Summer 2007 - Caroline's Headin' For Another Joint Journal

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The country I come from…


Summer tour kicked off for us with a couple of shows in the Midwest that felt a bit like warm-ups for what was to come. It’s always nice to hit a couple a shows in the heartland, and since the week that Bob was around was also my family’s big birthday week (dad, nephew, and sister-in-law), the visit was a no-brainer. Much as I’m a GA kind of gal, it worked out well that these were seated shows – we could be laid-back about getting there and go with our friends who we don’t see often enough, including one with a good amount of musical knowledge who had somehow managed not to see Bob before. Among her impressions was a strong appreciation for the tightness of the band overall and for Donnie and the “subtlety of his playing” alongside Bob in particular. Our friend and charter Fan Club member Steve has seen his share of Watchtowers but was blown away by the arrangement and instrumentation of this one saying, “I never heard him do it like that before!” For me it’s my first Spirit on the Water that makes this one most special.

Things get off to a good start. In Toledo Bob came out on fire and determined to rock the joint, and the audience responded on their feet all night long. We were rewarded with a powerhouse show, a smiling Bob throughout, and a joke at the end! Highlight was the first Masterpiece in 4 ½ years! We also got the first Floater since the Dublin shows a couple years ago, and Bob must’ve been in the mood to sing it because his delivery was excellent. At times he’s like a Catskills comedian up there. When he got to the Romeo and Juliet verse the place cracked up.


I lit out from Reno…


We flew back to Cali on Sunday night, drove the five hours home to arrive just pre-dawn Monday, slept a few hours, said hi to the animals, threw a few things from one suitcase into another, loaded up the car and were on the road before nightfall, Red Rocks bound. Next day we lit out from Reno and spent the night in Utah, arriving in time to drink too much in Denver the night before the show – it’s true what they say about getting drunk faster and deadlier when you’re not used to being a mile high! But we proceeded according to plan and got up, pounding heads and all, at our prearranged early hour to greet the dawn at one of the most mystical places in the world to see music.


There were a lot of people in line even by noon that first day, maybe with a hunch that this would be one for the books. And Bob does pull out the stops. Another Masterpiece, Every Grain of Sand, the first Working Man’s Blues of the tour (with new lyrics to boot), Shooting Star, Cry A While (another first since the Dublin 05 shows) and the one that I’d actually been thinking about and secretly hoping for as I lay on the ground in line earlier, Friend of the Devil! Performed only as Bob could, so full of Jerry’s spirit but completely unique with his own emphases and twists of phrasing. The performance of song after song tonight was gripping. Bob was in excellent voice that got even stronger as the show went on, and the combination of rarities played and impeccable performance made it truly great. (Check out our reviews section soon for a complete write up of this one.) We make the overnight haul to Telluride, arriving just before 5 AM, thanks to Kait’s heroic efforts. At this point the only thing that really makes sense is to sleep over there, where the music comin’ from. Many thanks to the Town Park security, even though one of them dumped rain water from the tarp on me in my sleep in the early morning. They took good care of the line and they even walked us into the venue until the last 100 yards or so, when they let us loose to sprint for the rail.


The threatening weather on the fringes thankfully didn’t get a toe-hold and we even got a rainbow over the western mountains shortly before show time. In fact the weather held all the way up until seconds after Bob sings during Nettie Moore: “I think the rain has stopped,” after which it rains on and off for the rest of the show. All in all Telluride rocks, with Bob beaming and dancing and pointing and weaving his legs around all night long. I think he is excited to have the crowd close up, and he comes right to the stage edge at the end of it all and shoots the front row with his pistol-fingers! We’re freaking out and pointing at him and screaming our thanks. After a minute of these exchanges, Bob spins half around on his boot heel and we can see him say to George, “Is that enough?” and they chuckle and then file off into the dark.


Welcome to California, now go home…

Conveniently our route takes us on a giant circle around the western part of the country and back up the coast toward the last show and home simultaneously. We skip the AZ and NM shows to camp on our way down to Orange County. It’s a long way from Telluride to LA and our days are spent mostly in the car (those hiking boots I packed never saw the light of day). But the drive takes us through awe inspiring land, enhanced by listening to Let Me Die In My Footsteps and Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie. We are treated to a host of weather phenomenon, including a storm outside Canyonlands that produces triple rainbows and lightning at the same time, and temps of 107 in Joshua Tree. As we enter California from the southeast we drive toward a crazy wind-whipped sheet of driving rain and black swirling cloud that we could see from miles away. This strange weather system ends up hanging in the valley we have to drive through, and as we’re driving past it shifts and we’re about 20 feet away from this thing that now looks really terrifying, like a huge tornado. For a long minute Kait can barely hold the car on the road because of the wind. Later on, our friend who knows about such things said that it is called a microburst and definitely could have done what it looked like it could do, i.e. whisk our car right off the road and taken us to Oz or somewhere. I don’t mind the pain, I don’t mind the driving rain, do mind the microburst.


It’s good to be back in Cali and there isn’t a show this tour that I don’t thoroughly enjoy, despite sit down crowds that are a bit hard to take after the more outrageous times in Colorado. The music is so top notch every night, I am struck by how much better and more full of life I think the band sounds. The MT songs blow me away night after night; Bob is at his absolute best when he sings them and they are evolving before our eyes. And even in the lamest of venues it seems the audience is really listening to the new songs and responding. So anyway, we have the two fair shows (and we don’t even manage to get any fried dough, damn it!) The Mid-California State Fair is more of a working man’s fair than the Orange County Fair – the drinks are stronger, the cattle are corralled up right next to the stands, and when he comes out for the encore Bob, ever a man of the people, waves enthusiastically at the crowd seated behind the side of the open stage who have been watching his back all night. We have front row for tonight and we hand out fan club merchandise to the security; one of them puts a button on his laminate and the other lets us put a sticker on the back of his yellow shirt.


In Kelseyville we forgo our front row, all the way on the left, obstructed view seats for some bleachers out in the sun – actually they are in the shade, which is part of their initial appeal. But once we sit there we realize it’s a great spot with the perfect trajectory and so that’s where we stay. It’s where the party is for sure. It becomes the Fan Club section and we enjoy the show with lots of friends, old and new. Shortly before show time we spy Ramblin’ Jack Elliot standing over about 30 feet from where we’re sitting, looking like he might have been coming from back stage. I’m beginning to feel uninhibited and am easily egged on to go over to him with a Fan Club button. He’s wrapping up a conversation so I just hang on the edges, but he looks at me so I hand the button to him saying, “I just wanted to give you this,” and he says, “Well now, I don’t think that’s exactly fair, but thank you anyway.” A few minutes later he’s about to head to his seat and I watch him squint and scan our section of the crowd a little like he’s looking for someone, and then I realize he’s looking for me because he sees me there and give me a big smile and thumbs up! Our closest to home show provides me with my second biggest rush of the tour at a song’s opening, with Ain’t Talkin.’ I think it’s classy of Bob to play it only at the last show each of his U.S. tours and I’m glad I got to be there for it. At the end of the show and the tour Bob stands before the crowd all on its feet now and sends both hands up in the air palms held out wide and everyone does it back underneath a big fat moon. That’s how it all ends, with upraised hands and a big California moon shining silver in the sky. I can’t believe I’m not even done writing about all this and my hat and boots are still in a pile with some other crap in the hallway, and Bob is already starting his next tour on another continent! He really is very busy. Well it was blast, thanks for the Rocky Mountain and the home turf shows, Bob, and for so much Spirit on the Water. See you at Zilker Park! -Caroline