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September 11, 2009 Amongst 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,roadsideamerica.com. 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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