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May 10, 2009 Spring tour update #2

Left Maine in hopes that the way back down south would be a little less disastrous than the way up. Took a scenic route to Burlington- I only get so many chances to drive through the White Mountains these days. I miss New England!

In Burlington I played with my good friends Villanelles and their buddy, the one-man band Parmaga. We played in a TINY coffee shop and packed it, to the point that it felt like I was playing with everyone else in the room. Pretty intimate. Villanelles have only gotten better since I last saw them, and watching Parmaga was probably the closest I’ve come to watching my own set- his sounds were more electronic than mine, and he had a higher vocal range than me, but the idea was very similar.

The next day I tried to avoid my computer (difficult- I am an addict) as we set up for a friend’s birthday party. I had to leave just as things were getting rolling- some Pollock-esque paint splattering (which ties in with the theme of the Contrary EP for those of you with a copy), men in dresses, lawn geese turned flamingo…

Along the way to Connecticut my ears had the pleasure of soaking in a record by Julie Doiron, which I listened to 3 times in a row- something I rarely do. Rural Vermont is a nice place. I wish I could’ve spent more time trying to find Neko Case’s barn in Montpelier, but alas, my time on the road is limited.

The venue that night-Cousin Larry’s- smelled a bit like a bowling alley but the employees were gracious. The bar crowd was typically apathetic and the bands were quite a mismatch, but like any other gig I played my ass off. Walked the streets of Danbury after- a city I used to mallshop at as a kid- a reminder that things have changed (for the better!)

Stayed with family in nearby Mt. Kisco and spent the next day in a coffee shop working on booking shows for the big summer/fall tour (it has begun!)- it was rainy outside anyway. On the drive to Philly I attempted something I had never tried before- peeing in a bottle while driving- couldn’t do it- stage fright or something. Crossed the ghostly Tappan Zee and thankfully the fog covered up the view to the city.

Philadelphia is a city I’ve only known in bits and pieces over the years. I continued my fragmented unraveling of it that evening by exploring the Old City for the first time. Had a delicious slice of pizza on Market Street and managed to get a parking ticket almost immediately upon stopping the car. Played the Khyber (which the man himself Iggy Pop had played only years before) to a good crowd, but some bureaucratic nonsense at the end of the show left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I will spare you the details. Some highlights though: Jamie Harrison’s guitarist smashed his axe at the end of their set (I thought that the move immediately justified his gold-laced jacket and sunglasses), Pitom’s drummer’s facial expressions, and on and on…

I hydroplaned my way across the state to Pittsburgh the following day, unaware of the ridiculous toll that awaited me on the other side (20 fucking dollars- worse than its Jersey counterpart that I try so hard to avoid). As it poured nonstop the entire day, I talked with a friend who was in the middle of the desert in Nevada and laughed at the contrast. Soon enough I will be in the desert too, I had to remind myself.

Entering Pittsburgh gave me the feel of my grandmother’s basement- full of useful but outdated things, all boxed up. The gig at Garfield was a lot of fun though- quite unexpected for a Monday night gig. It was just the type of crowd you want- maybe not the biggest but one where 100% of the people there came to listen to music (and buy CDs!). Renewed my faith a little bit after a financially strenuous tour. I talked Vindell’s ear off about their record- they had it available only on flash drives. I’ve heard about this but never known anyone to be actually doing it. Very cool-  expect my record to be available like that this summer.

Pittsburgh didn’t make me feel claustrophobic like most cities do- I took that as a good sign. Learned about an interesting character in John Fetterman- the mayor of a small PA town called Braddock who’s trying to build his city back from the brink using art installations as economic stimuli (amongst other things). The dude is like 6’8″ and a beast too. Wikipedia that dude.

Drove through more rain that day, into the innards of WV and out to Virginia, where I arrived in Lynchburg. Ate at a delicious Peruvian restaurant called Macchu Picchu- treated myself to an expensive meal for once instead of skipping it altogether. Played to only a few people at Speakertree Records that evening, but Kurt Heasley from Lilys ended up playing after me- he had just returned from opening for My Bloody Valentine the night before. What a change for him. Good people all around though, and once I found out he had sang on Neko Case’s new record, I had to talk him up. A very unique personality.

Stayed in a former crackden-turned transient artist abode owned by a Hackensaw Boy that night with the owner of Speakertree, Blair Amberley. Blair and his girlfriend have an admirable vision for the city of Lynchburg- much like Fetterman, they’re attempting to inject art into a somewhat artless city. A brave odyssey indeed.

More rain driving to Asheville the next day, where I discovered that someone had stolen my hammock while on tour. The tour of theft.

Thursday night I opened for Bowerbirds and La Strada at the Rocket Club in Asheville. It was the first day there had been consistent sun since I left Maine, so I was in a good mood and played an energetic set to a willing crowd. The other bands were great, the mood was jovial, and Phil from Bowerbirds ended the night by doing a version of my favorite Dylan song, “Moonshiner”- the last lines of the night-the tour- were sung aptly:

the whole world’s a bottle/but life is but a dram

when the bottle gets empty/it sure ain’t worth a damn

Amen. Thanks for being a part.


ps- see all the pictures from the tour here

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