Of all the times I’ve been on US 93 on the way to Vegas, I’ve never taken the road towards Bullhead City, AZ and Laughlin, NV. This was that time. We’re going to be staying there for two festivals like I wrote in the last blog and I’m writing this after we’ve completed 2 of the 3 days for the Brews & Blues Festival at the Colorado Belle Casino and Hotel. The main structure of the casino is an old paddle boat, like from the days of Mark Twain in the mid to late 19th century. It’s rather large and you just wonder if something like this could’ve been possible to be sailing up and down the Missisip’. Really don’t think so because the engines or steam boilers would have to be huge plus I don’t think there was a bridge high enough to allow passage underneath. That’s some of the silly stuff I think of. We’re playing in the back of the boat structure on this small concrete stage with a little roof over head to give us some relief from the sun but the direction and heading of the stage is in a more Northwesterly facing and the sun really hits you from the early afternoon till it goes behind the building at around 6 pm. The sets we have to play are mercifully short or if you’re in the mood to play, a bit truncated. Never you mind, we’re adjusting fine and now with only 2 sets to play on Sunday, my goal is to not repeat any songs. So far we’ve only played ‘My Way Down’ twice but you got to play the hit song. All the other bands on the bill are doing a good job, Chris Hiatt, Preston Shannon, John Earl. We’re just the freewheeling high energy band. We did the 12 noon shift today but it wasn’t that bad. I haven’t done a noon gig in a long time.
I have to back up and talk about the drive to Laughlin, NV. On US 93 you go through the Joshua Tree Forest, the only Joshua tree forest in America. It’s quite a sight when you come over a hill and you see this valley teaming with them. One Joshua tree alone strikes a unique figure so seeing a valley of them or a forest of them is something special.
Now we’re in Laughlin at the Casino and on a day off so we get to survey the lay-of-the-land, so to speak. A bit of a labyrinth to get to our rooms but I’m sure we’ll know this place better than Algernon by the end of our stay. The stage in the back of the structure is right up against the Colorado River. It’s actually a pretty little casino town this Laughlin is. When you go down the main street in Bullhead City on the Arizona side, both cities Bullhead and Laughlin are bisected by the Colorado river which also serves as the respective states borders so their main streets run parallel with the river, when you view Laughlin from the aforementioned point you see this city scape skyline with the tall hotel buildings and all running consecutively in a neat row. When the sun goes down it only becomes more brilliant as all the lights in the varied colors and motions come alive. It beckons you to come and see what’s over there. Bullhead City sits there on the Arizona side in stark contrast at night with nary a building more than two stories high. Not to feel bad for ‘life-less’ Bullhead City, to me it seems like some kind of economic agreement was made between the cities; Nevada can build the Casinos and such, but Bullhead gets to be the supply hub for the populace that runs the machine. All the grocery stores and laundromats and building supplies and car dealerships, in other words everything but casinos is on the Arizona side, including the airport with incidentally does have 727’s fly in. It’s a bit of a startle when you see one of those jets fly out for the first time from the Laughlin side, cuz’ the airport’s strip is also parallel with the river and the Arizona side has a slight acclivity to it so the airport is above the main road so when the jet is accelerating down the runway it looks like it’s flying about 50 feet off the ground and you think, ‘My God that plane is flying low!’, then you think it’s been hi-jacked and it’s aiming for that Home Depot store but then it lifts off. Bit of an eye-opener at first but you can’t help but chuckle about it afterward. Upon going inside the casino you’re awakened by the cacophonous noise that is the hundreds of slot machines playing their ‘Siren songs.’ Then you smell the cigarette smoke cuz’ big casinos are some of the last privately owned public going smoking areas allowed the US. Takes me back to the old days it does. We’re going to be here a while but the casino part is the one place I don’t go to very much. Gambling is just not my thing. I do like the roulette table but I have to be in the mood and it so rarely comes to me.
Our first gig is all about us getting used to the aural properties of the outside stage and the small PA that the venue has hired for the occasion. Funny cuz’ every time I do a casino sponsored gig it’s always a ‘spare-no-expense’ on the PA. Sometimes overkill but this one is just about right. The monitors aren’t EQ’d very good but like I said, we’re just getting used to the stage. I think I played horribly on the first day and maybe I was just trying too hard. I really didn’t warm up to the stage till the second day. We have to play 3 shows a day with 3 hours off in between each show. Yep, we’re running on a Vegas schedule we are. I’ve got this wild hair to not repeat any of my songs the entire weekend. Each set is only 45 minutes and with some of our songs that can stretch into the 10 minutes plus range, it’s not a far off goal to achieve. It turned out we only repeated one song twice; My Way Down. That was it and we still had plenty of songs left by the end of this gig. Whether this was a good or bad strategy to go with, I think it really set us apart from the other bands on the bill and it gave the people there more variety to see and hear in the line-up. Another mention, there were a lot of bugs, mainly this one little type of moth that looked like pantry moths to me but at least they didn’t bite and they only came out early in the morning and when the sun went down. They didn’t bother me too much. All in all it was a fun little run and now as I type this out we’re done with the Brews & Blues Festival and off for the next two days then we start up the ‘Laughlin River Run Bike Fest’ for this week. So rest up and get prepared for the sound of motorcycles. And lots of em’, really. Till then….