Current mood: peaceful
James Borchers & I ventured in his Toyota 4runner about 3,500 miles all over the midwest, our furthest point being somewhere in Minnesota, overall it was a tour with a few awesome shows, a number of OK shows, and a couple wipouts, in that we didn’t get what we had bargained for, but overall it was a fun time, we met some great new people and were able to see some old friends.
Cleveland, OH- someone there told us that Cleveland is the poorest city in the country, that’s hard to believe when Detriot isn’t too far away and has a much worse wrap. Apperantly the way it works is that all the white people and people with money live in the outkirts of town, in this case either in Cleveland Hights on the east side of town, or in the west side of town on the Lake, either way downtown Cleveland sorta sucks whereas where we played is a pretty nice residencial/suburban vibe. Nighttown is this old jazz club that is pretty incredible, they have old art from properties that sold off all their early twentieth century paintings, pictures, and drawings, which are now on every square foot of the walls there. It’s a great venue and we played pretty well but had to keep our volume down for the people there who wanted to eat dinner and talk, and there wasn’t the crowd we had last year, although the crowd we had was interactive and fun. When i played “people” on the accordion a girl came up to me after the show and said “I really like that song, I’m on lithium”, it was a relief that she liked the song and wasn’t offended by it’s content, which as some of you might know is a commentary on medications. We stayed with my old drummer, Pete Kelley, who is still at law school at Case Western, studying his ass off. We went to the rock and roll hall of fame the next morning, if you give them a CD as a touring band they let you in free, it was James’ first time, I’ve been there about 4-5 time now and they have a good deal of my cds…It was cool, same old, some new stuff, but the new stuff included the “warped tour” which is kinda lame and featured crappy modern bands that i could give a damn about. But it was fun getting back into the pyshadellic 60′s and grooving on my usual favorites of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Dylan, The Bryds, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, you know…
Chicago, IL- our first night in Chicago was playing at this crazy abandon church called “South Union Arts”, it’s a real DIY space where these urban hipsters types took over the lease and turned it into this art space/club. The room is like any old church except the seating was movie theatre style and not pews, thank god, it was really cold because they don’t use the heat, so pews would have made it even colder. The best part of the room by far was a large neon Jesus on the cross right above the alter where all the bands played. Jesus was pink and blue and said something about Al Sharpton, or at least that is what James told me, he could have been joking, it was the most awesome and creapy piece to have up on a stage. We played with two local acts “Fingers & Toes” and “Them, Roaring Twenties”, fingers & toes are old friends and were great, roaring twenties where cool too, very fast and nutty songs. Oldly the night started with a jam band from Buffalo, we didn’t know they were on the bill, but they had a light show which was well used with the neon jesus. We went on second and played a set that was quite memorable in that i left like we were not on a stage but hovering on a dark cloud over people looking up that we couldn’t see, it was probably our best and most intense show of the tour, it was so much fun, we also got to see old friends, for me two of my high school friends Marget and Harriet, as well as Patrick and some others. It was byob and we got a little loose and danced in the isles to the other bands. I really hope that space keeps open so we can play there next time.
Madison, WI- this was one of the bum nights of the tour, we played at a place called “the Klinic”, which a friend of mine said was a cool club. definitely not the case, it was a total rock dive bar, but not a charming dive like the “abbey” or something, it was way more seedy with lots of neon beer signs everywhere and a stripping pole right next to the stage. apperantly you can hire a stripper for your show if you want, they can’t legally get their own as they don’t have the liscence, but if you bring your own that’s just fine they told us. in any case, we won’t elaborate more than to say the best part of the night was a promotional thing that Newcastle beer was doing that gave us several dixie cups of free beer. Lesson learned: don’t play at a club that someone says is cool unless you research it a bit first, i guess that’s my own fault…
Minneapolis, MN- this was a pretty fun night because i got to see my old friend Bernard and and even older friend Sara Goke, we played at the Acadia Cafe which is a pretty cool place, they have a cafe on one side and a small theatre on the other which would be great for very smaller play productions (seats about 75) and shows of course. The bill was with one local band and another touring act from NYC, there weren’t that many people there overall which reminded me of how when you run a show you really have to be aware of how you can make a show work, one way is to never book two touring acts on the same bill, touring acts don’t draw usually, especially the first time they play in a city, but we had about 20 people there who were all a good audience and it was a pretty intimate show.
Mankato, MN- yikes! well, i guess the real misunderstanding is that when we booked this show the agent had on his email “university of minnesota, mankato” so we assumed we were playing at a club that was connected to the university, on campus or something, i’ve played these kinda places before and they are usually ok, college kids like to drink, so we thought we’d give it a try. it turned out the club was a rock club in the middle of town with no connection to the university, my bad, it was also an all ages show, so no beer just soda, and the other bands were mostly under 21, so we were the old guys, in the first band the guy had a mowhawk and they were a punk/rock kinda outfit, most of the bands on the bill were as well so we were wondering why they booked us. in any case, we went downstairs and played some pool and decided that our way of combating our misconceptions of the show would be to rock their faces off, which we promptly did, they seemed to enjoy us a good deal when we turned the “rock” up on the amp and drums power duo style. sound lame? well, what would you have done? played a folk song? they were actually a great supportive, attentive crowd, and it was a good show afterall.
Madison, WI, again- We played at the “high noon saloon” one of the better clubs in Madison, which was a nice change from “the klinic”, we even got a little write up about the show in “the onion” which i thought would help the draw a bit, but we ended up in a similar, if not worse, situation to what happened in minneapolis, we were playing a Monday night at a large rock club with two other touring bands, which equals not a lot of people to fill the room. good news is that the 30 people there had a good time and it was fun. the bill wasn’t very consistant musically but was good nonetheless. brianna lane played a nice set that was pretty folky and literate, then we played, and then this band called “megaphan” played (i’m not sure i spelled that right…), they are from the Durham, NC area, and were actually really good, nice harmonies, cool instrumentation and songs, they even did audience participation with giving us shakers to shake to a song, that was pretty cool, and they pulled it off well. overall a fun night lacking a local band that could have brought some more people.
back to Chicago, IL- we played at the “underground lounge” which is in boystown, near wriggley field. it seems if you a bar in that area it is either a gay bar or a sports bar, so this was a rock club that was on the sports bar side of things. the soundguy totally freaked out at us when we walked in with a drumkit, he was told that we were an acoustic act. ah yes, miscommunication, the night had a lot to do with that. there isn’t much to tell except that we just dealt with it and played out show, and quite conveniently walked across the street to the place we were staying afterwards…
our last night in Chicago was at the Red line tap up in Rogers park. i’ve played up there two times before and like the area even though it has a wrap of being a bit ghetto. this girl told us the night before that we should be careful because when she was up there she heard gunshots. i totally shook that off and knew it was fine because i’d been there before and told james that was hearsay. then right after i said that, about a block from the club, there were about 4 cop cars arresting some old dudes who looked like vagrants, who knows, it was just kinda funny after we had just had that conversation. the show was good, we opened for a jam band kinda outfit, redline is a cool bar, bartenders are nice, food is pretty good, we played pool and i beat james AND this random dude who acted like he was really good, but yeah, i kicked his ass…
Rock Island, IL- called the “quad cities” because of Davenport, Iowa and two other cities i’m not aware of the name of, we played in Rock Island which is a little hub where college kids hang out, what college i don’t know, apperantly there are a bunch of small ones in the area. we played the thirsty thursday gig which 50 cent drafts of miller light and other bad beer. so it was a lot of college kids drinking bad beer who could give a damn about original music. the sound guy on the other hand was by far the most meticulous soundguy i’ve ever met, he even disinfected the mikes before the show and asked me how they smell, when i said good and asked what he uses to soak the mikes he said “it’s an old italian recipe, secret”…wow…some girl came up to me in the middle of the set and asked if i could play any “destiny’s child”, yeah, that sucked, it was a good paying show so we were torn between the idea of making some money and playing to people who wouldn’t know good original music if it smacked them in the face. we didn’t hang around afterwards, even though part of the deal was 24 draft beer for the band, that’s 12 each, i think we had about 2 each and then went back to our motel 6 and watched cable TV.
Akron, OH- bad news is that on the way to Akron i left my phone at the hotel and am still waiting for it to be fedexed back to me….damn it…good news is that Akron and the “lime spider” was awesome, my good friend james aka JR showed up with two friends, they drove a fair way to come see us play so we hung out with them on the upstairs deck where they had a DJ and grill, best burger in town, we danced to Prince and who knows what else until late hours of the evening. the bill was at least well thought out in that the other two bands were local and some folks were there, we had a good time and enjoyed that venue a lot, will definiltey come back.
we stayed in Kent OH where my favorite thrift store ever is “einstein’s closet” you must go if ever you are in Kent. it’s all 80′s vintage stuff, i bought a record player all in one deal, it’s amazing…
Pittsburgh, PA- i love pittsburgh and i love the shadow lounge and that’s all i have to say, it was one of our best and most fun shows of the tour because people there are so nice and really into the music, and buy cds, and say nice things, and it’s just a great place, i wish we could have hung out longer but we had to split to make some headway.
Brooklyn, NY- james had piece of his performed that afternoon at a church in the East Village, it was fun to tap into the classical music world for a moment although i found myself trying to sensor the words coming out of my mouth so as not to sound like a retard around all the classical folks who graduated from Yale and have good posture.
our show that night was at “goodbye blue monday” in bushwick, a not gentrified part of brooklyn. what a cool place, it’s like a junk store, coffee shop, gallery, bar, venue, sorta deal. it was fun but we were exhausted and kinda over the idea of playing every night for two weeks straight. but it was cool to see waylon and robby.
…now that we’re home i’m in an interesting space of taking a step back from all this stuff. i did a phone interview for a magazine where they ask you all these questions about your opinion about the music biz, which is endless in my case, i have so many thoughts and feelings of this business and what i do, and things change all the time, how i think and how i feel, and sometimes it’s so exhausting i don’t think i can carry on anymore because i’ve invested so much of my life and who i am in this thing, and it’s just suffocating sometimes, i just want to have a nice normal life where i have no expectations or need to make music people want to listen to, or whatever the hell it is you want as an artist. so i did what i haven’t done in years, i came home and i cleaned the shit out of my room, i got rid of things i don’t need, i rearranged the entire room so that my new record player could have a space of it’s own. i made it into the room i never had, the room where when i’m in it i feel like it’s my space and i could just be there and it’s not just a place where i sleep sometimes and keep my crap there. i’ve become such a traveler and vagabond in some ways i feel like i have no home, but i’m dying for a little space from the life i’ve gone after and the life that i started with, which probably involved a lot less of what it’s become. what i mean is it’s nice to have that warm fuzzy place, i put a picture of me and my mom up when i was 4, she was in her twenties, and i almost cried looking at it because it’s amazing to me that when my mom was my age she had a kid and a home and i’m that age and i have a messy car and messy room, and i don’t even have a pet, even though i really want one. sometimes i think the life we lead isn’t the one that our genes had planned for us. sometimes i think i was meant to live a simple life in maine like my folks but i think i’d go crazy if i was up there year round, but i also get exhausted making music all the time traveling around trying to see if anyone wants to listen to it. sometimes i just really want a home to come home to. so my room is clean right now and looks amazing and i hope it stays that way. i’m gonna drink tea and listen to the band, dylan, simon & garfunkel, lenard cohen, and all those folks and just chill out and try and get back to my warm fuzzy place, i’m sick of bars and clubs, and quite honestly of other musicians and the ego, id, and crap like that, but i won’t elaborate into the cynical side, you’ve all heard that before (in my last blog). i put pictures up on the wall of my grandparents, my cousin, and my aunt, who are all gone now, i made them a little shrine in the corner about my desk, it made me really happy to have them there in a space where i can feel i have some control over things, there is so much we don’t have control over but you do have control over that.