So there I was, sitting out in New York, the supposed land of opportunity, which was quickly proving to be anything but. I needed out, but I sure as hell didn't want to go back and sit around in my piss ant little town. I was stuck in a no win situation……that is, until I saw that Doyle Bramhall, one of my all time favorite artists was playing a few shows in Arizona! Now, I don't want to say that I dropped out because of these shows haha, but lets just say my bags were packed soon afterwards.
Just as in New Orleans earlier this year, I was forced to get in contact w/ the club and try and work something out in order to gain entry (I can be shipped to a foreign land to kill and die against my will, but I cant listen to the music of my choice w/o setting of a chain of emails from here to Uzbekistan). Unlike New Orleans, however, this place was far less willing to work w/ me. The date was fast approaching, and, w/ nowhere else to turn, I called in the favor of all favors; and it was settled! I would arrive early and help load in, therefore appearing to the venue as a member of the crew. Words really cant express how grateful I was (and still am haha). There really wasn't too much to do, the two actual crew guys seemed to have a pretty good handle on things, but I did whatever I could, and was got the chance to talk to some cool folks. I was hoping on the off chance that Denny would be playing, since Dylan isn't on tour right now. He wasn't, but another guy from the 3-D Blues Band was; the bassist Jim Milan! Actually, aside from guitarist Nick Curran, the band was completely different then the one I'd seen him w/ in NOLA, I'd heard of the other guitarists (Casper Rawls and Kirk Fletcher) but wasn't familiar w/ their playing, and I was pretty excited to finally be seeing Jim in person, so when we left at 7 for doors to open, I had high hopes.
Just an aside, but I think when hell freezes over, the devil will live in Phoenix……. and he will complain about how hot it is! The high that day was supposed to be 100 (I believe it), but when we left the club, it had been dark for at least a half an hour, and it was still hot as shit! When I got back to my hotel, weather.com or whatever informed me it was still 97. Who willingly takes up residence here?!?!?!?!
When we all went back, we found a fairly packed house, which is never a bad thing. I stepped back from moving a folding table, and felt a tap on the shoulder. A younger looking guy, looking a bit uncomfortable, attempts to look tough while wringing his hands.
- Uh, are you, actually, like, 21?
- What? (I'd forgotten that I wasn't technically supposed to be there)
- Have you turned 21 yet?
- I have to be here…
- What was that?
- I have to be here. I work for these guys. (He stares at me.) I'm the Merch Guy (my predetermined "title" in case something like this came up), I have to be here. This is my job. Ask those guys.
- Oh, I see. I'm sorry.
Yeah, you better just keep walkin there haha. Nah, he was just doing his job too, and after that incident, no one bothered me for the rest of the night.
The show started on a very high note. They opened w/ Lost In The Congo and the people flooded onto the dance floor. They all seemed to really dig the first few tunes, which include Shape I'm In, Sugar, and Dyin W/ The Flu, but they really seemed to calm down after that, content to sit at their tables and sip their beers, which is really their loss, why anyone would sit through The Hunter, or I'm A Bad Boy or, for fuck's sake, Thunderbird (!) is beyond me. The band absolutely tore though. Casper is really an exceptional guitarist. He's the guy a lot of Dylan fans like to pretend Freddie Koella was, except this guy can actuallyplay! (also a very nice guy, which I'd find out later). Kirk too, played a mean guitar all night. For a few songs, Freddie Cisneros sat in, and regret that I cannot comment more on him, but a wild cat was loose that night, and I was trying not to be a complete asshole about it haha. House Rockin and Change It (predictably) got the crowd moving a bit more, as Stevie co-writes usually do, but overall everyone was a lot mellower then I'd originally pegged them for. Again, their loss, because it really was an excellent show all around.
I'd originally planned to make the 4 hour drive to Bisbee that night, but instead opted to just stay an extra night in Phoenix when, at 2 am, I still wasn't out of there yet.
Bisbee has got to be one of the most interesting little towns in America. A copper mining boom town build literally into the side of the hills, it reminded me of pictures of an Italian villa, and the guys who I was w/ who'd actually been to Europe concurred. It was really nice the next day when everyone was gone, but when roughly 3000 people converge upon it for a one day festival, things can get a bit, erm, cramped. Luckily my car isn't much bigger then a Shriner's parade car, so I can put it almost anywhere, but I felt sorry for the poor saps eternally circling the full lots. If I may make one suggestion to the festival organizers, its that they put a sign up when a lot is full.
Supposedly, Bisbee is one of the most haunted cities in AZ, but it seemed the only thing to have died around there are cell phone calls; literally one end of a bench will have service while the other side (less then 4 feet away) will get nothing. You'll be walking around a corner and suddenly your pocket will come alive w/ all the voice mails and missed calls you've accrued, but when you need to make a call, you'll never have service in the same place twice. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have cared, but when you're in a larger group and cant get a hold of anyone else, it becomes a bit of an issue.
None the less, tonight's show was great as well. Not too many changes to the previous nights set, but the crowd was FAR more into it, dancing and cheering and carrying on. At the last minute, a video camera was sprung on me, so I tried to get some interesting shots, but I hadn't had any time to think about it, and I had a bitch of a time just figuring out the zoom, so apologies in advance should you ever find yourself watching my footage haha The band was still in top form though, and was easily the best act of the day. If you're any sort of fan of good music, you really owe it to yourself to seek Doyle out, trust me on this one.
I spent the next day just hanging out w/ a couple of friends, wandering through Tombstone and whatever, just generally being tourists. We'd gotten there too late to actually see one of the gunfights they put on, but still got to look around and see where various folks got shot, died, partied, etc, etc, etc as well as places to buy refrigerator magnets! haha It was a blast.
My only regret is that I did not see any ghosts. The first night I didn't know, but the second night, my friend told me that the hotel I was in was one of the original in Bisbee. I was in one of the original rooms where all the Wild West shit took place, and as such, it was supposed to be haunted. I didn't hear anything, see anything, imagine anything, no specters, no spirits, no apparitions…….the damn floor didn't even creak all night! What a drag! haha
Even though staying in town the extra day meant having to drive from the edge of the country across the barren wasteland known as AZ on my actual b'day date, I could not have asked for a cooler or more fun way to spend my birthday weekend then the way I did, easily the best birthday I've ever had. Nothing I could have been doing in New York could even have hoped to compare to this. Words cant express how much I appreciate all that was done for me. And it occurred to me, somewhere between the vast expanses of baked dust and the cactus covered hills, that this almost didnt happen. I almost never talked to Doyle down there in New Orleans that afternoon in April. I actually turned around and walked away before I went back in. I didn't think someone of his caliber'd care what I'd have to say……..