Thursday, April 23, 2009

A few more reflections on my Minnesota trip

It was one of the easiest drives up to the Twins, ever - 4.5 hours, no traffic jams, no rainstorms.

John & Al's dad has lots of good stories about meeting his music idols - he's had dinner with U2 and Ray Davies [separately!], drank a beer with Phil Lesh, and of course, there's the X story - his record store sold tickets for the club upstairs, so he had X in his office before the show to negotiate payment. Jeff said Exene was the band member that you talked business with - "her hair is 18 colors, but she's all business". Billy Zoom walked in and said, "where's the drugs?" - this was in the cocaine-fueled '80s - and when met with silence, said, "really, I'm not kidding - where's the drugs?".

All my meetings with musicians have been so unsatisfying - stuff like I got to go with a bunch of people up to Leo Kottke's hotel room after a show, and chat a bit, and then try to close the door quietly when he fell asleep with his guitar in his lap; or riding in the hotel elevator with Brent Mydland - we stayed at the same hotel as the band during 3 nights of the Dead at Red Rocks - that when Jeff made special arrangements for me to go back stage and meet Roger McGuinn after a show, I wouldn't do it. Jeff was baffled, "Debby, you're Miss Folk Rock - how can you not go?"

But it's impossible to convey in 15 seconds to the musician that you get them better than anyone; I think all you can really say is "thanks". So I just queued up after the Robyn Hitchcock show and handed over my CD to get signed by Peter Buck & Robyn - didn't try to say much of anything. [and I was especially uneloquent because I was both nervous and drunk, possibly blameable on drinking alone - plus the wine was cheap at $4 a glass, and on one of my orders, the bar tender emptied the bottle into my glass, filling it to the brim, and charged me $5]

The next day on the bus, first the driver got lost between the stop in Minneapolis and the stop on the U of MN campus - though I gotta hand it to the MegaBus people - all the Minneapolis stops are indoor, in parking ramps. In Madison you just get a little bus shelter; in Chicago you stand on the street corner. The driver was an older Black man, and I made up a whole backstory for him, about having to go back to work. In front of me was a Black grandma travelling with her 3 kids, and she sure gave the driver hell for getting lost. The kids were totally hyper, eating flaming hot Cheetos and popcorn for the first hour or so of the trip. One of them had a do-rag and a hat and looked like a baby gangsta - and behind me was a real gangsta. The kids finally fell asleep and when they woke up they had shed their gang regalia and just looked like kids.

The MegaBus is a double-decker - I rode on the top once, and felt like I was waving around up there. This trip from Minneapolis down to Eau Claire, it was pretty windy, and I thought I could feel the bus swaying, and I worried that the driver would fall asleep and roll us.

We made it back to Madison safe and sound and 20 minutes early - but, if I hadn't worried, who knows if it would have turned out like that.

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