Wednesday, June 7, 2006

johnnyhickman.com road blog 6

6/7/06 So...after a few days of intense NYC rehearsals with our new bass player Sal ( going very well...more on Sal later ) a hectic, rainy photo shoot and several busy press days I stumble sleepily down the hallway to my hotel room. The cell phone rings and it's our manager informing me that my friends (and one of my favorite bands) Drive By Truckers are performing on Conan O'Brian. Cool!....nice way to wind down a busy, productive day. So I shower, don my semi swanky hotel robe, crack a cold beer and with remote in hand settle in. The television pops to life at the tail end of "Late Night With David Letterman" . Elvis Costello is in mid song and behind him (as he has been for several years now) is our former band mate, bass player Davey Faragher. Davey is in fine form, resplendent in his leather jacket as his talented hands do that white boy soul "fruit at the bottom" bass thing he did so well with David and I years ago before personal matters and a subsequent, near inability to tour took him out of our world. I smile as I recall how a year or so ago, he and the equally talented David "Immy" Immergl├╝ck (Counting Crows, Monks Of Doom) rolled into Lo Fi studios in Redlands California to lend their God given chops to my Palmhenge sessions.

My wife catered the evening in style as 3 old friends laughed, got caught up on each other's lives and made music. After the song ends Letterman strolls past Davey to shake Costello's hand and I wonder if he remembers him from the first time Cracker appeared on the show. If not I suspect that the delightfully effervescent, 6 foot 3 bassist reminded him with an impish grin. With a proud and happy heart I change the channel...and....what the hell!? Here's former Van Halen singer David Lee Roth prancing around in jeans and boots in front of a half circle of bluegrass musicians singing.....ok this can't be real.....a hillbilly version of "Jump".

This isn't just weird, it's frightening. Suddenly I recognize yet another Redlands musical alumni and friend John Jorgenson on mandolin behind Roth. For those of you who may not know it David Lowery and I are both also from Redlands. It's not a very big town. Now here's another homeboy on the screen. Multi instrumentalist John has, since his fledgling days there on the new wave/punk scene been (amongst other things) a member of popular country rockers "The Desert Rose Band", one of three virtuoso guitarists and founder of "The Hellecasters" an instrumental group of MUSICIANS musicians that have made guitarists all over the world want to either quit or go home and practice until their fingers were numb. Myself included. From there he became Elton John's 2nd guitarist and multi instrumentalist ( he plays 6 or 7 other instruments very well ) and musical director. He recently graced the big screen (with Penelope Cruz...oo la la!) playing the part of renowned guitar legend Django Reinhart as well as performing/arranging the score for the film.

The Roth gig must be a $weet temporary sideline for John. I find out later after an e-mail exchange that (of course) he also put the bluegrass cats together and no doubt sketched out the musical arrangements. Change the channel again and now, here's big ol Paterson Hood howling his sensitive yet somehow menacing heart out as Jason and Cooley wail away on raw, soulfully bluesy guitar solos from the left and the right. Bang...well done DBTs. I drift off to sleep happy for my talented friends and thankful for my band-mates. With a great new label and record I wonder if we will find ourselves back on the late night television shows. If not, truthfully I will not be that upset. The live shows just keep getting bigger and better........and with the tour commencing in a few days that feels MORE than blessing enough. Thank you for that Cracker fans. You make my mostly charmed life a reality year after year. Hope to see you soon.....goodnight.