After taking a long break from live performance since November of 2014, I finally booked a flurry of gigs in LA for a few dates in April 2015. I gave myself plenty of time to recover from my year long Kindness of Strangers Tour and now I was ready to hit the road again and play a handful of shows.
I was booked to play at Vicki Abelson’s renowned celebrity driven literary salon called “Women Who Write” on April 28th and also booked as opener for Just Dave’s Last Chance Country Jam at the Maui Sugar Mill Saloon on April 29th.
Feeling inspired by my appearance at the Songbird Lounge last month in Vallejo, I was excited to get back onstage. I was also excited for the opportunity to perform with my band mates who all live in LA and with whom I’ve not performed onstage with in well over a year. Filled with a combination of anxious excitement I packed my tent, sleeping bag and 2 saddlebags to my Honda Nighthawk and hit the road on April 25th headed to the southland.
I took Hwy 1 down to LA, cutting through San Francisco and Pacifica. It was a breathtaking ride through Big Sur’s majestic coastline. For as lovely as hwy 1 is visually, the physical ride time is pretty brutal. I was feeling mighty fatigued by the time I reached the foothills of Santa Barbara where I cut through a mountain pass to get to Lake Casitas campground. I arrived around 10pm and set up my tent and promptly fell into a deep sleep.
I woke up around 6 hours later (4am) after vivid dreams and realized that I was no longer tired. I decided to get up, re-pack my tent and get back on the road. I traversed the rest of the mountain pass on my bike in the blackness of the 4:30 am night sky. I arrived in Santa Barbara around 5am, just in time to get some coffee from It’s a Grind on State Street. I kicked back and nourished myself with a breakfast bagel while checking the weather on my iphone. The forecast predicted a 30% chance of rain, which turned out to be correct as I rode through the drizzle on my way south. I eventually outran the rain without getting too wet. The weather turned to grey skies with intermittent sunshine. Before long I was in LA heading to my friend Laura’s house in Atwater village. Laura and I had a nice visit over some beer and appetizers while we waited out more of the afternoon rain. Afterwards, I rode to Topanga to drop in on a friends birthday party then made my way back to Newbury Park to stay at another friends place where I managed to get excellent rest on a very comfy couch.
Eventually I made my way to see my brother and his family in Agoura Hills. I got to spent a lot of time with my niece and nephews. The following morning was the day of the Women Who Write salon gig, so I packed up my gear and rode to Montrose where I met up with BTB band mates Mark Wickliffe and Annie Boxell. After some initial confusion regarding amplification of Annies keyboard, we were up and running thanks to an rca cable loaned to us by the host, Vicki Abelson. The salon was held in Vicki’s apartment in Montrose CA and there was a ton of amazing food and I’d guess that there were over 50 people attending as every seat in the house was taken. Vicki took the podium and updated the audience about her new book and her new publishing deal. Vicki is an amazing woman and very well connected. She is a bit of a force of nature. She gave my band a very thorough introduction and told the audience all about how she has been listening to my CD, The Coyote & The Crow on repeat for weeks. By the time we took the stage, the audience was laser focused on our performance, listening to every nuance of the songwriting, melodies and acoustic dynamic that makes up a BTB set.
As soon as we started playing, I could feel that we were nailing it. We absolutely killed and the songs were met with enthusiastic applause after the completion of each tune. It was very satisfying. Vicki gave us an extra song and so I decided to take a chance and offer up a brand new song called “Spark”. It turned out to be the best song of the set. Vicki proclaimed “Spark” to be her new favorite BTB song and after the entire salon was over, I was approached by a woman named Peggy who was one of the organizers of the Far West Folk Alliance. The Folk Alliance is a folk music conference that takes place once a year and it is sort of the gateway to being booked for house concerts all over the nation. Peggy bought a copy of The Coyote & The Crow and encouraged me to submit a video submission to this years Folk Alliance Conference which is to be held in Oakland this coming July. She told me that my music, storytelling and banter with the audience is exactly what they are looking for. The only catch was that the deadline for submission was Thursday, April 30th, only 2 days away. Peggy insisted that I get the video footage from our salon performance and submit footage of 3 songs. I approached Vicki about the footage, asking if I could get the raw video to edit down into 3 songs and she declined at first until Peggy stepped in to explain the situation. Vicki graciously caved under the agreement that I only use the footage for the submission and not as promotion on my website or social media which I agreed to. Moments later she handed me a sandisk with the raw footage that I took to my producers place in Hollywood to edit the footage down to meet all the submission requirements for the Far West Folk Alliance. A few hours of work editing, and filling out the submission paperwork and uploading the video and it was done. Peggy send me a text congratulating me on getting it all accomplished on such short notice. Now the waiting game begins to see if I am selected as one of the featured acts at this years Folk Alliance Conference. I’m definitely going to be doing some visualization techniques to draw this opportunity into reality. The power of positive thinking, the law of attraction. It worked years before when I had the opportunity to open for The Alarm in Wales…I spent weeks meditating on how it would feel to be on stage opening for Mike Peters before I got the confirmation email that I was on the bill. I know it works, and I know I can manifest this opportunity as well.
Here are a few pics from our appearance at Vicki Abelson’s renowned celebrity driven literary salon:
After the salon gig Annie, Mark and I went to Lucky Baldwins in Pasadena for some appetizers and beers to celebrate. While enjoying jalapeno poppers and garlic fries we plotted our next show which was the following night at The Maui Sugar Mill Saloon in Tarzana as opener for Dave Bernal’s Last Chance Country Jam.
I spent most of the day leading up to our second gig in Pasadena visiting my friend David and Erica who was also visiting from Phoenix AZ. We spent the afternoon helping David with his shadow puppet theater concepts and more beer and appetizers at The Congregation tap house. I totally lost track of time while hanging out with my friends and had to high tail it to Tarzana on my bike post haste in order to make it on time to the gig. Luckily there was zero traffic at 8:52PM on a Wed and I zipped across the freeways to Tarzana with a few minutes to spare before we took the stage.
Original BTB members Mark Wickliffe, Steve Weil and Annie Boxell were already there getting set up. I joined them onstage for a relaxed, joy filled set of BTB music for a half-packed house of loyal BTB fans including some very old Junior High friends of mine. My good friend Adam Mogil actually invited my very first girlfriend (from those junior high days) to the show. I spied her from the stage and it was a real trip to see her there after so many years. Our producer George Landress was there shooting some video footage of our show and we had everyone in attendance enjoying the vibes of our BTB reunion.
After the gig, my friends and I celebrated (a little too hard) back in Pasadena. Whiskey was involved and our heads did not hit pillows until well past 8am. The next day was a total wash. I think we all started stirring sometime past 2pm in the afternoon when we went out for ramen to combat our hangovers.
David offered to put me up for a few more days while I waited for the weekend to arrive. It was my plan to attend the Southern California Renaissance Faire in Irwindale. When Friday night rolled around, I rode my nighthawk to the faire site. Under the cover of darkness I rolled my bike into a prime parking spot and crept under the front gate which was un-attended by night security. I wandered about until I found some familiar territory to set up my tent. I awoke the following morning and proceeded to have a great weekend at Faire. On Monday I decided to make the trip to Joshua Tree to perform at Pappy & Harriets open mic in Pioneertown. The bike ride there was smooth and the weather was nice. It was beautiful to ride among the desert skyline as the sun was sinking behind the rock formations. I arrived at the venue just after it started and Ted Quinn signed me up for a slot later in the evening. All of the artists were great and the house band that backed everyone up was stellar. By the time I took the stage I was backed up by two guitarist (one rythem, one lead) two percussion players, and a full traps player, a harmonica player, a bassist and a sax player. We stormed through three BTB tunes that got the dancers up on the dancefloor. It was an excellent way to end my mini-tour to the southland.
I spent a cold night in Joshua Tree national park trying to keep warm in my tent. The high desert is freaking cold once the sun goes down y’all. I woke early and packed up my camping gear and tied it all to the back of my nighthawk. The ride back to LA was fraught with strong head winds that limited my speed and progress. I spent most of the ride trying not to get blown off the road. I finally made it back to LA but I was trashed from all the wind. I sorted out a place to stay with my dear friend Amy and her husband Ryan. It was great to get out of the wind and Amy was kind enough to make me dinner and breakfast the following morning. I got back on the road to the bay area around 10am and rode in the cold wind all day and by back and hands were aching from the strength it took to fight the wind. I got to Santa Cruz around 6pm and decided to stop at Kiva for a soak and sauna in their community hot tub facility in an attempt to rejuvenate myself. It worked for the most part and I also managed to get in touch with another friend who offered up a spare room to crash in for the night. After grabbing a bite to eat I rode to Ben Lomond and promptly feel to sleep after a bit of visiting with my host. The next am I woke up to the sound of rain. Feeling like I had little choice, I packed up my belongings and started up the bike. I rode all the way to Davenport in the pouring rain and managed to get drenched. I did not bring rain gear because A. I thought California was experiencing a massive drought and B. I was trying to cut down on dead weight for the ride. Not bringing rain gear on a long motorcycle trip is a mistake I shall not be making a second time. I managed to outrun the downpour and grab a warm cup of coffee and some lunch in Davenport. The rest of the journey home was cloudy with intermittent sunshine which I relished. I arrived in SF on Thursday May 7th just in time attend a free concert by a group called Dead Men Walking.
The Dead Men Walking are a supergroup formed by Captain Sensible of The Damned, Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats, Chris Cheney of The Living End and last but not least Mike Peters of The Alarm! Long time readers of this blog will remember that I first saw The Alarm on April 12th 1986 in Los Angeles long before I ever harbored the desire to pick up a guitar and make my life of rock n roll a reality. Mike Peters is a musical hero of mine and so when I caught wind of this new project performing in SF, I conspired to attend. The Dead Men performed a free teaser set at Amoeba records in SF and I managed to get there early enough to catch it. Also in attendance was the one and only Nigel Twist who was the original drummer of The Alarm once upon a time. I got to chat with Nigel for a bit before the Dead Men took the stage and I also got to spend a little bit of time with Mike Peters. who I’ve not seen in a number of years.
I picked up a copy of the debut Dead Men Walking CD, “Easy Piracy” and got all 4 members to sign it after their set. Later that night I rode to Brick and Mortar Music Hall where Dead Men Walking were playing and dropped $20 at the door to see their show. The venue was a little hole in the wall, but the sound was brilliant and the venue was packed. As I gazed around the room I recognized Alarm fans I’ve met over the years and the vibe in the place was something I’ve not felt in quite a while. You could tell that everyone in the room was going to experience something special. As soon as the band kicked into the opening number, “Rock n Roll Kills” the whole room achieved liftoff. Dancing, singing, happy rock fans experiencing the real deal. It was a great show. There was a mosh pit. I took part in it…it was a powerful show and the chemistry between the players was palpable. It felt like the early days of seeing The Alarm live. It was rejuvenating for my soul. I loved it a little more than I expected to.
I’m back at my place in norcal and recovering from the whole experience. My pocketbook got hit a little hard and my body is in rest mode after such a push. I regret nothing I tell you! NOTHING! Finances will just be a little tight this month as I prep for my next show in SF at 50 Mason Social House on June 12th, but I’ll get by. Lord knows I’ve survived worse financial situations. My next adventure is going to be a trek back to Oregon for some shows in Cottage Grove, Eugene and Portland. I’m looking forward to that, however I have to focus on raising the funds for that trip and booking the actual shows. I promise to be a better blogger and post more between now and then. I’m going to post a full review of the new Dead Men Walking CD as soon as I’ve given it a good listen all the way through, so you can look for that in a few days or a week at most. Until then, thank you for your constant readership and for following my adventures. Please feel free to comment and share this blog if you feel so inclined. I’m very thankful for everyone who keeps up with this blog and I’ve a renewed constitution to keep the blog posts coming.