We have a live radio performance today, at sunny 1 p.m. This is our only link to career mindset, for we have severed all other adult responsibilities and are deep in rock and roll on the road. It didn’t take long. Wheels are still our means of transformation. Only a short mantra of highway whine and we are on the other side. Whiskey seals the deal. The other side is the place to be, if you can get away with it. Multiplatinum sales, fearlessness, or innocence will keep you there.
At chez Waller on the hill over the harbor Rob makes eggs from no apparent ingredients, the first confirmable Miracle of the tour. We pack, descend in Yukon from Tiburon, south across the Golden Gate into The City. Rob becomes a San Franciscan, guiding us solidly through the labyrinth. We’re greeted at the building on 2nd just south of Market by Tim Lynch, KPIG AM host, and his lovely assistant. .
Upstairs all is groovy young energy. Tim is a super cool and super pro personality, all that you could wish for. He sets up Neumann condensor mics and SM 57’s for our performance. He asks real questions (doesn’t bash L.A.) and makes us feel good, and the music flows. Tim’s young acolytes applaud enthusiastically after each song. This feels fresh and different. The energy of the sun.
The other side is keeping us in the zone where good things happen. A quick stop by the summer sublet of Hawks friend and resident geologist Sara for hamburgers, burritos, and brownies and we’re on our way. We roll on various variations of cement ribbons designated with 80 in one way, then another. Finally Eastward.We are in the Central Valley. The air is just shy of smoky, and there is talk of recent and
current fires. This heat doesn’t feel as good as Marin, but it’s all right. North from 80 and then a series of farm roads, dry fields and ripening orchards. To Winters and its water tower, its authoritative Mexican food, and its music hall: The Palms.
Which today breathes cool as we open its glass doors, a welcome cool filling two 19th century floors, and the lovely theater room. Dave Fleming greets us with his inimitable low key kindness and wisdom. We load in, sound check with a great new sound man, Carl. Sounding very good. We greet the Loose Acoustic Trio in the parking lot and they walk into sound check. We head over to enjoy the gracious hospitality and laid back agrarian sweetness of the Tyson Estate.The Tysons have done it again. White wine, an assortment of Hawks-themed beers, shrimp cocktail, lox and capers and fresh bread. Doran and her mother are just too nice. We put our feet up, sit back, enjoying conversations with old friends and new on the wide veranda as evening comes down over little pond. It’s perfect.
After quick showers and fresh clothes we head over to The Palms. The room has filled up nicely and the Loose Acoustic Trio is sounding great. Their harmonies are bigger, their songs sound light and free, floating over the crowd and lifting everyone’s spirits. Paul L sits in on jawharp and dobro, and Shawn on snare. Brotherhood and smiles, and the crowd loves the whole thing. Sorrow Be Gone, indeed. Richie Lawrence’s ethereal Flying song takes on a new and different life that floats from the stage into the shadowed theater audience. This is a special night. The Hawks take the stage. With Dave Zirbel along the band feels complete. Something is happening here. The grooves feel tighter, the orchestrations richer, the sonic peaks and valleys more guided by the unconscious, we’re letting the game come to us, as they say. We’re not forcing it. It’s just happening. The crowd is with us. “Yolo County Airport” feels like a genuine triumph. Richie sits in with his magical accordion. A guy in the front row keeps calling out for Humboldt. Hold tight brother, it’s coming. “Good and Foolish Times” lifts off, “Grid” delivers a gut punch, “Never Alive” is a stately waltz. This is a good musical time. Music! Oh magical music! What wonderfully restorative powers you can unleash when all is a right and the groove is tight.
Back to the chill Tyson pad. A few nightcaps and it’s off to bed. Tomorrow will be our longest day of the tour, and it starts in four and a half hours. But we can handle anything now.
Richie Lawrence, President, Big Book Record.