Field Report
photo of Eric By Eric Riebling
Contributing writer

In June, Pittsburgh's The Gathering Field started a tour in support of their new national album release. This is bassist Eric Riebling's road report on the band's activities.


Fri., June 21 | The Phantasy opening for Annie DeChant | Cleveland, OH:

We ran in to our friends Garage Sale America playing next door. I got caught up talking to the guy who runs the hemp store and was late for soundcheck. Yet another "Where's Eric?" story.


Sat., June 29 | Grape Street Pub opening for June Rich | Philadelphia, PA:

We weren't expecting to find the dozen or so blocks closed to traffic and populated with an arts festival. It went on for so far that we didn't even get to either end on foot. Parking was a real challenge, and that was without a trailer.

Ray tried a 'real' Philly cheese steak, and still thinks Peppi's are better. June Rich blew us away. Not only vocally and instrumentally, but the songs were great too. We strongly recommend you buy their CD and catch them at the Aug 20th show at Nick's. This is the first time I recall seeing Dave Brown excited about a new band, national or local.


Thurs., July 4 | Three Rivers Stadium w/D.O.S.E. & The Badlees
Outside Gate A, FREE

We all got tickets to the ball game. Some of us paid attention, some suffered through all 9 losing innings just out of a sense of obligation. The band was handing in our tickets at the turnstiles just as Bill was being introduced. We had to run to get to the seats in time to see him finish singing. It was pretty exciting. The first crowd shot after the anthem was a close-up of Bill's dad looking about as proud as anyone could be.

At the show afterwards, everyone rocked. The lines at the restrooms were insane. It took longer to wait in line than to finish the beer that made you have to go.


Fri., July 5 | The Empty Glass | Charleston, WV:

This was a laid-back neighborhood hangout. The sound man kept us entertained, as did the interesting pizza. I've never seen a pie made with chicken, hot sauce, and... green olives. But as usual, someone has to eat cleanup... who doesn't hate to see food go to waste.


Sat., July 6 | Jack Straws | Charlotte, NC:

This club had great artwork on the walls, and served as a restaurant, not unlike the Balcony in Shadyside. We got to stay at Bill's uncle's palatial place located right between two golf courses and were treated to more Pizza Hut pies and donuts than you could imagine. At the club, Ray and I had a few minutes to kill before soundcheck and lamented how it would be nice if there were someplace nearby to do something 'fun.' Within the very same block, we found not only a coffee shop, but a billiards place.

Two of our favorite pastimes, that close to the club? It's a near statistical impossibility! Nonetheless we had time to get in exactly one game. During the game, a woman put some quarters on the table indicating she wanted in on the action. This unnerved us a little bit.. there was already an empty table. Then when she whipped out her own cue stick... we knew we were in trouble. After our game, she asked... "You playing bar rules?" At which point we made our getaway, using the (legitimate) excuse that we had to play our set next door. That was a close one. We would surely have been butchered.


Fri., July 12 | The Bayou opening for Vertical Horizon | Washington, D.C.:

These guys rule. Unfortunately the Bayou had carpeted the stage recently so we had trouble hearing each other.


Sat., July 13 | The Brewery opening for V.H. | Raleigh, N.C.:

The Brewery was A-ok. We enjoyed pizza Dave took the initiative to obtain. For a second it felt like our rider might actually have been honored.


Mon., July 15 | The Atlantis opening for V.H. | Nags Head, N.C.:

Whoa. A day off. What's that?! All I can remember is embarrassing myself in the ocean. I seem to have forgotten two important facts: it's cold, and it's salty. Tim (our newly beloved sound man) and I had trouble finding any action whatsoever. The highest concentration seemed to be the karaoke at the Howard Johnson's. (yawn)

As for the Atlantis: great food, no crowd. We jazzed up the set and partied with Vertical Horizon after the show. This included watching MTV, drinking coffee, and listening to some of their live tapes. A little post-game analysis never hurt anyone, and it sure seems to be paying off for them. Personally I can't wait to hear their next recording with more of the full band.


Tues., July 16 | The Mad Monk opening for V.H. | Wilmington, N.C.:

Our directions turned out to be wrong. The club had moved from a shopping mall to a downtown address. Luckily a couple guys outside gave us directions. A couple of gentlemen with colorful stories seem to have talked us out of some of our cash that night. An alarming number of tattoo parlors and strip bars were clustered along the drive, probably due to the proximity of a naval base. We figured why not combine forces and open a topless tattoo bar. And imagined young sailors getting the name of their favorite dancer emblazoned on their hides for an embarrassing eternity.


Wed., July 17 | The Chameleon Club opening for V.H. | Atlanta, GA:

Oops, never made it. It was a learning experience when our transmission blew a gasket and started spewing fluid, which caused a rather impressive smoke to pour from our underbelly. Of course, I was driving at the time. Automotive anomalies seem to be my specialty in the band. Read on for more details.


Fri. July 19 | McIntosh Music Festival at the Lion's Den w/other AWARE artists | New York City

Smooth; we got there just in time to set up and play, thanks to some rather aggressive driving on Todd Blodgett's part. Thanks also to his seemingly boundless supply of energy. Please someone write back if you ever found out whether this was a raging success or the abysmal collapse I fear. Just listen to the out of tune E string after Bound to Be if you don't believe me. Assuming the cyber-cast went as scheduled; I'm still waiting for details.


Sat. July 20 | Rosedale Fire Department Summer Concert w/Brownie Mary | Verona, PA

Two thousand fans couldn't have been wrong that night. Thanks to the volunteer fire and rescue workers who made this a rocking success. Well, except for the fact that they wouldn't let anyone dance in front of the stage. Something about the fact that those who preferred to sit on blankets and lawn chairs wouldn't be able to see were there to be dancers up front. Personally I would have used the fenced-off area by the stage as a dance area, keeping them well out of visual range of the crowd on the grass. But that's just me.


July 22-24 | The Chicken Box | Nantucket Island, MA:

Captain Seaweed was a trip. The island was great save the overcast weather the second two days. We rocked the Box, but really, the Box rocked all on it's own. After our second day of drinking shots during and after the gig... I have personally never witnessed such a slush-fest as the before the final set. Rocky the bartender is totally to blame for twisting our arms. And then there's Captain Seaweed's surpise performance at the open mike.


July 27 | Presque Isle State Park:

Unplugged with the Clarks and Brownie Mary's Rich and Kelsey, clear skies, a beautiful sunset and bonfire couldn't have made for a better Rocket 101 (or is it the Jet??!!) Pittsburgh band-fest. I got to play sitting down, for once, something my flat feet rarely get to savor.

Guess what? More automotive distress. On the way out, we ran out of gas. Guess who was driving? Of course. Me. Thankfully John Williams came to our rescue and wins our Knight in Shining Armor award. (or is it the Good Samaritan?) So after a moderate delay and some fancy footwork by John and Dave at the gas station, we're once again underway. Then the (almost becoming) predictable happened. Just miles from the Cranberry exit, the headlights went out. Cold, black, out. Made for an interesting descent from the 63 mph throttle stop, nearly-full-moon cloudlight notwithstanding. Tim saved us by re-socketing all the fuses. Turned out a jiggle was all that she took.

I'm baffled as to why all the interesting driving happens during my shift. And all the more hopeful for a day when a tour bus is within budget and we can leave the driving to Greyhoud, as it were. I take back the comment about good music beginning with good (nutrition, clean hands, etc.):

Good music begins with safe driving.

Thankful to be back from the road,

Eric

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Copyright 1996 by Marbles. All rights reserved.