Amerikaland #2

I’ll do a proper band-by-band-fuckup-by-fuckup blog for SXSW as soon as I have the time. Unbelievable musical strike rate, despite taking risks and heading for smaller parties further out. SXSW get their quality control dead on, which is rare for this kind of event. ‘swhy they booked me 😉 …

Saturday AM, I stumble into the living room for breakfast. F’s got a beer-and-cocaine brunch for me ready to go but it’s too early dude, I’m playing tonight and anyway Sarge is making eggs with mushrooms and dill for him, me and Annette.

Our condo is too gorgeous for words, I could live here forever if it wasn’t in Texas. Though of course, Austin is an oasis of progressive liberalism. Over three storeys (in fact technically it’s two condos turned into one), the furniture and garden and view are all luxurious. Pool too, so we lucked out. It’s also only a short 10 minutes down Red River from the insane human traffic and music overload of South By Southwest’s central 6th avenue.

It’s so clean and the art on the walls is so tasteful, the owner must be gay, no question. Plus there’s the gayest blue cut-glass menora I’ve ever seen. A gay Texan jew – that rocks. Only bummer is it’s far too nice an apartment to throw a party in, the interior design wouldn’t survive 50 kids and 6 acoustic musicians. We want to stay here again, not trash the place.

So, rewinding back.

San Diego

Excellent large-scale (50+) house party gig with other touring acts heading for SXSW. Word spreads between the travelling musicians, that police with sniffer dogs are stopping band vans between California and Texas. Our party host is a sweet guy deep into audio recording who turned half his house into a studio / party venue. He’s built one of the best homemade bits of furniture I’ve seen, by creating a glass-topped table with electric circuitboards underneath the glass.

Oddly he doesn’t seem to enjoy his party: constantly worried about cops shutting him down, he runs around picking up peoples’ glasses and doesn’t relax. Weird – he puts these gigs on every couple of weeks.

Best thing is Marc and Emma show up, they’re having a weekend in San Diego near the end of their year in L.A. – didn’t think I’d see them til Los Angeles next week, so that’s fab – and it’s almost like I fall upon them as friends I haven’t seen for a while, so I’m probably a bit too intense and talk too much. We discuss the ethics of zoos, because they’re debating whether to visit SD zoo. Must find out if they did.

Driving north, 50 miles out of San Diego at 2am there’s a kind of internal border patrol set up on the freeway, to catch illegals driving north. Scary. First thing you notice is high barbwire-topped walls and fences closing in on either side of the road. 

Sad – though the battle against illegals has strong support here even from many liberals, especially with Mexico’s drug war so intense and close by.

San Francisco

Ripped it up at Hotel Utah, a lovely show, sandwiched between two charming bands. People came and knew the words. Stayed with Daryl & Natalie nearby, Nat made a lovely breakfast and even supplied a care package that included lethal cookies. They’re coming to South By as well, so we’ll get to hook up again. We scored some immense coffee and then set off on the long drive south-east.

… California …  Arizona … New Mexico … Texas …

At one point we drive 300 miles on cruise control without touching the pedals. Empty, dead straight, dead flat roads through the desert. Jawdropping scenery on a vast open scale. Cowboy movies made flesh. No light pollution or clouds so the night sky is incredible.

Texas is much more hilly and surprisingly green (that’s relative though, it’s not Sussex), with a disconcerting amount of big deer roadkill, every so often on the side of the freeway. 

And then we’ve arrived.


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