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2004.08.02 - Rock Journal - Long Distance Dedications: Five Days With Hookers & Blow (Dizzy)

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2004.08.02 - Rock Journal - Long Distance Dedications: Five Days With Hookers & Blow (Dizzy) Empty 2004.08.02 - Rock Journal - Long Distance Dedications: Five Days With Hookers & Blow (Dizzy)

Post by Blackstar on Wed Aug 26, 2020 10:27 am

Long Distance Dedications: Five Days With Hookers & Blow

By: Dan Piro

It's 11:15 on a Thursday night as I stand against my car in the parking lot of the King's Club in Centereach, New York.  At 8:00, I was scheduled to meet Dizzy Reed for an interview and he's still nowhere to be found.  I have to wake up for work at 6 AM and I still have an hour-long drive home.  Giving up and going to bed has certainly crossed my mind.  My friend already bailed about 45 minutes ago.  The longer I wait, the closer I am to leaving.  Finally, a minivan and a Mustang come charging into the parking lot.  The band is here.

Headlining tonight's show is Hookers & Blow, an incestuous mix of Los Angeles bands including Guns N' Roses, Beautiful Creatures, Fastmaster, and Bang Tango.  The band features Alex Grossi on lead guitar, Curtis Longfellow on bass, Troy Patrick Farrell on drums, and vocal duties split between guitar player Matt Starr and keyboardist Dizzy Reed.

As they enter the front door, I call Dizzy aside to see if he was still planning to do the interview.  He apologized for the lack of coordination and invited me downstairs to the backstage area.  It was nothing glamorous; a small, smelly room filled with seven guys, and poorly insulated from the strange sounds coming out of the band before them.

After completing the interview (which can be read at http://rockjournal.com/interviewdr.html), the band allowed me to hang around until they went on stage.  We exchanged small talk and they joked that I was secretly still running my tape recorder to spread bullshit rumors about them to Internet tabloids.  The joking went on for a while until Dizzy confessed to me, "I don't know why, but for some reason I trust you."  Dizzy has plenty of reason not to trust people, as most of the stories about Guns N' Roses are completely fabricated.  How I gained his trust, I'm not sure, but it wouldn't be until later that I would fully comprehend the results of the situation.

Hookers & Blow took the stage around 12:30 in the morning.  Even they were upset they received such a late start time.  They played mostly 70's rock songs along with a few GNR tunes for the crowd.  Backstage before the show, Dizzy asked me to remind him the words to one of the Guns N' Roses songs.  He said he was a little hesitant to play it, citing his uncertainty about how certain people would react to it.  He did in fact play the song and only messed up one line, so it all worked out ok.
After the set, which ran a little over an hour, I was hanging around talking to the band members and the fans.  Time flew by and before I knew it, it was 3 AM.  This left me with only two hours to sleep.  As good of a time as I was having, it was time to call it a night.  I went up to Dizzy and thanked him for his time.  As I was about to say goodbye, he invited me back to hang out with the band at the hotel.  So knowing better than to turn down this opportunity, I decided to forego sleeping this night to hang out with Hookers & Blow.

We went over to Long Island's fabulous Econo Lodge.  As the night wore on, it became more apparent that I was in no condition to go to work the following day.  Once I finally made the call to announce my absence, Dizzy invited me to join the rest of the four-day tour and write an article culled from my experiences on the road with Hookers & Blow.  So with that, a tank of gas, and a few hours of sleep, we were on the road to Boston.

I drove the tail car in a three-vehicle convoy to Beantown.  Dizzy rode with me, and this was when we really got the opportunity to talk.  Due to the secretive nature we've all become accustomed to from the Guns N' Roses camp, I was surprised how openly Dizzy spoke about the band.  We talked about the way they were treated by the media and the Internet, which Dizzy feels is completely unfair.  His main complaint about the Internet is that anybody can start a rumor, and no matter how true or false it is, it winds up around the world in a matter of moments.  As we continued driving, Dizzy reminisced about the last time he was in New York, playing a show at Madison Square Garden at the end of 2002.  When I told him I was there, he excitedly said, "Really?  You got to see one of the best shows we ever played."  I couldn't argue, as I've been defending the sound quality of that show to all the nay-sayers who have only seen the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards performance.  It turns out there were a lot of sound problems at that show, and it has caused a lot of people to say that Axl Rose can no longer sing, which could not be farther from the truth.

As we continued to discuss whatever came to mind, the last thing I expected was a political discussion.  Dizzy wasn't the least bit shy to express his opinions against President Bush.  He argued his points against the war in Iraq, the absurdity of the fight against gay marriage, the FCC's attacks on Howard Stern, and the religious agenda being pushed by the commander-in-chief.  "This politicking's easy," Dizzy said in a southern drawl, mocking Bush and implying that he is a puppet for the Republican Party.  I was impressed with his education on the issues, as he cited more facts than I can even remember to support his beliefs.

Many of our conversations revolved around music.  We'd give our opinions about whatever bands came on the radio.  Whenever a really lame song would come on, Dizzy would call one of the other cars and tell them to turn on the station we were listening to, calling it a long distance dedication.  Other times, we would be the recipients of such dedications, as we got instructions to turn on Journey and other such classics.

As we continued up Interstate 84 through Connecticut, we were listening to a local rock station when Velvet Revolver's song "Slither" came on.  I noted it to Dizzy and he asked me to turn it up, since this was his first opportunity to hear the song.  I could see the intense look on his face as he tried to soak in every aspect of the piece in about four minutes, knowing there was no chance to play it again if he missed something.  "I can definitely tell that's Duff on bass," he said.  As the last chord rang out, I asked him what he thought.  He said it was a good song.  He complimented the guitar riff, but questioned the construction of the solo.  "It just seems like Slash decided to play in A-minor or whatever key he wanted instead of doing what might be best for the song."  Overall he was very complimentary to his old cohorts.

When talking about his former band mates, Dizzy doesn't bear any animosity.  He's happy they're getting out there and playing again.  I think he's actually very anxious for the time when he can get back on the road with Guns N' Roses himself and finally reveal this new album with the world.  But in a somewhat cryptic tone, he adds a final thought about the old Gunners, "I'm going to share with you the best piece of advice I've ever gotten from anyone in the music industry: Never burn your bridges."

We arrived at the Hard Rock Café in Boston later than expected, but nobody seemed to mind, as a birthday party of about 100 ten-year olds was just wrapping up.  After sound check, we made our way to a private room upstairs where I joined the whole band for dinner.  It was at this meal that I met a fan from their last tour, who was invited on a similar ride to the one I was on now.  The fan, known as Tommy Boy, who was heavy set and not ashamed of it, made his living on the wrestling circuit mocking his appearance with a gimmick he calls Mr. Fashion.  He bore a striking resemblance to Chris Farley, hence the nickname.  His impression of Farley's motivational speaker character was dead-on.  The band loved it so much; they invited him to introduce them before taking the stage.  He ended up bringing them on stage in the Matt Foley character for the next three nights, wearing an undersized Hookers & Blow t-shirt, exposing his belly.  

I really got a glimpse of the rock n' roll lifestyle in Boston, as the band tallied up a $500 bar tab.  Then after the show, I joined a few members of the band as we accepted an invitation to a post-show party being thrown by the opening band, Asect.  They didn't fail to deliver.  They reveled in the debauchery that is rock n' roll just as much as the members of Hookers & Blow.  Well, maybe they were a close second to H&B.

The next day we arrived early in Attleboro, Massachusetts and agreed we needed something to eat.  We stopped at a local pub where Dizzy was approached by a fan.  He often gets asked about Axl Rose, and his response to her question seemed to wrap up Dizzy's opinion of the GNR front man in a single sentence.  Dizzy crushed all the hearsay and rumors that surround Axl, without really having to explain anything.  "Why is Axl the way he is?" the fan asked.  Dizzy looked back at her, half-smiling, "He's not the way he is."  She was puzzled at first, but soon understood that Dizzy was forcing her to think twice about asking questions to which she didn't know all the circumstances.

That night, the band played at a place called Jarrod's.  Everyone we spoke to the night before seemed to be warning us about this particular venue.  The club was located underground.  With only two exits, it gave me haunting reminders of the stories about The Station, a club that once stood just twenty-five miles away where around 100 concert-goers lost their lives at a Great White concert, following a pyrotechnics incident.  If that wasn't creepy enough, directly across the ground level parking lot form the subterranean club was a cemetery.  Twenty feet of dirt was the only thing separating the stage from the human remains across the way.  As I sat in the car with Dizzy after the show, we were both stunned by the haunting sight of the moon overlooking the dimly lit cemetery, partially covered by the shadows of the high towers of a nearby church.

With one night left on the tour, I knew my Almost Famous-like ride was coming to an end.  We traveled to a town outside of Hartford, Connecticut where Alex Grossi, Matt Starr, and tour manager "Gutterball" grew up.  We spent Saturday and Sunday nights there.  After sound-checking at Webster Theater on Sunday afternoon, I went to a K-Mart to get a razor, a toothbrush, a change of clothes, and some other much-needed accessories.  They may not have been very nice clothes, but they were good enough to get me through work the following day.  I didn't want to show up wearing the same clothes I wore when they last saw me on Thursday.  The Webster Theater show was a good performance on the largest stage so far.  It was a nice way to end the tour.

Looking back on what turned out to be one of the most incredible weekends of my life, its frightening to realize that it almost didn't happen.  Had the original interview gone down on time as scheduled, things may have never worked out the way they did.  I remember as my friend decided to leave the venue on the first show of this crazy weekend I said to him, "Are you sure?  You never know what you might miss."

As for the band, they are currently back in Los Angeles balancing Hookers & Blow with their many other projects.  They said they might make an H&B album, but nothing is set in stone just yet.  There may also be more touring in the works for the near future.  There's one thing that I knew for certain.  When I finally got home after work that Monday night and I took off the cowboy boots that had been on my feet for almost five days straight, I knew I'd be wearing sneakers for a while.

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