Meanwhile back at "Chilis", sitting at the bar, the thirty-something man had just asked the twenty-something barman if he had a gun.
"No but I think I am going to get one" he said. The customer said "My Grandpa gave me a shotgun. He is kinda nutty though." He then went on to explain how one night there was a powercut. He was staying with his grandfather and their burglar alarm went off. Whilst the young man was searching for a flash light his grandfather appeared in his bedroom....
"He had a machine gun and gave me a pistol so I was his point man." They skulked around the property and saw no one. After a few minutes the police arrived having been summoned by the grandfather. Saw the array of weaponry available and said "guess you have it all under control...have a nice night"- and drove off.
I made a mental note to high tail it out of town first thing in the morning in case there was a sudden power outage. However as I turned the page of the El Paso Times all plans turned to dust. I was thunderstruck.
Friday night at the Plaza Theatre for one night only.......
I have played him many times on the show as part of "Lester's Library" - an enigmatic figure who rarely tours. For his "Glitter and Doom" tour he was only playing 13 dates in the whole U.S and then only a handful abroad. He is doing just two shows in the UK so you will need to head to Edinburgh on the 27/28th July to catch him. The man is a legend. Could I get a ticket though??
Barely slept thinking through the possibilities. Should I just forget it and get in the car and head on as I originally planned? The U.S can be a bit U.K credit card-blind when it comes to certain things. Witness my attempts to put credit on an American phone last year or how only the day before I had to pay for petrol in cash as my card didn't function at the gas station.
The following morning I got up and made the phone call to the ticket agent. "Hello I'm Kelly" said a machine and then gave me the usual thousand options. Why do they insist on giving a machine a name. It just makes the whole transaction even more preposterous to these cynical British ears. Eventually a genuine human answered. From what she was saying. I had to give credit card details. My home phone number. I helpfully supplied the international dialling code (+44 statistics lovers) my middle name and my address. I was assured that they would then send an Eticket to my computer to print off ready for the gig that evening.
Several hours dragged by and nothing appeared on my computer. I had alerted the receptionist in the motel lobby and booked another night. She gave me their email address so I could forward the ticket to them to print off. Several more hours went by and nothing. So I phoned the ticket agent back and a man with a rich deep voice answered. After a large number of security questions it transpired that they had my email address wrong and it didn't matter if they never sent me a confirmation as the reference number they gave me on the phone would do just fine. When I spluttered that this was all a bit vague considering the tight security in place at the gig to stop ticket touts and how hard it was for foreigners to buy tickets he thanked me warmly and sincerely for my call and hung up.
I got a cab to the venue. As I waited in the reception area of the motel that U.S fixation with health came into play once again as I saw an elderly trio. Two talkative women and a silent man. "She has colon cancer. I think its spread to her pancreas and liver...it’s not good...she starts chemo on Monday"
The Plaza has been restored to its former glories and is a 2000 seater venue with a wonderful auditorium which, when the house lights are up, appears to show clouds scudding across the ceiling. When the lights go down the stars come out. Strangely it wasn't sold out. The previous 2 gigs in Phoenix had - this was according to Tim, who I fell into conversation with in a bar round the corner. He worked for the Las Vegas sanitation department and was such a fan he had spent 18 hours on a Greyhound bus getting to the gig. He told me his kidneys had swollen due to all the sitting. We were back to health again.
As I was waiting in the foyer of the theatre a large lady came puffing up to me and pressed a glass of beer into my hand. "You can't take beverages in to the show" she explained. "I had bought two and can't possibly finish both".
It seemed churlish to refuse. I do love this good ol' Southern hospitality.
Despite coming on nearly half an hour late, Tom Waits was excellent & idiosyncratic with an amazing band. He had us from ‘Hello’. Then midway through, a policeman arrived on stage.....he said he was going to be "served" Sure enough a woman arrived to share the spotlight with the officer. She then presented him with the keys to the city. Then on he roared. Two encores later he was gone and I called my cab driver Tyrone who was there in 5 minutes and we went back to the motel via a Taco Bell as I was starving, only having eaten once and that had only been a vast steak, with overboiled vegetables. I am trying to get the roughage down me you understand.
I bought Tyrone a Taco too.