Ashland, OR – “Salt in the Wound” – The Ashland Creek Bar & Grill – July 8, 1999

Sometimes, before I get on stage I have to convince myself to rise above it all—all the noise inside my head. I have to play louder than the voices that are trying to drown me so I can hear the cleanness and purity of the music. I have to remind myself that I am stronger than my fears and that those who love me vastly outnumber those who’d rejoice in my demise. Sometimes when I stand in stage lights I want to just quit—to give up…again…and again…and again…and then, I realize…I can’t. I won’t.

And it’s from there, from the quiet, from the strength of silence, I can start the song.

Everyone told us we’d love Ashland. We didn’t. It wasn’t the town’s fault. Ashland, Oregon as a place is quaint and beautiful. It was the venue and the people who worked there that were the problem. We arrived at three, after a long, stomach-sloshing, zig-zagging ride up Northern California’s coastline. No one was more nauseous than I. I’d made the mistake of seeing the drive as an opportunity to write about last night’s gig.

A quaint wooden bridge arched over a feisty creek at the mouth of The Ashland Creek Bar & Grill. Except for some folks having a bite to eat out on a distant porch, the bartender, a red-haired, 40-something was the only soul in the venue. Chris approached and asked politely if the sound engineer had arrived for our gig yet.

“No sound man tonight,” The barkeep dried a beer stine without looking up, “Peter (the owner) didn’t feel like hiring one.” I was caught off guard by this man’s apparent disregard if not disdain for us. His reaction might have suited a vagrant looking for a restroom or a free meal so I looked for sarcasm in his eyes. I found none. The following is the dialogue that ensued:

Delluchi (with the patience of a priest I might add): “Is Peter here?”
Barman: “Uh,… nope.”
Delluchi: “Do you know when he’ll be here?”
Barman: “Uh,… nope.”
Delluchi: “If there’s no sound man, can I get someone to show me what equipment you’ve got on the premises?”
Barman (Still no eye contact): “Uh,… nope.”

We had no choice but to investigate the stage situation ourselves. It was empty save for a rickety mic stand and a roll of black gaffers tape on a bench. There were no mics, no cables, no monitors, and no soundboard. I felt sick to my stomach and excused myself to use the restroom. When I turned, I caught sight of one of our posters. Under my picture, Ashland Creek Bar & Grill had promoted “The daughter of James Taylor and Carly Simon.” Which, proactively, I’d asked them to avoid.

As I’ve mentioned before, this sort of billing:
A. Attracts an audience who wants to see my parents but will settle for a night of comparing me to them.
B. Gives people an invitation to ask inappropriate questions like— “I don’t think your mother was wearing a bra on that Anticipation cover. Am I right?” “Who’s You’re So Vain about?” and “I want to write your father a note. Can you get it to him for me?” For all of these, I have rote responses. I can’t, of course, simply go around admonishing people, that would be ridiculous and frankly, it might make my parents look bad. So I simply say: “You’re so Vain is about me of course” and “If you write my dad a note I can’t promise it won’t unintentionally get used to make a set list.” and “Hu, whatdayouknow, my mom IS totally braless on Anticipation, I never noticed before.”
C. Makes me feel embarrassed that I’ve got famous parents and yet am playing in shite venues like The Ashland Creek Bar & Grill.

But, I remind myself, this is my choice. I could’ve jumped on my parent’s coattails and ridden them to a record deal but I wanted to do it on my own—To forgo nepotism, and try to suck privately on my way to getting good enough to be worthy of theaters and headlining gigs.

Still slightly woozy from our car adventure, we stumbled back across the bridge to a sunny patch of grass for a band meeting about what to do. We could either leave, something our contract supported if we weren’t provided with a sound system. Or, we could suck it up and play acoustically. Playing the show was a deflating prospect but we also realized that to leave, would be to take our anger out on the crowd who were planning on coming out to see us and it wasn’t their fault the people who owned the bar were idiots. After much discussion and ventilation, we decided to ignore the stupidity that we’d encountered thus far and do the gig.

While the band set up for an acoustic show, I walked up Main Street to find a mailbox to send an overdue letter to my mama. Inside a post office, another poster hung and a woman getting her mail asked if the picture was of me. Half-heartedly I responded, it was. She looked at it for another minute while waiting for me to finish buying stamps before asking, “I don’t mean to offend, but, what with your heritage and all, why hasn’t anyone heard of you?”

Back at the venue, the boys were drinking beer at the bar and absentmindedly watching the Tour De France on ESPN. The endless bike ride was broadcast throughout our endless show. Its presenters had speakers. We did not. Our audience was small but attentive and helped us pull together a decent set. People danced and seemed to enjoy themselves and the knowledge we’d never have to play at The Ashland Creek Bar and Grill again brought enough of a smile to our faces that our grimaces were partially masked.

After the show, we very politely thanked the venue for having us and quietly split town.