July when we found a mountain lake fed by snowmelt and floated there all day- that this is one of those rare times when playing music for a living actually pays off.
The good vibes last until Denver, where we play to a thin crowd in a bar that refuses to play anything but the Grateful Dead in between sets. It doesn't matter though, we still play a smart set and make friends with the few who are there- including Dana, who invites us to her bar in Boulder for cocktails before the show tomorrow. The next day in Boulder we pass the time in a thrift shop buying suits- the last time we played in Boulder we wore lingerie and heard that some of the local musicians thought we weren't serious enough, so we have decided to show our deeply serious side tonight. Plus, we look damn good in these outfits.
The Trilogy Lounge in Boulder is hopping, and we're tight as hell playing to a packed house with several of our friends sitting in- Scott Mast from Onda, Johnny Jyemo, Jans Ingber and Ari from Cabaret Diosa. Afterwards on the sidewalk we're so buzzed from the performance (all right, and from the free booze the club has been doling out all night) that Todd, Jason and Ezra make a pact to wear their suits all the way to San Francisco, and they're quickly joined by Pat, Cody, and Liz, who agrees to wear her black cocktail dress no matter what.
Which means that the next day we're standing outside a gas station convenience store in Canon City in the 90 degree heat eating ice cream sandwiches looking like we're there to protect the president or at least get you a great deal on life insurance (although Jason, in his impossibly form-fitting tan leisure suit, looks like he can get that used Plymouth to you for no money down).
A rancher filling the tank of his pickup looks at us quizzically and asks, "You boys with the union?"
"No sir, we're musicians," we reply. almost in unison.
Crestone, Colorado is smack dab in the middle of a county as big as Delaware with exactly no traffic lights. In other words, we're miles from nowhere when we arrive, but damn is it worth it. The setting is impossibly gorgeous- we look out on snow-capped mountains from the stage- and the locals are beyond friendly. We're a little sloppier than we were last night, but the energy is there and the crowd gives it right back. Afterwards we sell all (yes, all) our CD's, then boogie to Buckweat Zydeco before we pile in the bus and drive a half an hour through ranchland to the motel.