One winces anymore at the numbers tumbling up and up on the Pilot and Roadway and BP marquees as we approach five dollar gas and each trip becomes a tough decision, so I feel for all the troubadours wandering the country in vans and trailers filled with amps and instruments and merch as they try to bring us live music while they worry about the next few gallons. Wednesday, I went north to see Ninja Gun in Athens and Atlanta. Yes, they're from here, but they were finishing their tour in Atlanta, and I missed their send-off, so I decided to welcome them back to Georgia and to visit former students Kaleb and Ashley in Athens and Tara and Kenny in Atlanta, and to check in on Amy's parents in Waleska (They're loving the Lake Arrowhead life).
The Athens show was fun as much for the company as the music. I've seen NG many times in a bar with a less than stellar sound system, and the Transmetropolitan is one of them. The opening band (Timber?) played an enthusiastic acoustic set, and Ninja Gun followed up with a fun but quick set of songs from the new CD, Restless Rubes (scroll down). Ace reporter Ashley Fielding was there, putting the band up (or up with the band?) for the night. It was good to catch up with her and hear that she's doing well, and to see that the boys had survived the long days on the road without too many scars and smelling reasonably clean, though they'll get home broke and tired and unemployed. The major Athens surprise was the presence in the bar of Patrick McKinney (Langtry, Iron and Wine), who enjoyed the show and who glowingly endorses the Transmet's Tofu sandwich. A virtuoso musician of considerable accomplishment, he complimented NJ on their sound and Coody for his stage presence. We ran into him later in another bar that specialized in Belgian-style beers, and he suffered Kaleb's girlfriend's abuse (sometimes drunk guys in bars are more than just drunk guys in bars; sometimes they're musicians or even poets) as he was trying to recommend that I stay in town for the Sun City Girls tribute show. (Alas, no one was around to take care of the kittens, so I had to head home Friday.) We ended up the evening on Kaleb's balcony with cheap red wine and Kaleb's puppy to mollify her mortification after she found out who Patrick was ("I really like Iron and Wine," she offered penitently). Finally to the couch at around 4:00 am. Thanks for putting me up (or up with me?), Kaleb, and the Thai place the next day was lovely.