While driving on I-94 towards Fargo with Banyan drummer and temporary band-mate Stephen Perkins, his thoroughly engaging story regarding various tour shenanigans with Janes Addiction was interrupted by a phone call:
Hello he said.
Two seconds later: What? Are you kidding me? Christ! Thats disgusting! Oh, goooood God
News like this, even on the short hand of a one-sided conversation, usually means comedy to me, no matter the repercussions to the recipient of such information.
Not so bad for Steve-O, as it turned out. But funny, none the less.
He turned me, smirking, Dave Navarros been hired to direct a porno.
Apparently, Janes guitarist and former hubby of world-class page-sticker Carmen Electra has found a new calling. Aside from doing various celebrity appearances (you dont want to know what he gets for attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Las Vegas) and having his wedding foibles filmed for some VH 1 series, Mr. Navarro has discovered an even better way to achieve the ultimate in rock-n-roll silliness- to become a parody of himself.
Officially, anythings fair game when it comes to making a living as an artist. I tried not to laugh too hard as I reminded Stephen that were all artists- it says so repeatedly in the record contracts we’ve signed- and film direction is a legitimate art.
He answered in an honest tone of voice: Take the F out of Fart, and thats what you get
Although short on porn directors, Playboy gals, rock stars, and VH 1 specials, Minnesota stalwarts Trampled By Turtles and White Iron Bands annual festival Log Jam hit the spot when it came to dearth small gatherings. After skipping the anxiety and deep risk of hosting the Big Wu Family Reunion this year (God I missed it!), I was excited to play in front of a home crowd festival.
Keeping it local was the focus of the line up. Gone were the so-called big names that creep into homegrown festivals all over the states. And gone were the voices telling the promoter that they needed those big names to make the weekend a success. If we get the XYZ Band, well be able to sell more tickets! Their very presence will pay for itself, and so much more!
This, Ive heard before. Not just from neer-do-well folks who would like to think they can run a festival better than the ladies the Wu hired, but the folks that hang on them Too many cooks in the kitchen is one thing; Too many assistant attendants to the co-captain in charge of helping the fifth-in-command of washing dishes is quite another.
Instead, the best of bands from the five state area were called to duty: Jam expressionists Down Lo (whos leader, Mark Grundhoefer doubled as the festivals promoter), the rockin Hyantyte, and Wu guitarists Jason Fladagers God Johnson all strutted their stuff, along with an impressive list of cool bands.
Although I missed the Trampled By Turtles set, the word around the camp was they sounded alive. As for co-hosts The White Iron Band, they sounded rather coherent. Especially after goofing the second-most important gig on their calendar year, a show at the Cabooze a month earlier that served as a Log jam promo event. One of the members passed out under a table before the show, thus the band was cut-off from booze before they went on stage. Folks walked out in droves. Oooops.
However, White Iron flat-out killed on stage. They encored with Guns-n-Roses Rocket Queen, a bold gamble that paid off. At least I had a good chuckle.
But more than anything, the vibe at Log Jam had community. Folks took their medicine without losing too much control and I didnt hear any reports of axe-wielding mental patients on parole.
Keeping in tradition with the best parts of BWFR, Log Jam hired Reunion chef Monte Behm to cook real food for bands and crew.
This is one of the finest examples of what it means to throw a real party, instead of a weekend-long drug and jam shindig: The bands and staff that work festivals are real people with real needs. Theres absolutely no reason to skip the essentials- hot food comes to mind- when selling tickets for $50+ a pop. Even if a promoter has a suspect lighting system and dodgy stage hands, nothing screams I have no idea what Im doing like handing the talent phony meal tickets for a vacant taco stand at a festival. Unlike fans, staff and musicians cannot live on LSD and lukewarm beer alone. (Trust me, Ive tried.)
Log Jam didnt stop there. They set up two outdoor stages, side-by-side, coinciding with the rotation of bands. This in itself was nothing special, but when the rain came, they were ready to move a band or two inside and didnt skip a beat.
Although the solution was obvious (the third stage was being used for late night fun), it made all the difference to the musicians that wouldve lost out due to the weather. Once again, the vibe and the community ruled the day. Instead of bands- or worse, their managers- crying sour grapes because someone else got more stage time, everyone got their licks in.
Even as I sit here writing this in the shower located backstage in a venue in Fargo, ND (Perkins does the dramatic cough-cough every time I light a cigarette, so Ive exiled myself), Im still in love with Log Jams care of their musicians. It was the right spirit for the good times.
And as I get ready to hit the stage, Im thinking about one thing: The music is played by, and for, the musicians. But the vibe is for everyone. What else can you ask for?
Drive safe and drink your milk!