Now, about the pants. I saw them in this very groovy little shop in Asheville, NC. It was in the afternoon. I liked 'em. Jackie Blount took me out to dinner that night and I had two glasses of wine and, walking back to our hotel, I suggested that we stop by the groovy little shop with the unusual pants, since it was right on the way. When we got there, Jackie insisted that I try on the pants and, I have to admit, they looked pretty good on me after two glasses of wine under the spell of Asheville's hipster ambiance and I forgot I was me and that I usually dress like a twelve-year-old boy. Jackie, with her generous nature, insisted that I buy not one, but two pairs of these very arty, Asheville-fabulous, very odd pants. I was giddy. My first thought when I woke up the next morning was, "Oh, jeez, I gotta take those pants back!!!" But, Jackie talked me out of returning them. They were my Asheville souvenir, a couple of pairs of expensive pants that I'd never feel comfortable wearing.
The pants hang in my closet and I visit them from time to time. I've taken them out on tour and I've actually worn the black pair twice. The first time was at a house concert in Iowa City that I shared with my friends in the band, Thankful Dirt. I was emblodened by Darren Matthews, remarkable guitar player and songwriter in Thankful Dirt, who can, and often does, wear fabulously odd clothes. I often don't recognize Darren, because he looks completely different every time I see him. One time he'll have on bell-bottom pants with hand-painted flowers all up and down the legs and cowboy boots and he'll have long flowing hair and a full beard looking like a hippy guitar player headed to a pot (I meant pop) festival in 1969. The next time I see him, he'll have on a loose-fitting black Goodwill suit with a wide, half undone tie, unkempt collar-length hair under some broke-down hat, the I-haven't-shaved-in-three-days, scruffy beginnings of a beard and scuffed up dress shoes looking like a street person on his way to a funeral. Here's the thing about Darren, though: He always looks "who's that guy" cool. And that's how I recognize him these days. When I see an unusually cool looking guy and think to myself, "Wow, who's that guy," I know that it's probably Darren. The other thing about Darren is that, when he's on stage, he always looks like a musician. See, that's what I was going for when I bought the funny pants.
So, I thought, "I'm gonna wear my funny pants to this gig, cause Darren will be there and he'll wear something odd and fabulous, and I'll just sort of blend in with him." (Like I could blend in with Darren Matthews, yeah, right. I'm always fooling myself like this.)
Darren arrived in the most normal looking clothes I've ever seen him wear. He had on jeans and a polo shirt ... a polo shirt!!! He did have on a knit cap, but it wasn't an unusual looking knit cap ... And I had on funny pants, which, in contrast, seemed like ridiculous pants. I was so discombobulated that I never make it to the second, more colorful pair of funny pants. They were in my suitcase, but I just couldn't make myself put 'em on.
The pants hang in my closet and they taunt me, "We dare you to wear us, you big fashion sissy."
I packed both pairs of funny pants for my last trip to Iowa just last month. "Two gigs, two pairs of funny pants," that's what I thought. I was not going to let the funny pants get the better of me. Again I thought I'd start with the black ones and work up to the more colorful ones.
My friend, Sandy Clarke, was already at Stomping Grounds when I got there. "Wow, those are fancy pants," she said. "Fancy" is the word she used, because she's nice and she's my friend and because she doesn't just blurt out the first thing that comes into her mind, which was probably, "What were you thinking with those pants?" Andy Fleming played guitar with me that night and what he played was so great and so perfect for what I do that I actually forgot that I was wearing funny pants. But, I remembered every time Andy stopped playing guitar.
I was staying with my friends, Bryon and Rachel Dudley (they're in four or five Ames bands and run a recording studio, The Spacement, out of their home). When it was time for me to get ready for the ACCESS CD Release benefit show the next day, I said to Bryon and Rachel, "I can't do it, I just can't wear funny pants two days in a row, I just can't."
"But, you promised," Bryon said.
Oh, jeez!!! Well, I didn't exactly promise, not exactly ... Okay, I sort of did. I told people at Stomping Grounds that, if they'd come to hear me at the ACCESS show, I'd do all different material and I'd wear a different pair of funny pants and they should come for the pants, if nothing else. Yeah, I think I said that ... And I did not deliver.
So, once again, I'll pack the funny pants for the next tour and I'll try to wear them, not just the black ones, but the colorful ones, too. I haven't figured out when or where yet.
This Sunday, Jackie and I will be at the Hot Times Festival in one of my favorite Columbus neighborhoods, Olde Towne East. There will be lots of art (my favorite being the decorated cars), food, music and enough people wearing funny pants that I won't feel like I have to wear mine.
The first show on my September Iowa tour is in Nebraska ... But, it's still part of the Iowa tour, because it's hosted by former Iowan and M-Shop honcho, Eric Yarwood. Nebraska would be a good place for funny pants, because I don't know many people there and, even the ones I do know, I don't see very often. So, it's not like I'd really have to face people after wearing the funny pants. Besides, I have Jackie Blount playing bass for me and Jerome Brich, a great guitar player who runs his own house concert series in Omaha that I've played several times. They're such good musicians that nobody will probably even notice what I have on. Back when we both lived in Ames, Eric Yarwood used to cook for me and get me so drunk every Tuesday night that, for all I know, he's probably seen me naked, so funny pants won't be a big deal to him.
Next, Jackie and I go to one of my favorite venues, Byron's in Pomeroy, to share a show with Dave Moore. I once heard Dave introduced at a music gathering in Memphis as a national treasure and I would sure have to agree with that. I got a note from Byron asking me to tell Jackie how much he was looking forward to her virginal appearance at Byron's. Since it'll be Jackie's first time at Byron's, maybe I can make it my first time to wear the colorful funny pants. Byron's seems like a place that would celebrate funny pants, especially out back in Hippyland where everybody's pants look funny.
Friday, the 21st, Andy Fleming and I share a house concert in Knoxville, IA hosted by Megan Day Suhr. Megan is a consumer advocate lobbyist who is running for the Iowa House of Representatives. This is a family-friendly event (little kids like funny pants) and a great way to get to know Megan and her vision for Iowa (which may not include funny pants).
Next, I am very lucky and honored to be part of the Maximum Ames Music Festival on Saturday and even luckier to be sharing the stage with Brother Trucker. I'll wear funny pants if Brother Trucker front man, Andy Fleming, will wear funny pants.
On Sunday at noon, I'll be part of the Maximum Ames Music Festival's Women of Ames Showcase. My friend, Leigh Adcock, after attending last year's Women of Ames Showcase, suggested that (okay, she nagged him into it) Bryon Dudley spend a huge number of hours putting together a Spacement compilation CD of the Women of Ames. I'm on that CD and all proceeds go to ACCESS, the women's shelter in Ames. You can purchase the CD at Where It's At or The Vinyl Cafe in Ames, or by contacting Bryon Dudley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Amazing and important things are happening in the Ames music community. I'm so grateful that they keep letting me be a part of that. This year's Women of Ames Showcase is at the Ames Pantorium ... I swear I'm not making this up.
Later that evening, Andy Fleming is going to play guitar with me at the Grapevine in Clive, IA. Bonita Crowe, co-owner of the Grapevine, will be there to sing with Chad Elliot. If you haven't heard them, you need to. Not only are they a stunningly good act, they're also two of the nicest people you'll ever meet. We'll all be joined by Iowa legend, Dave Moore. With any luck, all the funny pants will need laundering by then and I'll be back to normal clothes. This is going to be a momorable show, but the seating is limited, so you need to make a reservation by emailing email@example.com.
If you think this email is too long, you just don't understand the depth of my pants angst. I should probably see someone about this. There's probably something I could take for it.
Thanks for listening,