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