First show of the tour – The Lonesome Rose, San Antonio. We were up early for the five-hour drive, getting to the studio to load in the gear and get on the road in time to make it to the soundcheck. It wasn’t just a soundcheck, it was also the first rehearsals with Joe who is the main guitar player in the band, so we have to run through the whole set for his sake and so that I know what he’s covering on the guitar, so he knows too. There’s a three-band bill, we are first on, band members are playing in different incarnations of the three acts. Jason is playing bass with us and drums with The Deathray Davies and Buttercup. John is playing guitar and sings with The Deathray Davies plus he plays drums and sang on a song of his that Buttercup play. Rich played keys with Salim and Deathray, all these guys have been playing together for years, it’s an honour for Olivia and I to be asked to play with them.
It was my first show with the band, I had my cheat sheets, a Piers Crocker 12-string, Sarah’s 1971 Fender Super Reverb, engineer Kevin’s Badcat, the newly fixed UE 405, and a new pedalboard with lots of flashing lights. So we began and we ended and it was cool and the first gig was done. The Deathray Davies were next, then Buttercup, but I was out of there before Buttercup played (I can see them in Austin) and Olivia and I walked to the posh Airbnb which was only a couple of blocks away, which felt like an epic journey through the desert in the heat even at 11:30 PM at night.
It was a long day and I was happy to get to bed just after midnight in a nice place in a cool room, the first gig under my belt. I arpeggio’d my way through the songs in a cosy corner on the left hand of stage with Jason next to me pounding away on the bass and John pounding away on the drums. It also means I can hardly hear Rich on the other side and only bits of Joe. Salim I can hear singing quite clearly, although he’s having a hard time hearing himself as he stands two feet away from the drum kit. We’re in a band playing live.
It’s a trip driving through Texas, the giant flags, the different churches with names of branches I don’t recognise, burger bars, and takeaway cheese and chicken galore. It’s flat, there are fields, and there are small towns with evocative names, we passed through Temple, the lead singer from Spoon is from there. There are cattle under trees trying to escape the heat in the shade but I don’t think it’s really helping. It’s a regular 100°F with 65% humidity, we’re in Texas in the summer.
Music today has been Cold Chisel’s East (1980) because it reminds me of the heat and it was the first band I heard of when I went to Australia that I didn’t know but were massive. Australians are as familiar with Cold Chisel as Americans are with Journey, and I think the first time I saw music on TV in Sydney it was Cold Chisel playing Cheap Wine. I suppose we were the antithesis of Cold Chisel, at least in our minds. “The cover art was inspired by the 1793 painting The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David”. An intellectual twist, wasted on most of us at the time.