The Senator Theater, Chico, CA, 5/9/09
Well, the racking cough from yesterday gestated in my chest and throat through the night and grew into a full-blown lung infection. I lost my voice and kept on hacking up something like green butter. Gallons of hot toddies later I somehow got through the electric show and the audience was very kind and forgiving. I still felt the show was great and I was truly humbled by that crowd, but it felt like there was molten lava coursing through my throat every time I sang a note.
You know how when you have hiccups everybody tells your their weird voodoo method for getting rid of them? Like stand on your head and breath into a bag or something? Well, in music circles everybody tells you what you have to do for a sore throat to get through a show. They tell you to take a double dose of ibuprofen or eat hot cheese or gargle whiskey or whatever they say is a surefire cure. I'm pretty sure there is just no way around it. If you sing at the top of your lungs every night for an hour or two, after a while your throat just hates you. Hot cheese or whiskey-gargling won't make it stop hating you. It might even intensify the hatred.
The worst part is the sullen, brooding attitude that everyone associates with you being quiet. You can point to your throat and give every indication that it hurts to talk but they never seem to think anything except that you're upset or rude.
Today is mother's day and I'm off to give my mum a call. I hope you're all doing the same. Once that call is over I'm determined to spend the day silent as the grave, sucking down cough syrup and trying to get enough voice to bring with me to Reno tomorrow. I hope I run into those Reno 911
people. That would really make my day.
Salt Lake City, UT, 5/14/09
Well, it was a fond farewell we bid to Bar Deluxe tonight. It's 2 am and we have to start driving in the morning at 8 am, so not a ton of sleep ahead for us. We arrived at the bar this afternoon and heard that they're selling next month, so no more shows at Bar Deluxe for us or for any bands I suppose. We wandered across the street to a restaurant to see if we could get some food and the first of our Utah Surprises occurred.
We walked in and stood by the “Please Wait To Be Seated” sign searching the place for a nice dark place to sit. The hostess looked us up and down like we had crawled out of a gutter and wandered in the door.
“Are you members?” she asked.
“Members of what?” said Tom.
Now, some of you may not know that in Utah there are a series of insane laws that force you to buy a membership to an establishment in order to be able to drink alcohol. Without a membership you can't enter.
Tom says “We're just gonna eat.”
“Doesn't matter” she says, “you still have to have a membership.”
So at this point she asks us if we would like to buy a membership to the restaurant so that we can enter.
“Hell no.” is our unanimous reply.
This is Utah Surprise number one. You need to buy your way into a restaurant there. It's like you're at Bushwood in Caddyshack
So we head back to the club to just drink our dinner. Since we're hired to play that night, happily we don't need to be members. After we've ordered and consumed something like 10 shots each we are all stunned to discover that we're not drunk. This is because the shots are these sort of miniaturized versions of what a shot would be anywhere else. By law the beer can't be more than 3% and the shots are like a thimble.
This is Utah Surprise number two. You can go out to a bar (if you're an employee or a member) and drink about a hundred bucks in booze and not even be hungover the next day. So there's crazy and then there's Utah Laws Crazy.
Now, before I get slammed with mail by Utah residents extolling the virtues of that great state, I do have to say that the crowd was excited, the bartenders were very nice and the whole band had a good time even in spite of those laws. Which, I suppose is actually Utah Surprise number three.
Utah Liquor Laws
Rob Wynia Photo by Pete de Floater.