inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #51 of 232: Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 5 Nov 99 16:09

inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #52 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Sun 7 Nov 99 13:29

Friday, March 26, 1999, 8:15 pm EST

In a way, I left for the gig at bedtime last night.  I started thinking about
what I would play in my main stage set, between Roy Book Binder and Jorma
Kaukonen.  A big opportunity, for sure.  "Show off your songwriting," said
Rita.  Well, yeah -- but also my fingerpicking, and a well-chosen cover or

I wouldn't have just written out a set list last night and stuck with it --
it's not that simple.  So many factors affect song selection, and although
it's possible I could have set a routine that far ahead and had it remain
that way -- and had it work -- it makes much more sense to let the moment,
the mood, the weather, etc. influence my decision.

I figured I'd start with "River and Drown" and dedicate it to Randy Judy, the
promoter of the Suwannee Springfest.  I started the song in the southern
California desert, at one of Howard Freiberg's hippie gatherings, but I
really had the Suwannee (MagnoliaFest) in mind as I developed it.

Rita suggested a string of "river" songs.  I said, "It almost never works
that way."  But then I thought about "Blue Roses," "Brokedown Palace," and
"Hooker River," and that would be a fine way to get two thirds of the way
through a 20-minute set.  Follow that with "Normal" -- or maybe slip "Falling
Star" in there and then close with "Normal."  Should I do "Thunder Road"?

The flow of songs is an important consideration, but I also need to be
careful not to do anything that requires a risky vocal reach.  I was down
with a cold for several days, and although I did very well indeed at Anna's
on Tuesday, I don't want to push my luck in front of a large audience that is
mostly unfamiliar with my work.

It's a background process throughout the night and the long, long travel day:
getting in the mood to perform, forming a sense of what I want to do in the
short time available, but not locking anything in until I've landed in
Jacksonville, made the drive to Live Oak, tuned up my new strings and begun
to warm up in the tent behind the stage.  Only then, just before I walk out
there, will I make the final decision -- and even then, I'll be open to new
information from the crowd and the experience of being out there singing.  If
I keep the vessel clean and the spirit bright, there will be room for

The Suwannee Springfest is a great gig for me.  I've got two main stage
slots, a songwriters' showcase spot on another stage, and three sitting-in-
with-bands opportunities.  I've been to MagnoliaFest, Randy's more
Dead/hippie-oriented event in the Fall at the same site, twice before, with
Eric.  I am delighted that Randy offered me a spot as a solo in a more
generally bluegrassy setting, and I was flabbergasted when I saw that he was
giving me the coolest tweener set of all: just before Jorma's closing set on
Friday night.  So I want to be great, for my own sake and so Randy will know
he was right to invest in me.

I wake up at 5, bounce into the shower and out the door.  Oakland Airport is
close, and the economy parking lot is a short walk from the terminal.  At
this hour, it's a breeze to get to the plane.  I'm flying Delta to Dallas,
and then to Jax.  The Dallas flight is uneventful; I sleep through much of

I'm a little bit worried about the quick connection to Jax -- not so much
about getting myself on the plane, but will my checked baggage (i.e. guitar)
get there?  It won't do me much good to get to Jacksonville without my

The Jax flight taxis out onto the runway, but then the pilot announces that
the cabin door is not completely closed so we're going back to the jetway to
take care of that.  After a few minutes back at the gate, we're informed that
the problem is more serious than they had thought and we must wait here in
the plane while maintenance assesses the situation.  I go back to the
bathroom, then ask a nice flight attendant for some water.  We shoot the shit
for a while, until word comes over the PA that the plane cannot fly and the
flight is canceled.

Off the plane we go, and into a huge line at the Delta desk in DFW.  Three
hundred people need to find a new way to Jacksonville.

I was philosophical at first, but they did not handle it well.  Why the hell
don't they have a spare aircraft?  This is a major hub for Delta, and this is
the start of spring break.  Traffic is heavy.

First they pass out phone cards, so if and when we learn our respective fates
we can make some calls at their expense.  Then the Delta guy stands on the
counter and reads names of handfuls of passengers who they have already
booked on the few available seats on a few available flights -- some of them
this afternoon, some of them early tomorrow morning.  These people are given
hotel vouchers and urged to get outa here asap.  The rest of us stand around
and fume.

As the news gets bleaker, I begin to wonder if I wouldn't be better off going
home.  I'm not in any of the groups assigned to new flights, and the arrival
times they're talking are already into tomorrow evening.  I don't see how
they can get me to Jax in time to do much of anything I need to do.

Then there is good news:  There is a plane almost ready to go.  It had just
received a new windshield, and as soon as they've finished putting everything
back together in the cockpit and checked it out, they'll board us and send us
on our way -- well, 170 of us, anyway.  I hope that includes me.

This information is imparted a little at a time, by Delta employees working
without a PA system in a noisy crowd.

Yes, it will include me.  I will be in Jacksonville tonight, but it's
doubtful I'll get to Live Oak in time to play.

They pass out $10 meal vouchers so we can get a bite while we wait for our
new flight, which is expected to leave around 5 from Gate 27.  I call Dollar
Rent-a-Car so they'll hold my vehicle, and I call my assistant at home and
ask her to track down Randy at the festival and let him know what's up.

The flight actually leaves closer to 6:00 CST.  It is now 8:50 pm EST, and
we're descending into Jacksonville.

No way in hell I'm gonna make my 9:20 time slot on the main stage.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #53 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Sun 7 Nov 99 13:37

Sunday, March 28, 199, 9:30 am EST

Of course I didn't make it to Suwannee in time for my Friday night set.  I
pulled in a little after 11 pm, got my laminate and parking pass, then
wandered around a bit looking for the promoter, Randy.  He drove by me in his
golf cart, and stopped to greet me.

Randy said it's probably just as well that I wasn't there, because Donna the
Buffalo was very late on the Dance Stage, with a HUGE crowd (packed so tight
they were blocking the sound from coming out of the PA speakers!), and Jorma
delayed the start of his mainstage set til they were finished.  So I wouldn't
have had much of an audience anyway.

Exhausted from a frustrating day, I headed for the hotel and got a good
night's sleep.

Saturday morning I arrived at the Dance Stage around 10:30.  I was invited to
sit in with the Crawfish of Love during their 11:00 set, and with Glass
Camels in their 1:30 pm set.  There was a loose jam titled "Beth's Boogie"
supposed to take place in the 10-11 hour, but it was just starting to think
about happening as I arrived.  And almost immediately, Cathy Lee called out
to me, "David, you know 'Day Tripper,' don't you?  Help us out here!" and
Dave Roberts of Crawfish handed me his Telecaster.  So I sang "Day Tripper,"
with Landon Walker on standup bass and Scott, the drummer of Crawfish AND
Glass Camels, and another woman whose name I didn't catch playing some
percussion stuff.  We did another song together, but I'm damned if I can
remember it now.

With Crawfish, I sang "Brokedown Palace" and "Pancho and Lefty," and then at
the end of their set I joined them (along with Dave Hendershott of Glass
Camels) for a pretty sweet "Bird Song."

With Glass Camels -- in front of a much larger crowd, many people dancing -
we did "Eyes of the World" (not terribly interesting from my standpoint, but
I enjoyed singing it) and "Season of the Witch."  The latter was suggested by
a Glass Camels guy who remembered our doing it together in the MagnoliaFest
in October '97.  I really got into my singing and guitar playing on that one,
and the Glass Camels all played really well on it, too.  Good crowd reaction.

After wandering around the vending area and catching bits of various sets on
the main stage, the Dance stage, the Florida stage and the Workshop stage,
and visiting with Donna the Buffalo, Blueground Undergrass and other folks, I
found myself with nearly four hours to kill so I went back to the hotel to
take a bath and read a book.

I got back to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in plenty of time, and
hung out with Lorin Rowan (my immediate predecessor on the Workshop Stage)
while we waited for the current performer to finish his overtime set.  Then I
sat in the back and enjoyed Lorin's excellent set, which included a song he
wrote with his brother Pete which I've heard the latter perform ("Deal with
the Devil") and a nice instrumental.  He has a new CD coming out with the
Lorin Rowan Trio - himself plus violin and cello - which should be nice.  We
exchanged phone numbers and I invited him to appear on my radio show back in
the Bay Area.

My showcase stage time slot was unfortunate, with Blueground Undergrass
rippin' it up on the Dance Stage a few hundred yards away and Peter Rowan and
Tony Rice on the main stage.  I had a dozen people including the sound man.
I wasn't thrilled with the sound on stage, nor with my vocal performance, but
I did a good job for the people who where there.  One young couple in the
front row laughed and laughed during "Normal," and they got a major kick out
of "Monica," too.  But it was a disappointing occasion for me.

After I packed up my stuff, I went down to the main stage and caught some of
the Pete and Tony show, and It Was Good. Back to the Hotel Room before
midnight, and asleep before 1.

Sunday, March 28, 1999, 6:10 pm EST

I'm sitting by the pool at the Quality Inn in Jennings, Florida, 20 miles
from the gig and 200 yards from the interstate.  There are dozens, if not
hundreds, of birds in the palms and the pines.  The sky is utterly empty and
pale blue, the sun washing out the sky behind the hotel administration
building.  It's been a delightful day, and it will be a peaceful, if dull,

I've got a load of washing in; I miscalculated my needs, or I suppose I
should say I forgot how dirty I was gonna get walking around the music park
-- and I would prefer to have clean pants for my flight home.

My main stage set went very well.  I opened with "Normal" and then sang
"River and Drown," "Brokedown Palace," and "Blue Roses."  Then I told the
crowd that the merchandising people had asked me to do the title song from
one of my CDs, because so many people had asked about it: "Monica."  I
followed with "Popstar," and that was that.

Afterwards I went over to the merchandising booth to sign CDs, and there were
many people with kind words to say.  I sold six Home By Mornings and two
Monicas, which ain't bad at all.

I was very happy with my performance.  My voice served me well, and my guitar
playing was nearly flawless (one else chord in "Brokedown," but I recovered

I hooked up with Gary Burnett and Dwight Holmes, and we walked over to the
dance stage, where Glass Camels was preparing to begin.  We went and got some
food while they began their set, and while they were jamming out the end of
"Black Peter" was summoned to the stage and directed to Dave Roberts'
Telecaster.  A fine instrument, but the amp was pretty gutless so I wasn't
able to play much out-front stuff.  Instead, I concentrated on my singing and
played an aggressive rhythm guitar.  I wasn't as lost in the mix as I thought
I was gonna be, and there was plenty of interaction among the FOUR guitarists
(Dave Hendershott and Paul Wells of the Camels, and a very good guitarist
whose name I barely caught and which I've forgotten).

We played "Playing in the Band," with me alternating lead vocals with Dave;
that jam went on and on, in an energetic and crowd-pleasing way, and at my
suggestion we rolled swiftly into an upbeat "I Know You Rider."  There was a
large crowd dancing enthusiastically; I was happy with what I did on the
guitar, even getting in a bit of a solo when the rest of the band came down
to my level.

Next we did "Shakedown Street," a song I have never performed with my own
bands but which I've done several times with various other bands.  It was a
fun time, and again I concentrated on a killer rhythm vamp and background
vocals.  This jam went on for a good time, to the dancers' delight, and then
(at my suggestion) we eased into "Here Comes Sunshine," with me on lead
vocals.  After two verses, we jammed off in C and then headed back into
"Shakedown."  Sweet!  The crowd went nuts.

The Glass Camels do this Dead thing right: They don't make set lists ahead of
time, and they really listen.  We had agreed before the set to do "Playing in
the Band," but everything else was spontaneous and inspired.  Everybody gave
good ideas and good ears to the transaction; the energy was positive.  I like
playing with these guys, and they like having me with 'em.

I also got a chance to play with Blueground Undergrass, which surprised me
since I'd just met them this weekend.  But some of them heard me with the
Camels, so I guess they figured I could handle it.  As they were finishing
"Orange Blossom Special," the Rev pointed at his brother Johnny's stand full
of guitars and motioned for me to join them.  I picked up a Fender but waited
for them to finish "Orange Blossom."  Then they started "Midnight Moonlight,"
and I sang harmony on the choruses and also lead on the second verse.  I took
a solo in the middle, which they do Old and In the Way style, but I don't
think I played very well.  I kept it short, and concentrated on the rhythm
vamp again.  It was fun to play with them -- and fun to listen, too.

So the weekend went well for me, overall.  I would like better time slots;
I'll work my way up to them.  Late in the afternoon, Randy Judy cruised up in
his golf cart to tell me, "I think your singing voice has improved
tremendously.  Your solo set sounded great."  And he's right: I have gained a
lot of power, confidence and technique since he heard me last.

All this, and I got to see the amazing Tony Rice; hadn't seen him since he
was a pup in Emmylou's band.  I made friends with Lorin Rowan.  Donna the
Buffalo opened with my favorite song of theirs, "Conscious Evolution."  A
fine time!  The farther I get from home, the more respected I am as a
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #54 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 23 Nov 99 18:01

April 7, 1999:

Last night was a special night at Anna's.  I asked Eric to take the evening
off so I could warm up for the tour (I'm flying out today, and starting the
tour in Milwaukee tomorrow night).  My friend Jim Page is in town, and we've
been looking for a stage to play together on, so I invited him to share the
Anna's gig with me.

My performance was plenty satisfying, although my voice cracked spectacularly
once or twice.  That was just an artifact of warming up, and I'm not worried
about it.

The really cool thing about last night was that I earned the admiration of a
musician I admire greatly.  Jim is a terrific, soulful, earnest songwriter,
and I really love his stuff and the way he presents it.  When we played
together, we made some real magic happen.  He praised my melodic sense and
the lyrical quality of my playing.  This made me very proud!

When the gig was over Jim said, "Let's plan some gigs where we can really
work some stuff out and play it right."  I am so there!  If we toured
together I could play my stuff, and play with him on his, and it would be
great.  He's gonna send me some tapes of his stuff to play along with.  I'll
be like Robbie Robertson to Dylan, discovering all those internal melodies
and counterpoints and helping to illuminate Jim's wonderful songs.  AND I'll
get to play my own stuff to an audience that is _attuned_ to songcraft.

I am one happy musician as I head out on the road today!

(It took us eight months to make it happen, but Jim and I are going to play
four Northern California dates in December!  Details in the next post.)
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #55 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 23 Nov 99 18:03

David Gans & Jim Page
separately and together

Radio appearances:

Friday, December 10, 3-4pm: Friday Folk-Off with Dave Stafford & Mark Cook,
KKUP 91.5 Cupertino

Sunday, December 12, 10:30am: KPIG's "Please Stand By" with John Sandidge.
107.5 in the Santa Cruz area, on the web.

Tuesday, December 14, between 3:00 and 5:30pm: Steve Meadows show on KZSC
88.1 Santa Cruz

Live performances:

Tuesday, December 14, 8pm: Henfling's, 9450 Highway 9, Ben Lomond CA.

Wednesday, December 15, 8pm: Freight and Salvage, 1111 Addison St, Berkeley.

Friday, December 17, 8pm: Cafe Van Gogh, 314 West Main Street, Grass Valley.

Saturday, December 18, 8pm: Blue Rock Shoot, 14523 Big Basin Way, Saratoga.

David's schedule is always up to date at
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #56 of 232: Gail Ann Williams (gail) Wed 24 Nov 99 11:30
> Friday Folk-Off

Oh you wild unplugged people.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #57 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Nov 99 12:07
There's a show on KHSU up in Arcata called "Folkin' Around"!
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #58 of 232: be a straw (dwaite) Wed 24 Nov 99 13:10
KKUP is one wild station.  They have a transmitter on top of mount umiminum
in the Santa Cruz mountain.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #59 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Nov 99 14:07
Umunhum -- please!  it's a sacred place: when I was in high school, we used
to go drinking up there.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #60 of 232: be a straw (dwaite) Mon 29 Nov 99 08:48
highest point in the mountains!  :-)
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #61 of 232: Jon Jackson (jonj) Mon 29 Nov 99 09:56

Does Virgil still do "On the Virge"?   What night is it?
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #62 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Fri 24 Dec 99 13:25

Thursday, April 8, 1999, 4:00 pm

Drinking decaf and trying to eat an uninspiring low-fat poppy seed muffin at
the cafe next door to Thai Joe's.  The Metro has no ad, and the listing for
today says "Grateful Dead tape night."  The other weekly has nothing at all
for Thai Joe's tonight.

On the up side, Thai Joe's created a lovely color poster for the gig -- I
hope there are copies all over town.  And The Onion has me in the listings
AND this item (one of only two) in the Picks for April 8: "David Gans is the
host of the syndicated radio show The Grateful Dead Hour, and he's one of the
band's highest-profile fans.  But his 1997 album Home By Morning is simpler,
gentler, and more spare than the work of most of his peers and influences.
Recorded with Eric Rawlins, with additional performances by mandolinist David
Grisman and pedal-steel man Bobby Black, the album doesn't include Gans'
biggest hit, an affectionate 1998 novelty hit titled, well, 'Monica

Friday, April 9, 1999, 10:30 am

Last night was frustrating and mixed.  The audience was both appreciative and
noisy, and forcefully Dead-oriented.  There was one table full of rowdy young
women who kept shouting various Dead titles.  Even after I said I couldn't do
"Sugar Magnolia," for example, they kept calling for it.  I did way more Dead
songs than I ordinarily like to do, and several that I never do -- "Loser,"
for example.

There was one large table full of people who didn't give a shit about the
music at all, and just got louder as I got louder.  I almost stopped the show
a couple of times, it was so annoying and distracting.  But I forced myself
to address the people on the fringes who were very clearly paying attention.
But between the rowdy "fans" and the loudly uninterested patrons, it was a
bummer of a night.  The ones who were supposedly into my performance were
pleasantly responsive at the start of a familiar song, but went right back to
jabbering after a few bars; they hardly bothered to respond at all to
original stuff and unfamiliar covers.

I did all my new songs, and they worked out well: "Gulf Coast Highway," a
Nanci Grifith tune I stole from Eric; and "Dupree's Diamond Blues" and
"Mission in the Rain."  The idea is not to do more Dead songs each night, but
to do more different ones and rotate 'em through.  But last night all I could
do was shovel Dead songs into the din and pray for some attention.

Thursdays are Grateful Dead Tape Night at Thai Joe's, you see.  This audience
doesn't seem to know how to treat a live solo performer.

The pay is excellent, but I don't know if I want to go back there again.  If
I get booked in Minnesota next time, I'll have to do Thai Joe's on my way up
because the money is so good, but jeez.

The food is terrific, I must say.  Joe's wife is a splendid chef, and the
preshow meal -- which I shared with my niece, Caitlin and her bandmate Kevin
-- was a pleasure.  And she gave me some seafood soup to take home, which I
will eat for lunch before I leave for Champaign.

And this morning I discover that my portable DAT deck is broken.  Fuck! Spend
20 minutes looking in the Yellow Pages and and calling around, and I've
located a replacement at a Guitar Center that isn't too far off my path to

Today will be better. Today can't help but be better.

12:30 pm

Okay, in fairness, I have to also report the sweet part.

Early in the first set, a woman came in and sat at one of the front tables.
She was decidedly non-Deadhead-looking, around 50, and she had a copy of
"Playing in the Band" in a ziploc bag.  She paid very close attention to my
performance.  At the break she told me her daughter had turned her on to the
Dead -- her one and only show was July 8, 1995 at Soldier Field (the Dead's
second to last show).  She asked me to autograph the book for her daughter,
who was ill and couldn't come to my gig.  I wrote, "Kim -- Turning your mom
on to the Dead is SO COOL!"  Margie also bought a copy of Home by Morning.

And also, re last night: they called me back for TWO encores, hollering for
inappropriate GD songs all the while.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #63 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Wed 29 Dec 99 12:50

Saturday, April 10, 1999, 11:00 am

Last night was an entirely new kind of hell, but I turned it into a weird
triumph of sorts.

The stage sported a little tiny disco mixer, brand name Realistic. What
genius chose that as a brand name for audio products, anyway? It's a Radio
Shack house brand, that's who. And the toy mixer was connected by a  long
thin wire to a stereo system  behind the bar. One little speaker above the
stage, the other up on the wall over toward the bar. I connected one
microphone and hooked up my guitar stuff to the other mike cable. The sound
check was a sobering experience -- a dark, hollow quality to the sound, as if
it was coming in from a distant radio station.  That long unbalanced cable
without a line driver was no help.

Cinzanoz is a nice enough place -- a wine bar and restaurant with a very nice
menu of adventurous-looking seafood steaks, etc.   The guy who booked the gig
is long gone; Jeff, the owner of the joint, was nice enough, but there was a
not-quite-happening feel to this scene as I enjoyed my ahi steak and waited
for showtime.

By the time I was ready to go onstage there were some friends in the house:
<jules> and her new beau, in from Chicago; <ec> and <pellmell>, who live in
Champaign; a taper named Tom and another who turned out to be a familiar name
from the net, Ken Kleber.  Ken brought his girlfriend. And Dave Witzany from
WEFT was there, along with the station manager, a pleasant fellow with an
American flag do-rag on his head.  Mick had been wandering around the WEFT
Happy Hour with his 7-month-old son on his shoulder when I was over there
doing an interview.

So there was a core of nine people who were there to hear me play. Others in
the showroom area may or may not have come to hear me; some were pretty ob-
viously not interested.

I took the stage and the proprietor turned up the stereo.  Bad news: my
guitar was overdriving the input of the mixer terribly. Everything sounded
terrible.  It took me a while to get the attention of anyone who worked
there, and when I did, there wasn't much they could do.  I finally recruited
Dave and Mick to try to help me cope with the terribly gain-structure issues
I was facing.  Nothing worked.

By turning down the output of my guitar almost all the way, I got it to a
place where the guitar might be somewhere hear acceptable -- but I couldn't
make the microphone and the guitar sound good at the same time, no matter how
the controls were adjusted at this end or that.  So I thought I'd try just
singing acoustically and using the stereo to bring my guitar up to an audible

That strategy failed, too, because something was loose in this rickety setup
and there was an almost-continuous buzzing sound, with occasional crackles.
Every connection had some shaky adapter between the cable and the device.

I tried a few songs this way, just powering out the vocals and hoping for the
best, but it was futile.  I was about to apologize to the crowd and drive
back to Chicago in shame -- or ask the WEFT guys if they had a little mixer
they could bring over -- when Dave and Mick asked me if I'd be interested in
an acoustic guitar they have over at the station.  "Bring it on over," I in-
sisted, and they walked the block and a half to WEFT to get it.

It was an inexpensive dreadnought of some brand, roughly the sort of guitar I
like to play.  The strings were stale and limp, tuned a full step down from
reality.  I tuned it up and then noticed that there wasn't a strap button at
the neck joint. I was going to have to play sitting down.  I grabbed the
leatherette bar stool from the back of the stage, and immediately I was
transported back in time 25 years.  "I don't feel like playing anything I
ordinarily play," I said, and started in on "Peaceful Easy Feeling."

At this moment my despair receded and I realized I had the power to make this
a unique and triumphant experience.  There were nine people ready to receive
with sympathy and good humor whatever I had to deliver, and so I was damn
well gonna deliver. I played four songs or so, just to get comfortable in my
weird new circumstance, and then announced I was going t take a break and
change the strings.

The tapers moved their microphones right up to the stage.

Even with the new strings, this guitar was a low-tension affair. "It's like a
guitar with a built-in tambourine," I said.

While I was changing strings I was schmoozing with Ken Kleber, who had a lot
of requests, some of which I was prepared to attempt.  "Lodi" was one of
those, and it sounded pretty good.

A group of four people took a table to my left, very near the stage, very
definitely not there to hear me.  They weren't necessarily _opposed_ to hear-
ing me, mind you, but they seemed to regard me as some sort of coin-free
jukebox with an unusual user interface.  "What would you like to hear?" I
asked. The man who was facing me said "CSN," and the blonde woman next to him
said, "Jimmy Buffett!  James Taylor!"

I launched immediately into "Sweet Baby James," which got a warm reaction
from this quartet as well as from others in the room.  I followed that with
"Brokedown Palace" and the blonde woman listened attentively with an inter-
esting, hard-to-read but possibly deeply emotional look on her face.  Then I
did "River and Drown," during which her interesting look disappeared.  She
shook her head and mouthed something along the lines of "More James Taylor."
Oh, and she was smoking, too.

I wasn't able to deliver any Dan Fogelberg to this party, either.

There were other parties in the room, and some of them were polite and even
attentive at times.  I got an especially good response with "Mission in the
Rain," and I noticed Mick the station manager (I never got his last name)
reacting very positively to "An American Family" as the portrait unfolded.

It was an oddly satisfying, even joyous, night.  It was also a disaster.  The
tape will be interesting and memorable; all I asked is that they make it
clear on their lists that this is not what my show usually sounds like!

Sunday, April 11, 11:00 am

Last night was everything I needed it to be.  The Heartland is truly my home
venue these days.  After the fraternal-twin debacles of Milwaukee and Cham-
paign, I was ready to play in a comfortable situation.

The opening act turned out to be more than an acoustic duo, which made me
mildly cranky at first. The third guy had a frame drum with pedal, a talking
drum, various percussion, etc., so it wasn't the rockin' ensemble I had
feared.  F.M. Smith with Rob Bonnacorsi (?sp), who I met when I jammed with
Cats Under the Stars last June, and the percussionist whose name I never got.
 They played a pleasant, dreamy set.

Whatever fear I had about being blown off the stage by an ensemble were to-
tally baseless: this audience was here for me.  And the house was full, too.
I was welcomed warmly as I took the stage and Wagner and Josh got the sound
system together, and after Josh introduced me I played tree requests in a
row: "Blue Roses," "Rubin and Cherise," and "The Minstrel."

Every show at the Heartland has been fun and sucessful, and this one was the
most fun and successful ever.  I was totally at home, and the audience was
totally welcoming.  I asked for requests and got plenty of input.  I parried
and joked, and I sang and played with power and creativity.  There were times
when the music was taking care of itself so well that I found myself thinking
about other things.  It was a triumph all the way, even when I did silly
things like stop "Wild Horses" in the middle 'cause I had forgotten a chord
(I was transposing in my head).  A guy around my age at a front table
surprised me by asking for "Peaceful Easy Feeling." I remarked that I don't
usually do that song but I had done it last night, and I damn well did it
again.  This and other requests along the way led me to make some comments
about my '70s wimp-rock roots, and later in the evening (after I sang "Longer
Boats") I said, "If I'm not careful I'm gonna wind up in Las Vegas doing some
kind of '70s nostalgia show!"  A guy down front said something about seeing
me in a jump suit.  This was a PERFECT opportunity to sing "Elvis Imitator"!

I had transcribed the lyrics a few weeks ago and I had been trying to work up
the song, but I just wasn't getting anywhere with it so I wans't planning to
perform it.  I had the lyrics with me, though, so when this idea came up I
fished for them and went ahead and dd the song.  it was a roaring success!
Afterwards I said, "This may be the one and only time I ever perform that, so
thank you for being part of it." But I think I may do it again, now that I
know I can rise to the comedic occasion if the vibes are right.

Just about everything worked last night, and the stuff that didn't work
didn't throw me off track.  If I had done "River and Drown" later in the show
it wouldn't have felt over-long as it did in its early slot.  Circumstances
brought forth "Licks off of Records," which I had been considering but hadn't
brought out for some reason; now I know it'll work, so I will use it.  But
sparingly: the sarcasm of that song felt a little strong for the atmosphere
last night.  While I was singing  last night I realized that one of the
things that makes me connect so well with Jim Page is that we are both pretty
earnest.  I like that about myself.  The irony in songs like "Popstar" is
about enough.  Hmmm , what about "Desert of Love?"

There were some fine instant medleys; lots of peak vocal performances; my
guitar playing was solid and inventive all night.

It was an absolute peak experience for me as a performer.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #64 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Thu 30 Dec 99 11:12

Sunday, April 11, 1999, 11:59 pm

Tonight was sweet and satisfying, though a lesser event than last night in
some ways.  My voice was showing the strain a little in the first set, but I
warmed up and did much better in set 2.

I made a point of doing a lot of songs I haven't done in a while, and I was
pleased to see how well the performance flowed with that material.  There
were some flow problems, particularly in set 1.  I wondered if the fact that
I was consciously avoiding certain songs was interfering with my spontaneity.

The audience was smaller than last night's, but no less a pleasure to
entertain.  There were a lot of enthusiastic young Deadheads, and I
experienced a little of what annoyed me in Milwaukee.  I'm going to have to
get used to that and develop a manner of dealing with it.  And I'm probably
going to have to get used to doing a greater proportion of Dead stuff as my
audience builds.

I improved my performance of "Dupree's Diamond Blues" considerably tonight
(this song was a definite low point last night).

I played the "Uncle John's Band->Sultans of Swing" thing I thought up a
moment too late on my last tour.  It worked very well; if I can get past a
certain reluctance to perform UJB at all, this will be a nice opportunity to
play some guitar.  I did very well on the guitar solos tonight, and  managed
a reasonably error-free "Dark Star."

I have finally found my way into "Rubin and Cherise," and I'm enjoying the
development of a vocal approach.  What with the addition of "Mission in the
Rain," I seem to have taken a firm step in the direction of Jerry's solo
repertoire that I find a little surprising.  On the other hand, those songs
deserve to be performed.

BTW, I copied the opening lines of Mission and pasted them between the third
and last verses as a bridge.  Nice result.

My version of "I Bid You Good Night" -- which is based on my "Things We Said
Today" vamp -- is a good groove, but it needs to be combined with something
else.  I've got Things, and "Leave Me," and a gazinta from "Pancho and
Lefty," to work with, but I'll need more elements than that.  IBYGN into
"Love Potion #9" might be worth trying.  This project seems to be drawing the
continuous-groove-chain-of-songs energy away from the dreamy G stuff, which
is probably for the best anyway.

Without any forethought whatsoever, I dived into a new way of playing
"Jacqueline," and I think I can ever remember what it was.

The comfort and confidence I feel here at the Heartland is a great thing.  I
hope I can carry it forth to the rest of the tour.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #65 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Fri 31 Dec 99 15:33

From DeadNet Central:

>SunWasBlue - 09:30am Apr 12, 1999 PDT (#11 of 12)

>My son and I experienced the Sunday night Heartland show. Thank you, thank
>you, thank you. What's higher than a rave review? We were totally baffled as
>to why the facility was not overflowing into the streets!

Subject:  David Gans 4/9/99 Champaign
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 1999 23:29:09 -0500
From: Ken Kleber <>
Organization: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

I just wanna add some comments about this show.  My buddy Tom and I decided
to tape this show and got there real early.  We talked with David for awhile
and he was very friendly.  I had e-mail conversations with him and I've
listened to the GDH for 7 years and was glad to finally meet him.  I gave him
a bunch of requests (Powderfinger, Monica Lewinsky, Monkey & Engineer, Lodi,
Masterpiece, etc.) and he was nice enough to play many of them.

The show started with major technical problems and a VERY uncooperative staff
at the bar.  David didn't look happy but tried to make do.  The guitar was
causing all kinds of feedback and the microphone sucked.  Finally, he ditched
the mic and sang over his electric guitar.  This proved fruitless due to the
large number or disrespectful morons in the place.  When one guy offered
David an acoustic guitar, he agreed.

For the next hour and a half, David played an acoustic guitar and sang from a
stool on stage -- no microphones or amplifiers.  I moved my mics up within
three feet of him (with his permission, of course) and turned the deck up to
high sensitivity.

Despite a very talkative and rude audience, we were treated to a fine
collection of both originals and covers.  Some of the highlights were Mission
in the Rain. Monkey & The Engineer (my request), Monica Lewinsky, and An
American Family.  I had a great time, as did those I was with.

I suggest you check him out when he comes to your area.  What a show!

My tapes came out so-so.  The crowd is very present and I don't exactly have
high-end mics (CSB's), but I'd be willing to spread tapes of this special
evening if there's interest.  Just drop me an e-mail.

On a side note, David asked me to make it clear that these tapes are not
indicative of a typical show.  He normally plays working equipment in a
better environment.  :-)

Thanks David for an excellent evening!
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #66 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Fri 31 Dec 99 15:42

Tuesday, April 13, 15:50 pm EDT, Midland MI

I got up at 7 this morning to appear on the Morning Show at WUPS, my af-
filiate in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.  I had a great time bantering with the
hosts.  They played the "Capitol Hill mix" of "Monica," and I sang "Brokedown
Palace" live.  Nice people, a very low-key operation on the top floor of an
office building occupied mostly by Mid-Michigan Community College.  My spon-
sor, Rick of R&K Special T's, came by, too, and I recorded a sponsor tag for

I checked out of my hotel room at noon and drove 20 miles east on the ar-
rowstraight Michigan Highway 20 -- and I mean arrow-straight, a four-lane
boulevard connecting tiny Mt. Pleasant with the larger town of Midland.  The
earth is so flat around here that you can practically see into the next town
from miles away.

I parked on the quiet main drag and walked up and down a couple of blocks in
search of breakfast.  I stopped in at a jewelry store to get a new battery
for my watch, and now I'm sitting in a booth at LaSalle's cafe, under a
poster for the Beatles at Shea Stadium.   Also on the wall above my head are
45s by Lesley Gore, the Beatles ("Ballad of John and Yoko") and Wayne Newton.
There's lots of Elvis stuff on all the walls, and more Beatles and other
rock'n'roll items on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

The clientele is about what I'd expect in a small town in the upper Midwest
-- but just a moment ago a pair walked in wearing Revolutionary War-era garb.

4:30 pm, Clarkston MI

It is a lovely day, cool and absolutely cloudless.

After breakfast, I left town and picked a road at random, driving in a
generally southeast direction.  Not a whole lot of physical features to in-
terrupt the rectilinear symmetry of this grid.  Small family farms for the
most part, with some extraordinary houses here and there.  I spotted a
scarecrow-like item, near a house rather than out in a field, wearing an
overstuffed red t-shirt with "Peace and Love Always" painted on the front.

I've crossed the Chippewa River, the Pine River, the Tittabawassee (?) River,
several unnamed cricks and ditches, and some unusual road kill.  Wolverines?

I made it to Flint by mid-afternoon and found the club in a back alley.  I
really, really had to pee, but the place was locked up.  I got back in the
car and drove around in search of any place to empty my bladder, finally
finding a hamburger joint.  To my intense relief, the door I went in was the
door closest to the men's room.

Then I drove out of Flint in the direction of Detroit, looking for a motel.
I found a Holiday Inn that wanted $114 a night; no way.  I drove on several
more miles and ended up at a small, independent in Clarkston.  Earlier today
I had wondered if there was a motel room left in the country that didn't have
modular phone jacks, and guess what?  I found one.

Gonna lie here and relax for two hours, then head back into Flint to play my
show.  I wonder if anyone in this town knows who I am.  The two radio sta-
tions I promoted myself on are quite a distance away -- though distance is a
funny thing in this flat part of the world.  Maybe my audience is closer than
I think.

Wednesday, April 14, 1999, 9:15 am

The Back Room is about as nondescript as a club can be.  The name of the
place is painted in low-contrast colors on the wall next to the entrance,
which is a recessed yellow door opening onto a deserted alley in downtown
Flint, Michigan.  I missed the place on my first pass through the alley.

There was no mention of me in the April 13 square on the poster taped to the
wall next to the door.

I came back from the hotel at 7:00, the appointed time for sound check.  I
banged on the door for a good long while, and eventually the bartender let me
in.  He was very nice, showing me to the band room and allowing me to plug my
computer in so I could download my email, etc.  I had just missed Dan, the
sound guy.  Although my info sheet for this gig said "free food," there
wasn't any here, so I went across the alley to the Torch (the only available
option, apparently) for a burger.  There I found three guys in tie-dyes at a
table, and they invited me to join them.

They wound up being three quarters of my audience.

Since the chicken sandwich on the menu was fried rather than grilled, I went
for the burger.  The guy at the Back Room said the Torch Burger was pretty
good; he was wrong.  The salad had green olives and grated orange cheese on
it.  When I asked for the check, the waitress told me the tab had been picked
up by a guy at the bar who said he was the promoter of my show.  The guy was
gone, and he never introduced himself to me later, either.

By the time I finished my dinner, it was after 8:00 and the club was open.
There was a woman sitting at the bar playing a video game, and no one else in
the place.  Two of my three dinner companions -- who had all met each other
for the first time outside the club and seemed to be forming a nice
friendship, which was cool -- were tapers, so they got busy setting up their
stuff while I set up mine.  There weren't any more patrons in the bar when I
finished and went upstairs to warm up and wait for the sound guy.

By showtime, there were a few more people in the bar, but they were regulars,
not fans of mine.  I found another handbill for the club, better-designed
than the one posted at the door, but also not mentioning me.

It was cool that one of my three new friends came all the way from Grand
Rapids after having heard me on WYCE Monday afternoon.  The other two read
about my show on the net; one came from Ann Arbor, I think.  I forget where
the third guy was from -- Flint, I think, but he's moving to Eugene, Oregon
this summer.

I couldn't understand why the promoter would guarantee me $200 for a gig with
a $2 admission and no evidence of any promotion whatsoever.  Not much
evidence of a Deadhead scene at this bar, either.

A few minutes before to 10:00 I was feeling pretty shitty over the emptiness
of the club downstairs.  I made the huge internal effort necessary to push
that stuff aside and take the stage with the intention of delivering a
memorable show to the three guys who made the effort (the fourth attentive
young dude showed up during the first set).

The best thing about last night's show is the set list.  I had some trouble
concentrating, because of external factors and also because the bar even-
tually filled up with people who weren't even slightly interested in what was
happening onstage.  And the bar was right in front of me, so the unconcerned
were closer than the audience proper.

My performance was brilliant in conception and flawed in execution.  I played
a lot of songs I haven't been doing lately, and I tried some new combinations
(including the Bid You Good Night-> Love Potion #9 idea I proposed the other
night).  I thought up the Falling Star/Dark Star sandwich on the fly, and it
worked out really well: the improvised transition from the E minor pause
after the first chorus of Falling Star into the A Mixolydian of Dark Star was
sweet and satisfying.

Various patrons paid me a little attention now and then, and occasionally I
saw a few heads bobbing in time with the music, but the overall atmosphere
was murderous.  I struggled to keep my mind on my performance; I hardly said
a word between songs.  The urge to wrap it up and get out of there was pretty
strong, and so was my suspicion that the promoter wasn't going to be around
when I went looking for my pay.  I wound up playing a little under two hours:
one long set with no encore.

I was feeling pretty grim when it was over.  I quickly packed up my stuff and
took it out to the car, and then I asked the bartender who I should see about
getting paid.  He whipped out a handful of twenties, confirmed that there
were ten of them, and handed them over with a smile and an offer of a beer.

I don't know how this booking came about.  Economically, it was a success;
otherwise, a spike in the heart.  It was only marginally better than taking
the night off.  But four guys had a good time and a kind word, and they knew
it was a weird place to play on the way in so they were pretty sympathetic.
Next time, we agreed, Grand Rapids and/or Ann Arbor.

Today I'm off to Cleveland, where I have friends and a radio station and some
real publicity.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #67 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Thu 20 Jan 00 12:26

I just got the "go" from Cynsa, so the February 4 gig is ON!

Mary Schmary & David Gans

Friday, February 4
Noe Valley Ministry, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco.
Start time, admission, etc.  TBA.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #68 of 232: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 8 Feb 00 11:35
That was a cool gig.  Can't wait til your diary catches up, so we can read
what you thought of the evening, too.  Relentless journaling project, isn't
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #69 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Tue 8 Feb 00 18:43
I am trying to get this topic caught up in order.  Will install more
installments this week.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #70 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Thu 16 Mar 00 18:42
    <scribbled by tnf Fri 21 Apr 00 09:54>
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #71 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Sun 23 Apr 00 10:50

Thursday, April 15, 1999, noon.

Last night's show was at Wilbert's in Cleveland.  Nice venue, similar in
atmosphere to Johnny D's in Somerville MA although the layout is different.
And the layout was a factor: there are three rows of tables in front of the
stage, and the vast majority of the seats are off to either side.  In order
to make contact with the entire audience, I had to look way off to each side,
and it's hard to do that a lot without feeling stupid.

There were around 40 people there, I guess.  My friend Chris observed that
there were people at the far end of the bar who never took their eyes off me
during the show but who never moved closer.  Weird.  I had a hard time
feeling connected to the crowd because of the wide seating arrangement, and
it took a while for the group vibe to emerge.  I had a hard time creating any
continuity, and the diffuse quality of the audience feedback probably
exacerbated the struggle.  Toward the end of the evening things became plenty
intimate, so I feel pretty good about the night overall.

As with the Flint show, this performance was conceptually very high but not
perfectly executed.  I think I was somewhat distracted by the effort of
trying to connect over such a wide field.  Seriously!  My vocal pitch wasn't
always entirely accurate, and I muffed a few chords along the way.  But my
soloing and improvisation were excellent, while the flow from song to song
was often very difficult.  I even said at one point, "There are nights when I
never don't know what song is coming next -- and then there are nights like
this one."

There were several tapers, and quite a few people taking notes while I
played.  Someone made copies of the setlist on the club's copier for the
other tapers, and I wound up with an interesting annotated setlist.

It was also gratifying to hear many requests for my songs.  I guess the tapes
are making their way out there.

Jesse Jarnow, who I know from the moe. mailing list and who has attended my
shows before, was in there with a couple of friends.  He made some requests
that reflected his love of the Danksters.  I also expect he'll post some
interesting stuff in various places!

The marketing director of the club was enthusiastic about my performance
despite the less-than-earthshaking turnout.  This comment was music to my
ears: "We just need to figure out how to market you."

I am giving really good performances.  Everyone there last night was
extremely enthusiastic, and many stayed around after the set to tell me how
much they enjoyed it.  They all promised to brig more people along the next
time I play there.

I need to connect with some real management and get some real career
guidance.  This is a long road I'm on, I know, and I need some help.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #72 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Sun 23 Apr 00 10:51

Friday, April 16, 1999, 12:45 pm, Columbus OH

Pittsburgh was a treat.  I arrived in the late afternoon at the home of Tom
Donaldson, brother of my friend Dougal Donaldson, poster on,
and a member of the Compendium group.  And for once, the inevitable
conversation about Dead tapes wasn't tedious and inescapable: he played some
very interesting stuff for me that I had never heard before.

Nor was I bothered by the "cocktail party" he threw in my honor before we
left for the gig.  His friends were very nice, and all very excited to have
me there.

The venue, Graffiti Showcase, was great.  Large brick room, with excellent
acoustics thanks to generous amounts of Sonex on the balcony facades and
other hard surfaces.  The owner, Tony, and his staff were all pleasant to
deal with.

The opening act, Fungus, was not the best Dead cover band I've ever heard,
but I will grant slack since this was the first time they've ever played
"unplugged" -- a misnomer, of course, since everything but the percussion was
wired in.  But the bass player had an acoustic bass guitar, and the two
guitarists had acoustics.  Their version of "Sugar Magnolia" was
idiosyncratic, to put it kindly, and their comprehension of the lyrics to
"Oh, the Wind and the Rain" left a little to be desired.  But they were
having fun, and so was the audience.  I joined them for the encore, Bird
Song-> The Other One-> Bird Song, which was very well-received.

My set went very well, though I am having trouble with my throat.  I don't
know what it is if it isn't fatigue.  I had a hard time hitting the strong
high notes in "Thunder Road," for example, and there is no way to switch to
head tones at that energy level.  I had a few cracks and burrs at times
throughout my 90-minute set, and some trouble hitting pitch in spots when I
should have been right on the mark.  I've got plenty of wind, but something
isn't happening right.  As I type this, I have a very slight sore throat and
a small amount of thick, persistent phlegm.  I'm not sick, dammit.

There were 105 paid at the gig last night, and they were all over this large
room -- a balcony to my right was nearly full, and people were spread out all
over the main floor.

The thing that works so well for me in more intimate venues is hard to manage
on a large stage in a large room with bright lights shining on me.  It's hard
to connect with an audience that is mostly invisible to me in distant
shadows.  I had the continuity problem again.  I think I need to develop a
more self-sufficient sense of narrative for these settings, and I imagine
that's going to be the way of things as my career develops and I find myself
playing larger rooms more often.  The process of losing touch has begun?

I also have to be more careful about asking for requests in scenes where the
population is overwhelmingly Deadhead.  I could have just played the stuff I
know and made them plenty happy without getting into dialogues about why I
can't or won't play this or that.  I did get a good laugh (for the second
time in a few days) by saying that I've played "Monkey and the Engineer"
twice on this tour and fucked it up both times, so until I have a chance to
get it straight I'm not going to try it again.

I sold quite a few t-shirts and CDs after the show, and I was warmly greeted
by a lot of people who just wanted to shake my hand and say thanks.

After the gig, I went up to the office to settle up with Tony, the owner.  As
he sat behind his desk talking on the phone, dealing with some stuff before
he was ready to deal with me, three of his employees came in and kissed him
sweetly on the check.  When we got down to business he said, "I don't want
you to think I have that kind of relationship with all my employees: they're
my daughters."  Nice man, businesslike but fair; clean, friendly club,
excellent audience: what more could I ask?  He wants me to play there again.

Tom Donaldson's house was a pleasant flashback to bachelorhood, full of
posters and tapes and Deadhead memorabilia.  He has three cats, one of whom
-- Ripple -- is so startlingly similar to my Hugo that it made me both
homesick and very happy.  Same age, same intense yellow eyes and longish nose
-- a little less white on his front, though.  Tom would shoot rubber bands
across the room and Ripple would retrieve them!

Some of Tom's friends came back to his house with us after the show, so I
didn't get to bed until 2:00.  Tom woke me up a little after 7 and got me on
my way so I could be in Columbus, 190 miles away, in time for this 1:30 pm
interview.  Even after wandering around the area for half an hour looking for
the station (my directions did not include the key fact that it's located in
a decommissioned Army base), I got here an hour and a half early.  I wish I
could have that sleep back!  I'll take a nap when I get to Shirley Siegel's
house after the interview.

7:30 pm, backstage at Little Brother's in Columbus OH

I made it to Columbus early enough that I wish I had taken an extra hour to
sleep in Pittsburgh, but of course if I had gotten up at 8 instead of 7 this
morning something would have happened to make me late for my interview on

The interview went well.  The host, Maxx Faulkner, is also the station's
music director.  He was sort of brusque before we went on the air, but the
engineer assured me it was nothing personal.  Maxx worked with me to
differentiate between my Famous Deadhead persona and my reason for my being
in town, which was nice.  I figured this was a chance to appeal to a
different audience, so I sang "An American Family" to start with and closed
with "The Minstrel," which I dedicated to the memory of Jerry Garcia as

Then I drove over to Shirley Siegel's house.  Shirley is the mother of my
friend Art Siegel; it was Art who suggested I stay with her and asked her if
she'd have me.  We have met once or twice before, but it was awfully kind of
her to welcome a (nearly) perfect stranger into her home.  "Any friend of
Art's is a friend of mine," she said.  We kvelled about Art's wedding to my
old friend Carol Gould, which is one of the occasions when we met before, and
of course she offered me food.  "I realize I've run smack into a Jewish
mother here, but I really don't need anything to eat right now," I
apologized.  She took it in stride, and put some water on the stove for a cup
of tea for me.

I sank into a nice hot bath for probably an hour, then checked my email and
it was time to leave for the gig.

The directions were excellent, but one of the streets was closed due to
construction so I wandered around for a while without finding the place.  I
went into a convenience store and was told I was two blocks from High Street;
a quick right and up two blocks, and here I am.

My name is not on the marquee.  The headliner is the Mullins Band, fronted by
John Mullins, formerly of ekoostic Hookah.  They're sound checking now, and I
like what I'm hearing.  They brought an extra electric and amp for me!  We
talked a bit about what covers to do, and I was surprised to learn that
Mullins is into some of the same kind of '70s wimp-rock that I love so much:
Jonathan Edwards, Steve Goodman, and of course "A Beatle song is always
good."  We had a preliminary discussion about what to play together, and
we'll finish it before showtime.

They're awfully loud; I'm a little nervous about that.

We compared "acoustic" guitars.  Mullins has a very interesting-looking
instrument with a three slits instead of a soundhole, a sunburst finish, a
body shape reminiscent of a Les Paul, and lovely wooden knobs.  The monogram
on the peghead is "AP," but I don't remember what that stands for.  It was
one of ten prototypes made for a NAMM show ('93?).  Nice instrument.  He
liked my Turner, too.

My throat isn't sore, but I still feel some raspiness in my voice and I am
worried about another night in a very smoky bar.

Time to go sound check.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #73 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Sun 23 Apr 00 10:53

Saturday, April 17, 1999, 11:00 am

The gig was very well-attended, and the audience was great to me and to the
Mullins band.

The stage is very high, which contributed to yet another occasion of
difficult communication with the audience.  There were a lot of people --
upwards of a hundred -- in the place when I started, and the crowd grew as my
set progressed.  They were almost eerily polite, attentive and responsive,
but I wasn't able to interact as I'm used to doing.  Again, I think the
lesson here is that I can't do it a la Heartland in the larger rooms.  This
means I have to develop a structure for my sets -- not a firm list, but a
general format -- so I don't wind up standing there between songs listening
for input that I'm not gonna get.

I found myself talking a lot less between songs in these situations, again
because I can't tell who I'm talking to and how they're reacting.  I don't
really want to develop pat routines, but I may wind up doing something along
those lines.

This crowd was largely GD Hour listeners, with quite a few GDH-list members
as well.  But they didn't go overboard in response to the Dead songs, so I
didn't feel compelled to favor that material; last night's set had originals
in most of the power spots, and they were very well-received.  The Mullins
Band guys urged me to play my own stuff, and I took that encouragement
onstage with me.

I didn't risk "Thunder Road," but I did perform some other vocally
challenging stuff and my pipes held up okay despite thick tobacco smoke all
over the place.

After the set I was approached by a lot of people with very kind words about
my performance, thanks for the GD Hour, etc.  I also sold six HBMs and four
Monicas, which ain't a bad haul.  Collected two full pages of mailing-list
signups, too.

The Mullins Band impressed me quite a bit.  John's songs are strong and his
delivery is passionate, and his players are pretty good together.  Some of
the stuff has a slight tendency toward cliche, but I heard enough engaging
music to make me glad I was there with them.

We talked about all kinds of stuff to do together, and after their fourth
song (a languid reading of Willie Nelson's "Night Life") they invited me up.
We did John Prine's "Paradise" with Mullins singing lead; "Lyin' Eyes," the
two of us alternating verses; "Helplessly Hoping," just me and John on vocals
and me fingerpicking; and a really hot "Almost Cut My Hair," which I have
never played nor sung before (I sang the second verse).  Great fun!  When
they asked me up for the encore we did "The Last Time."  People approached me
with very enthusiastic comments when I was out on the floor.

So many people had so many nice things to say!  And it seemed that more than
a few people were there to hear me and were seeing the Mullins Band for the
first time; that's a win-win for everybody.  And lots of people demanded that
I come back soon!

When all was said and done, we beat the minimum by a little over $300, which
we split 50-50.  That made the evening a roaring success in both artistic and
commercial terms, and I think it went a long way toward guaranteeing that
this tour finishes in the black.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #74 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Sun 23 Apr 00 10:53

Sunday, April 18, 1999, 1:30 am

Ensconced on the third floor of the lovely turn-of-the-century wood-frame
Cincinnati home of Pete and Melanie Delgado.  Pete is one of three rotating
hosts of my show (and the two-hour "The Golden Road" that follows) on WNKU
Saturday nights.  I fell in love with the whole family - his wife, Melanie;
two beautiful children; 4-year-old James and the amazingly verbal 19-month-
old Marissa; and a fat fluffy green-eyed long-haired white cat named Kitty --
at first sight.  They put me up on the third floor, with a splendid view of
their tree-lined hillside neighborhood, which reminds me a little of the
Oakland/Piedmont area.

I drove in from Columbus this afternoon under a dripping gray quilt of cloud
that stretched handsomely from horizon to horizon above the farms and rivers
of Ohio.  I am enjoying being out here in these Americas I've never seen
before.  Southern Michigan is all smokestacks and transmission towers.; the
French place names bespeak a different history from the West, where I have
lived my entire life.  I passed by Xenia, Ohio, a name I remember as the
scene of a devastating tornado some years ago.  I've crossed many rivers,
great and small, names I've heard all my life in literature, song and
journalism: the Monongahela, the Cuyahoga, the Beaver, the Flint, the
Sandusky, and Allegheny, the Ohio, the Great Miami.

I saw a billboard that said "Christ is #1 in Open-Heart Surgery!"  It's a
hospital, of course, but given some of the fundamentalist billboards I've
seen in my travels -- in which the proxies of a sentient Jesus wield his
judgment in ways that would make the real guy puke -- it took me a second.

Driving from Flint to Cleveland the other day, I saw signs for US 41, a high-
way I know from Dickey Betts' "Ramblin' Man" and which I have driven at the
Florida end.  I-80 is the Bay Bridge to me, and occasionally the road to Lake
Tahoe.  But if I kept on driving East some time I would wind up in Ohio,
where I was this week and where I-80 is a toll road.  It goes all the way to
New York City.  US 50, whose Western reach we savored on our way home from
Utah a couple of years ago, crossed my path this evening on my way across the
river to Kentucky.  It's fun to think about that highway as a continuous
ribbon, a path all they way from there to here and if I wanted to I could
just make that turn and start driving and be across the country in a couple
of days without ever making a hard right turn except to get gas.  Someone
told me I was actually performing in Oakland the other night -- the name of a
neighborhood, not a wormhole to home.

These rivers and roads  could, with some adjustments to the laws of physics,
be a big ol' game of Chutes and Ladders, and I could commute to some of these

I'm listening to the tape of last night's show.  My voice isn't as bad as I
thought it was, though there seems to be a lack of resonance, somehow.  Nice
jams.  Must sleep now.

Sunday, April 18, 1999, 5:45 pm

Spring is well under way here in southern Ohio.  Pete drove me up from
Cincinnati to play a set at St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast, the 21st
annual, held at Grandpa's Party Barn in Oxford, home of Miami University.  We
got off the Interstate after a few miles and proceeded over two-lane roads
past small family farms and tiny little towns with ancient farm machinery in
front yards.  The hillsides are lush and green.  As it's been since last
Wednesday, the sky is stuffed with clouds and the rain falls in mostly gentle
but persistent spells throughout the day and night.  Trees are in various
stages of rebirth; among the bare and re-leafing taller trees are some
smaller trees entirely covered with bright purple blossoms that almost glow
in the subdued light of the overcast sky.  Cercis, aka Redbud, says Melanie.

St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast is named for a Frank Zappa song.  I'm not
clear on the origins of the bash, but it started out small 21 years ago and
has become a beloved tradition in the area.  A couple of guys seem to be
responsible for it, but a lot of people contribute.  Everything is free --
admission, the pancakes, the hot dogs, the beer, the shuttle buses from over
near the University.  The bands all donate their time, too -- but they paid
me because they knew I was on tour and trying to make it pay.  When we got
there the place was pretty crowded and the line was long for pancakes.  The
bus kept arriving with more people, and the rain made repeated appearances to
replenish the rivers of mud.

The Swagger Boys were playing when we arrived -- horns, mostly cover tunes,
lots of fun.

Given the insanity of this scene, I wasn't expecting to reach a whole lot of
people with my little acoustic performance, but I was very pleasantly
surprised: My set went very well.  Although my voice cracked rather
spectacularly once in the early going, I felt stronger than I have in the
last few days -- strong enough to attempt "Thunder Road" and pull it off.  I
led up to it with "Black  Peter"; I had no trouble at all hitting any of my
notes.  There were several hundred people attending this party; the stage was
inside the barn, and there were quite a few people gathered around -- but
there were also lots of people just coming in out of the rain with free beer
in their hands.  I was not expecting the level of attention and response I
got in this situation; lots of people really got into my performance, and
many of them came up to me afterward with very kind words.

Came back to Pete's to change strings, do laundry and rest up for tonight.
inkwell.vue.51 : Diary of a troubadour
permalink #75 of 232: David Gans (tnf) Sun 23 Apr 00 10:53

Monday, April 19, 1999, 1:15 pm -- Turfway Road, Florence KY

The rain stopped last night.  Today's sky is partially covered with some thin
white clouds that pose no threat, so it's a fine day to schlep back and forth
on the Interstate  -- which is what I've been doing.  I got 30 miles away
from the Delgados' house before I realized I'd forgotten my jacket.  Back I
went, screwing the pooch on an afternoon date with Melinda Belleville to
visit the thoroughbreds in Lexington KY.

This minor fiasco resonates with the frustrations of last night's gig.

When we got to the Barrelhouse, I noticed that my show wasn't listed on the
chalkboard, which included the last couple of nights and the next few.  The
sound guy wasn't there, and in fact the bartender wasn't sure which sound guy
was scheduled.  These are not good signs.

There was a nice preview piece in one of the weeklies, but immediately below
it was an ad announcing that "David Nelson, host of the Greatful [sic] Dead
Hour," was appearing.  On the plus side, the ad was almost too small to be

Memo to self and Metzger: no more gigs where I play for the door with no
guarantee.  Without an investment in the success of the show, the club has no
incentive to do anything.

They've expanded the stage since my last visit.  It's wider, deeper and
higher up now.  Steep, scary little staircase, too: if I were a drinker, I'd
have been at risk.

The bartenders and waitress were very nice, and apologetic about the state of
things.  Pete and Melanie and I ordered dinner while someone tried to figure
out whether there was a sound guy on the way.  While we were dining, in
walked Amy Ross, Chuck Garvey's girlfriend, with her 17-year-old sister
Molly.  They joined us, and we had a nice dinner together.

Jim the sound guy showed up in plenty of time to get things together for the
show.  There weren't a lot of people on hand at 9, so I waited a few minutes
to begin.  Jack Jackson came down from Troy with his girlfriend and another
guy, demonstrating his personal commitment to increasing my audience in Ohio.
 He's a mixed bag, that guy, but he shows up and I damn well appreciate it.
He and his party stayed the whole night, paid attention and responded
enthusiastically, too.  Jack had a long list of requests, some of which I was
able to honor.

There were some people there when I started, and some more arrived as the set
progressed.  But the total paid attendance was 25, a disappointing number.

The sound on stage was very good, and I knew the audience was on my side even
though I didn't feel too well connected, so I led off with several requests
before diving into an A minor jam that turned into a pretty impressive
"Hyperactive."  I had a lot going on musically, but I kept reaching for the
third phrase of the theme and not finding it so I'm a little leery of
listening to the tape.  But I will work that theme again.

A couple of major surprises in the second set: I opened with "For a Dancer,"
just 'cause I didn't know what to start with and I saw it on the list and
launched it without even thinking.  It was sweet, and well-received.  I could
see people singing along.  I also did "Terrapin," which I was thinking abut a
couple of days ago; I guess the moment was right.  It felt good, and people
went nuts.  I wonder if I'll do it again.

I stopped writing when my breakfast arrived, and now I'm finishing this entry
at midnight.  My attitude about the show was somewhat depressed as I drove
into Kentucky, but as I think back on it now I realize that my problems were
not with the performance, but with the circumstances.  Pete told me this
morning that he had spoken with one of the cub owners last night, and that
guy complained about my appearance last fall -- I had asked people to reduce
their smoking and I had also asked that the TV sets above the bar be turned
off.  Pete says he asked him why they bothered booking me, then.

Pete also said that Sunday is not a good night in Cincinnati -- "I'd rather
go out on a Tuesday or Wednesday," he said, and for a lot of people, "Sundays
are for recovering from the weekend."  I think Amy echoed his sentiment when
we were talking about it back at the house.  Pete knows a promoter who books
a room that is intended for listening to music, and he's gonna see if that
guy will take an interest.

I won't go back to the Barrelhouse, in any case.  Not without a guarantee.

I am getting really, really enthusiastic feedback all along the tour, and I
know it's deserved.  I am in a good place: determined to be heard, goddammit.
 I may not be able to draw flies in the Bay Area, but that's not a reflection
of the quality of my work.  Metzger and I have to refine our approach to the
clubs, be more selective about where we work and under what circumstances,
and put considerable energy into capitalizing on our successes.

Walsh is doing a great job on the publicity side.  I've gotten some excellent
preview pieces.  Next goal: getting reviewed.


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