Violent Femmes Tour Diary #6 By Brian Ritchie - Noise11.com
Trading 4s with KSPRZK on the bongos in Fresno. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

Violent Femmes Tour Diary #6 By Brian Ritchie

by Brian Ritchie on October 15, 2021

in News

Violent Femmes North American tour has left Texas and crossed the United States into Nevada, Arizona and onto California. Violent Femmes co-founder and bass player Brian Ritchie is keeping you personally informed about the tour at Noise11.com.

Here is Brian Ritchie’s Violent Femmes 40th Anniversary Tour Diary #6

It has been a while since I last emitted a Tour Diary post. After our visit to the nation’s capital and the trauma of my bike being stolen it was time for a break in the tour. We decided to subject ourselves to flying across the country to San Francisco, rather than drive to the Republic of Texas on the bus with the crew and other musicians. Nothing happened in SFO, except going to Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is one of the cities I have a proper bike stashed, so I managed to go for a ride in Golden Gate Park and miraculously stumbled across 90 year old Ramblin’ Jack Elliott playing Muleskinner Blues. It was dream-like.

Brian Ritchie Violent Femmes tour diary 6

Golden Gate Bridge. Photo: Brian Ritchie

Next actual tour gig stop was Dallas, Texas. We had mixed feelings about going there due to the numbskulls who are actively against any Covid safety protocols. For example restaurants regularly eject patrons FOR wearing masks. Also between the time we booked the Texas gigs and our arrival, Texas outlawed female reproductive rights. This is because of people who call themselves pro-life, but also support the most draconian and enthusiastic death penalty laws and execution mania bordering on gleeful. Texas likes to execute innocent prisoners and even ones that have neuro developmental disorder. But it’s a good music state and we have fans there………hopefully they are not in accord with the politics.

Bike stolen, I am rocking a rather flimsy folder for my random rides through the urban wasteland. Chance delivers me upon the shocking site of the Longhorn Ballroom complete with a marquee still advertising the infamous appearance by Sex Pistols in 1978. I felt like I had entered a vortex and been spun out in my teen years.

Brian Ritchie Violent Femmes tour diary 6

Longhorn Ballroom sign. Photo: Brian Ritchie

On to Houston, a city I have no ambivalence about. I like it because it has some good art. The Rothko Chapel is one of my must see destinations on any tour, and one of my favourite man-made spaces. . Mark Rothko created a non-denominational Chapel for the community that continues to serve 50 years later. The space is neutral, and there are 14 very stark paintings adorning the walls. Photos are not allowed inside so you’ll have to do a web search if you want to get a sense of it. There are a number of benches upon which to sit and meditate. Varuni mentioned that she saw numerous figures arising from the canvases. I only saw cloud or water-like movements. They are a good reflection of the viewer’s state of mind.

Exterior of the Rothko Chapel. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

Exterior of the Rothko Chapel. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

Next was a long drive through the Republic of Texas to Mesa, Arizona. We break up the drive with a stop in the tumbleweed border town of Van Horne, which we soon find has neither Uber nor taxis.That’s OK because there is nothing to do. However Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com has started Blue Origin there, sending knobs like William Shatner into space. A few days after we leave Van Horne, Shatner and some other space tourists complete a private trip to space. As indulgent as this might seem, I look upon it as a metaphor. People (including myself) frequently ask me why I keep doing it; playing in the Femmes. Well, one reason is the longer you stay in the game the more weird things can happen. Examples would be for Shatner to keep his Captain Kirk iron in the fire long enough to literally be sent into space, or for the Femmes to hold on long enough to play the northernmost rock concert in history at the North Pole with the Chili Peppers. Perseverance has occasional rewards.

Van Horne, Texas. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

Van Horne, Texas. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

After the ennui of Van Horne, we are excited to do the gig in Mesa, which also means a trip to Phoenix Musical Instrument Museum. I am a multi-instrumentalist. My house is basically a musical instrument museum in itself, so I feel right at home. October 8th happens to be World Shakuhachi Day so I snuck in a shakuhachi playing session next to the museum display of shakuhachi memorabilia. This is a strange coincidence.

Playing shakuhachi with mannequin Komuso in the background. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

Playing shakuhachi with mannequin Komuso in the background. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

There are too many wonders in the MIM to describe them all but I was amazed to find a drum used by one of my musical heroes, Jamaica’s Count Ossie.

Count Ossie’s drum. Photo: Brian Ritchie

Count Ossie’s drum. Photo: Brian Ritchie

There is no recurrence of Covid on our tour after the break, so it is time for cigars with our bus driver Smooth. He is a calming influence on the tour and a keen observer of human nature.

Brian Ritchie tour diary 6

VF’s desert hegira continues to Las Vegas. Sin City is within the political boundaries of the USA but it is sui generis. It’s also a good example of a place that feels very different in Covid than it did before. People are still carrying on as usual but those of us who have responsibility to be cautious are not able to engage in the usual free-form libertinage that makes Vegas so cool. An example of this inhibition was being invited by our Canadian friends Barenaked Ladies (mentioned in #1 blog post) to sit in with them at their show the same night. But I had to decline due to observing our tour bubble rules.

With Barenaked Ladies Kevin and Jim. Photo: Brian Ritchie

With Barenaked Ladies Kevin and Jim. Photo: Brian Ritchie

Gordon and Blaise jamming in Vegas. Photo: KSPRZK
Gordon and Blaise jamming in Vegas. Photo: KSPRZK

The tour now delivers us back to California, which has become our most frequented state in recent years. Paso Robles, Sacramento and Fresno are secondary markets but the audiences are huge and enthusiastic.

Vina Robles Amphitheater. Photo: KSPRZK

Vina Robles Amphitheater. Photo: KSPRZK

Oops, I almost forgot my exquisite culinary photography. One of the best things about USA is its proximity to Mexico, which means Mexicans, which means Mexican food. Tamales are one of the splendours of Mexican cuisine and we found a joint where abuelita does the recipes, aunty is in the kitchen and nephew is the front of house staff. 100% home cooking style.

Golden Tamale Fresno. Photo: Brian Ritchie

Golden Tamale Fresno. Photo: Brian Ritchie

Trading 4s with KSPRZK on the bongos in Fresno. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

Trading 4s with KSPRZK on the bongos in Fresno. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

Shakuhachi blowing meditation at Shinzen Japanese Garden in Fresno. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera
Shakuhachi blowing meditation at Shinzen Japanese Garden in Fresno. Photo: Dr. Varuni Kulasekera

We are heading into the home stretch and I’ll catch up with you again when time permits.

©2021 Brian Ritchie

Violent Femmes North American tour dates

For Brian Ritchie’s previous tour diaries look no further than here:

Brian Ritchie Violent Femmes tour diary #1

Brian Ritchie Violent Femmes tour diary #2

Brian Ritchie Violent Femmes tour diary #3

Brian Ritchie Violent Femmes tour diary #4

Brian Ritchie Violent Femmes tour diary #5

Brian Ritchie Violent Femmes tour diary #6
NEW: Noise11 on YouTube SUBSCRIBE

Noise11.com

Follow Noise11 on Social Media

Noise11 on Instagram

You’ll discover music news first following Noise11 on Twitter

Comment on the news of the day, join Noise11 on Facebook

Related Posts

v spy v spy Live At The Prince of Wales 1984
v. Spy v. Spy. 1984 Show To Be Released For Desk Tape Series

A live recording of the v. Spy v. Spy 1984 Prince of Wales show will be released as part of the Desk Tape Series to raise funds for Support Act’s Roadies Fund.

22 hours ago
Brian May of Queen performs at Rod Laver Arena on Friday 2 March 2018. Photo by Ros O'Gorman
Brian May Speaks Out Against Gender Neutral BRITS

Brian May has criticised BRIT Awards bosses for abandoning separate male and female prizes in favour of gender-neutral categories.

2 days ago
James Reyne at Red Hot Summer Bendigo 2020 photo Noise11
James Reyne Covers Rose Tattoo

James Reyne has decided to tackle an Oz Rock classic. Check out the James Reyne edition of Rose Tattoo’s ‘Bad Boy For Love’.

4 days ago
Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil at Mt Duneed - photo Noise11.com
Midnight Oil Christen New Album ‘Resist’ And Announce 2022 Australian Tour

Midnight Oil will head out for a farewell tour in 2022 built around a new album they have christen ‘Resist’.

4 days ago
AC/DC For Those About To Rock
AC/DC For Those About To Rock We Salute You Turns 40

AC/DC’s second Brian Johnson album ‘For Those About To Rock We Salute You’ turned 40 this week.

5 days ago
Kid Rock performs at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on 7 December 2013. Photo by Ros O'Gorman
Weird Al Tweets Kid Rock’s Anti-Vax Song Is Not Him

Weird Al Yankovic has taken the piss out of Kid Rock's new antivax song in a tweet.

6 days ago
The Chantoozies at Pure Gold Live 2015. Photo by Ros O'Gorman http://www.noise11.com
Tottie Goldsmith Released From Hospital To Recover From Covid

Chantoozies singer Tottie Goldsmith has been released from the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne after being treated for Covid-19.

7 days ago