We are in Santa Barbara. Yes, Santa Barbara. Land of Reagan. Land of clean ocean breezes. Land of sleepy Santa Barbara enthusiasm. A mixed Wednesday night crowd of elderly Republicans, Folkies, Hippies, beautiful Lesbians and young girls came to alight on our solitary limb. Perhaps there’s something here that makes people permanently satisfied with themselves, the climate, the state of national politics. But we are not such people. We play a regular gig on skid row in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. For two years we played every week on the worst street in the worst city in America. And you know what? It was the best and it still is. The best room, the best vibe, the best bartender/owner, the best sound, the best fans. We are lost in this affluent beach community. We are lost.
PM says, “Any time we’re doing better than breaking even, we’re doing good.” It’s night, and Santa Barbara is quiet. Peaceful? Perhaps. Yes, it’s likely. But quiet, certainly. We’ve just done a mellow set at Soho, a very pleasant club in a tasteful Spanish courtyard whitewashed building on State Street. Gina Villalobos and her fine band went on first, and their rowdiness was reined in, as would be ours. They sounded like a good indie record, the sound man had good things happening, and the crowd was with Gina all the way.
Our friend , the Irish folk singer Paddie McCorkle, is wandering this week, seeking a deeper insight into his ultimate destiny and avoiding gainful summer employment. He’s hanging with us at Soho, and we try and browbeat him into selling CDs for us, but Paddy’s no patsy. He’s impersonating our tour manager at first, drinking beer after beer and eating chicken fingers on the half-price band tab. After a while he starts telling people he’s the producer, not the tour manager. It sounds better, gives him more artistic authority, makes him appear less desparate. Our show was with electric instruments, but we played cautiously, perhaps stately. To rock seemed wrong. The Hawks sounded good, and the audience was enthusiastic in that restrained Santa Barbara way. The ProTools overall compression plug-in has been applied to the collective psyche of this isolated and fortunate community. No highs, no lows, but a solid and pleasant midrange. Nice chats with our SB friend and big supporter Jeff Levy and audience afterwards, and then we packed up.
We’re back at the hotel, and things have turned strange.Paul Marshall is having a very sensual discussion with Paddy, our boon and twisted companion on this brief journey into mellow uncertainty. Paddy wants us to drive backroads into the mystic Santa Barbara Highlands to gaze upon ponds with local beach dwelling nymphs, now sheltering in the upper mists. We Hawks are weary, and guarding our spirits from distraction, and are declining the invitation, but these Sirens are of an unstoppable will, and will not release us from their feminine energy. Paul Marshall is a rock, a cool and commanding iceberg calmly but resolutely cooling the scene, lowering the stakes, bowing out gracefully. Thank you, Paul.
Shawn is the healer. He’s our Jesus. At times, PM can be the bad guy but he’s also the compassionate father. Sleep comes after hours of trying to squeeze decent programming from the big screen TV.
Morning in Santa Barbara, and the pleasantness persists. A flawless breakfast at Cajun Kitchen (good to superior rating, Hawks Better Cuisine Council), a farewell to wanderer Jay, and we’re heading north on the 101. Will the mellow groove persist? It seems impossible, and yet . . .