Rollin’ Deep to Des Moines.

Gracie probably hasn’t ever worked this hard in her life. (For those who dont know, Gracie is the moniker we have given our recreational vehicle. She’s from Detroit, and not a spring chicken as the saying goes.)  There is six of us riding this time, plus two more musicians worth of amplifiers and other miscellany. The wind was strong headed south to Des Moines, and right in Gracie’s face.  She powered through however; only a bit less gas mileage to show for the added tonnage.  We were playing at Gas Lamp, a slightly larger club than what we’ve played in Des Moines in the past. Of course we were still playing with our Iowa fave friends Dresden Style. They opened up the evening for us and set the tone for a great first show. We had big fun.  Holy White Hounds closed the evening with a very tight blues meets Nirvana sort of sound, we dug it. This morning finds us hanging out on  the grassy knoll outside Dresden style’s drummer’s house.  We may not often have the chance to plug in and power everything without the genny, so we are making the most of it. A small campfire is always a nice way to end an evening; thanks Dan.

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P.S. Thanks William, for the use of your excellent Nikon. 🙂

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Home time.

We have been home for nearly a month now.  In less than two weeks we will be back on the road for a ten day power tour through the Midwest. In some ways it is truly wonderful to be back in St. Paul.  We have so many good friends and family here, we have a lovely bunch of gardens to attend to, and as summer approaches, the culture of the twin cities bursts with vibrancy just as the greenery does. Alas, the bulk of the time we have been home has been spent toiling for the ever elusive greenback. I hope there will come a day when coming home from tour will mean a time of recuperation from the incredible but exhausting life on the road. I’ve noticed a few places on our house where the paint has begun to peel. I don’t think those spots will see any love from me this year. As it is, I think we will be home just long enough to earn the funds for the next foray.  Back  near the end of May, we will repeat this process to prepare for three weeks out in July.  We have thankfully been able to fit in a couple awesomely fun parties, and a bit of time to work on some new material that we are really loving, and think you will too. Bottom line here folks; we have a dream, we intend to make it a reality.  We will leave again feeling like we didn’t have as much time to share with you as we wished. Know that we love you and hope all of your dreams are being realized as well. Minnesota folks, possibly our only in town show of the season happens May 20th at the Kitty Cat Klub in dinkytown. Be there, we love you, we want to see you.

Drive,drink,rock,sleep,repeat.

The road has been good to us.  Not a flat tire, fender bender, overheating, or even a very serious traffic jam. We’ve made many new friends, and seen a ton of great music at a lot of super cool places. That said, three months is a long time. I wouldn’t say too long, just long. We’re growing weary. This way of life is not easy on the body, even with good food and sleep in our own bed of sorts. There may be some of you out there thinking I’m complaining; I’m not. We’re still loving it. Just ready to see those friends and loved ones we are missing, ready to work in the garden, clean a gutter, or just sit on the stoop of our house, in our hometown. It’s the home stretch, we are back in less than a week. I suppose after we’ve been home for a couple weeks the itch will return, and it will be time to start planning the travels all over again.  Even the bad nights are good in some way, learning to cope when things are less than ideal, because they usually are in life.  Thank you St. Louis, for being so warm and welcoming to us. Thank you Lawrence, Kansas for making a small town feel big. Thank you Chicago, for being so hip, if a bit chillier. We’re going home soon, just a little Wisconsin between us and 10,ooo lakes. And the closer we get, the better the beer gets. Especially Thank you Twin Cities, for being the place we will always be proud to call home, wherever we may roam. We’ll be back in your loving arms before long.

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Sit n’ Spin

They call Nashville music city. Downtown has guitar shops, record stores, guitars in the architecture, and a bevy of live music venues.Tourists pose with Elvis statues and follow shiny city posted signs that boldly declare the presence of yet another live music venue every 20 feet or so. I think this is the problem. Say, for example, in your town they had scores and scores of restaurants offering free bacon from 11am to 2am 7 days a week. Now I love bacon, but I don’t think it would take very long in that context before I was just like, “Ew, more bacon, I don’t really want any more bacon, I’ve had enough bacon.” I might walk into a place I’d never been and just walk right back out because it smelled like bacon. This seems to be what live music has come to in Nashville. I recall Austin, TX being much the same way.Theres just so much there that it ceases to be valued by the local populace and establishments anymore.Sure tourists come to eat lots of bacon and then leave to go back where bacon is more of a treat, but touring musicians are treated somewhat like Okies in The
Grapes of Wrath. “We got some work for ya sure, this is what we pay, take it or leave it, there’s twenty other fellas who’ll do it if you don’ wanna. Company store of live music. We played at National Underground right on Broadway in downtown. If I were to say something positive about it? Well, they had one really nice waitress working. Austin was the only other place I’ve played that worked this way. Basically, you’re expected to show up and load in right before you play, while the band before gets the hell out, and then when you’re done, get your stuff off the stage and out of the way so the next band, who wasn’t supposed to show up early enough to see you, does the same thing, and so on. It breeds an environment of competition and animosity rather than cooperation and solidarity. Much like the factory farms of the great depression. Again, the Company store of live music. The previous band was wrapping it up around 7:30, we were scheduled to go on at 8:00, and the bartender,(who seemed to be the closest thing this place had to a sound guy or stage manager), goes up to them and is like; “what are you doing?, you’re supposed to play til’ 8:00.” As if they could snap their fingers and be broken down and off the stage, and we could snap ours and be on. WTF? For a live music venue in a live music city, she sure didn’t seem to know a GD thing about how it works. The closest thing to a sound guy we got was a kind hearted local who was willing to push two buttons to unmute the mic channels. And when we asked if there was any
free or special drink prices for bands, we got a look like that was the most ridiculous thing they’d heard in a while, and offered to start us a tab. Now,I cant really hold it against this particular venue. I imagine that its just the status quo in Nashville. Maybe I’m wrong, if there is a Nashville venue that treats musicians with at least a semblance of dignity and respect, I’d love to hear about it. Tell me I’m wrong, please.We lingered long enough to catch a few songs from Cicada Rythm, a Georgia band who sounded really sweet with a guitar and an Upright bass as a two piece. They said it was their first time in Nashville as well,and being from Georgia, I’m sure they are used to people being nice, so I hope things went better for them than they did for us. This city doesn’t deserve original live music, maybe doesn’t even want it. They should just have a mob of mediocre singer/songwriters with acoustic guitars, playing top forty country hits for three hours at a time. They might like that. Anyway, I think I’m done with my “little”rant, and I feel like I can be positive again with all that off my chest. Nashville, you can sit and spin, I dont care if we alienate ourselves from you, we wont be coming back your way any time soon. We’re headed back to St. Louis, where people still appreciate live music instead of just exploiting it for tourism profit.

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Knotsville

Last night was tough. As far as this gig goes, there’s a few things that make a big difference. Loading zone. Parking. Stairs. Okay more than a few, I could think of lots more. But those are the ones that make a first impression on a touring musician.  Those are the ones that made it tough last night. Downtown Knoxville Tennessee has a lot going for it. The old Market square is fairly well revitalized, and plenty of people out and about on the pedestrian mall including a brass chorus and a folk singer busking without fear of harassment. Every city should have a pedestrian square, the zocalo. A central gathering point for food, music, shopping, or just plain loitering.  We played a sort of happy hour set at Preservation Pub on the square. This historic building has three levels of bar; the main stage and bar downstairs, the second floor speakeasy where we played an early set at about 9pm, and the rooftop patio, which was open but also being remodeled. Now, 9pm on a Friday is hardly a prime slot, things rarely get rolling til at least ten o’clock, but we had fun anyway.  Made a couple new friends and fans, ate some free pizza, and enjoyed a couple pints. Aside from having to carry gear up stairs, and not being able to park closer than ten blocks away, it was smooth sailing. One last note to venues; if we’re going to have to run our own sound on your inadequate pa system, at least make that clear when you book the show please.  Not every band has a competent sound technician on board. And usually someone gets paid to perform, and someone gets paid to do sound. Usually if we’re doing our own sound, it also means less compensation all around, not more.  Illogical? Yes Spock it is.

The market square in Knoxville. Blurry, boo.

Georgia on my mind

Savannah, Augusta, Carrollton, Atlanta.  We’re thinking of adding Athens and Macon next time around.  Georgia is just that awesome a place.  Even the small towns that one would think to be found lacking have a vibrant and hip music scene. No wonder James Brown and the B52s among others hail from there.  No wonder it was always on Ray Charles’ mind.  I better get my mind on Tennessee, we’re playing in Knoxville tonight, but until I get back there, Georgia will be on my mind too.  Here’s some pics from our time among the peaches.

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Before that pt 4, Miami pt 2

Before Orlando, we were back in Miami again for a second round of hot. This city is hot in every way you can take the word.  We played at Luna star cafe with Lizzy Pitch.  After the show Lizzy took us to her favorite Miami camping spot at an old abandoned pier and we made veggie burgers and traded some tunes.  It’s very serene if you can imagine Miami as serene. A beautiful view of the skyline over the water.  Miami’s nighttime skyline is exceptional, the colors and lights are like none other that I have seen. It was nice to have a spot to just chill and relax away from the hectic traffic which is also like none  other that I have seen. Lizzy had to take off early in the AM to head to the keys.  We didn’t have any obligation, so we just hung out till it was time for one last taste of Miami’s nightlife.  We had met Danny Hayoun at our show at Dada in Delray beach, he was playing a gig with a jazzy jam band at Jada Coles in coconut grove south of downtown.  We had to return the favor and go check these guys out. Chops city, these dudes had skills fo’real.  Emily even got the opportunity to sing her jazz standards with them cause these guys know just about whatever you could throw at them.  Fun night.  We almost overheated slogging through the lethargic traffic to get out of town the next day, but Gracie bore through without breaking too hard of a sweat and we were on our merry way.  If this sequence of events has become unbearably confusing, I apologize.  The before that posts end here, and if you read down the line, ignoring the part where I say before that, it actually will fall in line as a continuous narrative of the last few weeks. I’ll end it here, cause I have to tell you about Carrollton this past weekend.

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