And by “world,” of course I mean “Bakersfield.”
Well, it seems Old Man Hudson’s birthday is coming up. And what better way to celebrate than to relive some of my fondest memories of the few decades? By which of course I mean running down the last few TCB shows…
Bakersfield / Fresno
It’s been over a month now, so my memories are fading. I meant to write about this earlier, but alas. That Bako/Fresno weekend was a hell of a trip. I drove out to pick Nick up at the farm and got the whole tour, goats and all. Loved it. Saw a bunch of meerkat-looking things on the side of the freeway just standing and watching cars drive by. (This was a little north of Morgan Hill on 101.) Blazing hot Bakersfield, as a town, was interesting. We stayed at the newly renovated Padre Hotel, and though it was pricey, it was totally worth it. I wish we had more time there, because it was pseudo-Vegas and gaudy, but undeniably comfortable. One of the nicer rooms I’ve been in, honestly. Downstairs was a different story, because it was packed to the gills with locals. The prevailing style and attitude of the town was as douchey as I expected. A lot of big pickup trucks, awful club clothes, and general meathead-ery. Like our own West Coast Jersey Shore kinda. The overall effect was not unlike Biff’s casino in Back To The Future II’s alternate 1985. There’s just a weird vibe in that city. But that doesn’t apply to everyone. We had a good crowd at Fishlips, and after a little while, we even got some of that seated room up dancing.
On the way out of town, we visited Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace museum and had Macaroni Grill for the first time in years. I myself even made a detour to see C-Po in Visalia, tucked almost in the shadow of what I think were the Sequoia National Park mountains. Saw the Moz-friendly Velouria Records. The place we played in Fresno (the all ages Starline) was actually great, and the show itself was probably the best of the last few months. The crowd was way into it. Nick rocked his electronic drum-kit. I joined For The Masses for “Personal Jesus.” I’m hoping we get to play there again. Have I mentioned how much I love playing Fresno? That town just fits us!
And so does its Claim Jumper, which of course we hit the next morning. So yeah, great trip. Special thanks to For The Masses. I’m so glad they’re back together. Such nice guys, and they sound amazing. That “Pain That I’m Used To” intro gives me chills. The shows were fun, had some side adventures, and saw a lot of California roads I’d never driven on before. Me gusta!
Slim’s (San Francisco)
The Slim’s Moz birthday show was another huge night, with 450+ in attendance. Fascination Street’s San Francisco debut went every bit as well as we all expected. I’m sure they’ll be back soon. Love Vigilantes put on a great set, and TCB overcame several obstacles to have a killer show. We had to cut some songs, our big intro video plans were botched at the last minute, ans some other drama too. My brand new Les Paul got a big gash in it at some point during the evening, but I didn’t see it happen. But despite it all, it was good times. The Jenny Wehrt raffle situation went over well, and I think she sold all of the paintings she brought. Hope to have her back next year! I’m telling you Bay Area folks, our annual Slim’s show is the one not to miss. It’s been pretty consistently epic if I do say so myself. 🙂
It was always going to be a quick trip. Barely 24 hours, but in that time, holy shit did we eat some good food. In just one day, we accidentally found Beth’s Cafe which turned out to be some hip locals place. Among other things, I had the best blueberry muffin. So good in fact that I assumed it would be the culinary highlight of the trip. How wrong I was. Before the show was a delicious arugula salad with chevre and pistachios. Then after the show, we were looking for a 24 hour place. A punk rock girl at the venue directed us to The Night Kitchen, a place so hip that no one we asked on the street could help us find it… despite us thrice circling and asking around on the very block it’s located on. We eventually found it, and with it the true culinary highlight of the trip. Everything we had was amazing, but the prize goes to the fried cheese curds. Delicious and revolting at the same time. Picture bits of fried mozzarella sticks where the batter is like salty donut batter. My mouth said yes, but my conscience said no. Whew! OK, so then the next day we hit up Luna Park, and with a few hours to kill before heading home, a waitress suggested Full Tilt in White Center. This is a homemade ice cream parlor (that serves beer floats) and has old arcade and pinball games. (Operation Wolf!) Despite being stuffed from Luna Park, I managed to squeeze in some salted caramel ice cream.
Sorry for “fooding out” there, but believe me, this trip warrants it. Now, the Yang to that good food Yin was, without question, our dirty hotel in the meth part of town. Let’s just say I chose to lay down some towels to avoid too much contact with the sheets. The show itself at Tractor Tavern was great! We played solidly and drew a big and fun crowd. Our friend and fill-in singer Virgil helped us out and did an amazing job, with some real vocal chops and showmanship. A total success!
I’ll leave you with some new music. When I was in Chicago a while back, I heard a song playing in the background while checking out some antique shop. Mainly I noticed the glammy guitar tone, and I knew I had to find out what it was. Turns out it was — quite unexpectedly — Monsters Of Folk. And that killer guitar work was not at all representative of the rest of the album. But just the same, it ended up being a great find, and believe that I am no fan of most modern folk music. My assessment? A lot of the singing reminds me of Yes. I hear a Simon & Garfunkel influence in songs like “Magic Marker.” But the glam factor is in there too, where you hear a Bowie sound in many track, including the one that boasted the aforementioned killer guitar solo “Say Please.” Other standouts included “Ahead Of The Curve” and “Dear God.” At the end of the day, I wasn’t blown away or anything, but it’s certainly worth a listen. I love how that happens sometimes where you come across new music when you least expect it and occasionally end up finding a gem. Hell, it’s how I’ve found some of my favorite bands over the years… including The Smiths!