Monrovia — Topanga — Northward Again — Mother Teresa — Do Not Resuscitate — Victoria Upon Drum — Strawberry — Hail and Gypsies — Tea and Cookies — Main Stage Manias — Allison Krauss and Union Station — Revived at the Revival — Listening Ship — New Morning — An Afternoon of Shooting — Insulator Resonator
101, Marin County, north to rendezvous with the 5. Always the 5. An all American breakfast at the oustanding New Morning Cafe in Tiburon, followed by a golden triangle of bourbon, snuff, and that herb of ever changing legality; a quick pack, and we’re Yukoning it.
It’s day five of the I See Hawks In L.A. first tour of summer. Summer begins with the release of our lead singer from the rigors and responsibilities of university professorhood. The rest of us Hawks feel a contact lifting of spirits, a ghost of the schoolboy seasonal rhythms. No more teachers, no more books. Summer. And it’s only May.
Summer brings a new chapter of the Hawks saga in the person of Victoria Jacobs, Paul L’s wife. Victoria surfaces in brief moments from the Hawks earliest days: back cover photo of eponymous first CD; background vocals and tambourine on Humboldt; cover of Hallowed Ground and songwriter of “Open Door”; and occasional drums in the live show. And now she’s going to be our drummer on our Ireland/England tour in June. A thumping rock drummer whose bands have co-billed with The Red Hot Chili Peppers and toured with Iggy Pop, Victoria has learned the mysterious train beat that is the anchor of Hawks country rock, getting a crucial lesson from Shawn Nourse and nailing it in three weeks. A rather startling transformation. At rehearsal it grooved from the start.
Our first gig with the Waller/Marshall/Lacques/Jacobs lineup is at the London Gastropub in the Noho of the San Gabriels, downtown Monrovia. It’s a good trial by fire. Difficult front door load-in through a gauntlet of iPhone people locked on the crucial (if basketball be crucial) Laker wide screen game and conversing at aggressive volume. Our 9 p.m. start time gets bumped by the inevitable slow agony of the Lakers defeat.* We have to set up the P.A., always a grim task, and we line up along one hard wall like prisoners about to be shot. We launch our first song over the roar of the crowd, who respond by upping the volume ante.
But we do rock. Snare and brushes, upright bass, two acoustic guitars. Victoria is a rock of rhythm. We’ve got our sound. Our diehard fans, bless ’em, huddle in front of the band and egg us on. Victory is snatched from the jaws of Lakerdoom.
*The turmoil in the deepest heart of Kobe Bryant will bring down (and raise up) the Lakers until he retires.
Next day a sleep deprived band motors to Topanga Banjo and Fiddle Contest, in the hot hills that separate the San Fernando Valley from civilization and ocean breezes. It’s very hot. We run our second gauntlet in 12 hours, past parking guides determined to keep us away from our elite musician parking lot. We stand our ground. We’re waved in. The hills are yellowed out from a winter of little rain, dust dusts our shoes, and banjoes and fiddles battle it out on the wooden stage under the stern eye of the Judges in nearby tent, among them the most brilliant of them all, Brantley Kearns, taking copious conscientious notes. We hit the stage at 11:30 a.m., with powerhouse banjo/fiddler Cliff Wagner powering us into bluegrassland, a land we visit sporadically and humbly. The band powers through, gets a good response from the lawn chaired crowd. It’s time for a hot drive home and a nap.
Three days later begins the tour, this tour of which we now blog, with a Wednesday late May drive up I-5 and 198 and 101 and 1 to Soquel in the sleepy hills of Santa Cruz. Paul L and Victoria leave a day early, hang with Paul’s mom, get the lowdown on the latest machinations of the local corrupt city hall, as Rob and Paul M power up the next day in the faithful Yukon. We meet at the Ugly Mug, an unfortunately named cafe that’s actually very cool, on a corner in laid back Soquel downtown. We have a groovy little semi-acoustic set. Semi-, because Paul L is still struggling/experimenting with his new Fishman piezo pickup in 1981 Takamine dreadnought with light gauge strings into L.R. Baggs pre-amp into Trace Elliot acoustic guitar amp. It just doesn’t sound like an acoustic guitar yet. But should it? We get a big psychedelacoustic sound, with Richie Lawrence adding sweet and sassy, er, muscular, accordion. The crowd is full or family and old friends. PL’s mom Teresa brings along a fine gentleman friend with a card pinned his sweater that reads Do Not Resuscitate — I’m Serious. He’s damn funny and we all admire his courage and spirit. It’s a good start to the trip. Our combo is ready for our next stop, the Big Stage at Strawberry Festival.
We pack up and sneak out of Soquel at 9 p.m., Paul L caravanning in the family CRV behind the Hawks Yukon as Victoria catches some shuteye in Santa Cruz. A darkened sleep battling dash over the Santa Cruz mountains, eastward across the San Andreas, eastwarder across the San Joaquin, through midnight in Manteca, up into the Sierras on black and winding roads under bright stars. The last hour is rough. We’re beat. We lumber into Camp Mather, home of the legendary Strawberry Music Festival, in the deep woods at 2 a.m. We’ve been thinking about this weekend for months. It’s a mark that (maybe, just possibly) you’ve arrived if you’re on that big stage at the Strawberry Festival. For months our fellow musicians and fans have been letting us know: “Strawberry–wow.”
Our first weary-induced impression is murky. The skeletal 2 a.m. staff is uncertain of what to do with us. An ambulance whines past. There’s been a (singular, as it proves to be) altercation in a tent. Young hardened outdoor mountain people are doing cartwheels by lantern lamp outside their tent, comfy in t-shirts and tats in the chilly mountain air. Late night volunteers on golf carts escort us down narrow lanes among thousands of tents nestled into trees and darkness, winding, searching. We find cabin 119. We unload to the sound of distant banjo and fiddle. We survey the spartan room, pick beds, crash hard.
Five hours later Rob’s alarming smartphone alarm wakes us. Whoa. This feels challenging. We dress, unwashed and unawake. It’s very cold outside, somewhere in the 30s or low 40s. Our kind volunteer escort, Mary from San Francisco, trucks us and gear down winding trails, as we get into a little of the SF vs L.A. wordspar (we vainly try to dispel Mary’s firm vision of L.A. as packed with augmented breasts and faces), to the Amphitheater stage for our first show, a workshop with the theme Geographical Songwriting. Of course we’ve prepared nothing in advance for this general notion that Rob’s cooked up, so there’s the nervous energy of that, but we’re also confident in Rob’s finely honed art of guided conversation. It’ll be good.
We unload at the stage, where an energetic gypsyesque rock band rocks a super enthused and winterized crowd under cruel and leaden skies. It’s 9 am. These are the Strawberry regulars, the people who live and breathe music, without whom there is no forest to catch the sound of the falling tree. They love the gypsy band. The scene feels like a gathering of old friends, though new this friendship be. Hmm. How do these players move their fingers over mandolins and guitars in the chilled morning air? How do we follow this?
We set up on the wood plank stage, flex frozen fingers, and hit it. We play our geographical songs, the audience whoops it up with us, we catch a little fire. And then, as we launch into Humboldt, a distant fire, the sun, drops in for a moment, and the meadow brightens, and a hail* falls upon us, white spheres brilliant in the light above us, bouncing off our guitars, and the guided madness of this place hits us. We’re playing in a hail shower. Now it’s snowing.
Strawberry Music Festival is a living legend. And it lives as legend, as a legend would live. Play in the snow, and dig it. These things happen up here, and they are the things you’ll remember in your dotage. The traditions, the infinite musical moments disappearing into the ether of forty years in the woods, the credo of cooperation, filter into your day as a Strawberry day passes. We’re entering a state of tree heightened awareness.
We hang at the stage with friends and, yea, some new fans, sign CDs, and get trucked back to cabin 119, where we try to snatch back some missing hours of sleep. Spurned Morpheus deigns to decline our invitation, and we slumber little.
*some locals call this unusually fluffy light hail “snow corn.”
In the afternoon a thicker, heavier snow falls as we walk through the camp, get checked in at the Main Stage, a wide flat green meadow tucked into forest slopes, a modestly stunning sight. Lush and fertile. We walk to Wildflower Meadow and Eric and Christina Rice’s caravan yard, a full blown T-Party rocking the grassy campsite. The tailer/pop-up tent scene is elaborately decorated in fancy tea-party style. Except the tea pots are filled with quality tequilas. And there are some special molasses cookies, fine baked by a Mendocino grower that are dangerously delicious. Lubrications takes hold quickly. We play a no mic acoustic show as our KVMR friends and friends of friends and their companions piled into the yard, sampling sophisticated tequilas poured from Olde English teapots into teacups. The idea of cold has faded. Was it cold? We’re adjusting to a new, post-warm reality. The tequila helps. But our tribe, our fine friends in their elaborate hats, that’s where the real warmth emanates.
We wander from camp to camp, indulging and conversing as the day remains steadfastly chilly and gray. The campgrounds are densely packed with tents, cars, colorfully appointed compounds layered with the whimsy of 30 years. People have met their wives and husbands here, married here, and come every year with their children, who race madly down mud paths on bicycles, climb into the giant metate on a rock outcropping. There is not an ad or corporate sign to be seen, and your cell phone won’t help you here, my friend. We are in this together, as snow flurries and hail hails as the sun allegedly makes its path to the horizon.
The remaining 2/5 of our band, accordionist Richie and drummer Victoria, with Richie’s wife Katie, arrive in early evening followed by the Waller family. They get their artiste wristbands, we dine behind the big stage in alpenglow as Joan Osborne’s crack ensemble fills the valley. We head back to cabin 119, and shelter from the the cold. There are tempting jams going on in the camps and in a brightly lit public washroom, and everyone sounds great, jembes played with taste, double-stop fiddle champs, and some burning banjo. How do they do it? Top caliber bluegrass jams, these folks should have a spot on a Strawberry stage (but then all the Strawberry is a Stage, and we but players on it), cranking out tune after tune until three in the morning in just above freezing tents. These people are superhumans. It puts our own whimpering about the cold into perspective, and we’ve long since given that up.
The midnight trek in long johns down a dark path to distant communal bathhouse becomes no big deal. We’ve been outdoors all day, and are starting to breathe into it, as the Old Californios say. But enough is enough for Rob and the Two Pauls. We need sleep. Richie joins some sessions, but the rest of us Hawks are too sleep deprived. We crash pioneer family style in the cabin, Waller children and Hawks and Hawks wives on the spartan beds or just outside in a tent. It’s pretty fun, an extended family for the night.
Saturday dawns, and we breakfast in the big hall, serenaded by local folk and bluegrass bands including the great Doug Blumer and his band Bohemian Highway. We’re instant brothers with these cats. Barbee sings and grooves along center stage with BH and she’s signs up to help us manage our poorly managed merchandise at the big stage. We’re deeply grateful. We get in a rehearsal in the cabin, guitars, bass, accordion, and snare drum, and the groove feels good. We’re ready for our big stage debut. We eat a nervous early dinner in the musicians’ tent behind the main stage. A sea of lawn chairs surrounds the island of stage, light, big speakers.
We’re about to haul our guitars onstage when a shiny big rig pulls up, backs in, unloads, pre-empting our sound check. It’s a not-to-be-named, focus-group-constructed, alt-country band straight outta Nashville, and their serious crew make sure we’re kept far from the stage as they wheel an alarming amount of gear up the ramp to stage. They follow us in the evening’s events and seem to have been placed here as a result of some Nashville corporate blood oath, (or maybe we’re just pissed about our pre-emption?) but they’re running late and have grabbed what would have been a leisurely sound check for the Hawks.
Time passes. Hmm, this isn’t just a load-in. Are they line checking? We lurk in our tent, hear the electric guitarist and the drummer noodling in jazz fusion style. The whole band eventually kicks in. Wow, they’re doing a full on sound check. Are they out to get us? Pre-performance paranoia is as typical as the Sierra snows but this is different. Is this some kind of battle? Are they our musical enemy, the furthest reaching tendrils of the Nashville Death Star with its faux populism and compressed bombast? Stay on target. It’s no good I can’t maneuver! Stay on target. We’re too close! Stay on target!
We get that brief and longed-for sound check, and we’re off, to a big crowd on the majestic meadow and all is quickly great. The sound crew here as everywhere in the fest are top notch and icy cool, dial in our sound. They knew just how much time they needed. We rock the place acoustic style, Victoria laying down her ultra solid beat on snare and ride cymbal, Richie digging in on solos, our vocals sounding big league in the big league signal path. We get an encore, and float off the stage as the sun goes down. Things couldn’t have gone better.
It’s dark. It’s cold. The crowd is massed in darkness around the main stage. No corporate lighting here, just the glow of the hardiest elements of hippie nation. Allison Krauss and Union Station hit the stage in casual style. This band is good beyond belief. Each player is a virtuoso, and the ensemble is selfless, complex but uncluttered textures, rich. Are there really only five people on stage? They sound like an orchestra. Allison Krauss is subtle but forceful on fiddle, sings more angelically than ever, is funny and dark in stage banter, and generously shares spotlight time with all the players, who could and do front their own bands. Dan Timinski is a solid and driving old school guitar flatpicker in addition to being the voice of George Clooney, and they bust out Man Of Constant Sorrow with a glee that belies the thousands of times they’ve had to play the song. Timinski’s harmonies are spine chilling. This is the best harmony singing in the land, a land that includes Welch/Rawlings and the Chapin Sisters. Haunting, lovely, haunting. Jerry Douglas takes a solo turn and does things on dobro that are not decipherable. How does he do it? What is he doing?
The band come out for an encore with just a single condensor mic, like the old bluegrass radio days, and sound at least as good as the fussy miking and pickups version, do a long old timey set that includes Your Long Journey, a monumental song from the days of our direct link to death and the divine. The Union Station bus is down the road and out the gate before the crowd can catch their breath. Godspeed. We filter out with the crowd, down darkened wooded and campered lanes to good old Cabin 119. Even more kin are packed into the cabin tonight, as it’s just as cold and maybe colder than last night.
It’s Sunday morning. Alleluia. Blue, blue skies greet us as we emerge cautiously from our warren. And it’s warm. We’re woodswise and acclimated to our mud caked jeans and dusty boots. We do a bit of cleaning, sweep the dust from the cabin, some packing, then walk down a lane to the lake for our Gospel morning show. The lake in soft green meadow is perfectly still and glassy, the trees in reflection as real as their counterparts above. We dig into the danish and coffee on tables behind the temporary stage, are handed Bloody Marys by a buddy who’s been writing us in on the Band Suggestion form for the last six years. We accept the perfectly spicy drinks without hesitation, tune up, play a few warmup songs in the meadow. First up before the big audience, an audience that rose at dawn to pick out choice lawn chair acreage, is Tim Snider, part of the new generation of virtual folkies, laying down loops through the laptop computer in his onstage anvil encased sound rig, chanting good vibe lyrics and launching into wicked electric fiddle solos. Tim invites Paul L on dobro and Richie on accordion for an extended jam on Bill Wither’s “Lean On Me,” and the crowd digs it.
The Hawks hit the stage acoustic miked, another great sound dialed up instantly, and we play our version of Sunday revival music. Zola, Rob’s daughter, has requested “River Run,” Evangeline has just requested “I See Hawks In L.A.,” and we close out with “If You Lead I Will Follow” and “Spirit of Death.” This is the Gospel According to Hawks, and we feel the vibrations sink into the earth and scatter to the skies. Have we made ecclesiastical peace between our doubting minds and our longing hearts? During “I See Hawks In L.A.” we do our customary acapella “do you watch clouds disappear?” and the crowd hollers in the pregnant pause. Serendipity under the first blue skies in four days.
Eric Rice, master electrician zen master and towering spirit of Strawberry, gives us a lift in golf cart to the main stage, where we grab our CDs; we hightail it back to cabin 119, pack, bid complex farewells to wives, children, and extended kin. We hit the trail and the road, Paul L and Victoria caravanning behind the Yukon Manteca/99 bound, Katies and Richie and kids staying behind. Down into meadows, down into dryness and chapparal, into the baked yellow grass flats and a dash westward. At a $4.19 Arco, Paul L climbs into the Yukon, Victoria heads south. The trio Hawks are Sebastopol bound, north, west, north, west, zigzagging Sacramento river delta roads, feeling mellow and more than a little ragged.
May we offer one more big thanks and bigger admiration for the Strawberry staff and their rich tradition and effortless appearing doing of things right and righteous? And add thanks to our KVMR extended family for clearing the way and guiding us to the gold and hills. And thanks to the overworked guardian angel who fixes our foibles and leads us to way more good and foolish times than we deserve.
Sunday afternoon is mellow as we motor west, north, west, back roads zig zag from the 99, spot the foothills that rise quite abruptly at the western edge of the central valley and usher in a mysterious and genteel culture that we don’t quite understand but want to know better. Who are these farmers of these sprawling gentle fields with grazing cattle and wise oaks? Napa Sonoma is mysteriously unspoiled, with few incidents of eye averting disposable architecture. The hills draw us deeper, the vineyards glow in late afternoon light.
We follow complex directions down narrow lanes through wood frame house and storage shed estates to Studio E, just past the barn abutting the road, amidst chickens and cacti. Laurie Schaefer greets us, bassist/producer/E kingpin Jeff shows us around, top notch sound man Peter dials up a crystalline acoustic mics only sound, we are wined and gourmet dined in the cozy kitchen, some sisters and L.A. origin friends and cousins show up, and we have one of those intimate shows that keep us going in the uncertain and perilous world of the Music Download Era. The sound in the room is pure pleasure and we sail upon its calm seas, thank you, Peter, and the audience is with us on every word and phrase.
We bid another complex round of farewells, dash backtrack southward for the free and comfy lodgings of the senior Waller house in Marin. We crash hard once again. Now we’re truly beat.
And now we are returned, or planted, Pulp Fiction style, at the origin of this diary. Morning in Marin, decent night’s sleep, New Morning Cafe breakfast, right? A few more details: the tobacco shop off the 101 is closed for Memorial Day, so no sampling of new snuff varieties. We fly up the 5 into Oregon. Near Grant’s Pass we divert into a mysterious transverse range unknown valley, through the town of Jacksonville, OR, home of a brief separatist rebellion against the federal government that was ended only by WWII and the need for violence against a more distant foe. A long and mellow oak and madrone fields drive down a two lane road of no traffic brings us to the five acre compound of Brian and Sue, long time friends of Paul M. These are intense and complex people. Sue has an English degree from UCSB but plunged recklessly 70s style into the world of homesteading, forestry, and deep knowledge of woodland flora and fauna. Brian is a self described radical hippie, singer/songwriter, wanderer, mechanical engineer, surfer, and avid gunsmith.
Brian and Sue are six solar panels and an artesian well away from being off the grid. Their house is set against wooded BLM land, insuring them from any bulldozer invasion for the forseeable future. They make us an elegant dinner and we jam into the night with Brian, trading off on dobros and guitars and old time tunes.
Next morning–two nights in a row of full sleep, and we’re feeling sane again–Sue conjures divine eggs and pancakes. Brian’s got a gleam in his eye. Are we ready for some shooting?
The Hawks are ready for some shooting. All three have fired guns from a young age, Paul M is a card carrying NRA member, and Rob and Paul L share a lust for havoc and blowing things up that’s a classic dichotomy/accessory to their hippie ethos. Perhaps there’s no conflict here. We don’t mean no harm.
Brian leads us up the path into the woods, where targets of cardboard, metal disc hanging from tree, an iron tombstone in the dirt, and an array of logs balanced upright on tree stumps await at distances from 30 to 60 yards uphill in the narrow clearing. Two of us don noise muffling ear covers. Brian and Rob stuff .45 bullets into their ears. What shall we sample first? Like a sommelier of shootistry, Brian crafts a carefully constructed menu. We start with a 1955 Smith & Wesson big black .45 revolver, brutal in its unadornedness. This thing is heavy. Paul M goes first, hitting the black target with all six shots. We’re quite impressed. Rob hits three out of six, Paul L hits two out of six. We move on to the 1911 Colt .45 semi-automatic pistol with a pull back clip. This one’s even heavier, with a noticeable kick. You want to aim and shoot quick, or your arm will get tired and your hand will quiver.
This is all feeling very good. The Hawks all have good gun etiquette (finger off trigger, point barrel up and away when not shooting, never cross the barrel across a person in front of you, announce what you’re doing, ask questions) and we settle into a relaxed bullet-bonded bonhomie. Next comes a .9 millimeter British folding stock semi-automatic submachine gun. The Hawks are more at home here in rifled barrel territory, and take out targets with pretty damn good accuracy. Most satisfying are the logs balanced on tree stumps. Boom! Those suckers spin, stagger, and go flying. The orgy climaxes with a pristine but cranky 1920’s Thompson machine gun complete with circular drum magazine, yes, dear reader, the fabled Tommy gun. The Hawks and Brian consistently nail their targets. Rob goes on a particularly impressive rampage, rapidfire taking out stumps in quick succession, barrel smoke flying, metal targets clanging. When the dust settles, not an inanimate object remains standing.
We depart the homestead satisfied, thank you Sue and Brian, wind our way to and up the 99 to the uneventful 5, hit Portland at the end of a Tuesday afternoon. We check into the clean and functional Red Lion Inn in the flight path of deafening incoming jets, drive hooker festooned Avenue 82, cross tracks that slingshot us into immaculate vintage homes with comforting old trees, the Portland of our dreams and aspirations.
The LaurelThirst pub is as comfortable as its surroundings venerable scarred brick within and without, damn good pub food (oh how you wish you could generate such gravitas, Umami Burger, you overhyped fraud), young and old elbow to elbow with a refreshing lack of age consciousness. A local tells us that Portland attracts the wistful introvert, but these folks are robust, notes of log, barge, and Masonic hall. An exhaustive beer selection. We play to a small but friendly Tuesday night crowd and plot ways to crack this fine nut called Portland once and for all. We’re still very much outsiders here.
Luckily, whiskey is your friend. In good times and bad.
I don’t need
Just enough to put me to sleep
In the night
That’s not all right
When my thoughts run dark
Where are we, dear reader? From whence now originates this narrative? We’re heading east from Portland on I-84 for an informal house concert in Richland, OR. We’ve had a fine breakfast at the Detour in a pocket of hippest Portlandia. But we’re eastward of all that’s green and urbane. The terrain becomes dry sage, lava flows mutter on distant ridge, the road follows the barge laden Columbia River past two huge gray eminences of hydroelectric dams, wind buffets the Yukon, the land is weary and engineered and long overworked. Rob reads the final paragraphs of Anna Karenina on his unusually smart phone as the miles unfold. What has he learned? Feeling trumps the unanimity of intellect. Morality comes from God. Love and vanity are so often tragically intertwined. Sometimes suicide is the honorable and moral choice. Rob reads us an iPhone article about Obama’s massive pot intake in his Hawaii days. This is the President now waging war on medical marijuana clinics with a vengeance, after promising in the ’08 campaign to leave them alone. Is our president a sociopath, or merely a craven phony trying to eliminate Ambien and Prozac’s organic herbal competitor? And who are the mysterious Camry drivers with fresh Obama 2012 stickers on their rears? Are only the Tea Partiers and the far left awake these days?
Such are our thoughts on lean and mean terroir. And the Yukon gently lets us know that its tank will soon be empty. There’s been a quite long stretch of no amenities or roadside attractions. A key part of the Hawks roadmodus is to flirt with running out of gas, and this time it just might happen. Ah, but no. Our guardian angel won’t give us the satisfaction. At lonely Boardman, OR (lonely as Kip Boardman? do we exaggerate?), a Shell gas station stands sentinel. And because this is Oregon, an espresso hut sits buffeted by the sage wind. A gentle rez maiden with brightly silvered nails rings us up amongst the fishing magazines and on the fringe vending machine temptations.
The Hawks have never been to eastern Washington. Richland is at the confluence of three rivers: Columbia, Yakima, Snake. Yet for all that water coming together the hills are treeless and parched. The climate is reminiscent of a cooler Palm Springs. The main industry of the area has been nuclear power, from plutonium for Fat Man to electric plants. Hanford Reactor B of Manhattan Project fame is nearby. Today the big jobs are in remediation, cleaning up the 60 year old mess. We arrive in town to meet up with PM’s friend and Strawberry Alarm Clock archivist Jeff Ziemer and to play a concert at his home. Jeff is surprisingly young (34) for being such an expert on late 60s psychedelic rock. We get checked in at the hotel and get a call from Jeff. It’s urgent that we come to his parents house to begin eating and drinking. Setting up the PA can wait. This is going to be a happening scene, man.
Sure enough, bottles of local Deschutes Brewery IPA and a golden moscato appear before we’ve shaken off the dust, and the barbeque is smoking. We meet Jeff’s vibrant parents, Paul and Cheryl, and their warmth is like a comforting blanket that says Hawks are welcome here. A waddling 80 lb. basset hound named Armani with sad, bloodshot eyes adds a touch of comedy and completes the picture of backyard bliss. Jeff’s dad Paul has an amazing power line insulator collection that we delight in. The Hawks themselves have collected insulators in the high desert and RW recently fashioned one into a lamp. There are several solid layers of common ground here. These are the kinds of surprises that make life on the road livable.
Weeks ago, Jeff had the ambitious notion to book us in Richland on our night off between Portland and Seattle. Turns out, booking a band in Richland, WA on Wednesday night is not as easy as one might think. After trying the local honky-tonks, community centers, ladies’ auxiliaries, and fraternal lodges, and getting lots of thanks but no thanks, he decided to take a bold step. He’d just throw a party for some friends in his backyard and have us play there. So crazy that it just might work!
So, after our feast, we head over to Jeff’s house, where we wrestle the rented PA into a kind of submission, and play two rocking acoustic sets as the evening glow turns into a darkness without chill. Between the sets, PM offers an acoustic version of “Incense And Peppermints” to bring the Strawberry Alarm Clock connection full circle. It goes OK, but it really comes together when PL and RW join in on the ending “sha-la-la”s. Jeff beams with satisfaction, and the gathered crowd revels in the moment. Just a band making friends. Richland has provided.