Boy, was this trip to Yakima a weird one. Quite possibly the weirdest one yet.

I was planning to go see DrummerAdam play with Chuck Prophet. Turned out that I was mistaken, and Adam’s band was OPENING for Chuck Prophet. That’s still very cool, and well worth the drive. The band he was playing with was a person whose CD I played on, and on Wednesday I got a text message from the band leader which said, “I heard you’re going to be in Yakima. Want to sit in with us?” I agreed on the spot.

This was not a band I normally play with, except one other time, and I played cello at that show. This time I decided to play lead guitar, so I spent the next two days learning all the songs by listening to them on my iPod at work and in my car on the way down. I was the first to arrive at the venue, which was the Yakima Sports Center. Those of us who grew up in Yakima know that it used to be one of the sleaziest places in town, second only to the infamous (and now nonexistent) Blue Banjo, at least in my book, but it was completely refurbished in the late 1990’s, and now it’s a perfectly respectable restaurant and music venue.

Most of my friends from Yakima have long since moved away, but I do still have some friends there, and they were all planning to come to the show. Two of them weren’t able to make it, but DrummerTy was, and he actually brought my guitar teacher with him. I took guitar lessons for about six months when I was fifteen years old, and I’d only seen my teacher a few times since then. He was a great guy back then, and he’s still a great guy now. It was an amazing surprise to see him again.

We were the opening act, but for some reason, our set was only a half hour long. We also played a few weird cover songs. I asked, “If our set is only a half hour, why are we playing ANY cover songs?” Apparently, there was some sort of promotion going on at the venue called “Guilty Pleasures”, so each of the three bands was expected to play a few songs that everyone would know, and would never admit to liking. I found out about that when we were on stage; I certainly didn’t see it coming. The ‘guilty pleasure’ songs we played were “Human Nature” by Michael Jackson, “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees, and “Night Moves” by Bob Seger. I was a bit embarrassed, to be honest, because my friends who hadn’t seen me play in at least thirteen years were there watching me play these ridiculous songs that I didn’t know. I was a little bit nervous, but the band is very good, and we all played well together, despite having no rehearsals beforehand, and despite those weird other songs. I wouldn’t say it was the best gig I’ve ever had, but I’ve certainly had plenty of worse ones.

After we were done, I packed my stuff off stage and went to talk to DrummerTy. We sat at the bar and unsuccessfully attempted to order a drink from the aloof waitress. Probably a good thing in retrospect, because Ty was already very drunk. He was silent for a few moments and just sat there looking at me. Finally, he said, in a strange voice, “You’re the best musician I’ve ever known.”

I sensed that something was up, and said, “Thank you. . .I think. I’m expecting a ‘but.’ ”

He looked away, looked back and said, “What the fuck are you doing? There was nothing entertaining about that. It was lame.” Suddenly the band leader appeared from behind me with a beer and set it on the counter in front of me, then disappeared back into the crowd. “LAME,” Ty repeated, to me.

“This is not my normal thing,” I said, “It was also a weird gig, because our set was only half an hour, which I didn’t know beforehand, and I certainly didn’t know we were playing all those crappy ‘guilty pleasure’ songs.”

Ty replied, “Are you trying to be a pop star? You’re not even a pop musician. You live in the abstract.”

“I’m not a pop star, I’m trying to be a producer. This was just one gig, on one night. I don’t know what you mean by ‘living in the abstract.’ ”

He rubbed his eyes, which seemed to be bothering him. “I listened to all the songs on your web site, and I don’t even like them.” That’s nothing that concerns me, so I didn’t say anything. Just then, his friend and friend’s girlfriend arrived. He didn’t introduce me. They talked among themselves for a minute, and then Ty said, to no one in particular, “I’m too drunk. I need to get outta here or I’m gonna get in a fight.”

“What does that mean?” I asked. They started to head toward the door, so I said good night, and then went over and gave my old guitar teacher a hug, and they all drove off. I went outside, feeling like I’d been sucker-punched. After a few minutes, Adam came outside, saw me, and noticed that I was bummed out. I told him what happened, and he said that he’s seen Ty like that pretty often. He goes out, drinks too much, and then gets belligerent. After having a few days to think about it, I feel like this conversation was Ty’s version of ‘tough love’ or something, but that’s certainly not the way to go about it.

This all happened during the second performer of the night, who is a songwriter from here in Portland who I’ve seen a couple of times before, and who I’m not particularly impressed with. Between my conversation with Ty and walking outside, I pretty much missed his entire set. I wanted to leave, but I also wanted to stay and see Chuck Prophet, who was absolutely awesome. I got a glass of wine and talked with our various band members for a while. I also saw a musician friend of mine from college, who went on to open a recording studio, which later closed down after a few years. I went and talked with him for a while, and it was okay, but not as much fun as I expected. He had to leave after about fifteen minutes, so I went back to hang out with the band. The show ended soon after, so I packed up my car, gave hugs all around to the band members, and left. I was still feeling really angry, and I was also exhausted after the three-hour drive to Yakima. I had come directly from work.

Around 1:30 a.m., I arrived at my mom’s empty house (she and my stepdad were in Seattle visiting my brother’s family), and when I was bringing my instruments in from the car, I noticed that I was missing my amp stand, so I had to drive clear back downtown to retrieve it. Finally, I was able to go to bed. Didn’t sleep too well, either, because my mom has three dogs, all of which wear clanky chain collars and walk around barking in the middle of the night.

This entry is getting a bit on the long side, so I think I’m going to turn this into a two-part entry.

You’ll be glad to know that Saturday was great. The second part of this story isn’t negative at all.