Touring the U.S. in the chill of December is always problematical, unless you’ve decided to play only in Florida and California and have access to dad’s Learjet to get from the land of orange juice to the Golden State. You’d think MAGNET’s Jud Cost, a grizzled veteran of the music wars, would have figured that out before he volunteered to accompany his old friends in the Green Pajamas and boatclub on a short Portland-to-Seattle jaunt and write about what went down. But with visions of Tom Wolfe and Ken Kesey shepherding the Grateful Dead in 1965 flashing in his head, the lure may have been irresistible. Formed in 1982 by Jeff Kelly and Joe Ross when they discovered a mutual love of the Beatles’ “Rain,” the Green Pajamas have been on the scene longer than any current Seattle band. Their admirable endurance can be credited both to a steady stream of fine albums created mainly by Kelly and the fact they play out only a handful of times each year. Oakland’s boatclub features both guitarists from ’80s Paisley Underground stalwarts Rain Parade, Matt Piucci and John Thoman. They also boast an excellent third stringbender, Mark Hanley, who formerly accompanied onetime Quicksilver Messenger Service vocalist Dino Valenti, as well as drummer Stephan Junca, who (like Piucci) occasionally plays with Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot. Read Cost’s recent Green Pajamas Q&A.
The Green Pajamas’ “Looking For Heaven” (download):
Sunday, December 6
Up bright and early this morning to greet the Kelly daughters, first Tess, then Jane, with what I thought were can’t-miss literary salutations (“Good morning, Tess of the D’Urbervilles”; “Good morning Jane of Lantern Hill”) and received a well deserved non-reaction from each. Which just goes to show they’ve become normal teenage girls, rather than just the precocious offspring of a brilliant singer/songwriter and an equally dazzling painter (which they have always been). I pick up Hanley at the Ross guest house and serenade Joe’s infant son Lincoln with the refrain from Shirley Ellis’ 1965 hit “The Name Game” (“Lincoln, Lincoln, bo-Pincoln/Banana-fanna, fo-Fincoln/Me my mo-Mincoln: Lincoln!”) Not much reaction from this kid, either. Maybe I’m losing my touch with the youngsters. We point the Mini Cooper back toward Portland and hope for the best on the upcoming 50-mile two-lane road out to the Pacific coast. Highway 30 to Astoria has been dusted with snow this morning, and we have to be wary of black ice on the pass that crests around 1,500 feet. I slow down, no doubt pissing off locals behind me who want to go 65 in what looks like slippery conditions. We pull over halfway down the coast at a place called Bell Buoy for the best crab cocktail I’ve ever tasted (“Fresh off the boat,” says the lady behind the counter) and finally arrive at our last port of call, Manzanita, Ore. It’s the unlikely site for tonight’s show at a local watering hole called the San Dune Pub. No one knows why there’s no “d” in San Dune. The temperature has dropped into the teens and there’s a 40-mph wind beating down on us. Sure, this would be a balmy evening if you’re from Edmonton, but to a wimpy bunch of Californians who whine when it gets below 50, it’s pretty miserable. But the sandwiches are good and the show goes down surprisingly well. And the rest room is heated to about 200 degrees. Steve and Melissa have a beach house in Manzanita, and they’ve put the word out among their many friends who have shown up by the dozens. Melissa is overjoyed to find the current edition of the Cannon Beach Citizen is running my press release of tonight’s show as a page-11 feature. When he heard of our final destination, Scott McCaughey had warned earlier, “If there was a gig in Manzanita, believe me, I’d know about it.” But the boys peddled a few of their self-produced CDs tonight and got to play some stuff I’ve never heard them do, such as Hanley singing lead on “Fresh Air,” the Dino Valenti-penned 1970 West Coast AOR radio hit by Quicksilver Messenger Service. We downed a few bottles of cabernet along with a few slabs of local Tillamook cheese to celebrate mission accomplished back at Steve and Melissa’s fab two-story beach place before hitting the sack.