Matt Sullivan, co-owner and ticking brain of Light In The Attic, is on the road playing tour manager with the best there is, Rodriguez himself. He’s in a mess of excited blogging and we’re here, ready and willing to continue to broadcast his adventures.
Today: Rodriguez journeys to the seedy holy ground that is LITA Headquarters.
Sirs, please take it away.
Wake up early in Seattle, Rodriguez and Marc grab some tea, and we’re quickly off to the office to pick up the tour merch. Rodriguez at the LITA HQ on Aurora Avenue?! Another beautifully surreal moment. We all geek out, grab some photos, and we’re soon on the road, heading north for Vancouver to kick off the West Coast Tour. This marks Rodriguez’s first ever Canadian show in his entire life. The man never even played Toronto or Montreal in the 60s/70s.
We stop by Avalon Records in Bellingham to say hello and meet Chris and Nils. Good people and store. Rodriguez loves meeting the people. Another reason why he’s a truly special soul.
Fairly smooth sailing into the Canadian border (surprisingly much stricter and less friendly than the U.S. side). We scan through the radio but don’t find much. I remember that Stefan at PIAS France, our fine French distributor told Rodriguez all about Serge Gainsbourg’s “Historie de Melody Nelson” LP during Rodriguez’s recent trip to Paris. We put on the disc and wig out over the brilliant arrangements and production.
Roll into Vancouver and hit the club Richard On Richards. A family reunion ensues… Rodriguez and I reunite with San Francisco band The Fresh & Only’s. I love these guys! They’re Rodriguez’s band for the West Coast dates + the almighty Marc Capelle. The only other time they’ve been together was during Rodriguez’s 36 hour magical trip to San Francisco last November – performing at the Great American Music Hall and an in-store at Amoeba. Bless their hearts. Guitarist Wymond Miles and his wife just had their first son last month but the man is here! Soon in walks Kevin “Sipreano” Howes – liner notes writer for Cold Fact, Coming From Reality, the Monks, and the mastermind behind the Jamaica to Toronto series. Another man that I must say, bless his heart! After a few years in Toronto, Kevin just moved back to Vancouver last month. It’s good to see the man. And Kevin brings Stunt Man, mastering wizard behind the Summer Records Anthology and “Innocent Youths” by Earth, Roots & Water. I finally meet the Stunt Man. He is for real.
Sound check goes well and we roll over to Zulu Records for a signing. Good crowd and the staff at Zulu were super cool as always. We grab a quick bite at a diner up the street. Rodriguez scarfs down his favorite meal of choice – soup, soup, soup – while the rest of us grab some sandwiches and tacos. Head back to venue and meet Stephen McBean (Black Mountain/Pink Moutaintops), another man that can do no wrong. I geek out again while meeting Stephen and then once more hanging out with both Rodriguez and Stephen. It’s Bushmills, red wine, and smoke. Everyone is all smiles in anticipation for showtime. You can feel it in the air. Side note – pick up Black Mountain’s “In The Future” LP if you don’t already have it. The world’s tightest band and my favorite LP of 2008. This is truly the greatest Canadian welcome – McBean as Pink Mountaintops (Solo) opens the show and Sipreano spins endless 45 gems – psych (Painted Ship), soul (Eddie Spencer), and various other recent finds.
Rodriguez backed by the Fresh & Only’s hit the stage around 10:45 with “Inner City Blues” – such a wicked opener. The crowd loved every minute of it, especially the South Africans in the house. And bless their hearts! “Crucify Your Mind” was a personal highlight. I never tire of hearing the tune. Continue to get goosebumps and teary eyed throughout the set and having a hard time comprehending this is reeeeaaaaaliteeee. A big thank you to Rob at Neptoon Records for holding down the fort on the merch table. After the show, Rodriguez came out to say hello and thank everyone that saw the show. Serious class. It quickly turned into a beautiful mob scene, endless autographs and photos. The highlight – a lovely South African family got to meet their hero (“You don’t understand, you changed our country. I have listened to Cold Fact every day in my car for over 19 years.”). These moments can bring you to tears. And the man is so humble about all the adoration.
The next day is a special KEXP radio session in Seattle, so we drive back after the madness dies down. Head out by 2 AM, listening to AM loony toons talk radio (Coast to Coast AM. We need Art Bell back though!). U.S. border guard looks at our passports and asks Rodriguez, “What’s your music sound like? Why do you go to South Africa so often?”) Good times continue. On the other side, hit the first gas station which happens to be in Blaine, WA. Not a soul in sight and 1920′s jazz playing on the gas station speakers. Surreal. An hour later, eyes are getting heavy so we stop at McDonald’s for a big ass cup of joe. Who ever told me that McDonald’s had good coffee may need a lobotomy (Yes, I can’t believe I believed them either). Quite possibly the worst coffee on the planet. But… it got us home. Pull into Seattle at 4:30 AM and we slept like a rock. The next day IS-THE-DAY!