Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Dirty Yeti Beach Party Days 5 and 6.

Kanaka filled the darkened doorway, tracking sand and high desert snow behind him.
Kanaka smokes too much.

“They travel on the back of a great brown Yeti.”

A For Real Yeti

Kanaka was a tall man with sun scorched and brown skin. He made his living taking foreigners through his native mountain pass. He carefully peeled off his great goat skin boots, and shrugged off a cape of different animal hides.

Both men knew Kanaka, and gave a very slight bow in respectful greeting.

“What do you know of these two, mate?” Jack asked.

“I know they ride their great beast across mountain and plain, crushing cities. People gather in multitudes to see them.”

We left Austin’s in the afternoon, and streamed out onto the flat Midwestern highways. Shatner once again got us a room that would normally be way beyond our reach. In a few hours we had crossed the space from Illinois, through Wisconsin, and into Minnesota. Along the way we spotted frozen lakes, the Black Hills, and many truck stops.

Once we were in our room, we prepared to torture ourselves in the hotel gym for a while. We were, however, rewarded with a fine dinner of salad and wine from our local grocery store. I dozed while Blythe did computer work and the cable TV murmured in the background.

We woke early to eat some breakfast. Blythe went to the gym again while I took a look at what the city had to offer. Of course our first choice, if you know us at all, is the great consumer monstrosity known as the Mall of America. We pack out of our room and headed over. We were treated to such sights as enormous Lego statues, indoor roller coasters, and stores full of things no one would ever need. We ate, drank, people watched, and even caught a movie. Then we killed a guy and hid him in a forgotten janitor closet. If you're a local, see if you can guess which one. We named him Waldo.

Later we walked the city. We were both thoroughly impressed by the architecture of the city. We shuffled along the icy sidewalks while marveling at flying skyways and a great glass library. Soon we settled in the bar with some food and a few beers while we waited for Peter and the Twins.

Peter and Andy showed up with a crew in tow. They were ready to play, so we all set up quickly and prepared to rock the room. Peter and Andy opened with some of their original tunes, Peter on guitar and Andy on cajon. We followed up with a quick and tight set. The crowd was appreciative, but not crazy. People bought shirts. At the end of the night we streamed out to the suburbs to have some drinks and chat.

Many shots of whiskey and sake later, we somehow ended up in a comfortable bed. Before we knew it, the sun rose over a snowy landscape. We snuck out of the house and were on the highway in minutes.

Aberdeen SD lay before us. The Red Rooster Coffeehouse was to be our host for he evening. Our route took us on a long state road to the little town. The road wound around tiny lakeside towns and grain mills. In the afternoon we pulled up to The Red Rooster, which was situated in a prominent storefront in the downtown area.

The interior was lined with used books and local crafts for sale. We ate sandwiches and worked on the computers while we watched locals come in and catch up on the holidays with each other. A gaggle of dramatic teenagers sat together and complained about their lives, and a meeting of mentally challenged people assembled to decide where they could gather to discuss the role of religion in their lives. Local musicians sat together and discussed what new bands were playing in Minneapolis and whether or not they could organize a road trip. The Red Rooster is Aberdeen’s great equalizer. People of every kind came in to meet.

A trio of locals called Elder opened up with acoustic arrangements of broad ballads. Afterwards we set up quickly and slammed through and hour long set. The crowd was mostly apathetic, but a few people came up to talk and buy some merch. Dan, owner and operator, complimented our show and offered us a bed for the evening.

At Dan’s house we sat up and chatted about travel and art and such. Before long we laid down and dreamt of our coming two day drive across the Dakotas and Montana.

“These two are surely a menace!” Sir Kent exclaimed.

“Oh, I don’t know, mate,” said Jack, “Seems to me they’re just two more travelers, carving their living out of the landscape.”

 “What is this Yeti you’re talking about?” I asked Kanaka.

“They travel on the back of a great dirty beast that climbs mountains in a step.” Kanaka said solemnly.

“What manner of beast could that be?” asked Sir Kent. “There’s hardly a creature not known to man already.”

Next Week… Dakota, Montana, and Spokane.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Dirty Yeti Beach Party Days 3 and 4

My old friend Jack Cooper always cuts an impressive figure. A born adventurer from the Australian colonies, Jack makes his living by smuggling rare plants out of savage countries. He claims, every time he gets drunk, that he was the one who brought heritage coffee plants from Ethiopia to British Imperial territories in Turkey.

Jack on the job

“Strapped ‘em under me armpits I did. When I sweated, that coffee would get right under me skin. I swear I could run across the Red Sea. I was a one man Exodus.”

One this day he was quite sober. Framed in the doorway, his broad hat brim shading his eyes, he cast a dark glance at Sir Kent.

“Bit soft in here today, aye? Didn’t know it was a royal crown kind of room. Shall we curtsy when we enter?”

“Easy there Colonist. Your type will have your country by year’s end.” Sir Kent sat up in his seat, resuming an aristocratic posture.
Jack ignored Sir Kent’s retort. “Rud, give us a cuppa won’t you. Could use a little dram too.”

As I fetched his order I asked. “What’s the news? What brings you past here?”

“Chinese poppies. I just came down through the pass.” He pointed at his coat to indicate the hidden plant. “Had a hell of a time keeping the damn thing from freezing.”

“You didn’t come through the pass alone?” Sir Kent blustered with disbelief.

Jack’s eyes narrowed, and a wry smile pulled faintly at the corner of his mouth. “Aye, done it dozens of times.”

I put Jack’s cup down in front of him spoke up to cut the tension in the air. “Sir Kent here was just telling me of a new pair of travelers on the path.”
“You’re not talking of The Galt Line are ya!” Jack said excitedly.
“You’ve heard of them?” Kent said with a raised eyebrow.

“I’ve heard that they just crossed the plains, razing two towns on their way.”

Both Sir Kent and I just stared.

“Alright,” said Jack, “here’s what happened.”

We woke half way to Dekalb. I wrote in the passenger seat while Blythe drove. Once in town we slipped into to The House Café while CMKT4 was setting up to back up Gary Mullis, an idiosyncratic country songwriter. During their set, we ate a delicious tuna sandwich and a beer while writing up the last blog entry. After their set, we printed up some posters for some later shows and sent them out. All work all day. We rewarded ourselves with some tacos and margaritas before heading out to Rockford for our show.

We drove around town, peering out the windows at the deserted streets. Not much going on. When the time came, we searched out TheDisastr House, a DIY venue set in the basement of a tall old house. On entering we saw CMKT4 setting up. Young punky types were milling around, chatting over tall boys and waiting for the music. With a blast of feedback, CMKT4 laid into their set. The crowd danced and moved. It was good.
Disastr House Basement

When they were done, the basement emptied out. We loaded in while chatting to some of the house’s denizens. Just after midnight, in our first moments in 2012, we launched into our set. The basement packed in, and we got one of those sweaty rock shows that we love. The crowd was very receptive. Afterwards we talked with people and handed out CD’s. It took a good hour to get out. While we were at the van, with a little group of people getting CDs, automatic gunfire crackled in the air. Apparently it’s a popular activity in Rockford.

Soon we were on the dark highway, headed toward Austin’s house. When we pulled into the drive, a light snow flurry had started. We sat up with Austin and chatted about music until the wee hours, then passed out.

The morning came quickly. Before we knew it, we were back at the House Café. We shook hands and greeted some familiar faces before settling in the watch Firmish Skirmish, who did experimental music akin to late cartoon soundtracks or John Carpenter movies. We went up next and played an easy set to a small but attentive crowd. CMKT4 followed with some tight rock tunes, restraining some of their usual psychedelic madness. Soon after the set we loaded out while the House set up for some movie screenings.
Firmish Skirmish

Back at Austin’s we set into celebrating. The drinks flowed and the music played as we hung out with Austin, Sue, and Zack. We crashed in bed at about 4:30 in the morning.

“These Galt Line types are really on the war path eh?” said Sir Kent while he sipped another drink.

“Well, three shows is hardly the warpath.” I countered.

“I don’t know,” said Jack, ”the way it was told to me, they don’t plan to stop until they march to the sea.”

A dark voice boomed from the shadowy doorway. “I heard they ride the back of a great, brown Yeti.”
… Next episode – Minneapolis, The Mall of America, Peter and 1 Twin.

Yoda the cat