Monday, May 18, 2009

Kicksville 66, a place you must visit

Kicksville 66 is Miriam Linna's new blog. Miriam, one of my first New York pals along with her co-conspirator Billy Miller, runs the empire known as Norton Records for many years. It is a mighty place, full of the most crazed rock and roll music ever invented and committed to tape (much involving Miriam and Billy's band, the A-Bones); this blog, however, starts years before, when Miriam came to NY from Kent, Ohio in 1976 to play drums for the Cramps. It is the kind of first-person account that blogs should be: expertly written with energy and wit, and recalled intimately and comprehensively (and with pictures). It is a story set in the beginnings of the New York music scene that I, like Miriam, followed from afar via magazines and records, and that the dB's became part of a year or two later. I'm so excited this exists, and each new entry will be savored like an issue of Kicks Magazine always has been.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Orleans trip, Pt. 4 - one vignette I forgot

After we demolished the insides of Mark's house and shed, we left the detritus on the sidewalk of St. Bernard Avenue to be picked up at some point. Among the storm-ravaged stuff were old amps, Drifters' cds and Mark's backup Fender Precision Bass. (Mark had evacuated with only his main bass, the old Precision with what I believe is an anodized pickguard.) The backup bass was in pieces and had been submerged in the toxicity for quite a while.

At some point, Robert went by the remains of the house and grabbed what was left of the backup bass and took it back to Memphis where he and his family had settled after the storm. I don't think Mark gave the bass a thought, knowing how everything else in his home and utility space had been decimated.

Earlier this year, when Chris and I played at Folk Alliance, we stayed with the Mache family in their comfortable digs. Robert said "Peter, I have to show you something." He pulled out a Fender Precision bass and asked me if I recognized it. It DID look familiar, but I wasn't sure why. Its finish was, for want of a better word, rotten; the headstock's varnish had pocked into a weird kind of hoary skin, very different from what it had looked like before Katrina.

He explained that he'd rescued the bass in pieces from Mark's house, put it back together, cleaned it up and got it working again, and he planned to present it to Mark when we did the Drifters' gig at Carrollton Station. I was very moved by this act of love on his part, and I couldn't wait to see how it would happen.

Well, it happened like this. Robert, at the Station, showed Susan the restored bass and asked her when she thought he should present it to Mark. Susan, wiping away tears, said he should wait until after the show. But Robert decided the time to do it was right before we played.

Consequently, you had a stage full of Drifters, all knowing the story of the bass and its return to its owner, all choking back emotion knowing we had a set to play. In the center of it all was Mark, reunited with his old Fender, completely beside himself with joy and crying, and he told the assembled onlookers the story of the bass' resurrection. I think everyone at Carrollton Station who learned the story of the bass was similarly overwhelmed.

Just another happy ending that week....

(Mark Walton, Robert Mache, Susan Cowsill and the bass in question.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Orleans trip, Pt. 3

Friday comes right after Thursday; I think they move it closer in New Orleans to squeeze every ounce of weekend out of visitors. I woke up with barely a voice left from rocking the Circle Bar and then visiting with old friends there. Gee, good work, I only have the main show I came down for left to do...

Carrollton Station is my old haunt in New Orleans. It's a former workingman's bar, located kitty-cornered from a 'car barn' for the St. Charles streetcar line. I played every Sunday there for years, inviting visiting and local songwriters to join me on stage. It was there that I was serenaded for my birthday one year by Graham Parker and Bob Andrews AND Pat McLaughlin. The huge wooden sign on stage with the streetcar on it had fallen on my daughter's rental violin once and shattered it; I was pleased to note that it was now permanently secured on the back wall. I'd spent many nights there, starting years before I moved to New Orleans, so coming back was a trip to familiar circumstances.

We had decided on a noon soundcheck so that those who wanted to get over to Jazzfest would have the maximum amount of time to spend there. Equipment got set up as it trickled in once the extra PA gear was in place. Eric, the proprietor, had gotten a huge police barricade and was going to use it to protect rented floor monitors from overeager patrons who would ordinarily rest their beers on them. The problem was that the barricade, if set in front of the low stage at Carrollton Station, was as high as the performers' thighs; they looked adjustable but they had only one height. I'm not sure how, but we talked Eric out of using the barricade, and it spent the whole day and night out on the back patio of the club.

(from the monitor board, looking across)

For soundcheck we were joined by by our opening act, A Fragile Tomorrow, who had driven down from New York to play with us. The band are friends of mine from Hootie days; three brothers and a friend who write and play thoughtful and intelligent rock music. Susan and I guested on their last album (via the miracle of internet technology and their producer Malcolm Burn), and they completely flabbergasted Don Dixon when he heard them.

Miranda joined us, having left school early. Robert's daughter Vivian came with him, and the two of them palled around the empty bar.

We got monitor levels, everything seemed to be working and we tried a couple songs before breaking. Susan had an appointment to meet someone at the Fairgrounds, and many of us were starved so a crew went to Liuzza's for lunch.

I tried to spend the next few hours silent or at least quiet. Silence is hard for me, being an inveterate chatterer; many of the people I've admired the most in this life are the ones who are the quietest. I always feel like an alarm going off around people like that. So in my effort to preserve my voice until the show, I napped for a couple hours, since that's one of the rare times in a day that I'm not jabbering.

I dropped Mark and Dana off and sought a parking space near the Station. Rich had let me print up set lists on his printer, and Robert, Mark and Vicki did a little red-penciling to shore up some 'mid-tempo gluts' that Drifter sets have historically been prone to wallowing in.

A Fragile Tomorrow got the show going, and they played great. If you get a moment and give a listen to the music on their myspace page, you'll understand why I enjoy them so much. Crowning moment for me was Sean Kelly telling his li'l bro' Brendon "you know what to do" and then the young lead guitarist swung his Gibson Melody Maker behind his head and began choking out the Hendrix riffery. Then he picked the strings with his teeth (we had a short discussion about orthodontistry after the set, but I doubt it'll dissuade this guitar hero in the making). I couldn't find my accordion when they called me, Susan and Russ up on stage, but Susan located it and we went up a song later to reprise our roles on "Zydeco Girl" (a song Sean wrote about Susan). To me, the most exciting thing to discover about this cool band was Sean Kelly's showmanship and easy control of the stage and his band. I hope for great things for these guys; they deserve it.

(L to R: Brendon Kelly, Sean Kelly, Shaun Rhoades from A Fragile Tomorrow)

Then it was time for us to get motorvatin' up to the stage.

Without the anxious/sleepy monitor guy we had at the Threadheads 'patry' riding herd over us, we got everything together in a comparatively short amount of time. Then we assembled offstage and came on, one by one, to a roar of applause. It felt great to be back.

I can only say that the gig we did a couple days prior was greatly outshined by the length and strength of the Continental Drifters at Carrollton Station. We had rehearsed about fifty songs, made two sets of about fifteen each with the plan to do more if time and interest on the audience's part warranted it.

Here are the sets:

1. A Song for You - by Gram Parsons, the first song most of us recorded together
2. Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway
3. Drifters - not a dry eye onstage or in the audience, I think
4 Mixed Messages
5 Spring Day in Ohio
6 Don't Do What I Did (featuring Miranda on tambourine)
7 Watermark
8 You're Gonna Need Somebody - Robert's big turn at the mic on a Richard Thompson song
9 Way of the World
10 Heart/Home
11 Someday
12 Daddy Just Wants It to Rain
13 Get Over It
14 Highway of the Saints - Drifters' founding drummer Carlo Nuccio joined us for this one on guitar and vocal
15 The Mississippi - Carlo switched to drums for a song he wrote with Ray Ganucheau

Carrollton Station audience before set one

After a short break we returned with:

1 The Rain Song
2 Some of Shelly's Blues - Mike Nesmith cover from our first album
3 Live on Love
4 I Want to Learn to Waltz With You
5 Look at All the Things - Crazy Horse cover, in honor of Neil's turn at Jazzfest that weekend
6 Na Na
7 Invisible Boyfriend
8 Cousin
9 Anything - me, Robert and Vicki - the 'pee break' song of yore for the rest of the band
10 Farmer's Daughter - Beach Boys/F. Mac fave of ours
10 Tomorrow's Gonna Be - Susan on bass, Mark on guitar and vocal, another big fave
11 Peaceful Waking
12 Who We Are, Where We Live
13 Meet on the Ledge - our take on the Fairport Convention song, great inspired harmonies

and then we came back for an encore with:

14 Dedicated to the One I Love - Drifters do Mamas and Papas
15 Tighter Tighter - the Alive 'n' Kickin' hit

And then it was over.

I think we played really well and sang our collective asses off. We actually had a lot of fun playing, which, as Alex Rawls noted in his review, had been notably absent around the time of Better Day. I guess we followed the advice in Mark's song, and we got over 'it'.

Lots of sweet compliments from old friends who'd traveled a long way to come see us specifically. I was left reminded that the Continental Drifters meant (and apparently still mean) a lot to people. I discovered that Miranda had left with the Kellys for Cafe Du Monde in the middle of the second set. It was great that they all enjoyed each other's company so much, BFFs I believe is the term used in today's nomenclature.

My task now was to gather up my gear and pack the van for the ride back to NC. I was going to have to miss Susan, Russ and Vicki take on Sgt. Pepper the next night, but Smart Wife had one of her biggest craft shows on Sunday and I needed to get back as soon as I could. It took no time to get myself ready to leave.

I said my goodbyes, thanks and see you soons to all the Drifters I could find (Russ was getting paid, so I had to miss him). It was sweet and a little sad, as I might have stuck around, hanging out 'til the bar sent us packing, just like in the old days. But it was also good for me to go, as I don't feel as comfortable in a bar anymore.

My reflections on this whole rigmarole could be condensed to this thought: even if the Continental Drifters never play another note together on again, we showed that we COULD do it this time after eight years of disquiet and sadness and bitter feelings finally gave way to love and peace and friendship again. It's hard to hold grudges and dislike for so long, especially with such great music at stake, and it felt like a giant albatross had finally been set free. I'm glad we did these shows, I'm proud of what we accomplished both onstage and in our respective hearts, and I thank Mark Walton, Robert Mache, Vicki Peterson-Cowsill, Susan Cowsill, Russ Broussard and Carlo Nuccio for making this wonderful band happen again so sweetly.


Roll credits....

Thanks to the folks who posted the videos, and I hope you don't mind me linking to them.
Thanks to the Fra-gi-lays for making the trek to NOLA to play with us.
Thanks to Rich for his hospitality and stewardship.
Thanks to DC, Lee and Joe for rocking me at the Circle Bar (and Joe, thanks for all the Beatles in mono).
Thanks to Eric at the Station for having us back.
Thanks to Ace, Pete and Jeff for making us sound so good.
Thanks to the Bluebird for all the fine breakfasts over the years.
Thanks to Sarah, Webb and Maggie Jane for the week away from home.
Thanks to Miranda for keeping me apprised of Nick Jonas' whereabouts and making me smile.
Thanks to the little Town & Country that got me there and back.
And thanks to you for reading this blog.

Fade to real life....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Orleans trip, Pt. 2

As it was when I lived there (although for different reasons) the time I spent in New Orleans last week is starting to blur around the edges a little. So I'll try to compile what all I did when I was there in something of a digest form until I get to Thursday and Friday.

1. Drove out to Mark Walton's house to find that the house was no longer there, the house we'd gutted a couple years before. I don't know why, since Mark had been looking for someone to mow the lot for him, but I guess the fact that the house was demolished had escaped me. So I pulled up on St. Bernard Avenue to where the driveway used to be. I got out, looked for anything I recognized, saw nothing and began to cry. Sometimes it's those final moments that drive it all home to you--so many rehearsals, band dinners, birthday parties for the boys, the trike I ran over while unloading gear, Mark's hard work on renovating the living room, kitchen and family room... all consigned to memory.

2. Drove by places I used to live in Lakeview. There's a house rebuilt on the site of 769 Filmore where Susan, Miranda and I lived. It's pretty true to the neighborhood style, a little higher thankfully. I hope the good vibes from all the music and fun that happened there seeps up through the new floorboards a little. The lot on Catina Street where I had lived in one side of a duplex is vacant. It's been gone for a long time, so I was used to seeing that.

3. I shopped at the new Borders' location on St. Charles Avenue. The bookstore occupies the former Bultman Funeral Home, vaguely apropos for the present state of the printed word--DVDs and CDs were all fifty percent off chain-wide, to make room for more important items like stationery and coffee mugs. The last time I'd been in the building was for Grandma Clements' eventful funeral a while before the storm. It was a little disquieting to the soul to see a Borders there, but the coffee was hot, and I'm loathe to pass up half-off compact discs (even though I didn't buy any).

Bultman Funeral Home, on its way to becoming a Borders store, 2008.

4. Four mornings I ate at the Bluebird Cafe on Prytania Street, for many years the best place in town for breakfast. The first morning there, I was informed by a huge sign in the window that the Bluebird was closing permanently at the end of May. We have a pair of Bluebird mugs at home, but I'd considered buying some of the nice, bright prints on the wall that they sell. I ate migas most mornings, since the Bluebird is the only place outside of Austin I've ever been that had that yummy egg dish. This restaurant will be sorely missed, and people will have to figure out how to make their own migas in New Orleans now, I guess.

5. I had two lunches at Liuzza's on Bienville and Telemachus, home of the Bushwhacker (a ice cream and booze combination that's lethal when consumed in quantity, served in a giant frosted goblet--it was a tasty fave back in my drinking days.) I asked the bartender if they made a non-alcoholic version, and she smiled sadly and said "that's impossible". So I had a Barq's Root Beer in the mug instead. The food was just as wonderful as it always has been. One day I opted for a shrimp po-boy and the next a plate of beans and rice with smoked sausage. Both days I had their shrimp and artichoke soup, something I'd never tried when I lived in New Orleans and regret having taken so long in experiencing.

Liuzza's facade

6. Mark and I closed the Drifters' bank account. We realized when we got to the bank that it had changed names two or three times since we left. The nice teller went to speak with her supervisor about closing the account, and we parked ourselves in front of the coffeemaker. The problem, it appeared, was that there was no record of our signatures on the account; the signature card, like so much else, had gone down in Katrina. You forget how the aftermath of the storm still affects many sides of life down there. Finally, she unearthed a photo copy of a check written in 2003 that had Mark's signature on it, gave us our money and sent us on our way.

7. I met up with the father and son who were doing the lot cleanup in St. Bernard for us. Nice folks, and the son said his dad had just bought a Wollensak reel-to-reel tape recorder so that they could possibly transfer a bunch of tapes to digital. The tapes were of his grandfather's jazz band in the French Quarter, probably recorded in the 1960s and 1970s. I begged him to get the tapes baked and transferred professionally if possible. He didn't know about tape-baking, so he was happy to get the advice. They got the yard levelled and cleared, and they sent some pictures to prove it was done.

8. I got to hang out with Rich Siegel and Bill Davis a bunch, as Rich was my host for the week. Rich runs La Crepe Nanou, one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans. Bill has been cooking there of late, but he's probably best known as the leader of Dash Rip Rock, a crazed three-piece hyperrock band who are celebrating twenty-five years of their special kind of musical terrorism. Dash used to open up for the dB's toward the end of our existence, back when their drummer was the inimitable Fred LeBlanc (drummer and leader of Cowboy Mouth). Bill had also spent time teaching high school but told me that it was taking its toll on him, thanks to disinterested students mostly. He discovered he had a knack for cooking, and Rich, being one of his best pals, set him to work in the Nanou kitchen where he had been having a ball. Rich is one of the people in New Orleans that I miss the most; he is a bon vivant of the finest kind. His generosity and support over the years has kept many of us fed, housed and working.

Inside La Crepe Nanou

9. I was able to spend a lot of hang time with my daughter Miranda who is now fifteen. She has kept me up to date on the doings of the Jonas Brothers and her possible future as Mrs. Nick Jonas, and she wants a car to go along with her learner's permit. It was delightful to be in her company. She's turning into a fantastic person as she gets older, not that she wasn't a superb child as well, but you know what I mean. I'm proud to be her daddy.

10. I tried to soak in all the changes that were happening. Renovations, rebuilds, new businesses, old ones closing. New houses and abandoned ones. I didn't make it out to where Bruning's Restaurant used to stand, but I'm guessing there's still nothing happening there. Landry's on Harrison is still closed. There is progress in town, but you have to look for it to see it clearly.

(1032 St. Charles Avenue at Lee Circle. The Circle Bar, through the archway. I lived in the apartment on the top floor, the three shaded windows you see on the right, for a year. The best Mardi Gras location EVER.)

I rehearsed on Tuesday night with my pick-up band at DC Harbold's comic emporium on Oak Street, just down the way from the Maple Leaf Bar. DC is a busy fellow; he is in about half a dozen bands and he runs his business and somewhere in there has time to be married as well.

I'd contacted DC (or David, as I've known him for years) when I booked a Circle Bar gig for Thursday. It had come to my realization that in all the time we'd know each other, we'd never actually played together. So he recommended his drummer, Joe Adragna, for the gig. I said fine, then he recommended another friend he played with, Lee Barbier, as second guitarist. Lee had expressed to DC that he knew all my stuff and would love to get the opportunity to play with me. I had visions of what little money was to be made at the Circle Bar being divided by four, but I figured it would probably end up sounding more fun and chaotic with more people in the roux, so it was a 'yea' vote on Lee also.

We plowed through a bunch of songs, some of mine ("Neverland", "Black & White, "Amplifier" and a couple others) and some hastily-chosen covers (like "James" by the Bangles and "Land of 1000 Dances" by Chris Kenner). Everything got run through at least once, and I was trying to keep in the front of my mind that I should not blow out my voice before the big Drifters' show on Friday.

Fat lot of good that did.

Thursday, I went in to the Circle Bar, started with an acoustic set then switched to the combo. The Little PA That Couldn't was straining under the agonizing power of my voice to get over the din of the amps, and I guess it did somewhat. We were loud (Lee much louder than I, with his Twin Reverb--I had my groovy Omnisonic volume governor attached to the Hot Rod Deluxe, though I needn't have done that for this show) and sloppy and fun as hell.

I made them learn "Learning the Game" by Buddy Holly as we played it, and the guys responded in kind. We got endings right, mostly, and there was some absolute mayhem between the guitars.

The nice, intimate crowd at the Circle Bar did not seem intimidated by the volume or lack of subtlety. So we played for over an hour (I think) and kept everyone singing along, especially when "Land of 1000 Dances" made a surprise re-entry later in the set. Na na-na-na-na etc. I left the show croaking, but determined to repair my voice for the next night with hours of sleep (!) and herbal tea (not).

Here's a video of "Neverland" from the show. Some happy faces to be seen throughout, not just in the crowd either!

Lee, Joe and DC asked if I'd consider playing with them again, to let them be my New Orleans 'house band' and I said absolutely. With a little more rehearsal we could conquer the world and not just the Circle Bar.

Pt. 3 just ahead... sleep schedule slowly resuming normal hours, decompression nearly complete.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Orleans trip, Pt. 1

Carrollton Station, Friday May 1 (which will be discussed later, I just liked the photo)


Quite a week in New Orleans to relate.

One of the hardest losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was that of a network of my good friends, many of who were in the Continental Drifters' circle.

The band had ground to a halt after 9/11 put the kibosh on another European tour, this one in support of Better Day and the Fairport ep. Vicki had moved back to Los Angeles, but the rest of us were still in New Orleans. There was some rancor among the ranks, absolutely. I put my cds of the band away, and I started a little mid-life crisis, MC-5-esque combo called the People's Revolutionary Army of St. Bernard for yucks and therapy. Susan and Russ got her solo career underway and recorded an album. Robert was playing with anybody and everybody, idle hands, you know.... and we saw each other, and we interacted with each other, just not with instruments in our hands and not all the time.

And then suddenly, only Russ and Susan lived in New Orleans.

The rest of us had blown to the four winds. Not only was there no Continental Drifters any more, but some of us were learning how to live elsewhere after years in New Orleans, which is not as easy as you might think. The lessons that I got schooled on in NO were about freedom, especially of the personal kind, where you can be who you are and not have to slink around if you're different from the norm (learned a LOT about that during the six months in Jim Thorpe, PA). Before I moved from LA to LA, as the song goes, I was a lot more uptight, self-conscious and worried about the very things I couldn't change. Thirteen years in NO left me confident, dried out and mostly happy about living life as it came at me. That I took with me to NC. Every so often, I'll hear myself saying something maybe a little too extreme for the playgroup parents, much less their kids, and then I have to laugh and realize it's the big easiness of what I said, how I meant it and how it was received in such a different way outside New Orleans.

After the storm, my sweet friends in Hootie and the Blowfish and their crew came to New Orleans and did work for Habitat for Humanity, building a house in the Ninth Ward. But before they got a chance to build something new, they joined up with Craig Klein's Arabi Wrecking Krewe and cleared out Mark Walton's house in Lakeview. I blogged about that a while back. Susan and Russ worked side by side with us, pulling out sludge and dead furniture and boxes of Drifter merchandise and memorabilia that was stored in our old rehearsal space in the back.

Then, on New Year's Eve day 2006-7, five of six Drifters happened to be sharing a table at a restaurant in the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, the first time anything like that had happened in at least five years. It was brief, but it was very nice to see it happen.

Cut to Autumn 2008 when Chris Joseph from Threadheads gets the darned fool idea to try to reunite the Continental Drifters for the fifth annual Threadhead Patry during Jazzfest in 2009. Everyone is contacted and emails are exchanged, and voilĂ ! everyone's onboard! (Could it have been that no one asked before?)

I drove down from Durham Saturday, starting around 5:30am. Immersing myself in Drifters' music as I had been for weeks prior, I felt that I had the reins again. Better Day had been the problematic album for me; the interpersonal issues that had encompassed the band were still very fresh in the laser etching, to my ears. And as much as I'd thought we'd made a great record at the time, it was so hard to listen to eight years later. I originally asked that we not do any of my songs from Better Day, but I relented after relentlessly playing the album in the van. It was far better than I'd expected, and I got it all down pat.

My minivan, a snazzy silver Chrysler Town and Country we'd bought to replace the late Eurovan, was a steady ride down. On the way in from the East, I stopped and checked our lot in St. Bernard. It was still there, somewhat overgrown. Another task to get done while I'm there. I had meant to bring my scythe, but it got left at the shed door--probably better anyway, since I'm not a thresher, am susceptible to throwing my shoulder out of whack, and the grass had gotten to the professional care level of 'high'.

I arrived in Susan and Russ' place in Algiers to empty it of gear. I brought the Plush for a bass amp for Mark, my keyboard 'rig', electric and acoustic guitars for my Circle Bar gig, amps and my ukulele (because you never know when you'll need one). I had promised to pick Mark up from the former Moisant Field, today named Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport at 11:15pm when I would certainly be running on fumes at best. So I killed some time after visiting with the Broussards before I could find our host. It being Jazzfest, I was not worried when I couldn't reach him, it would only be a matter of time before he showed.

From the airport, Mark and I went to Carrollton Station where Susan was doing a show that night (her band features NO guitar legend Jimmy Robinson and bass stalwart Pete Winkler). She brought Mark up to play on "Mississippi", a Drifters' tune. Once we all heard him play those swooping notes on his entry into the first line of the first verse, there was collective sigh that said "he's back!" I joined them for "A Song For You", the first song Susan and I recorded together. It was heartening to hear us remember the first two songs we tried together as well as we did. We saw Tom Bennett and his wife Julie, the former owners of the Station, and a host of other old friends. It seemed prudent to schedule practice for afternoon, as these Station shows tend to run a little on the late side.

We rehearsed about fifty songs over two days in Susan and Russ' front room. Vicki brought her Bangles-signature model Daisy Rock guitar, with its sweet li'l mini-humbuckers. She was accompanied for her trip from out west by her husband, Susan's brother John Cowsill (drummer for the Beach Boys and all-around funny fellow.) Robert has modified his Frankentele so many times that only the smudges on the finish are original, I think; looked like a Strat pickup at the neck and my favorite DeArmond in the middle position. He was, as always, very loud and very good, although I did have to tell him to turn down at one point, his amp pointed straight at me.

We tried to winnow the list down, to make practice easier. I had almost forgotten what the traditional form of Drifter conversation was, talking loud and over everyone else until you got heard or felt that were. We were back and deep into it on the front porch of the Broussard manse, talking and voting on songs. Trying to stay focused on each song long enough to hear out six points of view. My new tack on that is to clam up unless there's something I desperately need to impart, saves wear and tear on the voice and psyche.

Susan and Russ also had to rehearse their Covered in Vinyl show on Saturday. They had decided to perform Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in its entirety, which is no small feat. How they managed to get everything together amazes me, considering the tasks at hand. So we decided that the rehearsals before the Threadhead show would be our only ones for Carrollton Station as well.

Tuesday morning found me driving to Metairie to John Gros' house to retrieve his electric piano and stand after I'd picked up the equipment in Algiers and brought it to 920 Frenchmen where the party was getting staged. John's an old friend and a monster piano player (he leads the popular Papa Grows Funk band), and it was very kind to offer the use of his gear for the week.

Threadheads Patry, 4/28/09 (Nicolas Broussard in Trinity shirt)

After Paul Sanchez's Rolling Road Show was done with their rich and sprawling set (including an interesting version of the Cowsills' hit "The Rain, the Park and Other Things" that was interrupted in the middle long enough for me to grab Sonia Tetlow's Epiphone Casino and finish the song with the band) we started moving our gear onstage.

The guy who was running monitors was most aggravated by what he seemed to think was the Drifters dawdling. His comments ran along the lines of "is this y'all's first show" but never went quite that far. He also could not figure out why my NORD Electro was buzzing through the monitors; eventually, after changing every cord I had, the buzz was so awful that I had him shut off my monitor and I strained to hear the front wedges instead--it never occurred to him or me to switch channels on his mixing board, and apparently Pete Winkler, who ran front-of-house sound, said it was fine in the main speakers. The monitor engineer, later in our set, took a short catnap on the faders during the course of several songs; I guess we just pooped him out.

We took the stage, eager faces smiled in anticipation. The drums and guitars of "Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway" started us powerfully, then the bass and organ charged in and we were on our way. It sounded just great.

I managed to forget the words to "Highway of the Saints", the Pat McLaughlin song we covered on our first album; it's been a staple in Drifters sets since before this lineup came to be. Robert stopped the song and made me start over. It was worth it. When Susan had a memory stall later on, she pointed at me and cried out "HE got a do-over, I get one too!" and I said that I backed her up on that one.

The 'hits' came one after the other, all our favorite songs. We played a ninety minute set that touched on all phases of the band's recorded output. It sounded competent and confident. The singing, despite my worries, was spot-on, so far as I could tell. The audience ate it up, and we were done before we knew it.

The rest of the day was driving gear and people around and trying to fit in a nap and get over a fear of spending money on a ticket to the Ponderosa Stomp to see Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney of the original Flamin' Groovies reunited and backed by my old pals the A-Bones. I was also going to go back to the airport to get Mark's wife Dana at around midnight. The best laid plans went a-gley, Mark took my van with my blessing, and I was asleep by 10:30 Tuesday night, still vibrating from the good Continental Drifters show that finally happened again.

Pt. 2 to follow shortly... if I can get caught up on my sleep....