It’s May 2nd 2016 and I’m sitting in front of my laptop. The sun is shining outside the window of my apartment and I’m drinking black coffee. I have to admit it’s good to be settled in at home after a whirlwind trip to the city of angels.
The spark that ignited this trip was a concert. Not just any concert, but a very special concert by Mike Peters of The Alarm. I had purchased a ticket to see an anniversary celebration of The Alarms legendary Spirit of 86 UCLA concert to be held on Saturday, April 9th 2016 – nearly 30 years to the day after they played on the Janns steps stage where the concert was broadcast live via sattelite on MTV and around the world. Long time readers of this blog may recall that my first two blog posts recount my experience at The Alarms original UCLA show. That concert, way back in 1986 was the dry kindling that eventually became a blaze of rock ‘n roll glory in the heart of a very young Brian Travis.
The 30th anniversary celebration show (also held at UCLA) was something I absolutely could not miss, so a flight to LA was booked and with the help of BTB drummer (and dear friend) Mark Wickliffe, a BTB gig was also booked the following Tuesday night at a wine bar in Toluca Lake.
Once I had my own gig secured in LA, I contacted Steve Weil (longtime BTB collaborator and bassist for the LA pop punk outfit Margate) to see if he was available to play bass with Mark and I for this gig. Once we had Steve on board I contacted my LA producer, George Landress to see if he would be game for playing some guitar with us at this show, and it turned out that he was interested. It was in this manner that the team that brought you “The Coyote & The Crow” were reunited to play 2 sets of laid back California rock in Toluca Lake in April 2016.
Soon, rehearsals were scheduled. The newly reunited BTB had two 45 minute sets to perform, and some refreshing of the chords and arrangements were in order. We had a lovely rehearsal at Emily’s Basement studio in Hollywood with George Landress and another at Margate Studios with Steve later in the week. I was also able to schedule a good amount of social visits with friends while I was there, and I got to spend time with my niece and nephews, my brother and his wife and my aunt and uncle.
The weather in LA was perfect. The sky was clear and smog-less after a recent rain storm and everything looked shiny and clean. Miraculously, my freeway travel experiences were devoid of any major traffic. On Saturday, I made my way to UCLA for the Alarm concert. The first half of the show was a presentation of the original concert film projected onto a cinema size screen at the James Bridges Theater. After the screening, Mike Peters was interviewed and took questions from the fans. After the interview Mike played a solo acoustic set of Alarm classics as well most of the songs from the Spirit of 86 concert itself.
After the show Mike did his rockstar duty, autographing merchandise and taking pictures with fans. I managed to get my hands on the newly released limited edition vinyl double LP of the Spirit of 86 show! The Alarm’s record label released only 1,000 of these for record store day and I gladly spent the $40 on my copy! I waited in line for Mike to sign it, I told him how much I enjoyed debut The Dead Men Walking CD he did with Slim Jim Phantom, Captain Sensible and Chris Cheney and got yet another picture with my rock n roll hero. It was a fantastic night that infused me with a shot of the same rock n roll cocktail that made me pick up a guitar in the first place.
A few days later I made my way to Aroma Cafe in Toluca Lake to meet with my friend Niousha for some coffee before my gig at the wine bar. We caught up and then made our way to Vendome Wine & Spirits to set up for the gig. Everyone at the venue was happy to have us and we felt appreciated and respected. Mark, Steve, George and I set up in no time and got off to a great start playing to a handful of fans who arrived early. A few songs into the first set, the venue was starting to fill up with more and more BTB fans and soon, we were performing to a full house! We took a short break and then promptly got back to the rock ‘n roll. The tip jar began to fill up and by the end of the night I had sold out of all the CD’s I brought. A great time was had by all and the tip jar cash and CD sales offset the costs of my trip, ensuring that I could afford to come back and do it all again.
After the gig, the band and a bunch of friends went out to Timmy Nolans for a few drinks and to decompress from the show. Of course we ended up closing down the joint and I did not get back to where I was staying until 4am! I crashed for a few hours before having to get my dehydrated and slightly hungover self to the airport to catch an 11am flight back to San Francisco.
After a full day of travel (on very little sleep) I made it back to my apartment where I immediately hit the bed and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up the next day feeling under the weather and fighting a sore throat. A day later the sore throat turned into a fever which lasted for 2 days before it finally broke. It took a few more days to feel like myself as I rested, drank tea and tried to recover from the LA adventure.
As I sit here recounting the LA trip, thoughts of what’s ahead of me are pressing on my mind. Tonight I am rehearsing with BTB memebers, Evan Reiley, Matt Gretter and Bob Fruhlinger for 2 upcoming shows we have booked at 19 Broadway in Fairfax CA and Smileys Saloon in Bolinas CA.These back to back shows are taking place on Thursday May 12th (Fairfax) and Friday, May 13th (Bolinas) and have been dubbed The May 2016 Mirth & Mayhem Mini-Tour! We’ll be giving away TWO free BTB CD’s to the hardcore fans who show up at BOTH gigs!
I’m very much looking forward to the gigs. It always feels great to play and to connect with the audiences that come to see us. We’ll be debuting a few new songs I’ve written as well as the BTB classics and standards. I’ll post a full report after those shows have been performed to those of you who are interested in reading about the shows from the perspective of the performer. Until then, keep the faith and we’ll see you at the North bay shows!