After getting smogged out in Sparks for ten days, I was looking forward to two weeks at the Carson Station, Steppen Stonz' home-base gig. But nothing ever turns out the way you want it to, y'know?
I checked into my room as usual on Sunday night, the night after the run in Sparks ends. Because we're pretty much the only band that makes the Station money, they pretty much let things go with us. The biggest thing is checking in waaaay early, three days before the first night of the gig. Mostly it's because Mike and Arthur drive up from Las Vegas or from God-only-knows where else after the previous gig ends, and they've got to have a place to crash on their off-days. Arthur just tends to stay in his room, or visit friends during his downtime, while Mike is a film junkie. He'll head up to the Galaxy Theater owned by Casino Fandango, or even the new second-run theaters that opened up in Carson City's old empty multiplex to watch a film or two a day. He even recently admitted to me while we were waiting for a flight at McCarran International Airport in Vegas that he once watched four movies in one day at a local theater. Me, I just grab a free modem from the front desk and get online with Joy's laptop. But there's just one problem, though - it doesn't seem to want to charge its battery. And after consulting three different shops, the problem is clear: the AC adapter's socket is bent, and the wires connecting it to the motherboard have come loose of the solder holding them in place. All three offered to fix the problem, but at a minimum cost of around $150, that's a fix I can't afford right now. So the laptop goes into its case, and I go into withdrawals. At least I have my PlayStation 2 with me.
We also received a visit from an old friend of ours, Andre Stennis. As in Andre Stennis, the guy I replaced in Steppen Stonz. Good ol' Dre. It's been a rough year for him, losing both his parents in a little less than a year. But he's holding up the best he can, dealing with his parents' effects and last wishes and all that. We all have to go through it sooner or later, but I can't imagine how he managed to maintain his sanity through it all. He was in town to visit friends and pick up gear left in storage in Reno for a gig back in the Midwest (note: I've since learned that he's in the process of moving from his native Omaha to Minneapolis). He was his usual jolly self, looking like he'd lost weight (a winter of shoveling snow out of your driveway will do that to you), and everyone was glad to see him, myself included.
But there was an unexpected negative reaction to Dre being there that first week in Carson as well. I noticed that Mike was really wanting me to do things with my playing that he'd never really wanted me to do before then. It seemed to me that he wanted me to be more like Dre, to play more like him. But I'm not him, and never will be. My ass is too pale, and I have more hair than the rest of the band put together. I'll do the best job I can to play the parts the way I'm told to and I won't argue about it, but I can't be who I'm not. Square pegs still don't fit into round holes.
And as the gig progressed, I got to see my good friends Idekay play a Monday night show at MontBleu, paying tribute to a fallen comrade. I've since learned that Idekay is breaking up, playing their final show next weekend, so I've come to the painful conclusion that whenever I buy a band's merch, they break up shortly after. It saddens me to know that I'll never be able to buy another Rush shirt again......
(UPDATE: I've since been informed that Idekay isn't breaking up after all. The band's founding guitarist had decided to move out of Tahoe, but recently changed his mind. Instead, the band will be hitting the studio to record a full-length CD, and recording their 'final' show for a possible release on DVD. Then they'll take the winter off to rest and recharge. My boy Jeremy is already working on material for a solo/side project to occupy his time, getting his Dave Grohl vibe on.....)
I also began to worry about my friends in Carson, how the difficulties of life were wearing at them. Jazzy, trying her hardest to get off welfare buy starting her own daycare, only to find that she's making less money now than when she was on the dole despite working 50 to 60 hours a week. Sara, dealing with an ex who she can't get out of her heart altogether despite her friends almost-universal dislike of the guy. Alexis & Crystal, planning a wedding that no matter how heartfelt, will mean nothing in the eyes of authority. And I added a new friend to my circle, one with whom playing the six-degrees-of-separation game one night revealed that she and I are a lot closer to each other than I could possibly have imagined. I look forward to introducing her to Joy in October.
But the gig came to a conclusion without any real surprises, and now I was getting ready to really break a new trail for myself and push into (for me) new and uncharted territory:
The Deep South......