4/6/24: Los Angeles


I left Pedro in the morning, headed towards the artist and musician Luke Pelletier’s house where I was going to film a song in his garage. He has a series of musical performance videos in his garage which he’s decorated in a beautifully exuberant way and which includes several of his great paintings. I met his wife Kristen who is a great painter, and brother Tristan who filmed the video. It was pretty incredible to see Luke’s garage in person, having only seen it on the internet. It was almost too exciting, fortunately I’m road-worn and disoriented enough at this point so my senses feel somewhat dulled. This is actually a great feeling, like the Fool in the Tarot, or a baby. Of course never having met Luke before, I didn’t know what he woud be like. Turns out he’s quite tall and very relaxed and friendly, easy to get along with and happy to show me all the miraculous artworks around his house, most that he and Kristen made but also some that they collected. I recorded three songs with them, and I guess they’ll choose one or two to put online. I liked their two dogs, Haze, a big brown dog, maybe a lab-pit bull mix? I’m not sure. Then Rooster, a classic pug. I like pugs, can’t help but laugh at their faces and tongues.

The weather was gorgeous, just the most beautiful weather you can imagine with that great, clear & brilliant LA light. I had several hours between the filming and the house show that night so, I drove to the beach, despite it being about an hour in either direction. I went to Venice beach, because they said it was the closest one. But I was really glad to go there, I’ve been to that beach a few times, starting when I was 10 years old, and love it. I ran up and down the beach for a while, then meditated, touched the water. I walked along and people-watched. I was a little disappointed that the three guys working out at Muscle Beach weren’t freakishly ripped, but at least there was a crazy punk show going on right beside it. It was a band called Neighborhood Watch, who seemed like they might be a legendary old punk band that stuck to their guns as they aged. There was a crazy mosh pit, including a shirtless guy on roller skates and a masked man in a wheelchair. That was wild, I loved it. But didn’t stay long.

I then saw a sight I did not expect to see. Harry Perry, the guy I remember seeing back in the 90s as a kid, who plays heavy, psychedelic guitar solos while roller skating and wearing a turban, was standing right in front of me, looking more or less the same! He wasn’t on roller skates, but his guitar, which is white with red concentric circles, was the same, albeit heavily aged. I told him I remembered him and always loved seeing him. This must be the third or fourth time I’ve seen him. He was a bit down, though–he seemed depressed. But he still played the guitar and sang. I bought one of his t-shirts for Naoko.

Around five o’clock I drove up to Aaron’s house in la Cañada, where the show would be that night. It was in a classic suburban neighborhood that seemed built in the 50s and could have been located almost anywhere. Their house is beautiful, a spacious place that must have been a middle-class dream house at the time it was built and still had the same appliances. Their stove works with buttons instead of dials, which I seemed to remember my grandmother having at her house in Selma. There are also horse stables in the back, and a horseshoe is stuck in the driveway with the word “Drifter” and the date read 1960 I believe. Inside the house was a bar, with a thatched roof covering it. Aaron and others made cocktails during the show.

I met a lot of really nice people at this show – Zach, Levi, Madeline, Jolee. The vibe was very relaxed, friendly, open. Aaron began playing as Dingbat Superminx – we played several shows together in the bay area when I lived in Sebastopol, and are definitely kindred spirits hunting some similar hallways in music, though with quite different styles too. We both have a lyric-focused sensibility and we like doing playful theatrical things in performance. He did a lot of performing to backing tracks at the time, which I also did of course. But now, I was really jazzed to learn he’s got a real band backing him up, and they sounded fantastic. One difference between our music is his lyrics often focus on social commentary in a humorous way. He had one song about a “Full-Time Muse” that was so funny. And then his last song was a sort of panegyric against recording music. I loved that. But, it reminded me that I had really wanted to record his set and forgot.

I also forgot to record my own set, which was a shame because I played some of the songs really well. I again had Rolly Lighthouse introduce Roy Sessick, who introduced me as Big Kitty. That was fun, if complicated, having them there. Also, I don’t know why, but I felt very nervous playing my songs, but fortunately people responded really well. Several folks told me they were both laughing and crying, which is so great.

After me came Frogluv – this band is focused on the songs of Ruben but has very interesting instrumentation which features a blend between electric guitar, saxophone or clarinet, and backing vocals. It’s really inspiring hearing a band that’s really a band, that makes new music collectively. Well, I don’t know how they write it but it seems like it must come about through playing together.

After the show Aaron DJed a little dance party. I didn’t end up dancing, though I’m pretty much always ready to dance. I was pretty tired, having gone running, I suppose, and I sat down and drew while enjoying the music and atmosphere. Afterwards, there was a nice jam session that sounded like minimalist classical music, Terry Riley kind of stuff. I enjoyed that and recorded it. Had some nice conversation with Aaron, drank some hibiscus tea with CBD honey and went to sleep on an air mattress that Madeline set up for me in their studio. Another studio with a 16-track 1″ tape machine! I have several friends with these machines. It’s inspiring to me that so many people are recording in their homes this way.

This morning, I woke up pretty late, almost 11AM. Of course that’s about 8 hours after having gone to bed. I’m used to a very regular schedule, so this is unusual to me, but I like it. It observes a different rhythm, music’s rhythm I suppose. I woke up and shaved, which felt great. Aaron was washing up the glasses in the bar when I emerged. He made us some eggs in a cast iron skillet on the push-button stove. They were the first eggs I’d had since beginning this tour, so it was a treat. I had a great time catching up with him, and enjoyed hearing his idea for a reality TV show involving earning money by not offending people.

I’m in Ojai now and will be playing in a few hours at Greater Goods. Everyone at the show last night seemed to think I’d love that place, so I feel good about going there!

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