Friday, June 25, 2010

Just Because You Get Old Don't Mean the Fire Stops Burnin'

Let's do a quick recap of Salem before we get to the good stuff.

We showed up to the venue that was adequately named "The Wasteland." No one was there, so I walked around looking for a bathroom when I stumbled upon a discount grocery store that had a large display of some old favorites that are no longer available around Indiana. It goes without saying that Alex snatched up the entire display and now our van is filled from ceiling to floor with the delicious salsa chips.

One of the other bands showed up. They seemed nice enough and we chatted until someone came to unlock the doors. Finally a large, red-bearded man drove up in his pickup truck and parked it right beside the door. And he sat in there for twenty minutes. Then he backed his truck up and straightened his parking job. He sat there for another ten minutes, put on a BMX helmet and batting gloves. And sat there.

Finally another pick up truck showed up and Brandon unlocked the doors for us while the bearded man got out silently and stalked inside after us. The Wasteland was well named because of its looks (a gutted out office building, dark, spray painted, just downright cruddy looking). But the smell was what drove the the point home. The first walk in gave your lungs a lovely mixture of mold and garbies.

Now, Kurt had some family out in Salem whom he had never met. He was reluctant at first but gave them a call eventually and told them who he was and what we were doing. Now, we later learned that Jim is a psychology professor and his wife is a school counselor for a local elementary school. And to see them, their daughters, and a couple of their friends huddling in the corner of The Wasteland was quite a sight to see. I wanted to offer words of comfort and solace, but I was just as uncomfortable as they were. This was a metal club. In between sets, they played very loud heavy music. Double bass and the low growl scream.

I won't go into detail about the other bands because they all left before we played and have since cursed their houses and families with one of the useful spells I learned from The Half-Blood Prince. But we played for Kurt's family and about three or four metal heads who actually seemed to enjoy it. Jim invited us to stay the night where we received lots of delicious things, a huge breakfast and turkey sandwiches for the road. It seemed like things were not looking so bad.

Then we headed south.

Sometimes the words I write in songs come to life. It's a very odd and strange feeling. And as we rolled into Myrtle Creek, OR, yesterday, it happened again:

How on earth did I get here?

I've never experienced anything quite like what happened last night. If you don't know, Myrtle Creek is a very small one road mountain town. So when we pulled up to the venue (Sweet Dixie), we knew immediately that we were in for something special.

That something special's name is Larry. He's the fella who booked us our show last night and tonight. He's kind of a mix between Larry the Cable Guy, Rodney Dangerfield, and that guy who sat in the back of the bus who kept trying to cop of feel from the blossoming teenage girls (especially Stefanie). Sweet Dixie was exactly what it sounds like: a mountain bar where everyone knows one another. And by everyone, I mean the nine people who frequent there.

The show opened with a guy named Dave playing covers on an acoustic guitar. He played very interesting songs like, "Voodoo Child," "The Weight," "Plateau," and some Alice in Chains song. I tried to listen respectively, but Larry made sure that that would not happen. You see, while Dave played his songs, Larry pounded away on a djembe. It would have been okay if he had just been keeping the beat. But he was PLAYING that drum. And sometimes he would stop playing in the middle of song to make a joke, usually a sexual joke at one of the lady's expense.

At one point he had tied his shirt into a sort of bra while making slurping noises into the mic and belching very loudly at the end of each verse. Kyle and I were dying with laughter during the entire thing. During the set, the audience members would walk in and out of the door right next to where Dave and Larry were sitting, yell something at Larry who would yell back, or just strike up a loud conversation as though there was nothing going on at the Sweet Dixie.

We were supposed to play second, but the girls who were to play after us decided that they would play second. So we sat there and watched as the few people walked outside and smoked, came in and made a joke, then left. We decided a lighter set might be called for, so I played Dave's acoustic and we played a very friendly set for Larry, the two girls that played, and one friend.

How on Earth did I get to Myrtle Creek?

When the show was over, Larry continued his antics and told us lots of stories, most of which ended with something like. . . "I'm terrible, ain't I?"

My two favorite quotes of the night is the subject of this post and something he said in the parking lot to one of the other girls.

"You were lost since you were born and I got a pocket full of change. No, most of it's buttons."

Larry invited us to stay with him at his trailer, but we declined and an anonymous donor got us a hotel for the night. After some gas station biscuits and gravy and chicken strips, we sneaked five dudes into one room that now has that old familiar smell. And we're hanging here until Larry calls. We are to go swimming in a river with him at some point today. And Lindi, the wonderful proprietor of the Sweet Dixie invited us back for a free dinner. Then, we have an all ages show four buildings down from that lovely establishment.

I apologize for the lack of jokes in the last few posts, but so many wacky things have happened that there isn't much more I can do that write them down.

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