I’m now back in Chicago after a week long jaunt through Kentucky, Tennessee and the Carolinas with Dragons 1976.
We stopped in Knoxville the day after our Lexington show to play at the Pilot Light. It worked out kind of the way the first time we played there did – the crowd didn’t show up until late, were pretty into it and cleared out once we were done. We stayed with Tim’s friend Van and Margaret, who are long time friends of Ken Vandermark’s. They took care of us with late night enchilada’s and morning waffles.
The next day we headed east. This is the fourth time we’ve done a tour that had a heavy dose of rotation in the Carolina’s, thanks to some really good contacts we’ve made down there in the past few years. This time we entered the states from the west end and hit Greenville after a gorgeous drive through the smokey mountains. Our friend Gene Berger, owner of Horizon Records keeps the flame going down there, next door to his record store is the Cafe Bohemian which is run by a real jovial man named Tripp. This is our third time down there and are always welcomed warmly – this time was no different. Unfortunately it seemed that the crowd 4 days after New Years on a thursday wasn’t ready to get back outside it’s own doorstep, so we didn’t have too much of a crowd. No matter, we played what we play and the few people there appreciated it greatly.
That night we drove to Columbia to spend the night at our man Ross Taylor’s ranch. He welcomed us as we got in around 1 am and showed us a rocket pack a friend had just given him – found on some property that his friend and just bought. The next day we hung out in Columbia, getting lunch at the Piggly Wiggly and checking out a state swamp preserve that was used as a place to get mud to make buildings back in the 30s.
We drove down to Charleston in the evening to play at Redux Art Center . Our first trip to Charleston we found out that there a big straight ahead jazz scene there due to alot of tourism in the city. We had a good crowd that night – Redux had a us play two sets for two covers and people came to both. You could definitely feel a shift in the age group in the crowd which was pretty refreshing. It’s a good way to do things – starting playing all the time at 10:30 or later is sometimes a drag. No reason not to have show starting at 8 for the people who’ll make it. Philip White joined us on the bill – he’s out at Mills now, I helped him out last semester as the SuperCollider TA – well, helped him out as much as I could. We played a piece out there here developed which worked with bringing out the harmonics of a bass clarinet with bandpass filters. He made a piece here with just feedback from two microphones, using the filters as a way to bring out different tones. I joined him in the second show on alto – despite having a pretty serious runny nose problem. During the later Dragons set, which I felt was the best one the tour, there was a tremendous rainstorm – tropical style. The sound of the rain mixed in pretty great, especially during some of Tim’s drum solos and during Ajemian’s phaser-dominated bass solo.
We headed back to Columbia the next evening to play at the Hunter-Gatherer. Ross made us a great dinner of Kim Chi chowder and Mahi-Mahi cooked on a hibachi. The crowd at Hunter-gatherer was a bit loud but uber-appreciative. we had a good time playing and weren’t rushed out as quickly as normal for a saturday night in South Carolina (can’t sell liquor on Sundays, usually clear people out at midnight).
Our last stop down south was in Asheville. We headed up there early as I wanted to make a visit to my dad and family that I haven’t seen in a bit now. We played at the Bobo Gallery, and though they were late to show up, a good sized crowd did make it out – the owner Brad was really into the music and wanted us back soon. It was pretty great to have my dad and uncle in the audience. I haven’t seen them in a long time – so them being able to see what I do is pretty important.
We drove out of Asheville that night and stayed with one of Tim’s friends way out in the mountains. His friend Steve Alfred recently moved down there from Chicago to start a goat cheese farm. A little random, but interesting. I took the opportunity to sleep out in this big old barn they had there – plenty of straw to use as bedding. Nice and dark. We did the long drive back to Chicago on monday the 8th. It was a good tour – saw old friends & made new ones. The music was consistently satisfying – the new music we have which should be released by 482 Music in the coming months really helped out our sets – the music is definitely getting more energy each time we play together. It was telling when we were in Columbia and we got a request for one of our songs from the crowd – people are into it.