Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I Couldn't Be Here In Spirit, So I Came In Person

Damn! That was supposed to be my opening line when the guys saw me in Albuquerque! I was so happy to see all of them again I forgot! Best opener I have had in months, blown because of a bunch of musicians! argh.

I had such a good time this weekend, despite ridiculous heat and too much waiting and nasty security people, and,.... well,....let's not harp on the negative. I went to the lengths I did because I love these guys. Once again, their magnificent performance reminded me of why I go so far, so often.
Here's the version of my adventure I started writing while sipping coffee in the El Paso airport Monday morning:

Well, that was fun. Just spent two days chasing DC, one of them out-of-state in one of my old stomping grounds, Albuquerque.
The Launchpad was neat, if a soundman’s nightmare. Long, thin, painted and decorated to accommodate its name. Smallish stage, though I think the one at Dallas’ Gypsy Tea Room was physically smaller. GOOD crowd, very into the band, even the newcomers. Met a lot of folks who had seen them before and a few who were aware of the music but hadn’t seen them live before. I daresay they are diehard fans now!
The boys were really fired up- they put on one hell of a set, I must say. Sweat inducing, tendon stretching, heart warming, soul moving....well...I could go on about them a longtime, obviously. It had also been six weeks since my last show.

Anyone who creates a live music venue and doesn’t know anything about acoustics needs to get the help of a soundman. Gary did a fantastic job, considering he was under a balcony, mixing a two story open room in front of him! To all those who might not catch the subtler signs, the night was flawless.
I got a lot of down time to talk with the guys, the crew, band friends (Hi, Daniel!) and some newbies. My newest DC fanatic friend, Linda, got to experience a little of what I have been going through with the guys off stage. It was good for both of us to get a little off time with them. I would always love more, but hey...I am only a fan.

I was a touch dismayed at the near lack of response to my being in ABQ! I guess my unpredictability has gotten predictable. It was fun to see the momentary “whoa” on one or two faces. And then I got my too-long-absent hugs.


Either my craziness is contagious, or I am not really all that alone in my insanity about this band. Linda lives in Tyler, Texas, which is below Dallas. She drove into ABQ, all by herself, with a sprained ankle, fully intent to drive all the way back home afterwards. Somewhere between the gig and the hotel, she decided she just couldn’t miss the El Paso gig. So we ended up driving down about an hour behind the band the next morning.
El Paso......the hot seat of Texas. Yow.
I didn’t see any reason to go through the town on my way home and not stop to see the band’s gig there. They were playing long enough after dark for it to have cooled down, right?


Dry heat, my butt!
I cannot imagine what my buddy, Capt. Andy Gillihan, is going through in Kuwait at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This, at103, was unbearable.
Once Linda and I got into ELP, we walked around, ran into Mike, Dave, and then Rev, ate, and then slunk back to the hotel room until later. As it was, we went to the El Paso Street Festival too early- hot, icky, LOUD. I don’t wear my earplugs around DC much, but I had to wear them all evening at this place. It was all way too loud, and not well mixed at all. I am not sure if it was the locations they had chosen to play the bands in, or the actual PAs, but it sucked a lot of the time. Then again, I was there for one band, and they were playing last. It was a long wait.

The majourity of the sea of humanity there had come to witness a bunch of old 80’s one-hit-wonder bands (Ratt, Quiet Riot, Cinderella, Firehouse.) Frankly, most should’ve given it up years ago. Sorry, but a fifty year old guy in leopard skin spandex is laughable, and a bit sad. Okay, I wasn’t a fan when they were out back then, but one cannot stay 25 forever. It is best to learn to age with some grace. And self-respect!

Linda and I spent a lot of time looking for places to get away from the cacophony. We were a captive audience though- if you left you had to pay to get back in. Live and learn!
There was a car show and kid play area inside the convention center, so we spent some time inside. It was a little cooler too.

During the last band before them on the stage DC played, the town set off fireworks. Now, one does not usually expect SCHRAPNEL from fireworks! They were shooting so close to the festival, there were firemen on the roofs to watch for errant sparks. No one was watching out for the audience though! Bits and pieces fell like some bizarre rain, many pieces still burning. I got hit at least twice myself and I was under an arch where Eric had his merch table set up. I picked up a piece to put in my scrap book as a evidence.....if I can flatten it out! Scary and dangerous Fourth there, folks. (THAT was the problem! It was only the 3rd!)

A lengthy set change and the onslaught of pushy and unnecessary security at the stage front put a damper on the mood at first. There were some technical problems too, but as DC is wont to do, they pulled it all out about mid-way. Due to the nasty security attitude, I stayed back by the merch table. I actually a pretty good view of most of the stage. I also ended up helping Eric out some while I was there, which was fun. He did twice as many sales in ELP that in ABQ! People were running up to the table during songs, going “Which CD is that on? I want it!” It was cool. We had to tell them a few times that the tune wasn’t out yet. (A-hem, guys! New CD?! – the sales are there, I promise you!) It wasn’t hard to convince them to try another CD on for size, though. My personal favourite was a little girl, 8-10 years old, and her parents. I just knew for some reason that the DVD was what she needed; there was a light in those eyes I have seen before. Sure enough, she walked away from the table clutching that DVD to her chest- I see the beginnings of another musician, guys! You are really inspirational, you know?

While there were difficulties, one strength was there from the beginning: Mike Zeoli. He was just manic- absolutely blistering, for some reason. He pushed Rev up there too- Rev’s solo was a wow-er! During Barrio Blues, I walked a little way up to the front, ‘cos they were on fire and pulling me. One of the security kids (most of the security was kids 21-25 years old in tees, which would have preferred to have been able to party) knew I was friends with the band and came up to me. “They are really jamming now!” from him, and I told him- wait for the drummer. Mike’s solo was a few moments later and the kid just went nuts. I think Mike is part iguana or something. He seemed to thrive in the heat this weekend.

All in all, the ELP gig was worth the travel, the heat, the noise. I watched all sorts of people become converts, yet again. To my personal surprise, I wasn’t the only San Antonian there- part of my street team was there (a big hi to Ed, Tina and their pretty girls- make sure you post that picture with Mark!) There were folks from a number of Texas cities, a few places in Mexico, and even some besides myself who came down from Albuquerque.
Not everyone had come originally come to El Paso for this event, as Linda and I had, but all of them were ecstatic that they had found out about it and attended. Heat and noise and crowds of people were forgotten or forgiven in the glow of that amazing music.

That, the way their music draws people together from all walks of life, it why I go so far for Del Castillo. I cannot wait for the next time I get to go out of state!


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