Levin Brothers 2019 U.S. Tour

Days One Through Four

Something different this time around; a real diary. I didn’t bring my camera, lenses, charging bits and pieces… on a jazz tour there’s just not room for much extra gear (or much time to take pictures.) So it’ll be text and the odd pic with my cellphone.

Sat. Jan 19th.
7am; left Kingston, got to Newark and flew out a few hours in front of the incoming snowstorm. We negotiated our overweight and oversized bags onto the flight without too much trouble. Flight to San Francisco was okay, nothing noteable, which is a good thing. Then, assembling all that gear we traipsed through the S.F. airport and trains to the Alamo rental counter. Maybe starting to feel a bit tired, we opted for a bigger vehicle than the minivan I’d reserved. A way big SUV, which felt like the right decision as soon as we hit the road. I’d pencilled in 5.5 hours drive North, to Arcata — it was much longer, on the winding 101N. in rain and fog. Add in a stop to grab a bite at a roadside Oriental Palace, (“General Chicken”!?) we got in 11pm (2am E. Coast time) and counted the day a long one, but a success.

Sun. Jan 20th.
A very ‘on the road’ experience this morning: all three of us called home to our wives to hear how the snow shovelling was going! (“Gee, sorry I’m not there to help… Again.)
In the Arcata Playhouse, show 1 of the tour went very well. We did a very long sound check to try to run most of the new material. New things include jazz versions of three Crimson songs: Bolero, Matte Kudasai, and Sleepless. Also a Hendrix piece, a Steely Dan one, 3 pieces of Pete’s we’d never done, and a piece by our wonderful drummer, Jeff Siegel. In the show there was a little stumbling about arrangements, as you’d expect, but the audience was terrific. After the show hanging out with the folks who stayed was very pleasant - nice people. And venue manager David Ferney has things totally together. I can see why this is said to be a very special area to live in.

The hotel we’re at is at a casino, about 10 miles from town. We got back after the show to find that the casino part had suddenly closed for some reason. No problem for us, but let me tell you, the folks who booked into the hotel so they could hang out in the casino all night were not pleased! Then the lights and power went off for awhile… pretty late at night, so maybe we were the only ones it bothered. Caused us to consider re-naming “Out of Darkness”, which is our set opener, to “Into Darkness”.

Mon. Jan 21st
Day two in Arcata - one of the easiest days of the tour for us, with no travel. We found an excellent breakfast place in town, (T’s Cafe) so the Levin Bros band is happy!

Dan Rathbun, one of my bass idols, wrote me that he might come to the show tonight. The other guys in our band weren’t familiar with Dan’s Sleepytime Gorilla Museum albums… so I played them “Sleep is Wrong”. Don’t think we’ll be planning a jazz version of that soon, but it’d sure be interesting.

Second show went really well, as the first had. Different feel to it, and we’d substituted a number of different songs for the people who came to both shows. Again, really nice reception, and we hung around quite awhile before packing up.

Tues. Jan 22nd
Long drive to Sacramento today, but no show. We hit T’s Cafe again for breakfast in Arcata on our way out, then down the winding 101 - much prettier in the day than on the rainy night we came up. In the Redwoods, we stopped at a roadside “espresso bar”. They didn’t have espresso… but they did have Big Foot souvenirs!

Jeff drove this time, and I had some time to fill in the diary. We also discussed our upcoming setlists, since the next few shows we’re opening for Soft Machine. That means a 65 to 70 min. set, as opposed to the two hour show we’ve been doing. Always hard to hone things down and keep the pacing right. Well, I guess if it’s not ideal in Sacramento, we’ll have plenty of chances to adjust it.

More in a few days, after our shows in Sacramento, Berkeley and Santa Cruz.