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Jeff Campbell Band at the Nook
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #5

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

Other 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
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #3
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #4
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

 

SXSW Flyer 2014

SXSW Flyer 2014

PART FIVE

!La Cucaracha! – Riverboat Rockin’

Status, March 13:

Two Dead, Several Injured in Vehicular Assault at SXSW; Suspect in Custody.

Thoughts and prayers go out to the injured and the families & friends of those who didn’t make it. This is an unfortunate incident that certainly calls for some reflection and gratitude towards those we love and care about. Stay safe SXSW and let’s make some music. (Thx to friends and family checking in. We are all ok.)”

– –

The clan awoke the next morning severely hung over (Megan excluded), but relatively unscathed; with the minor exception of a Mexican stand off between Megan and a cockroach at Casa de Sh*thole.

I had become an expert on AirBnB policy as evidenced by my earlier “helpful hints” only because of our experience at this wreck of a place in Austin.  Jeff had had enough, and his Philly resolve kicked into high gear.  We were going to get the hell out of there!  Now, mind you, the entire city of Austin is booked during SXSW so this was going to be a tall order, but we were determined not to stay another night and allow this guy to take our money.  The issue was that Megan and Jeff, along with the band, were going to be stuck on a riverboat for the next 6 hours.  There are perks to having a manager and Allie stepped up to the cause while we went to perform for the Hearo.FM and Bose Audio showcase hosted by the inimitable Jamie Kent.

Hearo.FM & Bose Audio

Hearo.FM & Bose Audio

Jamie Kent is a nationally touring, Americana, singer-songwriter, and all around good-humored fellow.  Although he and Jeff had already been well acquainted for some time, I had the good fortune of meeting him when Jeff Campbell’s band shared the bill with Jamie in San Diego fresh off our TV appearance.  He opened up solo for the band stationed in front of all our gear.  It was one of those shows I was able to double on electric and acoustic bass, so the Hungarian was secured in its stand behind Jamie.  In this intimate acoustic setting, heckling is a required rite of passage for the singer-songwriter, and when an audience member yelled to Jamie, “I want to see you play that thing!”, referring to my Double Bass, Jamie expertly replied,”Well, I am tempted but the owner is not here, and I don’t want to infringe upon his good graces.”  To which I yelled out from the audience (I was in attendance unbeknownst to Jamie), “Go right ahead! “  Jamie was barely flummoxed,had a snappy comeback and the whole audience had a laugh.  It is fortunate that Jamie is such an affable guy.

Jamie dashed from the hull of the riverboat to the upper deck as if he was in a cross between an Errol Flynn movie and Saturday Night Fever (he was sporting a black collared shirt and white denim jeans and sport coat) as the event’s MC.  He warmed up a receptive audience on the top platform with his group before Jeff Campbell and band, including Megan, took over the space with a tightly programmed and well-received set.  The only wrinkle was that the weather in Austin couldn’t make up its mind what season it was and we braved arctic winds atop the riverboat.  However, it was a great event with awesome support from Bose Audio, not just for the music, but also for generously offering to take us all to dinner the next night.

Upon our return to the disaster of a place we were relegated to stay the first couple of days in Austin, we devised our exit strategy for the morning and with much praise to Allie, were about to enter the Shangri-La of under the table AirBnB’s.

The Ritz Carlton

Jeff and I quickly loaded the Element with all that was packed and conveniently ready to go by the door while sunshine #1 (Rick) and sunshine #2 (Max) groggily woke up and collected their belongings.  It felt like we in one of those action-espionage movies where the safe house has just been made and the enemy threat is imminent, or maybe it was just that we didn’t want to confront Austin Slacker #1 and his Texas Ranger watching buddies while trying to load out.  Either way, the clock was ticking to get out of there, re-establish our home base, and lobby to fully recoup all expenses.

We hit the road to head about 7 miles outside the center of town to Tanglewood Forest on the Southeast side of the city.  As we pulled up, an athletic and attractive woman greeted us in her driveway while she spoke with her neighbor/sister.  Jana was a saint for opening up her personal residence up to us as a last minute AirBnB style transaction.  While she collected her belongings in an overnight bag to turn her property over to us, Jeff and I were giddy with excitement at the prospect of having access to a washer and dryer, 3 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, an office and living room to set up camp in- like the gypsies we were.

CDO.  OCD.

CDO. OCD.

As far as I was concerned, we just moved into the Ritz-Carlton of touring crash pads.  The most promising indications of good hygiene, general standards of cleanliness, and orderly accommodations, was a sterling silver decorative picture frame that contained the following statement:

“I have CDO,

It’s Like OCD

But all the letters are in

Order Like They Should Be.”

Heaven!

Alive in the Superunknown

Soundgarden Setlist

Soundgarden Setlist

We had four shows left in Austin and two nights left to celebrate!   The band returned to downtown for the Amped showcase at The Nook on 6th and ran down a respectable but short set.  Despite the audio engineer going MIA for the majority of our set, and no major casualties, our musician friends in the audience deemed it a clear success.  We had little time to reflect though, because the whole group plus Allie, Cyra, James and Jeff S. had to high-tail it down two blocks to catch Soundgarden in a private concert.  Effing SOUNDGARDEN!

Thanks to Guitar Center, Jeff (Campbell) was offered some guest list slots to see/hear

Soundgarden on the top of a downtown hotel parking garage platform.  We arrived just in time for Jeff to flag down his contact.  However, a diligently by-the-book security guard was objecting to the number of people in our group, and we regrettably had to leave some of our crowd behind.  Hey, at least Jeff tried!  But the whole band got in!  @%&$ Yeah!

Effing Soungarden!

Effing Soungarden!

It was the twenty-year anniversary of Soundgarden’s biggest album, Superunknown.  This was a band until four years ago was thought would never work together again after their breakup in 1997, but after testing the waters on a demo or two and putting out a new full length record in 2012, seems to be enjoying a second wind.

I won’t review the entire show, but suffice it to say that they performed most of my favorite songs, botched one of them, had to work extra hard to harvest more than a golf clap from the “industry” folks in attendance, played a few more for the real die-hards, and then closed the set with a subsonic feedback loop that was clearly an attempt to break Austin – as well shatter the ear drums of all those within a 15 block radius.

 

 

 

Jeff Campbell Band at Whip In

Jeff Campbell Band at Whip In

‘It Stopped Raining’

It was March in Texas and we should have been experiencing 80 degree weather, but instead we awoke to a persistent rain.  This was not encouraging as all three of our shows that day were outdoors.  It was evident that we were going to be rained out for our noon o’clock show, so I climbed back into my sleeping bag while I waited for one of the bathrooms with a shower to become available.

Jeff at Whip In with KC

Jeff at Whip In with KC

With a fresh French Press full of Peet’s Gaia Organic Coffee blend consumed amongst several of us and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made, the band set off to meet Megan at the Whip In off of Interstate Highway 35 in South Austin.  This was KC Turner’s annual SXSW romp where he attracts a sizeable crowd featuring most, if not many of the artists he is known for promoting throughout his house concert network between the SF Bay Area, Austin and beyond.

We arrived under a dismal drizzle, but the outdoor stage was presently being enlivened by Emily Elbert’s expert guitar work.  An appreciative audience was braving the wet and humid elements under the shelter of dripping burlap overhangs.  It was going to be a close call as to whether Jeff Campbell would be able to follow Emily or not.  It was not looking good.

KC took the stage after Emily’s set and MC’d like a cross between the late SF Bay Area impresario Bill Graham and an exuberant Kermit the Frog ala the Muppet Show to elicit an enthusiastic response from the crowd.  Everybody was encouraged to stick around for Jeff Campbell and his band, and we made sure to place our orders for Mumbai Migas (2 Coyote Creek eggs scrambled w/onions, corn tortillas, cilantro chutney, feta, served w/ black beans, basmati rice, pico de gallo) and contemplated whether or not to try the Buddha’s Brew Kombucha- I went with an Anchor Steam instead (representin’ SF).  We then promptly watched the skies for any sign of the rain letting up within the next 10 minutes while preparing to set up on the outdoor stage.

It Stopped Raining

It Stopped Raining

It, indeed, stopped raining, much like Jeff Campbell’s song of the same name and we launched into a luxurious 30-minute set followed by breakfast- the most important meal of the day.

My only regret of the afternoon was not capturing Steve Poltz’ set on video when he presented a brand new song entitled, ‘Still a Folk-Singer’, that offered a most accurate portrayal of what it is like to be a musician on the road.

The good news is that somebody grabbed a video of ‘Still a Folk-Singer’ just a few days after we saw him in Austin.  The lyrics are a dead on!

The truth about being a touring musician by Steve Poltz:

He is a nut!  If you ever have occasion to see him perform, do yourself a favor and check him out!

Jeff rallied the troops and informed us that we were parting ways with Megan for tonight’s set so she could remain at the Whip In with her adoring fans and KC Turner.  We packed the car, took a moment to admire our “after four days in, who cares anymore?” beards in the rear window reflection, and made a beeline to the highway for the busiest night of SXSW on 6th Street.

Next Up:

Korean BBQ Tacos

Korean BBQ Tacos

Other 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
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #3
Tour Beard Diaries – Jeff Campbell and Band SXSW Tour March 2014 #4
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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