January 24 1996 2:55:04 PM
I went over the deadline for the Southern Rock article by 22 hours but I faxed it to GP yesterday so all is well. Since I've been glued to this computer finishing it, I've been receiving and answering mail with a regularity so alarming that it alarms you. This never used to happen in the old days of the MK Page, people getting answers from me right away. Of course the immediate result is that I get more mail back, so I spend a lot of time dealing with the mail. Plus there's three boxes of mail in the garage which haven't been opened since we moved, I think they've actually begun to snarl at me. If this is what it's like now, what'll happen if I start selling records in even the five-digit range?
Today's Wednesday; last Thursday, Friday and Saturday I was in Anaheim for NAMM. Every year gets a little better in terms of people knowing who I am and appreciating what I do. Important development: out of every ten people who had anything to say to me, maybe only one used the word "Zappa". It appears I'm gaining recognition as a separate entity rather than as a satellite. Encouraging.
Thursday night was the show in the Hilton. We played before guitarist Jake E. Lee. Can't say we "opened" for him exactly because it took him two hours to get his show started after we finished. It's not my policy to speak ill of other artists on this page, so I've got nothing more to say about Jake.
I'm getting out of order anyway, before the Hilton gig Bryan and I did a duet thing at the Rivera booth. Have you ever been to NAMM? There are stringent decibel restrictions which can be violated by a single authoratatively executed bass note, even at what seems like maniacally low volume. So energy must be maintained and sustained in an atmosphere where you can hear what sounds like spastic orangutans flailing at a high-hat cymbal 1000 yards away better than you can hear your own guitar. Thursday we did OK; Friday we did OK; Saturday turned out great. Stands to reason that it took us three tries to dick the format, and the show was then over and done, for us anyway. But here I am out of order again.
I have to mention Jake again, but only in passing. He was supposed to do a soundcheck at around 3:00 or so but had not arrived by 5:00, when we were scheduled for our own soundcheck. Jake's bassist and drummer, both fine fellows, were not exactly thrilled with the situation, which was a little rickety to begin with; it was only fourteen or so hours earlier that the bassist had heard the last three songs to be played in the show. The drummer had also just gone through a trying situation: he and Jake were hit up by a beggar who became outraged when the drummer claimed to have no money. The guy picked the drummer up by the collar and began to threaten him, when Jake pulled a gun on the guy and he retreated. What can you say? It's a good thing Jake had a gun on him.
A filmmaker named Michael was there for soundcheck and he presented me with two books, one on poodle breeding and a 1971 hardback bio of Eric Dolphy. Being immersed in Coltrania as I am these days, I was thrilled to receive the Dolphy book, but it was the poodle book which I ended up reading on stage during our rendition of the Band Of Gypsys tune "Power Of Love". Bryan, who has been full of piss and vinegar since the fight at the last Bourbon Square gig, was ready to kill in order to attain the stage and begin our rightful soundcheck. I worked it out with Neal from Tech 21 (sponsors of the performance) that we'd do our check around 6:00 come Jake or high water, Bryan calmed hisself. Toss was hanging with buddies, including Satnam our occasional tablaist, and in such good spirits you'd think the bar wasn't just serving water at the moment. Toss pledged to drink no beer before the show this evening because it fatigues him quicker. Much as I hate to admit it, I personally have much more fun on stage if I've got two beers in me, which may have something do with why I'm so profoundly overweight at the moment. I just renewed my membership at the gym, however, and have been attending on a semi-regular basis for the first time in months. I'm not going to make any grand pronouncements because I look like an asshole when I lapse back into old habits. I'm not even going to make any casual promises. I ask you only to wish me well and hope my resolve remains, not even firm, let's try existent.
Anyway, now's an appropriate time to mention that Neal and I went down to the lower floor of the Hilton and ate big old fattening sandwiches. Back up in the bar, still no Jake, so the BFD soundcheck commenced. For some reason it was impossible to achieve a truly optimum stage mix despite the relatively elaborate sound system in use. It had been malfunctioning earlier and I think the sound guy was reticent to tax it too heavily. (It's easier for me to write this kind of stuff in the present tense, so I'm switching now.) Also Toss can't hear us very well because he's playing in a recessed area of the stage which forms kind of a shell over him and his kit, and every time he plays he drums up a big cloud of noise through which no other sonic information may peek. We're still soundchecking when the audience comes in. I am presented with a beautiful silver dolphin-shaped bottle opener (DFB!), I believe by lawyer and guitar enthusiast Hank Shrenker but my apologies if I'm mistaken. It should also go without saying that Rich Lewis is videotaping everything in sight.
January 25, 1996 1:00:12 AM
OK, AOL just shut down again, this time while I was in the middle of sending out mail, and before I could receive the mail waiting in my box, and I can't access it for another three hours. That's officially fucking annoying.
Back to the Hilton - and the past tense - anyway it was a great show. Poor Toss could barely hear us which resulted in a few breathtaking moments but he was still brilliant as usual. Again Beller has prepared the set list and again I dig this fact. The crowd was very supportive and the post-show crunch was the most intense I've yet undergone for a Keneally gig. MANY thanks to all who attended. After dealing with my adoring public I loaded my gear, found a valet guy who was willing to let me keep my car in front of the main entrance AND let me keep my own keys, and returned to the bar (where a group of extremely patient people crowded the dance floor waiting for Jake, who had hijacked Thomas Nordegg from our crew and thank God he did because if it wasn't for Thomas piecing together his rig Jake would've have to mic the strings of his electric guitar and strum really hard - and finally two hours later Jake was ready and played a set which lasted all of half an hour - in contrast to our 90 minute "opening" set. But I'm not here to speak ill of Jake - I keep forgetting that) where Toss and his buddies were raging, Bryan's hormones were in full-on overdrive and I allowed the extraordinary Keith from Rivera to buy me a lot of bottles of Samuel Adams, one of which I knock onto the floor and can't quite summon up the reflexes to pick up, I throw my arms in the air and shout and watch the liquid pour onto the floor before one of my compadres snatch it up - sorry I can't remember if it was Keith or Bryan. I'd had a bit to drink you understand.
(Check it out, I'm in the present tense again) The girl Bryan's after is already being pursued by another guy, who Bryan approaches to find out how serious and how successful his pursuit is going. The guy says that normally he might be upset to be so approached but tonight he's in a really good mood, and the two of them end up gabbing for about ten minutes, leaving the girl totally unpursued for that whole span of time probably to her vast relief. The guy's actually in some band that Bryan knows about or was on a bill with Z or something, again the specifics escape me. Bry? Denny's is in our future and we soon eat within it then return to Bryan & Toss' hotel room (Tech 21 has procured lodgings for us at the luxurious Eden Roc. Eden Roc, home of the unidentifiable stain) to rage for a bit, then I head upstairs to a waiting bed.
Wow, I hadn't intended for this little "Types To Ya" entry to turn into a screaming headless NAMM diary. May I become more expedient at this point? Thanks. Over the next two days Bryan and I did two more shows for Rivera, one acoustic one for Taylor (these were all videotaped) and I did two autograph sessions at the EMG booth (they did a beautiful poster of the flowery ad which has been appearing in guitar mags the last two months - well "beautiful" is a relative term with my big old mug on there). Ed Mann popped up on Thursday (haven't seen him in years), Andy West showed up for the third Rivera show, the first time I've seen him since the basic tracks for "The Mistakes" were completed in the first week of January '95. Friday night Bryan and I enjoy a way too copious meal at Belisle's at 12001 Harbor Blvd, check the place out if you're in the neighborhood. After dinner we recuperate for a while at the hotel then head to the Hilton to bask in the insanity of NAMM on a Friday night. It takes a while to get rolling, but get rolling it does. Toss shows up and we rage. The coolest, most surreal moment of the evening is when a couple of guys start yelling "AAHHHHHH" at the top of their lungs, gradually more and more people join in until it sounds like 1000 people all yelling at once, and at the peak of this magnificent noise a guy stands up and unleashes a huge vertical flame from his hands (he was a magician as it turns out). The image of that guy holding a bar of fire aloft while the whole bar screams is destined to be an extremely vivid NAMM memory for the rest of me days. Saturday after the third Rivera performance (our final performance of the convention, and the one which Andy attended) Bryan, Andy and I repair to the Hilton for refreshments and conversation. Regretfully I had to leave early, but non-regrettably the reason for leaving was to catch "12 Monkeys" on the MCA studio lot with Joe, my friend since junior high. I've been left cold by the last two Gilliam movies so it was a pleasure to be completed absorbed and stimulated by this new one. It's one to see.
Then I went home to my family, spent a couple of days finishing the Southern rock article and completing, finally, the BFD Road Diary, which brings us to today, where the main things I accomplished was a bit of unfettered relaxation for a change, the composition of this piece and cleaning the house in preparation for my Mom coming to visit on Friday. And now I'm going to accomplish sleeping.
One more thing though, we're in the process of securing an effective booking agency with an eye toward booking a lot more BFD gigs in a lot more regions. This year, we go to the people. What about Z you ask. I have no idea, they don't tell me anything. Oh, one more one more thing, the consensus seems to be that I should put out "Sort Of Live In Hollywood" as soon as possible. We'll see what we can do.
AriV a Dirt chi,