Keaton Collective: California dreamin’
At the tail end of March, we headed out on a two-week tour from Bellingham to San Diego and back. Unlike previous tours with our old van, “Van Diesel,” our newly acquired Chevy Express van (which we each chose a different name for, i.e. Vantana or Express Yourself) was actually in good shape and lasted the whole trip without any breakdowns or tragedies. Also new to the collective on this trip was our newest musical addition, our pedal steel player, Zach from Black Beast Revival, who helped round out the country rock sound with his pretty licks and kept us all laughing throughout the trip. He had never been on the road this long and we were happy to pop his tour cherry. One of the first stops once we made it to the sunshine state was my former hometown Santa Cruz, which has always been one of our favorite spots to hit when we tour. We crashed with our BFF Lexie and Devin aka PALMZ at their beach house. We beached and burritod for a couple days before we played an epic house show with them in their living room. The cops came before our last song but we had a blast nonetheless. The night wound down with an acoustic jam session with our old pal Steven Griswold. We played some tunes of his like “Truckers Wife” and “Cocaine and Liquor.”
After a crazy two days of fun and music, we loaded “Van Tourison” and hit the road. Just short of Hwy 1 South, we spotted a hitchhiker beside the road with his thumb out and a guitar slung over his back. Zach was riding shotgun and leaned out the window, gave him the devil horns and shouted ROCK N ROLL! We all laughed and continued driving to our show that evening in Hollywood… About 45 minutes later, we were off the highway, driving through the farm town of Watsonville. Along the city streets who should we see but the same hitchhiker!? With his thumb out walking down the street. Amazed at his ability to catch a ride and that he beat us there, and that we even saw him again. Zach leaned out the window once more and yelled ROCK N ROLL! We all cracked up uncontrollably. The odds of that happening blew our minds. We continued south and I joked that we would see him in Los Angeles at our show.
Five hours on the beautiful I-5 freeway later, we pulled into Dim Mak Studios on Hollywood Blvd. The venue, usually a hip electro kind of bar, had a long flight of stairs greeting us with our five amps and two drum sets. We loaded in and received what was our longest sound check of tour. After sound check was complete we hit the streets to give Zach a taste of the tourist scene in Hollywood, he had never been there before. We walked around looking at all the stars on the sidewalk, the Chinese theater and the street performers.
As we walked along Ricky spotted a familiar face in the crowd. He pointed it out to Zach. “dude…the hitchhiker!!!” Zach rushed over and said to the guy “Excuse me, Sir, but do the words Rock n Roll mean anything to you??” The kid was as shocked as we were to see us a THIRD time in a third place in one day. He had taken about six different rides and somehow made it to the exact same place as us. At this point, our minds were COMPLETELY blown. We tried to get him to come to our show but he wasn’t 21 and we lost him after that. He will never know how much he made us laugh.
Back at Dim Mak the show was about to begin. Our families and friends who hadn’t seen us in some time all came out to the show. As soon as we started playing the sound check settings seemed to go out the window and turn to a wash. Feedback and squealing monitors pierced our ears as we powered through the start of our set. Despite the rough start we played pretty well as our good pal Phil went crazy singing along with all the words in the front row. After the show was done we attempted to load out through the madness of Hollywood Blvd at 2 a.m. on a Friday. First that meant carrying our gear through a crowd of collared shirts and mini skirts drunkenly dancing to dubstep. Then we had to load our gear out on to the sea of people leaving the bars after last call. One guy puked directly in front of the van door as we were trying to get in. Another random homeless guy attempted to get in the van and Ricky had to break the news to him that he wasn’t coming with us. Another gentleman who had a few too many wanted to fight after being asked not to touch us. The full moon seemed to bring out all the crazies that night. Finally we slammed the door and headed out.
As we made our escape from the insanity, the worst smell imaginable somehow engulfed “Chevvy Chase.” We all started blaming each other for farting, but no one took the heat. The smell was so bad that Bill had to rip the air freshener from the rear view and huff it to avoid puking. Where it came from is still a mystery. Pretty crazy. We finally escaped the smell and the chaos and headed north toward the suburbs of Simi Valley where we crashed after such a long day.
The following night was the kind of night that redeemed any weirdness left from Hollywood. We played a return home house show at our friends house where it all started, the Lodge. The house band, Kayaks, killed it. The show was a sweaty dance party and all our old friends were there packed in the living room. We couldn’t have asked for a better welcome to the town where four of us grew up. The remainder of tour went pretty well. As we made our way back into the Evergreen state our homie J-Yo called to say that we were being played on KEXP. We quickly turned it on and heard the rest of our song “Get In Yr Truck (Shut Yr Door).” It was a pretty awesome moment as we made it back to the Pacific Northwest.