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Paul L couldn’t shake the ticket. It haunted him. As Paul M took over the wheel and powered us, at reasonable and legal speed, to Seattle, Paul L brooded, considering and reconsidering the $287 fine in all its permutations and implications. Let’s see, that knocks my probably take home considerably. No, just amortize it. When’s the last time you got a ticket? In Texas, again trying to gain time and distance for the Hawks. Those damn Hawks. They’re going to kill my driving record. Why am I out here? Everywhere we go there are suburbs and Barnes and Nobles and Targets. We’re a pimple on the obese corpus of American biomass. Two hundred and eighty seven dollars.

Seattle is blanketed in thick clouds, normally just the way the borderline morbid Hawks guitar player likes it, but this time the gray turns black. A sweet parking spot in the überhip Ballard section of Seattle, terrific home style progressive Oaxacan fare at Carta next to the club, a nicely turned cappucino in a thick planked woody espresso bar–all to no avail. Sitting in with our friends Mars Arizona, a well received Hawks set, late night country funk from American mover and shaker Michael O’Neill–all through a glass darkly. Late night shooting the shit at Dick’s vintage burger stand, 2 a.m. caravan to Bremerton and back roads, a private berth in Michael’s deluxe tour bus–all is darkness. And now it is actually dark. Pitch black, kinda chilly, and quiet out here in the woods of Bremerton. Two eighty seven. Must sleep.

And now, for a more balanced view of what in fact was a fine evening, our resident positive thinker Paul Marshall:

Balanced?…Perhaps. Yet still steeped in the gathering gloom that invariably accompanies the sight of a patrolman’s helmeted and sunglassed face right at your window. Having dozed off in the Navigator’s Chair, I awoke to the bump of the highway’s shoulder, a resolute slowing, and PL’s mournful declaration: “They got me fair and square.” The balancing act began. On one hand, commiseration for a colleague’s calamity. On the other, the efforts to shake it off, and bring the Hawks soaring into Seattle with our customary ferocity.

The Sunset Tavern. Friends began to appear. Verne, a fellow member from my first signed and recorded band, The Beauchemins. Bud, who brought a spectacular, vintage Strawberry Alarm Clock concert poster from 1968. Morgan and Matt and his lovely wife who had all been faithful attendees of our legendary Cole’s shows. All welcoming us to the Northwest’s metropolitan edge. “Thanks for coming to Seattle.” Hey, maybe we can shake this thing.

Mars Arizona plays. They sound good. Really good. The soundman here actually knows what he’s doing. Dave! The mix is good, the guitars are clear, the vocals are clean and cut through. The room sounds good. The Hawks play. PL sounds fine. Is he agonizing? I can’t hear it. What a pro. You do this for 30 odd years and some sort of ‘The Show Must Go On’ ethos must kick in unconsciously. Some weird combination of dedication and survivalism, like a salty sea, rise beneath us, buoying us upward and onward, and we do get through, and wind down to the well mixed sounds of Michael O’Neill, hanging and chatting with our old friends, new friends, and a welcoming road that will take us tomorrow to our next stop in Portland. At 55 mph.

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  • chet okeefe August 1, 2010, 7:36 pm

    Bubba Hernandez steered me towards you guys, and I’ve been really enjoying your travel journal and your songs. I haven’t met Bubba yet, but will be playing a gig with him 9/2 in Dallas; I heard of him through friends in Dallas and am psyched to meet him and play music. I’ve been in Nashville for 8 years, and, the times they are a changin’, may be making a more permanent move over to Texas. But wanted to say hi and say thanks for the fine writing and playing .. Best, Chet OKeefe