ConstantCommentary® Vol. XII, No. 182, May 13, 2011

Mike Jasper at 56




Taking the BBC to the W

(Part three of a three-part series)

After the harrowing traffic on St. Patrick's Day (aka the Irish Cinco de Mayo), I was dreading Friday’s traffic, especially since Bombay Bicycle Club played two gigs that day, one in the afternoon, the other late at night.

The first gig made no sense and seemed below them—a pizza joint in East Austin called Red House. But when I got there, I changed my mind about the place. Many shade trees surrounded a nice old house they converted to a pizzeria, and there was plenty of parking. I was able to plant my truck within twenty feet of the load-in zone. Score.

The bands played on the patio, and a utility room served as backstage, so there was plenty of space for equipment both on- and offstage, a nice change from the crowded conditions at most SXSW clubs.

Oddly, everybody arrived late, so I moved the equipment on my own. About an hour later, tour manager Steve showed up.

"Everything's all moved in," I said. "I got here at 3:30, so it looks like I'm the only one who was on time."

"That's one way of looking at it," Steve said. "If you consider getting here 90 minutes early on time."

Okay, perhaps I was a tad too diligent. It happens. About once every twenty years, but it happens. I went back stage to get the gear organized when Louis—my immediate supervisor as well as keyboardist in the band—tracked me down.

"I think I have a bit of an upgrade for you," he said, pointing at my purple sunglasses, freebies from a soft-drink giveaway promotion. "Try these on."

He gave me a nice pair of Burberry sunglasses he had cadged at some event. The glasses looked good, although coupled with my black cowboy hat it gave me a dude ranch look. Oh, well. I am the dude, after all.

A few minutes later, bass player Ed Nash sauntered in with a proud souvenir of the day's activities, a target from a pistol range. Ed, Louis and Steve love to shoot guns. I guess they don't have ready access to guns in England, and you certainly can't hunt for Homo sapiens as you can in Texas (yes, it's a Dick Cheney joke).

The gig went well, although leader Jack Steadman decided to open with an acoustic number instead of the usual opener “Magnet,” one of my favorites. But by the time they hit "Dust On The Ground," they were in a groove and had the audience eating from their pasty white UK hands. Albeit, some of those hands were covered in gunshot residue.

[The BBC really is a damn good band, but don't take my word for it. Just point your browser to and listen for yourself. I'll wait for you to come back. Moving on.]

After the relative calm of the Red House gig, it was back to the crushing maw of downtown traffic and a late night gig at Latitude 30. All went well and I was able to hear "Magnet" once again. Oddly, Friday night’s traffic was a piece of cake, thanks to a great parking spot and the absence of the Irish revelers.

Traffic and hostility is the residue of Irish revelers.

Before I took the gear home, Steve pulled me aside. "Do you think you can take the gear to the airport on Sunday as well?" he asked.

I had planned to be finished with everything Saturday night, so this was a slightly annoying pinprick of an assignment. "Maybe," I said. "What time would I need to be there?"

"You'd meet us at the Continental baggage check-in at 11 a.m.," Steve said. Yeah, a pinprick right in the eyes. I had to be somewhere at 11 a.m.? Do these people not understand how much I drink on Saturday nights?

"Of course, there will be more money involved," he said.

"Okay, I’m in,” I said. Priorities, you know.

The final gig took place Saturday afternoon at the Hotel San Jose, another great venue, although it was located in the SoCo (South Congress) district and traffic was a bitch. I managed to find parking at a school for the deaf after the load in—it's not as if they give a flying fuck about a music festival.

The gig went well, but about two songs into the set Jack Steadman's tremolo bar fell off his Strat. Shit. Steve told me later that the bar was always loose, but it was still the first guitar screw up of any gig and I was not happy about it. Nothing much I could do, though, so when the opportunity presented itself Jack bent down, picked it up and screwed it back in.

After the gig, I asked Steve what the plans were for the night. Maybe we could meet up for a drink. "I've got passes to the Perez Hilton party," he said. "Give us a call around 8 or so and we'll meet downtown."

Cool. Passes to the party of the most notorious gay guy in the world, Perez Hilton. I'm down with that (insert oral sex joke here).

On the advice of a friend, I decided to meet the boys at the W Hotel, which was located next to the Hilton party venue, which happened to be the new building for the nationally televised public TV show Austin City Limits.

It took some doing, but I finally connected with everybody at the corner of Third & Lavaca. From there, we went to the W hotel bar, where only one of us fit in.

"We were kind of expecting you to take us to something a little more divey," Steve said. Makes sense. When you're perceived as a combination of Bukowski and Lebowski, you don't expect to be taken to an upscale bar. But it was conveniently located next to the Hilton venue, after all. Still, I pretty much blew the steer on that opportunity—should have taken them to the Lucky Lounge.

That said, manager Jason fit right in and ordered a drink so gay it came with an umbrella and a foldout futon. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

At some point, I drank too much and blurted out my age. "I'm 57. Did you hear me? 57. Fifty-fucking-seven."

Louis looked at me horrified. "You must never, ever joke around that way again. Ever." At least I think that's what he said.

Although nobody liked the W very much, we seemed to like the drinks just fine—I don’t think anybody made it to the damn Hilton party.

The next morning sucked tremendously. I got halfway down the block when I realized I had forgotten to bring my black cowboy hat. How would they know it was me if I didn't wear it?

I pulled up to Continental baggage claim at the Austin-Bergstrom airport and mustered all the energy I could to be upbeat, when all I really wanted to do was pull out an AK-47 and start shooting randomly and senselessly. As bad as I felt, I took one look at lead guitarist Jamie MacColl and knew I was not the most hungover guy at the airport.

"Suren got laid!" someone blurted out, probably Ed. Everybody else had significant others at home, so they were on their best behavior, but Suren was a free agent. Either that or he was playing around on his girlfriend and has just been busted, thanks to me.

"Let's get a picture," Louis said and Ed snapped a picture of me leaning against the truck, resplendent in my cowboy boots and matching black hat. I'm sure it's on Facebook somewhere with the caption, "The Dude!"

As long as it doesn't say, "And he's fifty-fucking-seven,” I'm good to go.

* * *

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: This column aims to be funny. If you can read anything else into it, you're on your own.




Mike Jasper is a writer and musician living in Austin, Texas.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, he claims strong ties to Seattle, St. Petersburg, Florida and North Platte, Nebraska.


© 2011 by Mike Jasper, All Rights Reserved. ConstantCommentary® is published whenever Mike Jasper feels like it. All material is the responsibility of the author.