In 1988 with Prairie School Freakout hot off the presses, edd hit the road with Freakwater and headed west for the first time in Baird’s brown Econoline. Raul Stober was on the trip too! We first hit Tempe, Arizona. A great rowdy crowd–some transplanted Chicagoan worked there as I remember. The first verse of Teenage Pin Queen (from Beet) was inspired by the spindly cacti surrounding the club.
We played the Gaslight in L.A. next and stayed with Keith Holland at Amoeba Records HQ.
Santa Barbara was the next night, and as the song Michael Dunne (Beet) described, it was rainy and nobody showed up at the club. There was the aforementioned guy sitting at the bar–a regular at Mel’s who was one of the few who listened to us. He really did recite Rimbaud in French and Rilke in German–he really did write a poem about his teeth on the spot and gave it to Cathy Irwin.
Did we play in San Francisco on that tour? Could have been the time we met Sandy Pearlman. He was there checking us out! Maybe that was the next time when we were touring on Beet.
We hung out some more in L.A. before driving down to our show in San Diego. Janet wasn’t allowed to be in the club until she played–under 21!
After that show, we drove through the desert all night, planning to drive all the way home without stopping, sun coming up and making everything a strange glow. We got pulled over the first of three times on our way back to Chicago. Trooper asked if we were running guns from Mexico and if he could search the van. Who said yes? Raul and I sort of got busted for less than a joint between us. Never heard from Arizona again on that one. Pulled over in Texas by a trooper who was going the other way on the interstate. He said the passenger wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Truth is we had a beat up van and we were young and scraggly. By the time the landscape changed to something Midwest familiar we were ready for a breakdown.
We needed a new engine. We broke down in Sullivan, Missouri just several hours away from home after driving straight through from California. It would take three days to find and install a used engine–we holed up at a motel, watched Andy Griffith reruns, played cards, and drank lots of beer. One night we walked over to the bowling alley near the motel. Listen to verses 2 and 3 of Teenage Pin Queen–the scene is pretty well described.
We would tour the West a few times after this, but this was going it Econoline, and we lived to tell the stories.