Friday, March 17

Taxi to O'Hare, 6am flight, belt off, shoes off, "No that's not a laptop." I stumble, pants 'round ankles, into O'Plummet's Pilot Lounge for a quick snort before the evil hometown stench of popcorn, pizza, and napalm drives us off to gate H59 and onto a packed flight to Denver, where we must change planes for Dallas, or perhaps Lubbock.

The gangway to the plane is a huge wraparound Starbuck's CD advertisement, and I'm pressed up against a large image of Bob Dylan circa 1965 as I wait to board. This is the only way to sell music in 2006! I hope I run into a Starbuck's talent scout in Güero's this afternoon. Christ! I could do with selling some records.

Members of Tower of Power, in matching silk bomber jackets, are trying to stuff conga drums and wheelie bags full of hemp products into the overheads. There's a nun in the row behind me. Luckily, I have a window seat with a fine view of some burly baggage handlers out on the tarmac jumping up and down on my antique ukulele and laughing like hyenas. The guy next to me looks exactly like David Bowie, and by the time the Tylenol PMs and $8 gin and tonics kick in, I'm convinced he is David Bowie. I become very irritated when I notice he's trying to read my copy of No Depression.

"Back off skinny boy," I spit, "there's nowt for you in here!"

By the time we land in Denver, we're firm friends and have plans to collaborate on a new Tin Machine project.

I wake up at the baggage counter in Austin, where Deano is trying to describe his bagpipe case to the airline staff. Mr. Spanky has disappeared. This is going to take a while, so I sidle off to the nearest bar and fuel up on Drambuie and Diet Slice. We're onstage in 45 minutes.

Our cabdriver is mortified that he's never heard of us but says that he had Sufjan Stevens in the back of his cab this morning and he got his guitar out and previewed a whole bunch of new material! Wow! Only in Austin, eh!? The floor of the cab is thick with fractured demo CDs, party invites, and vomit.

In the crowded alley behind Yard Dog Folk Art, the owner of our record label is waiting with a tray of Hornitos floaters and a side of mushroom tamales. "Yeah! SXSW, my 27th visit! Hi Tift!" Some guy who claims I talked to him once at the Rumpo Wagon in Jacksonville is blocking my way to the bathroom, so I flatten him with a left to the kisser, strap on my battered Strat, and look around for someone more important to drool on ...

Jon Langford's SXSW showcase: Saturday, March 18, 10pm @ Opal Divine's Freehouse. Watch out for that left hook.

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