June 3, 2010
Au revoir, Orgone; Desert Rocks Festival; How to score a late-night quesadilla; Cowbell supergroup debut.
I could feel the wheels of the RV scrabbling for purchase on the dirt track through the hills of Southern Utah, the headlights lurching across rocks, trees and tents. The Desert Rocks Music Festival had been the last show of the tour, and now I was lying in the bunk in the dark, remembering the strange day, and looking forward to going home.
Two days ago at a show on the Sunset Strip we said goodbye to Orgone, the best traveling companions and colleagues we could have wanted: musically inspirational and right good chaps backstage. After they killed it at the Roxy, we went up with Alex Budman and Jason Robinson on saxes. Then Jason’s friend Nick joined on for a three way tenor battle on Time Come. Whoah. That got me and Kelsey fired up and we had to have a battle on So Blind. We should have had the sax winner face off against the brass division champ for the solo on Freedom taking over. Horns were having a big night, but we have to remember to leave something for the rest of the band.
The next day we flew off to Salt Lake City again, then drove south into the red canyons around Moab, arriving dusty and parched at the Apache Motel (“John Wayne Really Stayed Here”), I was not too thrilled to hear we had a photo shoot lined up in 30 minutes. Ryan was bitching, he hates photo shoots. There was one in France where the guy with the camera told us to jump. Everyone jumped but Ryan. He loves that photo because it shows just how much he hates photo shoots. He hates them even more than me, which I never thought possible.
We pulled off the road along a ridge of jutting boulders by a huge natural arch, brick-red in the setting sun. The shoot was a snap, TM helped mama-bear Kim climb two hundred vertical feet of trackless incline. After we’d had a breather, the beauty of the place and the camaraderie eased everyone’s exhaustion.
The Desert Rocks Festival turned out to be really sweet. The location was phenomenal, with the sunlight fading gently on the side of Mount Peale. Pulling in, we were both amused and annoyed by the people who put together the festival program. I think I was the first to notice that their photo of Groundation was actually a picture of Harrison posing with half a dozen fans in Sao Paolo. “Nobody knows you guys out here,” said TM. “No kidding,” I said. I thought we were going to have to play “Lion in the Jungle”* to prove who we were. Luckily, we were admitted by festival security and had a killer show, with lots of people coming up to us afterward with encouraging words. By the time I got there the catering tent was completely closed, I mussed up my hair, threw on my best impression of Oliver Twist, and shuffled up to the cook, a tall guy with glasses, who looked exhausted and was slinging industrial-sized ice-chests of salad and condiments.
“Please sir, would it be possible to have a bit of food?” He glanced over and started to say something. I don’t know if it was these sad eyes, or the way my hands trembled as they clutched my hat. “I got a quesadilla for you,” he said. “Hold on a couple minutes.” I wanted to cry with joy, shoveling hot food into my mouth.
At one point, the siren-call of high-quality rock ‘n’ roll drew me from the hospitality tent and across the sand to the side stage of The Pour, the awesome power trio from Park City. One song near the end of their set featured a cowbell supertrio jam-session, with none other than Mingo Lewis Junior on first cowbell. Christopher Walken would have been in heaven. If they wanted to challenge the horn solo champ from the Roxy, the best cowbellist would first have to pair off against the incredibly shredding guitarists in The Pour and Wisebird, who also had a battle. The winner would get a dinette set, or similar.
The moon rose during our encore, (thanks!) and by the time the RV pulled out I could hear people howling in the tepees and camps. And look at that, I’m right back to my lead. Tidy, just how I like it. See you next in Barcelona. Ciao, Diesel.
*“Lion in the Jungle” is a video originally on Youtube and mislabeled as a Groundation song. We often get requests for it. There’s a lot of misinformation on the internet, if you didn’t know.