Clayton's Log, Stardate: 4/23/12 - Spring Tour

And now for a good story. You see, we had yet another cancellation in Bakersfield, California on Saturday, April 14th. I tell ya, sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches. If life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Water off a duck's back. There are cases where these very cancellations lead to the most memorable moments of the trip.
We called our good friends Arden Park Roots from Sacremento and asked if we could jump on their Saturday show as the opening band. They said that there was a great place up in Northern California mountains. They said it was a long drive, but definetly worth the trip. They were right on all counts.
Now I'm not going to tell you the name or location of the town that we found. I will tell you that it is in one of the most beautiful places in the country, situated next to a mighty river, and I will tell you that the official population of the town, (according to the sign) was 128. That's actually an improvement, for up until a few months back, the sign simply had a question mark in that spot. I will also tell you that the bar we played was an original Wells Fargo bank from the early 1800's, and that the town has been lawless and wild ever since. Our venue for the night is split up into three parts: a bar, a liquor store, and a gourmet pizza joint. Of course it's also haunted, and it has been selling liquor every day, 24 hours a day, since the 1850's, even through prohibition. The cops don't come up there, and the locals like to keep it that way. The owners, who were surprisingly young and good-looking, seem to have bought the place simply because they needed a nice spot to drink.I'm not going to tell you the name of the town because the area is a large marijuana community, and I don't want to blow their cover. I'm not going to tell you the name of the town because frankly, most of the 128 inhabitants scare the shit out of me. (In the most endearing way possible, of course.) I'm not going to tell you because I've somewhat earned their trust, and I'm not fucking with that. But most of all I'm not telling you because you don't deserve to know. I'm sorry if that offends you but it's true. We've bled dry the highways of this fair country, and risked destitution and catastrophe at every turn. We deserve to know the name and the location of this modern-day Shangri-La, and you my friends, you'll have to earn the privelege just like the rest of us. I will tell you what happened there, though.


After taking a tour of the facility and our apartment for the night, (located just upstairs from the bar/24-hour liquor store/gourmet pizza parlor, I might add.) we met Doug, the pizza chef. From what I gathered, Doug had been a culinary big deal in Los Angeles for a while and had forsaken it all for free living, fresh veggies and a rotating pizza oven that would make Mario Batali shit his crocs. His first words to me were, "Has anyone turned you on to the local product, and what kind of personal pizza can I make for you?" Doug had an Obi Wan Kinobi-quality and it showed in his food. Glorious. And the weed? It was the ahi tuna that made all others look like canned bumblebee! (Doug probably liked that metaphor.) He gave us a bag of Northern California's finest the size of a neck pillow. Thanks Doug, you're the cool older guy that I will model myself after in the future. Next, an aging hippie woman asked me a question that I had never been asked before. "Do you want some tincture?", she said. "Well, what is it?" I asked. "It's basically grain alcohol infused with marijuana for a few weeks." "Yes, my dear, I think I do want some tincture, thank you."


Now I'm not usually the granola/dreamcatcher type, but the stage had so much warmth and debaucherous history that it just made the music sound better. We rocked. Then Arden Park Roots rocked. Then they took a break. Then both bands dosed a bunch of acid together, crew and all. Then Arden Park played a second set, and that one really rocked! I was outside on the porch enjoying a joint the size of a corn cobb and I was just starting to peak when a lovely asian-looking girl got into a brawl with a woman that looked as if she could kill my whole band. In between vicious blows, the girl was screaming, "You're just hitting me because I'm Korean!" Oh no, now we're bringing race into this? The fight was seperated, and the large woman was thrown back into the bar. Usually people are trying to fight their way back into the bar, but five people were fighting to keep her from getting out! She was so upset that she began to cry, at which point her friend uttered the best quote of the tour. She said, "Dry up! How can you beat ass when you're cryin?!" Words to live by.


I won't spend too much time recounting our amazing trip together, mostly because I don't remember a lot of it, but let's just say the two bands bonded for the rest of the night, and a lot of loyal friends were made. The acid was some the cleanest I've ever had, and there was certainly no shortage of it. I saw a night sky that made me ashamed for all the stars I had forgotten. I saw the milky way massive, stretched across the cosmos like the steam trail from a leviathan locomotive. Various members of both bands created beautiful impromptu music. I danced with a weathered "Portugeesey" woman named Mama Paul. A tiny dacschund named Princess decided I needed comforting, and obliged by sleeping on my chest all night. A bandmember came back wide-eyed from a late-night walk. He said he had seen the ghost of a kindly old man who smiled at him and moved on. (It wasn't until the morning that we saw a huge mural in memory of Smiley,a kind old asian man who was beloved by the town for many years, until his death. In short, it was a deeply moving experience, to say the least.


And in the morning, there was Doug, with a spliff and a smile, ready to cook breakfast for an entire town nursing a collective hangover. And what a breakfast it was. Local eggs, thick bacon, blue potato hash browns, the best biscuits and gravy I've ever tasted, and little peices of fruit sliced all delicate-like! I admit given the amount of abuse that my body had undergone, I had no right to feel that good, but I basked in the feeling nonetheless. Nearby an acoustic performer sang "Yellow Submarine" at the local coffee shop, accompanied by the staff and customers. A man walked by smoking another enormous joint, handed it to me, and simply walked on. We joked later that the whole town was inhabited by ghosts, and if we ever returned, we would find only ashes and ruins. Seriously though, my deepest thanks to the boys of AP Roots, and all 128 residents of Shangri La, you reminded us. Of everything.


There's a big world out there people, and it won't wait for you. You can grab it, you just have to think quickly. Fortune favors the bold, take it from me.


Stay tuned for the biggest show of the tour-4/20 in Denver, Colorado!








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