Category Archives: TOUR DIARY

The Green Pajamas And Boatclub Tour Diary, Part 1

greenPajamasDay1Touring the U.S. in the chill of December is always problematic, unless you’ve decided to play only in Florida and California and have access to dad’s Learjet to get from the land of orange juice to the Golden State. You’d think MAGNET’s Jud Cost, a grizzled veteran of the music wars, would have figured that out before he volunteered to accompany his old friends in the Green Pajamas and boatclub on a short Portland-to-Seattle jaunt and write about what went down. But with visions of Tom Wolfe and Ken Kesey shepherding the Grateful Dead in 1965 flashing in his head, the lure may have been irresistible. Formed in 1982 by Jeff Kelly and Joe Ross when they discovered a mutual love of the Beatles’ “Rain,” the Green Pajamas have been on the scene longer than any current Seattle band. Their admirable endurance can be credited both to a steady stream of fine albums created mainly by Kelly and the fact they play out only a handful of times each year. Oakland’s boatclub features both guitarists from ’80s Paisley Underground stalwarts Rain Parade, Matt Piucci and John Thoman. They also boast an excellent third stringbender, Mark Hanley, who formerly accompanied onetime Quicksilver Messenger Service vocalist Dino Valenti, as well as drummer Stephan Junca, who (like Piucci) occasionally plays with Crazy Horse bassist Billy Talbot. Read Cost’s recent Green Pajamas Q&A.

The Green Pajamas’ “Any Way The Wind Blows” (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Thursday, December 3
The weather forecast for Oregon and Washington early this morning was dismal as boatclub (no caps, no definite article, and they’re from Oakland, godammit, not San Francisco!) took off for a short tour of the great frozen Pacific Northwest to hook up with our buddies from Seattle, the Green Pajamas. Because even a rental mini-van was deemed too expensive for this budget-minded caravan, we decided to do the tour Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria-style with three of our personal vehicles. Since the jaunt was also to be a tribute to the Johnny Appleseed-like, LSD-greening of Oregon more than 40 years ago by the Merry Pranksters (writer Ken Kesey, former Jack Kerouac sidekick Neal Cassady, the peachfuzzed Grateful Dead and others) who daubed an old school bus with dayglo paint, dubbed it “FURTHUR” and aimed it north, we all assumed code names for the duration. Former Rain Parade guitarist Matt Piucci was “Jerry,” guitarist Mark Hanley was “Weir,” drummer Stephan Junca was “Bill the Drummer” and another ex-Rain Parade guitarist, John Thoman, was “Lesh.” I was “Kesey,” so I had to bring a notepad and pen and try to remain upright to make some sense of our voyage. Hanley rode shotgun with Piucci in his white Palm Beach-gangster “Big Pussy” LTD limo (limited to only 10 million); Junca and I lit out in my dark-red Mini Cooper; while Thoman and his wife Rachel lagged behind as most of the gear was stowed in his boxy little metallic green Honda Element. Junca and I tried to get the rest to pull over in Redding, 300 miles to the north, for a leisurely Thai lunch. But no, the siren’s song of fast food was too much for Piucci and Hanley who gulped something down in Weed, Calif. (“I knew you’d stop there. You’re so predictable!” I railed at Piucci on the cell.)  About 20 miles south of Portland (and 670 miles into our journey), as the temperature dipped into the low-20s, the tour was almost scuppered before it began. Stuck in the fast lane with a concrete barricade directly on my left, I attempted to pass a speeding 18-wheel juggernaut in the number-two lane. Just before I reached the midpoint of the maneuver, the trucker signaled and began to pull into my lane for reasons known only to him. With nowhere to go, we were about to be smashed like a mosquito as he inched ever closer (or worse still, swatted over the barricade like a badminton birdie into oncoming traffic). Without thinking, I slammed on my brakes, didn’t get rear-ended by the astute driver behind me and eased backward out of the danger zone just as the dimwitted trucker completed his lane change. Capt. Sully Sullenberger probably couldn’t have done it much better. We were too rattled to see if there was a “How’s My Driving?” sign with an 800 number on the back of his truck. We arrived at the beautiful, prairie-style home of Matt’s brother, Portland attorney Steve Piucci and his wife Melissa Powers, just in time to watch what was one of the biggest sporting events in Oregon history: the annual Civil War college football classic between Oregon and Oregon State, with the winner tabbed to play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. The Oregon Ducks, wearing one of their myriad mix ‘n’ match uniforms, finally prevailed over the black-and-orange clad Oregon State Beavers to nab the roses. As an ice rink grows overnight on the deck outside, we dream of balmy Pasadena far to the south.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

God’s Pottery Tour Diary, Part 5

7_Menomonie550

God’s Pottery is a New York-based Christian singing duo that achieved national recognition via its appearance last year on the TV show Last Comic Standing. Jeremiah Smallchild and Gideon Lamb spread their gospel through original songs such as “The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” and “Jesus I Need A Drink.” Not content to testify just with its music, God’s Pottery decided to write a teen survival guide that would speak to today’s youth, Christian or otherwise. What Would God’s Pottery Do?: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Your Teens And/Or Being Successful! (Three Rivers Press) tackles the tough issues, including acne, deafness, evolution and the evils lurking on the Internet. Smallchild and Lamb recently toured the U.S. and kept a tour bible, er, diary for MAGNET. And remember, kids: virginity rocks!

“The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Menomonie, Wisc., November 22
We drove up from Madison to Menomonie for our show at the Mabel Tainter Center For The Arts. Menomonie is a lovely old lumber town that is now home to a small university and is surrounded by fertile farmland. The Mabel Tainter is to theaters what sugar-free gum is to gum: awesome. Tim opened the show and had a great set, and then he brought us on, and we were jazzed to see a full house!!! Then we saw a bunch of old friends and family at our “afterglow” downstairs. It was a wonderful show and a perfect end to the tour. Here’s a photo with Tim and us in the front row and Adrianne, Pinckney, Susan, Jane and Bob in the back!

We flew back to NYC from the Minneapolis airport the next day, and on the way back, Jeremiah noticed something out the window and said, “Look Gideon! A rainbow!” (See photo after the jump.)

And Gideon said, “Hold on a second. Considering where we are, that’s a plane-bow!” And we had a good laugh. And then the guy in our row laughed, too, but it sounded different from our laughter. It was like he didn’t want us to see him laughing, and like he was laughing at someone rather than something.

It was a great tour, and we look forward to a whole lot more “road time” soon!

Read More »

Posted in TOUR DIARY | Comments closed

God’s Pottery Tour Diary, Part 4

6_Rhonda

God’s Pottery is a New York-based Christian singing duo that achieved national recognition via its appearance last year on the TV show Last Comic Standing. Jeremiah Smallchild and Gideon Lamb spread their gospel through original songs such as “The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” and “Jesus I Need A Drink.” Not content to testify just with its music, God’s Pottery decided to write a teen survival guide that would speak to today’s youth, Christian or otherwise. What Would God’s Pottery Do?: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Your Teens And/Or Being Successful! (Three Rivers Press) tackles the tough issues, including acne, deafness, evolution and the evils lurking on the Internet. Smallchild and Lamb recently toured the U.S. and kept a tour bible, er, diary for MAGNET. And remember, kids: virginity rocks!

“The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Madison, Wisc., November 21
With Tim driving the car, we hit the road for Madison. We stopped in Wilmette, Ill., on our way to visit our friend Kyle, who has a huge dog. (See photo after the jump.)

Kyle calls his dog “Mr. Smith,” which shows immense respect for this immense dog. We enjoyed some soup and mini-pizzas (thanks, Kyle!), and then it was time to get moving because there’s a saying in show business: “If you’re gonnna be late, you may as well forget about coming at all, because everyone will be so mad at you.”

We rolled into Madison around 5:30 p.m. and saw the lovely capitol building right away—easy to spot because it stands proud, white and rotund, like Rush Limbaugh. We had two shows that night at a place called The Project Lodge, but they may as well have called it “The Smile Factory” when we were done! (We were also thinking they might change the name of the city from Madison to Glad-ison!) Also, we got to meet our Facebook friend, Rhonda!

We had taken a picture for Rhonda at an earlier show, but this time we got to take a picture with Rhonda, which included the picture we had taken for Rhonda from before!!! It was her birthday, and we were so happy to celebrate it with her!!!

Read More »

Posted in TOUR DIARY | Comments closed

God’s Pottery Tour Diary, Part 3

4lakeshore

God’s Pottery is a New York-based Christian singing duo that achieved national recognition via its appearance last year on the TV show Last Comic Standing. Jeremiah Smallchild and Gideon Lamb spread their gospel through original songs such as “The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” and “Jesus I Need A Drink.” Not content to testify just with its music, God’s Pottery decided to write a teen survival guide that would speak to today’s youth, Christian or otherwise. What Would God’s Pottery Do?: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Your Teens And/Or Being Successful! (Three Rivers Press) tackles the tough issues, including acne, deafness, evolution and the evils lurking on the Internet. Smallchild and Lamb recently toured the U.S. and kept a tour bible, er, diary for MAGNET. And remember, kids: virginity rocks!

“The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Chicago, November 19
Chicago is “[our] kind of city,” as Frank Sinatra sang! Chicago is so friendly that it even says “hi” in its name! (C-hi-cago!) You might be surprised to find out that Chicago is not that windy despite its nickname, the Windy City, but it does have plenty of broad-shouldered people, which fits its other nickname, the City of the Broad-Shouldered People.

Our first stop was at the Old Navy-brand Pier by the ocean to record a segment for The Sound Of Young America! Our host, Jesse Thorn, was actually in Los Angeles, but they used “technology” to make it sound like we were in the same room! We were worried that this was dishonest and would trick listeners needlessly, but they told us that maybe we should just focus on helping the Youth and let them focus on the public-radio business. Fair enough!

After the radio “sesh,” we went to a diner and had a healthful pre-show meal—including sweet-and-sour cabbage soup (delicious!)—and then it was on to the beautiful Lakeshore Theater! We did our “sound check” (when you make sure all the equipment works and there’s enough bottled water onstage), and then our friend and opening act Tim Harmston showed up and it was time for the show! We had a fun audience and made some new friends. Here is a picture of the marquee on the theater from that night.

We were very happy to share the marquee with our good friend Glenn Wool, who was performing the next night, but not so happy about the Intergalactic Sex Rodeo. Rodeos are OK, but Sex Rodeos are just trouble-on-a-stick, and when you introduce other galaxies and probably lasers into the mix, well then it’s clearly not a good idea! (We also didn’t like the possible interpretation that God’s Pottery and Glenn Wool might combine to form an Intergalactic Sex Rodeo.)

Posted in TOUR DIARY | Comments closed

God’s Pottery Tour Diary, Part 2

2_PingPong

God’s Pottery is a New York-based Christian singing duo that achieved national recognition via its appearance last year on the TV show Last Comic Standing. Jeremiah Smallchild and Gideon Lamb spread their gospel through original songs such as “The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” and “Jesus I Need A Drink.” Not content to testify just with its music, God’s Pottery decided to write a teen survival guide that would speak to today’s youth, Christian or otherwise. What Would God’s Pottery Do?: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Your Teens And/Or Being Successful! (Three Rivers Press) tackles the tough issues, including acne, deafness, evolution and the evils lurking on the Internet. Smallchild and Lamb recently toured the U.S. and kept a tour bible, er, diary for MAGNET. And remember, kids: virginity rocks!

“The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Bellingham, Wash., November 6
We arrived in Bellingham on a rainy Friday afternoon. (Rainy in the Pacific Northwest?! What?!!!!) But the rain didn’t get us down because we were so excited to stay with Jeremiah’s cousin Veronica and her family! On our way up to Bellingham, Jeremiah was playing around and joking that we should call it “Hamming-Bell” and “Hemming-Ball.” And then Gideon said, “Yeah, or maybe ‘Helling-Bam!’” And then we both realized how dangerous that was because it incorporated the word “H*ll” in the name, and a H*lling-Bam would actually be quite frightening. So we stopped joking at that point and just focused on the road.

We went straight to Jeremiah’s cousin Veronica’s house, which is perched high on a bluff overlooking Bellingham Bay, which is quite picturesque. I bet the first people to settle there thought, “Yep, this looks like the place. It’s super beautiful here. Plus, we’ve got one of the ‘corner booths’ of the USA!” We rested up for our show, which was good because we needed the extra energy to interact with this crowd! We also needed the extra energy because they had ping-pong backstage. But not very many nutritious snacks. (See photo after the jump.)

We had a lovely audience at the Nightlight Lounge that seemed to embrace our message and experience a real L&L (“Laugh & Learn” ™). Everyone had a great time, including us. There is plenty of vim in Bellingham! (And also granola!)

Read More »

Posted in TOUR DIARY | Comments closed

God’s Pottery Tour Diary, Part 1

1_ChopSueyGod’s Pottery is a New York-based Christian singing duo that achieved national recognition via its appearance last year on the TV show Last Comic Standing. Jeremiah Smallchild and Gideon Lamb spread their gospel through original songs such as “The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” and “Jesus I Need A Drink.” Not content to testify just with its music, God’s Pottery decided to write a teen survival guide that would speak to today’s youth, Christian or otherwise. What Would God’s Pottery Do?: The Ultimate Guide To Surviving Your Teens And/Or Being Successful! (Three Rivers Press) tackles the tough issues, including acne, deafness, evolution and the evils lurking on the Internet. Smallchild and Lamb recently toured the U.S. and kept a tour bible, er, diary for MAGNET. And remember, kids: virginity rocks!

“The Pants Come Off When The Ring Goes On” (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Seattle, November 5
Our tour began in Seattle. Or as we like to call it, “Our favorite city with a two-stop monorail!” Now, we’re not trying to boast, but when we travel, we often stay in hotels … and have our own beds! Such was the case in Seattle, so before heading out for the “gig,” we dropped our stuff off and made good use of the complimentary coffee machine and water fountain.

Then, it was off to Chop Suey, which sounds like either a delicious restaurant or rollicking Jackie Chan movie but is actually a music and comedy club! Of course, for our show it was a music club. (We’re not really comedians, though we do like to have fun along with our teachings.) There was a big weather system moving through Seattle that night, and we actually almost got caught in a hailstorm! This led to a fun game of other rhyming storms it might be fun to get caught in. Gideon suggested a “whalestorm,” but Jeremiah counseled him that that could actually be quite dangerous, what with all the whales falling from the sky. We decided that a “malestorm” might be the best, since it’s always great to chill with the guys and just “let it all hang out.”

We had a great show to kick off the tour and really got through to some of the Youth in attendance! Just look at this photo! Talk about making a difference!

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

The Ettes Tour Diary

Ettesgroup

The Ettes may be based in Nashville, but they are self-described rock ‘n’ roll gypsies. The quartet—vocalist/guitarist Coco Hames, bassist Jem Cohen, drummer Poni Silver and new guitarist Johnny (who doesn’t seem to have a last name)—recently got in the van for a month-long stint opening for Juliette Lewis in support of third album Do You Want Power (Take Root) and its contribution to the Whip It soundtrack. Hames kept a tour diary.

“No Home” (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Orlando, Fla., September 26
It is really fun to ham it up at your hometown shows, and since I was born and raised in a suburb of Orlando (which explains my suicidal teen years and complete Disney-fied distortion of reality), Orlando is a hometown show for me. I get to see all of my family and drink way too much with my old friends, and that is par for the course. Thing about us, though, as rock ‘n’ roll gypsies, we’ve got so many hometowns: New York, Lost Angeles, Asheville, N.C. Poni’s folks live down in south Florida, where we also played, and I will say, the folks down at the Culture Room totally have a guest nook for parents, since a lot of rocker parents live down there. Class act! We gave the van to a mechanic and hopped a plane to Los Angeles. But not before eating Poni’s mom’s empanadas.

Los Angeles, September 29
We’re in Los Angeles for the premiere of Whip It, the lovely and talented Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut featuring Ellen Page, Zoe Bell and Juliette Lewis, among others. It is really fun. The premiere is held at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. I dress up like a roller-derby referee (total fashion-fart coincidence, I just choke when there’s a red carpet involved), and the movie is great! The after-party is a star-studded affair (Judd Apatow! Ed Norton! Steven Spielberg!), and I make only a moderate ass of myself running up to Andrew Wilson to say how much I like him. And he is really nice and says, “You’re not from around here, are you?” because I have a Southern accent, and the smartest thing I can come up with? “I’m from space!!” and grabbing Poni’s arm and running away. Smooooooth.

I go back to the hotel, but Poni takes a taxi to her friend’s house and notices the meter is at $50. Poni is from Queens. She says, “No, sir, I don’t think that’s correct.” It starts that simply. It ends with her getting thrown up against the wall and her purse being stolen. By the cab driver. We know where you park your car, middle-aged Armenian cab-driver man on the east side of Los Angeles. It is a matter of time before we return, stake you out and fuck you up.

To cosmically make up for that, the next morning we get word that we are to perform on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on Friday, so we fly back to Orlando, get our van down from the repair rafters and drive straight up to New York City!

New York City, October 2
On several days’ no sleep, jacked up on Dunkin Donuts coffee (mmmm most of the time, by this point it was like, “Take your medicine! Drink your energy juice!“), we roll up to NBC Studios at 7 a.m. on Friday morning. We load out, park the van and hang out in our dressing room at Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. The hallways of NBC are just what they look like on 30 Rock (or in the Simpsons’ characterization of what the offices of Mad magazine might look like), with really interesting artists and writers scooting down the hallways. In one upward glance from my seat on the couch in our dressing room, I see Andrew Shue, Lorne Michaels and A.D. Miles, about whom I am so excited and nervous, I can’t say hi! I can say hi to Lorne Michaels but not A.D. Miles? What a jerk! I am just too excited, you know. I guess you can run into a lot of celebrities in the rock ‘n’ roll business, and most people you recognize and your mind goes, “Cool out, they’re simply talented working professionals and you say, ‘Oh yes hello, how do you do,’ and you just say, ‘Oh, we’re all just working professionals.'” The grind, you know… But there you have it: Coco mega starstruck by A.D. Miles.

Trusting the engineers at NBC is a pretty easy thing to do, especially when you’re standing next to the awesome Roots, who seem very comfortable, so we knock out “Crown Of Age” live on Jimmy Fallon (you can watch it on NBC.com) and have a blast. So. Much. Fun.

Madison, Wisc., October 4
We haul ass from New York to Wisconsin to catch up with the tour with Juliette Lewis and American Bang, and it is fun to be on the road again. By this point, we are officially zombies, which just adds to that lawless feeling you get when you’re on the road, playing rock ‘n’ roll music. So we are quite giddy, actually. The Madison roller girls come out to the show: the Reservoir Dolls, if you want to look them up. The Ettes are in such strong support of roller derby, and Poni and I would rock that shiz so hardcore if we weren’t always on the road. Not that we don’t roller skate and hit each other. Poni says her roller-derby name is Helen Of Destroy. I think I’d still be Coco Motion. Git, git, git gone. I’m fuckin’ fast on skates.

Boulder, Colo., October 6
Boulder is one of those weird towns. Hey, college towns, do you know that you’re weird? I’m talking to you Gainesville, Fla., and Chapel Hill, N.C. And Boulder, Colo. Although, while it’s not necessarily an insult, if you enjoy the weirdness of your college town, you’re probably someone who rocks a bumper sticker that reads “Keep  Weird!” And that is OK—you be you. You are youer than you, that is truer than true, and there ain’t nobody who can be youer than you. Really cool theater in Boulder—digging that creepy bar at the end of the block with the super low ceilings. And there is a super weird (keeping with the theme) “green” motel where we stayed that has a killer breakfast with ’50s hits rocking, really pepping us up and putting us in a good mood! Thank you!

Salt Lake City, Utah, October 7
Two facts about Salt Lake City: 1) Yes, extremely bizarre booze laws and watered-down beer (how dare you??) and 2) consistently rockin’ shows! We always have a good (or at least memorably interesting) time in Salt Lake City. Totally crazy metal venue (what is with metal venues? And I love metal! WTF … ) and really amazing crazy people. I am selling merch and this guy is like, “How much for the CD?” I am closing up, so I say, “Ohhhh whatever you want to give.” And he gives me this look and hands me a $100 bill. I’m like, “No sir! No way!” but he won’t take it back! We eat like kings! We love you, Salt Lake City! So much that Johnny hits the dance floor at the Sky Lounge Hotel bar!

Seattle, October 9
There are few towns I love as much as Seattle for good food, nice people and awesome shows. But I can say with absolute certainty that El Corazón in Seattle is the least fun we’ve ever had at a show—ever. Do you know what that means? Of the last five years on the road, of asshole promoters stiffing us on money, of getting gear stolen, of getting punched in the face by drunks at the bar, of getting electrocuted onstage, of shitty sound and shittier beer … you suck, El Corazón. Suck. You still rule, Seattle; we don’t hold that shit venue against you. We hold our bodies against you, in deeply passionate love. We’re sending this guy after El Corazón, though.

Portland, Ore., October 10
As much as El Corazón in Seattle sucks, Dante’s in Portland rules! And yes, we do get the doughnuts. We get all kinds of doughnuts. There’s an awesome doughnut shop across from Dante’s, and which was the group favorite? The maple frosted doughnut with bacon on top. There are some obscene sounds coming from the van when the Ettes eat that one. We hear sounds from each other that make us all uncomfortable. In that way. Speaking of doughnuts, here’s Poni stealing DJ Jelly Donut’s costume.

Vancouver, B.C., October 11
Bronchitis/H1N1/swine/bird/SARS flu strikes the Ettes on our way into beautiful Vancouver, but that doesn’t stop us from enjoying all the marvels of the city, including the delightful venue of the Commodore Ballroom. Such a great space, and the people are so awesome. Feel a bit protective of Juliette when the super excited fan keeps screaming, “Mallory! Mallory!” which, I can tell you, doesn’t happen that often on tour. She puts her feathers on and gets into the rock ‘n’ roll space machine and you better hold on tight!

San Francisco, October 13
San Francisco has a lot of things going for it. The food is the best in the country (watch yo’ back, NYC!) and it is just so incredibly beautiful. There’s a lot of passion and madness in the air (it’s all those microclimates from the Bay!) and we feel the vibe at Slim’s: another great time. We eat Mexican food. We rock and roll. Inspired by Juliette’s mad stage moves, I do a ballet-inspired leap off the back steps into the upwardly stretched arms of a guy I don’t know. I do not fall down! Excellent!

Los Angeles, October 17
Remember how I said we have a lot of hometowns? Los Angeles is one of them, since the Ettes met and lived there for, like, three years. Los Angeles knows a lot about us; Angelenos watched the Ettes grow up. If you can call us grown ups now … But it is always fun to come rock L.A., and the El Rey is certainly no exception. Another fun thing about L.A.: Actors you know from the movies and television come to the show! Poni and Steve (from the Sarah Silverman Program, among other illustrious productions) get very excited about each other! Then I get excited! Then I think I scare Ellen Page. Ellen, tell me if we freak you out. Well, I don’t know, we always go to the Drawing Room; it’s a scary place! But we all know the most important thing about L.A. …

Posted in TOUR DIARY | Comments closed

Clare And The Reasons Tour Diary

claretourThough Clare And The Reasons are decidedly European in style and sound, the group is based in Brooklyn. The band—multi-instrumentalists Clare and Olivier Manchon (pictured), Bob Hart and Benjamin Lanz—recently toured North America with the Vic Chesnutt Band, and while some artists claim to be DIY, Clare And The Reasons take the do-it-yourself spirit to a new level. For this tour, the band designed and sewed its stage outfits and brought along two hot plates to cook its own food. Hell, the band even raised the money to be able to tour at all. While out on the road supporting Arrow (Frog Stand), Clare kept a tour diary for MAGNET.

“Ooh You Hurt Me So” (download):

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Baltimore, October 29
It was our first time playing Baltimore. We rolled into town from Philly and had hours to spare, so we saw Where The Wild Things Are. We all decided that it felt like a long music video, which makes sense. We wanted to love it, but ultimately, it didn’t stick with us. We found a health-food store in true Clare And The Reasons fashion and got some veggies, cheese and turkey for dinner. We actually brought a double stove top on tour to cook. A company called Alter Eco gave us a bunch of quinoa, rices of different kinds, olive oil, coffee, tea and loads of chocolate to wash away our troubles. It’s a great company and as fair trade as trade can be. We arrived at Ottobar for our show with plenty of time, so Ben and I went to the local Salvation Army to try to score big. We would up wandering the aisles listening to the Supremes at full volume; it felt very Baltimore somehow. Besides some potentially awesome plaid pants that Ben seriously considered, there wasn’t much. (Unless you were into Christmas-themed dishes.) We saw a pawn shop across the street with instruments in the window, so we marched over like zombies. Sad though, somehow pawn shops have become the least likely place to find good deals. Drat! Played our show, added some extra distortion to drown out a few “talkers” amongst the otherwise diligent crowd and met some lovely people after the show.

Washington, D.C., October 30
We arrived in D.C. around noon. Wanted to leave the afternoon free to go to the National Mall, one of the best things about D.C. I recently saw Herb & Dorothy, a brilliant documentary about art collectors and supporters Herbert and Dorothy Vogel. They have been infamously collecting (loving) unknown contemporary, downtown, obscure art since the ’60s. They bought from artists like Sol LeWitt, Richard Tuttle, Christo and many more. They were sort of like ambassadors to obscure new thinking—or mascots of sorts—and befriended many artists early on, never taking art for free, always paying for it, even though they had very little money and lived in a small, cramped, one-bedroom apartment on one income. (See the film!) We headed over to the National Gallery, where the Vogels finally donated (not sold) their entire collection, about 5,000 pieces, I believe. (The Vogels are still collecting, though, of course!) Turns out they only have room to show about five pieces of the Vogels’ collection at any one time at the National Gallery, but it was still great to see. What a fabulous museum, one thing the U.S. government is paying for that is going toward really good things. We played at the Black Cat. It reminded me of Alice In Wonderland a bit, what with the checkered floor.

Athens, Ga., November 2
Athens was a first for us. We rolled into town at 3:30 a.m., after our Atlanta show. We had a hotel reservation in Atlanta, but when we showed up and saw that it was actually a crack house (or whore house, or a pleasant mix of both), we split and drove straight to Athens. It was one of those “gut feeling” moments. We woke up in Athens to a sunny day, in our well-groomed, green-grassed HoJo. I made an apple breakfast: sauteed apples with coconut, butter, cinnamon and agave. Amazing! Try it. Then we got on Google to find the best espresso in town. We found it. It’s called Red Eye. It was, I think, the best espresso we had on the whole tour. We then found ourselves at Agora, an awesomely overwhelming vintage shop that lures you in and doesn’t let you go. Bob got an amp, Olivier got a vintage Yves Saint Laurent blazer for super cheap that makes him look even more French than he did before, if that’s possible. We headed over to meet the Athens Soundies fellas, who wanted to video us doing a few songs. (Watch them here.) We headed to the 40 Watt Club to play and found the people to be quite lovely and open to our terminally unique sound.

Chicago, November 5
We have only played in Chicago once before, but I’m pretty sure I have a crush on that city. That crush might fizzle if I we’re to visit in February, I bet. We arrived from Newport, Ky., where we played in a haunted venue. We arrived very hungry, so we got a tip about this amazing restaurant called Uncommon Ground, which grows all it’s own vegetables. We were in! It’s the first organic roof-top farm in America. Our waiter was fabulous and peppy. We then went to Lincoln Hall, a brand new venue run by the same people who run Schubas. They did a beautiful job with Lincoln Hall, and it’s very artist friendly; no penises on the walls in the dressing rooms, no dents or blood on the mics. Charming! What’s up with that, anyway? Every venue in America, unless it’s a beautiful theater, has penises on the wall. It’s like it’s some universal language that musicians use to communicate with each other. Hmmmmm. The show was fun. Only the soundman knew the answer to the question, “What famous piece of music did we just quote in ‘This Is The Story’?” It’s Ravel’s Boléro, of course. The soundman got a free kazoo for that.

Toronto, November 7
Toronto was the last stop on this tour. It was also our first time playing there, and we were looking forward to it. Why are Canadians so nice? Whenever I’m at a party and there is something “off” or “strange” with someone I’m speaking to—but not in a bad way, in a good way; like, what’s up with this person, why is he so nice?—it’s always because they turn out to be Canadian. No joke. They must all be fed baby food with “nice people” nutrients in it. We had some Indian food, mostly because we had Indian food the first night of the tour and like to make bookends out of everything we can. We did soundcheck and noticed some little black flies buzzing around. Didn’t think much of it, but Olivier was complaining about them biting him. (Sadly for Olivier, it’s a bit like The Boy Who Cried Wolf.) We did our show—terribly fun audience. We had been joking for weeks that on the last night, we would drive back to Brooklyn after our Toronto show screaming, drinking Red Bull and listening to Kiss. (We had been reading an unauthorized Kiss biography in the car on this tour; amazing and horrible, but the amazing parts kept us going.) Well, for some reason we actually did this. The only difference is we drove all the way back to Brooklyn, with the Kiss and Red Bull (gross!!), but Olivier kept complaining about his fly bites from the venue. When we got home at 10 a.m., he took off his shirt and had about 50 bites the size of quarters all over him: face, arms, neck. You know what they say: “You’re not hardcore, unless you live hardcore.” We are hardcore.

Also posted in FREE MP3s | Comments closed

Rock Plaza Central Tour Diary, Part 5

dons-driving5502Rock Plaza Central‘s 2007 album Are We Not Horses was an elaborately plotted and immaculately conceived album that brought the Toronto band’s Northern-gothic folk/rock accolades from both critics (MAGNET named it one of the year’s 10 hidden treasures) and academics (frontman Chris Eaton’s 2004 book The Inactivist was taught alongside Horses in a graduate English course at the University of South Alabama). Last month, RPC hit the road to support the release of this year’s … At The Moment Of Our Most Needing, and bassist Scott Maynard filed a tour diary for magnetmagazine.com. If you missed Rock Plaza Central this summer, catch the group on its U.S. tour with the Weakerthans in September.

Toronto, July 28
Well, wouldn’t you know, the fire alarm went off in the hotel just as I was getting back to sleep. Once I’d made sure it was, in fact, a false alarm, I stuffed the bell with a towel and tried again, but the damage had been done. I was fully awake and perhaps better off at the actual festival. So I hitched a ride down to the site, found my friends at Tent Majal and had my first beer of the day. And the music began. Reunited with our friends from Bruce Peninsula (somewhat appropriately in the rain), also Timber Timbre, Tressa Lavasseur, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Final Fantasy, Oh Bijou, etc. Hillside always puts on a good show. I was sad to have to leave it early, but we had agreed to do one more street festival in Chicago on Sunday afternoon, so off we went, early Sunday morning, to make it there by 4 p.m. Which we did, border crossing and all. Blake on the other hand, who had left the previous day and was already in Chicago, somehow got lost or misdirected and barely made it to the show on time. The poor comic they’d stuck up there to kill time between sets ran out of material pretty fast and suffered the jeers of the crowd while we set up and line-checked for what seemed an eternity, but eventually we got going. It was nice to play with Blake (Howard) again; the demands of family life on him have meant that we’ve been touring with another drummer for the past several months. In fact, Andy (Innanen) recently informed me that Hillside was his 50th show with the band. Afterward, we went out for dinner and drinks with Josh, our booking agent, and then we retired to the hotel for more drinks and some deconstruction and plotting for the future. That was it: the last show of the tour. Now I’m back in town and “real” life threatens to crash in on me. It can be difficult to adjust to coming off the road; it often involves a lot of time and depression. I call it post-tourmatic stress disorder. The garbage strike that began in Toronto as we left for this tour lingers on, and although the streets are fairly clear, the garbage receptacles are spilling over onto the sidewalks, and I can only imagine the state of the parks, which have been used as temporary dumping grounds until the dispute is resolved. I am reminded that for all the bitching and complaining I may do—this litany of annoyances about the road—I’d still much rather be doing what I do than anything else I can think of. As the old song says, “See you in September.”

Posted in TOUR DIARY | Comments closed

Rock Plaza Central Tour Diary, Part 4

eclectic-workshop5501

Rock Plaza Central‘s 2007 album Are We Not Horses was an elaborately plotted and immaculately conceived album that brought the Toronto band’s Northern-gothic folk/rock accolades from both critics (MAGNET named it one of the year’s 10 hidden treasures) and academics (frontman Chris Eaton’s 2004 book The Inactivist was taught alongside Horses in a graduate English course at the University of South Alabama). Last month, RPC hit the road to support the release of this year’s … At The Moment Of Our Most Needing, and bassist Scott Maynard filed a tour diary for magnetmagazine.com. If you missed Rock Plaza Central this summer, catch the group on its U.S. tour with the Weakerthans in September.

Guelph, Ont., July 25
Well, we made it across the country in four days, and we didn’t kill each other—or anyone else for that matter. It doesn’t matter how much love there is; if you stick five people in an enclosed space, deprive them of sleep and decent food, there’s gonna be some fireworks at some point. But we made it to Guelph on time and met up with drummers John Whytock and Blake Howard for possibly the best show so far. That bar has been raised several times recently, especially since we started playing with two drummers, and I love that it keeps getting better.

If the Vancouver experience made up for all the driving to get out there, last night makes me want to do the whole thing over again. It was an incredible experience: maybe a thousand people crammed into the lake tent, singing and dancing, both drummers going for it, an onstage wedding … When I finally got back to the hotel in the wee hours of the a.m., I couldn’t find my bag with my stuff in it, so I called the front desk to run me up some toothpaste, a toothbrush and some mouthwash. Within minutes, there it was at my door. This morning, I feel like a rock star (maybe it’s the hangover). Of course, with a room to myself, I wake up at 6:30 a.m. and can’t sleep, so I’m currently enjoying a complimentary continental breakfast, courtesy of this rather schmancy hotel.

The band has a day off today at Hillside before we drive to Chicago tomorrow. For me, the best part of the festival scene is the workshops. Stick a bunch of musicians who may or may not know each other (or even speak the same language) on a stage, add a crowd and see what happens. Often, the results are magical: one-time-only, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants collaborations. For the most part, the musicians let down the walls and just play, for fun and for the moment. For others, it’s a chance to showcase their work in a more relaxed setting, win a few new fans. For the audience, it’s a chance to see a bunch of different acts at once, with always the possibility that something marvellous will occur. So today, with nothing specific to do, I intend to relax and enjoy all that Hillside has to offer. But first, I’m gonna try and get just a bit more sleep …

Posted in TOUR DIARY | Comments closed