Sorry I’ve been away too long! This post is much overdue. RECAP!
We played Tallahassee on a Monday night to a Gainesville crowd. We had at least 10-20 G-ville to Tally transplants in attendance, which made for a great night. We played at the Mockingbird Cafe with the fabulous Libby O’Neill, who also set up the show.
Before we played, the Cafe treated us to a gourmet meal. I had the roasted duck with sweet potato confit and a Rouge Dead Guy Ale (the suggested beer pairing!). Ashley chose the middle eastern sampler; a great choice.
Oh, and a very special thanks to Aullie Bigby for a place to crash and some serious Xbox kinect dancing…
Tuesday night we arrived at the Faucheaux residence in New Orleans–perhaps the most hospitable place on earth. As soon as we walked in the door, they had a feast prepared for us… Roast beef, homemade macaroni and cheese, green beans and then cupcakes for dessert.
After wandering around the French Quarter and enjoying Cafe Au Lait and Beignets by the Mississippi river, we prepared for a house show at the Faucheaux’s. We laughed, we cried, we ate too much (red beans and rice, muffaletta, and king cake), we told stories about practically every single song we played.
The Faucheauxs were far better to us than we deserved. I cannot thank them enough!
Onward to Baton Rouge! We arrived at the Haven Art Gallery to meet with Peter Simon (pronounced “see-mown”), who was putting on the show for us. The gallery is a two story standalone structure in the middle of downtown Baton Rouge. The top story, the gallery portion, doubles as a church. In the bottom story resides our friend, Peter.
It was a small crowd. There were roughly 10 charmingly drunken individuals, two of whom (on the sober end of the spectrum) were Dave and Melissa Driver, old friends from Gainesville! One dude (and yes, I believe the accurate term is “dude”) gave us a two dollar bill as a tip. This was not, however, just a two dollar bill. He told us that he was hanging on to this particular bill to give to his future wife as a tip. It was at this point he realized that his plan hinged on his subconscious assumption that he would meet his future wife at a bar where she was a bartender. He hastily gave up his two dollar bill, and with it his “bartenders-only” qualification for a bride.
After the show, we went out for pizza at Schlitz and Giggles. Apparently, the secret ingredient in their pizza crust is a can of Schlitz. I can’t hold that against them, though. It was great pizza.
When we returned to Dave and Melissa’s house, she had already set up air mattresses and couches for us to sleep on. Again, people are too good to us rough-and-tumble-no-good musician types. Thanks Dave and Melissa!
We played at Super Happy Fun Land, which looks exactly like you’d think. The local act for this show was Clory Martin, a singer/songwriter I had found online. It was a fabulous show, and we owe it all to her! Every song was met with hoots and hollers from an enthusiastic crowd. Clory played with a ferociously modest banjo phenom, David, and her twin sister, Beth. I don’t think I’ve ever heard twins sing together in harmony before. Their voices move and sound as one. Click on Clory’s name above and check her out, you definitely won’t regret it.
Clory and Beth took us out for a late-night fireside music session at Ponderosa, an after-hours bar/speakeasy. At one point, I think it was a live-able house. When we arrived, though, it was 30 degrees outside and probably 26 degrees inside. The walls were coming down and there were 3 or 4 dangerous looking dogs at the gate to greet us. Beth told us, “Keep an open mind.” We did, and it turned out to be pretty cool. We stayed until about 4 AM singing Neutral Milk Hotel and passing the guitar around the fire. Some dude (again, dude is appropriate) tried to walk across a plank that was in the fire and on fire. He made it to the other side but by the time he got there, he too was on fire. Yep, his tattered pant legs were in flames. I guess it’s not really a bonfire unless someone catches on fire.
All in all, it was a fantastic night. It was really sad to say goodbye to Clory and Beth. We’ll be back though. We stayed with Ashely’s old friends, Heather and Daniel, who had come to the show despite having to work early the next day. What a couple of troopers. Thanks, guys!
Next up was the stop that Ashley and I had been waiting for: Austin, TX! It was a wonderful friend-reunion for us with Robbie, Stephen, Kelsey, Vanessa, Amy, Blake and Kristen. I had booked 3 shows in Austin as an excuse to stay there for 5 days.
The first night, Robbie, Stephen and Vanessa threw us a house show at Foxhole West. We bbq-ed, drank Texas beer, and ended the show on their trampoline. Stephen and I closed with some unrehearsed ABThunderband covers. It was my mission to throw him off by jumping sporadically. I can only speak for myself when I say that it was the worst I have played on tour thus far. It was also probably my favorite show.
We went to sleep around 3 o’clock in the morning and woke up at 5:30 to drive to San Antonio to play at Riverside Church for their Sunday morning services (That’s right, services. Two of them. And NO sleep. Oh, and NO practice!). Miraculously, we pulled it off! We played everything from I Saw the Light to You Are My Joy and it went really, really well.
Ricky made arrangements so that we could sleep immediately after the service at his buddy Mel’s place. Mel and his wife, Wendy, made us grilled sandwiches and tomato soup and we fell straight asleep afterward. We woke up in time to play that night at the Loft, a coffee shop owned by the church. We had an intimate listening section and made some wonderful friends. Among our new friends is Cody, a 23 year old who up and built himself a banjo… from scratch. He and his future brother-in-law Adam (fellow philosophy major) and their friends all seem like a very intelligent, creative group. It was inspiring to be around them.
The next day, the preacher for Riverside Church took us out for some fine Tex Mex and good conversation. Everyone at Riverside, especially Mel and Wendy, showed us a great time. Thanks guys!
That afternoon, Lauris and I drove out to visit his friend, Gus.
Gus has worked in guitar shops for years. He and Lauris worked together at a DC guitar shop years ago and have stayed in touch since. Gus greeted Lauris by giving him a 12 string guitar. “That’s just the way he is,” Lauris would say. Lauris might also say that “he looks like a Filipino John Lennon,” which is probably true. For the next three hours or so, Gus would show us incredible instrument after incredible instrument that he had collected over the years. I spent at least 45 minutes playing a gut-string banjo built in 1848 and another 30-45 minutes on a 1927 Martin guitar. These are the kinds of instruments you might see in a museum, not the ones I should expect to have the opportunity to play.
Gus talks fast and very articulately about a lot of things at once. I get the idea that he’s collected as much wisdom in his 50 some-odd years as he has collected guitars. And that’s really something. Before we left, he gave us a bunch of his music and some guitar strings–both of which will get played.
We returned to Austin in time for fish tacos and a trip to a bar called Clive, where we would drink 512 beer and Lauris and Stephen would soundly destroy me and Robbie in a game of cricket (darts).
On Tuesday, we played at the Carousel Lounge in north Austin. The place looks like a legitimate circus. The outside walls are painted with balancing elephants and trained tigers. On stage with us was a gigantic, paper mache elephant. That’s right. For one night, I had an elephant. It was a thin but fabulous crowd. I butchered cover songs like “I’ve Got a Name” and “Not in Nottingham” and Ricky and Lauris sounded awesome. By now, we’re really dialing in our sound together.
We left in time to get in another round of Cricket in which the tables turned. Team Robbie and Michael: 1. Team Stephen and Lauris: 1. Unfortunately, perhaps epically, the score would never be settled.
A chilly swim in Barton Springs.
Some legit Texas BBQ at the Salt Lick. Sampler plates all around.
Our last show in Austin was at Cheer Up Charlie’s on East 6th Street, the site of a wild night last March at SXSW with me, Robbie, Stephen, Vanessa and company. This time, we had another very Gainesville crowd including some Flaco’s Wednesdays veterans! I knew it as soon as they requested Mountain Dew. In the spirit of the evening, I closed out with a Flaco’s favorite: Curse of a Drunk (sorry/thanks Devon).
On Thursday afternoon, we left Austin for Oklahoma City.
Just north of Waco, TX, there’s a very large settlement of Czech people (so I’m told). Ashley and I made a point to stop there, since there’s a Czech bakery (called the Czech Stop) where they serve some very traditional kolache. I got peach, Ashley got cottage cheese. DELICIOUS! We also loaded up on cornbread and cheese biscuits for the 6 1/2 hour drive. A very scenic drive.
We got to The Blue Note in Oklahoma City well before our show was scheduled to start. Supposedly, this particular bar is a frequent hangout of Wayne Coyne, lead singer of the Flaming Lips. He is, after all, a resident of Oklahoma City. Lauris tweeted at him that we would put him on our guest list if he showed up. It was a joke. We all laughed about it and said things like “what if.”
Just as the first band was finishing up, in walks Wayne Coyne. Lauris was the first to approach him, but we all chatted for a while. He told us that The Blue Note was where the Flaming Lips played their first show ever. We took photos and Lauris showed off his ukulele and then Wayne left because the women he was with were “already pretty loaded.” The next day, Wayne tweeted about Lauris’ (“the viking guy’s”) handmade ukulele.
It was a wild night. Two “dudes” got into a fight and another dipped his long, Ricky-like hair into a lit candle, setting it ablaze. Truly a rock’n'roll show.
Chandler, Oklahoma. I’d never heard of it either, but they had an early pioneer/Route 66 museum so Ashley and I stopped to check it out. Closed. It was a pretty quaint little town that felt a little like time travelling, though, so we stuck around for a little. We found a pretty great little thrift shop where I bought a poncho. Ashely was eying a knit vest. I encouraged her to just buy it, since it was only $2. She didn’t want it, so I bought it for me. We ended up with the ponch0, the vest, another vest and a pair of shoes for $8.
The poncho may make its debut tonight in Joplin, MO.
One more detour to Grand Lake, Oklahoma.
We arrived in Lamar, Missouri to macaroni & cheese, hummus, and chicken salad courtesy of Ann and Jason Killmon. We played at her father’s fishing camp clubhouse four miles outside of Lamar (the middle of nowhere). With the backdrop of an American flag, we played our sets and moved on to request hour. At this point, family and friends joined in with their songs too.
After-party at Ann and Jason’s house! Dancing!
Tonight we ride to Joplin to play at Blackthorn Pizza. Tell all of your friends in Joplin, Missouri to come see us. I know you’ve got ‘em.
I miss you guys,
P.S. This blog is 2043 words long.