Monday, October 19, 2009

"Did you see Arthur? Did it make you cry?" Magnolia Electric Co Fall Tour Prelude: The Flight to Prague


"So I ride like the wind, ride like the wind." These words, and the image of a doughy, pasty, guitar slaying Christopher Cross next to an ageless, professorial Michael McDonald from the charming episode of Jimmy Fallon last night, accompany me now on this extremely bumpy flight to D.C. where I will connect to Frankfurt where I will connect to Prague where I will connect with my good friend and former bamdmate Jim May and his wife, Vivian.

It is the start of yet another leg of the seemingly neverending Magnolia Electric Co Josephine tour. This tour is nowhere near as exhausting as our 2005 What Comes After the Blues tour, but it certainly feels like it. In my mind it started last October when we first started playing these songs live, and a year promoting the same album makes me feel like a member of Motley Crue, with looser pants and kombucha instead of cocaine.

It's telling, then, that the start of this leg feels so much different than the previous four (!). The first three legs were with the longest standing Magnolia lineup, including Mark Rice on drums. Prior to those first three legs we practiced without Jason Molina, who lives in London while the rest of us live in Bloomington, IN, and then, when he made it over, with him. We had at least a week's worth of some sort of practice all three times.

Mark left for the Rhode Island School of Design before leg four (the first of two European legs) and Pete Schreiner moved from drums to bass. We asked our good friend Sal from the mighty Racebannon to join on bass and he graciously accepted. We, again, practiced without Molina, and then rehearsed for three days in Amsterdam before leg three. We all kept in close touch and discussed setlists, ideas, etc. in decent detail for being overseas.

This time? Despite plans to the contrary, and the size of our town, I have only seen Sal once in the three weeks we were at home. Pete stayed over in Europe for awhile after the last leg and, except for picking him up at the airport and running into him on the street once, no personal contact. Molina and I shared a couple of emails but I haven't heard from him in two weeks. Mikey and I have seen eachother quite a bit as our other band, Whippoorwill, had a show in Bloomington during the break and we also played pool with the members of Cryptacize (I won, he didn't -- although I can't say that for sure... I just like calling Mikey a loser in print since he always beats me at Racquetball -- Hi, Mikey!).

Actually, this is the first time we haven't had a round of practice before a tour since 2005. And it feels weird. I hand a strange tendency to both procrastinate and overprepare at the same time, so being underprepared, despite having played our last show only a month ago, makes me nervous.

Unlike the previous tour, however, I'm confident that the band is good. I knew we were all good musicians before but good musicians doesn't mean good band (see Chickenfoot -- or Coverdale Page -- or Audioslave -- or, if you're smart, don't). It took about ten shows and we were solid. I think we'll find the magic more quickly this time.

Also different this time is our mode of transport. We will, once again, be in a Sprinter. Last tour was on a bus. Please see my yet-to-be-written whiny account of that. The long and short of it is I already feel more comfortable this time. A return to hotels, showers, privacy, and unfamiliar landscapes in daylight. An escape from claustrophobic constant movement with seven men in a recycled air machine overnight.

This is the first time for me traveling to Europe to visit friends, too. Jim was the lead singer of Cadmium Orange, my former band. Despite a few onstage fights -- one, notably, at the Cellar Lounge (which became the Cinemat and, now, The Bishop), where he jumped (by accident) on my pedals and I took out my frustration about him moving to New York and leaving the band on him right there on stage (always a classy move) -- he remains one of my favorite musical collaborators, mostly because he was good, he knew it, and he loved doing it. Now he's in Prague where he dresses like Franz Kafka and daily, in public, pretends to get arrested for unknown reasons. Can't wait to busk with our live version of "In the Penal Colony" soon!

1 comment:

  1. interesting insight into your "other" life, Jason. Thanks for sharing.