No Depression Blog: Albany

By Kevin Russell
October 1, 2001

Albany was waiting for us to saunter in on a jet liner from Austin via Hotlanta. That Marriott hotel was a welcome sight to the weary upon arrival that Tuesday night. As the van with Sweansteen and Markwad (Patrick Sweany and Mark Creaney respectively) had not made it to the Capitol city yet, we had some extra solo hotel rooms.

There is a constant rotation of hotel room mates going throughout a given tour. When we have an odd number of people, a solo room is in the mix. So we take turns getting the solo. I have always thought that in order to get the solo room one should have had to have played a solo at the show. That has more to do with my enjoyment of bass and drum solos though.

The discussion of how to proceed was had in the lobby beside a round table with a magnificent floral arrangement of rhododendron and birds of paradise. The issue was and often is how to decide who gets the first solo room/s? Does the order reset after one tour has ended and another begins or is it carried forth from where we left off? My suggestion was to just start over alphabetically by family name. That always works against me having a name that starts with R. But it is an arbitrary default that seems to sway parties to adherence in short order. I might start trying the oldest first system since I am the oldest, haha. I think Keith wanted to draw straws. but, we didn't have any straws handy. And I don't know, the discussion was starting to escalate emotionally. Those straws could have been used as weapons in our highly skilled hands. Nobody wanted blood spilled in that lobby so we found a peaceful solution. Another catastrophe avoided. Jimmy and I went up to our room and settled down for the evening. We watched The Office and then hit the hay.

I wondered how I was going to continue to blog this way on my ever shrinking iPhone. The thought troubled me. Squinting and typing with my thumbs is increasingly tedious. In the beginning it seemed liberating to not have to lug around a clunky, heavy lap top every where. But, that lap top, in all of it's buggy, antiquated sluggishness now seemed like a nice, roomy old 20th century Detroit luxury car; a V8, great suspension, wide turning radius and fine Corinthian leather.

Next day I went through the progressions, pros and cons of what I thought I'd never consider. That's right, an iPad. (It really bothers me actually that the apple spell checking product automatically spells their little "i" product names wrong but will not allow me to type the word shit without having to ask permission to change it from "shot."

"Certainly Mr. Russell you do not intend to actually use such a word in yer communication with another human on the apple networks? Here let us select a word more suitable and palatable for you. There now, isn't that what you really meant to say?" chimes the disembodied, grammatically appropriate Steve Jobs Godhead.

There we found ourselves, Keith and I, at the Crosswinds mall, or some such pairing of quaint-village-inducing words; cross gates, west winds, walnut trail, riverbend. If I ever I build a mall I am gonna name it, "Vanity Horde Mall."

The mall was impressive. It had everything one would ever need to live if the grid collapsed. I imagine that in the aftermath of some catastrophic disruption of goods and services small militias might seek to control a mall or mega stores for the huge amount of supplies, food, tools etc. Battles between these militias even could occur.

This day though I found an Apple Store. After asking my wife if I was bat shot (shit) crazy, in which she responded, yes but you should still buy an iPad. I swaggered into the inviting, open style store of perfect balance between function and form. A friendly, longish haired young man approached me and asked in a very casual but professional tone if I was finding everything all right or if I had questions. I asked him if he knew why the caged bird sings? "For an iPad" would've been a good response. But, he just laughed nervously and looked a little closer at me, contemplating if he was going to have to ask me to leave. But, we soon got to the transaction.

Dmitry, if I am spelling it right, it turns out is a musician as well. He has a band, Dirty Paris (link) in Albany. Upon further discussion we discovered we had a mutual friend in Drew Landry from Lafayette LA. Dmitry had actually backed Drew up at his show here. The Gourds have known Drew for years. He even helped me line up a house boat in the swamp once. Drew has done a lot of great music and a lot of great, noble, inspired work on behalf of his home state in relief of the BP oil spill. (link) I invited Dmitry to the show. But he had never heard of The Linda where we were playing. I thought for some reason it was in Schenectady. Not sure why I thought that. Maybe because I never really know where I am.

The Linda is a former bank building in what I think is downtown Albany. It is a venue run by WAMC radio. They promote shows there and sell beer to the public. It has an institutional feel to it, like a church or a school or maybe kind of a Euro feel to it, a community center vibe. (album title?) The green room is in the old bank vault. It still has the vault door on it. Impressive hinges on that mofo.

It was a full house at The Linda that night. We tried a long opening song sequence that worked great. The Gourds have never been real big on going quickly from song to song. But, it is a fun thing to do every now and again (bad album title). I loved it going from "You Must Not Know" to "Peppermint City" then "Marginalized" into "Haunted."

Listening rooms used to gives us the heebie-jeebies. And they can still present problems for us sometimes. When we are not in a talkative mood, awkward silence can fill the room between songs. If somebody has to tune or get a swig o' libation, we usually can count on a crowd to talk to themselves whilst awaiting the next number. Listening rooms are set up to give the audience an immersive experience where they sit passively and let themselves be taken on a musical ride. That silence can get under the skin. It has emotional mass that can derail one's train of thought. I have seen actual physical damage occur from what I believe was such silence. Recently I felt that we didn't handle the Lobero theater very well in this way. Too much dead air. These Gourds, usually so full of wit and whimsy, can wilt in the spotlight on occasion. It is human of course and charming. But, there are ways to manage it. Segue way and colorful anecdotes are the best.

The show was a joy. And we left with a good feeling. The load out was noteworthy for the fruit stripe gum plant just outside. I couldn't stop looking at it's fruit striped leaves and thinking of that psychedelic zebra who used to peddle it. A light rain was falling as we stood against a brick wall and witnessed about the many band photo's taken against brick walls. What is it we love so much about this particular facade? It must have something to do with the three little pigs.

Note: Audio, video, and set list from this show can be found here.

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