On to Texas - the drive to San Antonio is long, hot and smelly. Have I complained enough about conditions on the RV? No AC. Smells like a hamster cage. Nothing works. I've got stage 3 tour cancer and no clean clothes.
Not surprisingly, when we reach San Antonio, it's only about 104 degrees outside. What luck! We're back with The Beat, and it's almost a pleasure to hear Riddim sound-checking his drums for an hour again....I have gotten quite attached to getting a free Chris Murray show every night. His songs are one of my favorite things about this tour.
We play a pretty decent show, there are a nice contingent of local skins and they make us feel welcome. We're in the Southwest now, so the majority of younger people at our shows appear to be Raza. It's just like being home in LA. Everyone else stays and parties with the locals at a bar across the street. I'm all fed-up and in a foul mood, so I splurge on my own hotel room and a taxi ride. A mental health night. I love my boys, but I need to get away. I get woken up a little earlier than expected in the morning - the distance to Dallas is longer than whatever random source of information we used had indicated.
Driving from San Antone to Dallas, we get pulled over by the DREAD SOUTHERN SHERIFF!!! DOn don dahhhh! Keep in mind, we've got like 8 baldies, a giant Mexican, Buster, Lee and other unsavory characters crammed into this RV. Which has VERMONT plates. German, our fearless merch guy/driver was apparently weaving in and out of traffic. We drive different in LA. The deputy sheriff is talking to German outside the RV as we wait for the dogs or bees or whatever it is they use down here. After the RV paperwork comes back clean, the cop decides to poke his head inside the door and "check in" with us. He's young, blond and not unfriendly. Asks a bunch of questions about who we are, where we're going, etc. We are obviously a band on tour and not smugglers or coyotes...Seems satisfied. When 6 guys answer a question in unison, and 4 out of 6 are light-skinned, it helps...You can tell that a few guys in the band haven't had much experience with cops, as they want to babble and volunteer information. RULE # 1 when dealing with the Old Bill: Never volunteer information. Don't babble. Sheesh. The deputy doesn't want to get any more intimate with the smell of the RV than he has to and lets us off with a warning.
It's raining so hard in Dallas that even a trip across the parking lot has me soaked. The Granada Theater is a cool old theater with a big stage and friendly staff. They have a professional photographer on staff and he takes some great shots of the band. Go here:
We play a pretty good show, although some people are now forgetting the songs we've been playing all along. We learned two new tunes in Atlanta: "Skaville UK" and "Samson and Delilah," that weren't on the original list of 24 songs to learn for the tour. That seems to have taxed some folk's memory banks... Bad Manners material sounds easy, but is harder than it seems. Plus you have to jump about, smile and sing background while playing your parts. I have to let go of my fantasy that we'll get it 100% right at least ONCE. Don't get me wrong - there are many good shows where the audience won't notice any obvious trainwrecks - but shit ain't right and I'm frustrated. At the same time, the end is in sight and I'm closer to home than I've been in weeks.
I'm really looking forward to Austin, our next and final stop in Tejas. I haven't been here in 27 years ("Twenty-seven years!") but I had such a good time the first time...I've got a mission to connect with an old friend/bandmate of my mom's and get a photo of us together. English Beat merch gal Candy snapped this for me. She's aces, but that's another story. Cornell Hurd is an Austin musical institution/treasure and it's cool to see him after 35 years or so. I was just a kid getting dragged around to various gigs, and now look at me. I've come so far...
Again, so freaking HOT in Austin, like the rest of this state, and every other place we've been this summer. It's enough to make even Angry Frank believe in global warming.
Emo's, the club we're playing, is this legendary Austin spot. All the big names have played there. But aside from the smaller inside bar space, it's a dump. I'm sorry Emo's - your staff are so nice but WTF is up with the support dressing room? The part we played is indoor/outdoor, with no A/C. Did I mention how hot it is here? And it's raining in the outdoor part. Small stage, we're in front of the Beat's gear as usual, and there's a pillar right behind my position for me to slam into. During the tour, Buster has encouraged an unofficial competition between us and the Beat. I like hearing who won the next day. It's all in fun, and tonight he's got a plan: we're going "pirate." I'm not sure exactly what he means, but I like pirates. Now I get it - it's so hot tonight, that if we can get the crowd dancing, they may be tired out by the time the Beat hits the stage. We play a fine show, which means lots of energy and jumping about (do you see how this tour has fucked up the way I write? Buster is teaching us "English"). One of the best bits is when Beat bassist Wayne joins us onstage, dancing about and totally throwing me off. It's funny. I almost pass out several times during the set, and I barely get back up from bended knee during the break in "skinhead love affair." Buster's plan is pretty much a success, except that when the rain stops, the temp drops pleasantly. Still, we've scored a telling blow, as the Beat pull out all the stops right from the start of their set. I hear a Marley song from upstairs. Towards the end of their set, I'm in front thinking about getting Wayne back, when I realize that Matt, Jonny, Josue and Pablo are already onstage. I jump up, and next thing you know, I'm singing "mirror in the bathroom" with The Beat! We dance around like idiots and I switch everyone's hat around, before we all file offstage, saying goodbye to The Beat. Buster calls it a draw the next day, but I think we made our mark.
After the gig, there's an after party at a bar around the corner. We all go over and it's cool. There are chicks who don't have boyfriends for a change. I find the locals to be friendly and engaging, and that's all I'm saying about that. But I did have breakfast here the next day:
As I had hoped, Austin was one of the coolest stops on the tour. Wouldn't mind coming back and hanging out some more.