Tour Blog 5

By , June 18, 2014 3:34 pm

When I left off, we were heading to Texas, a state I had never visited before, pretty exciting!  It was an early departure from Santa Fe, and it was going to be a long day of driving, but luckily there was no gig we had to get to, just a hotel room waiting at the end.

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Ben and Nathan took the lion’s share of the drive.  High priority for everyone was to get some real Texas barbecue at some point, which we did in Amarillo, at Tyler’s Barbeque.  The owner talked to us for a while – apparently they get bands in there fairly frequently – and he was really hospitable and nice.  He told us about Texas and we told him about the Northwest, which he’s visited once or twice, and he asked us about touring and the van we use, among other things.  It was a great first Texas experience for me!

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The weather took a pretty nasty turn during Nathan’s part of the drive, although I was asleep for most of it.  Some of the darkest stormclouds anyone had seen before rolled in and there were heavy rains for a couple of hours.  But we made it through and Nate kept chugging until we got to Dallas to stop for dinner.  From there it was an hour and a half to our hotel in Houston.

The next day we were playing at Plonk Wine Bistro, and we weren’t really sure what to expect.  From what we gathered, it wasn’t a traditional music venue; the owner would pay for an outdoor live music event 3 or 4 times a year as a  kind of celebration for his regular patrons and friends.  Because of this, and the fact that we had never played in town before, we didn’t know if anyone showed up.  As it turns out, people did show, and they were really enthusiastic!  There was a fair amount of New Orleans transplants there too; it appears as though they’ve built their own live music community there in Houston, pretty cool!

The next morning was a somewhat early one so that we could make it on time to our load in at the Austin venue, Speakeasy.  My friend Lindsay had been in Dallas visiting family, and she made the trip down to Austin to come to the show, which was very awesome of her!  I had a delicious gourmet hot dog at a stylish hot dog shop/coffee shop/bar (seriously) and then met Lindsay at Fado, just like Seattle.  She showed me around town a little bit, although not as much as I would have liked but time was a little limited.  One of the bars we stopped at had Western dancing lessons in the evening and then a dance band at night that you could try your moves out with, which seemed pretty fun, and Stubb’s barbecue was served outside.  This was a big deal for me because I only knew of Stubb’s from the barbecue sauce that’s sold in grocery stores in Seattle; to be somewhere where the real deal was cooked was a neat experience!  Of course, the night was warm, so there were bike cabs everywhere, moreso than in Seattle, so that was a little different scene too.

The actual performance at Austin went okay; the conclusion we came to was that the venue just wasn’t a good fit for us.  There was a comedy show in the front room while we were in the back, and anyone coming in had to pay cover for both, not a great business strategy.  Oh well.  I’m excited to go back to Austin someday, as I enjoyed the people and the city seemed really hip!

Also, big shout out to Amy for a nice stay at an apartment that belonged to friends of hers, beautiful river-view and enough room for 9, what a blessing!

OKAY…next up:  New Orleans.  I’ve already talked off many of your ears about NOLA if I’ve seen you recently, but it’s already been a month since the trip (geez, time is moving quickly these days), so I think it will be good for me to reiterate a lot of my thoughts on the blog, hopefully you enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

Post 4

By , May 7, 2014 6:20 pm

So we’re back home, in beautiful Seattle, but I have still have a ways to go in the tour.  I enjoy talking about it, and hopefully you guys enjoy reading about it, so I’ll keep going.

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Okay…with the end of the Phoenix show came one of our monster drives:  10 hours overnight to Telluride, Colorado.  Jason and Nathan knocked out the majority of the drive and a couple of the rest of us filled in the gaps.  Unfortunately, we had just missed tourist season, as Telluride is a big ski town, but we had an opportunity to put on a show for the locals there, make an impression for next time, and make at least one new fan (albeit a four-legged one that came into the club late).  Regardless, the hospitality was exceptional; we had rooms at a nearby lodge and the staff at the Fly Me to the Moon Saloon treated us well.  Plus, who can beat that view?

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After Telluride came Sol, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  On the way there, while talking to the venue owners, concerns were rising that it may be not be worthwhile to perform at Sol at all; there was some confusion on the date, there had not been time to properly promote, and the efforts we had made to promote had produced little result.  But this was also the only show on the tour where we had the opportunity to collaborate with our old friend and influence, Joel Ricci, aka Lucky Brown.  Joel had been in Taos working on playing and recording music with the lovely Ivy, to whom he is married, and they had driven to Santa Fe to do a special show with us, which was another factor to consider in deciding whether to do the show or not.

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Ultimately, we decided to play, and I think it was a success!  Several regular supporters of the venue were there, as well as 2 local bands and a group of listeners that had driven from out of town to see us.  The gratitude they showed us doubled the turnout in my mind.  The room sounded great, we played well, and to perform with Lucky always keeps things fresh and new, so it was a timely show in that sense, a week and a half or so into the tour.

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We had a day off in Santa Fe, and luckily we had the hospitality of some of Ben’s family, who allowed us to stay at their house.  It was a much-needed 24 hours of laundry, sleep, decompression, and Game of Thrones (for some of us).  As she did allllllll tour, Lauren rocked the meal plan!  We would have been feeling a lot worse without her keeping stuff organized and cooking amazing food for us.

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Next up was Texas:  Houston and Austin.  More on that next post!

 

Tour Blog 3

By , May 4, 2014 11:18 am

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San Diego:  Our San Diego show was in the beach town of Ocean Beach, at Winston’s, where we’d played once before and had a really successful show.  Unlike last time, I went to the beach for a little while before we started, which was gorgeous!  A nice last look before we turned East.  Then I talked to my sis and got the recommendation for fish tacos (she lived in San Diego for a couple of years).  I also found a record store and got a Grant Green vinyl, Solid, with James Spaulding and Joe Henderson, two saxophonists I like.  Our gig was with a local band that I was familiar with through Twitter, Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, and they sounded awesome too; interesting tunes, cool sounds, and nice and supportive people to boot!  I made sure to grab one of their 45s!

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Then we took the left turn to head towards the middle.  First on that route was Phoenix, at Last Exit Live.  The building was kind of on the edge of town and the “green room” was an old airstream trailer; not a lot to look at on the outside.  But, sure enough, the inside was stylish and clean, and they had a fence that was hiding a big patio with nice tables and chairs everywhere.  Their sound system and staff was top notch (several of them from the well-known Recording Institute they have in Phoenix, where my friends Matt and Adam went), and the inside of the trailer was hip too!

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Our local connection there was the Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, and they tore it up!  Lots of energy, commitment to the Fela Kuti sound, and what looked like a community that was really into creative music; several of the audience members had just seen Kneebody in Phoenix the week before, after they played with Hardcoretet in Seattle, and they had listened to some of the Polyrhythmics before we got there and were really excited about us.

Around this time I was really becoming aware of how quickly I fell in love with all of the places we play.  I understand that I’m getting an unbalanced view, being somewhere one night, maybe two, and only encountering locals at the show, where obviously everyone is going to have similar personalities, but I can’t help but be fascinated with what it’s like living somewhere else and being immersed in music somewhere other than Seattle.  After all, I’ve never lived anywhere else.  It would be a long time before I ever moved – I have too many connections with friends, family, and musicians that would be too difficult to leave right now – but this tour in particular really got me thinking, and this is before the real kicker:  a week in New Orleans.

BUT FIRST:  An overnight detour to Telluride and a Lucky Brown reunion in Santa Fe!  All that and more in my next post.

Tour Post #2

By , April 28, 2014 6:26 pm

Writing this in the backyard of Scott’s friend Josh, a saxophonist in New Orleans who is nice enough to put us up for the week.  There is a warm breeze and it is a sticky but beautiful 80 degrees, although it is kicking up a bit and there are some storm warnings.

Some carryovers from S.F.:  Grant trying on a handmade tie-dye coat at Jamming on Haight, and my favorite photo on the Boom Boom Room Wall, Big Mama Thornton with the Muddy Waters Blues Band.

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SO…after San Francisco we had a show at Harlow’s, in Sacramento.  We played with Big Sticky Mess, a funkadelic trio from Davis.  They were a lot of fun, a little bit of Bootsy Collins, Cameo, and 70′s funk guitar and bass; it was impossible not to dance!  We stayed at their house in Davis, a musician’s house with 11 people, jam/recording space, and a friendly house dog.  Many of them work at the Trader Joe’s down the street from their house part time, which gives them time to work on music too.  Davis seemed like a cool, mellow college town, although I didn’t have a whole lot of time to explore.

We then headed to Nevada City to another favorite spot, the Crazy Horse.  The Horse has a small apartment unit above the bar that we were able to stay in (any time we have the opportunity to stay somewhere with a kitchen is a great thing because we can save money by cooking.  Of course, avoiding hotel room rentals is a huge cash saver too.)  We had a day to rest, stretch the legs and play frisbee, and wander around a town a bit.  I found a bookstore and bought a copy of Tolkien’s the Silmarillion, which I’m hoping to get through in the van rides and plane ride home.

The Tuesday show at the Crazy Horse was pretty intimate, with plenty of supportive local folks.  Some are here for Jazzfest too!

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Thursday was time for Southern California, in Hollywood.  We swooped in to load and soundcheck, and I had just enough time to go to the big Amoeba Music store there, where I picked up a used Zero 7 CD, the Garden, which I’ve checked out from the library and played beginning to end several times over the years, so I figured it was time I buy it.  I also went to dinner with my dear friend Sarah; I wish there had been more time, but as always it felt good to catch up and hear her thoughts on things.

Although our show at the King King Theater there in Hollywood was kind of sparsely attended, the stage was really nice and the sound was awesome.  We also made a few new fans and signed some albums, something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to!

Right after the show we loaded up and left for San Juan Capistrano; Sam’s parents hosted us that night and the next day and treated us to lunch.  As is the case with everyone who puts us up, they were extremely warm and hospitable, and very curious about the touring life, which I honestly have fun discussing (obviously).

Every once in a while I deal with some anxiety about making a music career work.  Scheduling performance and teaching commitments efficiently can be really tricky, and I worry about shortchanging students by being away too often or for too long, and although it is tremendously exciting for me to have these chances to travel, I am always trying to be aware of my responsibilities back in Seattle, and it looks like these travel opportunities are going to come up more often in the future.  For now, the best I can do is be honest and give as much notice and accommodation as possible, and hope for the best; I’ve seen more than a few examples of how people make music work professionally on this trip, so I know it can be done.

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That’s all for now, next post I will cover San Diego and the Southwest!

 

Tour Post #1

By , April 22, 2014 7:22 pm

Okay, so I waited a little longer than I would have liked to post my first tour blog, but I’m going to try to give a quick rundown of our first couple of stops:

Our first stop was at the Applegate Lodge in Applegate, Oregon, which was a great first show because we had played there several times before and I really enjoy the community of people there; I consider many of the people there good friends!

After that we headed down to the Hopmonk, a venue in Sebastopol, California.  The space was designed to look like a medieval abbey, with a courtyard and stone buildings, really cool.  It was also a nice birthday show for Jason!

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The next night we played in South Lake Tahoe, at a new venue called the Loft.  The opening band, 4 Piece Puzzle, will be down in New Orleans for Jazzfest too, so it was nice to hang out with them before then.

Saturday night was the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco.  Kate and Naomi of the band Syrinx Effect were in town that night as well, but unfortunately the timing didin’t work out to hang before the show.  More often than I’d like I find myself scrambling to find time to catch or meet up with friends while I’m on tour; sometimes soundcheck takes longer than expected, or we have to leave right after we play, or we have to be at the venue early, etc.  I did get a chance to meet up with my friend Jack, and I finally was able to meet his fiance Diana too, which was really fun!

By the end of the first week, I found myself thinking a lot about the different music I play and what it takes to find the people that like it.  It has been really inspiring to play for really supportive audiences, and I hope to come home motivated to compose, practice, and work on my sound and approach.

I’ll stop here for now, but next post I’ll pick up with week 2, some considerations about the non-music aspects of my life, and more random tour thoughts!

Upcoming Tour Blog

By , April 3, 2014 3:13 pm

It’s less than a week now from when I will be on the longest tour I’ve ever done, three and a half weeks to New Orleans with the Polyrhythmics, and I haven’t done a tour blog since the first tour of my career, when Hardcoretet went down the coast to Los Angeles 5 years ago!

Stay tuned for posts from the road throughout April, and hopefully I will be able to put up a video or two as well.

April Excitement

By , March 8, 2014 4:48 pm

I had a nice excursion North to Bellingham the last couple of days; Theoretics had a solid first Bellingham show at the Wild Buffalo, and I was able to spend the following day with Karl, drummer for the band Polecat, who the Polyrhythmics have shared bills and festivals with pretty frequently.  It was good to talk about music as a career with someone else who has been doing it for a while:  how to make it work, the positives and negatives, and how to balance everything out.  Then that night we topped it all off with a great jam with Jeremy, guitarist for Polecat, Jefferson Rose, a killer bass player with a band of his own, and Mars, one of the best trombonists I know.  Right on, Bellingham!

A couple of things I’m looking forward to next month:

April 8th Hardcoretet will be releasing our third album, a full-length recording that we are all very excited about.  Not only that, we are also opening for Kneebody, a group that has been one of my primary musical influences for the last couple of years, and the show is at the Tractor Tavern in Ballard, one of my favorite venues in town!  Some preview tracks of the new album are available at the Hardcoretet band camp page:  https://hardcoretet.bandcamp.com/

The next day I embark on tour with the Polyrhythmics; we are travelling down the coast to Southern California, East through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, and finishing in New Orleans.

I have never been to New Orleans and cannot wait to be there to take in as much as I possibly can.  The more I play and listen to music, the more I know I am influenced by that city.  Many of the musicians I enjoy listening to have spent significant time there, and its historical significance cannot be overstated, in my opinion.  I’m going to try to post a bit from the road, so stay tuned!

There is a fundraising campaign to help us minimize the expenses and costs of the tour; most of the places we are playing are new to us, so there will likely be a few lightly-attended gigs, so to speak.  If you want to help, please go here!  http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/polyrhythmics-new-orleans-jazz-fest-2014

2013 Dog Blog!

By , January 7, 2014 1:53 pm

As promised, here is a pictorial tribute to all the pooches I was likely enough to meet throughout the Pacific Northwest and along the West Coast.  There were more, but unfortunately it was difficult to document the others.  Here’s to more friends, dog and human, in 2014.  Happy New Year everyone!

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Happy Holidays!

By , December 4, 2013 10:17 am

One of the many Love’s Truck Stops in the great state of Idaho:

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The end of this year has been punctuated with tours to Los Angeles and Montana, as well as working with new recordings and new musical ideas.

I’m still trying to find a sound and approach that I can consistently use in all musical situations, rather than change the way I play from group to group. Maybe it isn’t possible, maybe it’s supposed to be a neverending search, but I feel like my playing would be even more rewarding that way (if that’s possible!)

Regardless, the opportunities to travel and take in the moods and social climates of other cities have been really fun; it has been interesting to think about how my musical tastes are affected and defined by my Seattle background, and how that compares to other towns and areas.

Getting close now to the end of the year, and the traditional New Year’s Post.  My plan this year is to compile a Dog Blog post, a collection of pictures of all the dogs I’ve come across while travelling and playing music this year.  The original Dog Blog was a short-lived page on the original Polyrhythmics website, which has now gone away, but there are plenty of pictures worth putting up, so stay tuned for that soon!

Lastly, a bit of listening.  Before I heard this song, I had heard of Dianne Schuur, but wasn’t really familiar with her.  Her voice on this blew me away, as did the song, which totally struck me as well.  With a little bit of research, I found out it was written by a famous Brazilian composer Ivan Lins, who I hope to check out more.

 

Summer Recap

By , August 28, 2013 1:45 pm

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Another eventful summer is coming to a close; in many ways this one was an extension of the tours, trips, and festivals that I really began to experience last year, and yet at the same time I could feel my “adult” life begin in Seattle.  I’ve become (slightly) more organized with my teaching schedule, I’ll be committed to living somewhere for longer than a year (unusual for me), and the dust has started to settle in this post-day-job life.  And all this was happening while traveling to Montana for the first time since I was a kid, performing in places that still seem unreal to me, and playing music for more people than I ever have in my life.

In addition to that juxtaposition, travel vs. home life, I’ve found the need to connect with listeners, friends, and family stronger than ever, and at the same really valuing the time I have by myself to organize my…self.  These two dualities, social and professional, are really what drove my summer.  I’m not sure whether feeling this way is healthy/helpful/sustainable, but for me it feels good.  It feels like I am experiencing life from as many different aspects as possible, and when it all comes down to it, it hasn’t kept me from being both happy and musically productive, and that’s really all that matters.

Plenty of fun things in the pipeline:  just finished recording the next Hardcoretet album; it will be the first time any band I’ve been in will get to three records!  The Polyrhythmics album will be coming out on vinyl soon, another first for me, and the artwork looks great!  Theoretics shows at Sasquatch and Capitol Hill Block Party were great successes and will be leading to more opportunities in the future.  Other than that, I’m just doing the best I can to be present, enjoy the moment, and put myself in good places!

 

 

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