...being the observations and navigational extracts
from the ongoing expeditions of San Francisco Piano Pop trio
True Margrit

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


note: Because we had little Internet access on the 777* tour (with the not-insignificant exception of my fifteen minutes of web surfing/work at the Arcata public library on July 5th while Christina was filling her prescription for penicillin—oh yes, we had medical adventures!!) I now relate the whole trip below with details drawn from my copious notes. Come along.

* It’s called the 777 Tour for reasons that will become clearer as the numbers add up.*

DAY ONE--Sunday, July 1, 1:43 pm
Christina calls me from Oakland, estimating the interval to her arrival to be 15 minutes. I am basically packed but there’s always something more, right? I hurriedly circle the apartment, throwing one more cable, adaptor, gadget, or transformer into my gigbag on each revolution—high impedance to low impedance transformers, y-adaptors, ground-lifts, extra mic clips, and such. Christina arrives and we fill up her car quite handily with duffles, gigbags, instruments, and bounteous snacks (including but by no means limited to TWO kinds of croissants from Delessio’s: two savory with ham & cheese, and one sweet with almonds and chocolate), and in moments we are off like a shot of espresso in Christina’s trusty Saturn. Over the Golden Gate Bridge we go, unto the conifers, shapely hills, rivers, liveoaks, and red-tailed hawks of California’s great north. We chat affably, eat many of the snacks, stop for the odd pee, and the three and a half hours to Fort Bragg pass in a flash. We pull into the wee coast town and locate our tour’s first venue --Headlands Coffeehouse I decide I wanna play their upright piano, but I bring in my keyboard and lean it against the wall for company on stage. Christina has a table of relatives who made it to the show, and they are clearly most impressed with their cousin as she wails and rocks her set. They turn out to be an excellent attentive audience for my tunes, as well, as I play an hour of songs including a couple I haven’t played in ages upon ages: “Laurel Avenue”, and “Oceanside” from 1988 and 1986 respectively. At one point when I am playing the piano—admittedly a bit vigorously, my water glass and notebook (perched, as they are on the lid) capsize most dramatically upon the keyboard sloshing water everywhere. My song grinds to a halt. The owner appears with a towel for the piano keys and bench and wipes up my mess. Another guy appears with my notebook, which in its fall has randomly reopened from the page where my set list was written, to a page with some of my scrawled journaling in black pen with the word: “SEX” very conspicuously large in the middle. He asks me, “Do you need this?” I say, “Uh, yeah…” How mortifying. Not long after the Capsizing Notebook & Waterglass Episode yet another dude comes up to me right as I’m readying my hands to strike a chord. He says right in my ear ( I guess so there will be no doubt I hear him), “You’re like a female Beatle!” As this is high praise I say, “Thanks man,” and I soldier on with my tunes. What else can one say or do?

9:44 pm
After my set, I’m approached by a nice fellow who says he has been wanting to hear me play live since 1999 when he heard a song of mine “about the cold” on Mp3.com. I reply, “Do you mean, The Thirty Words for Snow?” He nods vigorously. Right on! That’s a tune from DECEPTIVELY TRUE. He signs up on the email list and buys a copy of SEAWORTHY Sweet!

When our fans, friends, and family have dispersed, and our free café snacks are all eaten, we head out to find a motel. We drive up and down Highway One. We decide to check out the promising-looking Surf Motel first. $89--No way! Super8? 89 bucks too! And it’s kinda dumpy-- shit! We pull in to the Seabird Motel and this time I inform the tousled proprietress that we are traveling musicians, and ask if she could please be fiscally gentle with us. She cuts 10 bucks off the apparently going rate of $89 and that is that. We heave our items up the stair and into the room and flop onto our beds. Time for cable TV!! We watch the last third of “Legally Blonde”, a few episodes of “Friends”, and a chunk of “Titanic”. We both secretly like “Titanic”, so this is good fun. We drift off the in the cold (but not lethal) waters of sleep sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. Day One achieved.

DAY TWO--Monday, July 2, 9:03 a.m.
There is a tentative tapping at our door. Presumably the maid is here. In semi-somnolence I scratchily yell, “NO!” Christina laughs. I brew up some slightly disagreeably coffee-tinged Yorkshire Gold tea in the coffee percolator, drink it, and head to the pool. Christina companionably joins me for some laps. After swimming and bathing we seek breakfast and find a fine one indeed at Eggheads restaurant with its Oz theme and 777 types of omelettes and/ or crepes. I have a spinach/ mushroom/ cheese/ garlic crepe. Christina opts for an omelette with 7 ingredients, of which I recall bacon, cheese, garlic, and avocado. I like mine-- and I like hers too: yum.

We drive less than a mile out of Fort Bragg and stop at a promising beach to chill out. This is a day off, after all—no gigs tonight. We hang out in the semi-shade of some sand cliffs so Christina can have her feet in the sun, and I can be in the shadow due to my hatred of the sun (it burns it burns). Somehow we get stuck on a game that involves pairing unlikely adjectives: “limp and generous”, “perfunctory and perverse”, “sordid and torrid”, “pear-shaped and tranquil” and so on. This amuses us for hours & hours.

We eventually get back on the road and head north to Arcata where our charming hostess, Kris--and our eventual next gig-- awaits us. On the way we pass the street number “777”. Not the last time this significant number surfaces.

DAY THREE—Tuesday, July 3, 1:30 p.m.
This is another day off, so Christina has headed farther north for a day in the redwood (where she has the red-pepper of destiny with the number “777” on its sticker).

Meanwhile, Kris & I are about to ford the Mad River. I put on my bathing suit and my beat up running shoes—sacrifices on the altar of outdoor fun. Kris forges ahead of me long-leggedly while I follow after her short-leggedly and more gingerly, especially in the deeper spots where the current and the slippery rocks on the riverbed are conspiring in my immersion. I foil these forces and make the far bank. We head down an old path that follows the river. We have a fine canine accompanying us—Hadley (Kris is housesitting for her owners). Hadley is a very sweet black lab with a passionate love for rubber balls, in particular when they’re thrown by cooperative humans for her swift retrieval. But there are just so many times a human can bear to throw a ball for a dog, so she has developed coping skills for this sorrowful truth of doghood. We spied her lying on her back holding the ball above her own head in her front paws and dropping/ catching it in her mouth over and over. She’s a very resourceful beast. She’s certainly enchanted with this romp in the woods and runs forth and back with a stick in mouth and a jolly twirling dogtail. Whilst Hadley concerns herself with the smells and sounds of the underbrush, we seek the path down to a swimming hole and are thwarted by briars and steep slopes. After a few miles we forge a route through fen and brush. Presently we’re splashing into the river and riding a wee eddy. And then it’s all about eating ham and cheese sandwiches. Hadley looks longingly at our lunches and tries to swallow some plastic wrap from the backpack, but we retrieve it from the retriever just in time.

When we start the trek back, Kris points out some bear pawprints by the riverbank. I am secretly horrified--but I act terribly brave, my dear readers. We head back down the trail the way we came. I manage to get a huge splinter in my hand when throwing a stick for Hadley. I pull it out, and the wound stings and also bleeds impressively onto my palm for a good minute or two. Ouch--but I feel tremendously tough. We re-ford the river to the semi-derelict salmon hatchery parking lot where Kris’ car is parked. Earlier, at the start of our wilderness quest, Hadley had sniffed the air, rushed up to the brink, and leapt headlong into one of the empty salmon troughs. We ran to the edge and recoiled at the sight of the manic dog gamboling in a bed of old oyster shells and what appears to be desiccated rivermuck. Since the walls of the container are too high for Hadley, Kris had to pull her out with main force.

We go into Arcata and voraciously eat salmon (of all things!) for dinner after our 6-mile+ marathon. Yum (notwithstanding the unappetizingness of the fishery--thank god for cognitive dissonance)!

Day FOUR—Wednesday, July 4th 4:42 a.m.
I awake feeling inclined to scratch my left butt-cheek and even in my semi-conscious state I know instantly that I have an unwelcome guest from the insect kingdom—a tick--yuck-o!!!!!!! Kris is experiencing insomnia and thus is able to help me with the standard tick-extraction procedure, which involves the application of hot matches to tick-body to discourage the tick’s continued tenancy. It works. Good riddance—but it’s gross and sad. We both go back to sleep.

We swim at the Arcata Community Pool--very nice! Then we eat big brunches from Wildflowers Grocery--mmmm, yes!

2:00 p.m.
Christina returns from her own adventures which involved elks, redwoods, oceanviews, and the contracting of a mean upper-respiratory infection/affliction. Great timing—just when we have five gigs in a row! Out tour is a bit of a disaster healthwise. She has bubonic plague & I have lyme disease. Great!

4:45 p.m.
We head for Trinidad where we are ostensibly playing tonight. The only thing we are certain of is that our gig is very informal—a feature spot at a brand-new open mic on July 4th. Should be pretty low-key. When we arrive in Trinidad we are WAY early, so we go down to the gorgeous beach. Christina is delighted and opines that it looks very European--and without a doubt it is simply stunning: cool-shadowed craggy cliffs festooned smartly with green trailing vines, fishing boats bobbing in the swell and with seabirds in the grey moody sky above. Ridiculously—perhaps even nauseatingly-- picturesque. We stroll about for most of an hour. It’s a bit cold & then I remember we are to be playing outside. Hmmmm. We head back to the Catch Café where we’re greeted by the open-mic host, Bob, who accommodatingly has set up a P.A that’s big enough for a 7-piece band. But no one else shows up so, it’s gonna be Bob and us playing for the nearby grocery store parking lot denizens. Meanwhile, the cafe owner has busted out a portable “firepit”—it’s like a grill, except it’s a wee enclosed campfire—and is trying to light it, but it just keeps smoking and smoking and distributing a layer of ash over all the musical gear (and everything else). As Bob plays his first set the smoke inhalation dangers discourage most folk who might be interested in sitting down to listen, and this unfortunate situation continues throughout our mini-sets as well. A few brave souls endure the impure air, eat their fish and chips and hang out. After our sets we get down to the serious business of enjoying Catch Café’s scrumptious fish, chips and slaw. When we turn south toward Arcata, the sun is low and Christina is concerned about missing July 4th fun. In lieu of sparklers, Roman candles, firecrackers, and such we end up catching the sunset/ “magic hour” at an absurdly pristine stretch of beach between Arcata & Trinidad. As soon as my feet hit the sand I instantly feel possessed and start running down the beach as hard and fast as I can travel propelled by tour-sleep-deprivation-adrenaline. I’m laughing maniacally whilst Christina is collecting sand fiftycent pieces --which she hands to me to deposit in my purse, until she finds a full (unbroken, that is) sand dollar, over which she triumphantly exults.

DAY FIVE—Thursday July 5th 3:45 pm
We stroll about Arcata’s nifty shops (especially the bookstore) and then Christina decides that she is indeed sick and better fill the prescription for penicillin she has had her doctor phone in. I get mighty cranky waiting at the drugstore and head to the library for a dose of the Internet---we haven’t had access all week and withdrawal is setting in. After dire tribulations with a phlegmatic pharmacist Christina gets her meds and we set out for our gig. But we soon realize we have no directions with us or even the address. We start asking people on the street how to get to our venue (Mosgo’s Cafe), but no one knows. Finally, we flag down a woman on the sidewalk who peers into the car and says, “Hey, I know you guys!”. She turns out to be Lila who booked us at the Friday evening gig at Muddy’s Hot Cup, and our radio appearance on KHUM for Friday morning. We all have a good chuckle about this unlikely coincidence and she gives us excellent directions to our venue.

Ron, our fabulous host at Mosgo's, is positively effervescent about feeding us and we promise we will eat a bunch of snacks after singing. (I for one, get bilious if I sing too close to a meal--happens every time). I do a short set, then Christina, then I fill up the rest of our allotted time with a grab-bag of old and new tunes and even a cover! Yes, readers I played a song by Richard Thompson—albeit a somewhat mangled version adapted as well I as can do it for the piano. This is a rare occurrence, to be sure. The song is “Vincent Black Lightning 1952”. When I listen to RT’s version I cry—every single time. But I can get through it easier when I sing it. So it’s kinda like therapy.

We head out after playing our sets and eating numerous snacks—sandwiches, tamales, soups, salads, teas. We just had to chow down to please Ron, of course.

DAY SIX—July 6th, 12:49 p.m.
“So, why is it the 777 Tour?” Lila asks. We are on the air on KHUM .
“Well,” I answer, “The number just keeps coming up, in fact that mic-stand has 777 on it. But it started with the fact that the True Margrit band is playing on August 16th at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco for my 777th birthday…”
“She doesn’t look a day over 776, does she? Christina puts in.
“Wow!” Lila says. ”You’ve been doing this a long time, eh?!”

2:45 p.m.
After the radio gig Christina & I check out the nearby Ferndale graveyard high on a green hill. My favorite epitaph: “Leave your campsite the way you found it”. Right on.

We head back to KHUM because there is a (purportedly) great hamburger stand next door and singing on the radio makes a body require beef. And indeed–these burgers rock, and we are revivified and ready to sing more—after all, we have another gig tonight! YES!

We arrive at Muddy’s Hot Cup and there are peeps already there waiting for us! WOW! The radio helped. Christina gets up and does a bang-up set for a very warm and attentive group. I join her on her last tune—“To a Flame” and then she sits down. It’s crazy how perfect she is singing with a sore throat, fever, and diptheria. That’s show biz. This may be her first tour, but she’s definitely got the carny-life in her blood.

I get up to play and somehow an hour and fifteen minute goes by, like an eyeblink. Whoa! It’s a super-kind-hearted crowd who give a whole lotta love right back to a singer/pianoplayer who’s going with all her might, and it’s a terrific blast. YEAH!!!!! Not to give away the punchline, but this is the best gig of the tour by far.

DAY SEVEN—July 7, 11 p.m.

I make the biggest possible breakfast I can whip up with what we have on hand—eggs with goat cheese, French toast, brussel sprouts with pinenuts. We gobble it up and head south to Caspar. I make some amusing playlists on the iPod--segueing from Led Zep to True Margrit to Fiona Apple to Christina Kowalchuk—you know, the classics.

5 p.m.
We have a modest lunch in Fort Bragg, splitting a club sandwich at a brewery. Oddly enough, I have never eaten a club sandwich. As it turns out, I love it!! What’s not to like-- turkey, bacon, extra bread (bonus).

I love carbs
I love meat
Serve it up
I will eat!

We pop back into the car and go the 4 miles south to Caspar. Ahh, here it is--the Caspar Inn—and our last gig. It’s a rambling old roadhouse with a fancy-pants menu of California-ish cuisine. Things are looking cool. The owner shows up and arranges for us to have a room (this and dinner are our pay for this gig). We get our keys and open the door. Our nostrils are treated to a rather strong odor of air freshener. Christina is horrified. I shrug—whattayagonnado, it’s free, and I am cheap (especially when on tour). You get that which you place cash on the barrel for, after all.

As we are situating our luggage in the room Sarah & Brian arrive! YAY! AND! Stacey and Mary Kate are also on the way. We are no longer lonely souls off in a faraway galaxy. A bit of home is right here with us on planet Caspar.

Finally, the soundguy arrives and Christina starts her set. It’s a super nice dimly lit atmospheric space with a variety of chair choices, capacious stage, and a good P.A. The drinkers and diners sit and enjoy as Christina sings her tunes. Occasionally there’s a boisterous outburst from the bar and I realize that the most exuberant guy in the room is the owner, whose volume goes up one notch for each drink he has.

I get up and join Christina on “To a Flame” again, but toward the end the DI box freaks out and sends a screechybuzz at a painfully high gain through the monitors and mainspeakers. EEEEK! The song grinds to an ignominious halt, the soundguy appears & we tangle with a cord or two and then Christina indicates that she wants to sing the end of her song. So we launch back into the finale--for the kids. Cuz the rock must go on. Christina then sits down and I barrel through a short set which ends with my best version yet of my new tune—a 5-minute rock opera (Current title: “The Honey”). It's about extinction and Moon colonies of the future (+ more).

I go and order some dinner—an arugula salad with pear and bleu cheese (yum) and a crab BLT ( should I have yet another sandwich with bacon in it—yes, YUMMMY). Sarah gets a veggie burger with cheese. We eat our dinner with Stacey and Mary Kate who have discovered the upstairs deck from which we can see the bluish but darkening Pacific and the glowering sunset whilst feasting.

For some reason (7/7/07?), there are going to be fireworks in Fort Bragg tonight, so we all pile into Sarah’s car and go north up the pike. Sadly, the fireworks begin (and end) while we are in transit. So we are forced to go to the ice cream parlor and we drown our sorrows in creamy cold confections.

11:49 p.m.
When we get back to the Caspar Inn the headliners have taken the stage and the whole late-night-at-the-coastal-roadhouse-scene is in operation---it’s quite a phenomenon. Drunken locals jostle elbows at the bar with their noses in their cups, while those still mobile twitch and grind on the dancefloor and the band launches an ongoing fusillade of boogie and blues. The weak leave early, the mighty few will surely party unto the dawn. Outside the road is lined with cars, the Milky Way looms, and the nearby surf whispers an occasional punctuation.

Presently, I sleep.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And the word Therapist is really The Rapist...

(comment from Krissy McWiggins in the North)

Sat Jul 28, 10:32:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Margrit said...


Do you wanna talk about that?

Mon Jul 30, 09:52:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Deborah K. McIntyre said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Thu Nov 22, 03:54:00 AM PST  

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