| From the Road or Why to Become a FolkStar
with Apologies to Anthony of Padua, Patron Saint of Asses
|Learn to be Open to New Experiences
The Mission - Steven's Point, WI
One of the highlights of this year was a weekend tour we did with the esteemable Eric Addington. Friday night's gig at the Acoustic Cafe in Eau Claire went well so the next morning we proceeded as planned and left for Steven's Point for a Saturday show at The Mission. On the way we passed through Wassau and I recognized this old working class pub/restaurant from when I was a kid; it was on the way to grandmother's house. I've only been there twice now but the Wassau Mine Company is the highlight of my life. The whole pub is above ground but has no windows beacuse all the walls are fake rock... they really ran with the whole mine theme. Old tools, black & white photographs, and authentic mining lamps line the walls. It took a beer and a
|couple orders of cheesesticks to realize that one of the men pulled up at the bar was in fact a dummy... I guess the fact that he never moved and was dressed in full miner's regalia didn't really phase us as we walked right by him to get to our table.
We split that evening's performance and soundguy (humanimalien) with the Rev. Ed Danger and his vibe-loaded folk/jazz loops. We left our small crowd early to catch the real show in town that night... LJ Booth and Justin Roth at the subtly hip Clarke Place just down the road. Booth and Roth were amazing and Eric is a good friend of Justin's so we got to meet him and his new haircut. Booth, we just drooled over.
We ended up staying later than we should have, despite the responsibilities both Sherry and I had the next morning at church, in order to catch the tail end (no pun...) of the annual Steven's Point naked run. I guess, once a year, unannounced and unclothed the college track team takes to the streets of downtown and bares all. It was an interesting thing to witness. By the time the track team had cleared the streets other students and bar-goers were beginning to loose various layers of their clothing. Now, I'm not one for public displays of affection... let alone public indecency... but it was an incredible feeling just to be a part of something so unusual and intrinsically human. There was a grand spirit of something greater than just normalcy and individual aims.
|Work with Reliable and Dependable People
River Rock Coffee - St. Peter, MN
We left Rochester early one friday so that we could make the hour and a half drive to St. Peter and still have at least an hour before we started playing. It was a gorgeous late spring day so we were pleased when we arrived and saw that the stage was outside in a neat little courtyard. More pleased than when we opened our car doors and heard the sound of a band that was playing on our stage. When we went inside to inquire on the status of our alledged gig the workers behind the counter were as confused as we were. They thought that there were no bands signed up to play this Friday... imagine their surprise when two showed up. Apparently this band, playing some forsaken brand of rusted pot-rock, had arrived about half an hour before we had. Note to self: calling earlier in the week to confirm your gig doesn't mean as much as you think it does.
Not being one to waste a trip I had this great idea about calling other venues in the area with hopes of scoring a last minute gig. We basically begged, but all we scored were some laughs at the names of the bands who were playing at whatever coffeeshop, bar, or pawn shop we had pulled out of the phone book. All said and done, we and our small enterage (thanks Mom & Dad), went to a local restaurant and listened to the skillful blues styling of Big Daddy.
|Help Your Friends Meet New People
Cup of Joe - Cedar Falls, IA
Ok, so, Katie is the new music bookie at Cup of Joe. She's incredible. Besides being really cool on the phone and telling me about her poetry readings she offered Sherry and I her apartment's floor for the night and a home cooked spaghetti dinner... all this on our first conversation. Anyone who has talked with me on the phone knows that my inate charm had nothing to do with this.
Cup of Joe is right across from a local theatre of some sort so beside their music regulars there was a whole strew or art-mindful people who came in for a while before and after the play that night. Add to this evening our friend Josh Brecht's crazy drum skills and a surprise apperance from another friend Devan, who is currently and mysteriously studying in Cedar Falls, and you have yourself a good night. On top of this we caught a great blues band after the show and caught up with some more friends and... didn't get a speeding ticket. What more can you ask for in Iowa?
|Meeting People is Easy
Daily Grind Coffee - Stillwater, MN
We were kindof excited to play in Stillwater. We both know a bunch of people who
reside in the Twin Cities and they alway seem to be bitching about how we never play
there. Plus, last time we were supposed to play here they canceled about 3 hours before
we were set to start. Note: my parents have only tried to come to two gigs... both have
been canceled. We were not so lucky this time.
Atter spending about 15 minutes trying to find the place (it's about the size of a new york efficency, demitasse) we unloaded our gear to the crooning of an angry Elvis impersonator. He looked like Elvis, if Elvis had been in the mafia, he sounded like Elvis, if Elvis had sung Puccini instead of waggling his hips, and he had just been kicked out of the restaurant just above the coffeeshop... so, he was, how shall we say... disgruntled. He must have got about 20 different people not to go up those stairs with his rants on food poisoning and his booming "heartbreak hotel".
After setting up our stuff in an area about as big as my bathroom we waited for people to come in as the appointed time drew nearer. I've always wondered what we'd do if the start time came and no one was to be seen. Now I know. Not much else to do but take the stage and start playing. We played for at least 20 minutes before a living soul came in (besides the barista, or course). Even then it was only people coming in to grab a coffee and then jet... talk about "built in audience". We continued this way through our first set until some of our friends finally found the place and filled some chairs with their blessed butts. Thank God for good friends. Also, thanks to the group of teenagers (who, undoubtedly, are reading this) who came in half way through and kept asking for more e-bow. You made my night.
|Experience Congenial Working Conditions
Java Live - Faribault, MN
We met the owners of Java Live when we played there last winter. A good couple with a geniune love for good music. We also met their upstairs neighbor. Before starting our musical onslaught we went out the back door to catch a breath in the crisp winter air of downtown Faribault. After about 5 minutes of talking a window above us opened and the aforementioned neighbor hailed us with a gruff, "What are you doing?", prompting a witty but honest reply from me, "Just hanging out". "Well, this is not the place for that" he shouted out, from two stories above, as his window shut on our conversation. Public street. About 7:00pm. Audible "hanging out" level =
|moderate to restrained.
The concert went well. Nice big stage and a very supportive and engaged audience. Just hope that we didn't play too loud becuase... this IS the place for that.
|Be a Part of the Do It Yourself Methodology
Coffee Grounds - Falcon Heights, MN
Another night with our own sound guy. Can I just say, ungratefully, that I don't really like when someone else is doing our sound. You never know where you're at or how far you can push things. Better to be diminuatively in control, right..? Plus, I had been talking up my new looper skills to my brother (who came for the show... what a guy) and I didn't even try explaining how we might get this plugged in to his system.
|The Coffee Grounds is a great place to play though. Great owners, husband and
wife team, of course. They really dug the front page of our website too... so much
so that they printed it off and had it up around the shop as advertising for our gig.
Maybe that's why there weren't many people... they all thought it was some sort of
presentation on the stock market or something.
Increase Your Physical Fitness
If I have to lug this "lightwieght" soundsystem one more time I'm gonna quit and join
some balalaika orchestra.
Learn from Your Elders
Rhythm & Brews - Lake City, MN
This gig was probably #2 on my "really excited for" list; and for good reason. Last
time here we had a great time playing for a very musically literate audience and even
had some sit-in mandolin (non-protest style) from Bill, the owner or something else
just as important. We had specially scheduled this date so that Bill would be around
to jam with us. Well, sometimes things just have a way of not working out. Bill was
a no show... tears fell on my end.
The audience was very sweet and encouraging but approximately the same age as my grandma. Let's just say that we had to tune things down a bit. I swear the Alexander Graham Bell himself kept asking us to turn the guitars down. Something about waiting for an important phone call from the patent office.
Increase Your Earning Power
Acoustic Cafe - Winona, MN
Acoustic Cafes, as a mini-chain, are great places to play because of their atmosphere, respect for musicians, and the fact that they give you a check in addition to the tips you earn. This, coupled with a free beer and sandwich and you're on top of the game financially... well, loosely speaking.
About half way through our first set we learned that there was a young man who was to be wed the next day in the audience. He was with his groomsmen for the bachelor's party. Sherry proceeded to dedicate and play "Piece of Ass", as is commonplace in such situations, to the groom. He and his party returned about 30 minutes later with the bride and her people. They requested something romantic to dance to. After ruling out "So Much for Love" due to its subtle divorce themes we played a rather cheesy rendition of that country wedding-song "When you Say Nothing at All" and they slow danced to it. After a little prompting, the rest of the party danced, non-slow, to "Yesterday's Parties", another classic wedding-song except... written by me. After careful thought, this had to be one of the weirdest things I've ever seen. Here's to the happy couple.
|i am, among all men, most richly blessed|