Driving / Pistoleros

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosSaturday, April 30, 2005 - 05:56:52 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
Man, sleep was good last night. Slept right through til 9AM this morning. However, it wasn't particularly fun waking up, knowing it's my last full day in Tempe.

The plan for today was to drive around Tempe. Katie needed some time to rest, as she's still not feeling good. We made a move around 12PM. Got a proper photo of Sun Devil Stadium and A mountain. Driving down Ash / Rio Salado, we decided to walk along Tempe Lake. On the way to Tempe Beach Park, we speculated on where the Ash Avenue bridge once stood. On parking at Tempe Beach Park, we actually stumbled across what is left of the Ash Bridge, which was really cool. Makes perfect sense too, as it's right at the end of Ash Avenue. [wink] After this, we walked around Tempe Beach Park, which looked / seemed so much smaller during the day - this was the location of the Tempe Music Festival, that we attended the first night in Tempe. The park is really nice, and today was a glorious day. It would have been nice to have spent more time there, if we didn't have more to do.

After two hours of driving, Katie needed to have a rest, so we headed back to the apartment. After a cigarette, I realised she wasn't the only one who needed a rest. I collapsed on the bed, and slept for two and a half hours. Sleep was the last thing I wanted to do on my second last day here, but god I needed it. We were woken by a call from Denise - with sucky news. Thomas (The Pistoleros / Ghetto Cowgirl - and incidently her guitar teacher) told her that the Pistoleros played last night. WHAT?!? The one band I was going to miss out on seeing (they, in addition to Dead Hot Workshop, played at the Last Exit 2 year anniversary show, while we were on our road trip), and they friggin' played last night!? Really sucks missing that. But oh well.

Rositas / Yucca

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosFriday, April 29, 2005 - 11:56:03 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
After spending a lazy day recovering from the flu and doing some cleaning, we met up with Denise and Kathie for dinner at Rositas mexican resturant.


After eating, Katie and I swung by Yucca, where Charmers Green were playing. We only stayed for one beer, as Katie still isn't feeling great, but it was fun nether the less.

There's been so little time over the last week to do photos and blog enteries. I'll have to fill things in when I'm home, so remain tuned in over the coming weeks, if you're still interested.

Tonight we're off to see Dead Hot Workshop, opening for the Muddy Violets CD release - a date added while were on the road last week (missing the only schedueled Dead Hot gig of the month). I'm so stoked that I will actually see the mighty Dead Hot before I go! So glad this date got added.

Santa Ana

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosWednesday, April 20, 2005 - 09:29:29 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
The drive towards Santa Ana was reasonably eventless, until we hit Los Angeles - which truely is the rat race it is reknown for. Being from a big city myself, even I was shocked at the bumper to bumper traffic - on the interstate! Truely crazy.

We finally headed south to Santa Ana. We'd actually arrived a day early, and so we had no hotel booked, and the one we had for tomorrow and the night after had no vacencies. So we drove around, trying to find one, Katie wanting to just be anywhere after all of the driving. We eventually pulled into a gas station, and Katie phoned her family to do an internet search / booking. The Jensen's camee up with The Days Inn. We got the address, and headed out there. It turned out to be on the same road as the booking we had for the next two nights. However, I started to become dubious about the situation as we drove further and further into what looked like the wrong side of town. We eventually hit the Days Inn, which actually didn't look that bad. We got a room, and took the car around. On opening the door, my first thought was "should I really have used my credit card".

The place was an absolute crap shack. Katie was glad to be anywhere, but at the same time was quite upset. After reassuring her that it was going to be okay, and agreeing that we weren't going to look for dead bodies under the bed, because we didn't want to know what we were going to find, we decided to go out and eat. Appropriately, we found a Denny's and ate there. It had been on our list of things to do, so that was good, but I was really concerned that Katie's car was still going to be where we'd parked it.

After eating, we headed back, pulled out some clothes to sleep on (above the covers). Watching the news was interesting, hearing about the highway shootings on the I-10, where we were headed tomorrow.

I really had thought that Katie was fairly okay with the crap shack. However, it became apparent at 7am the next morning with her tugging on my arm saying "Maaaaark, can we goooooooo?!?!?", that her seemingly contentness last night was purely tiredness! She didn't have to ask me twice!!

Santa Ana / Crap Shack photos. Most of them illistrate how bad the place was (though, in highensight the photos don't really show how craptastic it was), and the last one is a nod to living the white trash lifestle. [wink] Not hard at all to do in that place!

Cathedral City

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosWednesday, April 20, 2005 - 08:42:36 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
Much like the Grand Canyon, we pulled into Cathedral City quite late. It was about a 7 hour hike from the Grand Canyon to Cathedral City. Once thing I noticed is that border lines in the U.S a pretty boring. I don't think you could eveb notice the Arizona / California border.

Cathedral City in the dust. Standing tall in twilight, and held up by rust.

For those who don't know, Cathedral City is a song written by Doug Hopkins, originally for the Gin Blossoms, and then recorded by The Chimeras, hence our reason for wanting to go through it / stay there. It's a town located right near Palm Springs. As per the song (29 Palms align the way. Towards a place I think of often but don't really want to stay in.), we'd planned to head through 29 Palms, and then on to Cathedral City.

The ride became interesting, travelling through the black landscape of California, using a map without road names, and watching the fuel guage drop, and drop and drop. We were travelling through some mountain range, we continually thought "29 Palms will be just over this peak", but it seemed like the mountains just would not end - not a light in sight, and that fuel guage dropping further. At some point we drove through an area where both sides of the road looked like a salt lake, or lake - or something. Very eerie looking at night, not being able to tell what it was.

Finally, after what seemed like forever we could see the lights of 29 Palms, and in particular the 29 Palms air force base, which was huge, and seemed to me to be bigger than the city itself. With much delight we found an open gas station and filled up.

From there, we continued on through Joshua Tree, Yucca and then finally Cathedral City. On the drive into Cathedral City was a huge snow capped mountain, totally sillouetted in the darkness, which was barely visible, and looked really cool once you noticed. The interstate was also littered with wind generators, which again looked quite eerie until you realised what you were looking at.

We hit Cathedral City, obviously not being able to see much in the darkness, and looked for the first decent looking hotel we could find. On finding a holiday in, we checked in, and it wasn't long before we were both asleep.

In the morning we slept as late as we could, then checked out, exporing Cathedral City. A lot of the time was spent trying to find a good photo opportunity with a city sign, which we were finally successful with. We also tried to find a Cathedral City shirt, however, everything was Palms Springs - not all that suprising either. We did however happen to find Cathedral City postcards.

After exploring the town, we headed back to 29 Palms, to see what we hadn't seen on the way in. It was definately cool seeing the Californian landscape in contrast to the Arizonia landscape. I prefer the Arizona landscape, but the change was cool. On hitting 29 Palms, we stopped at the city's welcome sign, took photos, deciding we didn't need to go any further, and that it was time to head to Santa Ana.

Grand Canyon

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosTuesday, April 19, 2005 - 10:28:48 am
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
Sidenote: Someone really needs to tell Katie's neighbour that he can't sing!

This morning we woke up after a great sleep, and headed done for breakfast, which we'd promptly missed. So we checked out, and headed out for the Grand Canyon. As previously mentioned, we were suprised that the national park enterance was only 1 mile from the hotel we stayed.

Now, everyone excepts to be impressed by the Grand Canyon, but you really need to see it, to full experience it, Driving through the brush of the national forest, all of a sudden there is a glimpse of the canyon, which is breath taking. One thing I noticed very early on is how well the park is preserved. Trees have not been cleared to make the canyon veiwable, and driving through there are long streaches where you can't see the canyon for the trees. I thought it was cool that it'd been preserved as a national park, rather than made into a tourist attraction.

We got out and walked some of the sections, and drove others. Throughout the day we travelled the full length of the south rim. Amazing views. Just check the photos.

Towards the end of the afternoon we made it to the end (or start) of the south rim, where we brought some souvineers, and then decided it was time we'd better make our way out to Cathedral City, California. Initially we'd planned just to travel through Catherdral City, but with out plans being messed up by the clothes debarkle, we decided we'd head for it and stay there.

With Phoenix In Our Rear Veiw Mirror

(Add / View Comments) (0)Monday, April 18, 2005 - 09:59:28 pm
(Posted Under: No Category)
The plan for this morning was to head off for the Grand Canyon once Katie finished work today. However, we'd also decided to do washing this morning, because I was out of clothes. I went down to the laundry when Katie phoned to say she'd be late, only to find one of the driers empty. Yes, some fucker had stolen our clothes. And of course, most of mine were in there, because of the sed not having done any laundry until now. Shit that we didn't really want to deal with, as we were supposed to be leaving for a week long road trip.

After some deligating about what we were going to do, and it looking like we were going to postphone the trip, we hit the stores in Tempe to buy some new clothes. Once we were done, we quickly packed and decided that it'd be best to get the fuck out of dodge, rather than sitting around Tempe. Late in the afternoon, we hit the road.

Tell me how you'd feel, away from here, with Phoenix in our rear view mirror.

It became obvious as we left Phoenix behind, that we were alzo leaving our (clothes related) problems behind. It literally felt good to be out on the road getting away from Phoenix, on headed for northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon. We weren't far from Phoenix when we were cracking jokes about the clothes being stolen. Not that we weren't still pissed, especially given all my cool t-shirts were gone (including the very rare 'So Long Wongs' t-shirt).

We finally rolled into the town of ... close to 12am. Once again it was extremely colder up north, however, this time it wasn't snowing. We immediately went to check in, and then to our room - to find some really sweet digs. The room was two rooms (living and bedroom) and quite big. We were quite suprised. For the price ($119 US) and the location to the Canyon (1 mile) we couldn't believe the room we got. Definately the best room I'd stayed in (at that point anyway [wink] ).

We were both pretty exhausted, and before long were as;eep, with the intention of checking out the Grand Canyon tomorrow.

Aim That Sonofabitch For The Border

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosSaturday, April 16, 2005 - 09:03:37 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
I'm going catch that train and tell the porter, aim that sonofabitch for the border. I make my home where I lay my bottle and I lay my hat.

This morning we got up early, to head down south for our Tucson trip. The scenary between Phoenix and Tuscon was beautiful. I'd enjoyed driving around the flat parts near Apache Junction, however, it was kind of bare. The ride down to Tucson was even more enjoyable in terms of scenary. The day already seemed like it was going to redeem the whole downtown Phoenix disaster of last night.

We hit Tucson at around 10:30 - we made great time. It was virtually immediately obvious that Tucson was going to be much better than Phoenix. A really nice city, I could totally imagine living there. We drove out towards the Segarpo National Park and Old Tucson. Got some amazing photos. The trip to Tonto National Park last week was amazing, but it seemed like there was more variety of vegitation and cactii down south. Vegitation was lush, however the landscape was more brown than around the Tonto National Park area.

Really wanting food and drink, we headed back into Tucson, just short of hitting the Saguaro National Park, deciding we'd go through it on the way home. We quickly hit Fuddruckers, and like the last time we ate there, walked out feeling like we'd eaten too much. Once back in the car, we set out for Hotel Congress. This served to be quite a task to get there, what with the one way streets and closed roads. We circled places upteenth times. However, with Tucson being so nice, it wasn't an issue at all, unlike the frustrating aimless wander around Phoenix last night.

Eventually we navigated our way to Hotel Congress, went in and brought our rockin' Club Congress t-shirts.

After loosing some time with the whole debarkle of finding Hotel Congress, we set out further south to the St. Xaiver Misson, 10 miles south of Tucson. Interestingly, metric is used south of Tucson. So, it was knowing how far everything was, as all the signs are in kilometers there. The misson was eaxily visible from the road, which was impressive, because of it's size. We were soon driving up to it, in awe of the sight, There is little point rambling about it, there are plenty of pictures that can much better describe it. We spent at least an hour admiring it, before it was back in the car, heading for Mexico.

We hit the Mexican border around 5PM, at the town of Naplous. A bit hairy actually finding the border, and ensuring we didn't end up in some lane destined for Mexico, but before long came to the influx of cars crossing over to Mexico, and likewise into the US. We parked and walked around the actual border, getting as close to Mexico as was confortable. Literally a couple of feet. Quite an experience. Though I kicked myself that I hadn't taken my passport, because it would have been cool to have stepped into Mexico, if possible. (Interestingly US citizens don't need their passport to do it). Not the only reason why it would have been good to take my passport. [wink] The city, especially immediately outside the border felt an awful like Mexico, yet the difference between both sides of the border line fence was painfully obvious. After walking around, taking photos and looking at all we wented to, we walked back to the car, to drive north back to Tempe.

So give your ID card to the border guard. Say your alias is Jean Luc Piccard.

On the way south, we'd noticed on the other side of the road was a mobile check point. We didn't really think that much of it on the way down. (Pre-emptive disclaimer: parentals, chill - nothing bad happened! [smile] ) Returning, we had to stop at it, and not being a citizen, and not having my passport with me (not leaving the state, let alone the country, we didn't even think of it), we got asked to pull into the station. Hence, I had to give my ID card to the border guard - in the form of my licence. I won't lie, it was nerve racking at first. Though as we sat their and waited for about 15 minutes, while the border patrol literally took my ID card, and checked me out, it became less nerve racking. While we didn't know what was going to happen, we both knew the worst that would happen would be that they'd have me stay there while Katie drove back to Tempe, got my passport and returned - while would have just been a pain in the ass more than anything. Even while we were slightly nervous of the outcome (after all, it was the border patrol, I was, in the back of my head, able to dig the whole Banditos thing, and knew that as soon as we were on a way again, it was going to be a great story about the the trip to the Mexico border. After about 15 minutes, the border guard returned with my license, handing it to Katie, confirmed she knew me - and then was silent. No real indication if we could leave or not, with the exception of returning my license. It was indeed an indication, and we were back on our way back to Tempe, already talking about how it was going to be a cool store. Every trip to the border needs a cool story. Obviously if we ever go back south, I'll take my passport. [wink] As too interstate, but I was already planning to do that. (Reassuring the parentals - please send me an email and tell me you haven't had a heart attack. [smile] )

A ton of awesome photos to come (the 256MB memory card we brought the other day is the shiznitz!), but right now it's off to Pranksters Too to catch our favorite duo - Scotty & Troy.

Tucson Trip Photos

Cahill Senior Center

(Add / View Comments) (0)Thursday, April 14, 2005 - 03:08:09 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
Yesterday I saw a snake in it's nature habitate. Today I saw Katie in hers. [smile] I went with her to work, at the Cahill Senior Center. Was definately fun seeing where she works. Met some of her collegues, and had a long talk with one of the seniors, Ray. He'd been to Australia, so it was cool chatting to him both about Australia, and Arizona. Crocodile Dundee came up, go figure! It was funny trying to the conversions of money, and litres / gallons, and trying to work out how more gas (I've been embracing the culture - I've converted to gas and bathrooms - why the hell not [smile] ) is back home. He said that when he was in Australia he resolved to not worry about the conversions, he was on holidays. Here here! I've done the same. I have no idea how much is on my credit card, and don't really care either. I'll worry about that when I get home.

Once Katie got off work, we went and brought a larger memory card for her camera, as I'd been freaking out about being away for a week (Grand Canyon / California / Nevada) and running out of memory in a day. Then we headed home. I took a nap, and then as there was nothing musically going on, we watched TV and crashed. A lot of fun watching Magnum PI again! I'd forgotten so much about that show.

I Just Want To Get Drunk All The Time

Musicans Showcase @ Yucca Tap Room

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosWednesday, April 13, 2005 - 11:54:44 pm
(Posted Under: Music Music, Travel, Arizona Trip, Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
Tongiht was the musicians showcase, at Yucca Tap Room. Proceeding this we watched Fear And Lothing In Las Vegas, as Katie is such a Hunter S. Thomson fan. I felt stoned just watching it.

When 9PM rolled around, I was ready to go, insisting that it started at 9. So we got ready and drove out to Yucca. I was extremely pumped last night. Maybe it was the beers earlier. Maybe it was because I wasn't wigged out on ether. Either way, I was in fine form.

Rocking up to Yucca we saw Mark Zubia taking his gear in. As we walked in, I got a wave from Scotty, who was on stage sitting up. We took up our seats and the bar, ordered drinks from Venus, and waited. So, Katie was right, they didn't start until 10. It was billed for 9 though. It was cool being their early in anycase, and I certainly didn't want to miss any of it.

Scotty came over and said hi and mentioned that he and Troy are playing Pranksters again this Saturday. Rock on!. He said that it was great to see us, and that a night at Yucca wouldn't be the same if we weren't there. Awwww. [wink] By 10 everyone hit the stage - Jim Beach, Emmet, Mark Zubia and Scott Johnson. Everyone with acoustic guitars except Scotty with his - warning dirty word - Gibson. (He has a Fender endorsement and thus has tape over the logos on his Gibsons). We went sure what to expect - the gig was round robin choosing songs and everyone joining in - going right to left, Jim to Scotty. Everyone virtually did covers except for Scotty, who did his own tunes.

Jim mainly chose slower country songs. It was cool seeing him play, as I'd only briefly seen the end of his set before Larson the second day I was here. I certainly enjoyed his playing, and did a lot of acoustic solos and fills throughout the night.

It was certainly really cool getting to see Mark Zubia (The Pistoleros), especially since I won't get to see the Pistoleros while I'm here. At least I got to see one of the Zubia brothers. I'd obviously never heard Mark sing before. He has a more smooth country voice than Lawrence's raspy vocals, but I could definately here in his voice that he is Lawrence's brother.

Towards the end of the night, Mark chose Sara Says (The Pistoleros / Los Guys), which was a highlight for me. I didn't even recognise the song until a little before the first chorus! I was hoping he'd choose at least one Pistoleros song.

As previously mentioned, Scott chose his songs, except for one cover. Get Drunk, Memphis Time, Does Anybody Know, Stop. I noticed that Stop sounds a lot better with Troy. It was great to hear Scott's songs again, I had no idea if he was going to pull them out or not, and was hoping he would. The cover he chose was by the Greatful Dead.

After the first set, we headed out the back of Yucca for a smoke. It was hilarious, standing out there, and hearing a voice from inside Yucca, and knowing immediately that Steve Larson had turned up. His voice is incredibly distinctive. He indeed was, and walked through the Yucca backdoor a few minutes later

Scott Johnson came out and said hi. Coincidently, I was wearing my Gin Blossoms t-shirt, and he said "it's good to see you sporting the colors", which was cool. I mentioned that it will such leaving because I won't get to hear his songs anymore, and asked if he'd do a record. He mentioned needing to get signed, and Naffah (PH) needing to learn the songs. He said 'Naffah' with his Scotty accent, really breathily, which I totally didn't catch, and could only assume he was talking about Troy - which was weird, as I was thinking "well Troy seems to know the songs really well!". Midway through the conversation I caught on to the fact he was talking about PH.

We then talked about the California / Blossoms trip. He seems quite excited about the Belly Up Tavern show - this is the second time we've spoke to him and he's made specific reference to looking forward to it. He mentioned the whole weird deal with the other Californian show - a whole dinner resturant thing. He's mentioned both times we've spoken that you don't need to buy the dinner tickets, but unfortunately we already have.

A really fun night!

Musician Showcase Photos

Botanical Gardens

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosWednesday, April 13, 2005 - 06:09:33 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
This afternoon after Katie got off work, we drove out to the botanical gardens - right outside of Tempe.

Incidently, on Tuesday I'd gotten an email about golf courses in Tempe. Tuesday afternoon we drove past the one in the photos. We had to stop today when we went past it and take a photo. So fitting...

In anycase, the Botanical Gardens were amazing. They didn't even seem like much driving up to them - you can hardly tell they're there. It's a very unique botanical gardens out here. The term is so often associated with lush green lawns, neat flower beds, and tall trees. The Arizona botanical gardens however, have the desert setting and is filled with amazing cacti and succulents. Took lots of photos. In terms of wildlife, got to see woodpeckers, squirrels, lizards, huge ass tadpoles and even a snake basking in the afternoon sun, on the ruins of an old house (very small wall). No glass enclosure folks, on the trail in it's natural habitat. Unfortunately we didn't get a great photo of it, as it was sliding towards the shade of a near by tree, and I was trying to frantically delete a photo off the camera, as it was full again. Very cool to see in anycase.

We also learned something quite interesting - there is a Mt. Ord in Arizona. How freakin' cool is that? We're going to try to drive out there.

We stayed out there until about 5:30 (it closes at dusk), before driving back home. The timing was nice, because my feet were starting to get really sore, wearing my new Vans. It was awfully nice to get home and slip into the pair that are worn in.

Again, a picture says a thousand words, so here are the photos.

Damn Eucalyptus!

(Add / View Comments) (0)Wednesday, April 13, 2005 - 01:18:51 pm
(Posted Under: No Category)
Sitting out on Katie's porch having a smoke is really nice. However, those damn Eucalyptus Trees (or Gum Trees back home)! Initially it was interesting seeing them in Arizona, but now - it reminds me of home, and who needs that? I can see them any day of the week. It's weird! Bring on the cactii and Palo Verdi trees!

Interesting non the less, given I thought they were unique to Australia.

Canal Park / Downtown Phoenix / South Mountain

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosTuesday, April 12, 2005 - 10:42:55 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
After Katie got home from work today, we had a chill out for a few hours, and then decided to just do some driving around. Drove down Mill Avenue, across the Tempe bridge and Papago Park stopping at Canal Park for a stroll and then out to downtown Phoenix, and onto South Mountain.

Katie had been raving about South Mountain, but it seemed fairly boring in comparison to Tonto National Park last week. However, as Mr. Burns climbed up South Mountain, the big deal started to become apparent, the view of Phoenix from the top of South Mountain was amazing. Especially as the sun set behind the hills, the size of the Phoenix area (Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale and Mesa) became apparent. We sat at a lookout towards the top of the mountain while dusk turned to night. That is, until a huge, apparently monsterish looking spider was crawling down my leg. Thankfully I didn't see it, but I know from the look on Katie's face, and her later description of it, that it would have been tramatic if I had. The experience, causing both our skin to crawl, prompted us to retire back to Mr. Burns and decend back down the mountain. However, the view was beautiful, and Phoenix seemed to grow in size as the valley area started to light up. On the was back down, there were two buildings we wanted to stop and look inside (see photos) which we'd seen on the way up, but after that experience with the spider from hell, and it being dark by this stage, I was happy to wait for sunlight to check them out.

Back in Tempe, we drove around a bit more, down Ash Avenue and past the Sail Inn, which was reallly cool to see, though it took a but off assistance to recall the relivence of it.

Took a whole bunch of photos - starting with Mayberry Studios in Tempe. Taking that photo, every time a car rolled by, I was concerned that a Gin Blossom was going to pull in. I took those photos quite quickly, to get the hell out of there. [wink] Then some randomly around the Tempe area, then Canal Park, Downtown Phoenix and then shots of South Mountain and of Phoenix from the top of South Mountain.

Some really nice sunset shots in there. A lot I've lightened, others I've left as is (for example the downtown Phoenix shot) for artistic value. That explains why in some you can't really see the foreground in some.

I'm starting to get more familar with Katie's camera, but I'm still far from taking really great shots. However, I'm snapping away for my own pleasure. Your milage may vary in enjoyment of the photos - I'm just putting them up as I take them. Down the track when I'm painfully missing Arizona, I'll worry about making them look good, and weeding out the bad ones. (Incidently, digital camera's fucking rock. Which is partially why I'm snapping away with wreckless abandon! Take as much as I can while I'm here, and worry about quality later on). There are a few ones of cactii and flowers from Canal Park which you may enjoy dad. And we took the ones of the ducks particularly for you mum.

The whole internal memory / memory card thing messes with the order of the images. Another thing I'll deal with at a later stage. Anyone who cares about order, the 100 filename ones actually proceed the 000 ones.

The last few are a poor attempt of catching a frieght train at a level crossing. It didn't really work well, but oh well!


Incidently the photos from Townsville arrived today. We picked them up in the mail when we arrived home, and it was quite fun showing them to Katie - finally.

With Katie working today, and not much going on musically tonight (but what's the bet something cool went on somewhere in Tempe!), it was a very way to spend the afternoon / night, driving around and scoping the sights.

Open Mic @ Yucca

(Add / View Comments) (0)Monday, April 11, 2005 - 11:52:27 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip, Music Music, Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
Tonight we headed down to Yucca at 10pm to see open mic night, hosted by Scotty Johnson. Nice, cruisey night, and I enjoyed a most of the people playing. The guy playing when we left just before 12 was extremely good. We left early as Katie was tired, and also had to work in the morning.

I could so get used to driving down to Yucca, sitting at the bar, drinking a few beers, and scoping what's going on. It's a cool little bar.


Violins and Guitars

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosMonday, April 11, 2005 - 06:02:04 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
Voilin's and guitars and a world full of woman and bars. The sound of the city at night, and the sound of my heart. Voilin's and Guitars sounds so good in Tempe, and can really sum up the town, after dusk.

However, that's not the primary reason for the post title. After making an early start (earliest for me since I've been here anyway), we set out on our shopping day. Which has been on the cards for days, but hadn't yet happened - I'm sure Katie will attribute that to my sleeping late.

First over to Arizona Mills, via 5 and Diner for some lunch. I'd finally tried to get my head around the cost of things, in relation to Australian dollars, to have a benchmark for how much I was spending. As with the last time I was in the states, it was a train wreck. After lunch, we headed over to the mall, and hit the Van's shop, to buy some shoes. FYI, I'm wearing the Van's I brought last time I was in the States, in 1999. Some really good deals there, especially based on doing the conversion the wrong way. [wink] (Though, despite that, I got some good deals. I'll be interested to see how much the pairs of Van's I got are back home. I'm pretty confident that I got them really cheap here in comparison).

Then stopped by the Virgin Megastore, and picked up Sugar's Copper Blue (hi Kim if you're reading!), a must for the up coming Nevada road trip. ("Standing on the edge of the hoover dam").

Then the search for an Arizonian tray. Hi mum. I know you have your heart set on trays from every state, but it's not looking good. We'll see what we can do though. (We looked up in Flagstaff also - nada).

Then over to the Guitar Center, to buy - well, what else? Jamie, dooooode, I'm so pissed that it'd cost a fortune to ship a guitar home. Seeing the prices, I'd go absolutely nuts if I lived here. Admitadly we still had the currency conversion around the wrong way at this point, but still, awesome prices! Great range of electric guitars, however, there was nothing we wanted in the acoustic electric range. Well, except for the Ovations, which were slightly out of my price range.

After some deliberation, we decided to return home, to find the location of other music stores, and check the actual deal with the conversion rate, as it was hurting our, apparently small, brains.

As it happened, we drove from Arizona Mills through the town of Guadalupe, a hispanic neighborhood. (FYI, you drive into different cities in the Phoenix area) without even noticing you've gone from one place to the next. At first all I noticed were extremely cool, Mexican style bus stops. Then noticed a white mission style church, which I quickly recognised as the background for one of the Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers promo photo shoots. The church caught my eye because of how beautiful it was, and then Peacemakers connection was an after thought. We'd been talking about it on the way to Flagstaff, in reference to not being allowed to take photos of it, and how Roger swung the photo, so I quickly asked Katie if it was the church Denise had been talking about. We swung down the adjacent street, for a better look of it. There was indeed a sign saying photos were prohibited. A shame, because it's a beautiful looking place.

Driving through that section of Guadalupe was amazing, looking just like a little piece of Mexico. Houses with chilli's hanging drying on the porch, ... standing against the dusty building walls. Definately an experience.

Also amazing that all of a sudden you're back in suburbian Tempe, with a blink of an eye.

Soon we were again leaving Katie's apartment, with both directions, and currency conversion in hand (I need to guage prices against Australian dollars to put anything into perspective), we headed back out, this time to The Music Store on the border of Tempe and Mesa. Interestingly just a few shops up from Hollywood Alley (another club).

This looked better, they had a much better selection of acoustic guitars and only a few electrics. Katie knew exactly what she wanted - a blue guitar. (I saw that with so much love, baby. [wink] ). For a while, a blue 'Johnson' seemed like a go-er. Katie really liked it, and hey, it was a Johnson. (Scott Johnson, remove your minds from the gutter people.) Perfect color, had a very nice price tag, and didn't sound too bad, though wasn't a thin body acoustic. The fret board did feel quite rough on it also.

I'd noticed an Ovation style Schecter on the way in. While I was convinced Katie was sold on the blue Johnson, I went to the counter to ask how much the Schecter was. After much work for the clerk to find the price, I decided I wanted a play of it. I knew I prefered it out right. Once I played it, I think Katie was also sold on it pretty much immediately. After some comparison and Katie having a play, we both knew which we were going to buy. The one I played was actually more squarish, with a red sunburst finish. Katie decided she wanted to black one - same guitar, but slightly different body shape, and all black. The rest was rock 'n roll history - or something.

It was great watching Katie walk out the store, as they like to say here, giddy as a school girl.

I must say, on playing it while Katie was at work this afternoon, it kicks all over my acoustic electric, and I totally want one.

Photos from today, and the coverted axe are here.

It's so great that it's now 9PM, Katie has been home for over an hour, and has not put the thing down. [smile]:-)

It Pays To Return

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosSunday, April 10, 2005 - 12:10:36 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip, Music Music, Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
This morning, on the way out of Flagstaff, I requested we swing past the Orpheus Theatre. Last night I'd intended to get a photo of the sign announcing the Peacemakers show, and promptly forgot to after the giddy haze walking out. (Denise and Katie bolting to the car because it was snowing. These gals don't handle the cold well. [smile] ). Neither really wanted to, I could tell, and generally I go with the flow, but how often do I see the Peacemakers. I needed a photo!

We found the venue so much easier this time. They parked, and I jumped out to take the photos. I'd taken photos of the sign out the front of the theatre, and noticed a flier for the show in the window. At the same time, a woman had walked out of the venue, and we'd said hi to each other in passing. I proceeded to take a photo of the flier, when she asked me if I'd been to the show. I said I had, and when asked if I'd come up from Phoenix from the show, I replied that I had, but I was actually from Australia. As it turned out, she was the owner of the venue. We ended up in a falrly length chat about the show, the Peacemakers and my trip in general (where else I was going etc.). Midway through the conversion, a guy, who I'd assume was her husband came out and chatted also.

Talking about the show, where I was from, and how it was my first show finally after being a fan for so long, he interupted with "I think we've still got a poster from the show inside. Would you like it?". The answer obvious! [smile] This was totally unexpected. When he came out, with a HUGE poster in hand, we chatted more about what I did back home, how long I was staying for, the venue, and the turn out of the show last night - for anyone who is interested, apparently 400 tickets, and 50 and the door. He said how normally the Peacemakers bring in more people, and that the bad weather probably stopped a lot of people driving up from Phoenix.

We talked from a good 15 or 20 minutes, and Katie and Denise were quite curious as to why I had been gone so long, and was walking back with this huge tubular thing.

This made me even more glad that I'd insisted driving back to take the photo. The owners very extremely friendly, and it was great having that long chat that I did with them.

Without further ado, the photos from the Flagstaff trip.


I took more on the trip back, though Mr. Burn's windshield was pretty skanky today, which funks up the photos. I just keep them for my private collection at the moment. Unless I can find some state of the art photo software that can remove squashed bugs, butterflies and other wildlife from photos! [smile]

Trip To Flagstaff / Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosSunday, April 10, 2005 - 11:07:22 am
(Posted Under: Music Music)
After sleeping late (well myself anyway, not so much Katie - which she's certainly not kept quiet about [wink] ) we headed of to Phoenix to pick up Denise, for the trip up to Flagstaff, to see Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers.

The trip up was interesting, as when we hit central Arizona, the scenary changed, almost immediately. From the deserty landscape and cactii, to pine tries, and log cabins, which was very remenicent of what I would expect Colorado would look like. The big shock, was when we rose in elevation, and hit the snow. SNOW? In Arizona? In Spring? Huh? Although Denise had said earlier in the day that it was 20 degrees (that's farenhight folks) in Flagstaff, seeing the landscape covered in snow was still such a suprise. The drop in temperature was noticable, even in the car. On the way up we saw a spectacular car wreck. A yellow sports car, on it's roof - people on stretchers, and a person still in the upside down car. Daunting.

However, we safely pulled into Flagstaff, around 6PM and found the hotel fairly easily. After checking in, Denise did her thing getting ready, Katie went to find us some food, and I lit up a smoke and tuned into VH1's Top 100 Metal Moments. HEY, I'm on holiday, okay! [wink] Quite entertaining, and cool to see so many random shots of Poison on TV. No doubt Katie was sick of my rock fingers when there was a shot of Poison after about the second time. Hey, we're not spoilt with Poison footage back home, what can I say.

Katie brought back a delicious meal from Jack In The Box. [wink] (Note the sarcasm!) Given how hungry we both were, it was fine though. While Katie was gone, the snow started to really come down, which was cool to see. While I've seen snow before, this was my first experience of 'it snowing'.

Around 7PM Denise was ready, and we made our way down to Mr. Burns to find the Orpheum Theatre. That proved to be quite an adventure in itself, though we finally got there.

We'd shown up quite early to get a good position, because of the reputation that goes with Peacemakers fans - snotty, drunk and obnoxious, and always being childish about front row. We took up position, second row, right side, right in front of Larson. Glad we did, obviously, but it was a very boring wait for the Peacemakers to take the stage. The opening band came on, and, well...like i said, a very long wait for the Peacemakers to take the stage. A completely weird opening choice for the Peacemakers, in my oppinion.

However, finally Roger, PH, Steve and Nick walked out. Suddenly my aching feet didn't seem that sore any more.

A critique of the show to come later when I have more time. Surfice to say, my tongue was completely sore today - I have no idea what I did to it, but I'm sure it was from rockin' out last night.

Once the show was over and the guys walked off stage, Steve came to the front of the stage, to do the rock 'n roll thing and shake hands with his adoring fans. On shaking hands with him, he reckonised me (I met him last night) and chatting breifly with me. I don't overly recall what about, other than asking what I thought of the show. I was just impressed to be recognised. Denise asked him for the setlist - he leaned back, looked around, in true Steve fashion, found the setlist, and handed it to me, saying "here you go Mark, take this back to Australia".

Steve is genuinely the nicest guy. For those of you who don't know who Steve is, he's truely the most suely & unimpressable looking old school rock 'n roller. Seeing Steve on stage, or even just hanging out at Yucca, he is physically intimidating, and looks like he'd as quickly tell you to fuck off and kick your ass if you got in his face. But under that, he's the most humble, gracious and friendly guy. It's so cool seeing bad ass Larson up on stage, and then him with a huge grin on his face, asking people in the audience where is good to shoot darts in Flagstaff. Definately one of my trip highlights is not only seeing Steve play, but getting to meet him.

After this, we headed out of the venue, and Katie and I stopped in front of the merch booth, waiting for Denise. Being there, I decided I should get a new RC&PM t-shirt, especially since we noticed when I arrived that there was a hole developing in my Sonoran Hope & Madness shirt. Katie pointed out that Kathleen & Doug Krammer were behind the merch table, so I introduced myself to Kathleen (RC&PM website / everything extrodonare) and proceeded the hard task of picking out a shirt. Hence, I walked out of the venue with a new Peacemakers shirt, and Steve's setlist.

All in all, an amazing night.

Scotty & Troy @ Last Exit

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosFriday, April 8, 2005 - 11:45:57 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip, Music Music, Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
Tonight Katie & I headed out to Last Exit to catch Scott & Troy, Velvet Elvis and Charmer's Green.

This time we showed up before they were up on stage. We spotted Aaron almost immediately, it was nice getting to chat with him more tonight. It was cool getting a nod from Scotty as he headed to the bar before the show.

The show was really different tonight. It was easier to listen to the songs, haven been in Tempe for almost a week now, and having seen Scott before. It was less like standing 5 feet from Scott Johnson, and more like being a local, seeing the local acts. In addition to that, having seen Scotty last week, the songs were familar this time around, which makes it even more enjoyable.

At some point Scott broke the bad news that they were going to be at Pranksters Too again tomorrow night. Bad news, because we're driving up to Flagstaff tomorrow to see the Peacemakers.

As I said, it was even better being familar with the songs this time around. Listening to them, and particularly Scotty singing was quite impressive, and I really enjoy it. I totally need a Scott & Troy live recording, because it's going to suck not being able to hear these songs after I leave.

After the set, Scotty walked off stage, and immediate came over and said it was great to see us, and thanked us for coming out. Talked briefly until he had to go somewhere.

Katie pointed out Lance Wilson, who I totally wanted to introduce myself to, but couldn't bring myself to it. Later while the second band were setting up, we wandered out to the porch of Last Exit to have a smoke. Scotty caught us right out the door, and we got to have a good chat to him. He mentioned the show tomorrow, which prompted telling him that we were going to Flagstaff to see Roger. We talked briefly about the Tempe Music Festival performance, and he noted that of late Roger & PH seem to be playing out more than the Peacemakers.
I also talked to him about going out to CA to see him with the Blossoms. Impressively, when we mentioned Solana Beach, he said "ya know, that bootleg is from there", which was cool that he was all up on his own band. He then launched into a comment of a recent show already being recorded and the new songs posted on the internet.

All the while, beside me I notice Phil Rhodes and Lance Wilson chatting to people. All of a sudden Scott called Phil over and introduced me. As he introduced me as "Mark, whose come out from Australia", Lance all of a sudden turns around and exclaims "not Mark Ord!?!" and was incredibly excited to meet me, exlaiming to Phil and Scott "I've been emailing this guy for years!". Throughout the night, I'd wanted to introduced myself to Lance, and he'd mentioned wanting to meet me before I arrived, but had no opportunity to. The introduction by Scotty was perfect. After chatting to Lance, Phil asked what part of Australia I was from, and mentioned being stationed in Perth 'back in his navy days'.

While we were outside, Troy said hi a few times - as previously mentioned, a really great guy.

By this stage, the second band was on, and was way too little Arizonian for us, so we hung outside on the porch. Before long, Steve Larson had propped himself up against the wall of Last Exit, next to Katie. The whole Tempe thing hit home again. Standing on the porch of Last Exit, Steve Larson on one side, Phil Rhodes on the other, and Scott Johnson - well around somewhere by this stage. A very sureal feeling.

Several times I attempted to bring myself to introduce myself to Steve. However, it just wasn't going to happen. Steve is one scary dude. His presence is amazing, a bad ass, suerly looking old school rock 'n roller. At one stage he was looking for a light, and I saw this as my in - found mine, and lit it up for him, right before he found his, and responded with a snarly voice "I'm right" with no facial emotion, pure Steve Larson. Kinda cool, with Steve as intimidating as he his, getting denied by him on a light was A-Ok. That's just Steve. Anyone else, you'd wonder why, and get paranoid. With Steve, it was all good.

After a while Denise wandered out, and chatted to us, then Steve. As Steve was facing us now, Katie made the introduction. Steve, who'd been propped up against the wall, smoking and swiggin' on beers, with his suerlyness was very easy to talk to, and it was great as his unemotional expression changes while I was talking to him. I'd said how I was from Australia, a big fan of Dead Hot (who he was the original guitarist of), and mentioned seeing him play at Sugar Daddies and Yucca with Marc Norman and how great it was. Steve's an incredibly humble guy, saying "Thanks man, I appreciate it. That's just something I do on the side". He is a real humble guy, and quite easy to talk to. As he walks past you, he totally looks like he'd kick your ass if you looked at him the wrong way, but in actuality he's a really easy guy to talk to. (Still, the introduction was a life saver).

Once the second band finished, we wandered back inside, and took up position to watch Velvet Elvis (Phil Rhode's band). Or so we thought. It turned out Charmer's Green were setting up. While standing there, Josh Kennedy (guitarist for Charmer's Green) looking like he'd just stepped out of Led Zepplin or The Darkness - or the offspring of Led Zepplin and The Darkness if they were to have a baby - came up and hugged both Katie and myself and said thanks for coming out. Katie said that Josh is really like that. I don't know Josh from a bar of soap (only know his name from the time he spent as the Gin Blossom's guitar tech), so at first wasn't even sure if he was talking to me. Charmer's put on a great rock show. As Katie predicted, not typically my style of music, but I was impressed by how good the band was, and Josh's stage antics. Josh is great on guitar and totally plays up the pompus cock rock thing - I respect that. [smile]

After the set, we headed out for another smoke, and had a huge talk with Kyle, Marc's old room mate. Kyle's a really nice guy (pretty damn common around here), and was quite funny - and quite frankly very sweet regarding me and Katie. Sickly sweet comments will probably turn everyone's stomach, so I shall refrain from them. Tempe is really great for meeting people. I'd only meet Kyle briefly at Yucca on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and Friday at Last Exit we're talking like old friends. Really cool guy.

Soon Charmer's took the stage for another set. Had Elvis left the building? Has Elvis even entered the building?!? As it turned out, Tony from Velvet Elvis hadn't shown, so they didn't go on. Disappointing not seeing Phil's band! Suprising too, because Phil being at Last Exit was a sure sign that they were going to play, as Phil isn't known for just hanging out around town. But I may still catch them before I go - in Tempe, you just never know what's going to happen!

Another great night, especially cool meeting Phil, Lance and Steve.

Life Is Grand, and Beauty Is Everywhere

Tonto National Park

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosThursday, April 7, 2005 - 05:37:48 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip)
Today we took our first desert trip. Out to Apache Junction, Superstition Mountain, and through Tonto National Forest. The line in Better Beautiful Than Perfect, sums it up - Life is grand, and beauty is everywhere. (Sonoran Hope & Madness sounded great for the drive).

With the recent rains, and it being spring, the desert is quite green at the moment. Because a picture says 1000 words, a quick summary: Superstition Mountain, Kovac's Corner (get out your Refreshments CD's folks), Gold Field Ghost Town, Tonto National Park, Canyon Lake, Tortia, The Rosevolt Dam, National Monument Arizona (old ruins).

There are a ton of photos (so just how many words, I'm not sure [wink] ), and is not for the faint hearted if you don't enjoy looking at the Arizona landscape!
Otherwise, viva la desert photos.

A lot of the photos came out quite good, however none really do it justice. I've been to many scenic places in my life, but it was yesterday was one of the few times I've been in awe of nature, exclaiming "this is beautiful" on so many occassion.

It's also amazing how you can stop, get out of the car, and it seems like there is not another soul on the earth. Except for the wind brushing past your face, the desert is virtually silent. It's also amazing, the feeling of being totally isolated, especially when you know that in actuality, Phoenix is only a couple of miles away.

It was a long day, and we decided to skip Marc Norman's happy hour show when we got back to Tempe. We spent the whole day driving, and did a decently exhausting walk up to the National Monument Arizona, so it wasn't suprising that, to steal from Roger again, I slept like a baby last night.

Brent & Kyle

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosWednesday, April 6, 2005 - 10:24:47 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip, Music Music, Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
Brent and Kyle @ Yucca Tap Room

Post to come, but here's a photo.


Yucca - Where The Drinks Are Strong And Cheap

Marc Norman @ Yucca Tap

(Add / View Comments) (0)Wednesday, April 6, 2005 - 09:53:24 am
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip, Music Music, Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
Last night was my introduction to Yucca Tap Room - "where the drinks are strong and cheap". A quote from Scotty Johnson, which certainly rings true. That was really a burbon and coke! Not like you'd get in a bar back home. Katie and I headed out to see Mark Norman, on intense suggestion from Denise on Sunday night seeing Larson. Yucca was certainly 'a ghost town on a Tuesday night'. We got their before Mark had shown up, and there was hardly anyone there. We took up a booth, and had a drink, which as above, was nice and strong.

Before long, Mark showed up, and we took up center stage - we really had to fight for those seats! [wink] One of the first few songs that Mark did, he said "I ripped off that Gin Blossoms song, Pieces Of The Night", and started singing Pieces, then his song to illistrate. That was obviously really cool.

It was quite a while into the show, that Katie leaned into me, and said 'Think The Eventuals'. Duh!. When Denise had gone on about seeing Marc Norman, I decided I wanted to go, to see the most I can in the way of Tempe musicians. I didn't even think, hello, Marc Norman sang for The Eventuals (Doug Hopkins first band after being booted from the Gin Blossoms). So that made seeing Mark even cooler.

Mark's voice was great. His guitar playing, well, but he has a great voice. The first set was really good, although I didn't know any of the songs. Once the set was over, it was straight out to the back of Yucca for a smoke. That's the one crap thing about Tempe, the smoking ban. On the way out, Denise ran into people she knew, one guy who particularly to me looked like Brent Babb (Dead Hot Workshop). We continued out the back, and Denise came out after a few, and gave the good news - Larson was there, and was going to join Mark on stage. Rock on, more Larson! When we headed insides, I did a scan of Yucca, to find Steve. Automatically I was looking out for the black cowboy hat - which is exactly how I noticed Steve, sitting up at the bar. Although it was actually a black cap, but was totally how I picked out Steve. It was quite entertaining Mark ragging Steve from the stage about being incognito, wearing a baseball cap rather than the cowboy hat. For anyone reading who doesn't know Steve, he's always wearing a black cowboy hat.

After Mark's first set, Steve came up to play the second set. Steve is just amazing, the sound of Yucca was so much fuller once Steve started belting out his songs. He did the usual country covers he does when he plays acoustic, as well as Colder and Joe's Goin' Fishin' off of his album Road Trip Songs. It was especially cool seeing Joe's Goin' Fishin'. It also seemed like Steve was going to break into Back In Black, playing the intro riff, however he only used it as an intro to another song.

During Steve's set, Katie told Denise about what I'd said Brannon (the guy who looked like Brent Babb - he owns Last Exit, another club in town), and Denise was so impressed, because she'd thought the same thing. She said to me that he looks even more Brent without his hat on, and went over to ask him to take his hat off for a demonstration. Good times.

After Steve, Mark did the last set. In there was "Don't Care" from Ten Tons which I picked up at Zia the other day. He also did his thing where he makes up a song from a word someone gives him. Last night it was 'Coleslaw'. Hilarious and a lot of fun.

All in all it was a fun night, and especially cool with the appearance of Steve for the second set. That happens at Yucca, you can never tell who's going to show up and just play.

The Destruction Of Mill Aveneue

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosTuesday, April 5, 2005 - 06:10:36 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip, Music Music, Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
This afternoon, after finally buying an ashtray for the apartment, Katie and I headed down to Mill Avenue, to check it out. Over the weekend, the Tempe Arts Festival was on, and Mill was closed, so we'd decided to leave the Mill Trek until today. Driving down to the cool part of Mill, obviously I was particularly looking out for the place on Mill - Long Wongs.

All of the articles over the last few years regarding the destruction of the old Mill Avenue, to make way for commericial development have been so true. Long Wong's, closed down exactly a year ago this month, is certainly the last dinosaur of the old Tempe scene left on Mill. Driving down the rest of the street was actually quite boring, nothing but flashy store fronts. The only exception was Monti's at the end of Mill before the Tempe Bridge, a Mexican style looking building housing a steak house - which we later ate at. There was really nothing else that cool on Mill Avenue. We circled around ASU (Arizona State University), back down to 7th Street, to pull into the parking lot of Wongs. With the cool 'Long Wong' signs pulled down, the vacant building looks sad, compared to it's former glory. Even with it closed, it really would have been much more fullfilling if the signs were still up. Admitadly, as Katie pointed out, had they been left up, they probably would have been stolen, given Wong's cult following. We looked at the patio, where now homeless sleep, and walked around the front, to the now boarded up doors. The board on one announcing the re-opening of Wong's next month, and the big 'redevelopment' notice above the doors. And the other announcing "Doug Hopkins - Live 05-05-2005". (I'd thought initially this said 'Doug Hopkins Lives On', which I thought was cool, but what it actually says is kinda stupid). Physically standing outside of Wongs, now I'll believe Wongs is reopening when I see it. I also felt what people have been saying about it not being the same, if it is reopened. If the building is renovated, which I'm sure it will be, it just won't be the same.

We then wandered around the side facing 7th Street, to peek in the window. This was cool, seeing the tiny stage that all those bands would have played millions of times in the late 80's through 'til last year. It was suprising just how small the Wongs stage really is. Then looking directly up, the graffiti-ed roof, still with the holes where Doug Hopkins would ram his guitar into the roof on stage with the Gin Blossoms. The bar area was also visible through the window.

While these days, Wong's literally looks sad, it was such an experience to see and at least see the building, and the inside untouched. While it's closed down, and vacant, I definately feel quite lucky to have been able to see the beast, which is Long Wong's, while it's still standing. While it may be re-opened, and may not be torn down and rebuilt for re-opening, the inside - the graffiti-ed roof, walls and doors, the hole filled roof above the stage, would no doubt be renovated. So I definately feel quite luckily to have at least had the opportunity to see the old, real Wongs, even if just from the outside.

It was also interesting to see where Wongs is in relation to ASU, and could see how it would have totally been the place to be in the late 80's and early 90's. From ASU, it's only a stroll down 7th Street, down to Wongs.

After the Wongs experience, we drove back around A Mountain (which has the ASU 'A' on it, and is actually called A Mountain) down to the other end of Mill to eat at Monti's. Previously we'd planned to walk down Mill, but seeing how it wasn't really cool except for Wongs, I'd decided to do so later. However, while eating at Monti's, in the building built by Hayden, I asked Katie where Hayden Square was and decided that after eating, that it'd be cool to go down there. So after our meal, we headed to Hayden Square, which is right off Mill. Hayden Square was suprisingly small, totally different than what I'd expected. Sitting on the steps of the Ampethetre, it was really weird to think that this was where The Refreshments played their last ever show. Purely because it was so small.

After taking some photos at Hayden Square, I decided that we might as well walk the rest of the way down Mill. It wasn't that exciting until we reached University, the street that intersects Mill in the block where Wongs is. What I found quite suprising was the number of pan handlers on Mill, asking for both change or food. With Mill Avenue looking so commericialised and up market, it was even more of a suprise. Quite sad too, as the age of the people begging was quite young, compared to at home.

At University, we took another quick look at Wongs from the front. Crossing at the University intersection, I got to see Cafe Boa, and the tattoo palour between Longs and Boa (all in the same building), which was cool, hearing all the stories in mid 90's of people meeting up at Boa and then heading over to Wongs to see Satelitte, Dead Hot or the Piersons. We then headed back down that side of the road. Stopping for a last look at Wongs, we gave away Katie's doggy bag from Monti's to a pan handler asking for left overs. The walk down the other side of Mill Avenue wasn't much more exciting, and we cut through the Hayden Square again, to get back to the Monti's carpark.

On the way home, we took the scenic route, over the Tempe Bridge, past the Papago Park (silloettes of the cactii on the mountain looked really cool at dusk), through Scottsdale and back to Tempe. Just in Tempe to head out to Yucca to see Marc Norman.

I'm being lazy with photos at the moment. I really should have written some code to do stuff with photos before I left. Oh well. At the moment, I'm just going to resize, do quick brightness control, and throw them up. It's up to you ATM to figure out what they're photos of. I'll do something better with them when I get home.

These are photos from today.

Steve Larson - Sugar Daddies

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosSunday, April 3, 2005 - 11:54:57 am
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip, Music Music, Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
Actual post later...but need to get a least one picture up. Steve Larson at Sugar Daddies, Sunday 3rd April, 2005.

Steve Larson.

Rock 'n Roll - The Jet Lag Cure

(Add / View Comments) (0)Saturday, April 2, 2005 - 11:49:15 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Arizona Trip, Music Music, Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
Nothing fends off jet lag like rock n' roll. It's only been one day, and I can already say - I ain't coming home. [wink]

To briefly recap the boring parts. I couldn't wait for the flights to be over. Especially the MEL -> LAX one. Being at LAX was so cool last time around, this time, I couldn't wait to get out of there! It was a complete freak show. Luckily I only had like 20 minutes to wait by the time I got to the gate for my Phoenix flight. Called Katie to say I was on my way, and before long I was. On that flight I was excited to 'see' when I was over AZ, which I think I picked, though who knows. All in all, the flight was 55 minutes. Decending into Phoneix was concerning, as it took a while to see Phoenix, and it had me thinking "I thought Phoinex was bigger". It of course is (5th biggest city according to Katie), which became apparent. Once walking through the airport, I finally got to where Katie was waiting. Obviously it was awesome seeing her again, it's beem so long. Picking up my luggage sucked - I was certain it'd been screwed up at LAX. I had this feeling about it, and when it didn't show up on the carosell, it seemed like my predicted had come true. I wasn't the happiest camper, I so just wanted to get the hell out of dodge! We finally gave up (after way too long) and headed to the 'we fucked up your baggage counter' (I can't think of what it was actually called). While waiting in the queue, I did another circle of the carrassels, and amazingly, there was my suitcase. So, we hauled ass, only hitting another snag - locating Katie's car! [wink] Finally we solved that problem, we headed out of Phoinex, destination Tempe. Driving down the interstate wasn't what I'd expected, but once hitting surbubia Tempe, everything started to look exactly like I'd expected.

Briefly I must say Tempe (actually, everywhere I've been so far), is a very clean, and neat town. It's quite impressive.

So, fast forwarding to the rock. We'd taken a nap until about 7, because we both needed it. I woke up, feeling half dead (only getting up because there was rock to be had), which has been pretty par for the course for me of late. As has been true of late also, once up for half an hour, I had my second wind. Around 7:30pm last night we headed down to Tempe Beach Park, for the Tempe Music Festival. Once inside, we set off in search for the stage that Roger & P.H were schedueled for, finding it no problem. Our timing was perfect, finding a great spot while this radio DJ thing wound up. Katie pointed out Jamie Lee (Peacemakers guitar tech) early on, so we knew we were in the right place.

Within minutes, Clyne & Naffah were on stage, both dressed in suits. Roger with his acoustic guitar, and P.H with the most minimal drum kit - 1 snare, 1 crash and...a bongo like drum. It almost looked like it was going to be a laid back acoustic set, ala Roger & P.H in 1998 after the demise of the Refreshment. Though, as soon as P.H started pounding on the drums, it was obvious it was going to be full out rock, even given it was just two of them with acoustic gear. Immediately the stage came alive, with Roger in full Roger form, rocking out, and banter with the crowd. And watching P.H was just amazing. Watching P.H, kicking ass on a totally minimalistic kit was awesome - just confirmed why Mr. Naffah is my favorite drummer out of the Tempe area.

The spot in the audience that Katie and I found was perfect, could see both Roger and P.H perfectly. To that end, there was some piping with protection right where we were standing, which was perfect, giving a short ass like me a little extra height. It was definately unbelievable, finally after all these years, to be seeing Rog & PH in the flesh. It's interesting, how it's such a big deal, but you just cruise to downtown Tempe, and there they are.

Blue Collar Suicide
Leaky Little Boat
Love Come Lighten My Load
Honk Tonk Union

Such a cool thing was that they broke out the horn section - the kazoos. Especially cool that Roger referred to it as the horn section. So cool, given I'd been thinking of the old '98 Roger & P.H shows, which always featured the kazoos. Was funny on one of the songs where after he's kazoo solo, Roger struggled to find a place to put it, and strummed the next chord with it. They came out for Mexico (of course) and .... Katie almost wounded up with P.H's. At the end of the show, it went flying through the air, in our direction, but ultimately it wasn't meant to be.

With the whole thinking about the old shows, it was cool Roger actually referring to them, and then talking about being in his hometown, where he's been doing this for ten years then walking to Jamie to grab an electric guitar, and break into "So just how far down do you wanna go...." (Banditos). He also talked about the infamous regular Mexico show (coming up in May), and how they "never leave a fan behind". Obviously I was like "buuut...". Let me tell you, it made me want to blow off work, stay through May and make the Mexico trip with Katie! Oh, it was nice to daydream about anyway.

In summary, Roger was completely as expected - the intense rock n' roller, out there for the music, and as he always says 'celebrating life'. P.H was, and is a machine. [smile] Watching him was just amazing, especially as previously mentioned, getting such an awesome full sound out of basically a snare and a crash cymbol. Amazing to watch!

After the this we looked for a place to just chill for a bit, and found ourselves right across from the main stage, where Collective Soul had started playing. It was impressive how we were literally right at the back (which was a fair way back, being the main stage), but could see
perfectly. We stayed briefly before deciding it'd be a good idea to go home, and find directions to see Scotty. Which we did, brought smokes on the way ($35 for a carton of Malboro Lights [smile] Woo!), and headed out to Scottsdale. We got to Pranksters Too, found the stage area, walked into that bar area, and there is Scotty (Gin Blossoms for anyone who doesn't know) and Troy already pumping out Memphis Time! Apparently Scotty noticed Katie as soon as we walked in. We took position midway through the bar, but it wasn't long before Denise spotted Katie, and we were sitting with them. That is folks, and the table at the front of the bar. It was so seureal, sitting 5 feet away from fucking Scott Johnson! Literally, I was right in front of him. That's Arizona for you. On any given night, you can walk into a bar and see an MTV star 5 feet away from you. (Like I said, I'm not going home! [wink] )

One of the things that immediate stood out, aside from the fact I was seeing Scotty in the flesh, was that Scotty can sing! Not suprising, given I know he's play out for years, but based on the fact he's never really done backing with the Blossoms, it definately stood out. And it's not a case of a guitarist trying to sing. He's really good. Actually, when we talked in, he had the trademark Gibson (with tape over the label) around his shoulder, and harmonica around his neck. Not that it's that suprising, but seeing Scotty play harmonica, and sing, in addition to what he's known for (guitar) is was definately an experience.

Throughout the show he pulled out bongos, and was looking for "someone who could play, or someone drunk enough to think they can play". Katie got heckled into playing them, at least initially, which was cool. Actually, it was quite funny, Troy insisting that she couldn't do it from her seat, she had to come up on stage (which wasn't going to happen). Which leads into the fact that Troy was great! Troy's a musician I'm not entirely familiar with (believe it or not there are some), and I was really impressed with his bass playing. Actually, it says something that my eyes would go from Johnson's guitar work, to watching Troy on the bass. I really enjoyed his playing, and watching it, and there was such a full sound, especially given that it was only Scott and Troy. The between songs banter between the two was really good too. It was actually funny when I lit up a smoke and Katie said "oh yes, we're in Scottsdale, you can smoke" and then a few songs later Scotty mentioning that playing in Scottsdale was so good, because you can smoke. Which got a huge cheer from the crowd, and Troy. [smile]

In terms of Blossom's songs, they did Memphis Time and Perfectly still (possibly Follow You Down before we got there), and everything else were songs Scott has written. Actually, it was cool that I was asking Katie which other Blossoms song's did, and she said "just Perfectly Still", and literally 5 seconds later, Scott breaks into the riff. Scott's own stuff was really good. There wasn't a bad song, and about a half were really impressive. Particularly my favorite, what we assume is called Pain In Vein. Suicidal Avocacy (I think) was really good too. It was also extremely cool to watch Scott play. He's fingers just glide over the fretboard seemlessly. It was escpecially cool when local Corey Glodin took the stage for 2 songs after Scott's set, and Scotty stayed up there and jammed with him. It was totally improv, and getting to see Johnson cut loose more with solos was just great to watch. Which reminds me, that on one of the last songs with Troy (Make It Last Forever, possibly), Scott played a kick ass solo, with killer harmonics - really cool to see Scotty, a more jazz / country influence player, rip it up with artifical harmonics. But back to Corey and Scotty - Corey, who I'd never heard of was really good IMO, and it was so cool seeing Scotty improv with him. Even with jet lag, and a sore head, core's much louder, crunchier acoustic guitar and vocals was awesome.

While A Few Random Drunks set up, I met quite a few people I've known online. Alan came over, and then I met Aaron Roder, who was really cool to meet in person. We talked about the long flight, and he made comment of my sites like the Blossoms Guitar Archive. As Katie keeps saying, my reputation proceeds me in Tempe. It'd be really cool to see Aaron again at the Scotty & PH show this week, if he can ditch work. Then finally, I met Scotty Johnson. Again, my reputation proceeds me, he came over and said that it was nice to finally meet me. No introduction needed, being with Katie, he knew exactly who I was. It was a brief encounter, I said how it was great to meet him also, and that the set was awesome, before he got pulled away from someone. But again, a surreal experience. Interesting, both surreal and not. Surreal finally meeting a Blossom, but at the same time, Scott was so down to earth, and just like a local muso, playing at a bar. Katie also introduced me to Troy, who, even though we only spoke briefly, seemed like a really cool guy. Aaron invited us to go to Yucca (the Yucca Tap Room) to see Charmers Green, but as both Katie and myself were both really tired, we decided against it. Though I'm sure we'll see Charmers while I'm here. So we said bye to Scott, and headed home - only to return to Pranksters Too to collect Katie's camera which we'd left behind.

A completely awesome first night in Tempe.

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