Why am I up at 4:00 a.m.? Even at home, the Meow Alarm Clock doesn’t go off until 5:30 at the earliest. Whatever. At least there are WEST WING reruns on Bravo. Which I watch until about 6:30. Then I fall back asleep until 9.
Coffee first! I run into my friend Stuart (this happens all the time in Seattle – it’s like I live here or something – although to be fair, I was here 12 times in calendar 2009 for Bobs shows and other projects). Then a hefty breakfast at the reliable Pete’s Egg Nest on Phinney Ridge. Another “This reunion brought to you by Facebook” meal with Lisa, who I haven’t seen since my last season of summer stock, 1988, in Connecticut (Little Shop of Horrors and Man of La Mancha). I found her on a friend’s homepage. We have a good laugh about days of Storrs yore as her toddler gnaws on the menu and several large books in her pack. He will be a voracious reader! Watching her New York friends continue to cobble together a creative life year after year, Lisa eventually opted out of the theater and settled down here. She does web work for Microsoft now. It’s wonderful to see her so happy, even as I privately clock another person having done the “adult” things… I have great admiration for that.
Dan fetches us for the rainy route to the Olympics Peninsula (as I call it). We wait for about an hour but make the 3:05 ferry. It’s a holiday weekend, so it could have sucked big time! We discuss business, showers come and go, we crack then close the car windows, laugh about playing outdoor festivals this gloomy Northwest weekend. On the ferry, I treat myself to popcorn upstairs and melt into a window seat, reveling in the Puget Sound mist. Anyone who tells you grey can’t be gorgeous hasn’t been here. This scenery feels like someone stroking your hair as you drift into sleep.
Port Angeles is a sleepy town on the north-facing coast of Washington state. From the 101 Highway you can see the Strait of Juan de Fuca, or "Wanda Fuca" as we call it. Ferries run regularly to Vancouver Island from downtown. We’re playing the Juan de Fuca Festival, a compact gem that showcases mainly local acts, arts and craftspeople. Although sad to find no halibut at the food booths (hello, it’s halibut season), I do find amazing BBQ and some locally jarred preserves to take back for Eben. It’s still drizzling but someone on the staff lends me a slicker. Goes well with my plastic-bag wrapped feet. I realized today that I have no waterproof shoes, so I wrapped my feet (inside the shoes). Works great. Looks REALLY COOL (sorry, no picture).
The show is INDOORS! Although the Festival was sparsely populated earlier, our 60-minute set at the Vern Burton Center Mainstage is packed and killer. It’s always cool when this happens in a new place. TWILIGHT jokes. Rocking. Fans who meet us in the Festival Store and scoop lots of merch. Several tell us they’ve been listening to us for years but never dreamed they’d get to see us live. Uber-fan Lisa has a seriously vintage Bobs tee (see photo). As Matthew said, apparently we have a market in Port Angeles. I’m sure we’ll be back. And I hopefully I won't be dressed as the Gorton's Fisherman!
Matthew vrooms us back to the Kingston dock at 10:14. And...they cancel the 10:15 ferry because there is so little traffic headed to Seattle tonight. We have to wait until 11:10. Last time it was Hood Canal Bridge construction. YEESH! We fetch our respective phones…
Much better sleep. Coffee and The Freddie (Fred Meyers), where I seek out a spray that waterproofs shoes. The can says you have to let it dry for 48 hours. By which time I will not need it. DOY.
Down at the Seattle Center, Northwest Folklife is in full swing despite grey-white skies and drizzle. No one here uses umbrellas. Are their skulls just more spongey? Seriously – it’s not A Thing here. I check us in (which means I get 4 official buttons – whee!) then sit with a salad and a schedule to see which acts I can catch before our 4:00 call time. Nothing really grabs me, so I drop my junk off at the stage where we’re playing and walk the Festival. What a smorgasbord! A grunge jug band with washboard, kazoo, and washbin/stick/string bass that sounds ACTUAL notes. Hippie dancers (what is up with them?). Roving gangs of wild-haired teens with “FREE HUGS” signs. Tattooed cellos played by tattooed cellists. And the prize-winner, a velvet-clad teen with fire red hair and white contact lenses with slit pupils (for that vampire look). Dude, you are not in Forks anymore! Upscale crafts of every kind. Foods from many lands – Kenyan snacks, Thai noodles, fresh lemonade, kabobs, pizza, tacos – you name it. And of course, coffee. I catch friends in an accordion band (yes, you read that right), then head to our stage.
Even in the rain, we have a huge crowd of boisterous fun. Only a six-song set but full of jokes and ridiculousness. And I don't even see the sizeable puddle where I face-dive during WHITE ROOM until I am in it. The crowd roars at the end - you can see it here - and we encore with our new cover of Queen's BICYCLE RACE. A lot of people have been asking where they can get that. It'll be on the NEXT album. Stay posted!
Dan's adorable daughter Teagan loves the early birthday present I give her (she will be 3 in about 3 weeks), but Dan may love it more: a plastic Princess Amidala cup. Allison laughs, her head in her hands. GEEK LOVE. We head to Richard's to rehearse for Monday... which sounds like a good idea BEFORE the killer caipirinhas Richard makes for us...
Me sleep good... and it's off to a grand New Orleans style breakfast at Petit Toulouse. Eben and I cheer up and coin what SHOULD be their new slogan: "Petit Toulouse - it's worth Lautrec!"
Later on, Eben heads to his Folklife show with the Ballard Sedentary Souza Band ("no, please, don't get up") and I catch a flick at the Seattle International Film Festival. Hard to believe I've never seen ON THE WATERFRONT. And I didn't know it was the only movie score Leonard Bernstein wrote. His daughter Jamie is here, and she takes questions and comments at the end after telling a few anecdotes about her father and the film. I note that the final bars of the score are very reminiscent to WEST SIDE STORY - the top register instruments sounding a hopeful chord as a tritone (the most dissonant interval) answers in the bass register. It musically echoes the mixed message at the end of both works - HOPE!/"YEAH, RIGHT!" She responds, "An amazing and excellent observation! Give a prize to that woman, someone!" We chat a bit afterwards. How cool is that?
Dinner with my friend Barry, up from San Francisco for the holiday weekend, and his pal Ed at evil-good spicy Chinese palace Snappy Dragon. Cocktails are part of this indulgence. What is with me this weekend?!?!
Folk Festival History was made on this day. We were selected to be the closing act in a Dolly Parton Tribute Concert at Northwest Folklife today at 2:45 p.m. (Parton is a killer writer, for those of you unfamiliar with her beyond "9 to 5.") We arranged her kiss-off tune, SHINOLA, with me singing an energetic lead (and NOT bleeping the word "shit"), planning to meet at 2:00 p.m. to run it a few times. Then the unexpected: They were running EARLY. A HALF HOUR EARLY. Anyone who has ever performed (or maybe attended) a folk festival knows that acts sometimes go on and on, people are too nice to ask them to wrap up, and the event is generally run by a hippie bureaucracy so staying on schedule is...relative. : ) Running early is the absolute last thing you would expect! We are onstage by 2:10 and done by 2:25. It's a real blast, but certainly strange!
By the time we get out of that show, the sun is blasting through for the first time all weekend and folks are peeling off their flannel. Back at the ranch I head out to Green Lake, where everyone and their dog is obviously thrilled at the new brightness of the day in the home stretch of this grey and wet NW holiday weekend. The mountains are even out, finally. I've been sleepy and logy, too - but, setting my iPod on PLAY ALL Donald Fagen tracks, I bounce around the lake like I've got a new lease on life.
After an amazing burger at Blue Moon in Fremont, I'm headed to my friend Tim's place for the evening. Tim's a former/occasional member of the Flying Karamazov Brothers (our erstwhile collaborators and friends) and one of the main brains behind Seattle's Moisture Festival, which just celebrated its 7th year. This one-of-a-kind New Vaudeville celebration is growing in leaps and bounds as of late. Tim's guest room in the attic, a.k.a. the Purple Penthouse, has a most amazing view of Ballard and Fremont if you open the angled ceiling window. It's perfect for worldly and other-worldly contemplation.
Although the pix I'm posting are from last month's recording session at Richard's place in Virginia and not from today's in Seattle, they give you a good idea how things go down - minus the terrible jokes, breaks for passing planes, construction, mowers or cows (in Virginia) and variations on the phrase, "This time with the RIGHT notes, words and rhythm."
Today we're working on two of my charts. Matthew and Dan lay down backgrounds for THE MINUTE WALTZ (the 60's version with lyrics by Lan O'Kun), then we finish WHAT I AM, that New Bohemians reggae tune from the late 80's. I must admit I really wanted to sing it so I could say the words, "I'm not aware of too many things." Not only do I find that amusing, but if I may be so bold as to quote Shakespeare in the same paragraph as Edie Brickell, I also think "'Tis a consummation/Devoutly to be wish’d." I wrote a horn part for Dan and me that we mess with after it's recorded; some cool distortion, compression and wah effects...
We really need to sort through all of the covers and holiday songs we've got in the can and decide what this next CD (we're targeting a Christmas release) will turn out to be. Probably this will be done next week in Tucson... before our big summer hiatus. Don't know what the guys are doing over the summer. I'm writing a musical with a new collaborator in Portland. Stay tuned! And let me know what you think of my new hairstyle (left).