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July | 2007 | PJ Newman


Monday morning.
That’s a good start. It means I made it this far, but waking up Mondays isn’t that much of a challenge. It’s finding a reason to get out of bed that usually requires tech support.
This Monday morning I find myself in the food court at Sea-Tac airport, drinking burnt coffee, eating half priced trail mix, waiting another 1.5 hours for the flight to San Francisco and then eventually Baltimore.
It looks like a longer line for the Great American Bagel place than Burger King, but there are at least 3 cashiers at the latter. Every 15 seconds, a number is screamed out and another well-fed American grabs a greasy bag of destiny. Two tables away, 4 twentysomethings are eating, what looks like from here, Quad Whoppers, if such a thing exists. I felt bad about eating egg foo young yesterday with Garey; I could visualize the gravy coursing through my veins instead of blood. Dog only knows what’s entering their bloodstreamsdigestivetractsdnarnaeieioandsometimesy.

Thanks for putting that into perspective.

Random thoughts during layover in San Francisco….
Every time you flush a toilet on a jet, an angel dies.
I just discovered that a tug backs each jet from the concourse in preparation for take off. There is a driver and a guy or gal with 2 small light sabers that guides the tug. After the jet in ready to move of it’s own volition, light saber dude must disengage the tow bar/umbilical from the tug. This entails quite a bit of jumping up and down on what I just assumed was expensive gear and cursing a lot. After the tow bar is released, the driver and light saber dude duke it out under the jet engines. The name “Fuckwit” must be used generously.
While warming up the jet engines, flight crews use the super-heated jet exhaust to heat the coffee and meals served aboard each flight.
Virgin and Atlantic records each went in 50/50 on an airline appropriated named Virgin Atlantic. Being from Seattle, I’m glad SubPop hasn’t gotten into the game.

100% humidity.
Ass numb from 11 hours in the same seat.
Bullet hole in wall next to luggage carousel.
Another 1.5 hours to wait for Peter and Daniel’s flight.
Picked up a voice mail that the new cd, which this tour in built around, was either mis-shipped or not delivered or something. Another box will be overnighted to me at the hotel in Annapolis.
But what of the other box? Where is it? Who’s got it and where do I have to go to get it?
All of the restaurants and bars at the airport are closed. I had 2 turkey dogs for breakfast and 2 cups of hot black water (airline coffee) so far. My choices are to either find a vending machine or eat a painkiller on an empty stomach and drive around in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere.

I find pretzels but no water.
I wait.
Peter and Daniel show up.
It’s all good.
So far.
Take the shuttle to the car rental hub. Did I mention that by now it’s, oh, 2:00 or so in the morning? It takes about 1/2 hour to get the minivan (!) and the GPS (!) talking to each other and we’re off to Annapolis with Elanor (GPS) guiding me through the dark. After 5 minutes she’s already given me bad directions. Bad omen.
I, being the diligent tour manager, mention to Peter the missing cd’s. Instead of him praising my Johnny on the Spot news briefing, he bitches (justifiably) that it’ll cost more to overnight the product than he can recoup.


Maybe I’ll find something less topical to discuss…the weather?
Peter tries to change Elanor’s accent to an English one, but you can’t do it while driving.

Get to the hotel.
Quaint, old school (1700’s).
Back up a second.

OK, when I made the car reservations, I changed it from the 16th (the day we all flew out) to the 17th because Peter and Daniel’s flight didn’t come in until 1:20 am and I didn’t want to get stuck for an extra day rental.
Make sense?
So maybe I did the same for the hotel…. Booked the rooms for the 17th (in actuality they date we arrived) and notified the sales manager that we’d be in about 2:30 (truth words) and she said we’d be expected.

Speed up to…
We check in. The night auditor says, as far as he’s concerned, it’s still the 16th and they’re full up. Peter pulls me off to the side and says get him a bed…. NOW!
We finally get the night guy to give us a suite (it’s really not what you think or, for that matter, what he thought).
There’s a bedroom upstairs and a bedroom (kind of) downstairs. And baby makes three…
At this point, I’m happy to sit up in the lobby for the next 8 hours so we can do the radio show in DC and I’ll deal with it then. I go back to the lobby (Mister Toad’s Wild Ride) to get Peter’s backpack and ask about maybe another bed somewhere. They bump somebody who didn’t show up and give me an attic room a few blocks away (I think. I’m a bit wobbly by now and just try to keep up with George (maintenance guy?). Four or five flights of stairs later (carrying guitars to restring as well as my 2 small but deceptively heavy bags) we get to this charming room. Gulp down 2 cans of iced tea (bad bad bad idea) and begin to change strings.
No strings.
Hopefully, they’re in the other case.

It’s 5:09 am. I have to be up in 3 hours but I’m still wired and it’s too hot to sleep and I’m too wired.
First day on the job and I’ll probably be fired tomorrow (later today).

Tomorrow: The Nations Capitol


So this is how it all begins

Folklife 2007, Day 1
OK, let’s back up a few days to..

Folklife 2007, Day Minus 2
Stage Managers meeting 6:30 pm. I thought it was the next day.

Folklife 2007, Day Minus 1
Called Chandler, the Production Manager, to ask if I still had a job.
He laughed.
He told me because I missed the meeting that I couldn’t have pepper spray or Samurai Swords. Readers who have followed my earlier exploits know that swords equal power and power is the only thing performers respect. Although, once I mentioned Tazers to the sound guy and emcee, I had their respect.

Folklife 2007, Day 1 (redux)
I’m waiting at the bus stop, trying to do my thing for the environment, when I’m surrounded by a pack of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Witness for the Prosecution #1 offers me a magazine for future perusal. Hustler? National Geographic? Nope, the Watchtower.
So, what are my options?
1) A quick violent outburst
2) A slow protracted violent outburst
3) A delightful combination of both
I politely (sic) declined their generous offer and went back to huffing my rubber cement jar. An uneventful bus ride follows.
Folklife, for those of you blissfully ignorant, is a 3-4 day (depends on how many fingers you can count on) folkmusichippiegatheringdrumcirclemultiethnic … multiculturalfamilyfriendly … drumcirclescreamingbabynutjobencouraged festival that I have somehow managed to avoid for the past 20 years. Oh, I popped my head down here for an instrument auction years ago and provided gear last year, but I make it a point to stay away from large crowds unless I’m well paid and backstage. The money’s ok, but there’s nowhere to hide.
As soon as I hit the Seattle Center grounds, I see friendly faces.

2 questions remain on an endless loop playing in my brainpan:
These questions will pop up at regular intervals.

So, upon seeing Ann O’Dowd, I say to myself, “What’s the worst that could possibly happen?” Ann’s got my back. I’ve got friends here. People know me. They know better than to place me anywhere near a drum circle, clowns and/or mimes, patchouli or a beer garden (if I can’t join in)! I find myself stage-managing without the benefit of any weaponry whatsoever (today, anyway). I’m at the Rainier Room, an indoor stage that had bad bluegrass, Indian (East) Dancing, French cabaret, Celtic, Hip Hop and Balkan music. The Hip Hop excursion included a pair of girls who wore wings and reminded me of the Faeries from Mothra movies. The rest of the evening promises Russian Balalaika, more bluegrass and Hungarian and Andean folk musics. Supposedly, there’s a staff party afterwards if you have a hospitality endorsement on your laminate (which I guess I don’t). Do I crash the party or don’t I?
Film at 11.

Day 1 wrap up
The first band was horrible. Kids playing bluegrass (which is admirable) poorly (which is inexcusable). Well, that’s really not fair. Chances are that you’re gonna suck when you first start playing (law of averages. Actually, John Bishop, jazz drummer extraordinaire, claims he played great the very first time…), but come on, play outside where the amusement park can hopefully mask your sound. 3 standout bands were a mandolin quartet, the Hungarian ensemble and the group from Ecuador closing the evening.
Went home.
Went to bed.

Folklife 2007, Day 2

Have I ever explained Seattle’s weather micro-system? It goes like this…
Sideways rain.
Rain that falls upwards.
That’s pretty much it. There are beautiful sunny days. Here’s where they are:
Beginning in June, it’s a toss up if it’s going to be nice. When I worked the Summer Nights at the Pier concert series, load in and the build began June 1. Maybe it rained, maybe it didn’t.
The 4th of July historically rains. Then it’s really really nice until 10 pm on Labor Day, at which point the heavens open up and precipitate to biblical proportions. After that, it’s ok until October, then repeat.
Thanks, you say, for this bit of meteorological misinformation. But why, you ask, did you waste the minute of my life that I’ll never regain to feed me such tripe.
Because I can. Because you’re reading this. Because yesterday was one of those incredible wonderful days that we wait 10 months for. Because the deluge was waiting for me when I woke up.
Because, for the most part, Folklife is an outdoor festival.

Confession time. It is, in fact 2 months since I started this report. I feel bad because I feel like I’m neglecting you, dear readers. Although it’s my sworn duty to keep you up to date in the day to day activities of your intrepid reporter, I ask myself, “Self, what do these wonderful people give a shit about my miserable life that compels me to do this again and again? I mean, for the most part, I can’t stand myself so why should they? How many could I possibly owe money to? Would they rather be watching Mister Clean commercials? Picking up dog shit?”
That being said, I’ll summarize…

I finished the festival, got paid, went home.
Kept on building the studio.
Worked the Fremont Fair, got paid, went home.
I’m leaving Monday for the East Coast. Going on tour with Peter Himmelman, tour managing, doing FOH, driving, babysitting.

More later.
I promise.