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Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #3

Third Installment of the Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014

Here are the previous entries:
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #1
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #2

Jeff Campbell and his band perform “Steal Your Car” at the Room 5 Lounge in Los Angeles, CA on 3-8-14.


Raising Arizona

Arizona Dunes

Arizona Dunes

Adequately caffeinated and the playlist queued up with the Punch Brothers (Who’s Feeling Young Now?), Alan Hampton (The Moving Sidewalk) and some Duke Ellington (Live at Newport 1956), Jeff and I caught up with our band mates on Highway 8 against the California/Mexico border to get to the 10.  There is a beauty to the desert that I have only come to appreciate in my adult life.  It helps that the terrain provides some texture ranging from rounded, red, stacked boulders, chocolate brown craggy mountaintops, to golden flowing sand dunes.   If it weren’t for the vacationers, U.S. Customs patrol vehicles, and easy to identify band-touring vans on their way to Austin for SXSW as well, I could’ve pictured myself across the border contemplating the mysteries of the universe like a Carlos Castaneda novel.

Peek a boo.  Rick at In 'n' Out.

Peek a boo. Rick at In ‘n’ Out.

Jeff proclaimed that a tour wouldn’t be a tour without a stop at In-n-Out Burger at the beginning and one at the end.  That day was to be the day that we put our digestive systems in harms way and indulged on Double Doubles, fries and drinks.  Ironically, Jeff did not instigate this pit stop though, Megan did.  She is a dedicated vegetarian and rarely, if at all, imbibes alcohol or any other vices.  However, she is a self-admitted sugar fiend and introduced the table to her In-n-Out specialty of French fries dipped in Chocolate milkshake.  Before you wobble your head in disgust, you should consider trying it sometime.  Maybe it was being several days in on the tour and at least 3.5 hours into our drive that eroded my inhibitions some, but  it was actually a fine pairing.  Regardless, I was convinced that I paid for that meal over the next couple of days in a variety of ways better left unsaid.

Loves Olympics  - Click through to see video

Loves Olympics – Click the pic to see video

We had driven from morning into night to get to our destination in Arizona.  One of many numerous stops at a Love’s Travel Stop & Country Store was in order to fill the tank.  We were about 30 miles out from Tucson and tired, hungry and somewhat car punchy.  It was possibly more punchy in Megan’s car than mine as I am generally okay with long trips, not to mention she was transporting two drummers in her vehicle (drummers are a restless bunch).  Notwithstanding, there was time enough for another round of gas station Olympics while Kyle disappeared into the Men’s room for a mysteriously long time.

Jeff and I pulled into the Tucson city limits rocking Mutemath (unbelievably this is a great rock band out of New Orleans that I missed in the mid-2000’s and they are now enjoying a renaissance on my music player) and meandered across town while the others were on the hunt for an organic grocery.  We had the night off before our long haul to Austin the next day for a series of six shows scheduled over the course of four days.  Jeff placed several phone calls to Joey, Brad Brook’s mother, to let her know our estimated time of arrival.

Brad is a longtime SF Bay Area based singer, performer, writer and player who you wouldn’t know originally hails from Tucson Arizona unless you had the occasion of more than a few minutes conversation with him.  He is an exceptionally talented front man who somehow maintains a timeless youth in his performances.  He is known for his lush orchestrations in the spirit of the rock’n’roll band Queen, and his flair for soaring melodies and psychedelic bombast.  In other words, he is a rock star!  (You may also catch him sporting full on suit and tie while supporting the Jeff Campbell band as a back-up singer for the Jimmy Kimmel Live! Performance in December 2013. – Click here to see video for ‘Steal Your Car’)

Here is a beautiful version of Joni Mitchell’s song “River” performed by Brad Brooks

For more on Brad, go here:

Joey, Brad’s mother, is a retired lear jet interior design specialist with a newly remodeled kitchen of polished granite and ceramic range top stove that she admittedly never uses. A wonderfully sweet and generous person to open her home up to six grungy touring musicians, including, and maybe especially, Kyle (we love you Kyle!), Joey was the rock star to us for the evening.  She was particularly accommodating towards Jeff’s request of pulling out as many awkward adolescent photos as she could find of Brad Brooks.

Megan and the gang scored on the organic foods front and pulled together the anecdote to In-n-Out Burger from earlier that day with beans, brown rice, BBQ chicken and a healthy bowl of greens (worth noting as survival techniques on the road).  Other than a bottle of Trader Joe’s Sonoma Chardonnay and a bunch of handcrafted ales, there was no debauchery to speak of, although, we did have heated debates over the merits of the Rolling Stones vs. the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd or King Crimson (I was the prog-rock nerd who added King Crimson to the list).   This gives one an idea of the deep philosophical leanings of a bunch of rock musicians.  The same discourse can be overheard between jazzers when discussing the late fifties period Miles Davis group vs. the famous quintet of the sixties, or orchestral players discussing the importance of J.S. Bach or Haydn.

We all went to bed fed, happy, sleepy, and under the threat of Brad Brooks, by text, that we were to pull weeds before we left in the morning.

Which ones are the weeds?  (Joey's house not pictured.)

Which ones are the weeds? (Joey’s house not pictured.)

Austin or Bust- SXSW

With 891 miles to go, Max and I turned onto I-10E out of Tucson to brave the 14-hour drive.  That’s right, I said 14-hour drive.  I have to say that being a musician is a glamorous and lucrative lifestyle that affords lavish vacations and plenty of time with loved ones and family.  I also have a piece of land in Florida that will make you a fortune for the modest investment of…. maybe my African Prince email will fare better.

High Texas Desert

High Texas Desert

I am not sure how it is in all other states of the country when it comes to the possession of or use of Marijuana, but I have an idea of the attitudes in at least several considering recent ballot initiatives that have passed in Washington and Colorado.  Although still technically illegal on a federal level, there has been a slow decriminalization of pot.  California is a relatively relaxed state when it comes to Marijuana usage as evidenced by its numerous dispensaries and sizable medical marijuana card carrier population.

Not to compromise anybody’s confidence, but there may have be some in the group on this particular road trip who maintain similarly libertarian views about the procurement and consumption of such substances.  In fact there may have been a parting souvenir from California that joined the tour somewhere between Saratoga and San Diego, but I cannot confirm nor deny such a claim.  However, if indeed there was, it was nothing of mine, so I really didn’t give it any further thought either.  Furthermore, I do not consider Marijuana a high-risk substance when used in moderation by highly functioning people.  I myself go through phases where I enjoy a glass or two of wine with a good meal or friends and don’t see it as a stretch for some to imbibe the weed in similar, but relatively well-adjusted circumstances.  Hell, it is increasingly difficult to find somebody who hasn’t experimented on at least one occasion from the Boomer generation going forward.  Frankly, since I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where the original summer of love occurred, I never associated much of a stigma surrounding pot smoking other than the 90’s Gen X slacker phenomenon of my era.

But we weren’t in Kansas any more, and we weren’t somewhere over the rainbow- we were in Texas!

Texas Border Patrol Checkpoint I-10

Texas Border Patrol Checkpoint I-10

Max and I were trailing Jeff and crew in my Honda Element, which was stuffed to the gills with guitars, several pieces of band member luggage, organic foods and my fully carved Hungarian double bass, among who knows what else.  We approached the Border Patrol inspection station heading east on highway 10 in the Texas desert just outside of Sierra Blanca- a blip on the west Texas landscape.  Megan’s Nissan Sentra pulled ahead of us and they were promptly waved through.  I rolled to the uniformed gentleman with a standard issue Berretta 96D side arm on his belt.  This was a permanent checkpoint with an aluminum overhang, detention trailer and orange cones to direct vehicles towards questioning.  The canine was sniffing around all vehicles as they approached, and we were no exception.  The officer asked, “are you US Citizens?”  To which we replied, “yes,” and handed him our ID’s.  “Where are you headed?” he asked.  “We’re on our way to Austin.”  While the officer was studying my US Passport card, the other border patrolman with the drug-sniffing dog waved to our guy and said, “this one!”

“Sir, please pull over to the left there and exit the vehicle!”

“Crap!  Seriously?!?”  (Inside voice)

“No problem.”  (Outside voice)

West Texas Checkpoint I-10

West Texas Checkpoint I-10

Max and I pulled to the inspection bay and stepped out of the Honda.  I could not fathom at all what reason this was for other than some guy’s dog got a little over zealous with his nose.  As far as I knew, our biggest crime was transporting organic fruits across state lines.  Whatever paraphernalia may have been in the car at one point in time, if anything at all… really, was surely bio-degrading on desert terrain from the side of a highway somewhere between California and Arizona.

No sooner had the officer returned to begin interrogating Max and I by the side of the road did a dingy white Econoline Van with fast food wrappers and Maxim magazines strewn across the front dash roll in behind us.  The patrolman turned his attention to the dirty ripped denim and ironic hipster t-shirt, longhaired mirrored sunglass clad, obvious musician suspect, who stepped down from the driver’s seat.

The officer with the canine came running over to the bay shouting, “no, this is the one, this is the one!!”

“You gentlemen are going to have step out of the vehicle.”

Several more Border Patrol agents approached the van.

Then our guy turned to us and said, “uh, you guys are okay.”

“Great, can I get my ID back?”

“Oh yeah, sure, here you go.”

I put the key in the ignition and started up the Honda while Max and I looked in the side view mirrors back at the scene that was unfolding.  Those guys weren’t going anywhere fast.

Drummers  -  Click to see the video

Drummers – Click the pic to see video

There’s not a lot more I can tell you about the rest of the drive through Texas other than, it took a LONG time.  There was really nothing further of note other than the dangerous digestive tracts of the band members and some mediocre Mexican food in Fort Stockton.





Next Up:




Here are the previous entries:
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #1
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #2

Following entries:

Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #4
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #5
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #6
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #7
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #8 – Final Episode

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