Is it just me or do years go by incredibly fast once you’re out of high school? Year’s 1 – 17 seemed to drag on for a very long time. As a little dude I would speculate on the phenomena of dying, truthfully I still do (it’s some crazy shit). However, when I would have my little kid bug-outs about death, to quell my anxiety my parents would simply tell me that “death is a very long ways away from now,” and at the time that seemed like sound advice. It was presumably a long way from then, and many experiences and mistakes between. At the time seeing as those years were dragging on in that seemingly never-ending but always nearing quest for independence… There was a rigidity to grade school and high school and the ever looming myth of college and living on your own.
Once you can stay out late and go see rock shows every night of the week, eat pizza or nachos each one of those nights as well, time starts to fly by pretty fast. Your choices start to have consequences as you get older, and some of those choices might render you back to an excruciatingly slow speed of day, but I’m not going that deep right now. I’m just trying to get us to a place where you understand that I lost track of writing these journals this year because life for us got going really damn fast, and I got kind of tired at the end of the day because it’s been a long time since I’ve been that busy, and my eyes wanted to watch my stories on the box and close themselves on the couch, and I knew I’d done a lot each day, so I allowed them to do that.
So we have catching up to do, you and I, but we won’t get it all in. A lot of it is on tape, and that’s the music stuff, and that’s the meat of it anyways, so I won’t bog you down too much. Because I missed my window of opportunity to report on who we saw on what stage and who played the van each day on our stage, it’s been way too many to recount, and it’s questionable that anyone gives a damn either way. I can however try to tape together enough memories to inform on how come the second half of this year kind of spun away from us. I think that’s going to be the best way to sum it up, right?
I guess we last left off in Austin, TX after SXSW. That was a great success, no need to delve back in as I have extensively discussed that excursion in my previous post (oh so many months ago). So when we got back from SXSW we had what can be described as an “assload of content” (industry term), and we didn’t need to go outside for a minute. However, we got a couple offers for the second weekend of Coachella that we really couldn’t turn down.
The first opportunity was a planned trip with our friends from Orange Amplifiers to go out to the California desert and record some desert rock and roll. Since Orange does not mess around we lined up some of the most iconic figures in the desert rock-sphere to join us for this once in a lifetime experience. Our first destination was Brandt Bjork’s complex in Joshua Tree. Brandt, for those who don’t know, is a sort of legendary figure in the desert. Frontman for the band Kyuss, he now splits most of his time between his Venice Beach home (which we found out was about 2 minutes from my Venice Beach home) and his Joshua Tree house and studio.
Brandt had just completed construction on his studio and requested that rather than filming inside of The Van we broke in his new digs and filmed inside of the studio. In trade he opened his home to us, and let us use his barbecue. Of course, Alex from Orange fucked it all up when he forgot to buy cheese with the burgers, but who’s dwelling on that right? Who would, almost a year after the fact still complain that Alex really screwed the pooch on that one when he forgot the cheese for the burgers? Who would be that petty? Brandt also introduced us to a bunch of his rock and roll homies, something like five bands I believe, including one named “Drug,” as well as a six foot long garden snake who hung out around the house for protection from rattle snakes. The snake was not in a band, but Brandt did say it was his homie.
The day went pretty smoothly, and as night fell, as is often likely to happen with trips to the desert, things started to get a little hazy. All of the bands who had recorded earlier in the day had stuck around to hang out and hear Brandt’s band perform. Drinks were flowing freely and Brandt’s wife broke out a secret stash of fun vegetables from the fridge and was very generous with all of it. I know my staff stuffed their pockets full in hopes that we’d be able to utilize the goodies later on in Joshua Tree, because, well, that’s the place to do it if ever there was a place. Well, there and Wonderland, of course.
At any rate, we didn’t want to overstay our welcome, so after Brandt finished shredding we saddled up and headed off to our crash pads for the night. I’m not sure where we stuck the crew, but myself, and DBell, and our roadie Jay, and Alex from Orange (even though he forgot the cheese) and Norm from Lagunitas all shacked up at a magical Air B’n’B that was called the Tiki House. It was pretty much like stepping into a time machine and winding up in the 1960’s at the home of someone who really liked to throw Hawaiian themed cocktail parties. That is to say, it was better than any damn hotel we might have stayed at.
That first night we crashed pretty early because we knew we had a big day ahead of us. In the morning we were off to possibly the most famous Joshua Tree music location there is, save for that room Graham Parsons died in. The spot I’m referring to is Rancho de la Luna Studios. An unsuspecting property nestled on a hilltop in the middle of Joshua Tree. This is where Eagles of Death Metal guitarist Dave Catching makes his home and where many a famous musician comes to drop some tracks under the bright lights of the stars in the Joshua Tree sky. I believe Dave told us that someone named David Grohl had been there just before our arrival doing some recording, but that’s hearsay.
While our experience at Brandt’s place had been a nice intro to desert rock, this day spent at Rancho de la Luna was the one that blew our minds. Again we got to record a constant flow of fantastic rock and roll bands, but this go around Alex wasn’t able to fuck up the bbq. Instead, Dave took the wheel and made us some tremendous tacos while we all goofed around on his adult playground… there were BB guns, lots of booze and extracurriculars, and even what appeared to be a shipwreck in the middle of his backyard. We flew our drone and RZA the dog ran wild all over the property all the while a fantastic rock and roll sound track scored it all in the background. Then the culmination, what we were all waiting for, the arrival of Jesse Hughes.
Most of the day had been spent in wonderment as to whether the notorious Eagles of Death Metal front man would make an appearance and perform in The Van for us. The rest of his band had been there most of the day, but aside from a few cryptic texts received by Alex from Orange, it was uncertain if their lead singer would be showing up to play the session. Yet just before the sun went down, there he was, rolling up the dirt road in a black sports car like a dust storm. He hopped out of his ride, a small posse in tow, and his presence was immediately felt. It’s in fact impossible not to feel the presence of Jesse Hughes. His personality is larger than life to say the least. He’s an entertainer through and through, both off and on the stage. When he speaks it’s a whole lot of bullshit, but it’s beautiful bullshit and I loved listening to every minute of it.
I’m not sure that he stopped talking for more than ten seconds the entire time that we were there. When night fell and Dave Catching had finished playing grill-man and host he strapped up his ax and joined Jesse and the rest of the band in The Van for what is no doubt one of our most memorable night sessions ever. They played three songs fast and furious, and Jesse sat down for one of the most candid interviews we’ve ever had, and when it was all over not only were our minds blown, but we all (well, at least I did for sure) got that tingly feeling you get when you feel like you just witnessed something really special. Because we had, and we did. Mind you, that was months before any of the horrible events that would befall this band that you no doubt read about in the national news. This memory was strictly about rock and roll, although it undoubtedly becomes more poignant when analyzed in historical hindsight.
We partied pretty late into the night with EODM. Jesse busted out some of the sprinkles that he is well known to be addicted to on a mirror and passed the it around a circle. Some partook, others watched, all get to say they were in a speed circle with Jesse Hughes. That’s about as rock and roll as you get. Or at least as I’ve gotten, to this point, in 32 years. My tastes on those dabblings lean more towards heading southward so I was merely an observer, but I’m gonna count it all the same.
We wound up back at our tiki house around three AM, where Lagunitas Norm made us some late night snacks in tin foil and we rehashed the evening, all a bit buzzed from the sheer awesomeness of what we had just been a part of. There are a lot of times that we film bands and I’m excited to see what the edited product looks like. This was one of those rare times when I was excited to see every single thing we filmed those couple of days. Not just the bands, but everything…
Then of course there’s the morning after. This version of which saw us bidding farewell to our friends Alex from Orange Amps (AKA Ginger Dingle Fucker) and Norm from Lagunitas (AKA Gnorm). While we were a bit miffed to see them go and to see our time in Joshua Tree come to an end, we didn’t cry too much. Actually, truth be told, we were staying another night in Joshua Tree, and we were going to Pappy and Harriet’s for a War on Drugs concert, but we didn’t want to make Alex and Norm feel bad. At any rate, that show was kick ass and we got to party with Dave Catching at Pappy’s and rage for one more Joshua Tree sunset. Can’t be mad at that.
When the J-Tree experience was over it was time to push on to our next desert setting, the Coachella Valley. There was after all a fairly large festival taking place that weekend and we were going to make our debut appearance there. Or, close to there. About five minutes away to be exact. We were setting up shop at a massive property that was used as an off-sight party location for Coachella goers. It was the second weekend for the festival and by a stroke of luck we were able to secure the property, its sprawling lawn, swimming pool, hot tub, marsh, basketball court, and mansion all to ourselves. Not a bad way to wean ourselves off of the Joshua Tree high that we’d been on for the past few days and nights.
The first night at the Coachella property was spent hanging out at the pool and hot tub and basking in the wonderment that we had this adult playground all to ourselves. We did a little bit of set-up as well. Turns out that The Jam Van looks pretty picturesque when you park it in front of a sweet ass swimming pool with a scenic mountain backdrop, who knew? The following day we kicked the fun into high gear. Fifteen bands came through the property to film Jam in the Van Sessions, and since we had this awesome space and all these bands we figured “what the hell, let’s drop a G at the Wal-Mart and throw a party!” So we invited all of our LA homies and we partied for three days and nights.
Most of the bands were awesome. Some like Chicano Batman, Bad Suns, and Phox were playing Coachella, others like Alchemy and Caxton were local acts that we were tuned into by some helpful locals. Regardless, they all rocked. Well, that’s not true… one band didn’t rock and I have no qualms about blowing up their spot, because, well, I don’t give a damn. They’re called Facelift, their music is hard stuff, it ain’t bad, they’re solid musicians, they were just shitty people. We always have free booze at our shoots courtesy of Lagunitas and on this occasion Titos Vodka and a Moonshine company. Most of the musicians we work with are mature enough to drink responsibly and behave appropriately. These jackasses were not and did not. From the moment they arrived, with a very large crew of degenerates, they were throwing up red flags left and right indicating to us that we should probably get them the fuck out of our party. However, we’re pretty patient, and we like to have fun, so we let it slide when they got blasted and started acting a-fool. We let it slide when they started cannon-balling on top of people in the pool. We let it slide when one of them threw up a little bit in the pool. We let it slide when we caught one of their crew sneaking around the private rooms of the house where our belongings were. We let it slide when they started screaming profanities at the women who were hanging at the party. We even let it slide when they repeatedly opened the Jam Van door during another band’s session (although this occurred when they were exiting the party, had they not been, we probably wouldn’t have let it slide). We did not however, let it slide when their bass player returned with his girlfriend later that night to presumably mooch more free booze off of us and as it turned out decided to try and steal our entire table of t-shirts. Luckily our driver, Spud, had his eye on him and he chased him down, rocked him in the face and got our t-shirts back. Long story short, you won’t ever be seeing a Facelift (AKA Shoplift) session on our website ever.
Other than that I’d have to say the weekend was pretty flawless. I certainly had a blast. It was one of those experiences that you’re sad to see end, but you’re also happy to see your own bed and get a good night of sleep.
Then we went back to LA to do a lot of editing. We had some one-off shoots during the down-time. One of note was at the Casper Mattress showroom up in the Hollywood hills. It was mostly of note because I shared a California cigarette with rapper Problem and tween sensation turned aspiring non-tween-musician Drake Bell. In fact I literally stood between the two of them while problem passed a gigantic cone. It was a lovely moment. Also, Problem brought his funky band with him, and hip hop sessions are infinitely better when there’s a live band involved. We met a crooner named London Richards that day as well. Did not expect that voice to come out of that body. It was kind of like when Steve Urkel transformed into Stefan Urkél, only London was never like Steve Urkel… which kind of kills my whole analogy, but just go with it, I’m sure you get it. We also filmed a band called Brother Grand from San Francisco, whom I have to reference because I had one of their songs on repeat for about a month straight when the session released.
At this point we were kind of in the heat of Festival season so we planned a nice little run up the northern coast of California to attend our first ever Cali Roots Festival. HOLY HEADY BATMAN, these heads were friggin serious about their weed. I saw enough headlocks there to wrap the earth around several times in a filth and lice riddled quilt. I also mean this in the nicest of possible ways, because all of the Cali Root-heads were fantastically welcoming and kind to us. My favorite heady-creature from the weekend was undoubtedly the dude who drove our photo Chris “Morty” Mortenson up to Monterey via Craigslist Lift Share (yup, Morty is that guy X10). The guy who drove Morty in his head-wagon that I believe doubled as his home spent the entire weekend in a full marijuana themed garb. Every detail was weed influenced, from his glasses to his cape. I don’t believe he changed clothes all weekend (it was a long weekend too), and I don’t think he should have. A close runner or runners up were our camera man Jon’s brother and his crew. These dudes were like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown only they were always smiling and the constant smoke cloud that followed them smelled a lot better.
Other things of note that I saw and heard… One band’s lead singer had headlocks that literally went down to his toes and could encase his entire body. Another man that I saw had just one massive headlock that went down to his ankles but was about football sized in circumference. The festival had little gazebos that people could hang out in to avoid the heat and charge their electronics. The devices that I saw most frequently being plugged in were electronic dab-rigs. For those of you who don’t know what those are, you’ll have to do a Google, we’re not that type of website (but think “weed”).
There was also music at Cali Roots, and a lot of excellent jams went down at our little headlock-free oasis in the back-stage area. It was pretty cold out, and I had the beginnings of what would become a fairly gnarly virus starting up, so I spent a lot of my time in a pile of bean-bag chairs under mounds of blankets being serenaded by some fantastic musicians. My favorite of which had to have been Ethan Tucker. This dude’s Cali Roots Jam in the Van Session blew my mind. I also had this guy’s tracks on repeat for quite some time after release. A couple of my other favorites from the Cali Roots sessions were Trevor Hall, Dirty Heads, Iration, Fishbone, and Mike Love… damn that man is good at smiling. I’d say the best way to sum up Cali Roots was that pretty much all of the bands were down to puff on the vaporizer pens that were sponsoring the trip for us or whatever green items were passed their way. A lot of other places we go to we often get the “I’ll smoke after I perform” response, which is perfectly ok… just not how things were at Cali Roots.
Festivals for the most part take place over a weekend, albeit an extended weekend (Thursday – Sunday). So when we go on the road to multiple festivals we have some time to kill in between. This go around we holed up in Petaluma, right down the street from our friends at Lagunitas. They aren’t in the most scenery-heavy strip of Petaluma, but it didn’t matter much to me. I was sick as a dog and aside from the Urgent Care Center and an Applebees a block or so from the Hotel I pretty much stayed holed up in my room, it was pretty gross. Think that scene in “Jersey Boys” where Tommy uses all the towels to blow his nose and throws them on the floor. Luckily I came out of my grossness right around the same time that we were leaving Petaluma and heading to Napa. The house keeping staff at the Embassy Suites was not thrilled with my “Jersey Boys” reenactment.
The crew seemed to have some during our stay, they said something about eating oysters and hanging out with our brewery friends, but I tend to not pay attention if other people are having fun and I’m not.
Anyways, I was ready for fun at Bottle Rock, an experience that would prove once again that we are a resilient bunch determined on making headiness out of a not heady situation. Now you must be thinking to yourself “but what’s not heady about a music festival in California?” “Aah,” but I say, “it’s in Napa, California.” Which you must understand my friends, is a very important distinction. The situation can best be summed up like this, Robert Plant was one of the headliners at Bottle Rock 2015. When we went to see him we tried to find a rolling paper amongst the crowd of wine drunk collar wearing folks. We were unsuccessful in our efforts. You see what I’m getting at now?
However, our set up was rad. We were parked next to the Lagunitas Beer garden and were able to hang out with all of our Lagunitas’ homies. They had bubble machines, we had bubble machines, they had beer, we had beer, they had a bunch of happy go lucky people, we had Cuz. Simply put, we created a pretty solid vibe spot and even though we couldn’t find a damn rolling paper at a Robert Plant show, we found some headiness at Bottle Rock.
JJ Grey and Mofro played a version of “Every Minute” for us at a point in the day when the sun was shining its brightest and splashing down on everyone in the vicinity and it was really just a thing of beauty. Not just the song, but the whole everything, it was awesome. A few other awesome bands that we hooked up with at Bottle Rock (but not all of them) were Con Brio, Vacationer, Brothers Comatose, Afrolicious (their lead singer goes by the name Pleasure-Maker, I kind of had to just put that in there) and The London Souls. The last of which, The London Souls, invited us to their late night gig at City Winery opening up for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Who could say no to that? Well, like most of our camera crew save for Acid Chris who will die before he misses a chance to rage, Olivia the intern, Jack (I think, at least, if he didn’t go with us, then his presence was not memorable, sorry Jack). So it was me, the Perfect Hippie (PH), the PH’s special lady friend, we call her “Local,” DBell, Acid Chris (AKA Morty, AKA Chris), Ethan, Spud (AKA Cuz), and I think that’s it, but now that I’m thinking about it I’m thinking maybe Jack was there…
So anyway, we walked in a pack to City Winery. Local was wary that we only had 2 tickets gifted to us by the band, and how would we get all of us in? I reassured everyone by telling them that we were old pros at this and we’d either figure it out or we’d go somewhere else to party. That was good enough to get our entire group to the venue intact, where we discovered that there were two levels to the venue, a downstairs wine bar and an upstairs music room. To get access to the music room everyone who bought tickets or were on the list was handed a paper wrist band that you stuck onto your hand yourself. This was the chip in their armor. While they had ticket takers posted at both staircases making sure that everyone had a wrist band on, they allowed patrons to put the wrist band on their own wrist. All you JV level partiers take note, if given the opportunity, never put a wristband on tightly, always leave it loosey goosey. Be it for an instance such as the one I’m about to describe, or perhaps there’s a cutie you’ve got your eye on and you want to get them into VIP, possibilities are endless, just always remember keep it loose so you can keep it loose.
For our purposes, we didn’t even put the wristband on properly at all. Instead I asked the group if anyone had some gum. Ironically enough, the Local had some gum. I chewed it up and we used little pieces of it to adhere the bracelet around wrists. First I went up with the Local. Then once we’d gotten up there I took her bracelet off of her wrist and into my pocket, went down as if going to the bar or the bathroom, gave the wristband to the PH who then put it around his wrist with gum and strolled upstairs while I went to the bathroom. Upon my return I gave my wristband to the PH, he waited a beat, and then went down to fetch another member of the group, and so on and so forth until everyone was upstairs enjoying the show. However, not necessarily enjoying the beer, as the only thing on tap was Chris Robinson’s own brew. I don’t drink beer, my stomach can’t handle it, but I certainly can smell it, and this particular lager had one of the most disgusting aromas I’ve ever whiffed. It also had the unfortunate effect of causing those who were drinking it to have a really bad case of stank-mouth. So any conversation I had that evening was had with my face turned the opposite way to the person who was speaking with me.
At any rate, I know it was just sneaking into a concert, but I hadn’t done something like that in more years than I care to remember and well, let’s have a cliché moment and say that it made me feel young again. That’s the kind of shit we used to do all the time and that’s the kind of shit that inspired us to get this Jam Van thing off the ground. That shit is just so fun. So now we’ve got this and it’s a ton of fun too…
Nobody however, had as much fun as Acid Chris. He must have downed forty of those Brotherhood Brews because he straight up had halitosis. He also tripped down the steps on the way out of the venue around 3AM and fell into a wall of dry-wall and punctured it. I thought it was pretty funny,but also realized it was a pretty good indicator that we should call it a good night and turn-in, which we did. I put AC and Spud in an UBER together because AC couldn’t use his fingers at the time and Spud doesn’t know what the hell an UBER is. It was a great fuckin’ time.
Aside from that, the most memorable moment certainly came in the form of our “Special Guest” performance. You see, our sound engineer, Ethan, is known to have a pretty decent singing voice, which he uses for the intense art form that is karaoke. So I decided we were going to put him and his song bird’s voice to the test. I tuned everyone in but Ethan, and let it be known that there was no special guest, but that we all had to hype it really hard and put it on the schedule and get videos asking people in the crowd who they thought the special guest was. In retrospect I should have kept it a secret from all of them, oh well… it was still good.
So by Sunday afternoon the stage was set and Ethan fully thought that Snoop Dogg was showing up to record with him at the Jam Van. We did a countdown over the PA system to announce the special guest, seemingly 30 minutes before they would be scheduled to perform. Then when the countdown hit its bottom we threw a photo of Ethan on the monitors labeled with his performer name, Fenomenon! We cued up his favorite song to get that soul out, “Feelin’ Good” by Nina Simone, and we let him take the gold mic. Unfortunately someone (see: Jack) didn’t set the speakers up right, so not many people got to hear him sing, but the video turned out spectacular and I had a hell of a laugh, so… WORTH IT!
I don’t remember what artist closed out Bottle Rock. I do remember that I was not there. I was trying to get an early jump on the exit traffic, driving the PH’s truck in a sea of other cars looking to do the exact same thing that I was. At any rate, one of them got super agro at me for not letting him get into the lane, even though he got into the lane. That was definitely where the trip kind of came to a conclusion. Nothing much left to see there.
We came back from Bottle Rock and figured we’d lay low and spit out the content that we had saved up until it was time to go to High Sierra Music Festival and make some a that new new… Back in LA we had a plan. We had long been in search of a space to call home for the Jam Van, and one appeared to us in the form of a 14,000 square foot warehouse in the hippest part of the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District. We got the keys literally the day before we were headed north to Quincy, CA for High Sierra. We had big plans for that warehouse, however, first we had head-business to attend to.
So in the middle of the night a group of six of us set out in the Jam Van for Nor Cal. The rest of the crew were in cars or already up there. We figured we’d drive through the night and when we woke up we’d pretty much be there. So myself, sound engineer Ethan, and DP Dave (AKA Kings of Leon), settled into the back of the vehicle with a shitty movie (that’s kind of our thing on trips), and we began to let slumber take control of us. I think we had all just about gone down for the count when the screaming started.
It was Olivia’s shriek from the front seat that jolted me awake. Once conscious I became quickly aware of the situation unfolding around me. Spud had lost control of the RV and we were barreling erratically off the side of the freeway. It was night and there was not easy access to any of the windows and the shades were pulled down so I had no idea as to which side of the freeway we had gone off of. Judging by the slope of the vehicle and the size of the bumps that we were hitting my first instinct was that we had broken over the barricade and were plunging down the side of a mountain to what would certainly be our imminent doom.
“Spud, are we going downhill?! Spud, are we going downhill?” Is all I can remember screaming for what seemed like an unreasonably long amount of time for what in actuality couldn’t have been much longer than 30 seconds. Spud did not reply as his focus was solely on trying to regain control. Then, suddenly, and by the grace of something, The Van righted itself from what couldn’t have been far from fully lilting and flipping on it’s side, and came skidding to a halt smack dab in the middle of the 5 Freeway.
Have you ever been on a big roller coaster and when you get done riding your body is tingly all over? That’s what this moment in time was like, only waaaaay more tingly and with a very real sensation that we had just cheated death or at the very least grave bodily harm. Again, by the grace of something, everyone was in tact. Ethan messed up his elbow a bit cause he’s a pussy, and Jack was wedged in the RV’s stairwell with a bunch of gear on top of him, but everyone was ok.
We paused in a kind of euphoric haze/shock for a moment, at which point a car went whizzing by us and we realized we had to get the fuck out of a vehicle stranded in the middle of a very fast freeway. So we filed out as quickly as we could and made our way to the side of the highway. There we were able to step back and survey the damage. It didn’t take an expert to know that Jam Van 2.0 was totaled.
The way the highway patrol described it, aside from us being extremely lucky that the vehicle did not flip and really fuck us all up, it also ran straight through a cement box that was on the side of the road. That cement box tore clear through the front grill and then the axel and then the bottom of the RV itself. Indeed it’s guts laid spewed across the freeway having been liberated by the giant slash of ripped metal that opened up in the beasts gullet.
I remember at that time a very overwhelmed feeling. First I thought about the festival we were going to miss, then I thought about The Van we were going to need, then I thought about what was I going to do about the mass of smoking metal in the middle of the 5 that belonged to us? Then I thought about all of the people who were expecting us in Quincy that weekend, all of the great bands we had booked, then I thought of the new warehouse we’d gotten for that van to live in, and the thoughts just kept coming, and none of them were positive, and I was overwhelmed. So a flatbed came and towed the van away and my girlfriend came and towed me away, and the only saving grace was that it was so late at night that soon the negative thoughts started to heed way for the desire to close my eyes and find peace in sleep.
That following morning hit like a ton of bricks. My eyes opened and I immediately thought “shit, that really happened.”
Let me tell what you don’t want to do when you sign a lease for a gigantic piece of property in Los Angeles, you don’t want to wreck your Jam Van! Talk about bad timing… So our JITV HQ plans took a momentary backseat to our necessity to find a new ride to keep at that HQ.
The long story short on that situation is that we got a new vehicle. A sweet ass vehicle. This time we didn’t use Craig’s List. This one has walls that expand. In redneck terms you call that “luxury.”
So let’s recap:
– We missed High Sierra (bummer)
– We lost Jam Van 2.0 (super bummer)
– We had an empty warehouse (useless)
– We got a new van, let’s call her Jam Van 3.0 (SWEET)
– The new van didn’t exactly fit inside of the warehouse (WAIT, WHAT?!)
Yeah… so that was a thing. You see, because we originally had measured the doorway of the warehouse for Jam Van 2.0, and in comparison to the mighty beast that is 3.0, well, she was a measly accoutrement. So 3.0 did not fit through the front door of the warehouse, not unless we wanted to knock off the top of our air conditioners, which we did not. Luckily there was a side door that opened up to a very large construction site that was at the time still in dirt lot form. This allowed us at the time to salvage the fact that we had rented 15,000 sq. ft. of space to house a vehicle that didn’t fit through the door.
It was alas a temporary fix, and our time in Downtown LA was quite short and fleeting. In that brief 6 month span however we saw the likes of Kyle Gas, G. Love, Robert DeLong, and many more artist come through and kick it with us in our industrial digs. I’m even told that during one event hosted by a third party at our space, Slim Jesus, the infamous caucasian rapper championed by WorldStar Hip Hop was present as the guest of honor. I’m not sure how I missed out on being at our own building when Slim Jesus was there, but I did, and I don’t forgive myself for it.
In our entire 6 months at the warehouse we only took The New Van in and out twice for two events. The first was one that we had to rush into for two reasons. One, because we were running out of content and we promised you fine people new music five days a week. Two, because we had just gotten the new van and we had to get her all decorated and ready. We made it in the nick of time. We were literally working on stuff on the drive up and when we parked at Lennon Studios in San Francisco where we were doing another installation of our GQ X JITV House. We had centered this one around the Outside Lands Festival that was taking place a few miles away at Golden Gate Park.
Over the course of the weekend we recorded about 20 sessions with the likes of Honey Island Swamp Band, Heartwatch, Highway Poets, Lee Gallagher and the Hallelujah, and had a live show featuring The Soft White Sixties, Tumbleweed Wanderers, Valley Queen and Love and the Zealous. That was all well and good, but the real score of the weekend came in the form of our more than gracious hosts at Lennon Rehearsal Studios, Jimmy Crucifix and his right hand man, Smokey (whom I really want to call Bubbles, because he seems like a Bubbles, but then I remember that he’s not Bubbles, he’s Smokey). Jimmy Crucifix as far as I could tell is an ex-punk and metal guitarist for the band Crucifix amongst others who now spends his days watching over Lennon Studi0s and hanging with the bands that rehears there and loving on his dogs Tootsie and Jane Jane (the 2nd Jane is crucial). Smokey, also a lover of dogs, lives beside Lennon in a trailer (Jam Van-esque) with his two massive pitbulls. From what I saw of Smokey, he moves pretty slow, but he gets the job done. Both of them were without a doubt the finest hosts we’ve had the pleasure of parking the Jam Van with. I would come back any time.
The only other event we left that warehouse for was called Outpost Festival. This was a festy thrown by the band Delta Spirit in their home town of Santa Ana, CA. Since we’ve long been fans of Delta Spirit (ever since I went to a show at the El Rey where their drummer started gushing blood from his nose), and have long tried to wrangle them into The Van for a session, we decided we had to make Outpost Fest happen, if only to just get that elusive session with the Delta Spirit bros. So we did, and we did, and it was excellent. We even got another go around from Tijuana Panthers and a couple more solid bands that made our Santa Ana venture way worth the while… then it was back to the Warehouse to finish out our lease.
So just as quickly as our acquisition of the warehouse had taken place, our exit occurred. We never even got a chance to use the gigantic stage that we had a buddy make for us. We just tore it up and sold the wood off to the guys who helped us bust it up. Hashtag waste of money.
So we spent about a month or so homeless with the van parked on the streets of Venice by my house. It kind of felt like old times, which was not a good thing. We’d grown accustomed to having a home and it was a pretty big bummer to not have one. Plus, The Van and all of it’s accoutrements are kind of worth a bit more nowadays, so the streets of Venice aren’t exactly the ideal storage unit for very expensive solar and recording equipment.
At any rate, before the new year came we had one more event to take part in. So we were able to get The Van out of Venice for the final days of 2015 and bring it out to Pasadena for Live on Green. This was an event that was geared towards families with children, so it wasn’t exactly our wheelhouse. However, I’ve long held that Jam in the Van is for the children, and Live on Green was the perfect arena to prove just that.
As it turns out, I was right on point with my sentiment. Kids love the friggin’ Jam Van. We filmed 15 sessions that weekend for those kids, the most important two of which were Goldstar, because I just love that dudes voice and his songs, and then Ranger Bob. If it’s not immediately evident why Ranger Bob’s session was so special then I don’t think you and I would be compatible as friends, but I’ll fill you in on my reasoning all the same. HE WORE A FRIEKING RANGER OUTFIT AND SANG ABOUT A PUMA! NOT JUST ONE SONG ABOUT A PUMA, BUT TWO SONGS ABOUT A PUMA. CASE CLOSED.
So that was pretty much 2015. Much to our relief, when 2016 began we found our dream headquarters. We’re back in West LA, which is where we belong. By the beach crowd rather than by the pretentious crowd. We’ve already filmed a number of sessions here. We have a ping pong table, a kegorator, satellite TV, air conditioning, and a washer/dryer which Jack won on the Ellen Show. It marks the first time since 2001 that I have been able to do my laundry without having to pay for it. So look Ma, I finally made it! Cleanin’ my own damn clothes on my own damn time.
So that’s that. We’re all caught up. In a few days the van ships off to Austin for SXSW 2016. I’ll try not to have such a lull on the pages of this journal this year, but I can’t make any promises. Shit is heating up over here and slowing down to smell the roses is not an option. Unless of course you’re the JITV dog, RZA, in which case you have time to smell roses as well as your butt as much as you need to. Til next time heads, til next time…