nov 09 – baker, california ::
what? baker california? this isn’t the european highway? well… no its not… its actually i-15 about 40 miles from death valley and were else should i write the first entry of ‘kiss the frog’s fear and loathing in las vegas tour 2002′ no, my attorney, dr. craig judkins is safely nestled in his bed somewhere in germany… actually i think he may be out with big d interviewing john scofield for ebong.org right about now… who knows… either way he’s sent us frogs on this trek to vegas (also courtesy of trevor, mark craig, greg serensites and lvjbs housemama meggan frazee… they’ve all teamed up to bring the frog from its mushy lillypad to the desert zone of sin known the world over as las vegas nevada) so i’m in the desert, parked outside of a joint called ‘country store’ in the shadows of the worlds tallest thermometer… (its a comfortable 72 degrees) i’m drivin solo to vegas… pete and barry are touring with wives and have post vegas travel plans, leaving pretty ol me to terrorize the desert highway all by my lonesome. the drive thus far has sucked ass… it took three hours to get to victorville, its been raining something fierce and the traffic has been crazy… i think i got another 90 mintues or so before i get to vegas proper… the sun is starting to go down… i should be there by nightfall. i told greg from the las vegas jamband society that i’d be there by 6pm or so. the cool thing about this gig is that its newtron’s birthday… 39 years young… awesome. i arrived at the venue ‘the cheyenne saloon’ at just about 6pm… i walked in and was greeted by the very bubby and super duper friendly meggan frazee, secretary/housemama of the las vegas jamband society… we chit chatted a bit as the sound guys scurried about the stage setting up monitors and whatnot. she was in the process of setting up the lvjbs table where they solicit new members and have a raffle and all sorts of stuff. the lvjbs is a non profit organization that is run by fans ‘for the music’ they have a full non profit status, officers, meetings, minutes, you name it… its a very very very well done and finely tuned organization. its nice to deal with music fans instead of shady promoters who take the door keep at the end of the night leaving the band out on the streets of london with zero cash and no gas in their piece of shit vauxhall like the dublins castle. i’m instantly taken by the stage… its reasonably sized and square… the most interesting feature is the walls behind it are painted with huge blue flames… we’ll be playing in a natural gas inferno this evening. after casing the joint out i headed outside for some fresh air, my cellphone rang… “hello?” “aaaahhh dude, i just won a bunch of money at craps then i put a quarter in the slot machine and $150 bucks came out… ahhhhhh right check you out ahhhh” “happy birthday newtron” “woooo hoooo! right haaaaappy birthday! happy birthday to you too” (mine was a couple of days ago) “thanks dude… where are you?” “ahhhh i’m smoking a bowl at the texas station… i’ll be at the club in a minute…” “right on… i’ll see you in a few.” “right… ahhh yah…” beep. newtron seems to be having a real kick of a birthday already i hope he dosen’t get so drunk he can’t play… i doubt that will happen, he doesen’t drink nearly as much as we all did in the early food days… he’s chill and stuff now. 15 minutes later newtron and l.rae roll up full of smiles and hugs… l.rae gives me a sweet birthday card that she said they’ve had since last year but never got to give it to me. its got a space ship on it… if you didn’t know already i like spaceships and stuff like that. we unload our our gear and roll into the joint… after doing a little setting up we settle into the super delicious potluck dinner thats been brought by lvjbs resident chef charlie. the food is damn good… l.rae says “this food is fucking delicious” and continues mawing down her pasta. it seems that the lvjbs/keebler elves have made some delish ganja cookies for us all as well. barry throws back a cookie and goes back to hooking up his computer and stuff. now we’re wondering ‘where’s pete?’ newtron rolls outside for some air and pete calls his cellphone… “i’ll be there in a bit, i’m close by’ 20 minutes or so later pete rolls in, we unload his gear, set it up, do a quick soundcheck then belly up to the bar for a beer. lvjbs president, greg serensites is a real character… extremely friendly and personable, wearing a multiblue tyedye a cap and an ear to ear grin. he’s the kinda guy who when you close your eyes and think about him, he’s got a huge smile on his face… great kind guy. the nice thing about the lvjbs folks is that they’re doing it right… much like the europeans. they’re feeding the band, getting us drinks, welcoming us into their scene… people introduce themselves by giving us hugs and stuff… really sweet kind vibes here. we settle up to the bar and grab a round of drinks, a glenfiddich for pete, and a newcastle for barry and i. i started chatting with a super nice lvjbs member named missy, we talked about europe and hitchhiking and las vegas and los angeles and all sorts of stuff… in the middle of our chat barry says to me… “dude, here’s the money… (greg gave us $20 to get our drink on) his hand pushed the cash along the bar to me. i look over at him and he says “dude… i need to get some fresh air, i’m not feeling right.” just at that moment, a guy comes over to us and says “dude with the fuzzy hat… my name is rob
, you played at my brother’s bar in paris!” “awesome” i said… but my attention quickly turned to newtron… he turned a bit pale, eyes glazed over and his hands started shaking… i shook him a bit and hollared his name at him and he kinda came to. newtron mumbled “oh man… i need to go outside…” i ordered some water which seemed to help his dizzyness. l.rae came by and said that barry was sweating… we got him up and out of the barstool and made our way outside to get some air, on the way out barry stumbled a bit into the security guard who figured that b-dog was all drunk and stuff and helped us through the door. we made it to the hood of newtrons car when he wen’t limp and we eased him to the curb… he was dazed out for about 7 seconds, the security guard (a straight up greg allman look-alike with handlebar mustache and black cutoff at the sleeves ‘security’ t-shirt on top of a black longsleeve harley t-shirt with red and yellow flames up the arms, wrangler jeans, cowboy boots and a large maglight sticking through his belt over his backside) the security dude took his pulse… when newtron came to he had no idea what was going on… we loaded him into the car where he chilled for a bit and laughed at the whole thing. we sort of surmised that the hotrod keebler cookie had came and clobbered him two days to sideways… which is surprising considering newtrons appetite for such things.
its 10 minutes ’till show time and our bass player has just had a near death experience. barry is a trooper, he got up took a short walk, got some water and was the first guy on the band stand tuning his bass. newtron is a mountain of a man, and the show always goes on… nothing keeps him from the stage. shit, i woulda cancelled and called an ambulance and whined about it for three weeks, he brushed it off and wen’t back into battle like nothing happened. i admire that guy. happy fucking birthday brother. the pa is playing some kind of classic rock, pete and barry started jamming along to it real quietly then they turned it off and we kept jamming… welcome to ‘the las vegas jam’. i really like the fact that the first thing we play at our shows are straight up improvisations… and we name em after the city we play it… makes them personalized. the ‘las vegas jam’ twisted into all sorts of crazy places but finally ended up at the chorus of ‘spy vs. spy’ which we repeated twice then ended the jam… i think it was probably a 20 minute improvisation. barry bounced into ‘the taker’ after that which had some nice loops in it, after the taker we did a thrashingly monstrous version of ‘propaganda’ complete with ‘exxon, mobil, george, colin, donald and dick’ chant and some goosestepping military marches. i was thinking while we were doing this that i was probably going to get my ass kicked by one of the bikers or non-lvjbs locals… i really tried to push some buttons with the lyrics. i know its kinda like preaching to the choir, but the shit thats going on in “the us government inc.” is really fucked and if people really knew what was up they’d be out in the streets with torches trying to overthrow the fucker, or at the very least try to get some people to open their eyes to the reality of the bush/cheney/mobil/exxon/halliburton war for oil. bush’s is from an oil baron family… his buddies and campaign contributors are all oil barons, cheney’s former company builds equipment that pumps the oil from the earth, iraq has the 2nd largest oil reserves on the planet…. bomb the shit out of the place… use cheyney’s company to rebuild the oilfields ($jackpot$) then bush and his cronies draw and quarter the iraqi landmass for their uses ($jackpot$) and set up another dictator who’ll cowtow to the bush regime for 20 years or so… its rediculous… and it’s obvious… and why don’t americans see this? cause they’re being fed continual amounts of bullshit propaganda in the american media. its time to wake up, turn off your tv, and spread the word about whats really going on. i’ve been thinking about the dead kennedys a lot lately (no not jfk and rfk but the punk band from san francisco… and their mouthpiece jello biafra) these guys put a message into their music that few artists (save zappa and dylan) have had the guts to put into it… kiss the frog could easily go up on stage and play a two hour set of space-funk… we’ve done it… check out the second set of the offenburg germany show… funk throwdown… or the first 1/2 of the berlin show, atmospheric technogrooves. drastic times call for drastic measures and if that means that some people are gonna get their blood boiled by hearing about the atrocities of ‘the us government inc.’ then so be it, and if i have to take a fist in the face in the parking lot after the show by a cop or a republican then i guess i’ll just have to take one for the team. regardless, propaganda boiled something fierce and the crowd hooted and howled at its completion… it was the only tune that people mentioned by name as one they really dug. after the tense insanity of propaganda and the hugely strange theremin solo, i completely fucked up singing ‘happy birthday’ to newtron, the folks in the club helped out as l.rae and anna brought a cake up to the stage for barry to blow out. we eased into a very gentile ‘destination imagination’ compete with a ‘high school dance’ section and a nice little thank you outro. i’d say all in all it was a good ktf show, not great, and certainly not mind blowing… pete and i both really wanted to play a second set, our first sets are usually pretty dense and the second sets are much more transparent and trancy, it wouldve been nice to do another set… i feel like the folks a vegas only got to see a smidgen of what we do.
i had forgotten that i was wearing my “marines” t-shirt till after the set till one really cool gentleman in the crowd asked me if i was in the marines. if you are one of those guys… send me an email! after the set, we loaded up our gear, and newtron and l.rae took off (they had to be in l.a. in the morning) pete brought his wife leslie and his dogs to the hotel and he came back to the club where the two of us proceeded to really get our drink on. i finally got to talk to rob, who’s brother scott owns ‘the mazet’ in paris… he’s just as cool as his brother and actually came to the ‘food’ show at legends last year… he thought barry and i looked familiar… coincidence eh? we chatted with a whole host of weirdoes including scott and erik the psychedelic viking, the club owner jon (who prefaces everything he says with: ‘to tell you the truth…’ which i guess means that everything he says that he dosen’t preface with that is a lie) pete and i yapped about tenor sax, coltrane, the complete ‘in a silent way’ sessions box set, the recording process, improvisation in general… he’s got a mind full of music, and gobs and gobs of experience and knowlege to back it up. we also drank a shit load of booze, it seems that everyone in the bar offered to buy us a round of drinks… and we took most of them up on their offers. the band after us “uberschall” was a 7 piece (get this: 4 drummers, two guitarists, one bass) they basically sounded like a cross of tortoise and early food stuff… it was all jams with indeterminate peaks and valleys and some great ensemble drumming. the guitar players made some great noises, but the bass could’ve been a bit louder for my tastes. it took them over an hour to set up their stuff and their first set was 25 minutes long… weird. eventually pete got really drunk and headed back to the hotel… not long after uberschall ended and folks cleared out of the joint. i was put up in a group home (the group was away for the weekend) by meggan, we drove to her place, she showed me to my room, got me a glass of water and i passed out 10 minutes later after tinkering on the guitar for a little bit. the next morning i woke up at about 10, hopped in the car and headed to the star trek experience… more later about that later…