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September 13, 2009 emblemiTunes/CDBaby links, and pictures from the road!

Hello all- no blog today but much news!

First of all, the album is now available on iTunes and CDBaby!

And you can still get a physical copy by ordering straight from Alive and Well Records.

Also, it’s about time I fess up and admit…the current tour is as much a tour as it is a road trip (hey I’m a one-man band, I can do that). I’ve been exploring National Parks and seeing old friends all over the place between gigs, and you can check out some of the pictures I’ve taken here:

Tour of Retreat photos, part I

Meanwhile I’ll be keeping the blog pretty musical. Maybe someday I’ll be real verbose and have a separate travel blog (eek).

Thanks for keeping up- see you next in San Francisco on the 29th!


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September 11, 2009 emblemAmongst Conifers (Hailey to Tacoma)

There is a parallel in Idaho- the farther North you go, the more interesting the landscape gets (to a point). Hailey, Idaho was quaint, quiet, and the Sun Valley Brewery treated me like a king with fresh brews, enchiladas, and general goodwill. I played two long sets, one of which was full of songs I hadn’t played in ages…”Join the Light” and “Saints and Soldiers” from theDisaster Stories EP, the ones that got stuck between the cracks (“Emery’s Exile”), outtakes from the record, old Cardinal Heart tunes, and even a few covers (have you listened to thatAdem record yet?) Felt good to have the time and space to give the quieter songs the attention they deserve, and I was surprised by how a few of them still felt vital. Drank a few more beers than I’m accustomed to these days (the amber was my favorite), so sleep came easy at a friend’s house that night.

Skip ahead past a week of camping and hiking in the National Parks, and I’m in Seattle for a show at Nectar Lounge. Great venue- liked it right off the bat, from the friendly staff to the retro-rusted sign out front in the courtyard. The Fremont neighborhood- which is said to be the center of the universe, or so the signs would have you believe- gave me good memories that day, and although the crowd was sparse (Tuesday night), I sold some merch to the few in attendance and saw the giant Fremont Troll thanks to my new best travelling companion, I’m curious to see what sights they have for Asheville on there- amongst the things I searched for in Seattle were a mysterious monolith in Magnuson Park (did not find, but I did end up in a blackberry patch, prompting me to eat about a pound of them on the spot), a tow truck shaped like a foot (toe truck), and a large silver rocket right around the corner from Nectar.

I have slept with my guitar at least 4 times this trip so far.

Checked out the EMP once more- I have a distinct memory of Dylan piquing my interest for the first time here back in 2003, though it would be another 2 years before I followed it. Actually my 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Bowman was the first person I remember to tell me about him, in particular dissecting “Mr. Tambourine Man” as a drug dealer metaphor (it’s got to be more than that)- but I was years away from being ready for Bob.

Onto Tacoma, WA- the home of my lovely Neko Case. I drove through here once years ago, and was told about the ‘Tacoma Aroma’ which permeates the city limits- and I can safely say it hasn’t gone away! A mix between your typical paper mill smog and your redneck neighbor’s dirty basement. But once you’re there for 10 minutes you don’t notice it anymore.

Drove past the Java Jive, which I had been told was a ‘legendary dive’ in the shape of a tea kettle (pictured above). Great, I thought, one of these gigs. But in reality the dive was matched by kitschy charm and the atmosphere was made good by some outgoing locals that I met in the parking lot. I drank some pop (root), which I’ve been putting down more than the real stuff on this tour (or this stuff)- trading one vice for another, I guess. Luke Stevens opened up the night and played through an old boutique amp and I played a shorter set to an attentive group of his friends and general wanderers of the Northwest. Neko did not show, but Luke did play ‘Moonshiner’- my favorite Dylan track- which was, strangely, the second show I’ve played this year where someone played that song. Good renditions, both times, and since I lost my copy of my favorite version, it was nice to get a refresher and sing along.

2 days later I saw the Pacific for the first time.

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September 1, 2009 emblemCan I stand the quiet? (Minneapolis to Logan)

The buildings of St. Paul, MN were clean but seemed more like dioramas or cardboard cutouts than real architecture. Nevertheless, I felt good here- ever since crossing the Mississippi earlier in the day, I had grown a little more (if not overly) sensitive to my surroundings- perhaps us fish are more vulnerable near the headwaters of such a national artery.

That night, I checked out the science museum and played a great gig at the Hexagon Bar in Minneapolis- highlights were the tribal trip of Daughters of the Sun and the high octaneBouncer Fighter. Lots of energy, lots of people. Good show.

Iowa was about what I expected. Fun to drive around in the country (not as flat as you’d think) but Des Moines didn’t offer me much. I played Hull Avenue Tavern to some hip folks who politely asked me after my set, “Why are you here?” I was told to go to Ames or Iowa City next time for a more receptive audience.  Okay! Done. Not a lot of loveloss leaving the Midwest, though my hosts had awesome Huskies.

Nebraska was long so Sean Penn read me Dylan’s Chronicles. Experienced a terrifying storm in my tent in the plains that night, but made it to Colorado dry. The Rockies and the locals I met blew my mind…I began to understand the term ecstatic peace. I saw my first tumbleweed, etc. The amazement was repeated as I drove through Glenwood Canyon, southern Utah, Arches and Canyonlands, and finally into Salt Lake, where my energy and morale levels bottomed out a bit.

SLC didn’t come easy for me- the sound was way off during the show and gas money wasn’t even made (despite there being 40-50 people there) – threw me off for the rest of my time there. However, Chris from Elegant Curses had a very interesting self-made Korg key-tar thing (pictured below) and it was fun to watch him make it sing. Enjoyed meeting the people in SLC but had to leave the next day in a rush (after hours of obligatory Internetting).

The desert had dried me out. Upon entering it above Moab, my defenses had shifted- I was in such unfamiliar territory- I started to get dry in the mouth and making sure my resources were in check. Allthisspace was starting to re-align my senses, and it was unsettling for a few days.

A wonderful part of touring is how sudden events or strangers can revive you. Logan, Utah was just that for me- walking downtown in Mormon central, I immediately met several kind souls who returned me to my optimism. The show was great that night at Why Sound, a combination venue and studio- a young crowd listened attentively as I sang my tunes for the first time in a few days, but what had seemed like an eon. They were alive again! “Dodger” was louder than ever. Sold more CDs than I had any other night of the tour.

Many conversations with my hosts about Mormonism and Joseph Smith that night, and into the morning. Led me to make a tee-shirt to piss off the locals, as well as the above shrine.

And again, I ventured into the Northern latitudes…

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