Duff McKagan: Rocking the South, Dodging the City Council

Deanne Deesay
Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb.
As I revealed last week, I am back out on the road with Loaded. This is our first-ever foray into the U.S. rock marketplace. A band like Loaded is perhaps a risky endeavor, considering the more mainstream leanings of the American ear.

East and West Coast cities (Seattle, New York, Boston, L.A.) are places that harbor a music scene that allows for all types of bands to come through and find an audience. In the true spirit of Loaded, however, we did things the hard way and started our tour last week in the South. Huh?

Let me preface this subject by saying that I think the southern part of the U.S. is stunningly beautiful and its people extremely charming, affable, and friendly. The South, however, is a place a rock band might come after they have "broken" a bit worldwide, or at least nationwide. I'm not sure why, but the South is often the last place record companies try to market a band--perhaps because it is more spread out and rural, and hence it's tougher to spread the "word."

We started this tour in Nashville on a Saturday night playing a well-attended radio show. People seemed to know some of our songs, and it was pretty killer, actually. The following weekend we were booked on another radio show in Charleston. The trick was to fill in gigs between these two shows so that we could make enough money to pay for our travel, etc...

Playing clubs on a weeknight ANYWHERE is tough for a new band, and Loaded is certainly in this category. Getting local promoters to buy your show if you have just released a new record is a tenuous business at best. Since I have a bit of "lineage," I suppose that some of these clubs were willing to take the risk. I am glad that they did.

I am not saying that we filled up any of these clubs last week, but when you play a place like Jackson, Mississippi, on a Sunday night (with its local economy hit MUCH harder than most around this country), I'm not sure if a bigger band than us would have done much better. But it was the fans who showed up who really reinvigorated and energized my "call to rock," as it were. There was one guy in particular at that show who sang almost every word to every one of our songs, and I knew that this gig was important to him. I told him as much afterward, and I could see tears in his eyes.

Kris, a woman who writes in to this column, came to two of our gigs down South with her husband. Kris is actually a professor at a school down here somewhere, and it was really cool to meet a person who comments on this column.

It's not always easy to find a place to park our 70-foot bus, plus trailer. In Jacksonville, Florida, the promoter got us permission to park in front of City Hall in a nearby beach-town suburb. The problem was that a city council meeting was about to take place, and they had not been alerted to our status as Very Important Parkers. Mike Squires and I were the only ones on the bus when we heard a knock on our bus door. A city council woman asked who we were, and we politely explained our situation. She seemed OK with our answer and wished us a nice stay.

In actuality, she went straight into City Hall and brought out a bunch of her male council friends with the intent of getting us kicked off the property. By this time, however, I was tired, hot, lonely, and a tad fucking cranky! When one of the male council dweebs said in essence that I was lying about us having permission to park here--well, I kind of got in his face and asked him not to insult me any further and said I'd been touring for more than half my life and that we wouldn't do something as asinine as lying just to get a parking spot, especially in front of a shitty City Hall. This guy was a real greasy and schwarmy prick. He called the cops. Luckily, Squires knows how to handle the cops, and an escalation of my righteousness was averted. We had to move the bus, but that city council dude still has to deal with the fact that he has a small penis.

That night we all got tattooed with some variation of the Loaded logo. Heck, we are best friends AND it's the longest I've ever been in a band with the same guys, which in my world warrants a tattoo. The gig in Jacksonville kicked some serious ass.

In Augusta, Georgia, we played at a music store (Rock Bottom) acoustically in the afternoon and then to a small but exuberant crowd that night at a venue that was much too big for us. It didn't matter though...we kicked ass yet again.

We finally got a night off in a town with fine dining and good ol' nerdy tourist stuff when we got to Charleston, South Carolina (where Fort Sumter is and the Civil War started, etc. . . ). This city now tops my list as the most beautiful city in the United States. Jeff Rouse and I went out for a real sit-down French-Creole dinner at a place called Rue du Jacques, and we felt suddenly civilized and somewhat less stinky and crass (being on a bus with seven dudes 24/7 creates a perfect storm of man-funk and foul language).

Our final gig of this leg of the tour was in front of six or seven thousand rockers fully buying into our style of Loaded rock. . . indeed, a great way to end this past weekend.

Mike and Ashley McCready have asked Loaded to play this weekend at their yearly benefit concert for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Mike is a guy I have known since before Pearl Jam, at a time, unbeknown to me, that he first discovered that he suffered from Crohn's. This show helps send kids with the disease to a summer camp, a place where these kids can feel 'a part of' as opposed to 'alone in a crowd'. Mike and Ashley work very hard for this one show a year and I applaud them. The gig is this Saturday, 8pm, Showbox at the Market. It features Shadow (Mikes' first band from the '80's), Loaded, and Flight to Mars (Mikes' most excellent UFO cover band)!

As a nifty side note: The plural for "y'all" is simply "all y'all."

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