Sunday, July 28, 2013

Homeward Bound

Wow. The Rick Hornyak summer tour is over.

Starting the drive back to Texas today.

It will be just me and Rick trading off driving, so it will take 2-3 days. Will update the last few days on this blog when time allows.

This has been a blast. Played some great shows with some great players: guitarist Matt Brooks, drummer Eric Rietman, guitarist James Willaman, drummer Steve Marks, drummer Sam Orrico, and of course Mr. Rick Hornyak. Met lots of great people and had lots of great fun!

Rick and I are still debating on whether to visit Mammoth Caves in Kentucky en route.

While that would be awesome, we both also have reasons to head home as quickly but safely as possible. Rick and his wife closed on a new house on this run, and I would like to get back home to my own life as well. I went through some huge changes on this run. Will talk about that later.

But all is not over for now with Rick Hornyak Band. We still have two shows this coming weekend in Rockport/Fulton TX on the coast with our good friend, drummer Ric Furley. That will be awesome.

Last night Rick and I could have had an end-of-tour, rip roaring drunk. But knowing the drive ahead of us and the fact that it's just the two us making said drive, we knew that would not have been a very good idea. But more about that later. 

In the meantime, enjoy this old Mother Truckers video with yours truly on bass that Sam Orrico found and posted on Facebook \m/,

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 25 -- Off Day (sort of), Rural Pennsylvania

Tuesday July 23

Today! My blog is finally up to date for the first time on this goddamn tour.

Don't know what to say, other than thanks for bearing with me as I go off on a rant...

I stopped watching the news a long time ago, and my life has been better because of it. But it sounds like there is a new royal baby. Apparently the media is behaving about this much as you'd expect a group of wild monkeys released into a banana warehouse to behave.

Well, you cannot fathom the immensity of the fuck that I do not give. What do the British Royal Family actually do? The Queen of England, whom is probably a nice lady (or a total bitch, either way I don't care), does not run the British Empire. The British Empire doesn't even exist any more. The Prime Minister and Parliament run England. What does the Royal Family actual DO?

Please tell me that? What is their purpose, other than to be the figureheads on a ship that has been out-dated for 100 or more years, but is still maintained and groomed and polished tho sitting uselessly in a museum with hard-earned tax payer dollars being spent on said frivolous and pointless maintenance.

So who gives a flying fuck if one of them has a kid. Great, another one of God's chosen bloodline or some shit enters the world.

You want to hear about a birth way more important and noteworthy than another useless inbred royal, but which you never heard about on the news?

Earlier this year my sister had a baby at age 40, a full five weeks early, with a difficult all-day delivery finally resulting in a C-section. My sister and nephew Sam are and have been just fine.

So yeah. Anyone who actually cares about this, and is not at least British, should really re-examine their priorities.


Wasn't quite a day off, as we had local drummer Sam Orrico join us out at the Hornyak homestead earlier this afternoon to rehearse as a three-piece for the 3 gigs he will be doing with us this weekend. He's a nice guy, I officially met him at the house party we played a few nights ago.

Despite little prep time for him, he's a solid pro and will do just fine. Tore it up on nothing but a small kick, snare and hi hat.

However with a house full of people there were some distractions, heh. Our mid-rehearsal break turned into a full on dinner break as Judy made us, Rich and Libby, and two of their friends a sloppy joe dinner with potato salad and all the fixins. Was pretty damn good! Combine a feast with after dinner chat and our afternoon rehearse actually took about 5 hours from start time to load out. Wow.

Yum, but wow!

But we got some great work done, and again, Sam will do just fine. He's played with Rick in the past.

Reloading the van to head to Wilkes-Barre PA area tomorrow, we were able to leave out the PA/speakers/monitors and light kit. Holy shit, there is so much room in the van it seems like we must be leaving something behind...

But that space will be filled with James' and Steve's gear, as they are finally taking a van trip with us. A week's worth of shows with them, and we haven't driven anywhere together yet. Weird. But they live in the area and it hasn't been too big a stretch for them to take their own vehicles. Will be good to finally travel with them.

The tour is winding down. I will keep y'all posted. In the meantime, Judy just informed me there is strawberry shortcake downstairs...!

Day 24 -- Off Day, Rural Pennsylvania

Monday July 22

Day off, and man we needed it.

Spent the day doing typical rock n roll hard-partying activities: catching up on my blog, resting, doing some laundry, and playing Silversword (a throwback to the old Bard's Tale game I used to play on Commodore-64 as a kid) on my iPhone.

Yeah. Livin the Dream.

But I'm also a dork, so fuck you.

Rich, Judy, and Rick's 13-year old neice Libby were gone most of the day, was nice to have some solitude and quiet. Rick has informed me that people from this area general all talk at once and talk over one another, and it's just normal. So yeah, good people for sure but the quiet was nice, heh.

Talked to my mom on the phone for awhile, sounds like my geriatric diabetic Siamese cat Jedi, whom they adopted from me after my separation and divorce a few years back, has his diabetes going into remission. Yay! Good for him, he's a loveable but crotchety old fucker who hates going to the vet anyway. Good for him for sticking around 15 years and counting. 

Other than the occasional cigarette outside, I laid low until Rick and I finally ventured to the Greenville Wal-Mart. Yeah I know, fuck Wal-Mart. But we needed a few items, and it would be an interesting sociological experiment to see some of the weirder denizens of the area up close. Yup.

Planned on getting to bed early for once. But come 1:30am that wasn't happening, like usual... Ah well. Nothing to do the next morning, but we would be having an afternoon 3-piece rehearsal here at the Hornyak homestead with local drummer Sam Orrico to prep for the last 3 shows which he would be doing with us.

Yup. The excitement of being a big time Rock n Roller...

Day 23 -- OK Corral, Stonesboro PA

Sunday July 21

Another gorgeous day before the heat and humidity start creeping back in. Last show in the stretch before 2 days off, then shows for the rest of the week.

This tour is now winding down. Wow. Home stretch.

Seems like we just left. On month + runs you hit your stride 2 weeks in, then whatever length of time you are out just melts into about 3 weeks it seems. I remember coming home from a crazy 2 1/2 month run with The Mother Truckers, and my brain literally could not wrap itself around the fact that I had been gone that long... Almost 3 months had felt like three weeks. Crazy.

But a month isn't long enough for the real information overload of being in a different city every day to set in, and since we've been basing ourselves in one spot for 2 weeks at a time, we keep playing different cities/towns but coming back to roost in the same spot. That has helped.

Anyway, this day started out really good for me, but turned sour right before Rick and I headed to nearby Stonesboro for the OK Corral gig. Again, don't want to get into it on this blog just yet. But it sucked, it was eventually resolved later on, but I don't like being so frustrated I become reactionary and angry. Wasn't to any bandmates or fans in attendance, so that was good.

But still, it's generally not in my usually easy-going nature to snap and lash out. Rick has repeatedly commended me on being easy to travel with, although he knows what's been going on in my life. So that's good as well.

Anyway. You can tell the days I am preoccupied because I don't take very many pictures or post on my FB music page. This was one of them. Which sucked, cause OK Corral was one hell of a weird/cool place.

Done up like an Old West saloon in architecture and decor. Apparently in the 70's there was a train station nearby, and many of the big name country acts (Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, etc) would perform there as a routing date, playing in the back dance hall which has since fallen to disrepair.

Cool place indeed.

We loaded in and set up our PA and lights, ordered food. Then I had to attend to some things while I was trying to wolf down my dinner before our set. All I wanted was eat in peace and have some quiet to decompress before playing. That sucked. Dealt with it, did what I could to resolve it but not in the best manner, and then later apologized for my behavior/reactions. But it is what it is.

But the show was really really good. James the lead player was recording it, and I am curious to hear the playback. Had a flub or two as a band and his amp was acting up a bit, but we laughed it off and kept going. Other than that we were on fire.

Good crowd, again lots of friends and family in attendance. Early shows on Sundays are a family night there, so several little kids there too dancing with their parents and having fun. The owner Doc even threw some sand onto the dance floor to get that real honky tonk feel. Fun show all around, and I definitely felt much better after playing and a few Yeunglings. That was good.

Got some great video of the end of the show. We played our last song, and again the crowd was demanding an encore. So Rick led them in a sing-along of "You Don't Even Call Me By My Name." Good times!


We loaded out post haste, as there would be karaoke after our set. Said our goodbyes to Steve and James, as they usually head out after shows and go home to their respective nearby towns, wives and lives. Rick and I quipped that they must have had a math test to study for, as they never close the place down like we seem to, heh.

Which is exactly what happened, but I jump ahead of my tale.

Plan was to have a beer or two, hang out with some friends and locals, Rick might get up and sing, but we'd head out early. Boy, that didn't work.

Turns out there is a very good pool of Karaoke talent in Stonesboro! A majority of the people who got up were pretty damn good, and seems like they are the usual crew on Sunday nights there. One guy nailed a Violent Femmes classic. There was an older lady who was knocking shit out of the park left and right, from Mammas and the Pappas to Janis Joplin. She was amazing! One guy's girlfriend was also an amazing singer, but she was too crowd-shy to do anything with it. That is sad.

Lotta good people I shot the shit with. But also some small town weirdos and drunks. And boy, there are some weird creepy people in some of these small town bars. Who were weird enough at the beginning of the night, but throw in a dozen-ish beers and good fucking lord... One older lady I had to hide from a few times to get her to stop weirding me out just trying to talk to me. Then she wanted to dance... CHECK PLEASE

But Rick and I stayed all night, had a blast, and left after the place finally closed down for the night. Then the party crew were going to walk to a nearby lake, hop the fence and go swimming and drinking. We were invited, but declined. It was already way past 2am, and we were tired from the weeks' shows, and I had had a trying day and just wanted to get some rest and decompress.

Again, Lemmy would not have approved. Sorry Lemmy...

Day 22 -- Private Party, Volant PA

Saturday July 20

Awoke to something absolutely amazing...

The heat and humidity had broke like a fever and it was absolutely gorgeous out. Temps back down to seasonable levels. Sunny but with a surrealist patchwork of clouds. One thing you will notice in my instagram pics: I love to take pictures of the sky.

Clouds and atmospheric conditions change minute to minute.

Look up at the sky, and in 60 seconds it will look completely different, and will never ever again look like it did that previous minute. 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in the day. Over our very heads is one of the most dynamic, ever-changing and awe-inspiring artistic tapestries the human mind can ever experience. Then at night comes the real headlining act -- the stars.

So yeah, I take pics of the sky A LOT. Not only for the artistic beauty of our atmosphere merely being an atmosphere, but my mind is always looking up, looking out. Wondering, wandering. The hamster on the wheel in my brain is a world class Olympic distance runner and sprinter. I often feel bad for the little guy. No wonder I post more existential and outer space-related shit on my personal Facebook page than I post about my own life.

The mid-morning sky, rural Pennsylvania

Slightly different area of sky, a few minutes later

Spend more time looking up, fellow human beings, rather than looking down at the ground. (But do glance down occasional so you don't trip or stub a toe).

This evening we were playing an annual private party for some friends of Rick. Cannot recall the name of the host at this particular juncture, but she was a hardcore and long-time musical collector/bootlegger/trader. Rick once asked her what Bob Dylan she had and a dozen + page list was emailed to him. Yeah.

We were to set up sort of half in/half out of the garage, the day threatened some more rain for the day but had cleared out more or less by that evening. Still, we took no chances. And we had the rest of the multi-car garage so serve as a green room \m/, The weather, and the sunset, were gorgeous.

Cooler of Yeungling and bottled water and materials to make Jager bombs. All manner of excellent food inside, and we were explicitly instructed to make use of it all. Awesome.

There was even a snake tank inside the house on the way to the bathroom:

The gig was weird, but not in a bad way by any stretch of the imagination.

People were playing Cornhole in the driveway ahead of us. It sounds like some unthinkable prison activity. But it's the Pennsylvania term for the game where you throw bean bags onto a slanted wood target with a hole in the center. Still made for lots of jokes and giggles when said game was talked about.

We played well, still feeling good from the whole crystalization of chemsitry from the previous night's gig. Had people dancing, playing cornhole, or talking off to the side under the tent, pausing to clap when we'd finish a song. It was still good, but can be weird being a jukebox sometimes, heh. But I did add another item to my repertoire of faux-Waylon Jennings segways from the Duke of Hazzard show before we play "Good Ole Boys":

(In a country drawl) "I bet right now, them Duke boys are feelin' like a bean bag in a cornhole game!"

It went over very well! \m/,

And then later on, the moon came out:

Day 21 -- Rumourz, Greenville PA

Friday July 19

Another day of storms which cleared out by the evening.

Apparently there was a much-needed break in the hot weather and storms coming in. Bring it on. The humidity was getting ridiculous.

Again spent the day chilling and getting my bearings. Was feeling much better physically and mentally. Bout time.

Finally heading to the venue with Rick, he wanted to stop briefly and see some old friends. He grew up and went to high school in this area, so he still knows a lot of people. Seems most of them stayed.

I myself didn't know who any of these people were and had forgotten to eat prior to leaving, so he dropped me off at an Arby's and went to make an appearance. Greenville was currently under a water boil order. So I had to buy a damn bottle of water to wash down my dinner (left my water bottle in the van... well shit).

Got to Rumourz in downtown Greenville and were very happy to feel a blast of cold air upon walking in the front door. Their AC kicked ass! However, then the cigarette smoke immediately hit us. It was a smoking bar.

I am a smoker. However, I feel weird smoking inside a building. I don't even smoke in my own house, except for the patio/living room of the Hobbit Hole, and that is still open-air. So yeah, smoking venues get even to me. And I'm not the one that has to sing lead for 3 hours.

Nevertheless. Plenty of room in Rumourz, and the ceiling was high. So not as bad as it could be. Loaded in to the corner stage area, set up the PA and lights. Plenty of room for everything. I was again on stage right, as opposed to my usual default stage left that I've been occupying for most of my tenure as a bass player. Didn't feel weird until we played, but I'll get to that.

Had to grab a cup of coffee from the place next door. I was dragging some serious ass, and didn't want to be yawning on stage, heh.

The place was filling up with friends and family by set time, which continued to grow as the night went on. Opened with some different songs to again mix it up, "Far From Home" instead of the usual "Miss California."

And the show felt great. Our collective chemistry finally crystallized and we were on fire. The crowd was having a blast and dancing all night. I had many a Yeungling Lager (God I've missed that beer) and several Jager bombs courtesy of the crowd and was feeling really good.

What a fun night. Tho was kinda weird being on stage right, as I felt I was constantly on the verge of skewering Rick in the back with the headstock of my bass. Never happened, but it was something I was constantly aware of.

Ended the set at the appointed time, or a little later than such, heh, and the crowd still demanded an encore. So we played "You Never Call Me By My Name" and Rick led the whole crowd in a sing along. It was awesome! And we all needed that.

Our clothes would be stinky and our throats would be sore from all the smoke. But who gives a fuck \m/, 

Afterwards went with Rick to an after-party with some friends. I was tired but fuck it, I don't know any of these people but Rick does, and doesn't get to see them very often. Was fun and all but I was ready to go early on, heh. Lemmy would have been very disappointed in me.

But we did manage to leave ahead of a line of storms tearing across Lake Erie and heading right towards us. One heck of a light show driving home down dark back country roads at 4am. Quite a bit of rain tho the main cells broke apart and bypassed us.

Slept great that night.

Day 20 -- Sidebar & Grille, Mercer PA

Thursday July 18

Another day threatening storms, delivering, and then clearing out by the evening.

Which was good that we didn't have to get soaked loading into the gig. But it gives the humidity a huge shot in the arm.

Spent the day feeling better, but still not exploring.

Took a shower and felt like I had shed a layer of skin.

And I hadn't been doing much of anything outside except watch Rick and his dad attempt to access the rear AC blower motor in the Silver Bullet II to see why the rear AC only blows hot air from the bottom vents instead of cold air from the ceiling vents. Thought we had mentioned that the blower motor works fine, saving the need to remove half the gear from the back of the van and then figure out how to (unsuccessfully) remove the side panels to look at the damn thing.

All for nothing. And I was sweating profusely just watching.

The gig that night was OK. Humid as hell load in. Central air in the place that worked, sort of. Weird stage area (a booth had been upturned and moved out of the way), so kind of in the middle of this longer-than-wide building in downtown Mercer, rather than in a far corner. Apparently the place is having a financial crunch too. Was a weird vibe in the place tho the owner was really really nice and accommodating.

Snapped a Instagram pic of the Mercer County Courthouse, the centerpiece of the small downtown square. Beautiful building.

The gig was alright. Had family and friends in attendance, people dancing and cheering. But still felt like Rick and I weren't yet firing on all cylinders with James and Steve. Not from any musical short-comings on their part, both very experienced players. But felt like the chemistry hadn't quite mixed yet. (It would, but I jump ahead of my tale). The weird set-up didn't help either.

Tried an experiment and raised my bass up a hair for this show. Saw the video from the radio thing we did in Minneapolis beginning of the tour, Jesus Christ I wear that thing low. My old bass (Cate Blanchett) I know the strap is slightly shorter than the one for my main bass (Minnie Pearl), as the strap had stretched over time. Thought it might make it easier to reach the higher strings, but just felt weird in general. Immediately changed it back the next night. Worth a shot.


So not a total loss by any stretch of the imagination. But just a weird night. It happens. The show must go on, and we got through it, because this is what we do.

Day 19 -- Off day, rural western Pennsylvania

Wednesday July 17

Good to have another day off, even if mid-week when we could be gigging. Woke up way too early on to a foggy dawn. The weather threatened storms most of the day.

Been spending a lot of my time holed up in the upstairs bedroom I am currently occupying.

Partially out of a desire for peace and solitude when not playing a show.

gig nights there is a noisy bar, people, friends, family, drunks, crazy people, depressed people, more noise, great conversations, uncomfortable conversations, etc etc etc. While I love what I do and wouldn't trade it for the world, on days off I need a break from all that. Some peace in a noisy world. Plus, still dealing with what I am dealing with, which makes me want solitude even more, as I don't want to dump my own problems on anyone else's life.

That, and it's been really fucking hot and muggy.

And there is not nearly as much AC up here in rural Pennsylvania as there is down in Texas. 90+ degrees and muggy is just as miserable up here as it is down there. And the Hornyak homestead is a 200 year old farm house. They certainly didn't have central air back in those days, and still don't today. But there are a few window units, and the window fan/blower/air-circulator in my room has helped immensely.

So coupled with my own personal situation and the fact that I don't want to be outside any longer than it takes to smoke a cigarette, I have not been doing a whole lot of exploring of the surrounding area.

Which has kind of troubled me. In past tours I'm like a dog, I want to sniff every corner and rub my butt on the carpet, taking pictures of everything. On this tour, I brought my D-SLR Canon but have taken maybe 2 pictures. That is mainly because of my iPhone.

But around the Hornyak homestead, there are hills, forests, fields, and a nearby swan pond. And I haven't had any desire to wander off save to get some distance from the house to make the occasional heavy phone call.

I just hope I'm not losing my sense of wonder while traveling.

I've toured with people who were either dealing with a lot or were just jaded. And it's kind of sad, and brings down those around them. I don't want to be either, for the sake of the people I'm spending a stupid amount of time in a van with, trying to get through the bad shows to make it to the good ones. A negative attitude is poison, and is unfortunately very contagious.

However on this day I did make an improvement in my mental won state, and did walk down to the swan pond briefly to snap a few pics of the often belligerent swan. He checked me out, but didn't climb out of the water and come at me, bro.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day 18 -- North Country Brewing Company, Slippery Rock PA

Tuesday July 16

Did my best to sleep in. Eric was already en route to Pittsburgh to fly home to Austin. Safe travels brother, been great playing and traveling with ya!

The day was threatening rain and storms, but they subsided by load in time.

Judy whipped Rick and I up some BLT's before heading to Slippery Rock. Still dealing with that I am dealing with, which shall continue to go nameless. Just trying to maintain, I have work to do. Rick said North Country Brewing Company would be a claustrophobic load in, and he wasn't kidding.

Downtown Slippery Rock very quaint, cool little area. Hip college town. Summer session, so not as packed and trafficky as it could have been, which helped get the gear in a little easier.

Again did my best to maintain, as few things stress me out as much as the feeling of BEING IN THE WAY. Small place, but very cool. Corner area by front door was the stage area. Had to fit all our gear and the PA in there. Would be a tight squeeze but totally do-able. Had to load in among people coming and going and a full seating area with tables/chairs. James and Steve already there set up, helped us get the rest of the stuff in.

Tried the wheat beer on tap, can't recall what it was called, but was damn tasty. They had at least 10 homegrown brews.

Felt much more situated by set time. First set felt a little off-kilter, but the four of us haven't even had one full-fledged rehearsal together under our belts, let alone a gig. But went well considering. Small crowd area between us and the bar filled up pretty good with friends and family by second set, and it was a really good show. Felt much better in my own mind playing music, and the pints of wheat beer helped as well, heh!

Very good response, and a less claustrophobic load out, as now the seating area wasn't full anymore like when we got there. James and Steve left as soon as the gear was loaded, I stayed afterwards with Rick and a few stragglers at the bar. One of them was the guy throwing the festival we'd be playing next week. Can't recall his name but a good dude.

Splurged on a carton of American Spirit Yellow at a Sheetz (PA area convenience super-store) on the way back. Was almost out of ciggies, save for about 3 packs worth of rolling tubes and tobacco. Better to stock up and spend some extra money, then to run out and spend even MORE money going pack-or-two-at-a-time-when-and-if-I-could-find-them, or God forbid, going with a lesser and cheaper brand of cigarette. Only the best for my potential lung damaging stress-relief.

Got back to the Hornyak homestead well after 2am. Saw that Rich had installed a window fan-unit in my room. Thanks a million for that. No longer as hot/humid/sticky in that upstairs room. Was damn near shivering by the time the sun came up. Felt great!

Day 17 -- Off day in Pennsylvania

Monday July 15

Finally got some sleep early in the morning and had one hell of a fucked up dream:

Was on a trail carved from limestone cliffs.

There were cockroaches of various sizes and age ranges, crawling and flying around. Suddenly Fox 7 Austin news anchor Joe Bickett was there, with a BB gun that resembled a 9pm semi-automatic pistol. He said "Watch this" and shot at two roaches that were mating. The males had slightly different markings on the tips of their wings, identifying them as such. His shot hit home, there was a splatter of guts, and the male flew off.

Then there was a turtle. Weird looking. The shell of a box turtle or a tortoise, but the head/neck of a soft-shelled turtle. It moved by moving both front legs forward at the same time then pulling forward. Made me think of an old lady on a walker. It stretched out its neck and looked at me. Joe Bickett was there still with his BB pistol. He put it on a low power setting and said, "Watch this."

He fired a shot, which bounced harmlessly off the side of the turtle's shell. He picked it up and showed me. "See this?" he said in reference to the side of the shell, which the bottom and sides were different than the top. He knocked his knuckles on the top of the shell to show me the increased thickness. "You see that? That's ME" he said in reference to the harder top shell. Weird.

Then our Wisconsin friend Jan's daughter was there, young and 20's. She was playing with the turtle on a flat surface of rock. It was in a small enclosure, like the black lining shit you put on edges of flower beds, to keep it from falling off, I presume. She was teasing it, trying to get it to bite her but keeping her hand in a position where it couldn't get it's jaws on her fingers. Like my Chihuahua trying to bite a toy too big for his mouth. I didn't like this much.

Suddenly the turtle managed to nip her, she withdrew her hand and the turtle fell off the surface, landing on its side. There was of course a sickening dull crack. The turtle righted itself, but it's shell had come apart on one side. As it tried to right itself and crawl away, it's shell came completely off and I turned my head to avoid watching it drag its guts with it as it crawled from its shell.

I kept my gaze elsewhere but could hear behind me the turtle scrambling around and the daughter trying to catch it, all the while saying "Oh no, no, no, no, no!"

What the fucking fuck?!?

Anyway. Disturbing dreams aside.

Met Rick's dad and step mom, Rich and Judy, in the morning. Mainly laid low all day, trying to shake off the dream and get some rest. But the heat and humidity had finally found us, and we're staying in a house without central air. Rest was not easy to come by in my upstairs south-facing room.

Farm house on a hill in the middle of the country, surrounded by forests, cornfields, cow pastures, with a small pond nearby complete with a belligerent swan. Quite tranquil, to say the least. The cat and dog, Bo, liked Eric and I immediately.

Attempted afternoon thunderstorm

Finally took a shower during the day, funny how gross and disgusting sitting in a van for 14 hours can make you feel. Add the extra unseasonable humidity and stickiness... Felt like I had shed a layer of skin.

Judy cooked us all an awesome lasagna dinner that evening before the three of us headed into town.

Plan was for a brief run-through that night with the guitarist (James) and drummer (Steve) who'd be joining us for most of the rest of the dates, local players whom Rick has known for years. Steve's dad owns Marks Music in Mercer so we practiced there in a back room, Eric Rietman in tow so he could translate to drummer speak for us should the need arise (it did).

Went well, as well as it could for not quite a full rehearsal before our first gig at North Country Brewing Company the next night in Slippery Rock PA. We'll see how it goes. Already missing Matt and Eric, as we'd been playing with them for 2 weeks straight and getting tight musically and personally as a result. But adjusting to new drummers is part of my job description as a bass player, so I'll figure Steve out after a gig or two.

Back to the house, I did my best to get to bed early, and succeeded to a point.


Day 16 -- Off, drive to Pennsylvania

Sunday July 14

Last morning at Ryan and Amy's place, and our last morning in Wisconsin Rapids before heading to Pennsylvania, dropping Matt Brooks off en route in Madison WI. Eric would be flying out from Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Got to see Ryan and Amy briefly before heading out. Shot a few arrows at the practice target. Packed up and tried not to forget anything. Amy was talking about the little girl with rare leukemia from the benefit the previous night. Turns out there have been several cases lately, all in the vicinity of a nearby paper mill. Yeah. Erin Brokovich type shit. And unfortunately most of them didn't make it. Sad. Again, love and light to that little girl and her family.

One last view of the Wisconsin River

Repacked the van for the trip, making sure Matt's stuff was near the front. Van Tetris, Level: Expert.

Drive to Madison was uneventful until we got to the Perkins parking lot which served as a rendezvous point. Driving into it, had deja vu that I had been to that Perkins years back with The Mother Truckers.

Getting Matt's stuff out of the van in the July sun, a young girl pulled into the parking lot like a bat out of hell, and clipped a new Lexus as she tried to park next to it. She got out to look, and Rick and I had a peek ourselves. "Oh, it didn't leave a scratch."

"Yes, it did. There is your white paint right there on the back fender."

She said she was going to report it and went inside. Her cousin came out as Rick was getting pics of the license plates.  Driver girl came back out, Rick asked if she had reported it yet. "Not yet, but I am going to."

Yeah fucking right. She was going to pick up her cousin and get the hell out of there. Rick and Eric went in to report it to management before she could.

As Matt's ride pulled in, his buddy and Matt's wife got out and identified the car as the one that cut them off in traffic a few minutes before. Now we knew we were doing the right thing by getting involved. Fucking people.

Helped Matt pile his gear and luggage into the tiny Ford Focus and said our goodbyes. Been great traveling and playing with him, he's a great guy and hell of a guitar player, even with bum wrists from carpal tunnel surgery. We would also miss the extra Crosby Stills & Nash backing vocals he was adding, the "Oak Ridge Boys note" as he called it.

Adios broham, hope to see you around sometime!

Drive to Pennsylvania was long, arduous but uneventful. Progress slowed thru Ohio due to 20-30 mile stretches of the turnpike being reduced to 2 lanes at 50mph. Be a nice ride if they ever finish building it. That, and the cookie cutter travel oases maintained an uncomfortable feeling of deja vu.  Driving all day, and constantly stopping at what looks like the exact same place. Fuck...

Fun with fake mustaches

Crossed into Pennsylvania well after dark. Stopped for a breather at a rest area just inside the boarder and was relieved to finally be at a place that we hadn't just been to 4 times.

Made it to the Hornyak Homestead in the middle of nowhere Western Pennsylvania, somewhere between Greenville and Mercer well after midnight. The three of us got settled into our respective rooms for the night. And I unwillingly stayed up til 7am.

Funny how tiring a 14-hour van ride is. Then 3 cups of coffee en route and heavy things on my mind = no sleep right when I need it the most.

Day 15 -- Wild Horse Saloon, Wisconsin Rapids WI

Saturday July 13


Ok, maybe I shouldn't have overdone it like that. Woke with a 4-alarm hangover that lasted pretty much all damn day and well into the evening. Took Tylenol to deal with the headache 3 separate times with little effect.

But nevertheless, this would be our last Wisconsin date and expected a blowout.

Wild Horse Saloon is kind of out of town in the middle of back country roads. Has a bar/grille with a much larger banquet hall attached, which was having a benefit that day for a little girl with a rare form of leukemia. Sad shit. Love and light to her and her family.

Sky that afternoon

In the gymnasium-sized banquet hall there was buffet food, raffles, a stage and band, with another stage and bands outside. And there were 1000 people there throughout the day. So we were hoping for some generous spillover crowd into the bar area, as thru it was one of the exits.

Set up in the low ceilinged cafeteria area attached to the bar but right next to the door. Kind of a wide area to cover so we were very spread out, with Eric and Matt to the right of Rick (there was a fireplace in the middle of the back wall). We kept joking about feeling distant from one another.

Photo by Rick Hornyak

I'd been guzzling water all day and was feeling a little sick even from that. After setting up gear, PA and light rig, we were all starving. Our contract said free bar food. However the bar kitchen was closed due to the benefit. Well shit.

So we make our way to the crowded banquet hall to buy some of the benefit food. We certainly did not mind paying as it was going to a good cause. Eating did little to help me feel better. Just, wow.

But the banquet hall was swinging, and our set ended an hour or so after it, so we were still very optimistic about this show being a huge blowout.

Unfortunately that was not the case... the benefit had been going on all afternoon, and our set began towards the tail end of it. Yeah a lot of people came through the bar area but most of them caught a song or so and left to go home. Well poop.

We did have a few tables of people there enjoying it. Some from previous shows (Anchor Bay show and Freddie's gig with the obnoxious lady), others people who had just wandered in and liked what they heard. So we made the most of it, and so did they! We had a blast and they followed suit. Rick even led everyone in a conga line around the venue at one point.

Smoking a ciggie outside during set break, I was reminded of one of the many reasons I love being a working musician and traveling all over. Looking up at the moon, and seeing it is at a noticeably different angle in the sky from what I am used to.

In central Texas the moon ranges from high angle to almost completely overhead. Here in Wisconsin it was much lower in the sky. Awesome.

I think it was 10pm when I finally caught my second wind and started feeling relatively human again. Good lord. Still had fun despite the bummer of a turnout. Not the blowout we were hoping for, but still a fun show regardless.

Day 14 -- Freddie's Pub & Eatery, Wisconsin Rapids WI

Friday July 12

Awoke still trying to wrap my head around what I had witnessed the previous night at Sha-Hooters. Had to revisit the video I had taken, which I finally managed to upload (tried to during the show by damn wonky signal took for every and chewed up the battery life on my phone).

Trying to recall how the afternoon was spent, as I am writing this a week after the fact...

But early load in, and an early show. We were playing outside on Freddie's back patio, and the heat was finally creeping in. Hoping we wouldn't be in the sun since it was a 6pm start time. Turns out, not.

There was an outside little building which we were able to set up inside of, and still have the patio for the crowd area. Kinda weird, but it worked great. The garage doors facing the patio were open, and Freddie himself removed the middle door from the hinges. All the windows were opened and suddenly the wonderful breeze was cooling down the weird little amphiteater-esque structure. Plus the building would help shield some of the ambient noise, so hopefully none of the surrounding houses would complain about it...

Went inside to order burgers. And wow. These were some of the best burgers I'd had the whole tour, and I have had some good burgers. Simple and tasty. Awesome!

By the time we went on the crowd was still kind of thin, but holy shit. There was an older woman there with her husband/dude/whatever, already pounding 7 and 7's (in this case a pint glass of ice and Seagram's 7 with a sprizting of  7-up). And she was already loud and obnoxious. We hadn't even started yet, and she was already showing her own weird approval by heckling us.





Just, wow. And we hadn't even picked up our instruments left. Myself, Eric, Matt and the few other people there were already shaking our heads and chuckling uncomfortably. And we felt bad for her "dude."

So this was the dialog going on before, during, and after each song for a good part of the first set. Rick was getting a kick out of it, which was good cause I was starting to fantasize about clocking her in the head with my bass so she'd shut the fuck up.

But she had to "leave early", before 9pm, and still wanted to hear "Folsom Prison Blues." Rick told her it was 8:45 (it was really 7:30). We hoped it would work but it didn't. We finally played the Johnny Cash classic, and waited with bated breath for her reaction...


Well shit, didn't see that coming. We didn't, and her and her dude finally buggered off to go be obnoxious somewhere else. Soon as she left, everyone in the crowd and us included were all yelling "RIIIICK!!!!" and laughing. Bless her heart for drinking the way that she does to deal with whatever she was dealing with.

But fucking hell, if you're going to be a drunk/obnoxious/slurring loudmouth in public, people are going to make fun of you the rest of the night/week after you leave. Deal with it.

SO anyway, the rest of the night went great. Not a huge crowd, but plenty of people there including our Mulligan's friends Jan and Owen. Everyone having a good time and not feeling uncomfortable anymore. Got done in time for the sun to do down, and we hadn't set up our light kit.

Spent the rest of the evening drinking heavily and having a good time. I needed a good drunk, it was long overdo. Have certainly had the option every night we play, but just didn't feel like it. But once in awhile can be therapeutic.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day 13 -- Shooters, Plover WI

Thursday July 11

Awoke to one of Eric's fabulous blueberry pancake breakfasts.

Downtime in the afternoon, so we stopped by a Walgreens so I could get some hydrocortisone for the numerous mosquito bites I'd been acquiring the past few days and more deodorant so I don't stink up the van. Went by Ryan's mom's place to hang out by her pool for a bit, I didn't get in but was nice relaxing there.

While there, weighed myself on the bathroom scale out of curiosity. Was feeling a little thin, and sure enough was down to 152. I usually run 155-160. Note to self: regardless of how stressed I am, food is more nourishing than a cigarette.

Drive to Plover for the Shooters gig was again, quick and painless. Shooters, or Sha-Hooters as they call it, is a cool place with an attached banquet room with good food. Run by this crazy guy Gene the Dancing Machine, who was apparently really good on the concertina and trumpet. He was indeed a character, and I will present evidence of such very shortly.

Set up in the corner, got everything up in running, then off to the banquet room for our complimentary burgers and mashed potatoes.

We waited a bit to see if the crowd would grow a bit before we started. We were admittedly a bit worried. Sha-Hooters usually has a built in crowd, but apparently they hadn't arrived yet. Made small talk with some people, turns out a dude at the bar was from Round Rock (just north of Austin) and here for work. So were we, heh! Small world sometimes.

So we dove into the first set and people started showing up after a few songs. What a relief! Rest of the show was really fun, got a great crowd reaction, and had two different drummers get up and sit in for a tune.

But during set break, something amazing happened. Gene finally got out his trumpet and played happy birthday to a guy at the bar. And played it *purposely* horrible. But you could still tell he was a great playing *trying* to sound like he has never played before, heh.

Then he got out the concertina and this happened:

Just, wow. One of the many reasons I love being a touring musician. Because you get to experience things like that. Words fail me, but "awesome" or some variant comes to mind. Wow!

Rest of the show was a blast. Good times with weird people in weird places. I love my job!

Again, drive back to Wisconsin Rapids was quick and painless.

Day 12 -- Archie's Still, Stevens Point WI

Wed July 10

Yes, the overnight drive was a fine idea. Showered in the morning and felt like I'd shed a layer of skin.

Again, no sign of Ryan and Amy as they are usually busy with the catering business, and their young daughters were away at camp.

Ate the rest of my oven pizza from the Adriatic for breakfast. Been trying to eat healthy, but sometimes you gotta take what you can get...

Drive to Steven's Point was quick and uneventful. Archies Still is a cool little place in their downtown area run by a nice lady named Kathy who toured as a drummer in polka bands for 25 years. When she bought the venue from Archie several years ago, she kept the name. Well, added to it. Archies (Still). heh!

Great vibe in the place. And awesome that the urinal in the men's room also doubles as a wishing well.  Gross as it is to admit, Kathy explained that it is a good indicator of the state of the local economy. When times get tough, the money doesn't stay in there very long...

After setting up in a corner of the bar and getting the house PA ready to go she served us up hamburgers which were quite good. Free food > paying to eat healthy. Again, you gotta take what you can get.

Good crowd by the time we went on, but been noticing the Wisconsin crowds have been older. Asked Rick about it and he said that with these smaller towns, the kids grow up, go to college, move away and never come back. That makes sense. I did the same thing in Corpus Christi.

The sets were a blast, the people loved us. Got Archie himself to sit in on guitar for "Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line." Then had Kathy get up on drums and she totally slayed on "Folsom Prison Blues." That was awesome!

The "Archies Salute":

Band photo by either Archie or Kathy. Matt Brooks, Rick Hornyak, Eric Rietman, Yours Truly

All in all it was a fun show in a great little place. They all loved us!

Brief drive back to Wisconsin Rapids, and we were home for the night.

Day 11 -- Garden party/The Adriatic, Rockford IL

Tuesday July 9

SO the plan was to haul ass down to Rockford IL.

A singer-songwriter friend of Rick's named Kelly Steward was playing an outdoor garden party at the Anderson Japanese Gardens. She would have us get up and play 2-3 songs on their gear in the middle of their set, then we'd have a club gig at The Adriatic later that evening. Her lead player had offered to put us up for the night, so a free place to stay def helped sweeten the deal.

Drive uneventful, the Anderson Japanese Gardens were beautiful and idyllic. But the heat/humidity had even us thin-blooded Texans squirming and uncomfortable. Kelly's band had a good crowd, 300 or so people, they were set up outside a pavilion. Our 2-song set was met with a very warm reception, and it wasn't just the weather. We hoped people would then want to come see us later on... fingers crossed!

View from the pavilion, photo by Rick Hornyak:

After the songs I finally got to wander around the various trails garden grounds and take in the scenery/pics. The beauty and peace of the place helped settle my mind a little, still dealing with what I am dealing with and don't want to get into it yet.

The Adriatic was a pretty good venue, one of the main hubs for blues and rock in Rockford. Good sized stage and sound. We hoped some spillover from the Anderson Japanese Gardens would take place, but alas. Kelly brought some friends out and some others wandered in off the street. So there were people there, which is always good!

Partying like rockstars at the Adriatic:

Rick checking sound, photo by Eric Rietman

Fun sets tho, felt good to turn up and rock out more \m/, Hung out afterwards and thanked Kelly for her efforts. But we decided to power back to Wisconsin Rapids afterwards, and be where we needed to be rather than have to make the 3 hour drive the next morning. Wise decision, would mean more pre-gig downtime the next day.

Drive was uneventful, traded off with Rick in getting us back. Soon as we crossed back into Wisconsin the heat and humidity was gone, and the air was chilly. Muuuuuuuch better.

Day 10 -- Wisconsin Rapids WI (off)

Monday July 8

Turns out this was the only day off this week, as a gig in Rockford IL came up for Tuesday. Rick had been trying to iron out any details for it and they finally came through.

Days off are good for rest. But they can also be bad -- not making money, burning resources (food/entertainment), and boredom if you're in a place with nothing to do.

But we had plenty to do in Wisconsin Rapids -- like go to the cheese curd factory in Rudolph!

And that's exactly what we did.

If you haven't had squeaky cheese curds, you need to go to Wisconsin. But if you are lactose intolerant, maybe it's best if you stayed home...

Not sure exactly what makes them squeak on your teeth, but they are damn good!

Matt Brooks browses. I believe he spent $70 on cheese \m/,

Afterwards Rick and Eric went to the pool at Ryan's mom's place. I stayed to rest/chill, get some writing done, and deal with what I am dealing with. Life changes. They happen.

That night Ryan and Amy had all of us over for dinner and cooked an awesome meal. They run a restaurant/catering company called Great Expectations, and I certainly had them about the meal. Brats, beer cheese soup, salads, bread... damn it was good. And so good to eat a home cooked meal as opposed to road or bar food.

And good to finally hang out with Ryan and Amy and their two younger daughters and get to know our hosts. They'd been out of town most of the time Eric and I had been there, weird just being in someone else's house and I don't even know who these people are... but keep hearing great things about them. And they are indeed really, really good people.

So yeah.

Not a very exciting day to read about, but that's the beauty of off days. Gigs days for a musician have so much chaos/travel/sensory overload/excitement/noise/weird shit or lack thereof, that on a day off it's nice to just have some peace, and just be.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 9 -- Anchor Bay, Wisconsin Rapids WI

Sunday July 7

One more gig before 2 much-needed days off. Or so we thought, but I jump ahead of my tale.

Left around hotel checkout time to trek back to Wisconsin Rapids for a gig and to remain there as a base of operations again for the coming week. Drive uneventful. Dropped off our luggage then drove off into the woods to find Anchor Bay.

Another pretty cool place next to a lake. And again, they fed us and provided a few adult beverages per band member. But we were playing outside in the afternoon. We were in the shade more or less, but also out of the breeze. So all the mosquitoes were using the corner where Eric's drums were as their own base of operations to swarm out and bite the shit out of all of us. We used up what little bug repellant we had, and finally got some more from the crowd once we started playing.

And it was getting kind of hot. Or as we Texans refer to it, "April." Set up and went in to grab food before our set, and made arrangements to start a little later so we had time to digest a bit before we started playing. God forbid we get sick in the heat and barf onstage in front of families and old people.

Food was good, had a grilled chicken sandwich and a salad. Trying to eat more greens and spread out my red meat intake. Helped myself to an Island Wheat courtesy of the wooden nickels they gave the band members. Mainly spent time by myself before the set and during set breaks, had a lot on my mind.

The show was fun tho, and the mosquitoes didn't completely drain us of blood. It was pretty damn hot, and for awhile the sun was blaring through a gap in the patio covers. I actually played most of the gig in sunglasses. During set break Matt had to put the improvised amp cover he and his wife had made out of reflective car windshield screens onto to his amp to keep it from overheating as it was in full sun.

A fun show, but sweaty as all hell. But we got the old and young couples alike up and dancing, more than 100 people there at peak crowd, including friends from the Mulligan's Pub crowd. Good times, good show.

Loaded out swatting at mosquitoes, the locals said the big ones will come out after sundown and they were not kidding. Holy shit. Had lots of stowaways in the van after having the doors open to get the gear in.

Got back to Amy and Ryan's and finally met them in person as they were back from vacation. They are VERY good people.

Day 8 -- Minocqua Brewing Company, Minocqua WI

Saturday, July 6

Awoke early (for me, 9:30pm) to again make use of free hotel breakfast. Better to lose sleep than to lose money buying food constantly. My sleep has been up and down, but the comfy beds and generous AC in the Fairfield help. Do not recall any dreams.

Headed out mid-afternoon to journey north to Minocqua, near-ish close to the Michigan border. Another stop at same gas station with a Subway and terrible pop music still blaring from the speakers at the pumps. Had another 6-inch sub to stave malnutrition, but tonight the venue was feeding us.

Before we hit the forests:

While Wausau area looked like Squatch country, the drive to Minocqua was DEFINITELY Squatch country. My cell reception ranged from decent to completely non-existant en route. Morale and spirits still good tho I was dealing with some things back home which I won't get into.

Minoqua mainly a summer lake town, lots of money. Definitely buzzing with post-4th of July vacationers. Rick had never played the Minocqua Brewing Company, but it had been recommended by Malarkey's owner Tyler, and that was good enough for him. Just by the correspondence he'd had booking, they were already treating us like royalty. Which also goes a long way when you're a long way from home.

Got turned around trying to find it, but it afforded us this awesome photo op:

Yup, we were definitely up north. And yup I'm definitely representing Bucky's. Seeing Paul Bunyan signs and statues reminds me of my childhood, visiting family in Minnesota and the lake cottage my grandparents once owned. There are probably family pics somewhere of my sister and I next to the Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji.

Anyway, pardon for waxing nostalgic. Found the Brewing Company, very nice place! However we'd have to load up the stairs once inside the front door, but no big deal as I'm still blown away by how light we are traveling. Nice little venue, nice stage, nice people runnin that place. And the PA was still set up so we wouldn't have to lug that in as well. Bonus!

Loaded in but waited on soundcheck, as it was still pretty early. And it was starting to warm up as well, probably a heat wave for northern Wisconsin, but to us Texans we refer to that as "March."

We filed downstairs to the restaurant area to order food. Heard great things about their burgers, as well as everything else on the menu, and everything we heard was true. Had a Mediterranean burger and a side salad. Wow. I was fighting off a food coma for the next 2 hours, but well worth it.

The Brewing Company is right on the lake, and unfortunately I didn't get any pics of the lounge area behind us with windows overlooking the water (was full of people and I felt weird taking pictures of random strangers, heh). Beautiful area and buzzing with activity and motorboats. Bet it's peaceful when not a holiday weekend.

Finally began sampling the namesake brews now that I had a full stomach. Was really digging their Hefeweizen, the actual name of which escapes me (that's what happens when I wait a week to update this blog...).

Where the magic happens:

Decent amount of people there when we started the first set, but they were mainly waiting for a table at the restaurant downstairs. But they were digging us. Good sets, good sound, good stage. Crowd ebbed and flowed but the people there dug it so that's good as well. We made a very good impression and will def be back!

Drive back to the hotel outside was uneventful

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day 7 -- Malarkey's Pub, Wausau WI

Friday July 5

Awoke to the kids gone (thank God). But however their mess in the kitchen was not. Son of a bitch. Which meant that Eric and I would have to clean it, lest Amy and Ryan think we trashed their house and left it for them to come home from vacation to.

Also the kid was supposed to get cat food, as the cats were completely out, and being very vocal about it. No such luck. We found a can of food for them, but Rick later saved the day when he came to pick us up.

Made myself an egg breakfast, which helped to a point. Plan was we had 2 nights at a hotel outside Wausau (wherever that is) as a base of operations for the next 2 shows, in Wausau proper Friday and then Minocqua on Saturday. Another Fairfield Marriot. Very nice. Complimentary breakfast as well, good to know.

Drive to Wausau uneventful, getting into north central Wisconsin, not quite Michigan, middle of nowhere. Beautiful country, but definitely Sasquatch turf. Stopped at a gas station with a Subway en route. Had a footlong Italian BMT. Ate the whole damn thing, and glad I did. Was good to feel full for the first time in several days.

Downtown Wausau was very quaint, Malarkey's Pub was on the main square. The old school small town downtowns you don't see too much of anymore. Very nice place, run by Tyler who is a very good dude. Usually around 4th of July all the locals head "up north" to stay in cabins, and he usually closes down. But he knew Rick and kept his bar open so Rick would have a place to play. The type of guy into music for the music, rather than trying to make a buck. We need more people like him.

Parked behind in a parking lot ringed by a pipe which we had to load the gear over to get it into the back door. Not the end of the world, I am constantly impressed by how light we are traveling and how little our gear weighs. The only piece of gear with any real gravitas is Matt's chopped Fender Bassman 2x10, and it's more bulky than weighty.

Very nice place, small stage that served as a drum riser. We set up on the floor, my amp by the unused fireplace. Not a huge crowd but the people there dug it and were having fun. Drank a few pints of whatever local brew made a mile from the venue, which I still can't remember, and could never remember at the time anyway. Damn.

The sets went well, nice to not have a steady stream of people in varying states of intoxication constantly walking by coming to or from the bathrooms, heh. I would occasionally peak over at Matt's charts, but mainly for the opening chord. After than I was usually fine. Glad the music is finally starting to sink in. Remembering the lyrics for harmonies... still working on that.

Afterwards stayed past close hanging out with Tyler, him and Rick trading off on acoustic guitar and playing Bib Dylan songs. Finally said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel for rock star partying. Which in Eric and I's case was playing games on our iPhones. Either of us have yet to turn on a hotel room television. Which I am very happy about.

Day 6 -- Wisconsin Rapids, WI @ Big Al's II

Thursday July 4

America, Fuck Yeah!

Starting the first real leg of the tour, 4 more shows til day off on Monday.

Awoke early to take advantage of hotel complimentary breakfast prior to the drive back to Wisconsin Rapids.

Uneventful drive. Went straight to Big Al's II downtown (so to speak), already buzzing with 4th of July related activities, people claiming spots along the Wisconsin River for firework viewing, many people already down at the "Barmuda Triangle" getting their Happy Birthday America drink on.

Big Al's II is a low ceiling dive bar run by good people. Went to park in the alley behind to load in. But a drummer from a band playing next door was already there and blocking said alley. He wanted to back his trailer (containing only his drums) aside into a small parking niche, but was not confident he'd be able to and wanted to enlist us in helping physical move the trailer into position. Luckily he was able to park it cause we would have said No.

We'd need the PA and lights, as there were neither. And the main hitch about setting up was we'd have to place ourselves in a wedge formation, as the only paths to the bathrooms were on our immediate right and left. Good to know.

We pulled it off, covering easily trip-over-able cables with rugs, of gaffing them down with tape. Tight squeeze but we managed. PA mains on stands out of the way, lights set up. Even put a mic in Eric's kick drum as Rick had to put his amp directly in front of it. OK, lets go rest before showtime.

Back at Amy and Ryan's place I helped myself to a cup of Campbells chicken noodle soup. The last thing of any substance I'd have all day, and would feel it later. A brief nap helped my energy level.

Back for soundcheck and showtime, Big Al's was pretty swinging. But then the fireworks started and it kinda cleared out, understandable. Smoked ciggies in the alley behind, doing my best to avoid the dumpster juice leaking on the asphalt and trying to send a picture of the weird Mexican luchador figure in the window of the house behind the venue to Instagram. Weird shit.

Went on to a decent crowd, and a fun show. Playing in the crossroads to the bathroom turned out to not be problematic, thank God, as I was sure eventually an uncoordinated drunk would knock over *something*. But it was all good. Drinks were flowing, people dancing, good times.

Afterwards hung with some of the locals I'd already met and got to hang out with some new faces. Like Marv, who I'd been hearing about the whole time. And the stories were true. He liked to drink, and as his inebriation waxed he became more animated with his facial expressions as opposed to speech. Goddamn, the guy could have been a physical comedian. Funny shit. And a good guy. Always interesting the people you meet on the road.

Had a few Jager bombs and Budweiser tallboys during the night, so along with malnutrition, had a pretty good buzz. But still we all hunkered down and packed up everything like a trained military unit. Gear, lights, PA and were done in no time.

Back at the house as Rick dropped us off unfortunately Amy and Ryan's older son was at the house, which was not foreseen. Him and his buddy drunk and cooking food late at night. I was starving, but opted to retreat to the upstairs bedroom rather than have to hang out with some drunk kids in order to get some nourishment of any kind. I was beat. Went to bed hungry, and glad I did.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 5 -- Minneapolis MN, radio gig

Wednesday July 3

Eric made us an awesome pancake breakfast.

As house guests we did our best to clean up after ourselves, but would totally clean the kitchen before we left for 2 days/gigs in the Wausau WI area on Friday, and before the family whose house we were given free reign in would return. Our mess was minimal and would be no sweat to take on. Or so we thought, but I jump ahead of my tale...

Drive to whatever town we staying in on the border of Wisconsin/Minnesota uneventful. However we did pass this crazy pavilion building which was also a radio station, with a huge cow statue nearby, and hooked a U-turn to check it out real quick. I like doing cool/weird shit like that.

The cow was, in fact, The World's Largest Talking Cow. Put a quarter into a contraption at the base of the huge heiffer, and she went on at length about the history of the building. Should have named her The Most Long-Winded Talking Cow as well. The pavilion building was still an operating radio station. Checked it out briefly and went on our way.

Arrived at the Fairfield Marriott in ___________? WI with time to grab food and chill for a bit before crossing the river and heading towards the Twin Cities. Wandered around with Eric, trying to avoid fast food or gas station food. A Chipotle... score!!! A single burrito would provide two very affordable meals.

But alas, a line out the fucking door. Damn!

Wandered around a bit more and settled on Arby's.  Better than nothing, and better than McDonalds or a gas station chicken salad sandwich.

Drive to Minneapolis uneventful. Hopefully the trend of uneventful drives continues throughout the rest of the tour...

Minneapolis is another city I've been to many times. Have family in Minnesota but couldn't really make plans see anyone as we are performing in a radio station then hauling ass back to Wisconsin right after. Maybe next time.

After circling the block several times finally found the Baylor (?) Building housing KFAI-FM. We were performing on a weekly show called Live in Studio 5. Thought it was being taped, but it was indeed a live broadcast... damn I better have my charts handy. This would be our first official live performance. Yeah, no pressure there, heh!

Orrin the engineer and MJ the DJ were all really good people. The station was upstairs and praise be to Elisha Otis for inventing the elevator. Packed into the small Studio 5 room and got to work setting up and prepping to do a soundcheck. I must say, Heather's bass combo amp performs fabulously when taken off the MUTE setting \m/,

Look Ma, I'm on the radio! Oh wait...

We played kinda soft to avoid too much mic bleed. Our headphone mixes were perfect, as isn't always the case under such conditions. Also had other staff cramming into the room to get video for two songs. Again, no pressure.

We played very well and it went as smooth as could be! Awesome first official performance of this line up, and again no pressure! Listening to Orrin's rough mixes afterwards, we were damn impressed! We sounded great and Orrin did a great job making that so. He would be sending them soon when completed. Probably already archived at

Rick Hornyak and the Sweet Clover Band (we've been coming up with alternative band names the past few days, which I will not be posting as they range in level of wrongess-on-all-levels, and my mom reads this blog as well...):

Matt Brooks, Rick Hornyak, Eric Rietman, Yours Truly.

Signed one of posters for the station which they had printed up, featuring a pic that Eric had taken in KC 2 days ago, said our goodbyes and loaded out (again thank you, Elisha Otis, and whoever invented amp casters). 20 minute drive back to the hotel for sleep before the drive back to Wisconsin Rapids the next morning.


Here is a video of "Miss California" put together by the Live From Studio 5 crew. Enjoy!