Monday, August 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
We're poking around at Chuck's house. Pat ventured out in the interminable rain to get some health food provisions a little while ago. To be fair, it didn't rain yesterday until later, and we spent the bulk of our day off at another Midas learning more bad news about our brakes, that we thought were fixed forever in Colorado on our last U.S. tour. But apparently, if you do a bad job fixing the brakes, they never. quite. get. fixed..uggh. REFUND!
It might just be time to put the old girl down...
Things got better later once we hit Kensington Market, where it felt a little St. Marks NYC, a little hippie college main drag, and a little Jamaica, but better. Everything was closing down for the day, but the mashup of crusty punks drinking on the sidewalk, immigrants running souvenir shops and arty white people populating cafes made me feel like we were finally seeing another side to the city that we missed last time we were through.
Earlier we ate at Mitzi's and were interviewed by a 17-year old writer for the Singing Lamb. Her brother had made her a necklace out of t-shirt scraps that looked just like our stage decor, pretty rad. Definitely our youngest interviewer, and hopefully our unsolicited inspirational/guidance life advice wasn't too heavy...
At the interview, I ordered THE ULTIMATE BREAKFAST SANDWICH (their name, not mine). It was, in reality, a PRETTY GOOD breakfast sandwich, and featured kimchee, eggs, bacon and red pepper aioli. Bill is threatening to call me "KIMCHEE" from now on since we decided to have band nick names. His is "SNARE".
Both shows went off without a hitch, despite it being that generally crazy festival thing (NXNE) where we're trying to wire up all our piles of gear on a wet stage in half the time that it usually takes for all the cables and pedals to get connected while a harried sound person is trying to find where the DI box is buried. We have a lot of experience playing weird, rushed, no sound check situations it seems. It's usually ok, as long as there's not some bummer music being played over the PA before we play. But I digress, I think people liked it, and some kids came out a second time last night for our 2 AM set at The Silver Dollar Room. I kept cracking loungey night club jokes all night, but I don't think anyone got it..much like the other jokes I mumble when we play.
David Chapelle, Iam not. Maybe I am more like David LaChapelle??
So then my jokes are more like this--
Another weird thing that happened on this tour was because of this crappy place in Boston called PA's Lounge. I don't recommend anyone play there ever, and generally don't think people do play there or want to go there. Our show was fine, the sound guy was super nice, and this kid Nathan helped us jump on the bill last minute, but he ended up getting burned because the real booker wasn't there and the club takes the first $130 from the door for 'booking fees'. So he paid us $50 out of his own pocket because the club tried to give $45 to be split between 4 bands! None of the locals were paid and the other touring band were paid out of pocket too.
Pat had SOME WORDS with the owner about fairness and we went back to Mark's house a little dejected.
So guess what happens before our first Toronto show! Some ANONYMOUS bar owner in Boston calls Sneaky Dee's to tell them that we destroyed their club and will graffitti Sneaky Dee's too! Fortunately the bartender who answered the call is also a touring musician and thought the call was super petty, and even called the Beer Mug in Erie for us--where we're playing tonight-- to warn them about a crank call from this guy. WTF?
For the record, we don't tag bars. BORING.
And bands aren't just a reason to sell drinks.
Monday, June 15, 2009
After great nights in Brooklyn, Providence and Burlington, VT we are in Amherst, MA at the University. There's a new student parent dinner going on right beside the room where we are playing. We had to stop sound check after some of the organizers looked through the glass windows of the doors at us like "what the hell is that racket!"
Now, they're all settled with, say, their chicken cordon blue and ice burg lettuce.
Last night in Burlington, VT we had such a rad time. This kid Nick threw the show with his friend Toby in a big raw brick, wood floor rustic gallery and cafe space. It sat on the edge of town where they have the local farmer's market, just on the edge of the rails. All the artists were extreme, using noise and circuit bending as their forms. They didn't just push buttons either. They got into it. There's something awesome about watching someone grip a contact mic and freak out with it. It's maximum minimalism.
We went on after the sixth performer. There was supposed to be seven more after us. The audience was really feeling it and so were we. It was a Sunday night in a really welcoming town and there we were, partying down, completely oblivious of this thing called Monday. Anna was wearing her cape she wore at Death By Audio and the jump suit.
She looked awesome.
And after we were done we felt awesome, until the cops came. And it was over. Sorry to those who didn't get to play. Let's reconvene in the fall.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Here is a funny blog recap that uses the word hipster as synonymous with anyone in a costume.
I will admit, the feather costumes caught me a bit off guard too because I had a dream the night before that I had black wings and was cawing like a crow, so they made me nervous?
According to my favorite reference--
The Dictionary of Dreams: 10,000 Dreams Explained by Gustavus Hindman Miller, "To see the wings of fowls or birds, denotes that you will finally overcome adversity and rise to wealthy degrees and honor." (High five!)
Theo Angell was the choir director for the performance and did a bang up job of signaling us with cue cards that read "STATIC", "FIST FIGHT", "SMALL BIRDS", "PTERODACTYL", etc.
while the band made all these magnificent swells and lulls with their horns, harp, drums, singing, violin, keyboards and guitar.
It was really fun to participate in an event like this, built around music and art, but without the usual amount of pressure I think we have when we perform as TAP.
Singing while moving through all the floors of the museum felt so simultaneously natural and surreal. At one point, we were split into three groups and Theo led us in this kind of Dada doo-wop in the round singing.
He seems like a calm and friendly person, that radiates a very clear and kind energy. You know, like yoga teacher good vibes? Choruses of people singing have awesome energy too. I think I don't spend enough time around church choirs or glee clubs.
During the intermission, we swiped as much wine and fancy hors d'oeuvres as we could before the choir got scolded by catering. Thank you MoMa for the goat cheese and apricots, mini quiche trios, and Mediterranean inspired shrimp and hummus cocktails. Thank you, Ryan for the SPACE cookie. Usually I don't eat during a show, but this was definitely more of a giddy celebration than anything.
After we finished, there were tiles inscribed with "It's Treason" to be handed out to the choir and audience. My phone was dead, so no pictures, but there should be plenty up and around soon. I liked overhearing one man describe the tile to his friends as a "real tile". It's nice to give people something tangible after they experience something unique, uplifting and fleeting.
Since we never had a proper dinner, Lori and I decided to throw healthy dining out the window with a trip to Crif Dogs. And she went even further with a last minute reservation to the semi-secret sister bar Please Don't Tell.
The reviews for this place are pretty mixed.
But it was really the right mix of high and low brow following a good 6 hours at a museum.
Lori ordered champagne and I had a drink called "A Beer and Smoke" which is a michelada priced about the same as a NYC movie ticket. The cheaper, doctored up with hot sauce version was my drink of choice last summer in Chicago, but this was better. Although, I think sometimes I just want a really good spicy Bloody Mary with some olives, celery and bacon for garnish.
Definitely the theatrics of the bartender (I hate, hate the term "mixologist") were entertaining. He made a big show of slapping down cocktail shakers and stirring two drinks at once. One cocktail even required he spray some flavored liquid through a stencil over the top of the foam. When he served it he shrugged and said it was "too Vegas", which I agreed with. I chased my drink with a deep foil crater of tater tots and accompanying cheesssse sauce and jalapenos. Total gut bomb hangover today.
Points to the bartender also for having an accent that seemed to waver between England and New Jersey, looking good in his black vest/blue shirt uniform combo, casually dropping a Freemason reference, and not upselling.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Pat and I will be performing with Stars Like Fleas Monday night at MoMA as part of their choir for a one of a kind site-specific performance.
Print this for half off admission--
Stars Like Fleas at MoMA Monday Nights
Monday, June 8, 2009
PopRally presents an evening of site-specific performances at MoMA by the unpredictable Brooklyn music collective Stars Like Fleas.
Music begins at 6:00 p.m. in The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, with sets throughout the evening both outdoors and inside the Museum. (In the event of rain, all performances take place indoors.) Drop in for exhibitions, films, and a cash bar–plus the first six hundred ticket buyers after 5:30 p.m. get a free return pass for their next visit.
Exhibitions on view include the provocative installations of Dutch artist Aernout Mik and the final week of Tangled Alphabets: León Ferrari and Mira Schendel. In the theaters at 8:00 p.m., see a screening from the film exhibition The New India, with actor Abhay Deol introducing the upbeat caper Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!
Bicycle valet parking (in the lot west of MoMA; enter on Fifty-third Street) courtesy of Transportation Alternatives, New York City's advocate for biking, walking, and public transit.
Begun as a recording project in the late 1990s, Brooklyn-based art/pop ensemble Stars Like Fleas has blossomed into a live group that reconfigures their lineup, sound, and music for almost every room they play.
Stars Like Fleas (and Tall Firs, and Lone Wolf etc) drummer Ryan Sawyer is one of the most inspiring musicians in Brooklyn and a big TAP supporter. The man never stops. It's an honor to perform this piece with him.
These OUR Powers performance with Ryan Sawyer and Austin Stawiarz.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
This is in honor of them coming to visit NYC this weekend!
Steven's "proffy bio"--
Steven C. Aldridge has finished course requirements on a PhD in Visual Studies from UC-Irvine. He earned a Masters in Film & Media from the U of Amsterdam late, last millennium with a thesis on aural-art/cinema.
Pretty great late-night conversation about music, powers, the condition, and life.
The concept of "and/also" or "<>" gets mentioned.
<> being an alternative to "either/or".
Monday, May 18, 2009
Fog machine! Forest! Fire! Bling!
You will see, it is going to be AHHMAZINGG!
Toby's parents graciously put up 5 house guests tracking mud everywhere, using up the well water, and falling asleep to SNL.
We felt like the best way to thank everyone was to keep them well fed. So we made a lot of food, and somehow pulled off feeding 6-10 people for 7 meals with help from supplemental pantry items from Toby's house.
These Are Catering!
Chick pea and veggie curry
Organic brown rice
Black bean and red cabbage salad
Salad w/Toby's dad's homemade white vinegar dijon dressing
Made to order organic eggs
Whole grain bread
Big pot of Sumatra coffee
Hummus with carrots and celery
Toby's parents made pizza and homemade burgers
Grilled teriyaki ginger and cranberry chicken sausages
Antipesto with salami, tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella
Spinach salad with kidney beans
Turkey chili with kidney beans and corn
juice and coffee
Pat's famous chick pea and veggie curry (vegan)
A crowd pleaser the world over!
1 lg yellow onion (diced)
2 fingers fresh ginger (use the peeled and grated pulp and squeeze to release juice)
1 can diced tomatoes (or tomato puree)
1 lg sweet potato (peeled and cut into half moons)
3 lg carrots (coins)
1-2 lg cans garbanzo beans (rinsed)
sliced mushrooms (1/2 carton)
Saute onions, mushrooms and ginger in olive oil for about two minutes on medium heat, until onions are mostly translucent. Wok or large cast iron skillet is good. Add about two tablespoons curry powder and 1 teaspoon paprika. Add tomatoes. Cook 3-4 minutes. Steam carrots, sweet potatoes, and garbanzos then add to rest. Simmer 20-30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cooked rice.
Anna's rawwwr black bean and red cabbage salad (vegan)
(adjust to number of people, it keeps well and can last a few days)
1 sm head of red cabbage shredded
2 lg cans black beans
2 zucchini (cut as you like)
apple cider vinegar
lemon or lime
salt, pepper and chili powder
Toast chili powder in a cast iron skillet. Saute black beans with just enough olive oil to coat for a few minutes, then cool. Toss red cabbage with few capfuls of apple cider vinegar and few splashes of olive oil and lemon to taste. Add zucchini and cilantro, then beans. Salt and pepper. Chill in fridge or serve room temperature.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The space is called the Bunk. The art on the walls gets lit up between bands so you don't miss it. Video is projected behind the performers. People boogie between bands. There's a ton of room and a ton of energy. You can drink and smoke whatever you want inside and it's such a good time, much like the Market Hotel or Secret Project Robot in Brooklyn. There's no authority, just a troop of organizers who everyone respects and supports with their presence and cash. It's a community joint--a reaction to bar culture, suburbia, corporate oppression, racism and authority--and it's a productive party...man.
Here's their mission statement:
"In an attempt to curb all of those who loathe loving the city of Cin; we’ve started a spot to help prolong creativity, passion, and all things passable under the moniker of “ART”. So come and get crunk where its Bunk."
One member of the hip hop duo who played before us, Evolve, took off all his clothes at the end of their set to give the audience a pep talk about quitting their job or dropping out of school if they're not happy doing either. He was all about now-being in the moment-and he meant it so much that he took off his clothes to prove it. I'm not really into dudes getting naked on stage but his inspirational words seemed to feed off his nudity so it made sense. So then we went on.
It sounded really pumpin with bass frequencies bouncing softly off the wood floor. The crowd got more and more into it with each song. By the end Anna, Bill and myself were all covered in loads of sweat and so was everyone up front. There was mega energy flowing and it reminded me how awesome traveling and playing music is. All that mattered in that room was the moment we had together. We entered a new community and it was super boss to make a room full of people feel good. And outside the vibe was pretty ghetto but inside there was a lot of joy and life. That's the transcendant power of These Are Powers.
Our host Chris, a college freshman who organized the show, brought us back to his house and we talked about Cincinnati and how it became what it is. Outside of it being the product of white flight and industrial decline, it's a pretty racist town, maybe because it was the final stop on the Underground Railroad. Recently, the KKK was planning a march downtown but the city was afraid of another race-riot like the one it experienced in 2001. So Cincinnati has some problems but it's mostly rooted in poverty and lack of education.
When I first went through downtown Cinci in the mid 90's it was super poor. It's still as poor as any neighborhood I've ever seen. But it's going to change and the Bunk is the catalyst.
It's good to see the college kids creating activity in order to make the situation in their town better. The kids who run The Bunk are the same ones who grew up in the suburbs and have seen how bleak a perfectly manicured life can be. They understand that the death of dumb America is up to them. And they also understand that art injects life into abandoned communities, especially one like downtown Cinci. Here's to them.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
These Are Powers have recorded 3 new songs, we are sitting with the rough mixes now trying to flesh them out. We need to finish up vocals, a few little edits here and there, and then final mix down come May. We hope to have these three songs released as a 12inch single. A lot of new songs this year, we writing hits.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Wanted to let you know that this Sunday, April 19th,
that I will be a part of artist Yoonhye Park's "Bodies of Pyongyang"
performance piece at St. Mark's Church.
Abe Lebewohl Park / St. Mark’s Church, take the 6 to Astor Place or the L to 3rd Avenue
"At key pedestrian traffic sites Bodies of Pyongyang will seek to stimulate dialogue and discussion with the public, inciting awareness about the prevailing and ongoing issues of women’s rights in North Korea to the international and multicultural communities of Manhattan.
Most people know who Kim Jong-il is, the dictator of North Korea; however, women in North Korea are hidden and veiled in contemporary context. Bodies of Pyongyang is a public visual art performance installation-
These tightly packed schoolgirls will try to move within the confined area expressing their emotional pain and struggle. Red strings symbolizing their dual inner states of suppression and resistance entangle the girls, further restricting their freedom to move inside this already constricting and hermetic space. "
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Just when I was wondering if Obama needed some help..
Food taster wanted (Upper East Side)
Looking for a full time job with high pay, flexible hours, and great medical benefits? Thinking about a career change? Would you like to eat things for a living?
My employer is looking for a hard working, adventurous individual to test his food for acceptable toxin levels. You must be able to start immediately. No experience necessary. Please email with a resume and for more details. A list of references is an added plus.
- it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
- Compensation: Negotiable, but up to $50 per tasting
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Death Sentence Panda
and Bronze in an Oakland loft
The bay has rad bands
Someone takes a shit
behind our parked van that night
At least our show rules
We stay with Pat's friends
Lands End and dinner
Long drive to L.A.
Fish tacos and The Echo
We are Part Time Punks
Rampage Fest Trunk Space
Abe Vigoda true homies
Kids bring the party
Play a dirt back yard
really close to the border
Best house party yet
5 shows in 3 days
Some kids come to more than one
My voice is gone, my feet are tired and dirty, we all have varying degrees of sunburn, our ears are ringing and Austin is one overflowing festival porta potty filled with stumbling drunks, ladies teetering on too small heels while pulling down too small dresses, dazed club employees, spent journalists, homeboys spinning rims and flashing neon under the highway in an impromptu Saturday night car show and tumbleweeds of fast food paper plates.
Didn't make it to Barton Springs or the bat cave..again. Saw plenty of Whole Foods salad bar, friends, and some amazing acts.
Kudos to the kid that drew marker boobies on his t-shirt with "SPRING BREAK" written under them. Lots of ladies were touching his chest at Todd P's party at Ms. Bea's. Everyone likes boobs!
We uh, also apparently did a good job too--
"I resisted the desire to self-mutilate during These Are Powers' set at the Biz3 showcase, but it was hard."
Got a long drive ahead of us, so lots more updating in the van, since I can only make croaking noises and bad pantomimes at the moment.
Also! Our friend Yony Leyser made a video for our song "Blue Healer"!
It is fantastic and I think means we are like exotic but domesticated animals who like to feast on fresh vegetables and raw meat.
And! I recently wrote 500 words about eggs and adventures across the pond for Impose Magazine. Look out, M.F.K.!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Dear Person (or Persons) who has been using my phone in Philly,
I will spank you.
I will find you and take you over my knee and spank you.
I hope I was able to help you with your phoning needs this month.
Because of you I had to make so many bargains with the devil that is my mobile phone carrier. I was so angry I told the guy helping me that he was a pawn of the corporation he was working for because he insisted on changing my plan to cover all the charges.
I know it may be hard to believe, but my musical career does not provide me with infinite wells of cash with which to pay your tab.
I would have reported my phone as stolen sooner but I've been on tour and I was under the foolish impression that it was being mailed to me by friends of a friend.
For every person who acts selfishly, I know that I will meet two more who will overwhelm me with their generosity.
Lori says most of these are landlines, and they're really just the friends of the phone stealer, so is it worth it anyways?Two wrongs and all that..
Take that, phone stealers.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I grab coolant fluid from inside the van and once the radiator has cooled I dump in the half-gallon of glowing green juice. It's enough to keep the engine cool.
After this I pull out our trusty tube of JB Weld which is designed to patch weird metal holes, like if your radiator springs a leak. It's an amazing product. I apply it to the hole, it sets up to the hot surface in about five minutes.
I crank up the van. The temp gauge settles at the middle. We roll down 17 South and the temp gauge recedes to the cold mark so I know we're ok. We happily hit the club about 30 minutes after the break down and as we speak with Adam the owner of Crepe Place, he begins his search for a mechanic.
We sound check. Adam seats us for dinner and hands me a number to call in the a.m. Later, after the show, he hands me another number. "This guy's a friend and he'll do it for free," he says.
First thing this morning about nine I call Adam's friend Nate. He calls me back an hour later and we agree to meet at one. We head to his house after a hang at the beach and some local coffee houses. He is not your typical mechanic--young easy going educated liberal arts type. The kinda chap who knows how to run his car on veggie oil. His white 1966 Volvo station wagon sits in the driveway beside his house. He modestly boasts of how it can get up to 85 without shaking.
He solders the leaky seam near the top of the radiator. We put some more JB Weld on it. Bill, Anna and Karen hang out on the curb in the Cali sun. The patch sets up a bit and we head off with a handshake and he is happy to have our new album on vinyl.
Once we reach the auto parts store about 10 minutes away radiator fluid is spewing all over the engine again. We find a mechanic who will have us back on the road by tomorrow afternoon. After we agree on a price to weld the hole shut, he gives us a ride, sleeping bags and all back to the house where we stayed last night.
You thought I was gangsta before, but now I have the limp to prove it.
Backspace was rad and we ate so well. The whole staff was super ace friendly and cracked me up with their dancing to Lauren Hill while closing up at the end of the night.
Pat's friends Nancy and Dave left the door open to their house for us, and we found lots of sweet little hand written notes, Guinness, cupcakes and clean sheets, kind of like an Easter egg hunt.
Traveling through the wet cold Northwest can wear you down, and these little gestures restore you, as do shows where kids dance.
Santa Cruz'n right now. It is so good to be in California. Played Crepe Place last night, where we again ate like kings, everyone was incredibly sweet and the show was truly ALL AGES. In fact, lots of kids had to leave early because it was a school night. I like how in California, parents wear jams and hoodies and look like they just stepped off a skateboard themselves.
I bought everyone smoky quartz at the new age store down the street for positive energy restoration. The occult bookstore was closed. Apparently witches sleep early in this town, or as our friend Rod said, maybe they weren't up yet?
We slept on the floor of an old Victorian house painted orange and hit the beach in the morning. I drank some of the ocean, it was, if you can believe it, salty.
So many drifters lurking here too!
Monday, March 9, 2009
Then a little smoke
Rhinoceropolis in Denver is one of the best spaces to play in the country. What up Pictureplane!
The Good Food Store in Missoula. One of the best health food stores in the country.
Nothing like some Elk Talk and carrots to start the pre-show party.
Pat’s friend and drummer Ron from Liars always said tour is where you go to get fat
Triple Rock’s mock duck spinach salad with beans and rice
Whisky hot toddy with lots of honey
Chamomile tea and granola with almond milk
Danimal’s homemade chocolate chip cookie, and
breakfast tacos with corn tortillas, poached eggs, soysage, beans, avocado and cilantro
Truck stop cherry donut with whole jellied cherries on top
Almond crackers and a carrot
Heidi’s grandmother’s recipe Angel Food birthday cake
Tomato flavored tuna, almond crackers
Curried tofu from Open Harvest co-op, more crackers, salad greens
Excellent soy cappuccino with cinnamon from Meadowlark
Brown rice and fish with black bean sauce from Thai Basil (not real Thai, but good)
Glass of some kind of Australian Sauvignon Blanc
Can of Dale’s Pale Ale
Sound guy drank all my Makers Mark
Nic’s amazing breakfast of eggs with peppers and tomatoes, toast, fresh coffee and juice
Bean and queso fresco taco with lots of avocado salsa and hot sauce from somewhere awesome
(forgot, but it was painted bright orange inside)
Family style BBQ at Nic’s with organic feta and roasted pepper chicken sausage, veggie kebabs,
salad and beans and rice
Can of something awesome beer (maybe by the same people as Dale’s)
Orange juice, scrambled egg with Swiss and fresh biscuit at Dot’s Diner
Lame medium Americano from Starbucks
Instant bulk bin refried beans from Open Harvest, French Onion Sun Chips (terrible gas)
Gas station chicken and cheese sandwich (2 for $3!), potato chips, pineapple orange juice
Chipotle tomato soup and salad bar from Good Food Store
Dane’s homemade vegetable soup and tortillas
Flathead Lake micro brewed stout beer
Yogi Chai Redbush tea
Granola with almond milk and Washington grown gala apple
Traditional Medicinals Organic Echinacea Elder tea
Granola with almond milk and apple
Dried bulk split pea and lentil soup and crackers
Vera Project catering for dinner—
two kinds of veggie deli slices with cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots,
tortilla chips and salsa
More dried soup and tea for late night snack
Lisa’s homemade breakfast goat cheese and asparagus frittata
Toaster waffles with fresh berries and syrup
Chocolate and orange natural flavored coffee
Cumin flavored cheese sample from farmers’ market
Peach raw honey straw
Homemade kombucha tea
Clam chowder from Pike Place Market
Lisa and Travis bought everyone Alaskan wild salmon quesadillas,
fried clams and french fries to share!
More complimentary coffee
Friday, March 6, 2009
I seriously thought I had Lyme disease. Never mind that we weren’t anywhere near any wooded areas in Denver or Boulder, or that Nic and Marcy’s cats are indoor cats, or that I don’t really know the symptoms of Lyme disease.
But whenever I feel an imbalance, and in most cases it’s pretty mild--I like to say the best worst-case scenario I can imagine. Usually I just say I’m dying, because that is an effective and funny enough catch all.
I’m not a hypochondriac by any means. Sure, if I get sick, I feel a slight physical betrayal at being mortal. Like, “how dare you get sick, you defective bag of bones and tissue, arteries, ligaments and synapses??”
I’m not dying, I just took too much Solgar Ultimate B+C Complex Stress Formula on an empty stomach before breakfast at Dot’s, where the waitress wore an interesting contraption of a t-shirt masquerading as a bustier and accidentally spilled water all over the adjacent table, but laughed it off easily and I loved her for it.
First it felt like someone had a heat lamp on my left ear. Then the flush took over and my body started itching in sections. Ankles, legs, neck, arms, wrists, ankles, arms, wrists, legs, stomach, hips, and repeat—this is incredibly distracting when you’re trying to contribute to a friendly conversation before eggs and biscuits. It was a symphony of pins and needles, which I imagine is akin to a mild episode of being on speed.
Further inspection in the bathroom showed raised pink streaks on a lot of my legs and hips from scratching. I felt better after eating. Pat said my natural color was returning--my cheeks had been rosier than usual.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
While making the eternal and flat great plain trek from Minneapolis to Lincoln I call up my old friend Heidi Ore Taylor. I must speak in a hushed tone so Anna can't hear me asking Heidi if there's any way she can bake an Angel Food birthday cake tonight for Anna's b-day. She is a righteous person and she gladly accepts the challenge. She puts her daughter Kyra on the phone to say hi and Kyra says, "do you have presents for us?" I say "welll...maybe..." On our last diesel stop I comb the novelty shelves inside the truck stop and find some dream catchers. When we arrive at their house in Lincoln I give them to Kyra and her older sister Zoie. They're stoked.
Throughout the 90's, Heidi and her husband John played in a band called Mercy Rule. On their last tour I was the nanny for the older daughter Zoie. Now she is in 6th grade. Every time we stay at their house in Lincoln it's amazing to see how Zoie is growing up along with her sister. I have a journal from that tour which documents her daily goings-on as an infant on the road. When she graduates high school I will give it to her.
John brings the cake down to the show later and we work it out that before our last song he'll present the cake to Anna, candles burning and all. So we end our second last song, a new bumper currently titled, "Untitled." I announce that it's Anna's birthday and that we have a special gift. John comes to the stage, cake in hand and I get the audience to join me in singing Happy Birthday to Anna. She is thoroughly surprised. Cake makes Anna happy. After the show we eat it and celebrate.
The next morning I line up a full body birthday massage for Anna through my friend Tara. I hang out with Tara's son Aaron while she is massaging Anna. I try and explain to him what New York is like while showing him some photos on the web. Lincoln has a pointy capitol building and when I show him a picture of the Empire State building he says "is that the capitol building?" I am reminded and inspired by the fact that kids' minds wander in different ways than our adult minds.
Anna and Tara finish. Anna feels refreshed and rejuvinated, somewhat lethargic too. All the lifting and sitting and playing and lifting on tour gets to the muscles in such a way that at times makes you feel frozen.
Speaking of frozen, the cold has lifted on our drive to Denver. The cardboard sheet has come off the front of van's radiator which helps the engine generate more heat so we have have heat in the cabin. This is a little trick that's worth trying if you're on tour and your van isn't getting you the heat you desire. Last year on our spring tour we froze-this year we got cardboard. The closer we get to Denver the warmer it gets. We're feeling pretty happy to have escaped the Midwest winter without freezing like we did last year.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tonight we descend on this tiny little liberal arts community tucked away in a cornfield in Iowa. Bird Names were supposed to meet us at the I-80 Truck Stop (they actually have real semis in the place) but they missed out and we resort to calling them Turd Lames when we arrive. We all have a chuckle and set the night afoot with some proper sarcasm.
It's a night of delirium as we are all tired from our sold out show in Chicago the night before at The Hideout.
Collin plops down in a 50-gallon trash can seemingly high on delirium and COORS. He cracks us up and firmly establishes the fact that tour turns everyone into a 12 year-old.
My nephew Ross attends the college as an economics major. Last time we played he got up and jammed with us on our last song-he did the same this time, but with bari sax instead of alto. We rehearse the two note repetition of Blue Healer and he says just give me the key and I'm like well...there's not really a key. I mean I'm Ross's uncle and all the sudden I feel like the nephew when he says, just give me a key and I'm like ummm, ummm I don't really know how to do that.
He finds the pattern in about two minutes and we're good to go for the show.
We play and the kids are eating it up, each expressing themselves through their own respective dances ranging from eccentric hippy girating to stiff-hipped bumpin from some of the guys.
Bird Names jump up with us on the last song as well. I manage to get the sound guy off his lap top so he can turn on the extra mics for all of the extra players. Bill hits the beat and we're off on our journey of Blue Healer. Ross on bari sax, Collin, Nora and Phaellin, on drums, Al on melodica and David on guitar. It sounds like a train stepping on the gas and breaks at the same time, nearly ready to derail, but somehow staying on the tracks, kinda like Bird Names.
We finish, load and convene to a large room upstairs where some "crazy" kid has piled up all the furniture in a big pile. After putting back some Old Style Lights, David crawls under the furniture pile to go to sleep. Shortly thereafter, Nora asks the drunk dude who keeps coming in to plunk on the piano to stop. "And you are?" he asks. "I'm Nora," she retorts. He leaves and we can sleep now that the plunking has been silenced.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Blogging from the backseat.
Dub is the soundtrack to our highway. We joke we drove Karen crazy with it last time through the States, but Lee Scratch Perry ushers in the official start of this tour.
We sold out The Hideout last night! I even unwittingly helped someone sneak in through the back door when I cracked it for air before we played.
Jesse Rose and Phillip took the train in from St. Louis to see us, backpacks strapped on. She changed into a sequined flapper dress in the bathroom and they wild danced all night up front. The first show of ours they came to ended in a giggling dog pile in a Kansas City living room. I rolled around on the carpet and brought kids down by grabbing at their ankles. One girl lost a battle with her pants and quickly pulled them back over her ass as she got up. Our friends Mythical Beast were in on that show too, shaking the adjacent room with their reverberating spell.
That night Jesse Rose was flailing on her knees and had her forehead pressed into the floor. How can you explain what it is like to take this thing out of your self and see it manifest in another person in a way that is physically and emotionally moving? How ridiculous and fortunate it is to be able to make something invisible, but tangible in this way and to commune with them at the richest and most transcendent point of both yourselves.
So, Chicago. We’re still all a bit puffed up from the show. Bird Names pulled up the same time we did and we shouted greetings and mock obscenities at each other out the windows of our vans. Nora suggested we all have a fake stage fight, but I think the idea seemed too complicated in the end. Plus she bought us gala apples from Stanley’s and it’s hard to fake fight with someone who does that.
We are so lucky to have the friends we do in Chicago, and it’s very much home for all of us, even though it will be a minute before we’re parked there again. Bird Names played a sick set. They’re like ping pong in the mind of the most hyper and brilliant five-year old, wrapped up in David’s love for Fifties girl groups, and tossed with sprouts and rainbow sprinkles. We love Collin, Al, David, Nora and Phallin heartily.
The stage of The Hideout is really high and framed with Christmas light strewn wood rafters. Total funhouse clubhouse. For some reason it makes me feel like I am looking out on everyone through a dizzying fisheye lens. The new jams went over right well and we had so much sweat-covered fun.
We crashed at Bill’s parents house, waking the cavalry of small dogs in the kitchen. Everything was warm and clean in the way that parents’ houses are, and we took well-deserved showers. His mom made us a spectacular breakfast this morning with lots of fresh greens, berries, eggs and organic chicken sausage. We are serious…about our breakfast.
Someone wrote “slugs and snails are after me” on the toilet paper dispenser in the women’s bathroom of The Lava Lounge. The place is decorated like the forgotten psychedelic room from the Flintstone’s house; with watch batteries and gears embedded in resin and drippy plaster stalactites everywhere.
The disco balls are motorized rocks decorated with mirrored pieces. That cracks me up.
Everyone is smoking. A lot.
Italian Ice play a raunchy dual drum and space invaders from the bottom of a well set that is awesome. Heavy psych in an artificial cave, with rave lights is good. We are not heavy psych, and seem to hit a wall despite our best efforts. The room thins a little. Diehards stick it out, and women seem to outnumber men up front, which is pleasant.
Melissa St. Pierre and her boyfriend Rich are our gracious hosts. She apologizes for a lack of beer and weed, but offers tea, which is perfect. We sleep on couches and an attic floor; there is a prepared piano in the dining room that Melissa is using to practice a John Cage piece. Screws and tape pepper the wires and a pink ribbon is tied in a bow on the arm that is propping open the lid.
It is a mad dash out of Brooklyn; we literally nab a practice space subletter at the last possible minute, while we are packing the van in the morning. We get to Philly with hours to spare, and just wind up killing time in the food court of the grocery store down the street from Marvelous Music. Note to us, next time--more sights, less lukewarm soup.
Marvelous gives us quarters to feed the parking meter. Bill narrowly averts a ticket by adding more just as the cop walks up. Inside, people are crowded in between racks of CDs and records.
Karen is doing a bang up job of working the door. Sliding scale tonight.
We drink homemade beer at the show. U.S. Girls squalls from the tile floor. Meghan’s got everything in a suitcase, which I appreciate.
Her sound simultaneously lulls and grinds like a steel wool blanket.
It’s a good first show out of the gate. One guy hops up and down almost the whole time on Pat’s side of the stage. But a lot of folks are shy to dance in a music store. Usually Philly is a drunken mess for us, like happy embarrassing wedding reception drunk, but with punk crust and face tattoos.