Monthly Archives: August 2000

08.27.00 – West Palm Beach FL

We flew from Chicago to West Palm Beach yesterday to play an outdoor radio festival. Everyone told us that Hurricane Debby was waaaaay out at sea. “Nothing to worry about,” said the people of Florida. Just as we were set to take the stage, there was a crash of thunder and a big typhoon swept in, forcing people to flee the venue:

We tried to wait out the storm but the lightning and rain wouldn’t go away. Neither would these sopping wet fans of the rock and roll music:

Perfectly dry underneath the stage ceiling, members of Guster and their crew point and laugh at the wet people:

But these wet people wouldn’t leave. And soon they began chanting. Chanting in the rain: “Guster, you bunch of pussies, get out here and play your instruments for us, even if we have to hold this tarp over your heads while you play acoustic!”

And because their chant was so clever and catchy, we did as they said:

We managed to get through Barrel of a Gun and Airport Song before we were all swept out to sea…


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08.19.00 – New York City

last night at the biggest show of our entire lives, we let elizabeth (our website guru) have her way with the digital camera. i haven’t seen the pictures she took, but she’s attaching them to this entry, and i imagine there’s a picture of ryan calling his mom on his cell phone and singing chris deberg’s “lady in red” to her at the beginning of “x ray eyes.” i imagine there’s a shot of the women’s new york choral society singing “all the way up to heaven” with us. i imagine there’s a shot of my parents sitting on the central park bleachers, dad yelling fruitlessly “cocoon! cocoon, damn you!” i imagine there’s a picture of the whole gang — me, ryan, adam, potsy, ralph malph, the fonz — eating at big al’s after the show. yes, these are happy days.

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08.16.00 – New Jersey

We’ve been rehearsing for our Central Park show in a barn in New Jersey (with a dog with a lampshade on its head) instead of writing in our road journal this week. Sorry.

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08.04.00 – Boston, Massachusetts

Usually before a big show I’ll tape up my fingers, try to stay loose, hydrate, focus on the set list, etc etc… somehow on Friday night the routine changed and 20 minutes before we hit the stage I was in the back of a yellow rubber dinghy in the Boston Harbor, wearing a life jacket, insisting that we were going to drift out to sea if Ryan and Adam didn’t paddle harder on their side of the boat. Also on my mind was the fact that the inflatable boat package said Maximum Weight Capacity: 530 pounds — and the collective Gusterweight is estimated at an even 500. Throw in some paddles and a life jacket and there was a good chance we were going to take the stage soaking wet.

We couldn’t see it happen, but there was a guy with a camera filming us as we rowed to the dock by the back of the venue, and when it popped up on the big screen I’m told it looked like we’d been at sea for days. I’m not the best “swimmer.” We managed to get out of the boat without sinking and we even timed it so we hit the stage just as Foreplay faded out and Long Time kicked in. The (somewhat odd) decision to enter the show via flimsy raft was made 2 hours before our set. Thanks to Dalton for masterminding the plan and thanks to Jess and Kate for buying the dingy at the last minute.

As for the actual gig I felt like we’ve never received more energy from an audience. And we fed off it, like nursing home bingo players feed off the free space in the middle of their card. Karl Denson joined us on flute for Fa Fa and Andy and Eric from his band came out for an encore of Celebration by Kool & The Gang. Having real musicians on hand for the event made our “funky” version of Scars and Stitches all the more shameful. To Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe: Please accept our most sincere apologies for trying to be funky. Ever.

Two days until I shit my pants on CBS…

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08.01.00 – Stanhope NJ

i can now cross one person off of my “list of people to meet before i die.”* i met bob dylan.
it was sunday, at waterloo village in stanhope, new jersey. we had been looking forward to this show with dylan and phil lesh all summer long- in a season full of some great opening slots (dave matthews, sting, metallica [!], tragically hip, barenaked ladies), this was the one true highlight. we harbored no dreams of actually speaking to the man, as is well known, he arrives at the venue minutes before going on stage and exits into a waiting vehicle. bob dylan does not hang around backstage in the catering tent or stand in the line for the port-o-potties.

we played a nice, albeit short, set for a truckload of our fans and some dylan/lesh fans that showed up a little early. after we got off stage, we were allowed to partake of the bleu cheese encrusted tenderloin with baby asparagus and spanish risotto (the bob dylan crew does not fuck around when it comes to dinner). claiming my place at the side of the stage, i then watched and sang along as one of music’s most legitimate contributors performed some of the greatest songs ever written. “how does it feel? to be on your own? with no direction home? a complete unknown? like a rolling stone?” it feels damn good, bob.
during his set i met a few people involved with the show, including a man who introduced himself as bob dylan’s manager. i thanked him for giving us the opportunity to play with mr. dylan (bob?) and he seemed genuine when he said that he enjoyed our set and hoped that we would be able to work together again. yes, WORKING WITH BOB DYLAN AGAIN would be acceptable.

during his last song, i came off stage and put myself in a position to catch a glimpse of dylan before he was escorted to his waiting tour bus. he finished his last song, thanked the crowd and with manager in tow, walked down from the stage. just as they were about to board the bus, his manager caught my eye, waved at me encouragingly and gave me THAT LOOK. this is when things get a little fuzzy.

immediately, i went over to the entourage. the manager put his hand on dylan’s shoulder as if to say, “hey, bob dylan, there is something that as your manager i think deserves your attention for a brief moment.” the next thing i know, i am shaking a hand that i am pretty sure is connected to bob dylan. i vaguely remember him saying “nice to meet you” or “hey” or something. i don’t think i spoke and i’m glad i didn’t- the only thing that was running through my mind was, “you’re bob dylan.”
a few days later, reading my account of “the meeting,” i feel a little like a preteen at a britney/n-sync show. sure, he’s bob dylan, but he is just a man and gets red, puffy annoying foot rash like the rest of us. but the truth is that he has written a considerable portion of the western world’s most timeless songs; this means a hell of a lot to a hell of a lot of people, including myself. he is the real deal continuing to participate in a business that is more and more concerned with what is “hot!” and “now!!” and contributing to the mothership’s bottom line and not with what is true, authentic and real. without question, it is one of the highlights of our career to have shared the stage with him. that, and having the new york times write an article today about how we got fucked by the man in chicago. but that is another story for another day.

be well, you.

your best friend,
ryan miller
*”the list of people i want to meet before i die”
bob dylan, paul reubens, noam chomsky, stevie wonder, matt johnson and ginger spice.

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