We travel towards the west again and into the border area of Iowa and Nebraska for our show at the Hard Rock Café and Casino in Sioux City, IA. I know, why has the Hard Rock franchise decided to open here? I’m mean why not? People like fun and gambling and also a major player that can bring big entertainment acts to this part of the Midwest. Without me doing research on this subject of why, I should just enjoy it and revel that we’re doing a casino gig. I normally like casino gigs. Sound systems are always good, the rooms can be large but the apparatus and crew is almost always very pro and efficacious. The food will be good and more than likely the load-in will be a short and easy affair. My hunches were all confirmed when we got to the gig. Instead of the venue being within the structure of the casino, the venue had its own outside doors for easy load-in. A more than ample stage and a top notch PA system with a good crew all around. This was going to be fun. We loaded in and proceeded to set up then sound check and got the monitors dialed in for our show. Nice and loud on stage, the monitors were hitting me in the face with my guitar and vocal and the drums took up space by booming in the front of house PA that none was required in my mix. We thanked the crew when we were done and we went to claim our provided meal at their buffet. Food, food, food and more food was the spread here at the Hard Rock and we dove into it with zeal. I still have to always get me a fresh salad when the opportunity arises cuz’ I eat them all the time when I’m at home. Just veggies with virgin olive oil and salt n’ pepper on top. At home I do add a touch of sesame oil to add more complexity to the flavor. While in Italy almost 10 years ago our road manager would eat his salads this way; nothing but olive oil on it and so I’ve adopted his way and taken this method ever since. Nothing wrong with the rich dressings out there, just when it’s fresh veggies I’d like to concentrate on the flavor that each vegetable has to offer, and besides with Italy having just about the best olive oil in the world, it’s where I started my taste for fine virgin oil. Besides, the price of the good stuff can get very expensive depending on the source and region from whence the oil comes. Lots of times when I’m in Italy, if we go to the Cambria or Umbria area I have the promoters go and find me the best virgin olive oil in the region and they’ll bring me a couple of bottles. Then I’ll go buy like a baguette or some long loaf and I’ll just pour oil into it and eat it just like that as we roll down the road. Since I don’t have to drive while in Europe that frees me up to indulge in my oil and bread or to read something that has to do with the country. Last time I was in Italy I brought along Goethe’s Travels in Italy book and related his experiences with mine at the time. Funny, Goethe actually thought the Tower of Pisa was intentionally made with a lean to it. He said it makes the tower stand out more amongst the other buildings and gives it more character. Pablo Picasso had the same analogy with some paintings he had in his place. One large painting he had hanging in his living room was purposely set at an angle. You know, the kind of angle where some of us couldn’t stand to see a picture like that and would go to straighten it out, but Pablo told his friend not to do such a thing, ‘People will notice the frame of a painting more than the painting sometimes, when you hang it at an angle, you see the painting better and don’t notice the frame.’
We finish this part of our day and head to our hotel over across the bridge into Nebraska to prepare ourselves for the show. You know the usual; clothes and changing of the strings and maybe just a bit of warming up the fingers for our gig. Another good thing about nice casinos is that the dressing room facilities are usually pretty good and it’s no exception here. Plus it gets back to the old school days where someone comes to us and tells us 5 minutes before show time and all. That service also comes with the bigger venues as well so it’s a nice respite from the more straight-up clubs that we play.
We ascend and the crowd isn’t too bad. I mean it’s a big room and it takes a lot to fill this place up but it’s not such a bad showing. We rip into our show and start down our musical road till the end of the gig. The load out is quick and we do a bit of sales at the merchandise table and I’m happy to still be playing here in Sioux City after all these years and venues later, The Salt Cellar in KD Station, (which by the way used to be a porcine abattoir), The Ickey-Nickle with the golf driving range that we’d occasionally go and whack some drives and the few other places I’m currently playing in the area. What is important is that I’m still here and I’ve still got wonderful fans and friends that come out to see me.
Still, I am the luckiest man alive.