Posted: March 7th, 2013
I thought I knew everything. It’s a trait I inherited from my mother. You can ask her anything, and she’ll have an answer for you. Her real specialty though, is anticipating answers to questions you haven’t even formulated in your head, and then telling you what you should do to solve these problems you didn’t even know you had. It’s an amazing gift, I know. One my father, God rest his soul, was confounded by each and every day for the last 60 years of his life.
Unfortunately for me, just as I started getting comfortable in my role as a know-it-all, the tour bus rolled into Ashland, Oregon. And, “therein lies the rub,” for I discovered something I did not know. Ashland has Shakespeare. I know what you’re thinking. Go on; “rank me with the barbarous multitudes,” for I have fallen amongst them. Imagine, Horatio, in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, a great center for the Bard thrives. Imagine further, moe. rolling up to a grand Elizabethan theater, America’s first this side of the pond, in downtown Ashland. Then imagine the bus rolling right on by, continuing down the street, and coming to a full stop in front of the Ashland Amory. Excuse me, it’s the Historic Ashland Amory (not to be confused with the ahistoric armory across town).
Being in Oregon has its perks. There’s no sales tax here (Next time, I’ll plan a shopping spree). There are a lot of microbreweries here, too (Next time, I’ll plan a bender). I’ll do my shopping and drinking in the minutes I have between setting up merch and doors opening for the show. Actually, I have more than minutes between set up and doors. I just don’t let anyone know, especially Skip, our tour manager, who, otherwise, will find a make-work project for me to do. I’m convinced, in another life, Skip was a Bürgermeister of a Bavarian hamlet. In my mind’s eye, I see him going about the burg, a commanding presence, in lederhosen and a feathered, Tyrolean Alpine hat, instructing Frau Blücher in the minutia of potato dumpling preparation.
I joke, for the record. The other day in Seattle, Skip covered for me so I could meet a good friend at the Starbucks by the theater, and then grab a bite to eat. What I spaced on was that there are 5 Starbucks near the theater, including the original one on Pike Place across from the fish market. Saying, “Meet me at Starbucks,” in Seattle is like Mr. Jones telling you to, “Look me up in the phone book,” and expecting to find the right one—unless you have a Jones for Starbucks. I took the path well traveled and met my friend in a parking lot.
The show that night in Seattle was a dandy. Orgone (rhymes with “bone”) kicked ass the opening set. I was happy to see northwest moe.rons show up and support them. They’re a great band and are a great complement to the tour. moe.rons got what they came for, however. moe. brought the thunder for the next two sets, right from the get-go, busting out with, “Captain America” and keeping it going right through “Downward Facing Dog” and the final bars of “Plane Crash.”
Meanwhile, back at the Historic Ashland Armory the doors opened. I guess because it’s Oregon, I’m thinking I’ll see a few Ken Kesey-Merry-Prankster-types amongst the crowd. I’m not disappointed. A veritable Madhatters club makes a gradual procession into the Armory—there are people in stovetops, an English coachman, bowlers, a homburg, myriad fedoras, and, God bless him, one Tyrolean Alpine (if he had asked me to yodel during “Yodelittle,” I think I would have). A few of the younger, spawn of Merry Pranksters are hula-hoopers, who chose to hoop their hulas right in front of me. These young, athletic, gyrating women block my view of the stage. Professional that I am, I make do with just … listening.
The show’s progressing at a good clip. Moe.’s blown through a few of my favorites, like “Mexico” and “Timmy Tucker.” Just when I think I’ve heard and seen it all for one show, early in the second set a 40-or-50-something dude comes up to merch table. He has a homemade5-foot wooden staff. It’s crooked and chipped, and I’m pretty sure he’s carved it with his teeth. Did I mention he’s wearing oversized earmuffs, too? He says something to me, but I can’t hear him. He’s a half foot shorter and mumbling. I bend and shout, “I can’t hear you over the music.” He then says, throwing his thumb over his shoulder towards the stage, “This may seem like a really stupid question, but what’s the name of this band?” I quickly wrote down a phone number on a slip of paper and handed it to him. “Call this woman,” I said. “She’ll have the answer—she knows everything.”