inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #26 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Thu 14 Oct 99 08:48
I'm leaving in a few hours!
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #27 of 232: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 14 Oct 99 09:31
Good luck, dude. 

Weather here in Orlando is fine thus far but clouding up. They project
it'll hit here by mid-day Saturday. But it's still only category I and
isn't likely to get much bigger.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #28 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Thu 14 Oct 99 10:53
I got rained on hard at the first MagnoliaFest -- and in fact, the Glass
Camels and I drove the rain off by commencing our jam despite the downpour!

I am optimistic, but I am also bringing rain gear :^)
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #29 of 232: Steven Solomon (ssol) Tue 19 Oct 99 05:32
Loved the photo in the RS bio, linked above! Gans' photo, below...

inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #30 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 19 Oct 99 06:54
Holy shit!
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #31 of 232: excessively heterosexual (saiyuk) Tue 19 Oct 99 10:44

David! What have you done to your hair??!!
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #32 of 232: Bitter Journalist with an Axel to Grind (ssol) Wed 20 Oct 99 12:56
I think that photo is actually a rarity from David's brief and largely
forgotten flirtation with glam metal in the early 70's. His band of
that era, the Howitzer Doodies, saw a single hit, "Puppet Master (I'm
Your Toy)", rise in the charts before plummeting into blessed

I'm thinking of writing a book about the HDs, but can't get Gans to
cooperate or be interviewed.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #33 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Wed 20 Oct 99 13:52

I had my memory of that era surgically removed.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #34 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Mon 25 Oct 99 16:43

October 26, 1998:

I am in the middle of a very interesting writing experience.

I started out with the line "Her name was Autumn Day" and just let it come to
me, a little at a time.  The music is unbelievably simple and spare - just
two chords most of the time, C and A minor (one of those was an F at first,
but I decided to keep it VERY simple).  There's a refrain with two Fs and a

What's really fascinating to me is the turn the story has taken.  I had
thought it was going to be one of those dumbass songs about the most amazing
woman who ever lived - standard male wish-fulfillment - but it has turned
into something else entirely.

There's a lot of death in the air right now, unfortunately, and that energy
has affected my process of creating this song.  I am not fighting it - the
song is telling me what it wants to be, and I trust that.

By happy coincidence, I just spent four days in Yosemite Valley, on what
proved to be the very cusp of the seasonal change.  There's a sugar maple on
the main road that was bright yellow when we got there, turning fiery red by
the minute; the wedding took place outdoors under a mildly threatening sky,
and as soon as we moved inside for the reception the clouds burst forth for a
couple of hours of intense rain, which sent dozens of spontaneous wateralls
into action overhead - and when the clouds lifted at the end of the
afternoon, there was snow on all the major peaks and domes.  Minds were
blown!  As research material for the song in progress, it was quite

I had worked on the song very late several nights last week, and I kept it
with me at all times over the weekend.  I wrote in a pocket notebook whenever
I got an idea, and when we got back to the cabin I'd update the copy in my
Powerbook.  The structure is there, in its bare-bones simplicity, and I doubt
it will want a bridge.  There are still several lines that are only
placeholders, and I expect to collapse two verses into one before I'm done,
etc.  But I'm enjoying the process a lot, and I think the song is going to be
a quiet wonder when it's done.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #35 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Mon 25 Oct 99 16:47

And here is the finished lyric:

by David Gans

Her name was Autumn Day
She took my breath away
Red hair and jack-o-lantern smile
Her beauty was unique
Her laughter made me weak
She thought she'd stay with me a while

Though she was born to run
She said I was the one
Her love was bold in its insistence
She had a dancer's lines
Up close she looked so fine
But there were storm clouds in her distance
  Her name was Autumn Day
  She came but could not stay

Some evenings she would walk
Out where the spirits talk
And she would listen for their song
I don't know what she heard
She could not find the words
But I could feel something was wrong

I saw the lightning in her eye
I saw the moon go sailing by
I saw the oceans all run dry
And then the rain...

Now here I am, alone
Chilled to my every bone
Cold winds blow through my heart
My new life will not start
Cold winds blow through my heart
My new life will not start
  Her name was Autumn Day
  She came but could not stay

Copyright 1999 by David Gans.  All rights reserved.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #36 of 232: Martin Kelly (riffraff) Mon 25 Oct 99 19:43

Liked that a lot David. Glad I still had this place on my .cflist.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #37 of 232: John Henry, the (steeldrv) Mon 25 Oct 99 20:17

That's very moving. 
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #38 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Mon 25 Oct 99 22:38

I wrote that journal entry a year ago.  I finally decided the song did need a
bridge, and once I knew I needed one, it showed up pretty quickly.

The song has drawn some nice compliments.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #39 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Oct 99 10:18

12/16/98 2am or so.

Gig at Quixote's (Aurora, Colorado, outside of Denver) was acceptable.  I
found my groove readily enough, but I could definitely tell I haven't been
paying solo much recently.  I had to remember to breathe big, but once I
started doing so my voice held its own.

Played a bunch of stuff I *never* play, responding to requests.  "Long Black
Veil," ferchrissakes.  I used "Sing Me Back home" to frame "Wharf Rat" and
then "Broken Arrow" - SMBH verse, all of WRat, chorus and next verse of SMBH,
BA, then last chorus of SMBH.  Detectives-> Cassidy-> Attics.  Everyman->
Seeds and Stems, with short rap about the difference between pot then and pot
now. Check tape for lines worth repeating.

Finally delivered "Autumn Day" for the first time, having come up with an
acceptable last verse on the plane.  It still needs something.  Played
"Trying."  Edited "River and Drown" on the fly, leaving out the Wally stanza.
 That song may still need a little less of something.  And/or a bridge.

Audience was small, but enthusiastic in a Deadhead kind of way.  This is a
Deadhead bar - what else would I expect?  So I payed a lot of Dead stuff,
including both "Stagger Lee" and "Rubin and Cherise."  I often felt that I
could buy a little attention/slack with a Dead tune.  I would rather be
playing in front of less Deadocentric crowds, but this was not a bad
situation at all. Lots of good feedback during and after.  Even the bartender
thought I was great.

During the second set, a guy set a business card down on my music stand.
When the show was over I read it: "Wow.  Thanx... had to leave early! too
bad; you seemed to sing X-actly what I needed." This was the guy who got me
to do "Catfish John."

12/18/98 1:50am

I am enjoying Chicago immensely.  First gig was fine.  Small crowd, but all
who attended were enthusiastic and attentive.  And generous with kind words
afterwards, too.

I must still be in a proof-of-concept phase, because the size of the crowd
was okay with me.  I am on the verge of a new career stage, in which it seems
inevitable that the crowds will come.  I just have to keep doing it, and
doing it well and with enthusiasm and feeling, and word will get around.  Is
getting around.

The Carol Brightman [author of "Sweet Chaos: The Grateful Dead's American
Adventure" and a former radical activist, who came to Chicago to promote the
book at these gigs with me, and to do an interview with me for which we
borrowed Ken Nordine's studio] factor is very cool.  It's a Grateful Dead
event, but not a Deadhead event, with her.  I appreciate her life on its own
terms, and I value her insights into this other culture.  Michael James, the
owner of the Heartland, is one of her: a true '60s revolutionary.  Having
dinner with Carol and Michael in Michael's kitchen, served by his second wife
and surrounded by their three small children, was a warm and pleasant and
enlightening experience.  Where these two people were, what they went
through, and where they wound up is worth knowing and appreciating.  Michael
was photographed turning over a cop car during the Chicago riots in 1968;
today he serves on the board of the Rogers Park Neighborhood Development
Corporation, and runs a decidedly countercultural
restaurant/store/bar/bar/theater complex.

Spending time with these genuine and vivacious sixties vets provided me with
a novel angle on the Dead milieu; Carol's reading, which incuded a passage
about the transition from acid to cocaine in the GD culture, led me to
examine (again) the role of the Grateful Dead in my persona and presentation.
 I did not feel constrained to Dead stuff, though I featured that material
generously.  My short opening set was dominated by originals.

12/19/98 1:40am

Tonight was a performance you're sorry you missed.  Energetic, dynamic,
eloquent, funny -- even flashy, a little, here and there.  The first set was
clean and clear, and the second was homey and hilarious and touching.  My
voice and guitar served me well indeed, and the muse didn't throw me too many
bad signals.

12/21/98 12:50am

Tonight was a glorious finish to a successful run.  I started out timidly
because so many people were eating dinner; I delayed the start of my set til
9:20, and I only started then because I had counted five or six people who I
knew were there to hear me.

Last night my Rick Turner guitar took a dive with an intermittent something.
It was clicking and popping and cutting out, until I finally had to end the
show.  Sunday morning I replaced the batteries, etc., and still had problems;
finally I figured out that there's something loose inside the guitar that is
causing the circuit to break.  I'd have had to lean forward and hold
perfectly still to use the guitar tonight.  So I rented an Ovation for $37.

The rented guitar was a hindrance, and I never did get the stage sound
together.  On a really good night, I never don't know what's next; tonight,
at first, I had no idea where I was going as I ended songs.  My whole
repertoire felt a little stale.  But I delivered solid, powerful and dynamic
performances, even if the song selection and verbal interactions left
something to be desired.  I had a polite relationship with the audience for
the first 45 minutes or so, and then really lit the place up with "Monica."
From then out out, it was an inspired performance.  I was self-conscious
about the guitar, and my fingers hurt from it, too.  The request thing got me
a couple of Dead songs I never would have volunteered (e. particuarly g.
"He's Gone"), and I came up with "Political Science" on my own.

I think it's kind of cool that I felt so short of fresh material.  Now I know
I have to work harder, and write/learn more stuff.

Some of this week was "you shoulda been there"-quality stuff.  No one can say
I don't have something worth hearing.  I like the aggressive confidence I am
feeling right this minute.  My songs are working, my covers are interesting,
and I'm even starting to relax and do a little comedy, e.g. the well-received
rap about the quality of pot then and now in "Seeds and Stems."

"Monica Lewinsky" has been my means of grabbing the room these nights.  I
don't think it worked at Quixote's (or was that one night here?), but the
crowd was captivated by it tonight: the whole room was with me.  I followed
it with a very solid, tender performance of "Attics of My Life."

Requests were interesting and fun.  I think that is a good thing to do in a
safe, intimate room.

I am a happy camper tonight.

Monday 12/21, 11:30am

I just have to face it: I am a BALLADEER.  I excel at the quiet, sweet stuff.
 I can deliver power and passion -- "The Nightmare" was a particularly
effective choice this week, and if I had remembered the lyrics I would have
done well with "Sovereign Soul," too -- but I am especially effective on the
tender material.

I am getting massive props for my singing voice these days, and my guitar
playing is also coming along most satisfactorily.  I played a killer "Attics
of My Life" last night, and (most unusual) I honored a request for "He's
Gone" which worked out well.

My song selection is pretty '70s-heavy, but that seems to please a lot of
people in the audience.  Older folks thank me for singing all their favorite
songs, and all this stuff is new to the younger ones.

I have been patient with my progress these last few months.  The proof-of-
concept period is over; now it's time to get out there and push for reviews,
publicity, and the attention and support of some of my friends who haven't
given me a listen lately.  And it's time for me to get a decent solo gig in
the bay area.

The payoff of this difficult year is that I am able to present a more real
self onstage -- earnest, sensitive, smart, smart-ass -- with confidence.  I
don't feel that I'm struggling to create a safe mask.  When I was called back
to the stage by a *very* enthusiastic crowd last night, I felt like saying
what Sally Field said: "You like me.  You really like me!"
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #40 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Oct 99 10:18
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #41 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Oct 99 10:19
The set lists referred to in <39> are hidden in <40>.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #42 of 232: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 26 Oct 99 10:22

>a decent solo gig in the bay area.

Why is it so much harder to establish a good local gig than to book a tour?   
Assuming you agree with me, of course.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #43 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Oct 99 10:30
I am old news around here, I think.  I've been playing in the bay area for 30
years now, and I'm stereotyped as a Dead guy.  I was NEVER a "Dead cover
band" -- always had plenty of original stuff and non-Dead covers, and the
Reptiles had another excellent songwriter in <fiddle>, but still.

The Bay Area is, oddly enough, not a great music market.  There are a zillion
musicians and plenty of venues, but it doesn't seem like too many
people/clubs are _thriving_.

And in the Dead world, the only person anyone is interested in is Phil Lesh.

The challenge for me is to get people to check me out again.  I haven't even
begun to think about that marketing challenge.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #44 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Oct 99 11:03

My 10/22 performance in Atlanta is available on the web:

 From: Andy Edmonds <>
 Subject: RLC Net Recording


 Thanks greatly for agreeing to the net thing.  The show was highly enjoyable
 in both live and recorded formats. Let me know if you'd like a single of any
 of the songs.

 The links are as follows:

 The 24k urls are suitable for streaming, just copy the address into the
 "Open Location" of WinAmp or something similar.

 The permanent url to link to for the access via the RLC site is

 Andy Edmonds
        Archiving Atl's Best Live Music

       Recorded Live at the RedLight Cafe
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #45 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Oct 99 15:18

January 3, 1999

I had a great time at the Blue Rock Shoot in Saratoga last night.  Nice
coffee house with a back room that seats maybe 50 people.  There were a dozen
or so in the room when I started - including a trio of tapers from Seattle,
and <castle> and <freeform>, who wound up having dinner with Rita and me at a
Japanese restaurant across the street beforehand - and as the first set
progressed, the crowd grew.

My good friend Ric Gilbert showed up with two friends and stayed the rest of
the evening - and as the second set started, in walked Craig Lueck.  This guy
was my best friend and musical partner from the start of my guitar playing
days in 1969.  My first paying gig was with him, in the "canteen" at Frontier
Village during my high school class's gradulation party (The Joy of Cooking
was playing on the main stage outdoors).

Craig looked EXACTLY the same as he did last time I saw him: tall, thin,
reddish blond hair, and a deep probing gaze made larger and more riveting by
the magnification of his glasses.  We tripped together, we played music
together, we sat up at the Guadalupe reservoir for hours singing "When the
Music's Over" at the top of our lungs while our fellow teenagers drank and
made out.  It was Craig's hippie uncle Dave who guided me through the major
psychedelic/spiritual event of my young life one Christmas eve (reported in
<inkwell.vue.25> the other day, as it happens), with Craig and my brother
kindly kibitzing.

Anyway, there he was, and there I was singing "Cousin Caterpillar," which we
used to do together back in the day.  It was so great to see him, and he was
clearly happy to hear me doing what I was doing.  And a room full of people
were benefitting from the extra sweet feeling coming off my little "stage."

Earlier in the day I had taken my my guitar to Rick Turner in Santa Cruz.
Something came loose during the Chicago run, and I had to rent a guitar to
finish those gigs.  Rick quickly deduced that there was something loose at
the volume control, and sure enough: when he fished it out, there was a wire
that passed through a lug but wasn't soldered to it.  Easy to repair.

While he had the guitar, I asked him to lower the action a bit for me, too.
He shaved a millimeter or so off the saddle piece, and my god!  The
difference in playability was like night and day.

So all in all, it was a thrilling evening.  I played some amazing stuff on
the guitar, and I could see the musicians in the room (most notably my old
friend Craig) riveted to my hands on the instrument.  I even responded to a
request and played "Dark Star" - less of a gimmick than you might think.  I
did it once in Chicago and was surprised at how much I could do with it as a
solo piece, and I was surirised in an entirely different (musical) way last

Liz Warren, who sings with Jerry's Kids, was there with her boyfriend Scott
Fernandez, who plays keyboards in JK.  Liz joined me for a sweet "Cassidy,"
which I jammed into an old instrumental that I don't think I've ever played
in public before.  Now I have to give it a name!  [Nopte: I named it "Chanson
pour Reet" in October 1999.]

I couldn't be more pleased with last night.  My song selections were mostly
right on the mark; I played a LOT of my own stuff, and chose my covers
wisely; I played some old, old stuff (e.g. Cat Stevens' "Longer Boats," a
line of which was among the words and phrases painted on the walls of the
club) without feeling like Joe Time Warp, and my voice and fingers served me

This is, now that I think about it, the first time I've performed in the bay
are in my modern incarnation.  Other solo gigs have been prototypes and
experiments.  Now I have the repertoire, the skill and the confidence.

January 2, 1999
Blue Rock Shoot, Saratoga CA

Sitting in Limbo->
One Time One Night->
Wharf Rat
Blue Roses
Every Night->
Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain
Leave Me
Falling Star
Desert of Love
Brokedown Palace
River and Drown
Seeds and Stems
Monkey and the Engineer
Waltzing Across Texas
The Minstrel
An American Family
Monica Lewinsky

The Nightmare
Rocket Man->
Broken Arrow
Chanson pour Reet
Longer Boats
Cousin Caterpillar
These Apartments
Black Peter->
Thunder Road
Political Science
Autumn Day
Dark Star->
Born to Be Wild->
Sovereign Soul
Pancho and Lefty->
Things We Said Today->
Box of Rain
Attics of My Life
Hooker River

* with Liz Warren, vocal
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #46 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Oct 99 15:30

February 3, 1999

The tour got of to an excellent start!  More than 50 people paid to get in,
and I sold nine of each of my CDs.

I had some problems wth my voice (Rita has a terrible cold, and I am
struggling mightily to not have it, y'know?), and the first set was a little
_reserved_.  But  started the second set with a requested "Rubin and
Cherise," and even though I'm still not sure it'[s a song I need to be doing,
it went off well and was very enthusiastically received.

The highlight of the night came when smeone requested "Bird Song," which I
have never done solo before.  To my surprise and delight, it turned into a
"China Cat" jam, and suddenly I was delivering a powerful "Withing You
Without You" before returning to "Bird Song."   I wonder if I can do anything
like that again!

I introduced "The First Episode at Hienton" by asking, "Who here is old
enough to remember when Elton John was Cool?"  And someone souted out,
"That's a trick question!"  I just have to do this song: It was burned into
my DNA in the early '70s when I was playing all that singer-songwriter stuff
in clubs and coffeehouses, and although it's kinda hokey, it's also beautiful
and I do it well.

2/7/99 2:46am, Richmond VA

Tonight I delivered the most forceful performance of my life. The Cary Street
Cafe is a neighborhood bar and grill Deadhead style, with posters and photos
and stickers everywhere and the mixing console installed in a sawed-off VW
microbus front.  The place reeked of pipe smoke when I walked in, and I
worried that it was going to be hard to breathe.  But the people were all
nice and the food was good, and people came in early to get a good seat for
my show.

The opening act was Sean Hoppe, a sweet young guy taking a night off from his
big rock band.  He reminded me of me.  I enjoyed his set.

The audience was large and noisy when I began, and it got larger and noisier.
 Friendly and responsive as hell, but they just talked and smoked a lot.
This place has bands, not solo acoustic acts, and so the regulars are used to
talking while the music is on.  When I got quieter, they got quieter, and
when I got louder they got louder.  I made it my mission to project myself
all the way into that crowd, to command as much attention as I could without
shouting and pounding.

I needed everything I had tonight, and I had everything I needed.  My voice
was strong and sure.  My guitar playing was phemonenal.

(I met a most unusual character before the show: a female taper.  A female
taper in her 50s, no less!  Given the unpropitious conditions, I didn't hook
up my recording gear, so I asked this woman to keep a set list for me.  By
the time the first set was half over, it was clear that this was going to be
a memorable evening, so I asked Debra to send me a clone (the other two
tapers were using cassette decks).  I can't wait to hear it when I get home!)

I kept it upbeat quite a bit more than usual (and enjoyed it a lot!), but I
did not shy away from quieter material.  I played songs I never play; I
improvised intros, never noodling.  I trusted the crowd to fill in the rhythm
while I soloed unaccompanied.  I hung in there despite the noise, and it paid
off wth a strong, effective performance.

62 paid, my first time in this town.  Not bad! Only sold two of each CD, but
I did get a lot of names for the mailing list and a firm invitation to return
from the owner of the bar.  I'm not sure I want to play there again - it's
smoky and loud and there ain't no stage.  I stood right by the front door,
and the nearest seats were 15 feet away.  There were people in the "front
row" straining to hear me, and I worked to get to them.  This is not an
atmosphere conducive to communication.

And yet.  Early in the second set I was thinking about calling it a night
early, because the noise was actually kinda making it hard for me to hear
myself think.  But there were lots of people paying close attention, and
responding appropriately and enthusiastically.  So I kept going, and in a
little while the crowd thinned out -- leaving a more welcome ratio of talkers
to listeners.  And singers-along, too.  That was nice.

By the time I closed with "Stillhouse," they were applauding wildly.  I did
two encores!
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #47 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Wed 27 Oct 99 12:04

Monday, February 8, 7 pm, Fairfax VA

We are at least an hour early, arriving at 6:30. Sound guy isn't expected til

There is no piece in Pitch, a monthly entertainment magazine.  The ad in
Pitch is unbelievably ugly, and my name is so faint that you can't read it.

The promoter just called, from out on the road with a flat tire.  He'll be
here around 8:30.  He says they flyered the moe. show the other night, and
several local college compuses, and he has a 1500-person mailing list.  Ten
advance tickets sold.

We're in a strip mall in Fairfax VA.  The huge TV has just been removed from
the stage.  A darts tournament is about to begin in the back of the room; I
presume it'll be over by showtime.  Two acoustic duos are listed on the flyer
as opening acts, but Greg (the promoter) says probably only one will actually
perform.  Even if both duos show up, they'll only play 20 minutes each.

2:03am, back at Jack's house

Each duo played about 40 minutes, I think.  But that was okay.  The first duo
was better than the second - they did "Lo and Behold," from the Basement

I wound up playing a very, very long first set.

This one was a struggle, in almost the same way that Richmond was a struggle.
 Large friendly crowd there for my show, plus a darts tournament in the back
of the room.  Again, I rode the noise floor as best I could.  This crowd was
much more responsive to Dead stuff than to other things - at times, anyway.
I got some encouragement for other material, too, eventually.

The list for the second set may not be accurate.  Jack missed a few titles,
and I am not sure I reconstructed it correctly.

Thursday, February 11, 1999, 1:30 am, Elizabethtown PA

Here's a new ironclad rule: no more gigs where there's no cover charge.

There were 15 or 20 people there to see me and pretty committed to being part
of my performance.   But there were another 30 or so who didn't give a shit
-- played pool, smoked cigarettes, walked right in front of me between the
front door and the bar, hollered across the room while I was singing,
screamed at the sports channel (the big-screen right next to the stage was
turned off, duh, but the smaller set on the other side of the bar was on
throughout).  Even though there were plenty of people responding to what I
was doing, there was no continuity at all from song to song because the roar
just filled up the area where subtlety and contact should have been.

Even so, I played and sang well.  I didn't shout and pound, but I was strong
and positive.  Broke some new ground in the guitar, e.g. between Pancho and
Leave Me.  Got plenty of good feedback between sets, and I sold 5 copies of
"Home by Morning."  But it was just too much noise and too many people being
happy, loud bar patrons despite my thrilling presence, and I gave up halfway
through the second set.

inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #48 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Wed 27 Oct 99 12:15

Friday, February 12, 1999, 12:43 am, Philadelphia

The most solid performance of the tour, delivered to the smallest audience (I
think).  At least in the showroom -- in the adjacent bar, there were lots
more people, and I could see some of them checking me out at times.
Especially during "Monica Lewinsky."

I am increasingly confident in my guitar playing.  Tonight I broke out an
instrumental, the one I used to call "Fimo Fu."  Tonight on the spur of the
moment, when Dan Marsh asked me the title, I decided to name it "Haddon
Hill."  I have been warming up with that piece for several days, and had
thought of playing it last night in E-town but didn't find a spot for it.  I
did it tonight in response to a ludicrous request from a guy in the audience
for Lightnin' Hopkins.  I can't imagine how anyone hearing my show would
expect me to be able to do that sort of straight blues.  After I said I don't
know any, the guy mentioned another great blues artist.  So I gave him the
only thing I have that remotely resembles a blues.  I suppose "Popstar" would
have satisfied the request - it's a bluesy fingerpicking number.

I was disappointed in the turnout, but I satisfied everyone who did attend.
Dan and Audrey seemed pleased, and so did Michelle, who saw my show last
night in E-town.  A few people from the GDH list were there and seemed happy.
 Jon Storm, deadeye@well, showed up and seemed pretty pleased.  I sold three
Monicas and fur Home By Mornings.  I told a few people that tonight was one
of those "you shoulda been there" occasions, and I'm counting on them to make
that clear to as many people as possible.  That's what my career is all about
right now: making sure that everybody who does come to hear me gets a great
show, and getting them to spread the news far and wide.

Saturday, February 13, 1999, 7:15pm

Yesterday was a day off.  I had no responsibilities.  I didn't even put my
shoes on, let alone drivve anywhere or play a gig.  Dan and Audrey's house is
comfortable and spacious, and they made me feel right at home.  I watched the
Senate vote to acquit Bill Clinton, got some reading done, and very little
else.  In the evening there was a small party of WELL people.  Very pleasant.
After everyone went home, Audrey and I watched Homicide together.

I woke up at 7:30 this morning and headed out to _________ for an interview
on W---.  This was the textbook bad radio experience, with an inarticulate
boob DJ in love with the sound of his own voice.  A nightmare experience,
mitigated by the near-certainty that no one was listening.  As I drove away I
turned the car radio to that station, and it was gone by the time I was a
couple of miles away.

I went to Haworth NJ, to the home of my agent, Sandy Choron, and her husband
and son.  Haven't seen them in years.  A lovely afternoon!  Lunch was served,
and then we hung out and talked for a couple of hours.  Caught up on book-biz
gossip, Springsteen gossip (Harry and Sandy are Bruce's art directors, book
packager, etc.), talked about aging parents, our drug histories, etc.  A
splendid afternoon in front of the fire while a gentle snowfall entertained
us outside the window.

Leaving for the gig soon.  There's a rumor that something huge is happening
at the Weir-Wasserman show at Wetlands tonight; when I head this yesterday it
made my heart sink a little, but what the hell.  I'll get a good crowd
tonight. I'm getting good reviews...

Subject: GDH: David in Philly
Date: Sat, 13 Feb 1999 01:43:23 EST

David gave us a nice show here in Philly.  It's a shame that he was stuck in
between two other acts, I would have enjoyed seeing a full-length show.  The
other bands were pretty good (I think they're local, anyone know?) but their
songs all sounded alike, good and funky, but alike.  What surprised me most
at this show was the quality of David's singing.  We've only heard a limited
sample of his singing voice on the GDH (there would probably be a violent
uprising by some of the people on this very list if we heard much more) and
he has a lot more range and subtlety than I expected.  Some real nice solo
acoustic work, too.

Sunday, February 14, 1999, 9:00 am

Another powerful performance last night, in front of a modest audience in a
very nice club that is also a first-rate Suthwest restaurant, Mexicali Blues.

For any number of reasons, Harry and Sandy's opinion means a lot to me - and
they both were very, very proud of me.  This makes me happy!

One very positive thing is that despite the modest size of the audience (I
was paid $200), I sold a lot of CDs -- 5 HBM, 3 Monica.  I feel a certain
disappointment about the number of people who came out for the show, but the
people who did show up seemed more than satisfied, and many of them bought
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #49 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Wed 3 Nov 99 10:26

Monday, February 15, 1999, 12:30 am

Drove over the George Washington Bridge, through the Bronx and up the Saw
Mill Parkway to the home of Eric Pooley and his wife and daughters.  Along
the way, not far from my destination, I stopped to take a look at a frozen
lake.  This is not a sight I have seen in the chilly flesh more than once or
twice before in my life.  Having grown up in California, I am not really
familiar with the look of winter; I have been enjoying it on this trip.

The Pooleys live in a farm house adjacent to a horse ranch.  They have half a
dozen chickens and a sweet yellow lab puppy.  It is a warm, pleasant home in
a lovely country setting.

After pickin' a few on Eric's guitars, we headed over to the gig in Pawling.
The headline band, Lawry Hamner and the Soul Drivers, proved to be a nice
group of people as well as fine musicians.  The owner of the club is a kind
and soulful gent named Phil Ciganer.

The performance was short and challenging.  The club is a dining room, and
dinner was in full swing when I hit the stage.  An appreciable number of
people were interested in what I was doing, but a much larger number couldn't
have cared less.  I'm not sure the order is accurate, but these are the songs
I performed.

Monica Lewinsky
An American Family
Waltzing Across Texas
Attics of My Life
The Minstrel
Thunder Road

When I got offstage, the owner of the club apologized to me for the rudeness
of the audience.   "This is amateur night," he said.  The majority of the
crowd was fans of Lawry, a local guy, and I guess they weren't interested in
giving the opening act a chance.  Phil was upset about it: he's proud of the
Towne Crier's reputation as a listening place.

Didn't sell a thing, either.

But Eric and I stayed around for the headliner's show, though I missed a
large chunk of it when I went out to do a phone interview with WHCN.  Then we
went back to his house and played some music of our own before bed.

The difference between this show and the other noisy houses I've played to on
this tour is that the audience in (say) Richmond was loud AND attentive,
while a large part of this audience was just plain uninterested.  The noise
floor rose and fell with the level of my performance in Richmond, but it
remained constant at Pawling.

After the set I heard a few compliments from strangers in the audience, and
my friends who were in attendance -- Eric and Sally Taylor, Eric Pooley and
Joe Olivenbaum, who came over from Connecticut -- all had good things to say.
 And when he paid me my hundred bucks, owner Phil said again, "I owe you
one."   He enjoyed my set very much and wants to hear me again.

I would definitely like to try again.  The stage and room are very nice, and
the sound guy did a fine job.

Pooley and I had a great time hanging out with the band members before the
show.  The bass player, Dave, told us his own music is "not for people."
Turns out he's been part of the Knitting Factory scene and is proud of the
weird stuff he does.  Told us a story of getting stiffed by Michael Dorff
(Knit owner) one night: his band brought in a large audience, while the
headliner, Dave Tronzo, played to a nearly empty room, but Tronzo being the
name, Dorff paid him instead.  We talked about Joe Gallant, Elliott Sharp, et
al, and he told me about some Eugene Chadbourne records I should listen to
(will borrow from Henry Kaiser).  The guitarist, Jon Sholle, spent several
years in the bay area and played with Grisman for a while (including on
_Acousticity_).  Got to play with Svend Asmussen while in the DGQ, too.  I
bought one of his CDs.  He knows Alan Senauke, Eric and Suzy Thompson, Marc
Silber, and other people I know out west.  Not only that, these guys played
some great stuff with Lawry Hamner last night.

Monday, February 15, 8:30 am

Cold here! When we left the club and got in the car last night, Eric
estimated the temperature was in the 20s.  The car heater did a fine job, but
the steering wheel stayed cold for a long time.

A beautiful sunny cold day.  Kids are playing, and grownups are making
coffee.  I'm on my way downstairs to say hello.

This tour has been a pleasure on so many levels.  I have stayed with friends
every night but two, in lovely homes.  Touring won't always be like this, of
course, but this is a lovely way to do it.  This would have been a great trip
to have Rita along: she would love all these people and all these houses and
all these country roads.  The venues have been pleasant -- Metzger did a fine
job of selecting places to play, for the most part (I won't go back to
Elizabethtown, but even that scene wasn't really so bad).

I'm doing what I set out to do: getting my act in front of people.  Even last
night, where the house was overwhelmingly partial to Lawry Hamner and their
meals (I just don't understand how people can be so rude to opening acts, but
it's been hapening for decades), there were people (and not just friends) who
came there to see me.  It is unlikely that any of them will go home and say
"don't bother" to their friends.  I am consistently delivering strong vocal
performances, and my guitar playing has never been stronger.  I have full
access to the fret board, and my finger strength and dexterity are very good.

And I have IDEAS.  Having good ideas, being able to execute them skillfully,
and having the confidence to bear down on a restaurant full of non-fans is a
very good feeling.  Not once on this trip -- nor on any of my previous tours,
for that matter -- have I felt intimidated, unworthy, or even particularly

There's a lot of "personal growth" stuff underlying this confidence.  As a
person, I (finally!) believe I have _standing_ to get up in front of an
audience and tell my story, and it's a story worth hearing.  I've gotten lots
of compliments on my songwriting and my singing, and I am able to _hear_ that
feedback without filtering it through those old feelings of worthlessness.  I
remember a few years ago, writing in my journal about not trusting applause
(which makes sense given the emotional turmoil of my family life); today I
know who I am and I know I belong on that stage, and I thoroughly enjoy being
there.  That comes across strongly, and it feels good.

I am also experiencing something new and wonderful: a sense of merit as a
guitarist.  I am starting to feel that my playing is of interest to players,
and I even have something to say about that subject in a conversation with
guitar players.  I have never been able to picture myself as the subject of a
_Guitar Player_ interview, and while  still don't see myself ever being the
cover boy for such a publication, I can definitely feel the eyes of
guitarists watching my fingers when I play.

This is an important part of becoming successful: feeling that I deserve it.
It's not an arrogant, overcompensating confidence, but a sense of having
something to say and the ability to say it effectively.  I look back over my
set lists from this tour and I see a pretty healthy variety of material,
including two original INSTRUMENTALS.  That is very cool.  And as Harry
Choron and Dan Marsh both have said recently (and I agree with them), my own
stuff stands up pretty well alongside the great covers I am performing.

And of those cover songs, I am not doing anything that I don't add value to.
I am finding my own way vocally on all my selections, and I am increasingly
articulate in illuminating the songs in my guitar accompaniment.

A year ago, when all that crap went down with Phil Lesh, I wasn't ready to
shine on the guitar.  I didn't assign myself the role of lead guitar in those
gigs -- I was the bandleader and lead singer, primarily.  Today, I'd be
prepared to kick some serious ass.  It's a shame that world couldn't conceive
of me as a worthwhile musician, but it's also true that I am better off not
having continued as the Dead cover band guy for Phil's lazy drop-ins.  After
I got blown off, he started being interested in rehearsing for those gigs; if
I were invited to play with him again I would insist on the same, and I would
want to have some of my own songs in the repertoire.  It is still a painful
episode, and I still feel fucked over, but I also know that as a musician I
was not ready to play in that league when the door opened.  Now I am ready.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #50 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Fri 5 Nov 99 09:51

Tuesday, February 16, 1:30 pm

I'm in the studio of WMBR at MIT, doing a live performance/interview.

Yesterday's show went very well.  The Iron Horse (Northampton, Mass) is a
venerable club, having hosted a zillion great musicians including (I was told
last night) Miles Davis.  It is a respectful place, and beautiful, too.  No
one was in the balcony, but the main floor was fairly well populated.  About
40 paid, and there were more than that number in the room.

The first set was almost too quiet.  It took me a while to warm up the room,
but by the second set I was comfortable and the audience was giving me the
feedback I needed.

After the show I realized  no longer have to say "I played and sang well" --
that is the norm now.  And last night things came to a new level: I played an
utterly unique set, with one-of-a-kind performances and interactions and
jokes.  This is the "who knew?" tour with a healthy slice of "You shoulda
been there."

I made a convert of John Dwork [publisher of Dupree's Diamond News, a very
important Grateful Dead fanzine and community organ.  We have had a
tempestuous relationship over the years, to say the least] last night.  He
showed up near the end of "Rubin and Cherise," and I felt a little weird
doing one of my less sterling Jerry numbers (people really love it, but I'm
still trying to find my voice in the song), but I went in a much more
original-oriented direction from there.

Earlier in the set I had fielded some requests that included "Panama Red" and
"Henry," so I promised a three-horse parlay.  I played the first verse of
"Panama Red" but forgot a chord -- so I slipped into "Seeds and Stems," and
then back into "Panama Red," and (of course) I remembered the chord the
second time.  Then I did "Henry," with an on-the-fly key change after the
first verse.  Nervy, fun stuff.  I was loose and comfortable, and the
audience was very much with me.

My cousin Steve and his wife B.J. were there, too, and were very
complimentary after the show.  They are performers, to, and their opinion
means a lot to me.  B.J. thought I did a good job of inhabiting characters in
my performance, and she encouraged me to do more of that.  "You have a lot of
different people inside you," she said.  That was nice.  I said, "I must have
felt that energy coming from you tonight, because I think I did a little more
of that sort of thing than usual."  Having Dwork in the room was also
interesting -- part of my plan has been to disappear from under my Deadhead
hat and emphasize my musician self, to redefine my identity with people like
Dwork, the GD insiders, et al.  I'm weary of being pigeonholed as that
Deadhead radio guy.  And Dwork is such a tough nut, so competitive in the
Deadhead domain.  So it was gfood to earn his respect in this way.

It would be nice to think John will take seriously my request (which I am
making to everybody who expresses support for my performances) that he spread
the word.  He seems wlling to do so -- he described a couple of epiphanies he
had during my performance, most notably in "Ripple."  He complimented my
performance of "Black Peter," too, noting that it's not a song he much cares
for.  I wish he had been there earlier.

Wednesday, February 17, 3:49 am

Tonight I played my new guitar in a band context for the first time. It
sounded great, and so did I.  This is the most confident and competent I've
been in a group setting since the end of the Blake's run in 9/97.  I played
my ass off.  If I had been this together at the Broken Angels gigs with Lesh,
things might have been very different over this past year.

The gig was at Tammany Hall in Worcester.  Bruce Mandaro of Slipknot was
sitting in with Another Planet, whose guitarist had the night off.  I was the
special guest.  The plan was for them to play a few numbers and then I'd come
up and play some solo stuff, then invite Bruce up for some duets and then
have the whole band join in.  But I had an idea.  When they invited me up
onstage, I told them to stay put and started playing "River and Drown."  I
worked with the drummer until he had a good groove started, and the rest of
the band clicked in one by one as I went through the changes.  The dance
floor was in to it, pretty much.  It was a thrill.  Thank god it was

After that we did "Season of the Witch," and then Bruce and I did some duet
stuff with him on mandolin ("Bird Song" and "Jacqueline") and guitar ("Return
of the Grievous Angel" and "Sing Me Back Home," Haggard style); then I
started a "Dark Star" jam, with Bruce following along, and the rest of the
band joined us.  We rolled it into "Dixie Chicken" to close the set.

I was on fire.  Great ideas came to me readily, and I had lots of fun
interacting with Bruce, and with the keyboardist and bassist of Another
Planet.  We were all pretty pleased with it, and so was the audience.

I came back in the second set to join in on "Cumberland Blues,"
"Cassidy"->"Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad," and an unbelievably slow and
passionate "Black Peter."  I soloed brilliantly and the ensemble
improvisation was splendid.

I think my entire being was upended by the events of a year ago, and in
retrospect, it might have been a necessary precursor to what has happened for
me since that crash.

Thursday, February 18, 1:50 am

Well, shit.  The second set at Johnny D's wasn't recorded.  But the first set
was, and it sounds good.

The latest leg of the "Who Knew?" tour ended on a high note.  Johnny D's is a
very comfortable restaurant music room, with a pleasant staff and an
excellent sound system.  The clarity of the monitor sound exposed me to the
weaknesses of my vocal technique.  I must find a new voice coach.

The turnout was excellent.  Lots of WELL people (mostly, as always, not from
the Dead community. baboon, ari, dsg, kafclown, and buck. Giles McNamee was
there with several friends.  Eli Polonsky, who interviewed me on WMBR
yesterday, was there -- and it turns out he's an old friend of baboon's.  And
of course, lots of people I've never met before.  Older people and younger
people.  One of the waiters demanded that I do "Uncle John's Band," which I
did in the second set.  I was surprised at how well it came off.  Next time
maybe I'll "jam" into "Sultans of Swing" -- I thought of that segue after I
ended UJB and started something else.

Tonight it seemed that the first set was more focused, serious and original-
oriented, while the second was more playful, cheesy and spontaneous.  Maybe
I'll adopt that as a general structure, and put some thought into what songs
belong in each set.

This tour was a success in every way, as far as I'm concered.  I played in
front of more people than I had any right to expect on my first visit as a
solo act, and I sold nearly every CD I took out with me (50 of each, and I
only gave away a couple).  I have only seen the GDH list, other email and the
WELL, but the reviews I have received are excitingly positive and articulate,
too.  I look forward to seeing what's been posted on the newsgroup and on

I learned a hell of a lot, reached hundreds of people, emerged from it a
stronger and vastly more confident performer and guitarist.  I played in a
variety of venues, had a few experiences I'll not repeat, made friends in
some clubs I'd like to frequent.  Stood on some venerable stages and just
damn well belonged there.  Collected literally hundreds of names for my
mailing list; I am making fans one at a time, dozens per show.  Made
believers out of some skeptics, honored my inspirations and muses, gained
tremendous new confidence in the merit of my singing and my playing and the
meanings I convey therewith.

February 19, 1999

Going through my mail, I opened the package with the new CD from The Other
Ones.  The press release says, "Our tour manager called it the 'Who knew?'


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