Hello from Tampa Bay, home of some of the worst dressed, hilariously atrocious professional sports teams of all time. You want teal and black? You want upchuck burnt orange and white? They got both. They've also got beaches, which is why we came, as today is our first proper day off and Pete's sister lives here, and, well, you see how that works out. We're not actually playing a show here, but Tallahassee is tomorrow night, only four hours away, far less hospitable, and is probably crawling with toddler sized insect-life.
There are a few things I'd never done before this tour. I'd never, say, eaten pizza in Missouri (and I don't recommend you do either). I'd never heard anyone say "hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock" (more on this later). And I'd never grown a beard. Sure, I've had the two-day "look Ma! I went through puberty mustache", the three day, "lazy man's stubble," the six-day, "thank God they don't have a dress code at work beard" and the "smarmy gambling mustache" for various at home card games and ill advised treks to Nevada, but never anything resembling a proper attempt at emulating Abe Lincoln. And let me tell you something: I'm not sold. It feels like I have moss growing on my face. I moved past "the itchy stage" (which I was very excited about) into the "oh wait, this is the itchy stage" (which I'm far less excited about) yesterday, but, well, I'm on tour, and I figured this was a good time to try one out. Or a good time to forget my razor at home. But let's not get picky about it.
(Added bonus: Once we're home, the possibilities are virtually endless. The Franz Josef and Hulihee are my mental front-runners, so long as I realize I'd have no friends in a week and half. I would, of course, be spreading laughter throughout the streets of San Francisco, which is never a bad thing. Ok, onwards.)
So, being that we're in Tampa, this means we spent the day before driving through various shrouds of miserable humidity, and the night and day before in New Orleans. Now, San Francisco, in the hierarchy of homes to freaks and weirdos, is held in high esteem. There's that Asian dude on Market Street with the Risky Business sunglasses and the 12 Galaxies signpost who will regale with tales about the time he told Arnold to go down to Guantanamo, pole vault the concertina wire, and break out the inmates. There's that old guy who runs Bay to Breakers naked every year and has one disturbing, grapefruit testicle. Point is: there's all variety of lovable and frightening eccentrics. New Orleans though? It laughs at San Francisco. There's simply more weird per capita there. Your waiters are crazy, the maid at your hotel is crazy---in fact, there may or may not be padded walls surrounding the entire city. But it's an enjoyable crazy. Like the way I described our booker a few days ago. More Emperor Norton than Hannibal Lecter.
We woke up in New Orleans around noon, lazed around trying not to get sucked into Lost Boys (both Coreys? I mean, come on), and left near one, right after the street-flooding downpour began. The point of the journey was simple: beignets. As you may know, I have a voracious need for doughy breakfasts of all kinds (donuts, pancakes, french toast, and, if nothing else is available, gyoza), so after touting beignets as the greatest donut of all time*, we ran through the vertical river of muggy rain to Cafe Du Monde, where I was proven 100% correct.
After load-in and soundcheck at the most legit House of Blues I've ever been to, we cruised the city, saw a wedding party followed by a brass band, heard music both awe-inspiring and ear-gouging, drank outside (as you can and, indeed, you must), and just generally soaked it all in. After our show...well...let's be chronological.
The Sammies. They greeted us a few minutes past our soundcheck, while we were in the green room (which was actually green---I always love that), and, well, they're wonderful. Their guitar player sort of sounds like Boomhauer from King of the Hill. Their drummer and singer are brothers. Their bass player wears vests with undershirts. And they're just good guys. Fun, funny, obviously slightly crazy. Obviously going to enjoy this leg of the tour. I learned the "rats in a wool sock" thing from them. More such Southern wisdom will doubtless be dropped upon us. And, well, the music is great. It's plain old, no pretense rock n' roll, kind of a down home Pixies, but dancier, with two vocalists, two guitarists and---hell, just give 'em a listen. They're fantastic.
After the show, we all met outside and had a big ol' ho-down on Decatur Street. Half-sized guitars, tambourines, clapping, too much bad singing; we even sucked in a few bystanders. Like the out of key, off rhythm homeless man who sang primarily about Jesus while the guy from the Sammies sang primarily about female genitalia. Or the guy with a gold front worth more than my bass rig who just ran into the center of the circle and grunted. Or his buddy with the quadruple extra large shirt who yelled only "sing that shit! SING! THAT! SHIIIIT!" Or the balding Bostonian who complemented Peter's voice and tipped us $5, which we gave to the aforementioned out of key Baptist homeless dude, who informed us we were alright. Yes, New Orleans. That's what I was talking about.
*Honorable mention to the Cruller.