California… I’m fine…

March 1, 2011

It’s been a bit hectic.

My plans for Sunday were about getting ready for tonight’s show and my imminent departure for Nashville. On Sunday my beloved netbook committed suicide.

It had been showing me signs those last few months, slowing down, getting noisier, as if out of breath, then last week it would just go “ping” followed by a brutal shutoff. Black screen,gone, nothing. But it came back on, I thought maybe it was the power cord…

Sunday morning it expired. The screen did not come on, then the “engine” labored, whined and labored some more. I turned it off. I prayed a feeble “pretty please?”, but also thought the next second how smart I felt for having this whole machine fully backed-up daily on a web storage service. Best 5 bucks a month you can spend.

Then that was it.

Ooooh… little one, gone. My travel mate. Dead. No coming back. It had been handed to me by Ted in Vancouver. I had mentioned that I thought I should get one of those and he gave me this little blue one to use. Now I have to announce to him that the dearly loved has now departed.

I wondered if it was because the night before I talked about working on web site design while being on the road and I said out loud : “If I had a machine that was bit faster I could get the work done anywhere” Be careful what you wish for.

So I spent HOURS since Sunday, updating the new one I got. Yeah. Got one immediately Had to. I’m not so crazy about spending that money, things are mighty tight financially and this is just like.. well… too much for one single thing. But I have faith, I am in the hands of the Gods and they have not let me down yet. (Usually I’m the one doing that)

So this morning was more frowning over the new OS (had XP, now Windows 7) T oo many folders, owner, public, me, and others… Ozzy was patient enough to show me the guiding light.

Then, it was about time to get ready to go to Venice. California that is. I had a last minute show booked by Toni. I was really, really grateful to have been invited, to have a chance to play, and that Forrest had been able to juggle his schedule to fit this in …Plus… I was given the luxury to be able to drive the Ford to the gig.

I left at 4:17. I’m thinking : “yikes, rush hour” but it’s not bad on my side of things. The other direction is basically a parking lot on the Freeway but the West bound lane is free of interruptions. Following the GPS, I go down 10, then it takes me up 101, almost into the heart of LA, then 110, then 10 again… not sure why the detour but I don’t mind, the city looked beautiful in the sunlight. I need to come down in the heart of this city and visit for a few hours. I have not done it yet and I should. The place is so different, nothing else is quite like this…

Soon I get off the 10 and onto Lincoln, it’s a classic Southern California scene. You can feel the vibe, guys on bicycles, rushing along traffic, surfers, the all American diners, the old beat up vans with stickers all over the back windows ahead of me and a really, really fancy, expensive looking girl in a shiny car behind me.

I get there. The Talking Stick. A cool hang out with a stage and mismatched furniture. I get espresso. It’s good. Forrest is already there.

Man it hits me sometimes : I’m in California. It’s as cool as it could ever be. I have guitars. I have a freakin’ BMW motorcycle that was given to me. I have people in my life who CARE SO MUCH. Blows my mind. I have met Forrest and there is this music…. Now I am about to perform along with him at a neat venue near Venice Beach. The sun shines. People smile.

….

Thank you.

Toni arrives. She says almost immediately :
“I have something for you” She had a black jacket in her hands.

“I want you to have this” This is the leather jacket she used to wear many years ago. She would wear it riding on the back of her love’s motorcycle. Last week she had told me how she had hung on to it all these years. I had replied that I should take her for a ride one day. For memory’s sake.

“I want you to wear it and be safe. Be safe out there on your trips”

Wow.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “I still want to take you on a ride one day and you’ll need to wear it.”

“No, you have it. I’m sure. Sometimes you have to learn to let go.”

Wow.

Yeah. In those situations sometimes my vocabulary has a propensity to just vanish. And so is life. It flows and you flow with it. Sometimes you fight with it. Sometimes you let go.

So.

So we set up. There is small Vox amplifier, that will do fine. I brought both the PRS and the GO guitars and both provoke comments and admiration. I am indeed a lucky girl… Come to think of it, Chris called me a “lucky SOB” but he’s allowed because he’s been there, along with me, for a long time. On the road, at home, we’ve done tours, this and that and more and he’s like a brother to me. Brotherhood has it’s privileges…

As I was saying, we set up : guitars, drums, all is well. The sound guy starts with the vocal microphones. Only two.

Holy noise.

It started fairly innocently, little scratchings, intermittent sound, or no sound. Then we got served.

WHOOOOOOAAAAAAA

Hmmmm hmmm… feedback.

I learned the skill of testing a mic with my fingers deep in my ears years ago. Useful skill. It took a while as they were trying to figure out what cables were not working. There was a large knot of black wires on the ground that looked as tangled as my hair when I don’t tie it up and go ride, those were the microphone cables. That is never a good sign about the state of the PA equipment being used. The other musicians were looking at us on stage with pity or supportive glances, we’ve all been there. Toni put it right when she thanked people for putting up with the spirits in the PA.

Finally, almost on time, we got going. First song. Friendship song. Things are good. I am getting into it, I play the Go guitar. End of song #1, now to #2 : To My Bones. Then… half way through….

“Love it ties me to my bones…”

WHOOOOOOAA ….

“love, love, …”

SCREEEEEEEECHHHHHHHH

“…love…”

OOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEEEE

“….Sigh… ” I thought.

I backed off the mic, kept playing the guitar, they are getting busy in the sound booth and I’m trying to give them a chance to find the right fader to twiddle. They seemed to be handling it so I resumed :

“Your licks and tricks and format trips…”

OOOOOAAAAAAEEEEEEE

“I beam to you with such regrets..”

SCREEEEEEE

“For surely they will never reach..”

WAAAAAAAAAAAEEEEEEE

At this point I am looking at the general expression of horror on people’s faces, the hands on the ears and the shoulders jacked up in pain… I turned to Forrest with a : “Should I keep going or should I stop” look in my eyes. They don’t seem to be able to fix this on the fly. Maybe I should stop? The general discomfort was a certainly a cue. So I stopped.

Not one for letting things get too quiet I blurt out and immediately feel like an idiot for saying it : “ How’s everyone doing out there” with a stupid grin. “Besides the noise…” I added in a desperate attempt to remove the foot deeply engaged in my mouth.

The noise stopped so I re-launched into the chorus. What else should I do? “The show must go on. Hee haw” Somehow it worked. They had “fixed” the problem. We finished the song.

“Thank you” I said. “Thank you very much” No shit. They stayed there. Did not run out. Wow.

Then I did the French song, Aventuriere. That was great. Then the Criminal Girl song and that was it.

Forrest had to leave. The previous commitments he had shuffled so he could be here to play with me were calling. I hated to see him leave but c’est la vie. So I stayed and hung out. There was a whole collection of musicians, one group were on tour : Shane Cooley, Adam Smith and the Melillo Brothers. They all were songwriters and they toured together, playing for one another with the help of an OUTSTANDING violin player. Now I don’t have his name, but he says he’ll write, I hope he will, and I will pass that on.

I talked quite a bit with Adam Smith. An incredibly beautiful soul. Artist. He told me his story, of leaving Kentucky and going to Nashville, sleeping in his car, playing out on the street during a big festival and being “discovered” there to end up in Sedona in a recording studio to make an album. His features are striking, sculptural, his voice is gentle, He is slight but there is a powerful essence of a soul that emanates from him.

He says I remind him of a friend of his,
“Your vibe’ He says “You remind me of her, she is a healer, a shaman”

“Lets stay in touch”

We all say those words mindlessly so many times in our lives. Hopefully this is not going to be the case here.

I hope we will meet again.

The night ends. I get in the Ford. I remember thinking that the ocean is right by… the blue edge I saw on the GPS screen when I drove down. I can’t come all the way out here and just drive back.

I ended on the Santa Monica Pier. Not by any plan or calculation other than all the other parking places were closed and because of the giant lit wheel that stood out against the night sky was calling.

The ocean. It feels incredible. I hear it. See a tiny bit of it. I sit on a bench. A sea gull flies in the night, it’s a dramatic sight. Beautiful. The waves come in. I am taken back to an early June 2010 night, first night on the coast. I had the Suzuki, my IO. I had set up camp on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I heard the waves come in all night and went and did yoga on the beach the next morning.

California.

I close my eyes.

“California, I’m fine, Somebody check my brain” (Alice in Chains)

It’s perfect.

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