Kelso (Rememories 17)
Writing with John Cale, misadventures in band booking, my fabled (fake) snapping turtle
Late 90’s. Being asked to go to John Cale’s home to write with him. Knocking on his door. Expecting him to be in black and white like the back cover of a VU album. Being jarred by the man in shorts and a neon pink tank top answering the door. John Cale in color. His idea—let's put a recipe to music. Me, smart person, suggesting the banana pancake recipe located near the front of Gravity’s Rainbow. Which I was familiar with because it fell within the zone of pages I had read before eventually giving up on the rest of the book, something that happened at least 7 or 8 times. Playing acoustic guitar while John Cale reads aloud with his Welsh accent, which was totally familiar to me from his records, “…melt in the skillet. Peel more bananas, slice lengthwise…”
Still feeling like this is more made up or dreamt than real. No evidence it ever happened …but it did.
Trying to book a band I liked called the Raunch Hands in the 90s. Having no idea what I was doing, but calling the number on their record and hoping for the best. Reading the contract and equipment rider they sent me. Standard requests—money, a certain size PA, cases of beer, pizza… stuff like that. Whistling to myself in that distinct soft, descending way that says, “Um… not good.” Realizing I had no idea what I was doing. Knowing they’d eventually figure out that I had no idea what I was doing. Which, judging by the lack of follow-up, happened fairly quickly.
Young me chasing our neighbor’s even younger boy into the street with a fake snapping turtle. Watching that kid get hit by a car. He was ok. I was not.
Getting mistaken for Ashton Kutcher on a beach in Mexico. Shirtless dude in board shorts and Oakleys following me around bellowing “KEL-SO.”
Me, pleading, “I’m really not…”
“Yeah, yeah, OK… Kelso!”
This Week In Wilco, Etc.
2021 / March 15: Jeff appears on CBS This Morning to talk about his call for music industry reparations to Black artists.
1992 / March 16: Uncle Tupelo begins recording the March 16-20, 1992 album at John Keane Studios in Athens, GA. The album is released on August 3rd of the same year.
2020 / March 19: On the very first Tweedy Show, Jeff debuts a new song called “Save It for Me.” The song will be later be released on Jeff’s album Love Is The King.
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Wow...the first Tweedy show. Three years ago today was when everything really shut down for us: restaurants closing, layoffs, hasty forced abandonment of the community art studio, the dull, numbing blade of distance learning beginning. Those early Tweedy shows were like a warm, consoling hug at the end the day saying "everything is not ok, but here's some music and laughter and togetherness." I think I've said it before, but for me and probably a lot of us...we'll never be able to thank you, Jeff and your family, enough for the comfort, distraction and community those shows brought (and still bring).
When I was young and stupid I used to write “John Cale Rules!l” at every show I used to go to….I once wrote it on the Minutemen’s windshield, but when I saw they were pissed I told them I did it and cleaned it off…the band was cool but one of their crew wanted to beat the shit out of me….young and stupid! Now I’m old and stupid!