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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bee Hives Behave

Sunday, February 14th, 5:30 am
After the soothing buttered toast I drift off like a little bitty baby. Until... huh? what was that? Somebody stirs downstairs & I awake to a feeling of total disorientation. Where on the green and pleasant earth am I?? It takes moment or two but then I recall it all: the tour, Eugene, Luckey's last night, we are crashing at the home of our kind & gracious hosts, Marc & Barbara. Oh yeah. I nestle back into the blankies & covers. And then something in the insect kingdom stings the hell out of me, right on my chest...not far from my heart...

OUCH! IT BURNS! IT STINGS! Mostly it hurts. WHAT THE?? A spider? A scorpion? A tsetse fly? A nazgul? There will be no sleeping until I can find some local anaesthetical numbing agent. I bustle to the bathroom & rifle through the drawers. Sorry Marc & Barb--necessity! Here. Anti-itch ointment. Duly slathered I find relief & eventually make my way back to slumberland.

Alas, it is all too brief--we get up at 8:30 to prep for our appearance on the Reverend Marc Time's radio show, Sunday Morning Hangover. After my shower, I find a dead bee in the bed. Evidence. So. I'm not allergic--or I would surely be dead as hell with that super efficient delivery of bee toxin to my chestal areas. But I don't have any signs of reaction to it--not even hives. Perhaps that was the problem for this lone mysterious indoor bee--no hive.

After some much-needed caffiene Gary & I run out the door. Andrew is now too sick to join us on the radio, but stays behind and to man the tweetdeck with a blow-by-blow account to the fans. Yowza.

We get to the radio station in plenty of time-- well not really. Actually, we have 5 minutes to set up my keyboard, headphones, the wee amp, etc etc etc. There is a certain feeling overcoming me--mmm, I think I know, it's STRESS. Marc Time buzzes us into the building, but since Gary is still recuperating from knee surgery, I'm lugging my pared down radio-rig up the stairwell. Which is fine--I'm ever SO buff. Gary holds the door, organizes gear--he does all he can to help. I charge up the steps carrying the keyboard past the correct floor. I realize it, turn around and--oops I fall two steps. Ouch. Somehow I catch the keyboard before it goes sliding down the steps. Sheesh. That would have been bad.

In due course all the gear is situated, connected, dialed in, and we enjoy a fun hour with the fab Marc Time. We chat, Marc plays tracks from our three CDs, I play some brand-new tunes solo ("Superhero Drugs", "Everything", "The Charms of Hope","Blazing Wheel" and the experimental collage: "The Best Spam Ever"). Meanwhile, Andrew is tweeting from the comfort of Marc & Barb's house. Very efficient--not bad for some sleep-deprived, busted-knee, bee-stung, virally-challenged, touring musicians.

After the radio show we have a fancy farewell meal at ZENON with Marc, Barbara, Brad and the band. And then, though we hate to say goodbye, off we go--Andrew to the north and Gary & I to the south.

We will be back together soon enough--we are going to Austin, TX and playing shows on the way there & back--a trip that starts up on March 11th. See you then.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feeling Luckey

Saturday, February 13th
Andrew sleeps about 12 hours, but his voice still sounds like gravel pouring through a didgeridoo. We go out for brunch while he hunkers down for an additional nap. Poor sickly thing.

Gary & I eat at Bread & Ink Cafe with my brother, Dan. It is quite delish--I do recommend it! After our meal we say our goodbyes to my bro & go south on Highway 5 toward Eugene, where our next rock destination awaits.

We load in at Luckey's Club around 9:00 pm. We are jovially met by old friends--my roommate of yore, Brad Erichsen (who works at Luckey's!), and Andrew's fab friend from his Berklee School of music days, Andrea! This lifts the old spirits right on up, to say the least.

It is the birthday of the booker for Luckey's --the velvet-voiced, SAM HAHN. He plays an excellent set to open the night (including but not limited to covers by both Elvis Costello & Jim Croce--now, that's a rare juxtaposition). We pop up onstage & do our set after him, and then the Eugene act, Just People start in on their own songlist

Whilst being plied with many beers and shots by Brad and his co-workers behind the bar, we receive glowing compliments from Eugenians in the bar, behind the bar, over & under the tables. The praise and the alcohol go right to our heads and the room spins a bit, lights gleam, colors swirl, faces smile. Let's toast the last club date of this winter 2010 tour! Cheers! Another round?...well...

All nights wind up & so eventually we load up the vehicles, and drive towards our hosts' abode. Andrew's voice is so low & scratchy he is doing Yoda quotes from
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. We are obsessed with the scene when Luke says: "I'm not
afraid." and Yoda says, "You will be. You will be". Andrew's voice sounds perfect for this line and we laugh maniacally. Somehow, the line morphs into, "You furby. You furby" which makes us laugh even harder. I picture a furby toy...and they kind of look like Yoda with fur, don't they... well, it is very very late.

We get in about 3:30am & we all have a piece of buttered toast. Yum. But now we have about 6 hours before we need to depart for the radio station for the final event on the tour. Oooof.


Nobody is in a terribly good mood in the morning. The average amount of sleep that anyone managed to get seems to be two hours. Yikes. Feeling a wee bit fragile. Gary takes the initiative & procures breakfast sandwiches for all. Our hero. Thus fortified we are able to start the day.

We load up our luggages, toss them into the car, and pile ourselves into two vehicles--for, after the shows in Oregon we will be parting ways. Andrew will head back up north to Tacoma, and Gary & I will go south to beloved San Francisco. Gary & I enjoy some Beatles in the car & sing out, warming up our voices--the show in Portland starts early.

We arrive at Mississippi Pizza Pub in Portland, OR about 20 minutes before the show is supposed to start. Oof. Feeling rather fragile again...but we are here! The kindhearted Sheila has pity on me & grabs me some refreshing drinks whilst I gather my wits & my musical equipage. The gear is placed onstage in due course, and our fabulous opening act, the legendary Jenny Hoyston plays her fab set. Ahhhh--such a pretty voice!

We get up and do our thing. In addition to those who came specifically to hear True Margrit, there are an abundance of toddlers and youngsters watching (and of course their parents), clearly they're especially intrigued with Andrew & his battery & battering of drums. They mill about staring, dancing, waving their arms as if conducting an orchestra. It is sweet, funny, and so surprisingly surreal that I feel slightly feverish.

However, Andrew is DEFINITELY feverish. After the show he can barely speak, except in a scratchy basso profundo. He's sounding like Harvey Fierstein-- or a male Brenda Vaccaro...Kim Carnes? Rod Stewart? You get the idea.

Uh oh. We still have one more show ( Eugene!)--and a radio gig, although, Andrew doesn't have to be at the radio. Can he make it? I believe in him.

After-Party of the North

Before the show at BOB's JAVA JIVE came to a close, I received a series of phone calls from my nephew, Elan Eichler. He was stopping by the club, no, he couldn't make it in time, ok, he was stopping by the house.

The band got back to the house and received Valentine's cookies from Heather--aww SWEET! Literally. I did some laundry (as described in the previous post), we all snacked, Andrew headed to bed, Gary & I watched some Colbert Reports. There came another series of Elan phone calls/ texts--we are on the way, wait-what's the address, now we're lost. They arrived at 3 am.

Needless to say, we were getting a bit tired but we were all having a great time hanging out. Andrew emerged from his chamber, Gary retired. It got very very late--so late in fact, that it was very very early. So... apologies to all who attempted slumber and could not achieve it. Our bad.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not for the Faint of Heart

BOB's JAVA JIVE is a gloriously and truly funky dive located in an industrial section of Tacoma, WA, known as Nalley Valley. Roman Meal bread has its headquarters there, as well as Nalley Valley Chili. Uh...yum?.... or yuck? I've had Roman Meal bread--it's pretty good toasted with butter ( what isn't good with butter?). I have not had Nalley Chili...

Anyhoo, if you click on the above link you can see that Bob's is shaped like a coffee pot. We hope to play in every drinking and cooking vessel available in nightclub design--it's a goal. Help us achieve it, my fair readers. Send us info on other clubs built in the shape of .... spatulas ( spatulae?)? Bowls? Pots? Pans? Decanters? Micro-planers? Bongs? Or?

The interior decor of Bob's Java Jive is a study in all-welcoming diversity-- really quite festive in a madcap sort of way-- with slightly limp paper stars and dollar bills pasted on the low ceiling by the bar--not to mention a hamburger lamp, a teddy-bear lamp and a myriad of other shiny kitsch pseudo-talismanic objects. The backroom, where the music happens, boasts nautical and mountain-themed murals, an abundance of resplendent x-mas lights, and naugahyde banquettes. You can almost hear a sassy waitperson offering you fries with your rock. (They do actually serve burgers & fries...Andrew had some.)

Some of our friends' friends' friends came in and walked right back out--they looked kind of freaked out. Perhaps it was their first time in a real-life dive? We won't hazard a guess about what motivated their hasty departure. Faintness of heart.

So, the ever-amazing Press on Randy opened the night up with an excellent set of his sweet, wry, poppy, arty tunes. We then heaved our gear up on stage and blasted-off through our set into which we poured all available rockfuel (I mean, "rock it"
fuel). It felt good. Included in the set were a particularly vicious version of "True" ( from SEAWORTHY) and possibly our best live version of "Opposite Opposite Man". If you split the dive, friends, you miss out.

Our friends from the CEDARWOOD DOME--EAT MARY-- closed the night with their garage-band-meets-Janis Joplin stylings. They put the RAW in RAWK.

After the show it became apparent that when we loaded in at the back of the venue (where it was very dark), I had trod in poo. Bummer. As soon as we got home much washing of despoiled items ensued. Not for the faint of heart, indeed.

But the night wasn't over yet...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Over Le Top

Off the members of True Margrit go towards their gig in Olympia, WA through rain and... well just rain.

They arrive at Le Voyeur and hoist the gear from the truck into Le Voyeur's back room which is a study in blue and red and black.

And lest we forget, the room is merrily festooned with diverse accoutrements such as an...eggbird? A dead bird...a must-have for any discriminating backroom venue's feng shui.

The Hungry MCs open the evening up with some badass rhymes. Margrit is brimming with pride--The Mighty Misc, aka Elan Eichler, is her fab brilliant genius nephew! Her head almost explodes.

True Margrit take a turn on the stage to much approbation from the crowd, and then are followed by some freestyling with The Hungry MCs and some of their very special guests. True Margrit gets back up for one more set and Andrew ( who has a shocking cold) pounds our some particularly vicious fills. And thus incited to fury, Gary thumps majestically on the bass, Margrit brutalizes her keyboard and does True Margrit go over le top? Peut-etre. Mon amies, this is Le Voyeur! What else can they do?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day off at the Dog Park

A bald eagle at a Tacoma dog park. Good thing it didn't dive down upon the wee canine scampering below.


We arrive a bit early at our venue Fuel which is inexplicably guarded by a blue pig. I never get to the bottom of the porcine reference--although there is a pork sandwich on the menu. We hang at a table, waiting for the sound man to arrive. There are many televisions--for, Fuel is a Sports Bar AND a rock club AND restaurant. So many things to so many humans.
We load in our gear, soundcheck, play tunes and tear down. Two young men approach , one clutching a Champagne bottle, the other a camera. They ask to take a photo with them. They are shipping out to Afghanistan tomorrow. One tells us about how he loves this country--even though he is from Jamaica & he's ready to lay down his life. we all shake his hand & feel humbled--we are just musicians, after all.

The very loud and very talented Smile for Diamonds plays after us, then Press On Randy--aka Seamus Tomkins. He is a mad scientist with a totally massive arsenal of pedals, laptop, gadgets, and great tunes. We enjoy his set & then we depart humming his hooks, turning headlights towards home.

Bellingham: 48.75°N 122.48°W Elev. 30 ft

We arrive in Bellingham at dusk. The sky has deepened to a robust Navy blue. There's a light breeze that is chilly. We take some flyers for the evening's show to a few locations along the Artwalk route (a monthly gallery crawl). We meet Django from Seatthole--the folks that made our t-shorts & stickers. He kindheartedly takes some flyers to distribute to artwalkers who pass through his gallery. We also drop off flyers at Merch-bot--a super fun store where we meet Jayda.

We wander over to the Shrimp Shack and have a fried seafood feeding-frenzy. Yum. Especially the cod.

Presently we get over to tonight's venue: The Green Frog/Acoustic Tavern. When we arrive the Tavern is completely full of folks who are grabbing guitars off the walls (where they customarily hang, it becomes clear), and strumming & singing & jamming. Jolly nice.

We take our time setting up our gear, many folks-songs are sung. Peanuts are eaten, shells tossed floorward, beers are swallowed with relish.

When we are ready to launch into our set, the awesome Terry-behind-the-bar lets the crowd know in no uncertain terms that there is a cover to support the musicians and those in the bar will no be paying it, thank you very much. And pay up they all do, and all who come through the door for the whole night. Wow! we need him on the road with us at ALL TIMES!

I like his latitude.

We play two long sets--the second one is a bit easier going once the monitor situation is sorted ( always challenging to play when one can't hear oneself). The peeps listen attentively, sip the excellent beer that Acoustic tavern purveys, and many folks sign the mailing list.

Around 12:45 am we wind up our 2nd set. We call it a night and are just kicking back with our nightcap beers, when a quartet of folks come in and beg us for a tune. We play two--always glad to oblige ( well.. often glad). They buy a CD or two and then it is late and thus time for pizza next door ( for it is now 7 hours and many many songs since the Shrimp Shack).

Thus fortified we pile into the truck and set a heading south, singing as we go.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Our Dome Away From Home

Wednesday night. Milton, WA. Rain drizzles. True Margrit drives up to the CEDARWOOD DOME. It is duly noted by the band that it is, yes it really is a dome--quite large, really, in the geodesic persuasion. It is painted flat white and not garishly festooned with neon or other unnecessary architectural accessories. Outlandish yet matter of fact--there it stands, as if to say by its very presence: "but of course Milton has a large geodesic dome/nightclub. Of course".

Inside on the ground floor, an enthusiastic and somewhat inebriated Wii bowling tournament is underway. The members of True Margrit carry their gear up the left-hand staircase that is (naturally) curved--following the dome's circular outlines. The stage is most commodious with enough room for an 8-piece band, and dancers, and horn section..the True Margrit trio will have to make do with spreading out in a rock chevron formation. There is an area projected straight out in the middle of the stage for the lead singer to loom above the audience. This spot is considerately equipped with a silver pole--just in case there will be a stripper...or other gymnastics displays?

It is surpisingly smokey in The Cedarwood Dome (the members of True Margrit haven't played in a smoking club in a long while but it brings back memories of even smokier venues) and there is even a smoking section in the balcony that is a kind of groovy hookah lounge.

The first band plays--Eat Mary is their name. They have a jam-band-meets- Janis Joplin-for-jello-shots aura.

True Margrit plays. There are drunken moves being busted on the checkered dance floor. The final set-closing tune is robustly celebrated with hoots and hollers from the patrons on the floor, the hookah lounge, and the loge.

One of the most effusive hooters is Steve who approaches Margrit and promptly begins lauding her with great approbation. It comes out in the ensuing conversation that he is:
1) from Tennesse ( near Cookeville)
2) a trucker here with his friend, Dave who is also a trucker from near Cookeville
3) he is none other than the winner of the downstairs bowling tournament. And
4) he emphasizes the point that his excitement to have won the Wii is surpassed--by far--with the thrill of discovering True Margrit.

He asserts:"Y'all could be the next Nirvana--I can't wait to see y'all go PLATINUM!"

This is very delightful to Margrit. After all, she grew up in Tennesse.

The International Man of Mystery, LEVI LYON--the promoter-- puts the icing on the cake after True Margrit's set by announcing to the crowd: "Go catch True Margrit at Bob's Java Jive next Thursday--cuz they won't be playing these small clubs for long!"

The True Margrit trio is pleased! This is truly their dome away from home.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Pics of the Week

AT EL RIO ( photo by Tom Erikson!)

Here's that massive moon we all enjoyed this week --on the way to our Willits show.

travel day...

hmmmm--did we take a wrong turn?