Friday, July 29, 2011

Thur July 28, 2011

Bethlehem PA, Levitt Pavillion

Stayed cloudy and threatening rain for drive to Bethlehem, fine by us as no AC in Boss Hoss. Drive uneventful.

Bethlehem another beautiful town. Rolled into the Levitt Pavillion and were blown away by the scenery. Ruins of old stone factory buildings like Roman arches, decrepit warehouses and the coup de gras: the Bethlehem Steel Stacks, a huge closed down smelting refinery. Looked like the cover of a Black Sabbath album, and was featured in the opening scene of Transformers 2 (never saw it). The Steel Stacks made steel for the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge and most skyscrapers in Manhattan. Now served as the Doom-tastic backdrop of the Levitt Pavillion outdoor stage.

Awesome way to begin a tour, playing a real stage and being treated (and PAID) like a real band, heh! Backstage area with dressing rooms and showers even. Deli trays to boot! Installed my new Shure SLX wireless into my rack. Much better over that Line6 toy which it replaced. Didn't even need the instructions to make it work. Turned it on and Hey! Stage sounded great, stage crew and pavillion staff were all awesome. Did an interview even in the green room. Hey we're a real band!

Soundcheck sounded massive. Used both Dietz's so had the wall of TONE going. Which on that concrete stage was almost a little *too* loud. But show went great, good crowd. MJ our PA street-teamer there with husband, our buddy Phil the superfan there with his dog. Good to see all of them. Feels like will take another show or two for me to knock the rust off, we haven't played as a band since Toronto few weeks back. We sounded fine, but I felt some slop on my end. Also using .50-105 strings as opposed to .45-105, extra string tension raised the action a bit.

Great set, crowd and staff loved it. Closed with "Voodoo Child" then an encore was requested. Went back out and blew their heads off (Rob got everyone to come forward) with "Blues Bullets" and we called it a sweat-soaked night.

Afterwards went with Phil and the pavillion stage mgr to the VIP Taproom for drinks. Not sure who was buying, but the Yuengling flowed like water and the owner sent us a pitcher with Jello shots. Good times. Even met Prince's saxophone player! That was unexpectedly awesome. I never caught his name but he was really nice.

Checked in at Holiday Inn in Allentown nearby and we had 4 rooms provided. Hell yeah, big time! Very good start to the tour. Morale is high, and feels like the brutal first run was a rite of passage to bigger and better things. And we do have some big things in the works, keep y'all posted. 

Wed July 27, 2011

Drive day. Change of plans en route to Bethlehem PA for gig Thursday. Our friend Todd Wagner from Flood City Music Fest called and offered to put us up for the night in Johnstown. Awesome! See some good people in a great town and save $$ on a hotel. Win/win.

Him and his wife's house and the tenement building next door were built I believe after the flood in the 30's and been in her family since day one. Cool guest house out back where Todd puts bands up. Walked to City View Restaurant for dinner, which is built into the works for Incline, a weird tracked monorail contraption that takes 2 cars (one up, one down) into the valley below. Great viewing balcony overlooking the valley with a plaque detailing the 1889 Great Flood which killed thousands.

From the river valley straight ahead from vantage point a broken earth dam sent a 37-foot wave which broke into 3 separate currents upon reaching the valley, all of which then converged and crashed against the cliff where the Incline now stands. A wave was sent upstream for 3 miles, and all debris caught in the flood wedged against a bridge and burned out of control for 2 days. Crazy shit man. But so beautiful there it's no wonder they rebuilt, several times.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tue July 26, 2011

Greetings from Boss Hoss, en route to Columbus OH for the night. First show of ETB second leg is Thursday in Bethlehem PA.

Could have updated this during brief vacation, but fuck it. Was too busy re-acclimating to civilian life, getting settled in at the new place, moving shit out of old place in 100+ degree heat, and spending quality time with Triniti and going to shows to see friends.

Had a final session with Stanley Man with Josh Zee and Tinidad Leal again, fuckin bad ass as were the last 2. Can't wait to hear the finished album, rough mixes kick some quirky rock n roll butt.

Living in Lakeway is nice, minus the drive and price of gas for my van. Temporary til can afford place in town. Tim Abbott and Tracey have been amazing in openin their home to T and I. Beautiful house, beautiful country. Just gotta keep an eye on my Chihuahua as a pair of hawks cruise the canyon daily.

Anyway, back on the road. Flew out this morning. Have a new wireless unit to try, a Shure SLX. Already looks better than that Line6 piece of crap I just sent back.

More to come, phone battery dyin...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sun July 10, 2011 -- end of tour


Currently hauling ass across Michigan t fly out of Milwaukee at buttcrack of dawn. It's been a hell of a run. Border crossing took less time coming back into the US as it did Canada.

*edit* Saw that I never posted this, or finish it. Fuck it, here y'all go!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thur July 7, 2011

Greetings from Pointe Claire, Canada.

Sitting on the curb by Boss Hoss outside Calistoga Grill. Slightly more upscale bistro type joint with a small stage and a friendly sound guy. We'll see how it goes... Eric only using his Super Reverb to cut down on volume. Starting slow and quiet.

After check out this morning (noon) we drove to a Napa and Eric and Russ replaced the alternator and cleaned something connected to the air filter. Runs better now and starts just fine.

Last night in Ottawa at Rainbow Bistro was fun. Small crowd that built pretty decent during first set. We told everyone to go bring people in during setbreak, and I guess I worked! Heh. Really fun sets. Looking forward to our second night there tomorrow, should be a blast.

I had to use the strap from Cate Blanchett (backup bass) cause main strap still soaked from Montreal gig. Need to woodburn fretmarkers on her too. Wow that sounds weird. Did the same to Minnie Pearl (main bass) beginning of tour and it's helped immensely, especially with how bad I need a haircut. Miss far fewer notes now, heh.

Man. Can't believe this tour is already winding down. We left May 26 or so and have been on the move since. Been a total blur. Then 2 weeks off, and then right back out end of July thru beginning of September.

Wondering what my homecoming will be like. A lot has changed in Austin since we left. Lost a dear friend to all and very close friend of Rob the first night we were out. RIP Sergio Rangel, the best bartender in the world. You will be missed by many and for a very long time. Also returning with all of my belongings packed and moved. More on that later.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wed July 6, 2011

Greetings from Montreal!

My internet access is limited and physical/sensory overload kicking in so hard to keep up with this thing. Getting hard to remember where I was 3 days ago, and glad the hotels in Canada look different from ones in the States. They were all blurring into a labrynth of corridors with weird carpeting, kept forgetting which one I was in as I'd walk out the room and get turned around trying to find the stairs. I think we are in 225 here. Made a mental note of orientation from the elevator before I left for a smoke. I don't even know the name of this hotel.

Anyway. Montreal is a fuckin awesome city. Entered via this huge bridge, high above serpentine roller coasters of an amusement park to the right, city skyline to the left. Rue St.-Denis where Cafe Chaos almost feels like Austin. Total artist colony; boutiqes and bookstores, murals and street art, most people with colored hair, piercings and band t-shirts. Awesome.

Cafe Chaos had Room 710 kinda vibe, dirty little rock club. Alike in that the AC broke 2 weeks ago and was already a sweatlodge before loading in, and unlike because we had to load up a steep, narrow, rickety staircase. Damn. Weird sounding room, rubber shit on stage seemed to swallow my bass signal, but Rob could hear loud and clear.

Took awhile to motivate myself to go for a pic-walk. Should have been more gung ho that my camera (which I left at La Casbah previous night) was still on corner of the stage. But aforementioned overload took awhile to overcome.

Staff was all really cool people. Was awesome to watch a male and female bartender talk to each other, one in French the other English, and understand each other. Was like Star Wars, heh.

Before we went upstairs to begin our 2-hour set in the sweat lodge, in walks Phil from Albany, the ETB superfan who's been to 7 gigs in as many cities. He's gone from interstate to international. Awesome! Def lifted our spirits as we knew it was gonna be dead. So we let him call out first few songs, heh! Had us open with "Stonefire" and "Green Diamond pt 1". Good choice!

But set was still fun tho was hotter than the Continental Club stage back home. The remainders of a Jack Daniels bottle apearred, a few more people wandered in, and we got to watch Russell make friends with a lady at the bar. Good for him, heh! Rest of us are spoken for. Another piece came off Rob's fucked ride cymbal, expanding the huge bitemark that finally appeared at the Pittsburgh show, whenever that was.

Hanging with Phil after loadout we learned that he has a PHD in neuroscience. Holy fucking shit! Phil is sharp as a tack but figured he was more of a working man. Just wow. We will now refer to him as Dr. Phil \m/,  We're trying to get him to wear a lab coat to our next show.

Must refill coffee. Over and out, for now. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Thur June 30, 2011

Dover NH @ Fury's Publick House

So after Sellersville we piled into Boss Hoss, Russ at the wheel. He'd been drinking coffee all set so was good to go. Crazy how early the sun rises up here. First light at 4am, sun fucking UP at 5:45am. He drove all night and only pulled over because the sun was right in his face. I did my best to stay up as copilot but dozed a few times. Slept in the van at a rest stop. Sucked. Felt like shit. Stopped at a park to kill time before hotel check in. Bautiful path thru a grove of pines, and a pool that cost $7 to get in. Got a little more sleep at the hotel we got in Ballerica MA. I only know the city now as I write. Spent most of day not knowing what city, let alone state, I was in. Was kinda nice.

Was just out of it all day long. Weird de ja vu feeling from constant broken dream fragments and being totally worn out. Found the venue in Dover ok. Weren't sure we were actually on the bill until we got there. Show details were a little sketchy. But opening band, then us. Day was a blur and trying to remember it.

Small place, wood stage. Not sure what to expect crowdwise. Opener had some people, that was good. They were nice, playing with them again in Ogunquit ME.

We piled onto the small stage. Put the monitor on my SVT case to make more room onstage. Opened with the shuffle walkaround into "How Many More Times" and instantly blew everyone's minds. Rob called the funkified Muddy Waters cover we do to keep the people dancing. Good call. I like the freedom of this band, when we have lots of time to fill and no fixed setlist. Play what we feel. Crowd loved it, good times.

The owner of the Levitt theater where we play Sat was there, he's our good friend Taylor Perkins' dad. Gave us an envelope of "spending money" end of night. We hope it is a tip and not the other half of our guarantee that night... that will totally catch us up from the brink of financial riun...

So I took the wheel and we got Denny's end of night as we couldn't afford to eat at the venue. Was delish!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Wed June 29, 2011

Sellersville PA @ Sellersville Theater

5 hour drive across Pennsylvania. Pretty much nothing to us now with some of the rides we've been on past month, and living in Austin, the Lonestar State is 4.5 to 9 hours in ever direction.

I've been to Sellersville before, when I was teching for King's X in 2009. When I saw the date for ETB I could picture the venue and the surrounding area clearly in my mind. Hell I even wrote about it in my blog here, look it up! Nice to return to a place and PLAY this time, heh.

Anyway, Sellersville Theater has been around since 1894. They show movies, have bands, and when we rolled up there was a girls dance recital just getting out of practice. Dawn the stage mgr and Dan (?) the soundguy were both awesome. Sounded fucking EPIC during soundcheck. Great to play a real venue with awesome sound system and nice stage. Best monitor system I've come across in awhile, heh.

Dawn took us to the Washington House Resaurant, built in 1896. Super swank and high end, as well as historic. $35 per man meal voucher, so we all had the finest meal of the tour. Much improved over Wendy's earlier that day. Has Asian glazed salmon with fried rice/edamame beans/cabbage/buncha other shit. Was amazing. On the way we asked about crowd projections. She said I ain't gonna lie, it'll be slow. Honesty ---> respect.

While eating, we noticed a guy scoping us, a fan who wanted to talk but didn't want to be rude and interupt our dinner. Which earned him extra points in my book. If you know anything about touring, if you see musicians sitting down to eat, that may very well be their first actual meal that day or perhaps several.

But he caught us as we were leaving. Took us into the parking lot to sign a guitar he just bought for said purpose. Wow. His name was Bob, was diabetic which limited his mobility, so he didn't get to shows much. But he appreciated us taking time to talk to him. Shit, he is paying to see us in a city we've never played and bought a guitar so we could be first to sign. You don't be a dick and blow such individuals off. Really bad form and lack of appreciation for the people responsible for us even havin music careers. Fans. We love them.

Had an actual green room as well. After awhile on the road you don't want to be in the venue, and you don't want to sit in the van. Green rooms serve as a happy medium. Had a shower and everything. Nice!

Anyway, we did one 2 hour set as opposed to 2 60's. And for never playing there before and a $15 cover, we had 40+ people there. Nice!!! Had a great show tho I felt a little off from lack of alcohol consumption. 1 or 2 beers really help grease the wheel so I don't have to think so much. Sounds weird but true. But great set and great crowd response despite everyone sitting down.

Met and hung with locals and staff after, they all loved us. Good night merchwise as well. An guess who came out again,Phil the superfan from Albany who's been following us around like the Grateful Dead minus the acid. Thanks Phil, you rock! Probably see you again in next few gigs \m/,

Tues June 28, 2011

Pittsburgh PA at Thunderbird Cafe

Actually all the pics I posted on the previous entry I took on this day, as Monday was too drained to do much else but hang at MJ's. So this was the day I felt up to takin. Pic-walk. No biggie for continuity's sake.

Thunderbird Cafe was a small, cool, weird little place. Split into 3 levels, so had to load up a half flight of stairs. No biggie. Small stage and small band area, not counting the back upstairs lounge area. Sounded really good tho as wood stages usually do.

Decent crowd considering we didn't know what to expect, and small places are easier to fill \m/, One group of people saw us a Thunder in the Valley and reserved the front table. MJ and family grabbed the one next to it. Believe we opened with the shuffle walkaround, a cover-medley of a buncha songs which we segue into an instrumental jam of "How Many More Times" by Led Zeppelin. All with Eric walking around the bar via his wireless unit and me eventually joining him out there for a shot. My wireless unit's been fucked since Minneapolis early in the tour, so unfortunately my extendo-cord didn't reach the back bar.

Fun show to best of my recollection. Got done and crowd demanding an encore despite Eric ripping the strings off his '59 strat at the end. He has other guitars, heh.

Spent rest of evening drinking at bar and hanging with locals. Another show where we made a great impression and sold a decent amt of merch.

Mon June 27, 2011

Well at least the drive from OH to Pittsburgh was a short little jaunt. We were all feeling a little frazzled so NOT spending all day in the van plus a day off was a treat.

Pittsburgh has a really awesome downtown. 2 rivers coverging with many yellow steel bridges spanning them, high cliffs on all sides, and the city planners really went nuts on the architecture. And in a good way. We were able to get the club rate on the Courtyard Marriot downtown for 2 nights. Sweet! And unlike most stupid-expensive hotels, the room internet was free. Awesome.

Spent the day with MJ our superfan and her husband and daughter. They treated us to beer and bbq, a formal sit-down dinner of steaks. Was awesome, wish we could show more appreciation than we already have. Fans like that really help us out, not only for feeding us and working as a street team, but that kind of moral support really goes a long way.

Sun June 26, 2011

Spent Sunday on a white-knuckle ride on 311 thru the Blue Ridge Mountains in VA headed up to Pittsburgh. Was beautiful but harrowing, all hairpin turns and steep grades. Seemed less miles, but in hindsight wouldn't have taken that road in the van had we known what we were in for. Don't get m wrong, it was amazing. But it's also the kind of drive that wears you down as a driver (Eric) and a passenger alike.

Drove all freakin day, only to find there is no Chase Bank in Pittsburgh, or anywhere in PA. Suck, because a hotel deal on Priceline requires a credit or debit card. We had the cash just no means to deposit. And by the time we realized our predicament, it was too late to book anyway. Fuck.

Nearest Chase Bank was an hour away in Steubenville OH. Shit. So we piled back in, deposited some money (me enough to cover already-late phone bill). Found a hotel there and admitted defeat for the night.