Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Favorite Bands (WILCO)...

At the end of next month WILCO will release their eighth album, titled "Wilco (the album)". I love this band. If you are unfamiliar with their work, I am not going to attempt to categorize their style of music. Okay, maybe I will... Nearest I can describe would be awesomeness piled on top of amazing, with a dash of incredible. As far as I am concerned, Jeff Tweedy could read the phone book and I would trade a Tony Gwynn rookie card for the recording... I may be a little biased.
PRP Favorite Bands - Wilco #NNO

I won't delve too deeply into the band's history (99% of you don't care when I post about music.) They put on an amazing live show. Having seen them live eight times over the course of the last 15 years (wow! 15 years!), I would strongly recommend getting tickets next time they are in your neck of the woods.

My friends, Jake, Dushan and I, had the chance to "hang out" with Jeff Tweedy backstage at a show back in '95. He was playing with a side project, Golden Smog (also amazing), in San Juan Capistrano at a club called The Coach House. After the show, the crowd had thinned out a bit, and Jake said we should head backstage. Dushan and I looked at him like he was crazy. We didn't have passes; we didn't know anyone in the band; we certainly weren't hot chicks.

The "backstage" area at The Coach House was up a flight of stairs to the side of the stage. While Dushan and I were taking turns mocking Jake's idea, Jake nonchalantly walked to the stairs, lifted the rope (ignoring the "no access" sign) and walked up. Well, the two of us left behind had way too much "chalance" and not enough to drink to pull that move off. Our trepitude and our mockery was rewarded when Jake reappeared a few seconds later, followed by a burly security guard. The guard stationed himself at the bottom of the stairs to prevent any further riff-raff from trying to make their way up.

Jake was unfazed. He is never fazed. He is faze-proof, filled with anti-faze. So a few minutes later, when a roadie asked the guard for a hand moving an amp, Jake, once again, headed up the stairs. He motioned for us to follow him, and up we went.

At the top of the stairs was a dimly lit hallway with a half-opened door at the end. Jake pushed the door open slowly and poked his head in. Standing out in the hallway, glancing over my shoulder in fear of angry security personnel, I was pretty nervous. The door now fully opened, Jake says, "Hey, what's up guys?"

Like they were expecting us, Jeff Tweedy warmly invited us in and offers us beers. I was a little awestruck, but Jake and Dushan carried on lengthy conversations with the guys in the band. I am pretty sure I scared Dan Murphy (from Soul Asylum) and Gary Louris (from the Jayhawks) out into the hallway with my slack-jawed awe. Dushan was deep in conversation with the drummer. I am fairly certain that Dushan was impressing the guy with his references to arcane heavy metal bands. Jake was on the other side of the room chatting with Jeff like they were old buddies, so I leaned against the wall within listening distance. Jake asked him when Wilco's second album would be out, and Jeff said that it would be a two-disc album ("Being There" - was released shortly thereafter). I guess I had an incredulous look on my face, 'cause Jeff looked at me and tried to convince me, "No, really - double disc! Okayed by the label and everything."

I was a little embarrassed, so I just made eye contact with my beer for the next couple of minutes. Observently, Jeff asked if I wanted another beer. "No. I'm good," I replied. Not so much as a "Thanks for asking."

As we left, I asked Jeff if he would sign my ticket stub from the show. He obliged, and signed with a ball point pen on the front of the stub. (Autograph Purist Time: I would have prefered a Sharpie, but the auto turned out nicely.) On our way out the door, Gary Louris made his way back inside, and I asked if he would sign the back of the stub. He grabbed a pen off the nearby table and started to sign the back. The pen didn't work very well, so he scribbled for quite a while until the ink began to flow.

The ticket stub is one of my favorite bits of ephemera in my collection: A bold Jeff Tweedy autograph on the front of a Golden Smog ticket stub, with a custom-drawn "tumbleweed" eating Gary Louris' auto on the back.


gcrl said...

dude. wilco is awesome. i am a 'mats fan, but enjoy wilco too. i saw the smog at the benefit for karl mueller of soul asylum here a few years ago. no tweedy, but westerberg played with them, as did the dude from dream syndicate. then i saw the smog on their own a couple years later. louris wore some crazy pants. good good times.

Matt F. said...

I've only been able to see Wilco once in concert but they are #2 all-time for me after I guess that would make them my favorite American band.

I go through phases with my favorite songs...right now it's "Impossible Germany."

beardy said...

Never had the honor of seeing them live, but I love me some Wilco as well. If you haven't had a chance to check out Loose Fur, you definitely should if you're a fan of the Tweedy.

steveisjewish said...

Huge Wilco fan - outta mind outta site is one of my favorite all time songs - very much looking forward to the album - keep the music posts coming - i love to hear bloggers perspectives on things other than baseball cards!