4/3/24: Albuquerque, New Mexico

In between Mississippi and Albuquerque I stayed in a motel I’d been wanting to stay in for some time, the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari, Arizona, one of the classic Route 66 motels with a beautiful neon sign. I drove into a parking space around sundown and immediately met Robert, who runs the place with his wife. He had a certain midwestern accent, a burst blood vessel in his left eye, and a very well-worn-in motelkeeper friendliness. I stayed in room 1, which is quite small, has a working rotary phone, old furniture, and even a crocheted blanket hanging over a small easy chair. The next day, when I was checking out, Robert noticed my Megadeth t-shirt (I found this at a yard sale in New Orleans on the way to the studio) and he said, “Nice shirt.” I chuckled and he told me that he was in fact a metalhead who had seen a lot of concerts in Chicago, where he’s from, including the early Metallica lineup that included Dave Mustaine. When he found out I was on tour, he said next time I come through he would trade me a room if I played some music for the other guests. I’m making plans!

The show in Albuquerque was arranged by my old friend from Gainesville Ryan Quinney. When I asked him if he could help me find a show in Albuquerque, he found a venue and screenprinted a poster within about 60 minutes. I am so thankful for that! What a dream. He has a nice screenprinting setup in his house and makes shirts and other printed matter. Here’s his website, go buy some stuff from him!

The weather in Albuquerque was perfect – sunny and cool with blue skies. I got to the venue, an art gallery, before it was open, and I took out my guitar and started practicing. The venue is close to downtown but also in a residntial neighborhood – it’s at 606 Broadway, if you’re looking for it.

Juan, who owns the venue, and Ryan showed up soon and we set things up outside, since it was such a beautiful day. The stage and area around was fragrant with blooming wisteria.The person doing the sound, whose name I can’t remember but may have been Bernadette, was celebrating her birthday, and Ryan’s partner Emily baked her a cake. Emily is a professional baker and she made a peanut butter & chocolate, gluten-free, vegan cake, that was extremely good.

There were two other acts besides Big Kitty on this bill: first was Ermine, a solo performer on ukelele with a variety of effects pedals. I talked to her a bit beforehand and found out she’s a playwright and hosts writing workshops. Her set was gorgeous, including some near-ambient uke playing and a cover of “Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor.” She mentioned that this was the first time she had played out since the Covid lockdown.

I played next, and I had as my goal for this performance to give it more energy and weirdness, to try to lose myself in it, and to play some new songs I haven’t performed live before. I opened the show wearing a blond wig and a long blue dress as the Rolly Lighthouse character, who is a version of a character I give to Naoko’s doll Baby Coco. I don’t know how well it worked but it was pretty fun. I had her explain the radios and sing “What is the Truth?” which is a song from the first collection of Accompanyments (see my Bandcamp profile). She then introduced Big Kitty – I got offstage, tore off the dress and returned, and launched into “What Flowers Do” which is a new song that was just recorded in New Orleans. It was the first time I played that song live. I did a rather large number of spoken-sung Accompanyments style songs and tried to lose myself, and I did get into some interesting emotional spaces. I’ll have to review the recording I made, to understand what happened a little better.

My friend Sean Lucy was there as well and he requested “The Ballad of Almond Robin,” which I sang last and heard him singing along to. That was pretty special, and I made sure to add a few changes to the lyrics to get him laughing.

After me came a great band, Midnight Stew, who I recommend heartily. A 3-piece, they play “NDN country” which was also pretty shoegazey because Greg, who plays guitar and sings, played through a bunch of pedals that made his sound pretty psychedelic. I dug this music so much and you should listen on Bandcamp.

This show was over earlier than usual, which was great because I’m still trying to get caught up on sleep from jet lag and many late nights. I went back to Ryan and Emily’s house, where Ryan and I had a nice time catching up and I met their dog Porkchop, who was definitely not very sure about me, barking a lot. He was the first Jack-Chi I’ve ever met: a Jack Russell-Chihuahua cross. I found myself studying his face, fascinated, noticing elements of both breeds, which would encourage him to bark at me more. When Porkchop gets a treat, he gets up on his back legs and spins around in circles. He did that for me twice.

I was so thankful to have a futon and a room to sleep in in their beautiful adobe house. There was a wonderful clown and clown art collection in this room, as well as other cool paintings and things.

In the morning I woke up, meditated, and we talked some more. The neighbor’s dog, Gumphy, who is a different kind of chihuahua cross, barked at me also. It was another beautiful day.

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