Thursday, August 12, 2010

Furry Friends and Transportation Challenges: Seattle July 28 to July 31

On Tuesday July 27th I met my new friend Stephanie again in Bothell, just north of the city, and she showed me yet another amazing coffee shop. After chatting for a while, we drove to a charming little shopping village a mile or two away (apologies, the name escapes me - this is why it's good to blog every day!). We spent a leisurely afternoon just walking around from shop to shop. A lot of the stores sold various things to decorate a country home with. As an owner of a huge farmhouse herself, these were right up Stephanie's alley. The guy from New York City essentially living out of his Honda Civic? Not so much. I still had a great time, though. I know I never would have seen this pretty little area without a native taking me there. I was really psyched when we found a shop that sold gemstones and beautiful little rocks, for purchase as they were or made quite skillfully into all sorts of things. Stephanie bought a gorgeous lamp made from a good-sized, pink quartz-looking sort of stone, and being a huge fan of gems and rocks, I picked up a bunch of nice looking stones to make the Civic's interior a bit more homey.

I was then headed south to Auburn, Washington, south of Seattle and not too far from my hotel at the time in Kent, to hang out with another new friend, Mandy. Unfortunately, the tour hit its first major bump in the road, almost literally, as I came down I-5. The Civic started vibrating violently and a very audible grinding noise seemed to be coming from the general area around the front wheels. The steering wheel started shaking so badly it was tough to keep a grip on it. I slowed the car down, and under 50 mph it seemed a bit better, although I could tell the vibration and the grinding noise were still there. I figured I would just get to Mandy's for our visit, get back to the hotel afterward, and take it to a repair shop in the morning to see what was up.

Mandy and I had a great time hanging out. She's a massage therapist who works out of a couple of different places in the Auburn area. As she is a huge music fan, and has her own apartment with a couch that folds out into a bed in her spacious living room, she very generously offered me to move out of the hotel and crash at her place for a while. I thanked her profusely and took her up on her kind offer. I drove (slowly and carefully) back to my hotel and slept there for one last night.

On Wednesday, July 28, I packed up my stuff and said good-bye to the Days Inn in Kent. I drove (again, slowly and carefully) over to Mandy's and dropped some of my stuff off, then dropped the car off at a repair shop conveniently located about a mile from Mandy's place. They said they would look at it on Thursday and call me to tell me what they found.

Mandy's place was a pretty crazy center of activity when I got there. She has a wonderful, friendly, little dog named Ezra (pictured adorably, above right), and two beautiful cats, Percy and Deirdre. But she was also dog-sitting for two members of her family, so the pups Lola and Manini were also there. Good thing I am a huge animal lover.

They were all good pets, but Lola and Manini were both pretty young - I forget how young exactly, but definitely still puppies, and the two of them and Ezra, who is older but who has perpetual puppy energy, were a trio to be reckoned with. They wrestled, ran, jumped and cavorted all over Mandy's apartment for hours on end. Mandy and I would take all three of them out for walks at the same time, and it was like trying to manage all the animals of a circus. They would constantly jump on, over and under each other, and get their 3 leashes so tangled it would take Mandy and I forever to get them all sorted back out again. Honestly, it was a bit exhausting, but a real joy. As I say, I love animals, so to get to be around these 3 great little dogs for a while was a real unexpected treat.

Wednesday and the next 3 days into the weekend were a bit odd compared to the previous part of the tour. Mandy was nice enough to let me borrow her car a couple times, but mostly she needed it to get back and forth to work and for her personal commitments, so I was a bit stuck at Mandy's place while the car drama unfolded. Not that I am complaining one bit - Mandy has a great place so I was mostly fortunate. But the first news I got from the repair shop was that the car was in such rough shape they needed to do $1,200 worth of work just to be able to drive it safely and find out what was really wrong with it. Yikes. I haven't owned a car since 2004, and I knew with the vehicle would come all the other inevitable expenses - gas, oil changes, insurance, the occasional parking ticket, the occasional repair. But $1,200 and counting in my first month of ownership was fairly disconcerting.

Mandy and I continued to hang out when she was home, having some really great, long talks on her outdoor deck. The update from the repair place wasn't wonderful to hear either. Once completing the first round of repairs to get it drivable, they found the real problems, which were going to cost an additional $1,300 to fix. After that, they assured me, my car should run great for a long time. Well, I should hope so after paying $2,500 out of pocket.

The last few days of July I was also quickly scrambling to pull together my trip for a week back to New York City which would start on August 1st. The band in NYC I am in, Atomic Shotgun, had a brand-new drummer we invited on board just before I left on my solo tour, and we had an important show that our singer Corynne had worked very hard to get booked in Washington, D.C. on August 6. So I was flying back primarily to rehearse with our new drummer Vinny and to go do the D.C. show with them. I also hoped to see a few friends, get a doctor's appointment out of the way, and run a few errands while I was there.

Thursday night Mandy let me borrow her car so I could go play at the Gypsy Trader in Fremont, the same place I had played the previous Thursday. This time I decided to play my Fender Stratocaster guitar with a little distortion on the amplifier, instead of my acoustic guitar I've been using most of the trip. Generally, I find the sound of electric guitar a bit disconcerting without other instruments (drums, bass, etc.) to accompany it. But every once in a while, I see a performer who plays an electric guitar solo in their own unique style that really works. So I thought I would break out the Strat and see what happened.

I really liked the sound I got out of the Strat, and again there was a room full of friendly, attentive folks there to play for. I felt like I played pretty well, and as always I had a great time. I met some other musicians that had not been there the week before, and had a nice time chatting with Linda Lee, who runs the Thursday night show there. She joined me on drums again, in fact, on "Beautiful Wanderer," and it really helped support the sound of the Strat that second time around.

Eventually the car repair shop called and said they would not be able to have my car fixed before I left for New York. I told them that was fine, I'd pick it up when I returned. Saturday July 31st I spent the day getting the last few things to prepare for my New York trip done, and then got ready for another unexpected surprise I had found out about about a week before. I was going to see one of my favorite bands in the world, Silversun Pickups, play the Paramount Theatre in Seattle.

Set List from Gypsy Trader Show, Thursday July 29:
1. Home of Love
2. Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Cover)
3. Beautiful Wanderer

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