Roll 'Em - WMO heads North before traveling East

Rand Alexander of Freshly Baked

Friday, 9/10/99 10:22 am

Although last night's show was in Flagstaff, it was actually the start of WMO's much anticipated East coast tour. For purposes of journalistic accuracy however, let the record show that the action really started on Wednesday evening, when Sean, AG, Reed, James, and myself hung out with Nick of Nick hosted an online chat with the band through his website, and it was very cool to see folks from all over the country getting chatty with the band. Nick also broadcast a very tasty WMO show over the Internet at the same time. It was alot of fun and a great way to kick off this trip.

We left pretty early in the morning on "whole-lotta-nines" Thursday. Man, there's a lot of people and stuff in motion for this tour. For starters, Big Board Bob is along for the ride. In fact he's going to do the entire East coast swing. Check this out: Bob brought a state of the art multi-track, digital recording system and is taping every show of the tour. The plan is to cull a live album from the best moments of the next 14 shows or so.

After Tempe tomorrow, Bob will drive the van we're currently traveling in back East, to meet up with the band on 9/16.

Scotty Manicotti and Big Board Bob

Joining Bob for the trip will be another longtime monkey junkie, Scotty Manicotti from Mammoth Lakes. The two road warriors are going to haul all the gear across country, meet us back east, and then when it's all said and done on 9/26, they'll bust it back to California in time to hook up with the band by the High Sierra 'fest on 10/2. Whew......

In addition to the van we're in, Ed has his SUV and as always, Alley and Chad and cruising in their van. After Tempe, the seven of us in this van will split up into their two vehicles... back East is -really- going to be nuts - TWO motorhomes and the van - 17 people - including the big kahuna and bull goose loony of WMO's current production team, Rich Maloney. More on Maloney and the "West meets East" groove armada coming soon...

So anyway, we left Ocean Beach pretty early. Caught a little sun and a quick photo-op on the cliffs overlooking the beach before hitting the road. Got to Flagstaff in the late afternoon. Loaded into Monsoon's lickety split with all the helping hands currently on board and had dinner. We stayed at the Monte Vista, which is a pretty cool, old hotel (built in 1927), located about a half a block from the club. In addition to being in easy walking distance to the club, the venerable Monte V has a huge red neon sign that makes it impossible to get lost on the stroll back to the rooms after the show and a full evening of wise monkey style fun.

Rand Anderson, guitar player of Freshly Baked from the LA area, was in town and joined the monkeys for a jam toward the end of the night. Strapping on a mandolin, Alexander added some very enjoyable traditional acoustic textures to a rousing version of the Waitress Song. An old friend of the band, Freshly Baked and the monkeys have traveled in the same musical circles for the past few years. They're also a hard touring band doing that independent road show thing...

Last night was a solid show from start to finish. Tearing it up for about two and a half hours without a break, the monkey barrel just kept rolling. So did a spirited wiggle-rama on the dance floor...

We're a few hours out of Durango. Tonight's show is at the Smiley Theater. Always a hotbed of monkey fans, this'll be the first time the band will headline a theater in Durango, most of WMO's recent shows there have been at the San Juan Room, which has a capacity of about 350 people. The last five times at the San Juan have been sellouts, so now it's time for the Smiley which has a capacity of 750 people. Tonight is also an all ages show, show the potential is there for yet another wild and wacky night in Durango.

Saturday, 9/11 11:18 am

Got into Durango mid afternoon and had a mellow load in, thanks in a large part to a nice, big door at the rear of the building that opens to the rear of the stage. Had time to stroll around Durango, get some three cheese tortellini and just sorta hang out as the band got set up. Showtime was scheduled for 8pm, so it was a real short shit-shower-shave session back at the motel after the 5:30 soundcheck. Things got a pushed back a little and the monkeys actually didn't hit the stage until around 8:30 or so.

The Smiley Theater is situated in a former Jr. High School that was recently converted into a community arts and cultural center. Fittingly, the Smiley show was an all-ages affair. Last night was a little weird - No alcohol and what seemed like an entirely new crowd of young faces. Lots of kids, somewhere around 250 of them, were no doubt into making the most of the opportunity to check out the band they've been hearing so much about but have been unable to see at the nightclubs.

Once again the monkeys played a marathon two-hour plus set without a break. Although the dance floor was packed all night, things got crazy about two thirds into the show. As was the case at Monsoon's the night before, the Waitress Song was in the middle of the action. Recognizing the opening riff, one of the kids up front got so excited he jumped on stage and started dancing. The crowd roared. Within seconds, another ten or fifteen high steppin' dancers had stormed the stage, instantly transforming the Smiley into a carnival of empowered youth, strutting their stuff in an uninhibited celebration of the moment.

Everybody in the band enjoyed themselves and from the looks of things, so did the people that came down for the show. It was a pretty early night, which is a good thing considering the long drive we're making today. The show was over by 11:00 and after loading the gear, it was back to the motel to get in some snooze time before an early wake up call this morning.

Tonight's show is outdoors in Tempe. We've got a long drive ahead of us and I'm gettin' tired... more later.