Category: Venues

Tour Blog, Fall 2018, Day 9

By , November 15, 2018 11:58 am

Although tour has now ended, I am going to pick up where I left off and continue giving some day-to-day posts from the road. These will lead up to Polyrhythmics’ big shows in Portland this Friday and Bend this Saturday, as well as the grand finale in Seattle on November 24.

A few things about Eric Rouse.

Polyrhythmics met Eric at one of our shows years ago, and he’s come to many shows since.  For this Midwest run, Eric offered to drive himself, put himself up, and follow us on tour to sell merchandise for us.  This was incredibly gracious, obviously!  I didn’t know exactly how it would go, to be honest, because it’s so different to hang with friends at shows, when the focus is to have fun and get down, than work with them and have them deal with the business side of things the way that we do on the road.

Also, we’ve been lucky to have enthusiastic, genuine, and positive merchandise heads in the past; our good friends Lauren and Maxianne did several extended tours with us, handling all things merch-related.  But with this tour, Eric did awesome.  He was a valuable asset, and we were grateful to have him, as we have been with all of our merch family!

 

 

The Old Rock House in St. Louis was a beautiful restored old building (established in 1818!) with a big stage and big dance floor.  As I mentioned in the last post, the folks that brought us there were really enthusiastic, and the crowd was a little thin but absolutely could not wait to talk to us and tell us to come back.  The Gateway Arch looms over the entire city, and is really impressive.  I thought it was really cool, but I didn’t have time to explore.  After the show, I flew home to teach for a couple days (as well as do laundry, pay bills, and make sure the cats still recognize me).

I would meet back up with the guys on Day 12, in Boise.  More on that next!

Current listening:  Makaya McCraven, “Where We Come From”

After Elijah (I know him as Eli, but I believe he’s come to introduce himself as Elijah) and I connected on London artists like Shabaka Hutchings and Nubya Garcia, both of whom I’ve talked about before, he hipped me to Chicago musician Makaya McCraven.  McCraven played the Royal Room in Seattle a couple months back, it so happens, but his most recent album is a collaboration between London and Chicago musicians, with songs and improvisations remixed/cut up or left alone, and all released on a single record.  It’s a super inspiring project, with a story as interesting as the music itself!

 

 

Tour Blog, Fall 2018, Day 8

By , November 14, 2018 2:23 pm

Although tour has now ended, I am going to pick up where I left off and continue giving some day-to-day posts from the road. These will lead up to Polyrhythmics’ big shows in Portland and Bend this weekend, as well as the grand finale in Seattle on November 24.

“Will it play in Peoria?”

Before I left for tour, my dad told me about this figure of speech.  I had never heard it before, but if there’s a whole Wikipedia entry for it, it must be worth something, right?

Our gig in Peoria brought us back into Illinois, to Kenny’s Westside Pub.  Kenny’s had some delicious takes on Irish pub food and some very energetic costumed music fans.  This was one of the latest shows on the tour, and although we were a little paranoid we’d be wiped, I think the energy was up until the end, even as a loyal handful of folks were still partying.

After playing Kenny’s, on the drive to our hotel, I had a good conversation with Ben about expectations and ticket sales on this Midwest tour.  The promoter for our Peoria show is also responsible for booking other events and venues in the area, and the booker at our St. Louis show the following night was in a similar role there.  Most of my experiences playing gigs deals with venue owners and people that work for the venue directly, and for better or for worse, that sometimes makes their number one priority filling the room and selling tickets.  Granted, you can’t play music that nobody likes; you have to find the audience and the appropriate spaces to do what you do, and try to run business accordingly, but it occurred to me on this tour that I don’t think about “tastemakers” all that much, and that’s what these guys are doing.  

I’ll talk more about St. Louis in the next post, but both promoters were extremely passionate about our music after we finished our shows.  They were ready to go to bat for us if nobody showed up and were ready to go to bat for us after people lost their minds too, and in writing this post I’m thinking about some of the people I know in Seattle that do the same thing, some working at venues, some running festivals or non-profits, etc.  

Sometimes it’s easy for me to be apprehensive about venues and promoters, to think that some will book anything that sells tickets.  But in general, I’ve been lucky to deal largely with people that are on the same mission I am, and the more I can reason out my cynicism and get rid of it, the better things will be, I think.  Thank you, all you tastemakers!

Current Listening:  Noname, “Room 25”

I caught a little bit of Noname at Capitol Hill Block Party some time ago, but this tour I listened to her most recent album, “Room 25”, and I like it a lot.  I think the songs are well-written and create a real mood, and Noname is a very talented vocalist and musician.  Check it out!

NEXT, for real this time:  St. Louis

 

 

 

Tour Blog, Fall 2018, Day 7

By , November 13, 2018 2:13 pm

Although tour has now ended, I am going to pick up where I left off and continue giving some day-to-day posts from the road. These will lead up to Polyrhythmics’ big shows in Portland and Bend this weekend, as well as the grand finale in Seattle on November 24.

After Chicago we had an early morning departure to take a long drive to Cleveland.  There were a couple of these early morning drives, with a lot of ground to cover to get to the next town and 9 band members that will need restrooms, coffee, and food along the way.  We have definitely gotten better with moving as quickly as possible while being as healthy as we can in terms of getting sleep and getting sustenance, but it can be really challenging.  It is very clear why tour managers are important, but until the day comes when we can have someone to take on that role, Ben does an amazing job managing the drive, coordinating schedules, and herding all of us.

The Music Box in Cleveland was a beautiful large room with tables and dinner service, although it also had a large dance floor in front.  It was right on the river front (the Cuyahoga), and had some really pretty views of the city.  Thanks to my forgetfulness, I got to drive through the city again the next morning to go back to the club; I had left my duffel bag backstage…

To me, Cleveland had a feeling of revamping and renewing the old and historic, creating cool and interesting neighborhoods out of its blue-collar background.  I liked what I saw, quickly that day.

The band we played with was Wesley Bright and the Honeytones, who have a recording out on Colemine Records, the same label that our friends DLO3 worked with and that put out Polyrhythmics’ very first 45 record.

Wesley and the band were awesome and super nice, and we got a chance to talk a little bit about the scenes in Cleveland and Seattle. As usual, the outside view of Seattle in general was that it’s wonderful and way too expensive, which none of us can really take issue with; it does, however become a little disheartening when you hear it in each city you visit. All in all, it was a good hang, and Cleveland was a good new experience for me!

Current listening: The saxophonist and flautist in the Honeytones, Nathan Paul, is a bandleader and composer himself – in addition to being a burning player – and has a really killer modern jazz (that’s how I’d describe it, hopefully Nathan is okay with that) album on iTunes called Bootleg Music. I’m having trouble posting the link but check it out, it’s really amazing music!

Next up: St. Louis!

Tour Blog, Fall 2018, Day 6

By , October 27, 2018 8:57 am

Polyrhythmics play Chicago for the first time!

My sister has lived in Chicago for some years now, so I was happy she would get the chance to see the band in her town. As it turned out, the venue, the Tonic Room, was about a 10-minute-walk from her apartment, so it was an area I was familiar with, and I felt like I knew the neighborhood. It also ended up being just down the street from Kingston Mines, the blues club we went to the first time I had ever been to Chicago, so it kind of felt like I’d gone full-circle.

Trying to meet up with friends and loved ones in other cities while on tour is tough; the schedule involved in mobilizing all 9 members, getting to the venue, loading in gear, soundchecking, and starting the show is large and unpredictable, so you have to get creative to find those holes of time to jump away and meet up. Despite that, I think it’s always worth it, even if it’s a quick chat to catch up.

This time around I managed to meet Emily and her friend for quick dinner at a great taco spot, and get some quality brother-sister time before the show. The venue, the Tonic Room, was small but for us to play the first time out it was the right size, and the show ended up being a fun party.

There wasn’t much time to linger, as we had to leave by 7 the next morning to get to Cleveland, which I’ll write about next.

Current listening: Jennifer Hartswick, “Nexus”

I first heard Jen Hartswick when she sat in with Polyrhythmics at a show in Portland early on. Ben knew her through some friends, and I came to find out that she has been a regular collaborator with Trey Anastasio in his solo projects for a long time, in addition to being gigging musician in Nashville and in other bands around the country. She’s a killer trumpet player and singer, and her most recent album was co-produced with Christian McBride, a musician I’ve admired for a long time. Check it out!

 

 

 

 

Tour Blog, Fall 2018, Day 4

By , October 25, 2018 12:34 pm

On Tuesday night we played in St. Paul, Minnesota, at a club called Vieux Carre.

Vieux Carre is a sit-down dinner club that focuses on the food and culture of New Orleans, as evidenced by the name. The walls of the club are covered with beautiful black and white photos like the one below of Allen Toussaint and Dr. John.

Polyrhythmics don’t play very many dinner shows, but I enjoy them because it reminds me of going to Seattle clubs like Jazz Alley and Tula’s, especially when I was younger and imagining what it was like to play on those stages for a quiet audience at tables.

As it turns out, a combination of a small group of passionate fans and a large group of strangers visiting town for business made for an unexpected vibe, but everyone had fun and we played well.

Next up I’ll talk about Milwaukee, which we played last night.

Current listening: Smack Talk’s in-studio session for KNKX: http://www.knkx.org/post/modern-jazz-rock-seattle-s-smacktalk

I’m happy Seattle has a station promoting great new music with the in-studio sessions, and I’m recognizing more and more how many really talented musicians there are in town that I don’t know about, which is both sobering and motivating; it keeps me inspired to work hard on my music too.

Jazz Shows

By , June 15, 2015 12:18 pm

I had the opportunity to bounce around a bit this weekend, and really wanted to hear some jazz, so I went to several shows/sessions that I absolutely loved this weekend:

Brass Tacks in Georgetown with Ron Weinstein, Jeff Johnson, and Mike Stone:  I had heard about Brass Tacks before; I think Darian Asplund has had some gigs there, and I had seen Ron’s name attached to it too, but I had never been there.  I really like the playing of all three of these guys, and they are some of the nicest, most fun musicians to hang out with and talk to as well.  In addition, the restaurant is really nice, and although I didn’t try any of the food, it looked delicious.  One of the owners, Skylar, was constantly walking around, shaking hands and checking in on tables, and introduced himself to me, then, after a nice conversation, offered me another beer while I watched the guys play.  Even though the gig is, for all intents and purposes, a background music gig for a dinner crowd, it’s a great time.

The Lost Pelican in Belltown with Steve O’Brien and Delvon Lamarr:  This time, I did try the food, and the crab cakes were delicious, although the portions were a bit small.  Sounds like the move is to get there for the brunch and have the biscuits and gravy.  Delvon said they may be the best biscuits and gravy he’s ever had.  Whoa!  Once again, Steve and Delvon are guys that I really enjoy both playing with and talking to; they get as excited about jazz as I do, and as always I came away from the gig energized and motivated about my own playing.  Another background music gig, but, again, really really fun.

The Angry Beaver in Greenwood with Max Holmberg and friends:  The Angry Beaver is a jam session that I think has been going for a bit but is still pretty new, and feels similar to the Owl and Thistle jam session on Tuesdays.  The vibe is super friendly and the playing is top notch.  I knew a handful of people, but there were also a lot of musicians I didn’t know, or at least don’t know super super well, and I’ve only met Max once before, when we played together a year or so ago at the 118 Public House with Tim Kennedy.  Despite this, it was super comfortable; Max does a good job of walking around and hanging out and making sure people get to play, so even though the crowd was largely unfamiliar to me, I never felt awkward or out of place.  The bar is also pretty close to my house, and looks like a fun spot to catch a hockey game (it’s a Canadian hockey bar).

 

 

Lottie’s Lounge

By , April 15, 2015 1:28 pm

Lotties-01.0

Great gig at Lottie’s Lounge with Eric Hullander and Papa Josh the other night.  I got a chance to really dig into some standards that I haven’t played in a long time, and all three of us were listening close.

I found myself thinking a lot about the old Dexter and Hayes sessions I used to play with Tim Kennedy and friends years ago (more on that here) while I was at Lottie’s.  It hasn’t had live music for too long, but I could see a really similar scene there that grew at the Dexter, where older regulars mixed with younger listeners and musicians.

Maybe I saw the similarities because I want another scene like that one.  The thing is I know that there already are scenes like that in town,  I just don’t frequent them that often, at places like Darrell’s Tavern, Egan’s Ballard Jam House, the Owl and Thistle, and the Royal Room just down the street from Lottie’s.  I guess when it comes down to it, venues and music nights hit different people different ways, and it can’t always be explained why one person enjoys certain scenes more than others.  I do know that Lottie’s felt good last night, and it was great to play with Eric, Josh, and Lamar Lofton (who I hadn’t seen in way too long!), as well as meet some new people.  I hope Lottie’s continues to do well!

 

– A

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 #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!

hopmonk

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!

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

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