After an emotionally draining morning that had been capped off by the winter's first snow, I needed a little time to collect myself. During those hours, I got phone calls from my band. Not Mike and Arthur, but Ron and John.
Things haven't been well with Dirty Joe lately. Our last gig back in November had been a disaster in my opinion. Roger looked disinterested, Ron seemed in pain, and Joy was convinced that John was stoned on something, though I wasn't seeing what she was. A few days later, as I was leaving the stage at John Ascuaga's Nugget, I found a voicemail from Roger on my phone telling me that Ron had been taken in for emergency surgery after tests had found a mass on his colon. Absolutely freaked out, I called Roger back, only to get his voicemail. I haven't spoken to him since.
Roger is no longer a part of things, I've since discovered. While I was on my most recent run in Nevada, he'd gotten into an argument with the couple whose property he was staying on in his trailer, as well as with the president of his motorcycle club. The end result of which was his expulsion from the club and from the property, though some have tried to tell me that he 'retired' from the club. He has failed to respond to my calls asking for his side of the story, so I've come to the conclusion that he is no longer able to continue with the band. And that's fine with me. He's been on a massive downward spiral for quite some time now, and I've only been a part of roughly the last half of the ride to date. I hope Roger is able to right his ship, and soon.
And Ron is the next domino to fall. The mass removed from his colon was cancerous, and he was given roughly a year to live, and that depended on how well chemotherapy went. The signs so far have been encouraging, but I have a hard time believing anyone who would tell me they felt great getting chemo - maybe all the weed Ron's smoked has messed up his system to the point where chemotherapy actually feels good.
But he's called me a few times in the last few days, telling me that we could get together to rehearse during the day at RBar downtown, and that my old friend Dave Garner (sound-tech extraordinaire) would be willing to run sound and otherwise set up rehearsals for us, as well as offer his connections to us for jams and/or gigs in the Seattle - Tacoma area. I'd like to believe that to be true, despite my distrustful nature. I don't think anyone would offer up promises like that to a dying man, and I just can't picture Dave doing anything that low - it's just not in his nature, and I've known the guy for twenty-plus years, so I have to think this is at least partly true. And John has been calling me about bringing a new singer (well, new to me at least) in to take some of the workload off of me, as well as the guitar player he'd mentioned to me before in conjunction with a side project of his to possibly replace Roger.
Truth is, while I'd love to get Dirty Joe (or whatever I'd prefer to call it) moving forward again, if for no other reason than to provide some comfort to Ron in what will be his most trying times, I almost don't want to. The downward spiral the band and the guys have been on has been hard for me to handle. I don't like dealing with rumors of hard drug use. I don't like people trying to get me to hook up with the band's hangers-on - even if I like them as people, I'm still not interested, though hell, I'll flirt with anything if I think I can get a laugh out of it. Anyone who's ever seen me flirt knows it's only for laughs - I grew up watching way too much Pepe LePew as a child for me to be all that good (or serious) at it. I just don't want to deal with the interpersonal drama between the band and their respective circles, something blessedly absent from Steppen Stonz.
But as it stands now, the weather will likely have final say over the proceedings. That first snow of the season has friends coming, likely in the next day or so. And by the time it clears up, it'll be time for me to get back on the road again, spending the next several weeks in Nevada, this time with Joy in tow. It'll be nice, but we'll be back in the trailer again for at least a week, her first time back since we left Reno for Port Angeles two years ago.
As usual, we'll just have to see things go - knowing that they never go as planned.
But the snow let up after noon, and I worked up the stones to bundle Joy into the truck to drive down to Seven Cedars to see my old homey Curtis Seals and his current band, Gruvbox. Curtis and I go back to my earlier days in Powerlight, and it's always nice to see him in whatever band he's playing in (of which there are currently at least three). It's good to reminisce with him about this and that, long drives back and forth from gigs, bandhouses, his prodigious snoring. It was enough to drive away the funk in my my mind and allow me to relax psychologically as well as physically.
And talking about it with you is always good for flushing the negativity from my psyche. That, and making a nice big pot of boeuf bourguingon (albeit with pork, but still plenty tasty) for the family to feast upon helps mightily. Now pardon me while I digest......