A day off yesterday, slept in 'til 10 then out 'round the corner for a serious hit of Peet's coffee. The caffeine managed to tear through enough cobwebs for me to get down to the gym. If you've read these notes in the past you'll remember the facility at the San Francisco hotel to be the finest anywhere and certainly the largest. It seems like a city block square of every treadmill, free weight, machine and exercise hell imaginable. It was already mid-afternoon by the time I had a shower and tumbled out on the street with Danny C. for a wander. We talked about going to the San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art, but decided a cold beer and something to eat was in order first and ducked into the nearest bar we saw for a couple of cold ones, nachos and chilli. The sunshine outside contrasting with the cool dark of the bar, a couple of baseball games on the tele. We never made it to the SFMOMA, instead opting to pick up some stuff at Walgreen's then back to the hotel.
My cousin Neal Winchell has lived in the Bay Area for many years now and early in the evening he met me for dinner and drinks. We got caught up on the couple of years that elapsed since seeing each other last and walked to Chinatown for a great dinner at The Empress of China. Several stories above ground level, the restaurant boasts a grand view of the Bay and Signal Hill. Knowing my passion for 78 rpm records, Neal gave me a 4 record set of Xavier Cugat's called Conga with Cugat as well as a mint copy of a single sided Enrico Caruso record dating back to the mid-teens of the last century. If that wasn't enough, we also share a love of crap horror movies, the worse the better, and he included four DVDs worth of gems like The Monster Walks, The Last Woman On Earth, Vampire Happening...you get the picture. I know what I'll be doing with spells of insomnia this tour. Thanks Neal.
Up early this morning and a bee line for Peet's. I'm getting spoiled, Peet's has a high profile on the west coast but when we begin heading east we'll lose the chain. For the time being I plan to enjoy every cup. From there it was off to the wonderful Jews On Vinyl exhibit at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. A large, walk in 1950s/60s decor living room complete with couch, chairs, area rug and hi-fi console with Jewish music playing...all from the golden era of vinyl albums. I sat in there for nearly 90 minutes taking it all in. Being a record collector, I have a number of these records in my own collection and I couldn't pass up the purchase of the book that accompanies the exhibit, "And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Our Vinyl".
A quick hop by car this afternoon over the Bay Bridge to Oakland and the Paramount Theatre of the Arts, an art deco theatre seating 2,850. The stage was comfortable, the sound great and the show was a joy. Mike and Tim are really coming on like mad with the band is really firing. Tonight was not without it's mistakes, but everyone is so confident that they cover for any screw ups. I certainly had a huge one at the beginning of Remembrance Day. It is a tricky change over with instruments, chairs, stools and loads of traffic. My job at that point is to change the settings on my amp, pull a stool over into position and make certain it is on it's lighting mark, make sure that the volume and tone knobs are set correctly on my guitar and put a capo on the second fret. I managed all of it except the capo. Tim and I begin the song together and it was a train wreck, him playing in one key and me in another. Of course, Tim was correct. I handed it off to him while I reached round for the capo and sheepishly continued once it was clamped into it's proper position. He saved my ass.
A quick runner back to the hotel and the wonderful bar awaited us for a couple of Syrah night caps.