Elektric Voodoo tour diary
Day 1- Started with van percussion jams that kept us in rhythm until El Paso. Excitement. Hot as hell. Driving and more driving. Desert. Gas station snacks. Expensive gas. Chips for lunch and dinner. I don’t feel so good. Can’t wait to play.
Day 2- Strode through West Texas in a day and found ourselves at a one of a kind venue in the Sahara Lounge in wonderful Austin, Texas. Free African buffet on top of gas station stomachs. Played a sonically chaotic set to a afrobeat friendly crowd and made some new friends. Hung out and talked to nice people afterwards about all things music. Yes, we’re from San Diego. No, we did not travel all the way here just for this one show.
Day 3- Took the next day off in Austin. Some saw family, others got into naughty trouble, and one decided to investigate Spanish Karaoke night by himself. The whole band took a trip to massive music store in Austin with a gigantic Saxophone on the roof. Brad, the master of all things horns, happened to be the one who found it. Go figure. We drove the workers at the store crazy by taking about 70% of the instruments off the walls while only buying 2 penny whistles. Our drummer, Matt, thumbed through a book of classic drum sets for hours only to finally get up and smash into a guitar on a stand next to him. The whole store froze and we quickly slunk out and escaped to our Van (Morrison).
Day 4- 5 hangovers later we plunged through the oil fields of Texas and Oklahoma to arrive in Wichita, Kansas for Riverfest. Though the tuesday night crowd was thin, we put on a full tilt performance and won the hearts of the few. Sold a few EV vinyl and had a nice conversation about B-3 Organs with the 70 years plus door guy who just loves music and sung our praises. To be that passionate at that age would be a blessing.
Day 5- The next day found us in 100 degree heat and decisions to be made about Indian or American Diner food for breakfast. The results were 20/80 and everybody won. That evening Cypress Hill was in town and backstage passes were bestowed upon us. Not all went, but those who did were treated to the spoils of the Cypress green room…mostly mediocre pizza was chosen. Not much was remembered about the performance…go figure.
Day 6- Weed hangovers are real, so your friendly sober narrator was chosen to drive the next morning. Plowing through cornfields, we soon arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska which turned out to be a friendly little college town. The venue was the Zoo Bar where many blues greats (Albert King, Albert Collins, Freddie King, etc) had played before us. Our percussionist, Ty, arrived via horse and buggy for his first show of the tour which kicked us into overdrive for our best performance yet of the tour. We will be back there soon.
Day 7- Woke up and went to breakfast at the closest spot to us. Turned out to be a hidden gem with homemade biscuits and amazing food all around. Nebraska folk are friendly as can be and us musician long hairs ended up in a nice back and forth with the two heavily armed cops wearing bullet proof vests at the table next to us. Strange but successful seating chart. We cruised into Omaha shortly after and descended upon another music store. This experience was slightly shorter and less aggressive than the last though all 6 of us asked to use the private bathroom at 15 minute intervals while others noodled away on expensive instruments. The store clerk was kind and believed our promises to go “just #1”. We arrived at the show to discover a massive tent and stage in the middle of downtown Omaha where we would be playing. A big crew of muscular, bearded friendly dudes helped us carry our gear. A super friendly staff of ladies and one gent greeted us and showed us our green room (first of the tour). Man, Nebraska folk are the nicest. It was hot as hell and we soon were cooking. A killer set was played and all were pleased. 97 chicken wings, 13 sodas, and 17 mini bags of chips were devoured in the post show gluttony. Thank you Omaha. We love you Nebraska.
Day 8- Back to Kansas. Lawrence, KS. Former home of William Burroughs as I mentioned to the guys about 7 times. Sometimes a little hipster slips out of me. Hot as hell again. We spend the day in a laundromat with AC talking about tinder, gear, life and more tinder. Our trumpet player gets propositioned by an interesting individual who is also hanging at the laundromat. Who needs tinder when there’s real life? Perhaps the screening process could come in handy. Out of the laundromat we bolt and onward to Pho, a screening of The Bad News Bears, a Pride parade with a horn section (Willie, Trombonist, disappears while chasing after it), and the coolest toy store I’ve ever been in. I buy my son Quinn a present because I miss him like crazy and then we head to the Replay Lounge. It’s the smallest stage we’ve seen yet and after the expanse of yesterday in Omaha, it seems even smaller. We’re all getting a little antsy and tired and are feeling a little underwhelmed by what looks like barely a stage surrounded by glass. Two “monitors” on the ceiling of all places, and the concern for a disaster gig is setting in. We set up and passive aggressively argue over inches on the stage. We’re behaving like Californians in Whole Foods on a Sunday. It’s not looking good. We end our brief sound check with feedback squawking and amble off the mini stage into the crowd of 3 people. Uh oh. Everyone scatters and I cobble together a set list. Slowly, people start filtering into the bar. Shortly thereafter, the band shows up one by one. We decide it’s time to start and the bar is half full. The set starts off ok but starts to gather steam. More people come in the bar. People are dancing. We start to loosen up. We’re playing better and better. A woman in the front row is dancing her fucking ass off and it gives us all a kick start. Damn! Some other girl just dropped down and did a full split at the perfect musical moment. The crowd is going apeshit. We keep getting hotter and hotter. The roof is about to come off. Glass is rattling. The audience is making up their own chants that go perfectly with the music. Louder. LOUder. LOUDER!!! We play everything we know and finally drop our instruments on the stage in total exhaustion. It’s done. Phew. Wow. That was one of the best shows ever. Thank You Lawrence. Where William Burroughs used to live.
Day 9- Colby, KS
Day 10- Colby, KS (what happens in Colby…stays in Colby).
Day 11- We’ve escaped Colby. We thought we might be trapped forever. Roll into Denver and eat, eat, eat. Burgers, Donuts, Coffee, Peppers on French Fries, Salads, Nachos. Feeling complete again. Roll over to Cervantes which is a massive club. Apparently it used to be the spot for blues, soul, and jazz acts. Pictures of Ike and Tina Turner, Ellla Fitzgerald, Satchmo, Ray Charles, etc adorn the walls of the comfy green room (with a shower…we’re all hoping two members in particular utilize this fanciful device…ahem). It’s only our 2nd time in Denver and it’s a Tuesday so we’re a little confused as to why they put us in this massive club. Regardless, we appreciate the green room and super pro staff that give us the best sound check and attention to detail we’ve had yet. Apparently the bass player in the opening band had an emergency that involved a missing persons report, so he can’t make it to sound check. Everything was resolved but it certainly sent some tense energy through everyone. Flash forward to the show and it feels thin. There’s a decent # of people in the crowd but the room is so big it’s hard to make it feel like a crowd. We do our best as we always do and hit some nice moments. The “crowd” does their best and so do we but it doesn’t totally get off the ground like we like it to. We know that even our personal B-/C+ nights are a good show to the un-initiated. That being said, we were all a little down after the show. About 5 minutes into the van ride though, we were soon laughing like kids in church. On to the next one.
Day 12- Long drive through the Rockies to Montrose, CO. Found a gem of a BBQ joint at a random gas stop for breakfast. Happy dudes…stinky van. Gorgeous drive with breathtaking views. 6 hours later and we’re there. Didn’t know what to expect. Montrose is a small town not known for it’s music scene. Rolled into the club (Intrinzik) and was blown away. The people who put this together put their hearts totally into it and that is clear upon first glance. Sound, lights, stage, green room. Attention to detail and passion for what they are doing. It’s a treat to encounter people who are passionate about what they’re into. The staff there are super friendly and we have a great time sound checking and hanging. It’s a wednesday so there’s not much of a crowd come show time. We push it back a little and when we get up onstage a small crowd has formed. We kick into the first couple songs and it’s clear that we’re tapped into a strong energy tonight. The crowd pours their heart out for us and we deliver. It’s just one of those nights where everybody is on at once. The club filmed and recorded it so after the show we delve into a happy narcissistic trance and re-watch our set back at the motel. 2 dudes to a bed. Living like kings.
Day 13- The drive to Aspen is…like no other. Incredible. Mandolins and penny whistles are played for Shire-like effect. Tenacious D albums are sung a cappella. Everyone is in a good mood. We roll into Aspen (technically, Snowmass I am told halfway through our performance after I’ve been screaming “Aspen!!!!”) hours later and come upon the most beautiful stage we’ve ever seen. On top of the mountain with beautiful views. Wow. We can barely breathe for the altitude but we all marvel. The staff/crew is very kind and our green room is straight baller. Comfy couches, snacks on snacks, drinks, oxygen mask…yes oxygen mask. We all indulge and relax until there is a commotion. It seems our trumpet and keyboard player, Ross, has taken a hard fall. Uh oh. We get him into the green room and his face is banged up pretty bad. His lip is puffing up and it’s not looking good. He can still play keys he says. Ice, oxygen, and laying back. We nurse him. Soon though it becomes clear that something is wrong with his wrist. It looks…really bad. We convince him to allow the medics to come and things are not looking good. The medics show up and it’s advised that he needs to go to the hospital. Ty’s wife and our #1 fan/merch-mama/hype woman/ Melissa takes the ball and gets him there quickly. We’re about to go onstage to about 2,000 people with about half our set cut because of no trumpet and keys and Melissa and Ross come screaming up the dirt road in her trusty Prius to the stage…just as we’re getting announced. Ross has a cast on and his face is bandaged. He pushes through the show playing keys with one hand. Despite the craziness of all this we have an incredible show and play for 2 hours. The crowd and setting is unreal and we need to take the music to the limit and beyond in order to be worthy. We do. Nighttime adventures ensue for some but those are stories for someone else to tell.
Day 14- We wake up the next day and Willie and Brad have woken up early and taken Ross to the hospital like the good guys they are. (*I should mention that I have lucked into a band with guys that are truly humble, kind, grounded and very generous in spirit. This is not often the case in this line of work.*) Turns out that Ross’s other arm was killing him and he needed to go back in. Hours later the guys all came back and poor Ross was in two casts. Both arms (elbow and wrist) broken. Wow. I’ve never encountered this. This is big. We’re not sure how to proceed. We talk it over and it seems the best move to get him on a flight as quick as possible back home. We bee-line it to Denver and book him a flight and send him off in a worried confusion, hoping we’ve all done the best we could. We did. He’s home safe now and healing. We race back through the mountains to make it to Rollinsville (pop. 20?) just in time. It’s apparently the oldest bar in Colorado. A beautiful old post and beam barn in the middle of nowhere. It’s the smallest crowd we’ve seen yet (about 10) and that’s a little hard to be honest. We push through those emotions and sink into the set with focus and concentration borne of respect for each other and the 10 who are appreciating what we do. It turns into a wildly fun and musically exploratory evening. Sometimes fantastic musical things happen when least expected. We even explore a major key for 5 minutes or so. Very uncommon in the land of EV.
Day 15- Frisco, Colorado BBQ challenge. Not sure what to expect here. I like BBQ. Do they like world beat rock and roll? Turns out they do. Last show of the tour and one member is flying home immediately after the set and the times are super tight. We start 15 minutes late so there is nervousness surrounding things. The crowd is fucking awesome. They love us. I feel exotic. I think they’ve seen so much bluegrass that we are a breath of fresh air. Kids, Older people, everybody is dancing. A guy in a “Make America Great Again” hat is dancing to my anti Trump song. Interesting. Perhaps he’s not a “lyrics” guy. Let it go. Let the expectations go. They’re gone. I’m free. We’re free.
Day 16- 16 hour drive back to San Diego. No problem.