Monday, April 04, 2005

this is something I wrote for the VOL-List - road trip to Madison appropriately entitled "Fear and Loathing in Madison, WI"

has nothing to do with poker however....for your amusement.



On Saturday, Steve "Too Tall" Dunn and Whiskeytown  met up at Station 4 to watch his band play a burned out gig to an empty St. Paul bar. Halfway thru the set, a bevy of some of the most beautiful women in the world (about 50 of them) -came into the bar and took the show to new glorious heights as they burned off steam before College graduation. This has almost nothing to do with the story that follows.

Too Tall and Whiskey took the road trip to catch Bill Mallonee, AKA the slayer of Major Label deals and general all around windmall jouster of music play a gig at the Portal Music Cafe, which is a sleepy little coffee shop in Downtown Madison. After meeting an hr. later then originally planned (stupid Daylight Savings time - kill that idea now) - the boys were on their way from the illegimate Twin Cities to that town named after James Madison, Madison WI. (there's a Jessica Simpson Moment for you) - The boys were dressed for the occasion, with Too Tall wearing his best Hunter S. Thompson shirt, and Whiskey wearing his exceptionally rare "Creed Sucks" T-shirt.

First off, 70 miles/hr speed limit is not necessarily the law, not even a's a dare - and the nice thing about Whiskey's piece of crap is that when the radar gun goes off, and the Cop has to decide who to pull over, he'll usually skip over the rust covered rig with flecks of paint. So we arrived at Madison surprisingly earlier then usual - about 3 hrs before the gig surprisingly cop incident free. (Bill discovered apparently that out of state cars from GA work the exact opposite, and as any good Minnesotan will tell you, those sons of bitches in WI only target out of state cars....bastards.) -

Just remember what Steven Wright used to say....when the cop asks if you know the speed limit is 70 miles an hour, say "yes, but I wasn't going that far."

As we drove thru Madison, various comments and observations were made as our heroes explored a new and wonderous place.

"Hey, this the Capitol of WI? - There's a big ass dome ahead - Is that where the gig is?"
"That building is boarded up? - and to think we were gonna get a hotel - get the crowbar"
"What...Beer is brewed in Milwaukee? - of all the rotten luck"
"Is that a cat outside the pet food store? - cool!"
"Thai food? - is that like Steak and Potatoes? - I like that - hey...where did that cat go?"

Upon locating said venue 3 hrs. before the gig, grumbling and discontent soon gave way to hallejuah's and cries of joy as it was discovered that the little coffee shop actually was a full service cafe containing a full service bar, complete with Jameson whiskey, a new bar top, and friendly bar staff. (clearly they had never seen Whiskey drink Jameson before or he'd already be 86'd) It took only two drinks for talk to drift to chicken wings and chinese food which set our heroes off on a quest for Chinese - (stopping only at the chalkboard to add an extra "l" and "e" to Bill Malone's name on the marquee) -

Our quest for Chinese was painful and our heroes almost despaired, said screw it, and drove back to the Village Wok in Minnesota, but rather then go all the way back to Minneapolis, we settled instead for the nastiest KFC in the city of Madison, which when you think about it, is kinda the opposite of chinese food. 6 bucks for a plate of Crisco....jeez...

Arriving back, Whiskey swerved to hit Burr Settles (the opening act) to give Bill more time to play, but alas it wasn't meant to be. Imagine Burr's surprise when he realized said hit and run punk was actually acquainted with him and had met him before. But they got inside anyways and sound check commenced without further incident or threat of legal action.

It was at this point that Whiskey got to meet Brenda for the first time. Dear Brenda...Guardian of the DVD/CD's, and inspiration for approx. 19 albums of material. Did Helen of Troy ever get that much ink? - maybe, but she probably didn't deserve it the way Brenda does. Whiskey bought a DVD of VOL right there under the false pretenses of wanting to beat the rush, but truth is many a time Whiskey has gone to the gig only to blow all his money on the booze. This time we've allocated the money early and now he can drink in peace.

Burr starts as a true musician - 20 minutes late after the time listed on the website, and gets all the technical difficulties ironed out with his guitar by the 4th song. Burr has a website at - and he also has a lovely wife who was surprisingly not very annoyed that Whiskey had tried to run her and her husband down an hr. before - talk about a forgiving Christian Spirit. Burr got thru some great tunes including a Victoria Williams Cover, and then Bill came up.

First off, the meat and potatoes -

Nothing Like a Train
After All this Burr Settles Down (er, Dust settles down, sorry)
High and Lonesome
In Time with Yours - NEW SONG - UNRELEASED
The Kid's on Drugz
I'll Never Be Normal
With any luck at all - ANOTHER ONE OFF FRIENDLY FIRE
Apple of your Eye - ONE MORE FRIENDLY FIRE

encore - some lovely lady shouted out a request for

Sweetness and Light

basic observations....
Friendly Fire (the title track) almost made whiskey eyes watered up. If by any chance in hell someone has a bootleg of this gig, (which they shouldn't - not allowed anymore) email me anyways... - it's on the FF CD, but Bill's version that night just blew me off the barstool. For reasons only other writers may understand, it's exceptionally gratifying when you see a songwriter reach past his own "personal demons" and experience and try to bring someone else's story up front instead, which I understand Bill did with this song about a Vietnam Vet in the psych ward. - incredible song - and the CD version is good, but this live version trancended it tonight.

Bill is two timing behind his Gibson's back with a new Martin hussy. I expect one of them to be filing papers any day now for seperation - .

It's also my understanding that the warehouse Friendly Fire is being stored in was mysteriously broken into by some yahoo screaming "Free Music for EVERYONE - Music HAS to be FREE!!! and FREE the Dalai Lama!!!!" - in a slight GA accent - Bill had some pre-release copies to sell as well, which I have been assured is unrelated but an investigation is pending.

I had to check the list twice - couldn't believe we were done after only 12 songs, but well, it had gone almost 80 I guess that's ok - but if Bill were to emulate Bruce Springsteen and do 4 hr. shows, he coulda kept a few of us around. But you and all that the next day...yeesh.

Bill holds up pretty well for a 50 yr. old geezer. If we could get him in parachute pants, we might have a hit artist on our hands. Better do it soon before the gut fills in. - But if he's gonna be an entertainer, he's gotta quit taking jokes from Whiskey - those'll kill your career.

A lot of couples in the audience - funny how songs about pain and heartbreak and seperation somehow can bring two people closer together....

and last....good show...damn good show. Worth a 4 hr. drive - though I dunno if it was worth it for the poor guy who got the tkt...hope so - :)

After the show, we hung out at the bar while the new fans bought the CD's and caught up and so forth... - finally, the owners asked if Too Tall and I could just settle our bar tab (translation, get the hell out of here) - so we signed the dotted line with the name "Homer J. Simpson" and off we were - we interrupted Bill in mid spaghetti slurp (seriously...mid slurp) to say goodbye. After getting out of downtown, Whiskey decided to let the guy who had only had two beers drive for a couple hrs, and we made good time across WI with our copies of Friendly Fire and the DVD from the UK until arriving at 4am and not being able to sleep...

Hence the update you see here. For your warning, Whiskey will be in Las Vegas next week and Kalispell, MT the week afterwards, (travel broadens the mind, so I've heard and I wanted to spend some time in two places the exact opposite of each other) - so stay off the sidewalks and lock up your daughters.

Bill will be in Chicago and so forth - yada the blasted tour iterinery, and Friendly fire should be in your mailboxes soon - I recommend the title track. -

And by all means - become a fan of Bill - - 2 out of 3 poker players recommend his stuff.

Too Tall is still recovering from being cooped up with Whiskey for 8 hrs. in a car, but after the electrodes are taken off and the shock therapy done, he should be about ready for another road trip to the Crawfish thingy in Athens...or so I've heard.

Whiskeytown out -


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