Sunday, November 11, 2007


yes we've all forgotten about it. yes, the hangover is finally over. yes, the van is starting to smell normal once again. but we have finally uncovered visual evidence of the third third of our journey. so without further explanation, i present new orleans-texas-vegas-san diego-san fran in pictures:

checkpoint charlie's: a friendly home to cats of all species.

new orleans' hardest-working bar-band: foreground, slewfoot; middleground, cary b. and her exquisite voice/left hand; background, our own dave hurley, guest-drummer!

satan drives the prevailing speed.

bayou vanishing point

truth in advertising for a traveling rock band.

actually, we went the other way.

after seeing/smelling/tasting this, i take back everything bad i've ever said about texas. everything

aaron, adapting nicely to west texas.

there are worse places to be stranded, i suppose...

junction, texas, u.s.a.: where it's never christmas for bambi.

'...standing on the edge of the hoover dam..'

after 20 hours of straight driving, our early morning vegas welcome. viva...

did somebody say the food sucks on the road?

waye newton, eat your heart out.

erik, dancing with the devil--or his servant, the hula-stripper.

our san diego benefactors, the unbeatable dr.'s gus and mita

dr. gus's best medicine: RIBS. (ok, i promise this is the last photo of food. really.)

scolari's office, san diego, ca. holy crap, we finally look like a rock band!

hope for the world: a band from israel, named 'lebanon'; a great bunch of guys who play amazing music and look like THIS:

who needs brick walls and broken glass for your band photo, when you've got a plastic jungle-gym and toddler?

guster-man, defending the world from evil, one baby daughter at a time

our san frisco welcome.

the king hen did NOT play this gig. but we're looking into some polka tunes for our next album...

the king hen, circa 2030. aaron, wake up!

'you walked through that poison-oak patch too?'

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


four posts in one here, so get comfy:

While we still don’t have groovy visuals to show you just yet (and sister, they are groovy so just be patient.), it seems that some of you are actually dissatisfied with the breadth of this commentary—that some want more information than descriptions of our stops and all the highlights that they offer—that you actually want to hear about all the stuff in-between as well, about all the time spent in this van. Granted, the overwhelming majority of the time passed on tour has been time spent in dave’s mom’s plush ride; and yes, we’ve gone unprecedented distances to get to all these wonderful cities and towns, but is the road-time really necessary to describe? Are you sure? Do you really want to know how we all chant these grim words ‘…Back in the van…’ with irony and resignation after each local adventure and gig? Do you really want to know about all gas stations we’ve visited, about our comparisons of fuel prices and all the various procedures there are to pay with cash? Area you proud of our hyper-efficient and strangely-satisfying loading/unloading procedure? Is a rest-stop comparison that crucial? Do you really want to hear about long long hours of no conversation and the frustration of the Ipod shuffle playing the same songs over and over while ignoring whole abums? Do you really want an explanation of my rinky-dink accounting system and the fluctuating balance of gas-money cash-proceeds that have kept our vehicle well-fed? Really? Honest? Are you that interested in knowing who fits best in the floor of the back seat when sleep is the only option? Do you really care that some of has have discovered that we can actually read (and write) in a moving vehicle without spraying the entire passenger compartment with vomit? Do you really need a description of the dorky road-side yoga done at rest stops in yoga-suspicious states? Do you really want to know who has the smallest and most inconvenient bladder? Do you really want a tally of all the people in other cars who have stared with suspicion at the stickers on our roof-box, or the daily countless identical white grand caravan minivans we seem to encounter? Do you really want confirmation that—on the interstate—there are the same jackass idiots in huge shiny pickup trucks cutting people off left and right, the same sleepy truck drivers, and the same (understandably) resentful foreign-born gas station clerks, that this country is basically the same wherever you go, and therefore essentially fucked from the inside out? Really? Really? Really? I didn’t think so.

Once in san diego the king hen again wallowed in luxury, hospitality, local color and way too much good food. And actually played a pretty darn fun show at SCOLARI’S OFFICE on Friday night.
This time the luxury was provided by the aforementioned pilot-man dan. We never saw him but we sprawled in his house while he was out somewhere flying fed ex packages over vast oceans. At this point I’m not sure he exists but he’s got a great house and an unmatched liquor cabinet.

The hospitality and good food were all taken care of by dan’s next door neighbor and our true local benefactors, the superhero dynamic duo of DOCTOR GUS and MARVELOUS MITA. They gave us coffee, took us surfing, charmed us with their upber-cute daughters (come on, just a baby and a toddler—don’t get any ideas, you perverts), conjured up a local audience posse for us, and fed us and fed us and fed us. We had YET AGAIN another transcendent rib fest, and damn if it wasn’t better tnan Memphis/texas/everywhere else!

SCOLARI’S OFFICE is a great little joint with no stage to think of, but with a built-in crowd ready to rock in a cozy little space that feels like the drunken captain’s cabin on a ship run aground in north park. We were anticipating our favorite position in the line-up—the middle of three—until wouldn’t you know it, we arrived to a FIVE band list, with us batting dead last. Luckily it was TGIF-niight and said built-in crowd swelled to claustrophobic move-sideways-with-your-drink-in-the-air capacity.
It was a veritable salad bar of music that night, what with the glam-metal band who’s bass player had to sit to accommodate a broken leg, the satanic Johnny rotten-looking keyboard player and his plastic skull microphone stand, and my two favorite bands, of the evening, both of whom will be in Portland next week. You will be well served by paying them a visit. Openers PONY PANTS from philly, pa. actually gave the drum-machine a good name, as they fronted a pre-programmed rhythm section with sweet math-pop-metal grooves and a vocal attack that kind of reminded me of the yeah yeah yeahs, but actually not really. I gues what I’m trying to say is that they can’t be categorized too easily, and it’s always a welcome sight to witness such invention. When it works. Equally inventive but about 35 times more searing and mutherfrigging INTENSE was tel aviv israel’s ironically-named instrumental quartet LABANON. These four very friendly, shaggy fellas blasted out something beautul, intricate, abrasive, and so ballistically loud, thaq you have to ask is that what it sounds like to live in isreal today? After all the exploded skulls were cleaned up following lebanon’s set, it was after 1 am and time for the king hen to entertain the dazed survivors—at this point a comfortable but still healthy half-capacity crowd.

Dr. gus and his cheering section kept the house on our side, and all was noise and warmth, with only one technical hitch: a broken bass string! I didn’t know that was possible without a pick, but thank heavens for the replacement-bass, senor mexi-fender.

The rock-train adjourned to pilot dan’s house where local fan mark was the latest person to use a touring band to his advantage, to party like a rock star himself and entertain the bejeezus out of the rest of us. Mark, drew’s a pretty lucky baby to have a dad like you. He’ll be the funniest bully on the block.

Add this to your list of things you Shouldn’t Do With a Hangover: drive straight through los angeles’ 2-hour stop-and-go traffic up I-5 on a Saturday afternoon. Just don’t do it. Trust me.

No offense dear reader, but I’m about as tired of writing this missive as I am of waking up with a hangover and ringing ears. So please forgive your humble journalist for burning through this last report on our last—and best stop here in the birthplace of beat poetry, the grateful dead, journey, faith no more, primus, and yours’ truly.

We had high hopes that back-to-back weekend shows in the dirty bustling heart of the tenderloin district would provide a suitably entertaining finale to our little traveling circus of rock-weirdness—and at last this city did not disappoint.

It certainly helped that we had a rock-solid faithfull cheering section in friends and family, from erik’s sister Kristina, and friends darla, joe, Kristin, neal, and garrett’s dad and stepmom his sister jenny, her quick camera-work, her boyfrend Kevin, roommate chris of (both displaying the hilarity of a 20-something approach to holding one’s liquor), aaron’s dear friend, old band-mate and truly genuine rock star morgan, and once again, his ever stalwart twin leaning-tower Emily.

Saturday night’s show at the EDINBURGH CASTLE was unamimously our best-received and most rocking show ever. Never mind the new bass string going out of tune, its resultant technical difficulties, or the rivers of stinky man-sweat pouring through that hot little room: it was all agreed that we killed it. We were followed by the PARANOIDS, a tight combo playing interestingly constructed songs reminiscent of good bowie, but I’m afraid they suffered from a room-clearing intensity-letdown as we did when following Lebanon the previous night. Their substantial san fran hipster local supporters hung in there however, and kept things festive for them. Darla / joe and Kristina provided dual accommodations for the night, ensuring a fine finish to our lucky string of luxury lodging. Madison? What’s that?

Speaking of festive, most of the following day’s afternoon was spent up the slopes of marin’s mount tamalpias at some german club lodge chalet at their pre-oktoberfest…er, fest. Think erik becker’s version of heaven. Think summer camp with beer and lederhosen. Yes, there was polka. Yes, there was sausage. Yes, there were hordes of typically, painfully healthy and smugly good looking nor-cal types getting gobnoxiously drunk in the early atternoon. Yes, there was bratwuust. And bockwurst. And sauerkraut. And more lederhosen. And a long, hazy afternoon accordion-soaked beer buzz under the redwoods.

Some of us sobered up at darla / joes’s and some of us joined old high school friends for seafood on the bay, before heading to the HEMLOCK TAVERN for our final night. With a reduced crowd on a Sunday night, we were unceremoniously shoved into the opening slot, but I think we more than held our own and gave the half-full room a show worthy of any tour wrap-up. It may not have been as crowded and well-received as the previous night, but the room sounded better, we played perhaps a little better, and erik finished in style with his well-executed swan-dive across dave and all his drums.

We were followed by the BAD DUDES, an unfortunately-named but amazingly talented and pretty much perfectly executed poster-child for all that is math-rock, last on the list was our new dear-friends, those shambolic israelis called LEBANON, sounding—if anything—more clear and more intense than ever. Mr bass-player-whose-name-i-can’t-even-pronounce-much-less-spell, you can borrow my amp any time you wish.

We finished our last night with a final last-call toast of maker’s mark, listened to a homeless man recite sweet love-poems out on polk street; and I learned a valuable lesson: a sure-fire way to get your bartender to hate you is to steal the maraschino cherries.

….it is now currently 75-degreesF and mit. Shasta is dead ahead and partially obscured by clouds. The trip odometer is at 9960, dave’s jar of Louisiana quail eggs is leaking slightly and Portland cant approach us quickly enough.


for those of you with short attention spans and a distain for calendars, remember:

the king hen will show off their tour prowess at the TONIC LOUNGE in portland this thursday, the 20th of september. we're slated to go on last, so bank your sleep and start the weekend early.

Friday, September 14, 2007


another photo-less post, i'm afraid. the camera adapter is still being held hostage by the winning new orleans postal system.

your humble scribe sits here in san diego, salt-stained and taco-fuelled in the house of mythical dan the pilot man. we're on the cusp of the last stage of this trip, three weekend shows on the west coast, and ready to put our las vegas show behind us for good.

one of the things we've discovered is that all sorts of unpredictable events must line up in unison to make that 'perfect gig'. not like we've been even close to perfect, but it seemed like our show at the DOUBLE DOWN SALOON in las vegas was going to go pretty far in that direction. we rested up nicely in luxury after the epic three-state trucker-haul; we were well-fed by jessica-the-generous with yet again another amazing barbeque spread; the venue was a divey little bar OFF the strip, apparently catering to locals and punk rockers 24 hours a day we were instantly greeted by that particular brand of friendly and happy drunk we've known to love these past weeks, (scary looking, but sans attitude and only a danger to themselves) and the bar seemed to be pretty packed with these folks.

so what happened?

well, things seemed to peak about an hour before we went on stage. about a half-hour before we went on stage, half the happy drunks seemed to evaporate, and our companion act, DJ BOZO--spinning great 60's garage and surf-tunes--was joined by 'szandra', the cranberry-haired apparent-satanist burlesque hula-hoop dancer. watching her do her thing, we knew that she was an impossible act to follow. but follow we did, and we played a set that could only be described as 'intense'. we didn't chase too many people out, but it was quite awkward playing about two feet away from a couple of very bored-looking german punk rock girls who did their best to look occupied with their cell phones or away in the middle distance.

so even when everything looks like it'll go right, all it takes is one or two unforseen acts of satanic hula-hoopery to thwart that 'perfect gig'. needless to say we drowned our sorrows in 'ass juice' and further spectation of the weirdest bulresque act i've ever seen, deep into the night.

if you all are looking for those 'what happens in vegas...' stories, there are no more to tell. honestly. no gambling, no deviancy, no (unusual) debauchery. just watching satan's little helper spin her hoop, barefoot on a dirty dirty floor. the king hen felt no need for all the strip-action out there in the land of the competing colossus'.

note to las vegas: nature will always win. eventually.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

further adventures in the big empty

Things got progressively sputtery with the van after an anfternoon swim in the SOUTH LLANO RIVER, and we had to abort our cannonball run to el paso and put in for the night here at the HILLS MOTEL in junction, TX. We have a date a mechanic in the morning in this classic dusty little town in the middle of…well, texas. All the typical visions you may have in your head are pretty much true, including the 1-story motel surrounding a pickup-trucked parking lot and little pool, to the dude riding his horse down the main drag. Not yet spotted are the dog sleeping in the sun and the chainsaw massacre.

After a debate worthy of the iraq senate, it was decided we should stay in the town of junction for one extra day while we waited for a crucial part to be delivered to the mechanic's shop--our van's current motel. seems that the corpse of the freshly-dead air conditioner was some kind of a zombie eating away at the engine proper, or so it was explained to me in highly technical terms. this caused a hectic day of napping, reading, swimming, avoiding thousands of crickets, and searching unsuccessfully for a wireless signal.

The fallout from all this west texas relaxation was a straight run to las vegas. for all you map-fiends, that's a long way.

over the course of 18.5 hours we drove from the middle-of-nothing to the middle of less-than-nothing, through a huge city that just appeared from all this nothing (el paso/juarez), and across two more states in darkness, through the airspace of the best-yet radio station encountered (93-X, gallup, nm) and across the hoover dam in pre-dawn darkness, to stagger at into our current lap of luxury here in a gated community just outside of las vegas. i think we all aged just a little bit from this drive. but this is the first place we've stayed that includes statuary, so at least we've got that going for us.

tonight the adventure continues at the DOUBLE DOWN SALOON, a certified dive near the hard-rock hotel. their website advertises something called 'ass juice', so we're hoping we'll regain our youth with this magic elixir.

Monday, September 10, 2007


A few facts for you:

The most dangerous place to drive is apparently coming through Houston from the east. No less than four near misses and one recent aftermath of stupefying motor vehicle idiocy plus one apocalyptic thunderstorm flood serenaded our drive in the space of about 35 minutes.

The boudin balls at the BOILING POINT restaurant somewhere among the pines off route 10 at the louisianexas border are delicious and gamy but the seafood gumbo is better. Than anything on this planet! And there were more and fatter and slower enormously fat people than ever I have before seen in one room.

Football is big in texas if you didn’t already know by now. Its enormity unleashed the above mentioned F word upon the king hen as well as upon a decent part of the indie and punk music scene in Austin. O don’t get me wrong; Austin was happening all over the place, all blocks of juke joints and restaurants and very good looking women and men of all interesting ilk cruising around.

And the capital building is impressive at night in its park all aglow in a halo of butter light and bats.

But back to the previous fact. Half the people in Austin were in that huge stadium watching their ‘horns' beat TCU in I think the home season opener. Austin was pretty and loud in its barbeque-scented air, all vibrant with people everywhere, but they weren’t here for the music at BEERLAND. Despite the club’s solid reputation, despite the recommended pick in the local weekly, despite that fact that our headlining acts were playing a benefit for some local important guy who was in the hospital without insurance, these people were here to cruise the streets to shout ‘how bout them horns!’, than go to clubs to see live music.

Various folks at the club explained how the all live music fans huddle in their houses when the football people fill the streets—for whatever reason you can make up on your own, I suppose. The place sort of reminded me of Portland more than the previous cities we’ve been to in many ways, but mostly in the way sometimes there seem to be so many clubs and bars with live music, you wonder how there are enough patrons for all the bands in all these places, all at the same time. Or maybe we just got fucked by football.

So we played a great set to about six people, slightly bitter that nobody showed up for us the first band, but things didn’t improve for the remaining four (!!!) bands, while the streets outside throbbed with humanity. And for the first time, we completely struck out in finding a local benefactor to put us up for the night. Local bands have come through for us everywhere we went up until Austin, but that streak is over. Oh they were friendly enough, but just not as generous as elsewhere. Are we starting to look that ugly?

Thinking about the end of another streak--how our surprising run of luck through the music-city segment of our trip ended on a down-note--we drove in silence out of the happy mayhem about 20 miles into the night towards a nondescript moto-lodge.

Fact: nothing soothes the soul of a king hen back to good spirits like a big plate of slow cooked meat. The SALT LICK in the town (?) of ‘driftwood’ was our Sunday salvation, preaching the gospel of barbeque like preaching only can be done in texas.

The further you drive west through texas, the longer it seems to take to get you through the state---especially in a meat-stupor. It’s a huge hell of a lot prettier than I expected, but it’s doing something janky to the minivan’s engine.

And the A/C just gave out with more than 500 miles of texas yet to get through…hmm.

picture time again

so i'm supposed to be the organized one on this tour, the one who is in charge of the merchandise and the money, as well as the photo-documentation and public relations via this medium. (oh yes, i play bass too.)

so why am i the only one who has left things behind? adding the to 'sport-chamois' towel and notebook/accounting ledger i left in boston, i seem to have absent-mindedly donated the camera upload cord-thingy in our new orleans hotel room. they are graciously mailing it to our las vegas destination as this goes out to you, but in the meantime, these are the last images you will see for a while:

me and marie, proprietress of the nashville rock and roll hotel. we're much happier than we look, honest.

ever wondered what tuscaloosa looks like? now you can die happy.

rock star manicure, or an explanation why aaron gets blood on everybody's guitars

mississippi vanishing point

hang a right at the what?

in from houston, liz and lance.
"being in the military is just like the department of transportation, but with guns."

the richest people in the french quarter: the impound lot. sorry, but we didn't kill em, T-bone.

you know you're in the tropics when...

j.c. doing his best wizard of oz

post-gumbo crab-carnage

98 bucks a night, 2 huge beds, top floor, just one block off bourbon street, but quiet!

there are a lot more people in these cities than in the living ones.

oh and lastly, i'm $28 off in my accounting versus the cash we have on hand. who trusted me with this?