I Shook The Hand Of Mike Watt

It’s a bit strange to write all of this at this moment. I just got home a few minutes ago from, I don’t even know the words to describe it really. Seeing Mike Watt play bass, less than five feet from my goofy smiling, purple hair died, peter pan face was akin to what others might call a religious experience. But clearly, if there is a God, and I don’t propose that there is, but if by some off-chance I am misreading the universe and there is a God, God is not nearly as amazing as Mike Watt.

In less than an hour, that presented itself more like an eternal vortex in which really I am still existing in, Watt and his Missingmen melted mine and every other bass player in Albuquerque’s faces off by performing, in full, without pause, the entire contents of his new rock opera, Hyphenated-Man. I’m beyond breathless, beyond taken away, beyond transfixed and transformed forever. I am validated in a part that I didn’t even know needed validation. It is not something I sought out, studied in a book or became aware of until it was handed to me. My life has changed by watching the fingers of one of my heroes walk with precision, love, and effort along the bass.

Mike Watt is my hero, someone I look up to and feel very emotional about. He’s a father figure, in fact, he reminds me of my father in that he larger than life, but full of deep resonate emotion and love. Yes, of course, as a bass player I look up to him. But failing to admire him for that prowess on the great instrument is tantamount to a willful ignorance that shouldn’t even be tolerated by anyone who calls themselves with pride and will, a bass player. Watt is my hero, my role model because he goes full steam, with a hunger and passion for life that is transformative. He glows and exudes positive vibes, that wavelength I moved to Albuquerque to get a piece of and am finding. Now, my body burns with some kind of radiant life force that is beautiful and strong and intimidating. I stood at the foot of a gentile giant and watched him play this monstrous, chiseled instrument like it was a kid’s toy. It’s Watt, it’s humbling to be in his presence, no matter how gracious and thankful he is for all of it.

After the rock opera, Watt and the awesome Missingmen huddled behind Watt’s giant rig. They took to their instruments one more time and proceeded to rock a seven song encore of Minutemen songs. I would be remiss if I didn’t give praise to guitarist Ron Watson and drummer Raul Morales. They are playing with a certified legend of music. Night after night they get on stage with they most respected bass player in the history of music on this planet and they hold their own. To have the courage to actually play Minutemen songs is noteworthy in itself. To make everyone feel so moved and touched to hear those songs, and in the case of Watson actually sing D. Boon’s lyrics, is a form of magic that can not be denied.

Mike Watt, he’s 53 years old. He was marked with a cane and a knee brace. And yet neither age, nor injury, nor any one’s bullshit idea of what it is to be an adult slowed him down in the slightest. Watt is an organic machine, perfectly crafted to put that bass in his hand and play it for the people. It’s what he’s done since he was a teenager, and he’s doing it well into a time where most men his age have safely put away in their 401k, raised shitty, pussified, asshole kids, and do whatever they can to repress the rest of us. He was an original and he still does it better, longer, faster and stronger than piss head children not a quarter of his age.

I made my way to the side of the stage. I wasn’t the only post-young adult that wanted to shake his hand. There were dudes probably older than Watt himself surrounding him. When I got my chance I just had to thank him for all he taught me, that I keep playing bass because of everything I’ve learned from him. It didn’t say all I wanted in those words, but Watt is a wise man, he knew what I meant. He said to me, “I learned it all, the bass from D. Boon.” I will, never ever, ever forget those words, that amazing smile on his face, the happy, grateful, loving and kind eyes the he used to looked me and everyone else, awe-struck, in the face. All us mortals who just wanted to say thank you. Should we all be half the human being that Watt is, the world would be the paradise we all claim we are seeking.

I didn’t know where to add Jenny Invert, the great, soon to be not local band that opened this show to this post so I’ll just do it down here. I had seen Jenny Invert a few weeks ago at Kosmos and liked their set. Something about them was really, really great. They are quirky for sure and cool, but I think that’s unintentional because I met their bass player and the main songwriter dude tonight and they seemed way too laid back to be trying too hard. Which is what makes them great, it’s effortless and precise at the same time. Plus they have two piano players. They remind me a bit of Nick Cave, a bit of Tom Waits, a bit of Stephin Merrit, mostly his Gothic Archies project. I was into it. I was excited this band was from Albuquerque. It was something I could get behind and support. And then I found out they are moving to Seattle. Good for them, bad for me. Also, bad for Albuquerque. They are, from what I gather, a seemingly big fish, in a nearly dried up pond. Or at least, that’s the impression they gave me for why they are leaving. I can’t fault them for that. I hope anyway, they find support for what they are doing, because they truly are an exceptional, creative, unique sounding band with spot on songwriting and great stage presence (the new lady bass player doesn’t hurt by the way fellas). Our love affair was short, you will be missed. Check the link above for their new album.


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