Jammin Java in Vienna, VA
We stayed at funky high rise hotel that had little kids running around the halls until 3 am. It was considered a ‘suite’ hotel; it had a full kitchen but was a bit ghetto. We had two nights here and it was mostly safe but definitely suspect. It was right outside of D.C. in Alexandria. We all managed to sleep in some. When we gathered together in the parking lot we made our pre-show plans. Gretchen and Clem really wanted a good healthy meal and Angeline and I wanted to be outside in nature. So they dropped us off at Meadowlark Gardens which was about 4 miles from the venue. It was gorgeous! There were all these sweet pathways that were decorated with magnificent color and life. They led us to little sitting areas and ponds filled with lilies and even large snapping turtles. There were sculptures, a giant pagoda and little gardens. I loved seeing the older couple with their easel and paints swaying to the breezes and capturing bits of the vibrancy on each brushstroke. Besides being at my country home for a day; we had not had this kind of serene nature.
The hour or so spent there felt long and quiet. It was a peaceful respite in the middle of the tour. Angeline and I were a bit dismayed during the final stretch of our walk when we noticed that these very brilliant flowers may have actually been spray painted! When I was in Morocco in the late 90’s; I remember that the kids would stand on the side of the road on the way to the Atlas Mountains holding these big geodes and they were so bright that they were blinding. Well, they too spray painted these rocks so that the tourists would be dazzled by their brilliance. Nature is pretty amazing but we both agreed that these really looked like they had a touch up! It didn’t ruin the experience but when I now think of those gardens – that is the only flower I see in my minds eye.
Tonight was the last night before we got a day off. We would be driving to NASHVILLE tomorrow. Yippee! I could not wait! I was really looking forward to the show in VA but I was beside myself with excitement to go to Nashville. I had never been. It’s pretty unbelievable. I have canvassed the US pretty good on all my years of Grateful Dead tour. My parents had made a pilgrimage to Nashville, Memphis and I had never made it there. They saw a show at the Grand Ole Opry, went to every country historical site etc… They loved it! I have confess besides my need to experience all the great music and history there….I have been watching the tv series ‘Nashville’ and that has definiteIy increased my desires to go. My mom always wanted me to ‘go country’; but I always stayed true to rock and roll. Don’t get me wrong, I really love and respect the country classics. I rebelled against it most of my life because, ya know – it was my parent’s music. Then the Grateful Dead were playing Merle Haggard songs……those great cowboy songs – life on the road, prison, drinking, cheating, gambling….what’s not to love! All of those artists – Johnny Cash, Hank, Waylon, Willie, Merle and the list goes on – are great great storytellers. I only wish I could weave a story so well into a melody. Then there’s the smooth like molasses voices of Patsy, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. Now the lyrics to their songs are hokey and just fun. I highly suggest the movie ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ – the very authentic story of Loretta Lynn. You experience just where all her songs came from – each experience. It is so well casted with Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones and the great Levon Helm. It takes you back to the way that music started in the Appalachians and how she made it to Nashville – no easy task. I absolutely love it – and she’s still playing!
Now besides being country line dance instructors, my parents also did karaoke. Whenever i would come to any of their gigs or on Christmas Eve, I could barely get my coat off before my mother would have the music cued up, the mic in my hand and their entire crew of dancers waiting for me to sing one of the all time favorites ‘Stand By Your Man’. I would feel a little annoyed by the big push by my mom but then I would sing this song and well singing always makes me feel better. The line dancers loved it, Mrs. Devine – my parent’s lifelong neighbor loved it and most of all my mom loved it. It was probably the easiest way I could ever please my mom. She passed away almost a year ago. I asked my dear friend Will who is an accomplished musician – banjo and guitar extraordinaire to accompany me on ‘Stand By Your Man’ at the funeral after party. I know what you’re thinking ‘funeral after party’? Anyone who know the Doughty family fully understands that there is always an after party or a pre-party. Mom, also known as Kactus Carolyn would have wanted it that way and she would be pissed off if people weren’t dancing. So after we left the graveyard; We went to the Italian restaurant that my parents used to frequent for dancing and food. From the moment I walked in the door, I felt how deep her absence was; she was not there telling me to sing. My dad was such a dignified and devoted trooper. He got out there and danced every dance for her. I had a hard time just being in the building. It took awhile before I could see things clearly but I began to. I was sitting with my childhood neighbor Mary Tully. Will came over to me and said ‘what do you think…you wanna do it’? I said ‘I don’t know Will if I can really do it’. He replied ‘ why don’t we just go outside and try it and see if it feels good’. I reluctantly said okay. Mary Tully then turned to my husband and said…’you’re okay with this? They’re gonna go outside and try it to see if it feel good’! She had no idea what we were talking about! Laughter is the best medicine. So we tried it and I couldn’t get through the first verse; but Will reminded me how much it would mean to her and so I had to do it. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done but it was so needed and appreciated. Thank you Will Solomon for the encouragement and the music. By the way there was an additional party after this one at my parent’s house; and another friend told me this wass the best funeral they had ever been to. Anyway, here is a picture of my rockin mother on vacation in Rhode Island in the 70’s:
Here are Kactus Keith and Kactus Carolyn:
Thanks for indulging in the diversion. I have to give credit where credit is due and that would be to these two for not only bringing me into the world but for music, laughter and seeing it the way I do. Don’t be surprised if I come out with some country tracks – now you know!
Where are we? Oh yeah Virginia! I have two old friends coming tonight from back home who have relocated to the state – YEAH!!!!! Angeline andI left the gardens and ubered back to the venue. Jammin Java sounds like a coffee shop and it is in a strip mall. Looks are deceiving because this was one of my favorite venues. Every one who worked there were super nice and helpful. the coffee shop did exist but was in the front of the place – then you walked through a velvet curtain to a wide open space that also had a bar and merch area. One of the coolest things I have ever seen or experienced was in the green room which was red and here it is:
THE WHISKEY SWITCH!!!!!!!!!
The whiskey switch was just that but it was used for any alcoholic beverage. You simply flipped the switch and someone from the bar would come in and bring you whatever you wanted! Wow – this is genius! Why doesn’t every venue have this. I will never forget Jammin Java for their kind consideration and care of us and any band that graces their stage. Right on! Right on! This is especially great for Zepparella because we need to go change before I set and sometimes we’re trapped back there….and thirsty!
An old friend of mine from Poughkeepsie who now lives in Richmond was driving up for the show. The last time I saw him I bumped into him at about 2 am in NYC at BB King’s Blues at a Karl Denson show. My best friend Layney takes us to see Phish every year at the garden as our Christmas present and this was the after party. I saw the Werner brothers and couldn’t believe it! Mike, his brother – I get to see a lot because he lives close to me in NY; but I hadn’t seen Eric in many years. He was the roommate of my first boyfriend and we all went on may Grateful Dead tours together back in the 80’s. We are all part of the same tribe. Anyway he now owns a bar in Richmond called Patrick Henry’s. Next time we get back to VA we definitely need to play in that area.
He arrived just after sound check and so Angeline and I hopped in his beat up old van and made our way to a swanky restaurant called Harth located inside the Hilton. Getting in the back of the van that had no seats and smelled of weed and dog – brought me right back to our early days. Some things never change – felt like we were heading to a show instead of a nice restaurant. We ordered some drinks…..the Moscow and Mexicalli Mule – yum! The menu was good – had this amazing cold cucumber soup! It was a nice break from the club….clean and posh and not only did I get to catch up with Eric but we shared stories from the past with Angeline about the good old days. He graciously picked up the tab. Eric is a sweetheart, I love when you don’t see someone for these extreme lengths of time and you pick back up right in the middle of a sentence. Throughout the tour, Angeline and I have had meet ups with friends – sometimes hers and sometimes mine. We joked about how we were always each others dates. I think we both got to know a lot more about one another and we also got to connect all the faces with the friends. I made many new friends on this voyage through all my bandmates; and I have wanted to share my friends with them forever. So many warm fuzzy feelings for all! Gretchen’s two aunts were also coming tonight…one being her namesake.
There was a band playing before us called Queens of Noise – they covered the Runaways and some Joan Jett – really fun to listen to. We sat backstage comfortably with the whiskey switch trying to devise a set list. Being in my Grateful Dead state of mind and collectively wanting to switch things up; we came up with the most esoteric set ever. Why not? It’s Tuesday night in Virginia…let’s be random! We opened with ‘Kashmir’ – skipped ‘Immigrant’ and threw in things like ‘Wanton’. Clementine and Gretchen had done an interview pre-gig and here is the review:
I had a hunch that the music writer was going to give us a nice write-up because he was really digging the show hanging on to the stage in front of Gretchen. There were some kids in the audience too. During the trading licks section of ‘Trampled’; Angeline leaned over and had a young girl who was 8 or 9 strum for her. Then Gretchen pulled her up on stage and made a spot for her to sit and be with the band. She was stoked! The crowd was rarin’ to go and they loved the set. We loved the set!!! It felt like the perfect place to get funky and try something new. The folks from Virginia got some great spirit and they know how to party! We saw our old pals Chris and Eric from the previous night and the Pittsburgh show. I forgot to mention that Eric passed along a really fun bluegrass recording of his band The Plank Stars. Look out for them. Another friend from back home was also coming. I didn’t get to see her until after the show – which was really perfect because it allowed for me to have some quality time with her. Her name is Amy and she would always come out to my shows back in the Hudson Valley. We spent a fair amount of time at the local watering holes too. She has a little baby girl and moved south for a great job opportunity. She has always always been one of those shining people with a great big beautiful smile. Being around her is uplifting. We belly-ed up to the bar and toasted to reuniting. She helped us load out and we drove off into the dark night. Lookout Nashville! Here we come!