and we go over all the songs and sound cues for “Cinderblock Bookshelves.”
Sasha returns from dinner with her parents, and she and I are beat. But Danny is not, and is off to the Bellagio for drinks with the Blue-Haired Blonde.
In the morning, after a refreshing frigid soaking from the showerhead that is unexpectedly ON and POINTED DIRECTLY AT ME, we get in the van and set out to drive six hours towards Colorado. Did you get any sleep, Danny? “Oh, yeah, plenty. I slept from about 6:00 am to 9:00.”
Sasha used to live in a little town in Utah called Brianhead, so we make a pilgrimage up the mountain, stopping to break the law in a very civilized way:
Except, as Danny helpfully points out, for the ominous threat of the Green River Killer…omigod, there he is, Sasha, watch out!
“Howdy, Ma’am. Are you traveling alone?”
I decide it’s probably safe to have dinner with him in a crowded place. But I think he is affiliated with a street gang…
In the morning, in perhaps a foreshadowing of mishaps to come, I am carrying luggage down to the parking lot and I trip on the stairs and fall right on my a**. Very graceful. A nice hotel guy helps me up, but it is totally embarrassing and I tweak my knee. Argh. Sasha gets some ice from the hotel and we resume our rock and roll quest.
On the voyage from Green River to Carbondale, Danny will begin a new chapter in his life. Inspired by the sheer emptiness of the road…
There are four. Please watch them all in their entirety. I honestly think he has out-Yoko’d Yoko Ono with this work.
We roll into Carbondale early and go for a fancy vegan lunch. I know there will be an article in the Aspen Times, so we rifle through the stack of newspapers on the bar. I read through the front section and don’t find the article. Sasha comes up holding the second section. “Uh, Rain…do you think this might be it?”
Thank you, Stewart Oksenhorn! Wow. Now it’s time to go over to KDNK for our on-air appearance, which goes essentially fine, but please remind me that I am NOT GOOD AT COUNTING OFF SONGS. Sorry, Danny. But thank you, Cat, for telling everyone to listen online.
And look! They have a freebox at the radio station, so I feel right at home.
Sasha and I have practiced setting up the set at my house, so when we get to Steve’s Guitars she is unloading and sorting like a calm, capable banshee. However, I have made a tactical error by not reminding myself how to work the wireless mic. Steve is lovely – a font of reassuring wisdom. But it takes a while. I call the sound guru Dirk Schubert at 7:30 pm. He picks right up, and in the calm voice, asks: “Is this the panic call?” “Not quite yet,” I lie, and hand the phone to Steve, who goes over everything with Dirk and gets it all working. Whew!
Everyone’s in – it’s packed, and our set actually fits in the guitar shop. Once again, I am grateful to Robert Prior for his excellent set design.
And so begin a series of evenings filled with wonderful, attentive audiences and monstrous technical snafus. We had bought a spare lamp for the projector before we left town (at $250!), but guess what – it is the FAN that goes out that night, causing the projector to overheat with the resulting unpredictable loss of images on the screen behind me. But Sasha never gives up, rebooting probably twenty times. And the audience stays with us the whole time.
At the curtain call, I get the audience to sing, because it’s Danny’s birthday!! My cousin Sierra has made him the most awesome cake.
Then he and Steve talk shop.
My old friend Russell has driven down from Boulder and it is crazy and great to see him after – yikes – nearly thirty years. Oh, god, I can’t believe I wrote that.
One more picture from Steve’s:
After a long, deep late night conversation with my aunt and cousin about our family, and breakfast at the Village Smithy, we head out – one step ahead of the Green River Killer’s northeastern compatriot, the Carbondale Cannibal – and are off across the Million Dollar Highway past Ouray to Silverton and Durango. Sasha ably navigates. Danny loves the road – it is his natural habitat. As you can see, he is quite at home:
I think about the fact that he was on tour with the Clash when I was a fourteen-year-old here learning how to play the guitar. He never runs out of killer rock and roll stories, and I am happy for that.
It’s beautiful in the summertime, but I would not want to drive a snowplow here. Holy mackerel. Sasha is surehanded at the wheel, which is good because there are NO GUARDRAILS HALF THE TIME. Danny wants to know when we will get to the beautiful part of the drive. In Silverton, we stop for lunch and Sasha literally bumps into some friends she knew in Vegas. Don’t you find that always happens? Yet it always seems so unbelievable.
Danny on an important candy-related errand:
Hard to believe, but my dad and I made it through a winter in this country in a VW bug with no snow tires.
Then we come out of the mountains, driving past my old school, and into Durango. I don’t remember it being quite so touristy – but I guess it was. Being broke and underage gives you a slightly different perspective. But we don’t really have time to look at much, as we are racing to Fort Lewis College for the show.
Again, we are there in plenty of time, and though the set looks great on the big stage:
…again we are plagued by technical problems. The staff tries to help, but we seem to be cursed. Add to this the fact that we find out that the college actually had its graduation a week before my show so there are no students on campus, and it begins to feel a tad Spinal Tap-esque. But the few people who do come matter so much – my beloved friend Michael Bolotin and a group from my old school (the school prominently featured in the “defloweration” section of the evening!) – and again the play has brought me in touch with folks I haven’t seen in years. And the teenagers are great and want to compare notes about which cabin I lived in and the way things were then and the way they are now.
Break down the set. Store the merch. Store the gear. Pay the rental for the venue (gotta rethink that kind of booking). Secret wine with Michael and his dog Iko in the college parking lot (Iko does not drink the wine) and we are on the road again. We just barely elude yet another threat, the Durango Demon, and drive southwest towards the Navajo reservation. Sasha, champ she is, is game for three more hours on the road, but wonders briefly how much elevation we are gaining, as it has now started snowing. But just as she asks it begins to dissipate.
When I booked this tour, it made sense to try to get three hours under our belt so the drive to Phoenix the next day wouldn’t be so grueling. But now we’re pretty frickin’ tired. Still, we soldier on. As we pass Kayenta and turn up 163, we sense towering forms outside the van. It’s too dark to really see, but you can’t help but know that you have arrived in Monument Valley. After the 2:00 am check in at the hotel the Navajos just opened, we crash for the night. I had debated – it costs twice as much as the Hampton Inn in Kayenta, but this awesome crew deserves something really special. It will be wonderful to wake up here in the morning.
Is it worth it? You tell me:
Sasha is more ambitious than I am, and she can’t wait to get out into the red dirt on a morning run. Plus my knee is still throbbing. Danny and I go for breakfast.
We are stoked to realize that Phoenix is not on daylight savings time, so on the night with the least potential amount of sleep we have gained an hour. Still, ever aware of the persistent threat, we strike out just ahead of the Monument Valley Masher and head south. I inform my van-mates that there will be no more beauty on this trip. Hot dry desert from here on out. But of course it isn’t true. Flagstaff is gorgeous.
At lunch we begin to think about our upcoming house concert in Las Vegas. In the play we don’t do the full songs, so now we have to think about this quite differently. We begin to work up a set list.
From Flagstaff to Phoenix, the desert is subtly beautiful. And today we will get another crew member: Kim!
Next post: Why I Love Google Maps, the tale of the terrifying Hole of Hoover, and Vegas, Baby!