As North Korea waves its impotent (taepo-)dong at the world, we’re driving boldly northward on I-95, America’s drug running corridor, not running drugs of course but running country rock. Country Rock! Country rock for America! Original country rock in defiance of North Korean missiles! If we stop playing country rock the terrorists are winning. Come to us ye merry Americans! We call out to you in harmony of tone and spirit with wings and arms spread. Our hearts are wide open for you. Do with them what you will, but be gentle, be gentle for we hold a dead man’s hand of Aces and Eights, waiting for a bullet in the back. Two pair, but not just any two pair. What was the fifth card and what will it be?
We’ve got a quarter jar of Wilkes County, NC moonshine sitting in the cupholder, spreading good vibes through our Suburban interior. Moonshine molecules float through our mobile enclosed space, tickling our nostrils and our country rock fancy. So–we flew in direct from LAX to Washington D..C yesterday in a brand new Boeing 777 leased and operated by United Airlines. Each seat had its own individual television with 50 cable-tvish channels. There was a great shark program on, as there usually is, called “Air Jaws.” Off the coast of Cape Town in South Africa great white sharks sim straight up from the depths at speeds approaching 30 mph. With prey locked in their jaws they shoot into the air, breeching fully above the southern waters. These prehistoric missiles, (not missals – the Catholic prayer book, and unlike the North Korean dongs) thrill and terrify us all.
Will Garrison Keillor address this latest Korean missile crisis in his next radio broadcast? Perhaps, but this hit or miss Robert Altman of the radio waves could just as easily ignore it altogether. He’s gotten bolder in his critique of America’s madness, veering into Martin Luther King territory, that area where the speaker must duck when a car backfires. When will someone stand up and pelt this writer/broadcaster, the soul of highbrow middle America? Perhaps, like the Simpsons, he’s under the radar and over the heads of the vicious beast that got JFK It’s 4 p.m. in DC adjacent Virginia. Not very Virginia up here. Jassa, our Sihk cabbie, whisks us away from Dulles International but quickly he realizes he’s made a wrong turn due to being distracted while trying to program his new GPS unite. We get back on the right track then lost again. The GPS is a step behind, recalculating as The Sihk gives Paul Lacques his map. The GPS proves to be extraordinarily accurate and even prescient, predicting our arrival in Leesburg and replotting the directions with our brave turbaned warrior abandons a clogged commuter artery. We make it to PL’s brother Gabe’s house in historic Leesburg, Virginia, within two minutes of the GPS prophecy.
We invade Gabe and Deanna’s basement, haul up our amps and drums, reload, sip moonshine, and drive to Vienna, VA, another DC bedroom community framed by trees, canals, and swamps yielding to Suburbia Americana. Jammin’ Java is in a mini-mall with a generous roadside parking lot. It could be the new roadhouse, as funk vanishes from the roads. Pierced and dyed young women in black smoke cigarettes on the concrete walkway. Some of them work at Jammin Java and direct us around to the back. The mini-mall isn’t so mini, it’s a long drive to the back entrance, and the interior of JJ is huge, brick walled, and mysterious. It doesn’t match its anonymous exterior. Very cool.
Tony Gilkyson and Rob Douglas greet us. (Kip is a newlywed, congrats, and subbed out till we go to UK in August.) Paul L puts new old stock 1950’s GE 6V6GT tubes in his amp, which promptly blows a fuse. You’d think Paul would have learned from past Ebay purchases, but no, he hasn’t. He puts the old tubes back in, and the amp works fine. Rolling the dice, he replaces a smaller 12AX7 tube. This one works, and the amp sounds great, rejuvenated. It was getting tired on the first leg of the tour, and now it’s frisky, even brash.It’s another small but wiry crowd in the dark halls of Jammin Java, but a good time is had by all. Gabe and Deanna, their cute and bright as a penny near one year old Carlin, Deanna’s mom Bonnie and her man Jake are full of enthusiasm and good cheer, hang for the Hawks and Tony. Jake’s excited, appropriately enough, by Tony’s barn burner instrumental “Late for Jake.” Two fellow Mayo Spartans from Rochester, MN surprise RW. The vibe is alright. The Java sound man and intellectual waitresses are great, and we want to come back.
Load up in the misting humid late night, bye to baby Carlin and keepers, 2 hour drive to Elksburg, MD, arbitrary stopping point discovered by Paul M in his hotel booking stint. A Hampton Inn bordering a woods and mosquito pond, comfy, with cookies and tea at 2 a.m. But it’s only 11 p.m. west coast time, and we’re not burnt at all. Watch France beat Portugal 1-0, and crash out.
Paul L was hoping for Germany vs. France. Nostalgia.We’re on east coast country rock time next, day, wake at 11 p.m. and load up. Rob and Paul L sprint the 100 yards to the Waffle House, a country rock exercise regimen that we can probably adhere to. Eggs, hash browns smothered (and capped for Paul M), two orders of cheese and eggs, and we drive north on the 95. Paul L accidentally averts a toll exit, driving blissfully through an EasyPass only lane. Will an expensive east coast traffic violation ticket be arriving in the mail?
The New York City Skyline rises up on the horizon. The first thing you notice is the missing World Trade Center towers. The band debates the Freedom Tower. Should it be built? What, if anything, does “Freedom” mean in this context? Stalin’s freedom, or Townes van Zandt’s? NYC gets the Hawks jacked every time. We cross the George Washington bridge and our pulses race. It’s so public. There’s the high rise tenements with the homies on the wall, and the elegant old smaller brick co ops where you know the yuppies grind their beans fresh. No anonymity, and thus anomymous. We’re listening to 1980 Mink DeVille, the perfect east coast soundtrack. She’s a mixed up shook up girl.