Days 28 and 29: Pardinas rhymes with genius

 

My first show in LA was at the Redwood Bar, which is this pirate-themed kind of place that seemed to be a hangout for aging punks. I felt right at home.  Brandon Lee Harris and I got to the same parking lot at the same time, it was good to see him.  We’re doing a show here in SF on May 26.  At a top-secret, underground venue on Valencia.  Anyway, I helped him carry his stuff, then he helped me carry my much heavier stuff.  We met Bob Cantu, the owner, not long after getting there.  Really nice guy.

And finally, I got to meet my publicist, Ilka Pardiñas.  I have loved working with her.  I have to tell you the story of Ilka here.  A music lawyer friend of mine gave me a list of PR places that were personally vetted by him.  Many of them had submission forms that asked questions such as “How many Facebook likes do you have?”  Yes, really.  Needless to say, none of them got back to me.  I have less than 200 “likes.”  Then I realized that I should ask my journalist friend Tony DuShane who he likes to talk to.  He gave me two names, one of which was Ilka at Fly PR.  Rather than asking me how many Facebook likes I had, she actually LISTENED to my cd!  And she liked it and took me on.  Oh, another thing: my age was already public knowledge, since a Chronicle story on me had run with the headline, “Dawn Oberg is just getting started at 46.”  This probably deterred more than one PR outfit as well.  Obviously Fly PR kicked all manner of ass.  They got me into a number of news outlets, and also got a review of the cd on NPR.  I made a good record, but it takes so much more than a good record to do that.  My last record went completely unheard.  I had exhausted all my resources by the time I finished making the thing.

In my generation, it was never cool to seek attention.  You were supposed to make tortured music, get accidentally famous, then complain about it until finally you just kill yourself.  I never got famous and am not trying to.  But I would like to establish myself as a songwriter so that I have options in life that include making money on publishing and licensing.  If you have a problem with that, you know where you can kiss me.  I’ve never written a word or note with a thought toward money.  But working a full-time day job and playing music is hard, and it doesn’t get easier with age.  A lot of people quit.

Anyway, it was great to meet Ilka and Joey at Fly, and also Ilka’s husband, Marcus.  The show was live-reviewed, which made me nervous.  I had never been live reviewed before, and still don’t know what was written about me.  Actually it made me think I should be all funny between songs, but of course couldn’t think of anything funny to say.  Met a couple interesting people from LA Record.  I think it was LA Record…?  The sound wasn’t too great.  Sounded very tinny to me onstage.  But the staff was nice and so was the audience.  Bob gave me little army men as drink tickets.  Oh, Ilka gave me a bottle of Jefferson’s Rye, as well as some cds by her other clients.  Awesome for the road.  The music, I mean.

Thank God I was treated for stage fright.  EMDR, people.  They use it on people with PTSD.  It totally helped me.

The next night was the Mint in West LA.  And yes, it was a pay-to-pay gig that I shouldn’t have taken but did.  I’m not proud of it.  But at the time, we had no other shows booked and this seemed like an otherwise good venue.  I felt like I needed a good venue for LA (Redwood was booked later).  I was supposed to meet Ilka and Marcus for dinner but completely missed it because I was looking for my car in the wrong garage across the street from the correct garage (I never said I was smart).  Anyway, I finally found my car and made it to the venue at least half an hour after loading time.  I took my keyboard with me the first trip since I was running late.  Usually I first go in and scope things out.  The door to the club was locked.  I called Ilka, who was dining nearby and she said it had been locked when she’d gotten there too.   We were at my car talking about it when she noticed the club doors opening.  So I took my keyboard back across the street.  We were let in and told that there would be no guest list, I would have to pre-pay for any listees.  I paid for the one guy we knew would be there and went in.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a good piano onstage.  I tested it and liked it.  It turned out I had taken my keyboard from the car to the club TWICE for no reason!  Anyway, the sound guy was douchey and kind of mean to his stuttering assistant who was trying to help me with the mic stand on the stage.  We couldn’t get the stands to work right and ending up trying like 3 of them.  Then he dismissed the assistant guy and tried setting up a mic stand his own self.  I finally snapped and said, “to my understanding I am paying a production fee.  Wouldn’t a production fee include operable mic stands?”  Never be a bitch to the sound man, it’s just a bad idea.  You can blog later about what a douche he was.  The sound completely sucked for the first two songs.  I think he was being passive-aggressive and not just stupid.  I couldn’t hear vocals from the monitors or in the room.  Then after like two songs they blasted on really loud.  All that aside, I have to say that I liked the venue.  It was like a seedy jazz club from the ‘40s.  With red lighting, bad art and the whole bit.   And the sound was good after he got it together.  I really liked the piano.  And Ilka said it sounded better than the Redwood and that it was a better venue for me.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her the arrangement, but now she knows if she’s reading this.  I ended up paying $88 because not enough people showed.  The good side of it was that I got to be live-reviewed in a more flattering environment.  Well, I hope.  We’ll see how it turns out.

The next day I drove home to SF without incident.

Day 25: Austin

I didn’t’ have high expectations for Austin. I lived there from ’92 to ’93, but my friends from that time either moved away when I did or died.  My friend Elizabeth Hansen now lives there, I met her when we worked together in Nashville.  She now has a much better gig at the Texas Moving Image Archive.   Anyway, the club was something straight out of a David Lynch movie.  Part of the décor was a ceramic elephant.  I wish I had photographed it, but I was too busy struggling with the sound system.  I was delighted that they had a piano, so I didn’t have to haul my 150-lb rig out of my trunk.  But they had no sound person and I still had to hook up the PA for vocals.  I did so inexpertly (remember, I didn’t inherit Engineer Brain) but could not make it work.  Elizabeth showed up and turned up a knob I had somehow overlooked and it worked.  She was my entire audience except for the bartender and one other person.  I kept saying “thank you Austin!”  and then, “your new name is Austin.”  If I hadn’t needed to practice for the LA shows I would just have given her a cd and said let’s go eat, because I hadn’t eaten real food since Little Rock.   But it was good to see her.  After that we went to a beer garden on 6th Street.

My system for hauling ass without getting tickets is to go exactly 9 miles an hour faster than the speed limit and then keeping it on cruise control.  I stayed the night in El Paso, then drove from El Paso to LA in 12 hours.  My friend Tom asked if I had written “the road song” yet.  I said no, I don’t even have a concept for one.  Guess I’m weird that way.  I listen to a lot of radio.  There is since God knows when a romanticism of the American Road Trip.  So far I don’t find it romantic at all.  I’ve had some good times seeing people and playing shows, but the driving part I could take or leave.  I think we can all agree that Repo Man was one of the best movies of the ‘80s.  The guy in it said, “The more you drive, the less intelligent you are.”  If that’s true, I am a complete imbecile by now.

George Jones had died the night before the morning I left El Paso, so I got to hear a number of George Jones songs.  Heard some other country radio too.  Journalists keep saying my record is dark, but I have never written anything as sad as “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”  Or “Lucille,” or “Linda on my Mind.”  That is some depressing stuff!

In LA today – my back hurt I guess from driving 8,000 miles and carrying heavy stuff.  Had the deepest deep tissue massage ever and then she asked if she could turn the steam bath on for me.  Uh, yeah!  Much better.  Looking forward to the Redwood Bar & Grill, my friend Brandon Lee Harris is opening – he is great!  So much more fun with friends on the bill.

Days 22 & 23: Nashville!

rye pantiesMiraculously, nothing hurts.  Like no neck pain or anything like that.  My friend Pat Albert is a motorcycle mechanic in Nashville.  When I asked for emergency body advice he said “bring it to me.”  He tweaked and banged on stuff and got surgical until finally the trunk would shut and lock.  He toiled at this for over an hour.  Pat, you are my hero!  Also he has a beautiful dog named Angus who is the sweetest creature you ever want to meet.  Also he has a 1949 Indian that he said I need.  He is probably right, but logistics are a problem right now.  He said that my car is basically totaled because the whole frame is bent.  But it drives just fine and the alignment is still OK as far as I can tell.  I have every confidence that it will get me through the rest of the tour, providing no more drivers decide to ram me.

Mark Corradetti and I reconnected on Facebook about a year ago.  He is a bass player, we went to Berklee together.  We also lived in the same building in Kenmore square.  I think I met him when my mom manipulated him into helping us carry heavy stuff up the stairs because the elevator was broken.  Anyway, he does session work here in Nashville, which means he is a very bad-assed player.  Session players here kill.  They can play anything, including jazz.  A couple weeks ago he was playing with Michael McDonald.  When he saw the listing for my shows, he contacted me and offered to put together a band.  In no other city would I consider such an offer.  In SF, I had veteran session players show up to the studio and just fail, because my songs are a lot harder than they sound.  I asked him if he had a really great drummer that he loved to play with and he enlisted Ryan Tant.  They showed up for what I thought was going to be a rehearsal at Gwen’s house where I was staying.  And they said, we got this, let’s just go to the club.  They were so chill!  The sound system at Rutledge is the best in town.  Frank the sound man / owner is possibly one of the best live sound guys in the world.  But he is a character who loves to give musicians a hard time.  Mark and he discussed fishing while we set up.  We then had dinner at the Mexican place next to the club.  Mid-dinner, my old friend Bob Kramer walked in.  He said “Dawn Oberg!  I knew you would be here!”  And he sat with us and talked, and he sneaked off and paid for all of our dinners.  He is a steel player par excellence, has played on the Opry a zillion times.   The show went well, I was really happy to see old friends.  Mark and Ryan brought it and laid it down, natch.

The show at 12th & Porter was the best, though.  More friends showed up to that one.  Though I am totally gratefully for the friends that showed up at the Rutledge.  Also I thought we played better, though I had significant brain belches on ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter.’  Which is weird, I’ve been playing that song for years.  Makes me scared for my live reviews in LA.  I’ve never been live reviewed before.  Anyway, Mark and Ryan are so great, I want to hurry up and finish writing my next record, so I can get them into the studio.  My vision for the next record, for which I haven’t finished a single song, is this:  Mark and Ryan and Roger Rocha at Hyde St. with engineer Nathan Winter.  I will enlist Nashville producer Robin Eaton for all other overdubs.  Every person he brought in for HW knocked it out of the park.  But we’ll see.  Ya just never know.

My beautiful girlfriends were out in full force. My friend Annie Freeman, the visual artist, made me these be-dazzled panties with “Rye” on them.  My last record, Horticulture Wars, featured a bonus track about Nashville called ‘Panties.’  It was a very snotty song which included a line that went, “Nashville stop throwing your panties at me.”  She made a pair for me and a pair for Gwen.  Mine were lime green, like the record, and had a skull and crossbones (another line from last record) and also a clittorally-located charm of a miniature piano.  Genius.

My Nashville hussies are such excellent people.  They work their asses off for social justice and for progressive causes that aren’t necessarily popular there.  Edith and Kathy and Cathy, I’m looking at you.  And they do stuff like really great volunteer work.  Gwen, I’m looking at you.  There is really too much brilliance to go into here, so I don’t mean to exclude anyone’s greatness.

Oh, and then there was Dave Lunn.  The guitarist and producer of Honky-Tonk Happy Hour, my erstwhile country band.  He was a world-class luthier, literally.  Like, he worked on George Jones’ guitars and stuff.  I’ve seen him work miracles on instruments.  It warmed the cockles of my heart to hear him talking geeky stuff like the wood used in drums with Ryan and Mark.  Oh – Ryan has a Gretsch endorsement.  If that means nothing to you, you aren’t a musician.  Which is totally fine.

I stayed at my friend Gwen’s house in east Nashville.  We went to Berklee together and have been tight ever since.  She is amazing.  She opened for me at 12th and Porter, another thing that made the night extra special, and she was fantastic.  In addition to being an excellent human, she has a piano and an espresso maker.  And a washer and dryer.   I think it was Randy Fox who asked me, “is there anything Gwen doesn’t play?” And I had to think about it.  Because she plays guitar, piano, drums, bass, saxophone, harmonica and God knows what else.

My last morning there, Laurel Parton (yes, she is a relation) made me an excellent breakfast.  She is a punk rock genius.  She had a band called Trauma Team.  Took a couple years off to be a mom, but is hopefully starting up again soon.

Day 22: Mom, don’t read this one either.

IMAG0775Because fucking fuck.  Where to start.  Boston was going to be a Hussy Convention.  My friend Julia has an apartment just blocks from the venue in Cambridge.  My homegirl Lana lives in Southie.  My friend Suzanne was going to come in from Framingham.  We were going to RAGE, it was going to be EPIC.  But Julia’s 94-year-old father fell down and she had to leave the state to take care of him.  She offered to still let me use her place, which I considered. But I instead opted to stay with Lana in South Boston.  We went to high school together.  Suze’s mom had cataract surgery the day of the gig, so she ended up not being able to make it either.   Lana and I got to the venue, which was basically a bar.  There was no sound guy and the manager helped with sound.  Everyone else on the bill had canceled because of the bombings.  One of the victims killed was a sister of one of the bartenders (who wasn’t working that night).  When Stacey Heath from Fly showed up I started the set and played for like 40 minutes.  There were random people in attendance, none of them there to see me except Stacey and Lana.  After the set we had drinks and talked, cheerfully oblivious to the combat zone forming outside the club on Mass Ave.  When we loaded out and left the club, we were confused about the cop cars and sirens everywhere.  We quickly learned that it was related to a chase and shooting involving the bombing suspects.  We then had a late dinner in South Boston.  In the morning we learned that the remaining suspect was supposedly cornered somewhere in Watertown.  Lana called her employees and told them not to come in (one lived in Watertown).  But all of Boston was in lockdown and we weren’t supposed to leave the house.  Ever the outlaw, I ignored this and went running.  A few other people were out walking and driving.  Since the whole public transit system was shut down, I wondered if they would also close off the interstate.  But I was able to leave.

Oh: it turned out that Julia’s block was evacuated, so it was really fortunate that none of us were there.

Leaving Boston, I thought surely the tour had had its share of catastrophe, that the rest of it would be boring.  I was now pointed southwest, and that would herald a change in luck.  In CT, I grew sleepy and got off the interstate to find coffee.  At an intersection I was back-ended with great force.  I got out of my car to find the trunk severely wrinkled, nearly unable to shut properly.  The woman seemed like a very sensible person who would never text and drive.  I try not to be an asshole in these situations since we all make mistakes.  But I actually said, “Honey, I don’t have time for this.”  So much preparation and planning went into this tour, but there is no way to prepare for significant body damage 3,000 miles from home.  No fast way to deal with it, no insurance that will help you make the next show.  Before I got to NYC, the trunk wouldn’t even shut properly.  I had never driven in NYC and now would have to drive with this open trunk.  I parked in a parking garage and left it there until it was time to go to the show.  It is apparently hard to find bungee cords in Midtown.  I never did get one until I left town.

I was terrified of loading in in Manhattan.  I had been told it was a severe pain in the ass, and by people with much lighter gear than mine.  But I miraculously found free street parking just a block from Desmond’s Tavern.  People there were nice and the sound guy was nice and good at sound.  No one came to see me, but I did have a few listeners.  I thought, well that was OK but Bar East will be better.  A couple people were supposed to show up.

Though I got good advice from a friend on how to deal with my trunk, I couldn’t make myself do it.  The next day I got up, went running, and went to MOMA, which was spitting distance from my hotel.  I thought maybe after MOMA I would deal with my trunk.  I usually like to tackle these things head-on and get them over with.  But it was a beautiful day in NYC and I hadn’t been there in years.  I really hadn’t wanted to spend the day with car repairs.  After MOMA I stumbled onto Fifth Ave and did some girly shopping (sorry, I don’t know where the indie shopping is there anymore, and plus it was right there.)  Then on the advice of a friend I walked the High Line park.  This park that is in the air on old train tracks on the lower west side.  Then I had dinner at a Spanish place by my hotel and got ready for the show.  Getting there was simple, pretty much a straight shoot up 1st Ave.  I was honked at several times for the crime of not tail-gaiting.  Or maybe they were just trying to say, “Shut your trunk, dumbass.”  I parked illegally by Bar East and went in the club.  I told the door guy I had a guest list.  He said we don’t do guest lists.  I said these people are journalists.  He said that he worked for someone else and I would have to pre-pay for my guest list.  I did so, and then loaded my stuff down the steep stairs with no offer of help, natch.  All the while brooding on the fucktardedness of a club that doesn’t let journalists in for free.  First of all, if you are a club or venue, you want journalists in your establishment.  Second of all, you don’t want to charge them, because journalism is the most underpaid profession there is.  Oh, except playing music.  I got my stuff to the stage and the sound man said something about getting this thing going.  I had to repeatedly ask him to turn down the high end.  Also he was an asshole.  I wanted to say, “why don’t you do some more coke, guy?” because cocaine fries the high end of one’s hearing, causing one to crank the high end of a mix because one doesn’t hear it.  The sound never did sound good to me on stage but he somehow reached a point where it didn’t shriek.  He said, “it’s time for you to go.”  I said I thought it didn’t start until 9 (it was 8:40).  The bartender said yeah it’s a 9 o’clock show.  I sat at the bar and had a water.  Alan Young from New York Daily Music walked in.  I said “are you Alan?”  He had written a really great piece on the cd.  Anyway, he was my entire audience.  It was my most “intimate” show of the tour.  Just as I got off stage, Steve Berson, my roommate from 25 years ago, came in.  He’s a mastering engineer and string player.  It was great to see him.  After the set I had drinks with them and we talked music and stuff, it was fun.

Day 18: Mom, don’t read this. Just don’t.

BostonBecause there is no fucking way I can write about driving through two blizzards into a terror zone without cursing.  She objected to some of the language in my last post.  And I was like, Mom you don’t have to read it, and she was all, But I have to follow you!  And I was all, Mom, I’m right here.  I am an Episcopalian churchlady and she is a Baptist churchlady, so we have drastically differing views on what constitutes virtue and obscenity.  Anyway, I check in with her at every stop, so she has no excuse to cyberstalk me.   There are three close friends I won’t see on this tour because they are taking care of sick parents.  It makes me extra grateful for my healthy parents, but the thing about healthy parents is they can judge you.  She is recovering from a vicious case of influenza B and she still judges me.  Anyway, according to people who write fiction and non-fiction, one of the first rules of writing is you don’t edit yourself for your parents.  So there, Mom.  And I know, profanity is the last refuge of the inarticulate, but I never said I was articulate.  Why do you think I have to write songs?  Jeez.

So yeah.  My drive to Chicago.   The forecast was for “flurries” at 41F.   My attitude was all “I got this.”  Flurries my ass.  After Minneapolis, in Wisconsin, it started dumping snow.  Traffic slowed to 15 mph, and I drove past many people in the ditch.  I truly despaired of reaching Chicago.  I wondered at what point I should cancel the show and somehow tell Gregg Shapiro not to come.  But I also knew that I didn’t know how far the “flurries” extended regionally or how long they would last.  I called my consultant, Dan Cooper, and asked him to research the weather, because my phone was pretty much useless in that regard.  He looked up some stuff and called me back and said if you just hang in there, you’ll drive out of it.  And he was right.  In a couple hours it dried up.  By the time I reached Chicago it was sunny.

The Chicago venue, Elbo Room, was cool and the sound system was good.  The only person that came to see me was the journalist Gregg Shapiro.  He is just as lovely in person as he is on the page.   There were a few other people, but mostly I just sang to him.  It would have sucked had he not been there.

The next day I drove to Pittsburgh and stayed there so I could see the Warhol museum the following day.  I had never been there.  Portraits that stick out in my memory are those of Basquiat, McGovern, and Mao.  There is so much footage on display it would probably take a week to view it all.

Now I am in Boston, typing at the ICA café.  I just saw a Barry McGee exhibit.  I know, how funny to come all this way to see an SF artist.  It’s the only thing showing right now because they are in the process of installing other stuff.  But it’s cool, I liked the exhibit.

I am staying with my homegirl, Lana Nathe in Southie.  The memorial mass for the bombing victims is today.   Lana said she’s seen machine guns all over the place but I haven’t seen anything like that so far.  The weather is gorgeous.  Tony DuShane said I should turn my show into a fundraiser for the bombing victims.  That is excellent advice, but since I literally only expect two people to show up, it would seem delusional and self-aggrandizing.  Apparently several blocks surrounding the site is still a taped-off crime scene.  Food is still on the tables where people were eating.  The first explosion took place right in front of the Boston Public Library, where I once worked.

Chuffed that they said nice things about me on NPR.  I’ve listened to NPR a lot on the road.

Day 13: Minneapolis! Plus, hotels and the HMH

So I made it from Cheyenne to Darwin, MN in one day.  But shit got real at 1am on the last 7 miles from Litchfield to the lake.  I could barely see the road for the snow.  It was hard to tell whether I was pointed at the ditch.  The Minneapolis show was a mixed bag.  It was great to see friends and relatives.  Usually, someone has to die for me to see that many cousins!  And old friends, including Kathleen Dockter, who has been my friend since grade school.  Hadn’t seen her in a few years, she hasn’t aged since college.  The venue rather sucked.  I mean as a venue.  It was a  café.  I was given a suitcase-type PA and no sound person.  My brother Troy did sound for me and did a great job with what he was given, which was substandard at best.  Also it is weird to play in a place with no alcohol.  I rarely drink anything before I play, but am used to playing for drinking people.  Afterwards, I went for drinks at the 8th Street Tavern with Karlyn DeSteno and her very delightful friends and Sarah Atkinson (from Litchfield) and her boyfriend Mike.  That was really fun.  I invited Troy to go to Chicago with me, but he declined.  Apparently, being my roadie/sound person is not the best gig in the world.

A word on hotels.  In my 20’s, I thought 3 and 4 star hotels were the dumbest thing in the world and I couldn’t see the point of them.  All hotels have beds, coffee makers and a TV and bath, so who cares, right?  Motel 6 was good enough for me and so was Jim Beam.  At 46, I totally see the point of 3 and 4 star places.  They have really great beds in which the HMH can sleep like a rock.  And they don’t have that smell.  Priceline is the HMH’s best friend because you can get a 3 or 4 star place for really cheap.  But it failed me in Cheyenne, where a lot of people were stranded at the same time.  I kind of got stuck with a one-star hotel.  I checked in, asking if there was free internet.  The guy said there was.  I then went to my room, which had a door on the outside.  I turned on my laptop, knowing I needed to respond to an interview request.  I couldn’t determine which network to pick, and they all had passwords.  I called the front desk to ask which network and password and he sent his daughter up to help me.  She tried several passwords on two different networks before it worked.  But since it ultimately worked, this was not my problem.  The room smelled strongly of detergent and faintly of mildew.  The heater was cranking out toxic particles that I could feel.  I had 2am insomnia.  In the morning I went running just to clear the junk out of my lungs.  The squeamish among you can stop reading.  When I got back I blew my nose and got a tissue full of bloody phlegm.  That didn’t happen before the Toxic Hotel.  I packed and showered in haste, checked out and got a double wheatgrass and a Immune-building smoothie from a place down the block, hoping that would help save me from resulting respiratory illness.

Now I am at Casa Oberg in Darwin, MN.  It has a juicer and a steam bath and organic vegetables.  It is like a spa, in terms of health stuff.  And last night I stayed at a Hyatt for less than the Toxic Hotel.  I will not do that to myself again.  I know what you’re thinking: “Please never invite this woman on any of our camping trips or I will stab her in the eye with a marshmallow skewer.”

 

Day 9: Is skiing like riding a bicycle?

lift park cityOK well it seems like i didn’t COMPLETELY humiliate myself on TV, but I’m not going to take any chances by watching the DVD they gave me.  Because it could A) send me into a shame spiral and B) convince me of the need for like 10 cosmetic procedures.  Hey, it’s a shallow friggin’ world.  I don’t really like doing TV or radio so far.  They are both unnatural performing environments where you are working with unnatural surfaces.  But definitely TV is worse, because there is a visual element.  But in both cases, you can’t see or hear your audience and that is just weird.

Anyway, my fellow guests were professional skiers and paragliders. Cool.  The paragliders were on a mission to save this special paragliding place on Steep Mountain from a mining company that has laid waste to much of the mountain already.  There is a petition at savesteepmountain.org.

My friend Tony DuShane interviewed Ira Glass, who said he had to go on tour and do live shows just so that he could sense the reactions in order to help his writing.  I totally get that.

Come to think of it, though, the recording studio is also an unnatural performing environment.  I guess you have to be comfortable with the people you’re working with, because you’re hopefully emoting in this otherwise false kind of space.  I definitely had to get used to it.  I think my singing on my last record sucked for that reason. 

I was delighted to see that my hotel had an actual bar.  I ordered a Basil Hayden/rocks.  I was given a miniscule glass with a small amount of ice.  I went into full-on HMB mode, glaring at my glass as if to say, “Seriously?  You’re messing with me, right? Where is the rest of it?”  The man next to me and the bartender, sensing my unfamiliarity, informed me that this was Utah law, not only were “shots” to be one ounce, but they had measuring devices by which every ounce poured in every bar was measured.  Oh, and they cost the same as real portions elsewhere.  I now feel really sorry for the bartenders here.  And the patrons.

Though the weather in Park City isn’t bad, I had to cancel my Denver show tonight because of mountain passes, some of which are closed due to the blizzard.  But here it looks like a nice, normal winter day.  I expected to spend the day in my room reading and writing.  But first I went running.  I was stunned to see a chairlift right in the middle of town.  I knew this was a ski town, but didn’t know that there was such a thing as skiing in town.  I’d imagined having to drive up icy roads to get to it.  I climbed some stairs to the lift ticket window to ask about prices, and the guy said they were about to start the afternoon rate of half price.  I went back to my hotel for a parka and jeans. I hadn’t been skiing in like 27 years or something.  But I would have felt really lame not doing it this time.  I was kind of scared, not really knowing if I could still ski.  It also occurred to me that breaking a leg or something would have an adverse impact on my tour.  But some skier friends of mine and I had recently talked about going to Tahoe and this was a perfect chance to find out if that was realistic for me.  I rented stuff from this place right by the lift, called “Town Lift.”  Everything was really beautiful, like an Alpine postcard.  I was afraid even of getting on and off the lift, that’s how long it had been.  I skied really slowly and carefully and didn’t fall down.  The blue hills would have kicked my ass were it not for the powder from yesterday.  It was difficult for me.  And I hadn’t remembered it being aerobic exercise but found myself breathing hard on the steeper places.  So to the question is skiing like riding a bicycle?  I would have to say yes, if that bike ride is cold and expensive.  I expect to feel my muscles and joints and every minute of my age tomorrow.

Day 7: Airplane wings, the hope of not sucking on TV, blizzards

BoeingFirst of all, Cousin Gene and his wife Sue were Amazing – the hosts with the most!  I had a whole day and a half where I didn’t have to drive and get lost.

Tim’s Tavern is gloriously scuzzy in a bar-that-time-forgot kind of way and not a douchey, hipster way.  And they had Jura scotch at a very reasonable price.  It’s rare to find that even in nice places, I didn’t expect to see it in a dive.  I don’t know when I’ve been so impressed!

And, my cousin Joel Peterson showed up.  Here is a weird coincidence: Gene started his career as a designer for Boeing.  He then quit to teach architecture and engineering.  Joel is now a testing engineer at Boeing.  But they aren’t related to each other.  This engineering thing runs in both sides of my family; my dad and brother are engineers too.  If I had inherited Engineer Brain, I would make more than $20/day.  But I digress.  Anyway, they were talking about testing.  And it turns out that in part of design testing, they age the plane 40 years and then break the wings by bending them all the way up.  At least that’s what I think they said.  Joel said that they couldn’t break the 787 wings.  The plane has had other issues since its launch and Joel is en route to Japan to assist the customer with certain procedures.  That’s all I can say.  Now when I am flying and we hit turbulence and it seems like the wings are going to snap off, I won’t get so    nervous.

Tonight I am in Park City.  I am playing on a TV show tomorrow.  I hope I don’t suck.  Because the thing about sucking on TV is that your suckitude is preserved forever and accessible to everyone to laugh at on the internet.  The internet already has footage of me sucking. Please be nice and don’t look it up.

And Tuesday I am supposed to go play in Denver, but there is a major blizzard predicted.  A friend who grew up in CO texted me saying don’t even think about going there.  I will keep an eye on the forecast and just stay here in Park City until Wednesday unless there is a drastic change.  I don’t think I ever missed a show because of weather before.  But the combo of Denver and Blizzard is something I will not mess with.

Day 5: Livin’ the Dream

I’ve been lucky to get some really good press so far.  I case you think it’s gone to my head, you’ll be happy to know that I am still subject to the familiar humiliations of an unknown artist that has never played in a venue.  This is a real message from last night’s venue to my booking person: “For Dawn Oberg and The Want Ads, can you please remind them that they have to come into the Pub before they load in to make sure that the Quiz/Trivia event is completely over. They should come in the Pizza side and then go into the Music Room. The door next to the stage is for loading in only. It is disruptive if they come in before the Quiz is over. They can unload their gear and keep it outside if they want and one person can park the car. It’s a little tricky. Molly Newman knows that there will be bands after her Quiz so hopefully she will end it as soon as she can. It’s a sold out event so it does take her a little time to do the math and declare a winner. Also, out staff likes to come in and clean off the tables, but once Molly is done, they can ask her if they can set up.”

I mean, on the scale of human suffering, it’s not the worst thing in the world.  So far, I’ve played 2 dates and made about $20, plus some food and beverage.  Two people have come out to see me so far, but others were also at least listening.  No merch sold so far.

The first night in Corvallis would have been a much better experience had the sustain jack on my keyboard not malfunctioned.  I somehow got through the 1 1/2 hour set, but it was a struggle.  The staff was nice and the sound guy was nice and competent.  The menu and spirit selection were really great.

I was convinced I would have to get a new keyboard (I tend to imagine the worst case scenario, in order to brace myself for it).   And I was sad about this because I’ve had my keyboard for 15 years and we’ve been through a lot of stuff together.  I would have to leave it behind, because there isn’t room for two keyboards in my car.  Anyway, I went to Portland Music Co.  the next day and tested it with another pedal, which seemed to work perfectly.  But the guy also directed me to a nearby repair person to get the jack totally checked out.  I was skeptical, since in SF I had to take it all the way to San Mateo to have it worked on.  Anyway, this guy was great and did some stuff that I should have figured out my own self but which totally fixed the second jack.  And he didn’t want to charge me!  Anytime I can go to an indie store instead of Guitar Center (a.k.a. Corporate Doucheville) is a good day.

Now I am happily ensconced at Cousin Gene’s house in Everett.  Tonight he and another cousin will be at the show at Tim’s Tavern.  Gene is my dad’s first cousin.  He always lived out here so I didn’t spend much time with him growing up.  My first memory of him was at Grandma Mabel’s when I was a kid.  He had a yellow Pantera in which he took Dad and me for a ride.  He opened it up to 120 mph.  I was instructed not to tell Grandma.

That’s how I roll… Day 2: Me and the Man

The Oregon coast is beautiful and I’m so glad I took 101.  I hadn’t been north of Pt. Reyes in a car before. 

If you know me personally you may have heard me rant about an evil entity called the SFMTA.  It’s usual form is that of daemonic meter maids that ride around ruining people’s days.  I saw one while on my scooter last week and started composing a haiku in my mind to this effect.  I overshot my shrink’s office by 2 blocks and never finished the haiku.  Concision is my specialty, but even I can’t contain my contempt for the SFMTA in a mere 17 syllables.  Its more sinister incarnation takes the form of extortionist towing practices.  Where your parking place turns into a construction zone and they “store” it for you and you have to pay $700+ to get it out.  Yes, really.  In SF it is far more dangerous to park than it is to drive.  “The Man” is the SFMTA.  Anyway, last night in a little beach town on 101, I got pulled over while crossing this bridge.  I didn’t know what I was being pulled over for, I looked at my speedometer and was not speeding.   I’ve gotten like 3 tickets in my life.  The young man told me that I had been doing 61 in a 30 while going down this hill into the town.  I know I slowed down, but can prove nothing.  I don’t remember the sign.  I was probably looking at the pretty scenery and trying to stay on the road.  He said he was fudging the speed down to 60 to do me a favor and cut the ticket down to $320.  I did nothing crazy; am sure it was a speed trap designed for people with CA plates.  Back out here in the real world, “the man” is just a regular cop lurking in a speed trap. 

In other news, Indian buffets are brilliant time-savers.  I only stopped once for food yesterday and it took all of 15 minutes.  I’ll have to remember that.