As crazy as this sounds, I think the recent Watershed shows as part of the Hullabaloo were the highlight of our...ahem…“Career.” Joe and I were celebrating our 50th birthdays and our 36th year playing together with Herb and our leader, Biggie. (And Rick Kinsinger of course, but he hasn’t put in 36 years yet.) The idea was to play three very different shows on consecutive days with very little overlap. In the end we played 75 different songs in less than 40 hours. so that’s a pretty good effort. I’m confident in saying a good time was had by all.
Natalie’s Friday August 9th.
Either people confused us with the Rolling Stones or Natalie’s has a hardcore following but this date sold out so fast even my family couldn’t get a table. We had never done a “storyteller” type of show before so I was a little nervous we could deliver the goods. Luckily, we pulled an ace out of the deck with the legend Dave Masica joining us on drums for the first time in many years.
Dave’s drumming and rock n roll attitude saved Watershed, as he was the motor behind the glory years of The More It Hurts and 5th of July. If you want to hear a master at work, listen to Dave on the live record Three Chords and a Cloud of Dust 2. That record is basically a drum clinic with a band thrown in for good measure.
In fact, the whole theme of the Natalie’s show was paying tribute to the people who have kept the band going. We talked about the importance of Willie Phoenix, Slim Dunlap, Dave Masica, Pooch, Mike Landolt, Joe Peppercorn, Tim Patalan and the COTA #2 bus. I’m sure some others too but whatever. It was really fun to play some songs that had remained unplayed since Dave retired from full time drumming.
Ace of Cups Saturday August 10th
Speaking of people that help Watershed, Biggie is the real MVP of the Hullabaloo. (with a big assist from Ricki C.) Not only was the artwork for each show of a collector’s quality, but he designed three different stage sets for all the shows. Friday was a laid-back, cheap college apartment look for the laid-back vibe at Natalie’s. The Coleman cooler strategically placed between Joe and I was all the rage.
Since Saturday was the big rock show, Biggie had fashioned a bright red background with a 3D style Watershed sign hanging over Herb. The kicker was it didn’t reveal itself until after the first song. Ah yes, the double beginning. An arena rock classic executed in a club. Ace of Cups is pretty much the perfect venue for us. It feels big and small at the same time. Sorta like Watershed itself I suppose. I don’t know if it was the fact that it was sold out in advance or having Earwig on the bill got everyone extra stoked, but that was the best crowd we had ever played to. People were singing along to parts of songs I barely knew. Having Mark “Pooch” Borror join us on Anniversary and Can’t Be Myself didn’t hurt either. Slim Dunlop once said, “Musicians get gifts all the time, you just have to look for them.” I didn’t have to look very hard to appreciate what was happening at Ace of Cups. 99.999999% of all the bands on Earth never get to experience a night like this. Very humbling indeed. We are lucky guys.
I FORGOT to mention that on Friday at Natalie’s I was talking about Slim and musicians getting gifts and I shared a story of playing a show in Wisconsin years ago. The crowd was kind of light and we had driven a long way so it would have been easy to feel bummed out. Towards the end of the set I noticed a guy standing down front singing along knowing every word to a song. Suddenly I heard Slim in my ear, “Here you are, 600 miles from home and a guy you have never met is singing along to a song you wrote alone on your bed years ago. That’s pretty cool.” And I thought to myself, that is pretty cool. This is a gift.
After the show at Natalie’s a guy came up to me and said, “That story you told: that was me and the song was Sad Drive.” Damn. That was the song. He was the guy. He had driven down from Wisconsin for the Hullabaloo and we were meeting for the first time. How cool is that?
Click here for the full set-list at Ace of Cups. / Visit the Watershed Facebook page for video.
Sunday August 11th. Little Rock Bar
So this show was the X-factor. The show smart bands don’t schedule. The show that takes the weekend from good to great or puts the shit in show. Biggie had a sweet backdrop of the #2 COTA bus behind our gear jammed into the corner of Quinn Fallon’s excellent Little Rock Bar. The setting was the exact opposite of the night before. No stage, no lights, no room to move.
This gig turned out to be the most fun of all. It was billed as Watershed & friends and that is what it was. Jim Johnson, Dan Cochran, Mike Sammons and Marcy Mays crashed the “stage” as we played songs from The League Bowlers, The Lonely Bones, Why Isn’t Cheap Trick in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? and all sorts of Watershed deep cuts. Plus the loose setting allowed plenty of time for catching up with friends who had traveled in from near and far. SO MUCH FUN.
Watershed Hullabaloo Box Score August 9-11th
68 Original Songs Performed: (in order)
Sensational Things (new)
Chemotherapy (Colin Gawel)
We Don’t Get Hurt (new)
Dad Can’t Help You Now (Colin Gawel)
My Lucky Day
Set the World on Fire
On a Broken Radio
Over Too Soon
Slowly Then Suddenly
The Best is Yet to Come
You Need Me
Best Worst Night
Black Concert T Shirt
How Do You Feel
If That’s How You Want It
Blow it Up Before it Breaks (new)
Eyes of Fire (out of print)
Another Night in the Ruts (new)
Anniversary (w/ Pooch)
Can’t Be Myself (w/ Pooch)
5th of July
The Best is Yet to Come (x2)
I’ve Been Looking Everywhere
Healthy Rivalry (The League Bowlers) w/ Jim Johnson
Two Sets of Rules (TLB) w/ Jim Johnson
Kids Down South (TLB) w/ Jim Johnson & Dan Cochran
Saturday Night There’s A Party (TLB) w/ Jim Johnson & Dan Cochran
Everywhere I Turn
Easy Way Out
She Picks the Songs
Waiting For the Greatest w/ Mike Sammons
Superior (Colin Gawel) w/ Dan Cochran
Give a Little Bit
Half of Me
Another Night in the Ruts (x2)
I Deserve You
The Best is Yet to Come (x3)
Black Concert T Shirt (x2)
Hey Little Girl - Willie Phoenix
I Wish You Were My Girl (w/ Jim Johnson) - Willie Phoenix
Downed / If You Want My Love / High Roller (w/ Marcy Mays) - Cheap Trick
Battleship Chains (w/ Jim Johnson & Dan Cochran) - Terry Anderson & Georgia Satellites
Let it Rock (w/ Jim Johnson & Dan Cochran) - Chuck Berry
Below are the final two songs from Ace of Cups
(By the way, that’s Watershed guitar tech Ricki C. and frequent Pencil Storm contributor Scott Carr - drafted in for extra roadie duties on Saturday night - wrangling mic stands at the 9-minute mark. Scott’s in the Johnny Thunders t-shirt. At the 7:05 mark you can see Ricki telling Scott, “These guys are possibly just crazy enough to try to pull off the ‘Taking the mics out in the audience’ stage bit in a place this crowded. If they do, get out there in the middle and hand ‘em back to me.” That’s our crew.)