Review by Ron Beffa



Freight & Salvage
Berkeley, California, November 6, 1998

Let me preface this by saying that I wasn't as focused as I usually am at the
shows.  If you are anything like me (let's hope not!) lines from Stewart songs
become part of your language, (maybe even if it is a language that you only
silently speak to yourself) just as some of the songs are part of the
soundtrack of your life. "You can't go back to Kansas", "There are strange
rivers", "I'm worried about you, I'm worried about me", "run dog run...",
"beehivin' ", even "Punch the big guy" and several dozen more I am sure.
There are a few John Lennon lines that are like that for me... "a working class hero is something to be" and at times "God is a concept by which we measure our pain" seems all too apt.  There's a George Harrison title that comes to mind
at times of mini-crises... "all things must pass".  Yesterday was sort of an
"all things must pass" kind of day. 
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First the setlist and then some thoughts on the show.  There was a nice
gathering of Bloodliners, decked out in our Bloodlines shirts: Catherine and
friend Craig, Roadman, Leslie and friend Geof, Rich and son Sean and
Rich's brother, myself, Melanie and our kids Brian and Kelly.

Wild Side of You
Dreams of the Starman
old John Glenn campaign song
Ticket to the Stars
Davey on the Internet
Johnny Flamingo on the Blue Dream Road
Don't it Make You Wanna Go Home (J & B)
Bringing Down the Moon (J&B)
Oldest Living Son
Wingless Angels/Survivors/Seven Angels medley
Across the Milky Way (Buffy)
Armstrong (with stories from the Cape)
California Bloodlines
Chilly Winds


Irresistible Targets
Strange Rivers
July You're A Woman
Who Stole the Soul of Johnny Dreams
One Eyed Joe
interlude - Sigfried and Dave
Oklahoma (Buffy and PeeWee)
Dreamers on the Rise
Let the Big Horse Run
Bolinas (J & B)
Friend of Jesus
Rock and Roll Nation
Eyes of Sweet Virginia
Santy Anno (Buffy) / Coal Tattoo (John)
Neon Road

Pirates of Stone County Road (J & B)
Star in the Black Sky Shining
Wilderness (Buffy)

A couple quick thoughts ... the Freight & Salvage has been aptly described as
the building with the long line of people all standing behind one pizza-eating
Roadman.  Roadman gets the Bloodlines "Hero of the Night" award for getting
the Freight to reserve a dozen or so seats in the first two rows for Bloodlines. john1.jpg (50622 bytes) Since some of us did not get there early this was unbelievably nice.  Second, this was a night where I really enjoyed Stewart's picking.  It is funny how different nights of similar shows give you different feelings.  At the Freight John got into several good grooves.  Big Horse was a real standout with it's great intro. "Dave" looked and sounded good and seemed to be really enjoying himself, he was getting into some of those grooves himself, which was especially remarkable considering what I'll tell you
in a moment.

All things must pass.  The Fates were conspiring.  On her long drive up from
Santa Cruz, Catherine had a blowout ... and was promptly rescued and repaired by highway angels before triple A even got there.  She got to the show much later than planned and like me was more than pleased to find Roadman had reserved us seats.  My car decided to blow it's fuel pump the evening before. I got home late and tired and without a car.  I was not happy.  I was bringing Melanie and our two kids for our first all together at the same time Stewart show. We all made it but Melanie was coming down with a bad cold and felt rotten ... my daughter was pooped out after a busy week and fell asleep after about 5 or 6 songs...

dave1.jpg (53667 bytes)It was one of those nights ...  I walk into the lobby and Dave says something like "Ron, I need a bass. Do you know where I can get one?" This is about 15 minutes before showtime.  Dave hadn't brought his guitar up and had planned to use John's.  Unfortunately John's bass was DOA at the show.   Don't ask me how you kill a bass.  Amazingly someone at the club rustled up a bass guitar for Dave and the show began ...  a little late ... and the way Davey played that guitar you would
never have known.

When I walked into the lobby with my two yo-yos (literally) my daughter (age 8) says to me: "I know John Stewart's here tonight.
  You know how I know? 'cause I see Dave."  So my son and daughter proceeded to do all their yo-yo tricks in the lobby while I worried that my son would "around the world" someone on the head walking in the door.  Somehow that didn't happen.

Catherine helped Dave out on CD sales, and it was a busy night.  John hadn't
been to the Freight in many years so there was a rather pent up demand for
music that night.  In fact John would remark at the start of the show that he
had no memory of ever being at that club before, but Dave did.  I think it may
have been about 6 years ago (I have no memory either sometimes).  And I
thought afterwards that it may have been at the old location for the Freight
which might explain its unfamiliarity.

John, Buffy and Dave all seemed to be in great spirits.  John's voice was
almost as good as it gets but there were a few moments where it got a little
rough or quiet and John lost a line here and there.  Buffy was at her best and
as I mentioned, John and Dave's picking was some of the best in a while.  As
he is wont to do, John played around with some of the chords and it usually
worked although there was an occasional odd chord change. Catherine commented how great Dave looked and it was like he had reached Nirvana.  (Hope that wasn't a state secret! - but Dave did look
like he was having an extra great time playing).

The club was more than a little warm.  Too warm.  "Africa hot" John put it.
At least.  Probably because of it there were a few tuning problems.  Most of the
night was on the 6 string and as I'll say again, it was some fine playing.

John was obviously jazzed about the shuttle launch of John Glenn and told a
number of stories about his visit to the cape.  I'll try and remember some of
it.  They had to rent an RV since there were no rooms to be had ... this was a
first for John, driving an RV, and he rather liked it.  Like a turtle.  You've
got your whole house there with you.  John's son Michael had joined John and
Buffy, and this was one of those completing the circle kind of things since
Michael was born the day John Glenn first went into space.

John was awed by the power of the shuttle lift off from 10 miles away.  Scott
Carpenter took him on a tour and he visited the rusting launch pad where John
Glenn and Friendship 7 rode that Atlas rocket into space that February day in
1962.  Carpenter, one of the original Mercury astronauts was at the launch
pad, buried behind 12 feet of concrete walls when he wished John Glenn, sitting on top of that firecracker "God Speed" at liftoff.  He told how before the
liftoff Glenn had brought his family to the pad to see a test and watched an Atlas
explode.  Then he went back again by himself and watched the next one explode.
And then the Russians were in space and it was Glenn's time
and he didn't flinch, he had the right stuff.

John also told a funny story about Gordon Cooper.  Cooper was also one of the
original Mercury astronauts (he flew the last Mercury mission in 1963).
Sitting in the capsule awaiting liftoff he fell asleep.  John talked with
Cooper and the conversation went something like: John: UFO's?; Cooper:
"They've been here a long time" ... John: Roswell?; Cooper: "It happened". John: Who's the best test pilot?; Cooper: "You're looking at him."
  John repeats this to Carpenter who tells John that Cooper's confused.
I didn't do this justice but it was very funny when John told it.

John also said he had forgotten that he had written a campaign song for John
Glenn when he ran for the Senate the first time.  He sang a bit of it and told
a story about how Glenn had a million pressed and they were
still sitting in Glenn's garage.      

John was full of stories ... talked about Neil Armstrong and the moon shot.
Was amazed that Newt Gingrich was resigning.
  Cannot believe how bulletproof Clinton is.

The show was another of PeeWee's big adventures.  After John
performed "Who Stole the Soul of Johnny Dreams", you know, with it's
"Singing dog named PeeWee" line you could see the little gremlin inside of John as he asked the audience if they wanted to hear PeeWee.  Dave was dispatched to get the dogs Shirley and PeeWee. Upon his return Dave asked for a raise for the animal act. Sigfried and Dave presents PeeWee and Shirley.  PeeWee is an extra-hyper Jack Russell terrier and John told how when they record at home they have to lock PeeWee up in the garage because he howls along whenever he hears Buffy's voice.  He said there is a song on the upcoming Darwin's Army release (I forget which song) where if you listen closely at the end you will hear PeeWee howling.

After first bestowing a few dog slobber kisses on John, PeeWee went to the mike with Buffy. peewee1.jpg (46292 bytes) Buffy sang Oklahoma and PeeWee wailed and howled along. PeeWee must have been a little nervous since this one didn't quite reach the perfect harmonies of the debut performance at the Palms, but when PeeWee threw back his head in the long howl at the finish he made up for it.

"Who Stole the Soul of Johnny Dreams"
is an interesting song besides PeeWee.
It is John having an identity crisis and wondering if anyone is listening to his songs.  It is full of cryptic lines, like the PeeWee one which most folks would never understand.  Other lines in the song about the straightedge boy and the animals have friends refers to John's son Luke.  There's a funny line, after John describes himself as the midnight surfer flipping through the channels.  It goes something like "At 8 PM on channel 2, when animals attack". Would anyone living outside of the San Francisco Bay Area understand this one? My son Brian cracked me up though.  He was sitting next to me staring at the yo-yo in his hands and I was thinking he must be getting bored after the long show.  However, his head pops up after the "8 PM on channel 2" line and he leans over to me and whispers to me "I think it's 'when DANGEROUS animals attack' ". I chuckled. Channel 2 runs these shows like "When Animals Attack" and "When Pets Go Bad". For a while, maybe still, you'd always hear these commercials for the shows on channel 2.   So even though I was thinking  that Brian wasn't listening, he was apparently listening very closely. The soul of Johnny Dreams is safe.  

All in all it was another good night.  "Davey on the Internet" really rocked
with the three part harmonies, and my favorite song of the night was "Eyes of Sweet Virginia" with similar, even better harmonies.  Just a great song when John, Buffy and Dave blend their voices.  Let the Big Horse Run was given a nice "run."  Oldest Living Son sounded particularly fine as did Friend of Jesus.
Maybe if those McCabe's folks get lucky and someone happens to be in the
audience they might get some Wideloaded bass on these classic songs.

Buffy was as good as it gets on "Across the Milky Way" and what should be
declared the only way to end a show, "Wilderness."

I had to herd kids and get everyone home so I wasn't able to visit as much as
I wished.  Melanie took my daughter out to the lobby early in the second set
as she was totally zoned out.  So much for great plans....

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