Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Punch Party!

Punch Party? Punch Party.

Yet another night that makes me realize joining this tour was a good decision.

These people rock.

So after several foiled attempts at actually having the punch party, I was skeptical that it was actually going to come off last night.

It did and exceeded any expectation I may have had.

I learned rather quickly how ridiculous it was for me to feel that maybe I was going overboard with my Purple Rain punch and Prince costume. These punches/costumes/concepts were true works of art, haha.

Bringing the guitar along was a good call.

Once I get a chance to edit down the remaining videos they will most definitely be posted. Best jam session ever, haha.

PUNCH PARTY Pics and Vids

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Backtracking to Memphis

So tonight is the big Punch Party; a Gold Unit tradition five years running.

The basic premise is this: The band "hosts" the party which just means we set the date/time/location, nominate and elect the 5 judges, and decorate.

Then, anyone who wants to enter a punch (alcoholic of course) to be judged signs up. The categories are: Best Taste, Worst Taste, Most Alcoholic, Best Presentation, and Best Overall.

There are some on this show ::cough cough keyboardplayers cough cough:: that take this event very seriously and try to pull out all the stops.

I'm trying to cover the fact that I've never made a punch before by going all out with presentation (not necessarily of the punch itself).

Anyway.....while the punch is chilling in the fridge, I'll write about Memphis since I never got around to it.

After narrowly (like seriously.....nar-row-ly) escaping the wrath of Gustav, we made it to Memphis.

I learned 3 things during my stay:

1. There are more annoying beggars in that city than anywhere else I've ever been.
2. Beale Street is comparable to Bourbon St insomuch that it's a tourist trap that all of the locals avoid.
3. Circus people know how to celebrate a birthday.

The major event of the stay was going out for Jeff's birthday with about 20 show people.

Our first stop was B.B. King's. Unfortunately, it ended up being just as bad as I had imagined (minus the awesome company mind you). $5 cover (whatever no big deal) but the lady at the register gave me my change and held back a dollar, held it up and asked "for me? for me? for me? for me?". Ummmm...what? It was obvious she was going to stand there with my dollar until I gave her permission to drop it in her tip jar. Yeah, a tip jar for the woman collecting the cover at the door.

I ordered a double Jack and Coke and learned too late that I had made a mistake. I'm used to the Pittsburgh version where a double Jack and Coke is twice as strong and don't cost no doggone $14.00. Lame.

The band was pretty good. I had foolishly mentioned to Justin that if I could hold my own playing the blues that I would like to sit in (keep in mind this was not an open session). No sooner had I mentioned this then Justin said "Ok well you're playing tonight."

"Uh no, I really don't want to sit in"

"Yes you're sitting in. I'll be right back"

The band was on break so he was off talking to all of them trying to convince them to let me come sit in. Seriously, I had no desire to sit in with a bunch of real blues musicians and make everyone including myself uncomfortable. But he wouldn't let it go. Asking over and over, talking to every single band member.

A couple other show people caught wind of what was happening and joined in trying to get me to play. I'm all for sitting in places where I'm comfortable. This was NOT one of those places. When the band took the stage for the next set Justin told me "OK it took a lot of convincing but they are probably going to call you down to play".


So, I left and went across the street. When I came back out our whole crew had decided to move to another bar. Phew. Crisis averted.

We ended up at Coyote Ugly. Yeehaw.

We were the only ones in the bar and there was only one bartender.

It ended up being a great time though with the crew we had out. We had drunk Ollie (hi-laaar-ious) providing commentary to the show on the TV. It was that dude that travels around the world and eats disgusting local food. T'was MST3K worthy.

There was one of those punching bag arcade games where you (obviously) punch it and it gives you a score of manliness or something. Things were going fine until Robbie stepped up to the plate. He wound up, charged forward, and completely whiffed nearly falling to the ground. To his credit he did hit it on the second try and registered anyway.

Eventually a Russian dance party ensued which I was able to take a quick video of before the bouncer came over and gruffly informed me of their 'no video' policy.

The acrobats of course eventually started stacking on each other and the ICG's ended up posing in the bathtub thing.

Donnie scored big outside the bar. Some drunken bum and his trashy buddy approached him with a plastic bag and said:

"Doan even say nuttin' til you see what's in this bag"

Uh, what?

Turns out to be a pair of shoes.

"These are $200 shoes man, how much you give me? How much you give me?"

Donnie made an offer of $5.

"$5?!?! These are $200 shoes...blahblahbalhblah"


::dramatic pause:: "Damn. Ok man gimmie the five bucks"

"Oh, I only I have $4 actually"

It's worth at least $20 to have the opportunity to pay $4 for a pair of shoes a dirty bum is selling out of a bag in Memphis

After closing out CU, we meandered down the street and found a bar open until 3. I bailed and went home but a couple people kept the party going.

I didn't experience the aftermath first hand, but apparently Jeff had quite an adventure later that night involving a lack of clothing, losing balance, an open trailer door, a set of trailer stairs, and the pavement.

Total Rockstar birthday.

So that was Memphis. I went to the Rock and Soul museum which was OK and I got satisfy my need to visit Wolf River Harbor and be a good Jeff Buckley fan.

It was a bit morbid but rather funny with my GPS announced "Arriving at Jeff Buckley on right" since that's what I named the location. Good stuff.

It is freaking pouring here in Bloomington. But it feels sooooo good to be back in the North with cooler temperatures. I don't know if it's just the air or maybe the trees but you can just tell when you're back in the North. Feels good.

Bloomington report coming including what I'll be able to remember of the Punch Party.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Southern man don't need me around anyhow? Thank Jeebus.

So I know I haven't properly written about Memphis yet but this....interesting night out in Jackson freaking Mississippi is still fresh in my mind so it wins. Memphis was more 'fun camaraderie' type stuff so it can wait in lieu of bass ackwards Southern duh-hyuck-derp-ness.

Well I guess it didn't start that way. The crowds here have been just great. Near capacity crowds every night and super responsive. No complaints there.

But tonight Brian and I decided we needed to experience the Jackson first hand. We started at this Irish Pub called Fenians which was actually quite good. Nothing really to report there. We probably should have stayed put.

We moved on to the "main drag" which is hidden back in a bunch of awkward one-way streets and shady industrial buildings. We were going to try the "Fire Club" in spite of the musical equivalent of a diarrhea tsunami pouring out through the doors into the night. We had snatched our ID's back from the doorman before he had even finished saying "$15 Cover". This is the same Cletus looking deliverance extra John Deer Stockholder that gave me this nugget advice the previous night when I asked what else there was to do in Jackson:

"Well....'round the corner dere's our sister club..........::lowers voice ominously:: but a lot of blacks go in there. It's more of a black club. ::hint hint wink wink knowwhattimean knowwhattimean::"

Riiiiiiight. I keep forgetting we are in the heart of active KKK territory.

Anyway, we jumped across the street to 'Hal and Mal's' where there was an aging guitarist with a band trying to pull off a crappy imitation of John Scofield. It would've been almost tolerable until they broke into a "version" of 'Purple Haze". Apparently to cover that song you don't really need to know any of the words. Just say 'Purple Haze' at the beginning of a few mumbled phrases and cap it off with a " S'cuse me while I kiss this guy" and you're golden.


Martin's..... After much coaxing from the doorman how this was the hippest spot in town and how they had this amaaaaaazing funk band with tonnnnns of people inside, we coughed up the $7 cover and headed in.

Gah. It was like combining Gooskis, Belvedere's, and Dee's minus everything cool about those spots, mixed with a giant pile of elephant dung and some tiger piss. That was Martin's.

A good way to judge that a funk band is going to be atrocious: more than half of the band are skinny white dudes with long hair wearing reeedonnkulous sunglasses. Add a drunk ass hippie dufus behind the mixing board twiddling knobs at random like he's playing some modular synth, factor in the fact that he is oblivious to the fact that he's blaring all mid range frequency that would be considered unbearably loud in a room twice as big, and top it off with the drummer wearing those stupid shades, a retarded white boy gangsta cabbie hat and using nothing but shoulders to play with and sporting the "I'm such a bad ass" puckered lip face and you'll maybe almost empathize with the pain we were experiencing. These fools were in dire need of a headbutt apiece.

We headed back out to the dark dingy (but non-aurally painful) part of the bar. Some drunk ass rail thin hippie who looked like a cross between the singer form System of a Down and Weird Al from the 'Amish Paradise' video leaned back on the rain and almost fell onto our table. Brian said something like "wow that dude almost fell on us" which is apparently considered a severely offensive statement in 'drunk ass hick hippie-ese'. The dude struggled to turn around and then kinda sorta almost flipped us off. After some mumbling and hand gestures we determined he was demanding to know how we thought the rest of the football season would pan put if we were so smart.

At some point we had convinced him we were Canadian which brought on this onslaught: "Fucking Cannucks....Fuck Canada!!" ::mumble mumble:: ::stumble stumble::. This whole scene went on for aboot ten minutes with us laughing our asses off and playing along.

We tried to go listen to the band one last time and were treated to something that aimed for Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" territory,but failed miserably. Instead of a guitar quoting "Jamie's Crying" they broke into kindasorta part of the riff from "Iron Man" with the one dude rapping worse than Snow over top of it. The other guys in the band did the arms crossed, puckered lip, head nod thing almost in time like they were part of the anti-drug troupe that came to your Junior High Schools and rapped about how cool it was to not smoke, drink, or do drugs.

There were a few cute girls there but after all of that we just had to leave.

Now I know not everyone is like this in the South.....just the people I encountered.

If I ever ever hear any of you Pittsburgh people complain about anything in that city, you'll have a headbutt waiting for you upon my return.

Good Grief.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Barbershop Raga

So within the last 14hrs I've:
- left Pittsburgh
- arrived in Gulfport, MS mere hours before the airport was shut down to prep for Gustav
- rescued my trailer (thankfully the arena lot wasn't locked shut so we got in
- found diesel fuel on the third try (lots of places where out of everything)
- hit the road
- arrived in Memphis
- parked
- plugged in
- had a beer and hung out for a bit

More detailed entry to come tomorrow. Just wanted to let those who were wondering: Yes I am alive and still have my house.

2 things that are on my list this week:

Re-enact the Graceland scene from Spinal Tap

Visit Wolf River Harbor.

Gnight from Memphis.