This first group of photos is from Higher Ground in Burlington, Vermont and yeah, I know -- my photography skills seem to be getting worse with each show but that's only because the music is so unbelievably good I can't be bothered with taking pics all night
Robbie "Seahag" Mangano on guitar, Eric Svalgard on keyboards, Eric Slick on drums
Eric rocking out behind Ike Willis' towel
Ike making a grand entrance from the balcony - opening song, second set. Have I mentioned how amazing Ike is?
Next group of photos is from the following evening at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, MA
Eric and Ike again with some glimpses of keyboardist Eric Svalgard
Yay, this time we get to see a little Andre C. on guitar
And did I finally manage to get one of Dave Johnsen on bass?
Sooo...what can I say about this weekend. I don't even know where to begin. As good as the opening night was in Philadelphia, by the time I saw Eric and Project Object play on Saturday night in Vermont, they'd already done shows in Sayreville, New Jersey with the Mahavishnu Project and a gig in Albany, New York. All I can tell you is if I thought they were amazing Wednesday, you should have seen them Saturday and Sunday evenings. I am so blown away it's kind of hard to get my thoughts together right now. That, and I'm exhausted. Eric's dad and I figured out we'd been in seven states in two days and had it not been for the sheer evil that is mapquest.com and the trip it inexplicably took us through the Berkshires to get to Vermont on the way up and through mid-town New York on the way back, we actually would have made great time, but thanks to Satan...I mean...mapquest....four hour rides became nine hour adventures in gridlock.
But no more complaining...though I do want to say something that I found hilarious. Mapquest says take I-91 in Connecticut to Exit 10 and then 89 to Vermont. They fucking neglect to mention anything about Massachusetts. In other words, they meant Exit 10 in MA, not CT, and Gary and I ended up on a fifty mile stop and go trek through some bumfuck town in Connecticut with general stores and ancient gas pumps from the time cars were probably invented.
So we were stymied and had no alternative other than to buy a $15.00 travel Atlas which told us right away we should have stayed straight on Route 91 all the way through the State of MA and I take a look at who published this wonderful, detailed Atlas and it says in big bold letter on the inside cover: THIS ATLAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY (FUCKING) MAPQUEST.
Their evil plan, then, is to totally screw with your brains with their on line directions until you are so lost and aggravated and stuck in traffic you have no choice but to pull up to the closest gas station and buy their book!
Okay, let's get to the good stuff now that I've vented. When you are driving through the Berkshires -- even though it was by mistake -- and then through Vermont, your first impulse, if you are like me, is to say "That's it. I'm selling everything I own and moving here."
Because really, New England is one of the most magnificent places on the planet. My regular readers know how obsessed I am with the real England, but when I was in tiny towns in MA and Vermont, I thought I was in the UK -- the architecture is gorgeous; the towns have names like Manchester and Glastonbury; there are just acres and acres of rolling hills, lakes, forests, grazing sheep...I mean, I could easily have been in Newcastle or Huddersfield.
But then, you know, we needed gas and stopped in a little store in the middle of nowhere in this gorgeous, gorgeous wooded area and there were two big beefy hunter guys, talking about the deer they shot -- one was wearing a hat with earflaps and the other was eating a slim jim...and well, you just can't take me out of the city.
And a glance at their pick-up truck told me all I needed to know: Bumper stickers that supported Iraq, Dubya, and the right to life. 'Nuff said?
Though I would like to have a second home in New England for sure.
And where we ended up in Vermont for the show were all hipsters -- it's a college town and the venue where Project Object played is owned by the rock band Phish (who I just trashed a week or two ago here. That'll teach me not to be such a big mouth, huh, because not only was that like the greatest venue ever, they let the band play until 2:30 a.m. I mean, they actually did a four hour set. It was crazy!!!!)
So as I said, what should have been a six hour drive tops took us over nine hours and we arrived in Vermont at 6:00 p.m. with swollen ankles and sore asses. And as for me, I was pretty sure black lung disease because I think Gary smoked a carton of cigarettes on the way up because he was so nerved out and I wasn't going to add to his stress and the stress of the long ride in general by screaming about second hand smoke.
When we get to the hotel, however, they booked him in a "No Smoking" room and made me initial all of these forms to that effect since it's on my credit card. Now Gary never follows rules but I told him he'd better smoke outside, in the car, or, if he absolutely had to have one in the room, open the window and make sure he blew the smoke outside and left no butts around as evidence.
He decides to have a smoke outside but two seconds later there's a knock at my door and it's Gary, all freaked out.
"Robin, you won't believe this. There's a guy sitting at a computer at the end of the hall monitoring smoke levels in the rooms."
"Oh come on," I said, laughing.
"You think I'm kidding? He's in a little glass booth, and his screen keeps changing."
"Like a two star hotel really hires the cigarette police. Oh for god sakes, let me go have a look."
So I go with him down the hall, and immediately crack up laughing. Right on the door it says "Business Center - ask front desk for key" and there's a desk with one computer. It was merely a guest, who had about eight screens open checking his stocks, finances, whatever. I stood there watching him switch regular old screens from Prudential to Merrill Lynch, etc.
And this poor guy looks up and sees us, and there's Gary with his shoulder length hair scowling at him because I can't stop laughing and of course he gets paranoid because I am in fact bent over double giggling...oh well...I guess you had to be there. Trust me on this, it was hilarious, and Gary will be hearing about the cigarette hotel internet police from me for the next ten years.
Anyway, I call Eric on his cell phone to let him know we've arrived and he says "You can't believe this, they moved us to the lounge for tonight's show because the Disco Biscuits are here and they've sold out three nights straight and they stayed an extra night for another show."
Eric sounded upset because Project Object is the headliner on this tour, but then he called back five minutes later and said the lounge is gigantic and really nice and almost identical to the main room so there was no problem and that Disco Biscuit fans were not the type that would have attended Project Object's show anyway so they weren't "stealing their fans" or forcing them to play to an empty room, but he added "You guys may as well not get here until the show starts at 10:00 p.m. since the hotel is right next to the venue, anyway, and we hang out backstage before the show."
So okay, Gary and I decide to go in search of food and we find a pizza place because we were really too tired to even sit in a nice restaurant -- we just got it to go and took it back to the hotel. Gary crashed out for a few hours; I watched T.V. because I can never power nap and wake up refreshed -- in fact, I get loggy when I do that -- and at 9:45 we headed over.
Well, no one prepared me for the insanity that is the typical Disco Biscuit fan, espcially the five hundred outside the venue who couldn't get tickets or were frantically trying to scalp them...or had them and still had to stand in line which did not make them happy.
Sob. I felt like a grandmother. This was a very, very young drunk, hip, and angsty crowd. And of course all smoking cigarettes, too. I could not catch a break that day, I swear. Oh, and did I mention while it was 90 degrees when I left Philly, it was 90 below zero there and raining.
I dial Eric up on my cell.
"Eric, you've got to tell us where the back door is and let us in. They're making us stand in a six mile line of disgruntled Disco Biscuit fans and if one more person looks at me like I'm a narc I'm gonna have a panic attack."
"Mom, I can't. It's crazy here."
"You mean I have to stand in this line?"
I hang up and look at Gary.
"We're stuck here."
"Oh no we're not," he said, and pointed to a side door with a guard.
And so we pushed through teenaged wasteland and got to the door which of course was locked and Gary knocked, the guard opened the door, we explained we were there to see Project Object, not the Disco Biscuits, and he said "Where are your tickets?"
"Um, we don't have tickets. We are on the guest list," I said.
"What guest list?" he asked.
"I'm going to kill your son," said Gary.
So now it was time to pull out all the stops and not care about anything.
"Listen," I said to the guard. "I am the drummer's mother. This big guy here is the drummer's father. Trust me, we are on the guest list. Please let us in before I have a nervous breakdown out here and you do not need that right now with all of these ticketless disco kids about to start a stampede."
Whenever in doubt, just act like a crazy menopausal woman and you will get your way.
The guard let us in with a smile and even pointed us in the direction of "backstage", which was in fact the second floor -- very, very cool. So we got to say hi to the band and hang out with them for a few minutes before they finally got to play at around 10:30 p.m.
Okay, what can I say about the music? Well, it was otherwordly. You can check for comments and the sets lists on the Project Object forum board, but here are some personal email excerpts which the band forwarded to me:
On Apr 18, 2006, at 9:49 AM, Matt Woods wrote:
Awesome show the other night. Great set – I have a copy of the set list and that was just an awesome line up of songs. We got some video and watched it through last night. Eric Slick is awesome – what feel he has.
And I googled Matt Woods - I think he's a guitarist but there are two of them so I'm gonna have to check on that with Project Object but judging by their response to him which I did not want to post for privacy sake, I'm pretty sure I'm right.
Here's another one:
On Apr 14, 2006, at 11:08 AM, Steve wrote:
Great show at Starland! How old is Eric Slick? The young man rocks!! To be able to play with you guys is extaordinary... A little Chad Wackerman in him????
Here's the link to Chad Wackerman so you can get an idea of just how good "Steve" thinks Eric is...
And from the actual Frank Zappa forum board:
Joined: 11 Jan 2006
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
Posted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:23 pm
Philly Show was Beautiful! See Shocked This Shocked Band! I was blown away by just about everything they did. I was also incredibly proud of the young people involved. It was drummer Eric Slick's first show, he is a PG Rock School graduate who will impress anyone who hears him, and he's 18!
Truly a great testament to the FZ legacy. Loved every second of it!
And when I got back to Philadelphia last night, this email was waiting for me:
I was just at a Project Object concert last night at Valentine's in Albany, NY, and I got to see your son play. I have to tell you that I am very seriously considering marrying him and I just wanted to clear it with you first....
No really, it was an incredible show, and I decided to Google his name this morning and I came across your website. You must be so proud to have such a talented and successful family! Frank Zappa's music is an inspiration to so many people, including me, and I am so glad they got a drummer like your son to help carry on the legend. I am definitely going to check out your book, too!
So I guess I just want to say thanks for birthing such an amazing person, so that I was able to enjoy his drumming last night!
Best of luck to you!
Hey, I just realized I'm concentrating solely on Eric here and not talking about how amazing the rest of the band is...but you know, I am his mother and I kinda use this blog to not only promote my own books and stuff but my kids as well so you're gonna have to humor me and get your Project Object info off their forum board (where actual concert clips, photos, and whole shows are linked! The entire Philly concert is there but it's a Bit Torrent thing and I'm scared to use that without Eric home in case I fry the computer). But anyway, Project Object is one of the most amazing live bands I've seen and you are reading the words of a woman who has seen the Who with Keith Moon; individual and joint concerts featuring Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton; both Live Aid 1985 and the ARMS concert at Madison Square Garden starring Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page among others....sooo...you gotta believe me, if Project Object is coming to a town near you this tour, it really is a must see/hear event.
Okay, now for me here comes the real tear jerker at the Vermont show. I notice a good looking African American guy wearing a cool multi-colored robe totally grooving on the music and really going nuts every time Eric solos. At intermission Gary goes outside for a cigarette (I know, a big surprise ha ha) and he comes back in and he says:
"Rob, you are not going to believe who that guy in the robe is."
This guy's son.
"You are kidding me!"
"Yeah. He said he loves Project Object and always goes to the shows and he was just at the Sayreville show on Friday night and said Eric blew him away so much he had to come again tonight to the Vermont show. He said his dad would have gone nuts over the way Eric played."
"Did you tell him that his father was one of Eric's heroes and that a lot of the jazz stuff Eric does was learned directly from listening to his CDs?"
"Oh my god, wait until we tell Eric and introduce him," I said.
Anyway, in the meantime, that guy's son came over to me, introduced himself as Gamal, and of course I told him something Gary didn't tell him - that his father had played with my father and ho ho ho, the things you find on the internet, here's a photo of my father when he was with Buddy Rich's band - he's the one standing playing the trombone:
"That's not all," Gary told me.
"What else is there?"
"He said he'll be at the Boston show and he's bringing this guy's son with him -- they're friends and he told him all about Eric following the Friday night show in NJ."
I clutched my heart and got all teary eyed. I mean, this is just too, too much for me to handle. The music, the fans, the guys in the band...how awesome they are to Eric and how much Eric seems to have changed in just a week - that whole boy to man thing...oh yeah, and if that's not enough, a very well known, well connected guitarist came up to Eric after the NJ show and exchanged phone numbers with him so there's something very interesting in his future as well...
Anyway, enough of my rambling. My gal the amazing violinist Katie Jacoby and her mom filmed the Philadelphia show and without further ado, here's the band performing "Eat That Question"
P.S. Did I just go a whole post without mentioning Neil Gaiman? Ha!