3/24 - High Sierra, Terlingua TX
3/25 - Starlight Theatre, Terlingua TX
3/26 - Planet Marfa, Marfa TX
3/27 - Eve's Garden, Marathon TX
3/24 - High Sierra, Terlingua TX
3/25 - Starlight Theatre, Terlingua TX
3/26 - Planet Marfa, Marfa TX
3/27 - Eve's Garden, Marathon TX
Let's tour the midwest in the middle of winter, they said. What could possibly go wrong, they said.
Nah, it was fine. Fine and snowy as fuck. Started the tour off with a great local show with Mike & the Moonpies, doing the Sun Radio showcase at Guero's in south Austin. All of the above were fantastic -- the Oak Garden at Guero's is a sweet little venue, and of course M&tMP's are great friends of ours. So much so, that they even stopped in Denton the next night (on their way to a gig in OK) to hang out with us. Rad dudes, and Dan's Silver Leaf was a great venue. What's the name of the taco place across the block? Top-notch. The Colony has a god-awful PA system, but at least Kierston White was amazing. Our friendly neighborhood CouchSurfer Jay was a righteous old fella who treated us to a great dinner and some beers (along with his great record collection and super-sweet pup Bonnie). Wesport Saloon is always fantastic, and even our Super-Bowl-Sunday show in Des Moines turned out to be OK.
Driving from KC to DSM: Carson is sleeping in the back of the van, suddenly awakens and exclaims: "SNOW!". Note: Austin native laying eyes on a light dusting. Awww, cute. We're joined by our good buddy Jeremy Pinnell for the next week of tour. Jeremy is a boss country music songwriter, so much so that we even instituted a "Jeremy Jar" for band members to place their loose change whenever they repeat Jeremy's lyrics to excess. Local awesome dude Stutterin' Jimmy opened the show with his Tom Waits-esque delivery (which was awesome, in spite of his loop-pedal-using sidekick). Highlight of the show: we have all our gear backlined, and Jimmy wants Sam (Carson's steel player) to sit in for a tune. His initial request is politely turned down, then they start into a rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".... complete with personalized lines such as: "I heard there was a secret chord that Sam would play and it pleased the Lord, but you don't really care for our music, do ya?". Sam stayed strong, refusing to sit in, and was thus assaulted with a chorus of "Hallelujah... Sam, Hallelujah". It was great.
Chicago show is quite decent, although snowy as all hell. Warren, husband of super-fan Marka came out, and we made some other new friends as well. Daytrotter session in the afternoon is also a great time. We stayed with Daphne and Russ, who were a real sweetheart of a CouchSurfer couple and made sure we were very well taken care of. Cincinnati show is great and very well attended for a Wednesday night. I don't know if I've mentioned yet, but one of the huge job perks within my chosen career field is getting paid to visit your hometown and drink with your buddies. Hard life, right? My dear sweet mother was kind enough to host the band for a few days (as she has many times before), and it's honestly the best thing ever to be home while being on the road. We also got to shoot some video at CandyLand Studios in Bellvue KY, courtesy of SofaBurn Records in Cincinnati.
Tour continued on to Lexington, where we played with some OK locals but managed to find some extra-decent tacos down the street. Folks in Sylva were nice, and Mary and Shoprag took care of the band. I got an extra-jumbo-supreme case of the grumpy-asshole-fuckoffs (an unfortunate by-product of everyone else in the house staying up to socialize loudly while one is trying to sleep), but I managed to stop being pissed off at the rest of the band sometime around noon the next day. WDVX was a really great experience, mostly because I bought a copy of "Smile All Day" by local kids music artist Bill Crosby, but also because we had a great set for an appreciative audience of quite-a-few in studio and who-knows-how-many listening on the air.
That evening, we were hosted at the Dirty South House by the super-extra-fantastic Goodall Family. Not only did they provide an excellent venue for Carson & Jeremy for the evening's show, they were also super sweet and accommodating, and have a couple of rad kids -- i.e. daughter wearing a Ray Wylie Hubbard t-shirt, son expressing fondness for the new Jason Isbell record, and general feeling of "these kids are gonna be OK". Added bonus: somewhere, floating out there in internet land, there's a video of me playing pedal steel (poorly) while Sam plays drums (also poorly, obviously). This all stemmed from the Goodall kids wanting pointers on how to play our instruments after we loaded-in during the afternoon. Further proof that they may be the raddest family in all of TN.
Douglas Corner is such a great venue in Nashville (as evidenced by pictures of Townes on the walls behind their bar). No regrets: we ate at three hot chicken joints in two days. Verdict: Hattie B's is pretty goddamn great, though Prince's and Harold's are no slouches either. The first time I went to Harold's (june '15), we ordered the medium and I swear to christ they were fucking with us -- food was stupid hot (dig it) and as the four of us are sitting there sweating all over our chicken (seasoning), the chef even leans out of the kitchen window and says "you boys wanted it hot, didn't ya?".
Blue Canoe is a rad venue with some history -- if you ever get to play there, read the wall behind the stage: Alabama Shakes, American Aquarium, etc. They also had a really great ghost pepper sauce to along with their "crack fries". Had a guy invite us out back to smoke a joint, then ask us where the joint was once we got out there. "I'm starting to think you guys might not even smoke weed" was the quote of the day. Hannah and Jessie put us up for the night, and were awesome gals with awesome dogs.
Little Rock, Ft Worth, and Austin were all killer shows. Duh. It's always nice to get to play some of your favorite venues with you favorite folks in attendance. Also, no snow.
2/2 Banger's, Austin TX
2/3 Sun Radio Benefit @ Guero's, Austin TX
2/4 Dan's Silver Leaf, Denton TX
2/5 The Colony, Tulsa OK
2/6 Westport Saloon, Kansas City MO
2/7 Lefty's, Des Moines IA
2/8 Daytrotter Session, Rock Island IL (12pm)
2/8 Uncommon Ground, Chicago IL (8pm)
2/10 MOTR Pub, Cincinnati OH
2/11 The Green Lantern, Lexington KY
2/12 No Name Pub, Sylva NC
2/13 WDVX Blue Plate Special, Knoxville TN (11am)
2/13 Dirty South House, Knoxville TN (8pm)
2/15 Douglas Corner Cafe, Nashville TN
2/17 Blue Canoe, Tupelo MS
2/18 Whitewater Tavern, Little Rock AR
2/19 Fred's TX Cafe, Ft Worth TX
2/20 The White Horse, Austin TX
So this was a trip. Mitchell and I were fortunate to
be hired by Yago de Quay, a musician/artist based out of Austin who incorporates interactive tech into his musical performances. Yago was commissioned by Intel to put together a show for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas just after New Years 2016 (video below), and it went over so well that we were called back for a repeat performance in Anaheim CA for the Intel 360 Conference. Long story short: Yago needed a backing band, somehow we managed to stumble our way into this awesome experience, and played a couple shows for a couple thousand people.
Short story long: I notice a post in a local musician's forum from a guy looking for a rhythm section for an interactive tech-heavy performance in Vegas. I inquire, find out the dates he's looking at, see that we'll be unavailable/on tour, and think "damn. oh well, better luck next time". Turns out, Mitchell also finds out about said gig, and apparently our mutual friend Shreddy Eddie knows this fellow and has recommended Mitchell and I to audition as his rhythm section. Fine, let's do it. What's the worst that could happen?
Worst/Most Impressive Audition Story: We schedule a time at a rehearsal studio in Austin. We get an email containing two items: 1) a link to a past performance (to get a feel for the style of music he's going for) and 2) a link to the actual tune we're supposed to learn for the audition. Guess who didn't read the entire email carefully? We show up to the audition and meet Yago, talk for a bit while we're setting up, then as he starts the backing track over the PA system.. we realize we've made a huge mistake. OF COURSE WE LEARNED THE WRONG SONG FOR THE AUDITION FOR A BIG CORPORATE GIG THAT PAYS REALLY WELL. Ooooops... So we sheepishly explain.apologize for our error, and instead of throwing us out on our non-thoroughly-email-reading asses, Yago is cool about it and gives us a few minutes to learn his track on the spot. Somehow (and when I say "somehow" I mean "because we're goddamn professionals most of the time"), we get a moderate handle on the track, play our "prepared piece" (which was a bass/drum duet by Les Claypool), and break down our gear/run away with our collective tails between our collective legs.
Fast forward a week or so. Obviously, we assumed we blew it. Not only did we show up with the wrong song learned, we also had a few scheduling conflicts around the projected rehearsal dates due to some pre-existing tour commitments. Some how, some way, I got the call in late October that we had landed the gig, and here are the revised rehearsal dates to fit our schedule. Praise the flying spaghetti monster, how the shit did that just happen? Awesome. Turns out we have some flights to book, and our next couple months looked like this: Tour with Garner, fly out early AM after the last show to Evansville for rehearsals, fly back to Austin just in time to leave for tour with Jackie's band, fly out KCMO after her last show for rehearsals in Vegas, fly home for one day then go our separate ways for holiday family fun time, reconvene in Austin for New Years Eve gigs, fly out to Vegas early on New Years Day for a couple final rehearsals and the CES gig. I just got tired all over again by typing all of that out.
The show itself was an interactive 4-minute audio-visual funk-jazz meltdown that included crazy bass/drum jams, performers behind a giant screen triggering interactive visuals, and the centerpiece of the whole thing was the Intel Curie/RealSense technology (which we later found out was used for everything from tracking stats of X-Games athletes to controlling household robots) that enabled us to put on some hi-tech wristbands, wave our mitts around, and create some amazing sounds and visual effects. Musically, it was absolutely a challenge to learn the material, and I remember when we first met Zack (the composer) his first words to us were "You guys, I'm sorry about all that". We spent the first rehearsal session ironing out the musical parts and mapping the Curie wristbands to a set of gestures that each triggered it's own unique sound (i.e. left hand down = bass drop wub wub wub, right hand chop to the right = dry metallic snare sound, etc). One of the coolest things about this tech is that the possibilities are virtually limitless when it comes to programming movement to trigger sounds.
The scale of the whole thing was mind-boggling. The rehearsal sites in Evansville and Las Vegas each had a reproduction of the huge performance space where we'd be doing the actual gig, including full gear backline and the giant scrim and multiple projectors. In addition to the band (Mitchell, Yago, and I) we had the dancers (Reema and Shoko), the composer (Zack), the costume designer (Kelsey), and a whole team of tech guys from Intel and NameTheMachine running the Ableton rigs and projection software.
Turns out Evansville is just as boring as you'd think, though we managed to find a really nice CouchSurfer fellow named Alex who lived just a couple blocks from the rehearsal space and took us in for a few days, and also a decent dive bar down the street. The first Vegas rehearsals were at a studio behind the Palms, so you can guess where we all stayed. I learned how to play craps during that week of rehearsals, and also discovered that "breakfast craps" before rehearsal each day were the best time to hit the tables. Buffet = total letdown, bowling alley across the street = jackpot.
The final week of rehearsals had us all staying at Treasure Island, and somehow Mitchell got upgraded to the goddamn presidential suite. Kirsten also flew out to hang out for a few days, and I had one severely inebriated night where I struggled with the basic concept of blackjack hand signals (bringing shame to myself and everyone around me). Fremont Street is a great exercise in "is this real life?". We also took a drive out into the NV desert, found a disappointing cave, bought booze candy, and found a secluded spot where people just shoot shit with whatever firearms they happen to have upon their person. I gotta move to the desert someday, but maybe the less shoot-y part.
The gig itself was fantastic. I heard there were around 3,000 people there, and there was a part of the show where the entire audience used the same interactive wristbands that we were using. Also, Kelsey had the great idea to use blacklight paint in my beard, so y'know, life goal achieved. The thing went off without a hitch and was very well received (one tech-blogger described it as the "apocalyptically loud soundtrack to a mega man final boss"), and then we heard Intel's CEO talk about crazy robot things for an hour.
Fly home, decompress, play a few local gigs, then we get the call -- Intel wants a reprise of the performance at their upcoming sales conference in Anaheim. Done and done. We get the whole crew back together (on impressively short notice, I might add), and fly everyone out to California. The time scale is polar opposite for this show -- the Vegas gig was a ton of rehearsal time for a 4-minute show, this is maybe 3 or 4 runs of the show before the actual gig. Doesn't matter, nailed it. Great show for another 3- or 4-thousand folks, this time it's all Intel employees in a big arena right across from Disneyland.
Skip Disneyland because it's like $100 a day, find a rad bowling alley instead and discover complimentary bathrobes in our hotel room closets. Cue #RobeLyfe, free booze happy hour in the top floor guest lounge, watching the Disney fireworks every night from the hotel balcony, and hitting up the free breakfast every morning in our robes (much to the chagrin of the various families chasing the Disney dream vacation). Also, we got to hang out with Uncle Craig, Mitchell's traveling rad dude of an uncle.
Long story short (again): we were so very fortunate to be a part of this experience with Yago and his crew. They've got some big plans for this year and I hope we're able to be a part of it all over again.
CES 2016 -- Intel Keynote Preshow (our part starts at ~3:40)
12/6-9 - Rehearsals, Evansville IN
12/14-19 - Rehearsals, Las Vegas NV
1/1-4 - Rehearsals, Las Vegas NV
1/5 - Intel CES Keynote Presentation, The Venetian, Las Vegas NV
1/29-31 - Rehearsals, Anaheim CA
2/1 - Intel 360 Performance, Anheim Convention Center Arena, Anaheim CA
Oh my god, you guys, I was home FOR TEN DAYS! ...and now it's December. I'm writing this from a rehearsal in Evansville, IN, but more on that later.
"Tour de Southwest" aka "The Beat, The Bass & The Garner" aka "Homemade Vanilla Tour"... call it whatever, this tour was pretty damn fun. After a busy week at home, it was time to get the hell back in the van. Set out with Texas-born-and-raised songwriter and leviathan of lexicon Garner Sloan, who aside from only owning one pair of pants, is a hell of a songwriter and doing pretty well for himself, considering he just picked up a guitar for the first time only a few years ago. But still, only one pair of pants.
After a 'sendoff' show in Austin, we started out the run in Garner's hometown of sunny, beautiful Coleman TX, at the legendary Buggy Wheel. This is the same venue where, during my first gig there a year or so ago, I witnessed a middle-aged drunk couple stumble out of the back entrance while embracing passionately. The man, ever the charmer (and not noticing a few of us standing nearby), then says to his lady in his best good-ol-boy-west-TX accent: "baby, get up on the hood of that Mustang and lemme eat your pussy". Go ahead, try saying it out loud without cracking up, I dare you. So anyway, the Buggy Wheel gets weird sometimes, but at least they've got shuffleboard. Also, Garner's parents loaded us up with sandwiches and road snacks.
Spent the next week or so winding through tiny towns in west Texas and New Mexico. Alpine was great, Marfa was better - rolled into town without a confirmed gig (long story..) and no place to play. After wandering around for a spell, Garner decided to go chat up a group of old Mexican guys drinking beer and watching football under an awning in a vacant lot. Best decision of the day. They called themselves the 'woman haters club' ("we actually love women, we just wanna get away from our wives. don't tell our wives that"), gave us some beers and food, and THEN... when we found out the gig we thought we had was canceled, one of their crew got us hooked up with a small beergarden venues across the street, AND offered us a place to stay. (For those of you playing along at home, that's going from no gig and homeless to having a gig and a place to stay within about an hour. The kindness of strangers is never more apparent than when one is on tour.)
Terlingua was amazing, as always. I think that's all I need to say about that. Hiked through Big Bend on our day off, found a hot springs, Mitchell and Garner swam to Mexico across the Rio Grande (which was actually quite un-Grande). Followed a few days later by a few-days stay in my other favorite middle-of-nowhere drunken-hippie-weirdo town, Madrid NM (what's that?! Touring to 2 of my favorite spots twice in one month? They call that living the dream, folks). Great show at Mineshaft, very drunken day off which included an hour show on Madrid's new indie radio station WMRD, and a hike up to the creepy awesome graveyard and scenic overlook.
The next week took us up to Colorado, starting with a badass luxury suite in Breckenridge (too bad the gig was lame... actually, nah, the cool digs were worth the lame gig. 10/10 would do again) and ending up with a few shows in Ft Collins. The great thing about playing Ft Collins is that Mitchell's family always shows up in droves, and they're all rad people. Such was the case on Wednesday at the Tap & Handle, and again on Friday at Swing Station. The other good thing about playing Ft Collins around Thanksgiving is getting a fantastic Thanksgiving feast with Mitchell's folks. The only real downside was Mitchell's decision to take his old-timey bike out on the ice/snow around 3am, which I guess is all relative to how your scale of 'bad idea' to 'adventure' is calibrated. At least he got a bitchin' purple leg bruise out of it. Oh, also.. snow. AHHHHH snow is the worst, and there was lots of it.
Heading back east, we enjoyed a Saturday night at the luxurious Ambassador Hotel in Salina, Kansas. Never heard of Salina, Kansas? That's right, you haven't. The weather was gross and no one came out to the show, BUT, at least there were no DUI checkpoints on the walk to our rooms from our gig in the hotel lobby bar. Fun game for the night - table of 4 was seated right up front, already hammered as we were loading in. So, we made it our goal to get those folks to buy enough drinks to make up for the bar was spending on the band. We figured that way, everyone wins. Well, almost made it... the venue was paying us $300-something for night, and their bar tab came out to $280. I'd say that'll work, and we got a ton of free drinks in the process. See? Win-Win. Headed eastward to hit our old favorite The Westport Saloon in KC, including all the standard rowdiness that we've come to know and love from that venue, plus a Monday off (bowling, haircuts, and the usual day-off activities ensued). We then had our buddies the Haymakers on the bill in Wichita, and also managed a lifetime first of being cut off at a sushi bar (from food, not booze) before the show. It was the first and only time I've had a waitress deliver our (admittedly gargantuan) meal, then return a while later with nothing else to say aside from "Holy shit, you guys are cut off". Maximum fattitude, achieved.
Finished the tour out with shows in OK and DFW. Killer bahn mi at a food truck in Tulsa, and I totally dominated (and spent all my quarters) on the WWF Royal Rumble arcade game. I know you're jealous, and listen, why don't you grow up? Our friend and local fiddle legend Kirsten joined the band for the last two shows in Dallas which was a welcome addition to our surly/smelly trio of road-worn dudes. During the final set of the final show, Adairs Saloon was overrun by a Holiday Pub Crawl - 30 drunken santas, quite a few attractive elf ladies, several suits made of christmas lights, and one amazing duo with some pretty accurate 'Wet Bandits' costumes. Couldn't think of a better way to wrap things up.
After the last show, Mitchell and I had about 4 hours downtime before we had to catch a flight to Indiana, but more on that in a future post. Cheers!
11/11 - Hard Luck Lounge, Austin TX
11/13 - The Buggy Wheel, Coleman TX
11/14 - Railroad Blues, Alpine TX
11/15 - Planet Marfa Biergarten, Marfa TX
11/16 - High Sierra, Terlingua TX
11/18 - Stalight Theatre, Terlingua TX
11/19 - Si Italiano Bistro, Las Cruces NM
11/21 - Mineshaft Tavern, Madrid NM
11/24 - Beaver Run Resort, Breckenridge CO
11/25 - Tap & Handle, Ft Collins CO
11/27 - Swing Station, La Porte CO
11/28 - O'Malley's, Salina KS
11/29 - Westport Saloon, Kansas City MO
12/01 - Barleycorn's, Wichita KS
12/02 - The Fur Shop, Tulsa OK
12/03 - Red Brick Tavern, Norman OK
12/04 - All Good Cafe, Dallas TX
12/05 - Adair's Saloon, Dallas TX
So, after touring for the majority of the summer, I finally found myself home in Austin (for more than two weeks at a time) in late September/early October. It was nice to rest for a bit and get back to some sense of normalcy, but even nicer to get back out of town for a bit.
Jackie's band went out for a short run across west TX and NM, including my two favorite derelict hippie towns, Terlingua and Madrid. First of all, west Texas is massive and mostly empty, and for the last 45 minutes or so of the drive in to Terlingua, there's nothing on either side of the road but hills and bushes and shit. Just nothing. Love it. The Starlight is a really great venue, and we were greeted by a crowd of 30 or so teenage German camper tourists who stayed throughout the first set and bought a lot of merch. While the crowd thinned out a bit after that (rain storm + dirt roads = people get the fuck home), those who stayed were receptive and appreciative, which is, y'know, pleasant. We stayed in a one-room cabin on the outskirts of town, with no electricity or running water, which I initially thought was going to be god-awful but ended up being OK. Sat outside for a minute before going to bed, as big open clear night sky out there is one of my favorite things to stare at. Woke up in the middle of the night because Jackie went outside to pee and I saw her shadow through the window and was convinced she was a murderous bear or something. I don't sleep well in general, especially in foreign settings, so it's not uncommon for me to find myself in that weird half-sleep-half-awake state imagining all manner of strange shit. Anyway, no murderous bears after all, as is often the case.
Abilene was... well, it sure was. It's always/never reassuring to roll in to a 'jazz club' to find the sound guy blasting metal music over the PA (I mean, I dig it, but it doesn't bode well for the venue). There was one nice couple that sat near the front all night and really dug the music, along with a few regulars/townies and a fellow dressed as Jesus for an early Halloween celebration. Got some decent dinner comped from a food truck out back and called it a night... until there were these asshole kids at our hotel, running around the walkways all night banging on windows and shit. These kids today, with their hula hoops and their rap music, I tell ya. Get off my lawn.
Halloween show in Cloudcroft was better. First off, we played a festival in Cloudcroft last year and it's SUCH a pretty landscape. I didn't know there were trees in New Mexico until we hit Cloudcroft. Awesome mountain/forest-y scenery made my short list of places to crawl in the wilderness and die when the time comes. The Western is a decent little dive, and when we were hard-pressed to figure out costumes before the show, Mitchell and I came through in the clutch with Dollar General bedsheets aka 'ghost costumes'. Jackie, ever the artist, was a bit more creative, donning a truck-stop-bought parrot hat and calling the costume a 'parroty of herself'. Get it? There were some weirdos in the crowd, but most stuck around and dug the show... I hear there was an older-middle-aged lesbian couple flashing boobs during the set break costume contest, but I was outside at that point. Always missing the good stuff.
Madrid is a rad little town of, like, 200 people maybe, and I've been there several times with Jackie's band over the last couple years. Seeing as it was a Sunday night, and the day after the entire town had partied their collective face off for Halloween, attendance was a little light, but everyone in the room was great. Had a guest guitar player sit in for the last set who was also kind enough to loan us his house for the evening.
One last thing worth mentioning is that Jackie finally broke down and upgraded her tour vehicle. Since I started playing with her band in 2013, we'd traveled in her tiny SUV, but alas, no more -- now we were hitting the road in glorious GMC conversion van style. More than enough room for the trio, however, the van's maiden voyage was marred by a flat tire in New Mexico (manly stuff, changing tires, nailed it.) and hitting a deer on the drive home through middle-of-nowhere west Texas. The latter resulted in a thoroughly dented front end and demolished grill, but on the plus side, a kindly stranger stopped to help us out with our bent bumper, hooking a chain to his truck and bending that sumbitch right back out so it wouldn't fuck up the tire it had previously been mashed into. Deer are dicks.
10/29 Starlight Theatre, Terlingua TX
10/30 Neon Parrot Lounge, Abilene TX
10/31 Western Saloon, Cloudcroft NM
11/1 Mineshaft Tavern, Madrid NM
I've known Chris Porter for a little bit now, was one of his roommates over the summer, and started drumming for him just before we left of this tour. His music is so much fun to play... it's based in Americana/Roots songwriting, but with the perfect amount of weirdness and balls-to-walls rocking to keep things interesting. Highlight of the tour (which was affectionately and appropriately dubbed "Flannel and Doom") was buying all manner of majestic wolf-themed stage accessories at every truck stop we could find... including a large wolf dreamcatcher, two small wolf statues (which doubled as our own Americana Music Awards for 'lifetime excellence in turquoise and denim' and 'only Scottish chick playing a Moog in Nashville'), and a wolf lamp with matching wolf print lampshade. It's all about presentation, folks.
Porter shares a rhythm section with Carson's band, so after the Ft Worth show, Mitchell and I just hung around the DFW area and met up with Porter and Bethany to start his tour. Since we had only had a couple rehearsals and played one show before the tour, the first few gigs were a little interesting. However, I've always been a fan of shows with that small element of 'everything could fall apart at any given moment', so no worries. The Dallas show was a nice paid rehearsal, meaning that the bar we played had a super friendly staff that took care of us and fed us well, but A) that venue just isn't meant for live music and B) outside of the few friends we brought, it was fairly empty. Take all of that into consideration with a shitty PA set up by one of the bar staff, and you get a so-so night that was good for working out the kinks with a new band.
Houston was markedly better, as Cottonwood is a big venue with pro sound and consistently good crowds, and our buddy Garner came out from Austin to open the show. Mitchell and I play with him as well (you'll notice a common theme developing, here), so we got to rock double duty that night. After the Houston show, we got to go home for about 12 hours to play an ACL Live show with Carson at the Moody Theater in Austin, opening for Jerry Jeff Walker... after which we hit the road again to drive through the night to Waverly AL. Maybe not the smartest tour routing, but SO VERY GODDAMN worth it for the incredible opportunity to play the Moody Theater. Somewhere around 3 or 4am, Porter and I got weird and pulled up all the 90's metal we could think of on Spotify, much to the chagrin of the sleeping bass and synth players in the back of the van. At Standard Deluxe, we met up with Caleb Caudle and his band, old friends of Porter's who split the bill with us. Such a cool venue... print shop by day, with two stages to host live music from time to time. We played the smaller room, which was like a tiny house that had been gutted and filled with a stage and seating, and it was packed. Shared some whiskey by the fire during Caleb's set, then headed over to Birmingham where we met Helen. She and Porter go way back, and she's an absolute sweetheart and great musician. Put us up for a few days and played with us at The Nick (and later in the week in Nashville). Man, shit got dark at the Nick... it's now joined my short list of favorite dive bars in the country (along with Sudsy Malone's in Cincinnati, and the White Horse in Austin, among others), but things definitely got dark that night. Without divulging too much detail, let's leave it as booze leading to personnel issues leading to a few awkward days following. It happens. On the bright side, Porter and I got weird again and listened to old school hip-hop for the majority of the drive out of Alabama.
The first Nashville show was great, the band actually got the night off while Porter played a song backed by a bunch of Nashville pros at an AMA showcase. Also got to see some rad songwriters like Aaron Lee Tasjan and Brian Wright do their thing. Back in Alabama, we learned the proper usage of the phrase 'Roll Tide', met up and shared a bill with Caleb's band again, AND managed to not come in last place at bar trivia before the show. Athens and Atlanta were both fun sets, but plagued by the dreaded curse of 'local openers that don't draw anyone to help out the touring band'... oh well. Plus side, we got to crash with Mitchell's Aunt and Cousin in Atlanta, who have put us up with other bands before and are always way too nice to us on the road.
The second Nashville show was OK, could have been awesome, but we were caught working with a 'sound tech' (aka bartender who happened to be available to set up mics and sit behind the board) who had been taking advantage of the free PBR's for one too many hours during the showcase. The Basement is a really cool little tiny venue, and the crowd was great, but bad sound led to a less-than-awesome show. Also, it took Domino's over TWO HOURS to get food delivered to us before the set, because, I don't know, directions are hard I guess. In Memphis, we met another touring band called Stoned Pony, and realized upon arrival that the club had booked three touring bands on it's two stages, with no local support. We ended up hanging out with the other band most of the night, played several rounds of Briscola, and generally made a shitty night into a great time. Stayed with a nice gal who turned out to be a crazy cat lady (upon entering her house, she warned -- "please be quiet, I have several elderly cats"), but she cooked us a rad dinner and we went bowling the next morning, so, y'know, good with the bad.
The last show of the tour was a great time, with our buddy Carson meeting up with us (she had been on her own solo run to Nashville for the AMA's) to open the show solo. Whitewater Tavern is such a great venue, I've been there a couple times this year and never had a bad show. By the end of the tour, only one of the wolf statues had been broken, and the wolf dreamcatcher and wolf lamp (with matching shade!!) ended up gracing our home back in Austin.
9/10 Common Table, Dallas TX
9/11 Cottonwood, Houston TX
9/13 Standard Deluxe, Waverly AL
9/14 The Nick, Birmingham AL
9/15 The Basement East, Nashville TN
9/16 Egan's Bar, Tuscaloosa AL
9/17 Caledonia Lounge, Athens GA
9/18 Red Light Cafe, Atlanta GA
9/19 AMA Showcase @ The Basement, Nashville TN
9/20 The Hi-Tone, Memphis TN
9/22 Whitewater Tavern, Little Rock AR
Good lord, the west coast is so great. I've visited a few times in the past, and toured to the left once before, but this run was so much fun. Funner than the most funnest fun, even.
This was Carson's third tour this year, and we had some slightly different personnel on board for this one. Because we hired a new lead player two days before hitting the road (Kirsten, who is a fine fiddle-ist and a goddamn sweetheart of a human being), some of the shows were a bit rough around the edges. So it goes. There were plenty of great shows, too, and the performance quality only got better as the tour progressed. Hood River and Fort Collins stand out as my favorite stops -- both well-attended with appreciative/rowdy crowds. The weather was near-perfect for the duration of the run, which broke our previous tradition of having rain every damn day on the road with Carson. Also, the scenery out west is fucking gorgeous, and it's such a trip to see several different landscapes over the course of one drive. For instance, driving into southern CA, you've got Mars-looking desert, mountains, then all this cool greenery, then you're at the beach. The northwest was especially beautiful (even though part of it was on fire), and I distinctly remember waking up on the drive across Washington to find us surrounded by forest which was all draped in the heavy fog. I'll never get over seeing all that empty space in the western states, it fascinates me every time. It's not at all uncommon to drive for 30 or 45 minutes (or more) without seeing a single sign of civilization. My favorite part -- driving through some empty landscape, when all of a sudden you see one random house up on a hill or out in the middle of nowhere, no neighbors in sight and far from anything that's not a tree or a bear or something. Those people know what's up with their housing choices.
One of the highlights of this tour was doing SO. MANY. ACTIVITIES. All too often, working on the road consists of: drive, show, sleep, drive, repeat. If you're lucky, there's a day off or short drive in there somewhere, leaving time (aside from the hour or two between load-in and downbeat) to get out and do stuff in the city you find yourself in for the day. So, we had a few days with short drives, and we did some rad shit. First, science'd it up at the McDonald Observatory in Ft Davis TX (thanks Maragaret!). Giant telescopes, and apparently one of the darkest skies in the country. Second, a tour/tasting at Fall Brewing in San Diego CA. Old friends of our bass player went and started a brewery, and were kind enough to let us sample tasty beers, hooked us up with shirts and shit, and filled up a few growlers for the road. Third, a tour of the DW Drums factory in Ventura CA. Brought to us courtesy of the boyfriend of a high school buddy of mine, we spent the afternoon nerding out (well, me at least) over seeing how drums are made and meeting some of the employees.. all of whom were so damned friendly and super-stoked on sharing their craft with us. Finally, a trip to the Humboldt University Marine Biology lab, courtesy of Mitchell's cousin. Saw some creepy sea critters, made friends with a starfish, and walked down to the beautiful northern CA coastline. Honorable mention: multiple bowling trips in Tucson and Denver.
The other equally-best part of our west coast trip was the friends and family we caught up with along the way. It's one of the perks of touring, getting to crash on your buddy's/uncle's/mom's couch and catch up, but this tour in particular was packed with family/friend times. We use the CouchSurfing website pretty regularly on tour, and have met some rad folks in the past that were kind enough to take us in, put us up, and show us a good time while on tour. However, between Mitchell, Carson and I, we had friends/family to stay with on all but 5 nights of the tour. That's pretty great. Started off with a beach trip with Mitchell's cousin in San Diego, the staying/hanging out with some of his Tacoma buddies after show (the brewery guys, above). They brought a few folks out to the show on a Monday night, and we found ourselves a fine dive bar and apartment rooftop patio to finish out the night. LA brought me a chance to catch up with my friend Lauren, who I haven't seen in probably ten years, and she's killing it as an actress out there. We also met up with Megan, one of my old HS band nerd friends, who hooked up a place to stay with her buddy Spivey at his sweet hilltop hut in Ventura. We met Mitchell's cousin in northern CA, and stayed with a great CouchSurfer fellow named Jesse, who was also a percussionist and music teacher. Oregon and Tacoma were a shitshow, and I mean that in the best way possible. Mitchell spent a few years in the area, and therefore had a ton of friends who came out to the shows and housed us for the weekend. Highlight of the Pacific Northwest was the Ashtray, a flophouse in Tacoma. We stayed two nights, and I never did figure out exactly how many people lived there. They share my affinity for whiskey, so we all got on just fine. Notable sights included Mitchell waking up in a french maid costume, and our friend Travis meeting us at a Korean BBQ joint wearing a gorilla costume. In Utah, we stayed with a friend of a friend named Shane, who helped us book the show there and shared his couches with us. Visited a few bars after the show, and met a Native American who bought me a drink because he liked my beard, was convinced that aliens exist, and left us with the great tour quote - "I'm not drunk, I'm homo erectus". The Colorado portion of the run had us hanging out in Mitchell's hometown, including a set at his brother's wedding. Got to take the 'whiskey tour' with Mitchell's dad, and all was right with the world. In Santa Fe, a fan of Carson's saw a facebook post mentioning that we needed a place to stay, and hooked us up with hotel where her husband was the manager. That night, I spent 4 dollars in a faulty vending machine trying to get one goddamn bag of Cheez-Its. Worth it? Finished out the run staying with Kirsten's folks in Dallas, they were nice enough to let us hang out for a few days, drink their beers and swim in their pool.
I keep telling people that you should never be nice to musicians, otherwise we'll keep coming back, or worse, never leave.
Finished out the run in Ft Worth, Carson and Kirsten left for Austin while Mitchell and I stayed behind to meet up with another band, but that's another story for another post. Cheers!
8/19 - Hard Luck Lounge, Austin TX
8/20 - Eve's Garden, Marathon TX
8/21 - High Sierra, Terlingua TX
8/23 - Monterey Court, Tucson AZ
8/24 - Tin Roof, San Diego CA
8/25 - Cinema Bar, Los Angeles CA
8/26 - Hotel Utah, San Fransisco CA
8/27 - Six Rivers Brewing Co, McKinleyville CA
8/28 - Trillium Cafe, Hood River OR
8/29 - Parkway Tavern IPA Fest, Tacoma WA
8/30 - North Pacific Coffee Co, Tacoma WA
8/31 - Great Pacific, Pendleton OR
9/2 - The Garage, Salt Lake City UT
9/3 - Cruisers Bar, Grand Junction CO
9/4 - Appaloosa Grill, Denver CO
9/5 - Tap and Handle, Ft Collins CO
9/6 - Private Party, Ft Collins CO
9/7 - Boxcar, Santa Fe NM
9/9 - Magnolia Motor Lounge, Ft Worth TX
For some time now, I've been meaning to start a written chronicle of my days at 'work' as a professional touring musician. Tour Blogs are fun to read, right? I've always thought so. Who knows, maybe a few folks will find similar interest/enjoyment in my stories that I've always found in following the adventures of my favorite bands.
I'm fortunate to be able to call playing music my day job. It's silly... traveling around the country, playing gigs and hanging out with some of my best friends, and that's my career. I try my best to keep that previous sentence in mind on the rough days, and suddenly the drive isn't so long, the venue isn't so shitty, and so on. Perspective!
So, bit of background - I've worked, to varying degrees, as a professional musician for the entirety of my adult life. In 2012 I relocated from Cincinnati, OH, to Austin, TX, for a teaching job. I'd always wanted to teach music in Texas (and the time I spent in public schools here was absolutely fantastic), though a pleasant side-effect of the move was getting in on the wealth of performance opportunities that Austin had to offer. Within a couple years, I got so busy playing that I was able to take a break from teaching work and support myself with music as a career. Don't worry kids, I still teach a little when I'm in town, and am sure that I'll return to the profession full-time at some point down the road.
2015 has been the best/busiest year yet as far as gigs go -- by the end of the year, I'll have played just over 200 shows, with around 150 of those being on the road. Had some really incredible opportunities to play big shows like Auditorium Shores during SXSW (in the rain...), a run of theater shows opening for Shakey Graves, and opening an ACL show for Jerry Jeff Walker at The Moody Theater. The various bands that I tour with have visited 34 states and 2 Canadian provinces (eh!), and the upcoming new year isn't shaping up to be any different. I love it.
It's my goal to update this blog during/after every tour for the upcoming infinite while. Hope you enjoy reading about this stuff as much as I've enjoyed living it. Cheers!
PS - If you're curious, here are links to the bands/songwriters who hired me to go on the road this year. They're all fantastic, you should like them and give them lots of money.
Jackie Myers Band