Friday, October 30, 2009
At 4am, pulled off the road just north of Nashville. Willis and I slept in a vacant lot next to the freeway, sort of sandwiched between a Days Inn and Comfort Inn. It was fairly sketchy, as you might imagine. We just rolled out our bags and laid down for awhile, probably got at least a few hours sleep. I watched the sunrise over the back of the Days Inn. It was really really beautiful. Then this lady walking her dog stumbled upon us and made eye contact with me and it was awkward. So my sunrise viewing session was cut short as we jumped back in the car, so as to avoid the police and a potential vagrancy fine.
Willis and I look like we slept in a vacant lot. But we feel great.
Now at Fido's in Nashville, about to hit the final home stretch home. 13 hours or something similar. Playing tonight at BainStock 2009. Then finally back home.
The tour was incredible. Thanksss: LAURA!, bandmates John and Will who could not be there, Paul Sisler, Dash in Chapel Hill, Quentin and Dana and Brian in Philly, Elizabeth and Joel in NYC, Leon and Elaine Smith and Willis' Aunt Mimi in Akrondale NY, Fred and Ryan from City Center, all the nice toll booth workers, Dwight Eisenhauer (for starting the federal interstate system), Tommy back at home, Sam and Jack for helping me make screens, Josh holding it down at Baby Blue, and Thor god of thunder.
A few details overlooked in past posts: our 2nd day in NYC, Willis Joel and I went out to Breezy Point, ostensibly to surf. It was pouring rain, pouring pouring down. We got soaked but saw a side of NYC I had not seen before. Amazing. Later that day, Willis and I went back to the Russian Baths and had a long discussion with an old semi-mystic. He had a beard about a foot long and this weird type of skull cap, not a yarmulke. He said the future is now, that tai chi allows your body to move in every direction simultaneously, and that the baths were better than "16 grams of psylocybin." I am pretty sure, in his case, given his yelling and jumping and wild gesticulations, he was experiencing both the baths AND the 16 grams of pscylocibin (sp?).
Later that night, after Death by Audio, Willis and I made a mockery of some uber-hipster Williamsburg karaoke bar. It was legendary and the details are best left undocumented.
Also, while I was in Philly, Quentin, Dana and I hung out with Pete Bauer from the Walkmen and his pregnant wife. Congrats guys. Turns out Pete makes his living doing astrological readings, which I found bizarre and completely unexpected and quite interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I had to include it in this post.
Til next time, America. It was an amazing tour. Next time perhaps the West coast.
and now some last thoughts from Willis:
I was sleeping in the car, then I was sleeping on the ground. West Virginia public radio had some interesting programming. Insights into the textbook wars during the early 70's. Russian baths at 10th and ave. A are unforgettable. Leon, Elaine, Elizabeth and Joel are very special folks.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Sitting right now in a Dunkin Donuts in Lancaster County, western Pennsylvania. We were driving our of Philly this morning, dreaming dreams of massive crowds and adulation in Louisville. But these dreams got splashed by a large bucket of sludgy lardy donut grease. MMmmm.
All the power in the vehicle turned off. Couldn't roll up or down the windows, no car stereo, and all the gauges froze in place. Engine started making funny sounds.
Pulled over in Denver, PA. Stopped at Al's Exxon. While we waited in the mechanic's waiting room, Willis flossed his teeth while reading ads for motor oil. Yep.
Turns out we have a bad alternator. So we wandered along the side of the highway. Seems we've landed in the antique warehouse capital of the freaking world. Never much been a fan of "bric-a-brac" myself. I swear, most of this stuff is old tins of baby powder.
Ate breakfast at a diner next door to the garage. Heard muzak versions of Neil Young, Beatles, and more. I ordered my omellete without sausage. They brought out my omellete and it was stuffed with ham. Turns out their omellete was stuffed with sausage AND ham. My mistake, perhaps, but I swear I've never heard of such an omellete. Didn't occur to me that 2 types of swine would spice up the "Down Home Omellette."
So now in Dunkin' Donuts, sipping an iced tea and eating some munchkins. These things are pretty great, I gotta admit. I only wish they sold them individually. You gotta buy in increments of 5. What a crock of shit.
Last night, we played in Philly at the Khyber and our gig was in direct conflict with the Phillies' first game of the world series. The Phillies had a great night, us maybe not so much. Although I really did have a great time. Played to 2 very enthusiastic people, both members of the Philly band BC Camplight. They were really great singers.
When we arrived at the Khyber, I asked the sound guy if we could push the gig back at all to perhaps not conflict directly with the game. He advised, "You should play soon to get the pain over with." Heartening words, truly.
So we sat in the bar and fended off crackheads and frat boyz outside. The bartender brought us a massive plate of fruit. I mean, this thing was ridiculously huge. Not sure if they treat all their bands this way. It was quite the spread. I offered some fruit to the other band, but the sound guy thought I was talking to him and grabbed all the watermelon. Not that I care, I hate watermelon. But it was funny. First he tells me to end the show quickly to "get the pain over with" then he grabs all the watermelon and starts chewing it with his mouth open. I was laughing, though. I thought the dude was pretty awesome in his own way.
Now I am passing the keyboard to Willis for some more commentary:
Ummm, Errr... Let's see? uhhh well, we're stopped in Denver, PA having the car repaired. It's quaint little town rich with antique malls housing all types of wonders and bric-a-brac. We purchased Ricky Martins smash effort simply titled "Ricky Martin" for one dollar which bill donated 30 cents toward. With hits including "She's all I ever had" and "Livi'n la vida loca", perhaps you've heard it. After tasting the local color we moseyed on over to the Dunkin' Donuts for use of their free Wi-Fi...And here we be. So ,in conclusion, If your ever headed west from Philly on the Penn turnpike be sure to stop off in Denver, PA but fasten your seat belts folks cause it's a wild ride.
here are some lyrics to:
"Shake your Bon-Bon"
By R. Martin featuring Hernan "Teddy" Mullet on brass
Make-up by Maital Sabban
I'm a desperado
underneath your window
I see your silhouette
Are you my Julliet?
I feel a mad connection with your body
Shake your Bon-Bon
shake your Bon-Bon
shake your Bon-Bon
I wanna be your lover
will go around the world in a day
Don't say no, NO
Shake it my way, OH
Shake your bon-bon
Shake your bon-bon
Shake your bon-bon
Shake your bon-bon
Shake your bon-bon
Shake your bon-bon
Shake your bon-bon
Shake your bon-bon
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Next day was an epic day of awesome pleasure. Ate 5 meals, all from different ethnic backgrounds: Cuban sandwich, tacos, Vietnamese sandwich, borscht, and bagels. Also went back to David and Boris' Russian and Turkish bath on East 10th street. This time, I got the oak platza treatment. A big Russian guy whips you with a swatch of oak branches. Rubs you down. It was intense and strange. And of course we sat in the oven room, probably the hottest room in the world. Willis enjoyed his first trip there.
Back at my cousin Elizabeth's apartment she shares with her boyfriend Joel, we bobbed for apples (Elizabeth and Willis said they'd never done it.) the proof:
Later that evening, we played at Death by Audio, a super sweet space 2 blocks from Elizabeth's apartment. played with sam buck rosen and green grocer who were both awesome. Spent a long time talking with the bartender and she bought a tshirt. as at most of the shows thus far, the crowd was not huge but people who were there seemed really into it and I heard lots of kind words afterwards. awesome.
at death by audio (earlier in the day I bought some sweet purple pants and you can see em here. they actually blended in perfectly with the walls!):
Monday, October 26, 2009
willis took a plane flight up to d.c. and took the chinatown bus and we took off north. his aunt mimi had offered us to stay in her cabin in upstate new york, near kingston, and we gladly accepted. arrived late at night and immediately struck by the sculptures laid out all across the grounds. turns out the property is owned by leon and elaine smith, two immensely talented artists who bought a 250 acre farm and turned it into their own private artist retreat... the place seemed designed by Dr Zeuss - massive sculptures of a coat and tie, a floating piece of birthday cake, an outdoor office amidst a birch tree forest... all playful and amazing. we were fortunate enough to stay in a cabin amidst all these sculptural wonders. willis and i drank whiskey late into the night, playing loud music and marvelling at our luck at ending up at such an amazing locale. next morning woke and cooked some soup and wandered the grounds, an extensive trail through the forests of maple turning red and white birch and elm and all sorts of other trees of which i do not know the name. wandered and wondered and stood in awe.
later, leon told us about his indoor racquetball court, conjecturing it might be a nice acoustical space for us to rehearse. and it was. we played loud and without effects and it simply blew me away. here is a video:
later that evening, played at an awesome venue called "goodbye blue monday" in bushwick brooklyn. great space.
here are some photos from the rest of our time at leon and elaine smith's "smith hill farm":
Friday, October 23, 2009
Stopped at Natural Bridge state park in Kentucky and ran to the top, snapped some photos and ran back down. I knew I'd be cutting it close, and indeed I did. Drove all into the evening, through mountains and passes and well past dark, straight on to Chapel Hill and played immediately to a nice crowd. They cheered and seemed excited.
Next day hung with Dash and we talked all sorts of far-off philosophy and I bought a few tapes: the "Cats" soundtrack, the "Annie" soundtrack, Ace of Base, and "Mozart's Greatest Hits." The Mozart tape, in addition to that phenomenal title, had a supremely psychedelic cover. Somebody had taken a Mozart bust and painted it in various vibrant splashes of primary color. Whoa, psychedelic.
I woke that morning and saw my Cincinnati gig had not been listed with the club. Oh well, fuck that. So instead drove all the way East, dipping my toes in the frigid Atlantic at North Carolina's phenomenal Outer Banks. Went to the lost colony of Roanoke.
Kept driving, drove all night and hit Philly about midnight. The Phillies had just won their way into the world series and everybody seemed in the mood for screaming. I saw a Wendy's parking lot overflowing with excitement.
Reached Quentin's, drank some beers and passed out. Next morning headed across the river to Camden, New Jersey, the unofficial "shittiest place in America." Seems Walt Whitman had lived his final years there, writing the deathbed draft of "Leaves of Grass." Quentin and I drove there but the place was locked and shuttered. A very sketchy crackhead outside offered to be our tour guide. I refused and he started hugging me in a way that was not just super affectionate. Plus the dude stank. He asked for a dollar, I said no, then he asked for two dollars, I said no, then he asked for five. I always thought that begging negotiations went the opposite way. He started yelling obescenities as we drove away. So we instead went to Walt Whitman's tomb / mausaleum. Impressive. The plaque mentioned something along the lines of, "Don't miss me when I'm gone, you'll be treading your bootheels upon my body." Of course, his body was encased in a huge stone mausaleum, so we climbed on top and stomped our feet around. Just like Walt would've wanted.
Quentin kindly offered to let me stay in the third floor of his home, where he's got all varieties of amazing instruments and books and pictures on the walls and an old Tascam 4track. I wrote and recorded a song called "Til the Sun Burns No More," which might end up alright. Then some aimless bass solos, and a seriously damaged version of Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through the Night." I don't think that one'll see the light of day.
Today woke early and wandered along the Deleware River, walked past Penn Treaty Park and some casinos under construction and on into old town with its plaques and heavy history. Philadelphia seems to me such a fine juxtaposition: all the historical sites, with their plaques and history held under glass and fine distinction and stately upkeep, running side by side with modern Philadelphia-- trash strewn streets, folks yelling at each other, urban decay, and the general chaos of 21st century life. Nothing deflates all the high-falutin' history like a little dose of real-life. Perhaps just a reminder that the history is still being written.
Stopped by the studio where Quentin's mixing a record for a Danish band. Marvelled at all the beautiful outboard gear. Kept walking. Just finished listening to Randy Newman's first record. Produced by Van Dyke Parks. Ahhhh.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I'd decided to tour alone just because I really really enjoy alone time and long drives. Plus in order to make the music work alone, I knew I would have to innovate somehow, create something new. So the tour was a deadline for me, a call to action.
I created a 34 minute long super8 film with songs spread throughout. It's worked fairly well thus far.
Thanks thus far to Cley and Ryan Chavez and the Young Mammals in Houston. They let us on the bill at Mango's. Did I mention that's the best venue name ever? I actually ordered a salad from there. Imagine ordering a salad at Emo's. Probably served in an ash tray.
We were originally scheduled to play the aftershow for Widespread Panic, but it fell through in a bizarre twist of fate and bad vibes. So as not to continue the cycle, I will refrain from disclosing details, but let's just say nobody left Last Concert Cafe happy. In the end, it all worked out, so who cares.
Next day I continued on solo, drove all day to New Orleans. Ate a shrimp po-boy. Fried clumps covered in mayo in a massive white bread roll. Richard Simmons is rolling in his grave. Wait, is Richard Simmons dead? I guess he just stopped making info-mercials.
Played a show to a mostly confused crowd at Circle Bar. I was not sure how well it would go over, considering they were jamming Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak" when I walked in. Not to mention how drunk everyone is in New Orleans. There was this dude at the end of the bar at Buster's (where I ordered my po-boy) who was falling off his stool and yelling obscenities at the bartender. The bartender was coughing something nasty. All in all, a pleasant dining experience.
Back at the Circle Bar, I played with Bionica, a jazz fusion group with very good musicians but perhaps something of a mismatch with my tunes. Who knows. They were very nice and we talked for a bit afterwards. I had planned on driving on up into Mississippi to camp on Pontchatrain, but a few nice folks offered me their couch and I gladly accepted and when they made me an amazing fresh mozzarella and pesto sandwich later, I accepted that too.
Woke next morning at 7am and hit the road with no haste. 14 hour drive to Lexington, KY. I drank 2 coffees, 2 red bulls, and 3 all natural energy drinks. Arrived in Lexington feeling dead and mostly confused. But played a killer show with City Center at an art gallery. Many people bought merch, many people had awesome compliments. At this moment I knew that this tour, with its unorthodox multi-media approach, was working and would only get better.
Have taken a few photos but I do not have a digital. Will try to pick up a cheap one to upload some photos. Thanks for reading.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Leaving today on a 2 week tour. Tonight playing an afterparty for The Allman Brothers/Widespread Panic show, which I am excited about. Whole new crowd.
Touring mostly by myself, but also playing with the band in Houston. Willis is flying up to meet me in Boston and we're driving down together.
The tour's named after a special edition DVD I just finished. Created a 34 minute long music video using super8 footage and ambient tracks. Then did a live performance on top, me and acoustic guitar. It's pretty special and will be available at shows for a negotiably low price.
I will be performing solo along with the video, projected onto me and through two t.v.s. It will be very special and I hope you can come out if I am passing through your area. I will also have new tshirts that I screenprinted myself. New designs on very nice American Apparel shirts. And also some hoodies to brace yourself against oncoming winter.
I hope to see you on the road. Travelling alone is always interesting. Makes you much more attuned to the kindness of strangers.
I will try to keep the blog updated along the way.
here are the dates:
Oct 17 2009 10:00P -- houston
@ Last Concert Cafe -- Afterparty for Allman Brothers / Widespread Panic ?!?!?!
Oct 18 2009 9:00P -- New Orleans
@ Circle Bar w/ Sun Hotel
Oct 19 2009 8:00P -- Lexington, Kentucky
@ Hop Hop Gallery w/ City Center, Idiot Glee -- ALL AGES
Oct 20 2009 9:00P -- chapel hill, North Carolina
@the nightlight w/ city center
Oct 21 2009 9:00P -- cincinnati
@the comet bar
Oct 24 2009 8:00P -- new haven
Oct 26 2009 9:00P -- Brooklyn
@ Goodbye Blue Mondays
Oct 27 2009 9:00P -- Brooklyn
Death by Audio w/ Green Grocer and Sewing Machines crooklyn
Oct 28 2009 10:00P -- Philadelphia
Oct 29 2009 7:00P -- Louisville, Kentucky
@Skull Alley, w/ Joe Manning, Spirits of the Red City, Elephant Micah