Sladi picks Othmar and I up at the Steyr train station. His car is fully decorated with the logo of the Red Rooter and he weaves around town like someone that knows every bump on these roads, swerves to the left of his tiny, one lane road, facing the river and expertly backs into his garage parking spot.
We are here.
I drop my bags off in the basement apartment that they keep for traveling musicians and head upstairs where he has prepared vegetarian yellow curry and rice. Othmar and I nearly lick the plates clean. We have some time to hang out before we head to the bar and Sladi lets me pick records. Dave Alvin, Bob Dylan, Roxy Music, Taj Mahal… The collection is extensive and it informs two covers that I have just now decided to play tonight. I boil some water in a pot and make some tea.
Last year when I played the Red Rooster a bachelorette party somewhat “crashed” the show. They were the most well behaved bachelorette party I’ve ever witnessed* and the bride to be even sushed the rest of her party one time when I was playing a quiet number. I thanked her by doing an impromptu cover of “gonna make you sweat” by CC and the Music Factory.
It was good.
I have no idea what to expect tonight except that because of weather I am playing inside.
The stage area is nice at one end of the room. Big PA, lots of knobs and a couple of speakers on sticks. It takes me about 90 seconds to dial in a decent sound. I get out my pedals and plug in my Line 6 M9 multi effect pedal. I’ve been trying to purchase an EU power supply for this pedal for about 10 months. Line 6 will not sell me one. This is beyond annoying. It’s a great pedal that I do a bunch of things with. I have one of those adapters that is supposed to make it ok for me to plug in my regular 110 power supply to the 220 outlet. And it works. I can see my settings are saved and all looks good and then there’s a loud bang and smoke coming from the pedal and power supply. And it smells BAD. It’s the sound of a motherboard being fried. I unplug it and pick it up. Smoke is seeping out the sides of the pedal.
I have to say, having a $400 pedal get fried right in front of me, knowing full well that it could’ve been avoided if the fucking company would’ve agreed to sell me a propriatary power supply. What I was going to say was - I really took it in stride. I knew what happened immediately and all my anger is directed right at Line 6 for their terrible customer service. Yes. I am tagging them in this post.
I still have other pedals that work because One Spot makes EU power supplies and I just do some thinking about it and re-wire my brain for how to play a couple of songs. Done.
In the bathroom they have posters from a number of acts that have performed here. I see my poster and then look closely - it’s my poster from last year! I made the wall! There’s also a number of posters for my show tonight. It really is the little things that make you feel appreciated and I truly do feel it.
I play two sets. Some quiet, some rocking. All go over well. I can see a table of four watching and listening to every word. Sometimes snaking their necks around the folks in front of them. And tables full of guys in the back drinking and still watching and listening. It’s a good show.
A couple sit up in the front two seats. They are fully tatted up. She’s bleach blond badass, he looks like Duncan from the best 80s movie ever.** Both of them have neck tattoos, sleeves and more. He is so into it it’s nearly distracting. He is stomping his feet and chiming in. I mean, he is loving it. She’s cool as yesterday’s pizza and just digging it. During the break I ask her what the tattoos on her knuckles say and she holds them up for me to read “STAY AWAY”. I thought “Love and Hate tattooed across the knuckles of his hand” was an awesome Clash lyric but her having “Stay Away” on hers is way more intimidating.
The quiet songs go. The loud songs go. The medium songs go. We sing along. I end with a Cadillac medley into Truckin’ Song and then I unplug and Othmar and I do Millsboro with him joining me on harmonica.
I put my guitar down and Duncan*** comes over and buys 5 cds and throws a twenty in the hat.
Outside to get some air and a couple of guys are telling me how much they enjoyed the show. One of them offers me weed. I pass. He then offers me acid. I pass. He asks if I’m ok. I tell him I’m fine, I’m just in no need of anything. Duncan****finds me outside and comes to give me a hug. And a kiss on the cheek too. Or maybe 2 or 3. He’s super into black metal and he says he’s really not into my kind of music but the passion won him over. I say thanks again and he kisses my other cheek. It’s time for me to go inside now.
The bar is starting to empty out. I have all my stuff packed up and then Mario comes in. He tried to get here earlier but couldn’t and he’s bummed. He really wanted to hear the show and wanted to by my record. Like an idiot, I left my records 3 hours away at Othmar’s. He gives me money to send him one. I promise him I will and we talk for a bit and then another group has come in sort of after-hours like. They have just left a wedding and are now just hanging out. I get asked if I will do a short set of unplugged songs. Sure why not.
And I play about 6 songs for this after-hours exclusive concert. Othmar joins me on harmonica on a few of them and really tears it up. It’s like a two-fer gig. They pass the hat again and I make more dough and they ask if I have records to buy. God dammit! Why did I forget them??
Bartender Johan gives me a big hug and tells me how much he enjoyed the show. He’s a sweetheart of a dude and Monika brings me some sausage and bread and it’s a great post show snack.
We hang out and chat for a while. Peter tells me all about his trip to Disneyland in the 80s with his mother and how it was unreal to him. “Everything was just like Knight Rider.” And how a chance encounter with Mario Brothers on the trip influenced the rest of his life and what he would end up doing for work. He’s here with Anita and Christopher and Anita wants to buy a record too. I’m so annoyed at myself now. I give her my website info and how she can buy one online and I will send it to her from Vienna.
Finally in the car ride home and Sladi and Othmar are singing along with, what I believe to be, the oldest recording of “come on baby let the good times roll.”
I’m tired but wide awake.
It was a great first show of the tour.
*Not that I’ve witnessed many.
**Some Kind of Wonderful.
***Not his real name.
****I’ve decided that’s his name.