After crossing the border, we reached Brother Tyler's new house in Bellingham, WA. Being a New Yorker, I was immediately jealous. The house is brand new, very nicely decorated and it has tons of room. Then again, I'm having trouble decorating my 800 sq. ft. apartment in Manhattan, so I don't know what I'd do with that much space.
Mrs. Brother Tyler (aka. Sister Katy Starr) was on call at the hospital that night, so we knew that we had to entertain ourselves. After checking the local club listings, we were absolutely crushed to see that Hell's Belles, Seattle's finest all-female AC/DC cover band, was playing at The Fairhaven in Bellingham, but not that weekend. Our depression was deepened yet further when we saw that Maiden Seattle , Seattle's finest Iron Maiden cover band, was playing on January 13th. (They were listed as "all-female Iron Maiden tribute band," which was so bizarre that I would probably have flown back to Bellingham just to see it, but it turns out that the band is a bunch of dudes.)
The biggest mystery of the weekend was the listing for that night for "The Replacements" at the Main Street Bar & Grill in Ferndale. I was pretty sure that Bobby would not be playing, but I was curious enough to call the club and ask who this was. They were listed for Friday and Saturday, right after Rock Karaoke. The woman at the club was even more confused than I was.
"Is this THE Replacements?"
"Some of them."
"I don't know their names."
"Is Paul Westerberg playing?"
"I don't know who that is."
After futher discussion between me and Brother Tyler, we determined that it was highly unlikely that THE Replacements would be playing two consecutive weekends in Ferndale, Washington without a little more fanfare. We decided not to drive out. If this turns out to be some kind of stealth comeback tour for them, I will never forgive myself.
We ended up at an all ages show in a coffee house in downtown Bellingham. The band was actually pretty good, driven by the heavily overdriven sound of the hyperkinetic bassist. He kind of looked like he had just been let out of a 48-hour session of Dungeons & Dragons. The singer was a diminutive woman playing a blonde Tele into a Fender Hot Rod DeVille and getting a very nice, warm sound. She never played anything particularly complex, but somehow she and the bassist combined to get a lush, harmonically interesting sound in a lot of the songs. The drummer looked like my cousin Christopher, but with better timing.
Brother Tyler and I were the oldest people in the house by a good decade and a half (if not two decades in some cases). I'm sure they thought we were narcs. I had a great time, though and wished that New York had had more venues like this when I was growing up. All the kids were into the music and the place had good energy.
Oh, who am I kidding? I still would have been at home figuring out the guitar solo to "Firth of Fifth."
The next day we drove down to the Skagit Valley to see the bald eagles. I had never seen a bald eagle in person. They are astonishingly beautiful birds with a grave elegance when at rest. The biggest thrill was shooting one and taking the eggs out of its nest.
So, thanks to Brother Tyler and Sister Katy Starr for an excellent weekend. If only I had known the doom that awaited me on Monday evening in San Francisco...