The Sights Tour Diary Entry No. 14: “It’s 8 hours north of Detroit, on the right”
The final stop on the first leg of the tour has us at Skip‘s parent’s cottage in Marquette, Michigan. Or near Marquette. Or kinda by Marquette. Or somewhere on the way back from Marquette. We gave Skip shit all day in the van because he never gave Shades a real address for the cottage.
Apparently the cottage doesn’t have a real address because it’s so off the radar. I kinda liked that– I liked that we’re going to a place that a little gadget in your hand can’t get a handle on. I liked that Skip was annoying us by saying “you just take this road and then turn right.” At times Skip makes no sense and requires a translator, but I secretly admired the way he held his ground. And sometimes I want to be so off the grid that no cell phone can find me.
We find the cottage. I had built it up to the guys that we’d have a day off at Skip’s cottage and it’ll be great: sunshine, the lake, a chance to relax. Instead, we got rain. Not only that, Skip took a beating.
His lovely wife Ashley and his parents were there. So the ribbing on Skip came pouring down, their words falling as constant as the rain outside our window. As always, he took it like a champ.
With Skip’s parents splitting for the night, the band pulled out our equipment and started going over tunes for our two sets the following night in Marquette.
It was great to sit back and fine tune hamornies and we sounded pretty good. It got me thinking: I’ve always wanted to pull a Traffic and spend a week in a cottage just playing music.
No cell phones, work, other people, etc. Just playing music with people you love. I came close to that Friday at the cottage. Hell, I am doing that a lot this summer already. I have to remember to take it all in and be grateful. I was good in the past at taking all of this for granted.
I was excited for our Marquette show because I get to reconnect with Mike Walker and his beautiful wife Teri. I think I’d met them when I met most of the Detroit scene, when I was 17 years old. For many of the “garage rock elite,” I feel like I am always 17 years old to them (they were always ‘a bit’ older, still are). Mike booked this show and his band opened the night. After we gorged ourselves on an excellent free dinner, we settled into the venue to hear Mike’s band Schweine Kampf play. No, they aren’t a swinish pro-Nazi band, although comparing Hitler to a pig makes sense. I’ve always loved the way Mike attacks his guitar and to hear Bantam Rooster riffs and see Mike play brought back memories like I was sneaking into the Gold Dollar in 1999. It made me feel like me– like home.
We played our first set and it was sooo good– we’re tight as shit (a few weeks on the road will do that to ya). I took a piss break before the second set hit and some dude sidled up in the stall next to me and asked if we were going to play anything off “Are You Green?”, our first record. This happens pretty often: some nondescript dude rises from the ashes of my past and begs me to play some song I wrote 12 years ago and never played live. Errr, sorry dude, been livin’ a little life in between, got some new jams to play. It can make me feel like when you see an oldie return to the stage and they want to play their newest shit record and all you want to hear are the hits from your youth. People can forget that artists have feelings too– hahahahaha.
The second set is slop rock at its finest– we’re switching instruments on “Sticks & Stones,” the set list is thrown out the window, and people are dancing. So many people are dancing that we shift into party/dance set.
We play all the songs that you can dance to, which is pretty much all of them. That’s right. A bachelorette party comes and shakes their collective cheeks. At one point the future bride gets onstage and awkwardly tries to… I am not sure what she was doing. I loved the chaos, I loved that people had a good time.
This is what music should be for everyone, every night on Earth.
The night ended with a few of us heading over to “Bacon‘s” place for some jamming and extracurricular activities. Kyle and I headed straight to the basement, where we heard some music gear was. We took turns drumming, playing harp, and guitar, working our way through some bluesy, noodle-y jam with some hairy, nameless dude. After awhile the tour characters can blend together: hairy, in a daze, like a Fusco-esque mess of a Manson family.
This is an aspect of touring I enjoy: heading back to some dude named Bacon’s place for some jamming. We get told more than a few times to “quiet down bro, the neighbors.” I should note Bacon had a friend named Crow. Just another tour character, that’s all.
So as I sit here reflecting on the first leg, I’d first like to say thank you to the Denommes for opening their cottage to a pile of smelly dudes. A thank you also goes to Mike Walker for hooking us up with hotel rooms, a fine dine, and a great gig. It’s this hospitality and human touch along the way that makes touring life a lot more livable.
We covered 6800 miles in the first leg, and played a lot more club gigs than opening Tenacious D gigs. I think people think it’s just “oh so you guys drank some beer, got to play your songs in front of people, and saw the country? Why are you complaining?” And I am not complaining, I want to recognize that it takes a lot of hard work (and planning) to get it all sorted. And the band/crew that is The Sights today is the best fucking version of us out there, I really believe that. The second leg will be a lot more Tenacious D gigs, with only a few club gigs. So I expect my weight to go up (damn the catering).
But before we get to the second leg, I’d like to say that before the Tenacious D dates came to us I’d booked two shows opening for Reigning Sound. Those two shows were the summer shows I was geeked about. Greg Cartwright is the best songwriter putting out records today. We played with tat the Park Bar in Detroit and at the Double Door in Chicago.
Go buy their vinyl, go listen to their records. In ten years I don’t want all music to be exchanged via a mouse and an iThing. Those “iThings” have the word “I” in them, and we lose our sense of community. Next time you walk down the street, take your earbuds out. Ok, I am going on my anti-technology rant, see you in the bomb shelter….
All the best,
Current Tour Weight: 130 lbs (I’ve been working on my yard)
Photos by Shades