Today I leave for the first leg of my reading and music tour. I've done plenty of music tours over the past decade with my band The Pernice Brothers, and I've done a little reading here and there, but this is the first time I'll be combining the two in one show. Most of the tunes I'll be playing (solo) will be off my new album It Feels So Good When I Stop (Novel Soundtrack)
, which is a record of cover songs mentioned in my book It Feels So Good When I Stop
. Anyway, my business partner and my book editor and my agent will all kill me for saying this, but I didn't come here to shamelessly plug my stuff. That's what getting up on a stage is for.
The last time I performed was in late 2007 in the big room at Carnegie Hall. For real. That simply was the thrill of a lifetime. I tried to have one of my bandmates snap a couple photos of me backstage during soundcheck, but the stage manager told me photos are not allowed. I thought he was busting my chops, but he most certainly was not. He was a nice enough guy, though as business-as-usual as you can imagine the stage manager at Carnegie Hall having to be. I told him I wanted to have something to commemorate my performance. "What do you think these are for?" he said as he waved a Playbill in my face. (I think I have about 50 of them.) He said that in the 25 years he'd worked at Carnegie Hall, there wasn't a single photograph of him at work. I thought that was a bit odd. Everyone has a picture of themselves at work, even if it's a photocopy of their bare ass.
Anyway, I considered retiring after the Carnegie Hall gig because, really, where do you go from there? (Christmas at The White House? Maybe, but even a cursory background check on yours truly using the antiquated Altavista search engine will have red flags popping up all over the place. I shan't be invited to any administration's White Home.) I'll tell you where you go after Carnegie Hall. You go to all of the places I'm going to. (It's not nearly as bad as I'm trying to make you think it is. Mostly I'm just making a joke at the expense of rock clubs that have, for the most part, been very good to me. It's kind of strange, but I really like hanging around the empty club prior to it opening in the evening. You know, when the beer backs are restocking and the low man is using a mop and a large squeegee to remove the sludge from the night before from the floor. I'm actually quite comfortable in an empty rock club. It's peaceful. I have taken many a nap curled up in an empty electric piano road case. If for some reason my body will not burn properly after I die, I would like to be buried in a musical instrument road case. My first choice would be a case made by the Anvil Company. Something in black, with stainles steel hardware. They can just spraypaint my name on it in block letters.)
When I first started touring back in the day, I was a little uptight with regards to packing. I'd stuff a suitcase as if I was headed to Jupiter instead of the Midwest for five days. I'd bring all sorts of vitamins and pain relievers and cold remedies and shampoo and a backup toothbrush... stuff like that, just in case they'd never heard of drug stores west of New York State. And I'd pack way too many clothes. Not counting one's performing outfits, there is no reason for a touring rock musician to pack more than five pairs of socks and five pairs of underwear. (Unfortunately, I've toured with guys who have taken the "pack light" motto to an unacceptable extreme. You simply cannot wear the same pair of worn-out Wrangler jeans every day for six weeks without washing them. They begin to smell like an old length of mooring rope recently retired from the Calumet River Ferry. And that I cannot get behind. Sadly, I have been behind — and next to — such a person plenty of times... in a van... in Death Valley, California... with a broken air conditioner. It's pretty grim.)
No one in my band has ever done this, I swear to you, but I've heard of it done: A touring musician will wear one of his/her band's for-sale merch t-shirts, then the next day stuff it — dirty — back into the bag for some poor slob fan to buy. (Maybe that's not so horrible. Some people like that kind of thing. My business partner wrote to our mailing list recently and joked that if our fans didn't stop emailing her stupid questions, she'd start sending them personally used t-shirts instead of new ones. Well, people wrote back and offered her more money for the worn ones. That's just sick. I like it, but it's sick.)