We pulled up to our hotel yesterday to find ourselves somehow transported to the middle of Kansas. A Holiday Inn Express, set a little way off the freeway, comes with the most American looking cornfield you could ask for. It was a long drive here, and everyone was dog tired, but it was almost soundcheck time so, after a half-hour of hurried rest, it was back in the van.
This venue was a music store, and a gigantic one at that. It has a large performance space in a separate building with state of the art sound and lights, a stage with a plexi floor and colored lights under it. There is also a dressing room larger than the first club we played over here. What it really needed was a state of the art bar.
Is it possible to be so polite, you're rude? I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but the lack of vital signs in the small sea of faces in front of us was unnerving. It was like they were using cadaver placeholders. They clapped after every number and then went back to their zombie-like state. I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but a tired band could've used the lift a well-oiled crowd might have delivered.
So we left the gig to go to the ristorante run by the brother of the owner. It's in the hilltop town of Cherasco, a stunning city of narrow cobbled streets, walled courtyards and a big ass monastery, Klaus threads the narrow lanes with inches to spare and somehow parks right in front of the bistro. We get out and listen to the sounds of a cover band somewhere nearby. The Italian David Clayton Thomas is singing "Mustang Sally" with just a bit too much testosterone. Testosterone, now there's an Italian word.
We, of course in jeans and tees, fit right in. No problemo. The staff also wears jeans, although they look tailored, and the men have the ever-present fitted shirts, starched, pressed and ready to serve you. And what they serve is a taster's menu of various mushroom dishes, five courses to be exact, which over here – for some delicious reason – means six. They choose the wine for you, and thank god for that, because I'm already at a scruffy disadvantage and ordering the wrong bottle might have gotten me ejected.
The really pleasant news – the news that makes up for the frustrating task of trying to revivify the over-polite – is that Fender is paying for the whole, not all that cheap, wing ding. God bless our corporations!
Since the show ended at 7:30, we thought we would have an early night at the corn hotel, but three hours later, after the most amazing tiramisu served mysteriously in three small glasses, we are back in the vehicle, negotiating the hairpin curves and, like Dorothy leaving Oz, we are magically back in the Kansas cornfields. All that is missing is Toto, but I never liked that band anyway.