I forgot to get paid

You know you’ve been on the road a long time when you forget to get paid. I did that last night. I played Klondike Mike’s in Palmer Alaska and then ventured off to sleep sans dinero.

The only reason I remembered is cuz tonight when got paid for my show at Chilkoot Charlie’s in Anchorage I was sitting there lookin at the cash pass from Bart’s (the nice manager) hands to my hands. Kinda like a coke or card dealer. At that moment I thought to myself “hey dude, you forgot to get paid. Dummy. Now what?”

Then Bart says “text Rob and he’ll get you the cashish. I have his number. Everybody knows everyone’s number in this 49th State.”

So now I’m sitting in my rental car outside my hotel in the pissing rain. It’s rained all day today. Maybe yesterday was an aberration and it’s not always sunny in Alaska.

It’s almost 10:30 pm and it’s light out and there are zombie drunks staggering down the street like it’s Friday night. Oh wait, it IS Friday night. But it’s still light out. This place is one big bowl of confusion soup and I’m drinking it through a leaky paper straw.

My show was fun. That’s right. It was fun. I played that one g chord and people took off their underwear and threw it at me on stage. Skid marked underwear tossed at me in slow motion. Underwear moving slow like an eephus pitch from the arm of Rip Sewell.

Hey the rain just died down and I’m waiting on a text from the promoter. Maybe he’ll PayPal me the cash. I ain’t driving back to Palmer.

Dog bless you all.

A dispatch from the road.

Pipe smokers!

I’m jealous of my musician friends who get great interviews on huge podcasts. I should be happy for them but sometimes it just makes me green with envy.

My friend Tim Flannery aka Jonny Strayhorse was asked to be interviewed on a pipe smoking podcast. A podcast all about tobacco and pipes and the joy of pipe smoking.

The pipe smoking audience is sort of the holy grail of all music fans. They are ranked from 1 to 15 in this order:

1. Pipe smokers

2. People who eat pop tarts for dinner

3. Men who wear crocs to church

4. Embalmers

5. Triathletes on acid

6. Crackheads

7. Bird surgeons

8. Philatelists

9. Rhododendron growers

10. Waffle House chefs

11. Waffle House servers (losing by mere percentage points to the chefs)

12. Urologists from Uzbekistan

13. Sculptors named Pygmalion

14. Left handed people whose first names start with the letter x

—-And finally —-

15. Smog check technicians

Getting to know me

A step by step guide to what makes me post anti-trump tirades on Facebook and how it makes me feel.

Step 1- Sometimes I’ll be reading an editorial by a writer or group of writers I admire or maybe don’t admire.

I’ll read a perfect word for word quote by The Donald.

Step 2 involves me muttering to myself. Something like “what is he even talking about.? Blah blah blah blah blah ugh buffoon.”

Step 3- My blood starts to boil and that creates a drug in my veins and I start writing down random thoughts. The thoughts are sometimes tangential and sometimes insane and sometimes they make me laugh. The laughter makes me feel good. I love words and how when they’re strung together they can make me smile.

Step 4- I’m not angry anymore because I journaled my thoughts. Most of the time these are thoughts that no one will ever see. Just the complete insane ramblings of a man whose mental train is sometimes on an unfamiliar track. By now I’m usually smiling. It feels good to write.

Step 5 – I think “I should post this. Nah. Yeah, maybe I should. Nah! Yeah nah yeah nah yeah nah. Maybe I’ll put it on instagram and it’ll get lost in the shuffle. My parents aren’t on instagram they’ll never see it. They’re on Facebook” (A side note- my parents are 88 and I’m 58 so why should I care if they think I’m insane? i AM insane.)

Usually don’t even post it. Common sense prevails. But then…. sometimes I just can’t help myself and I take a shit all over the proverbial rug (are rugs proverbial?) and I click that button and send it out to Zuckerberg’s internet.

6. It’s posted. Now that part- FEELS GOOD! Really fuggin good. There’s nothin like a mean political post to get my shackles shackling. It’s like a perfect hit of dope.

7. Fallout city. Lots of attaboys and a few how’s yer mother and then the trolls enter the rainforest. Meme carrying trolls. Meme-fest-a-rooni. Memey memerson and the meemettes. Lots of copying and pasting.

8. After a while I just ignore it all and let everyone fight. I don’t even read the comments. It’s like I threw a rock through Mr Wilson’s window and now I’m back on my paper route.

9. Then I feel kinda sick like I ate too many Krispy Kreme donuts at the airport in St Louis. In fact, I feel really bad.

10. No one’s mind was changed. All the tribe members stayed in their tribes firing salvos at one another and flipping each other off. Nobody switched teams. Nobody won. I was a clicktavist causing a ruckus. I got a buzz and it felt good but the effects weren’t long lasting.

11. I say “I’m gonna try to be positive and promote a more loving peaceful dialogue.

12. It doesn’t mean I won’t do it again. I may want that hit of dope again. I hide out in the wings like a sniper and patiently wait for the next perfect opportunity. But for now I’m back to peaceful coexistence. Or maybe just existence. Perhaps there is no co.

13. Thanks for listening.

Is this phish? IS THIS PHISH?

Ya gotta give these Alaskans extra credit for the names they give the clubs I’m playing on this little tour.

Klondike Mike’s (Palmer AK)

Chilkoot Charlie’s (Anchorage AK)

Alice’s Champagne Palace (Homer AK)

Last night’s show was at Klondike Mike’s. I spent the day in the sunshine at some weirdos house and then headed over to Palmer for the show. About an hour drive. Too easy mate.

The promoter was a cool dude. He and his wife are total wild eyed Alaskans with that feral look of outdoors and sunshine. The kinda folks that look right into your eyes and burn a hole in your soul when they’re talking with you. Kinda like they know things about me that I don’t even know. Electric freaks with kids in their arms in satchels and the kids have headphones on for ear protection from loud bar music. Huge headphones like you see on airport employees on tarmacs. I wanted to keep talking to them but I also wanted to eat a grilled cheese sandwich. It seems I vacillate between wanting grilled cheese or a peanut butter and banana sandwich. (I’m 7) Last night the grilled cheese won.

So I opened for a band called DeadPhish Orchestra. They’re from Boulder Co and on tour. We have some mutual friends so it was cool to delve into some wackadoo conversations about the song Box Of Rain by The Grateful Dead. They played a sublime version of Althea for me and I felt like was floating. I don’t know much about Phish so when they played songs I didn’t recognize I would SCREAM to the person next to me “IS THIS PHISH? IS THIS PHISH?”

Then the very nice person next to me would tell me what album it was from and the best live recording. Even though the nice person looked like they were on some sort of chemical substance they were able to recall information at a faster pace than Siri. Siri just would’ve said “I don’t know what you mean ‘is this fish?’ but I’ve found couple of recipes for trout casserole on the web.”

Speaking of substances- There were a bunch of folks that I think were smoking a drug called marijuana. I don’t want to get anyone in trouble but I saw several people go outside to the parking lot and they were passing around a lit rolled cigarette that underground people refer to as a “joint”. I noticed several behavioral traits that changed when these people returned from their drug summit. One fellow seemed to be more into the music than he was earlier. He sort of shuffled his Birkenstock’d feet like a slow motion Muhammad Ali shuffle. A couple of times he spun around while holding his hemp beer and some of the liquid spilled on the ground. I was worried about a lawsuit at this moment but since I only represent dogs I felt I was out of my jurisdiction. So I got a towel and followed the spinning fella around like a sycophant servant to an oblivious third world dictator on a walkathon for world chaos. I feel I saved a few lives.

My show was fun. I sweated like hooker in a mosque and sang lots of John Hartford songs and lots and lots of my own songs.

All in all it was good night.

Tonight I play Chilkoot Charlie’s and Anchorage. 7pm early show.

This has been another dispatch from the road.



Don’t be an asshole

I played a show in someone’s garage this evening in Anchorage Alaska. His name is Marty and he has lots of vintage guitars. Heaps of old Gibson acoustics. A couple of em were from the 1930s. After the show Marty and I discussed movies and he gave me a list of 4 movies that he said I have to see-

A Man For All Seasons

The Lion In Winter


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

I haven’t seen any of these films so I’m excited for this new assignment.

I like it when I travel really far and end up in post show discussions about art, books and film. Marty grew up in Salinas California and was a disciple of Steinbeck. We both love Travels With Charley and Grapes Of Wrath.

Somehow our conversation veered from Steinbeck to Hemingway and then on to current politics and the wave of populism that seems to be currently in fashion. We also bantered back and forth about steel and aluminum tariffs and the global economy and the confederate flag and statues.

I just met this dude and we ended up talking for a long time. In fact, I just got back to my hotel and it’s 1:30 in the morning and it’s still light out. I’m in the land of the midnight sun.

This is why I love my job. Because sometimes the gigs where I end up having NO expectations sometimes turn out to be the best. And also because now I’m excited to once again read East Of Eden and also see the 4 films he recommended. It all reminds me of something this Catholic priest used to say to me when I was altar boy – “There’s some cool fuckin shit out there. Keep yer goddamn grapes peeled so you don’t miss it. And don’t be an asshole.”

This modern world

This modern world is a fun place (sometimes).

Today for me it’s kinda cool.

I flew from Seattle to Anchorage on Alaska Airlines.

It reminded me of why I like Southwest Airlines better. 1- Two checked bags for free on Southwest. For everyone. You don’t need their credit card or heaps of points. 2- Their cancellation policies rock. You can cancel up to an hour before your flight and save that money for a later flight. 3- the flight attendants don’t hog the aisle with a huge cart on wheels that rams into your elbows. They use little trays. They’re not blocking the aisle when you have to pee. Too bad Southwest doesn’t fly up here.

So I land in Anchorage and I take an Uber to the car rental facility that the kind folks at Salmonfest booked for me. My Uber driver had a thick accent so I asked him where he was from and he said “I’m from a city called Addis Ababa can you guess which country?”

“Ethiopia!” I screamed. “The only reason I know this is because I was a fan of the marathon runner Abebe Bikila. And I’m also a fan of the movie Marathon Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Roy Scheider.”

My driver says “yes, Abebe Bikila is a national hero!”

Abebe Bikila won the gold medal in the marathon (running barefoot!) at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He then won again in 1964 in Tokyo with an even faster time!

So here I am in an Uber in Anchorage chatting with a dude from Ethiopia and he’s got country western music playin on the cd. I recognize the voice and the song but for the life of me I couldn’t remember the singer’s name. I was singing every word but had a brain lapse.

My driver’s name is Endawork. Pronounced- end of work. So I say “Endawork, who is this singing?”

“You have to guess” he replies.

So I speak into my phone, “Hey Siri, who’s singing this song?”

“It’s- I Believe In You by Don Williams, but don’t ask me to sing it.” (Steve Jobs would’ve been smiling)

“Hey Endawork, how the heck do you know this song?”

“My dad always played Don Williams back in Addis Ababa. I love his voice, it reminds me of home.”

So now I’m at my hotel gearing up for my Alaska tour and I’ve got Don Williams singing to me from my phone. A dude from Ethiopia reminded me of how cool Don Williams is!

This has been another dispatch from the road.

P.S. Endawork told me that Addis Ababa means New Flower.

I like that.