July 2008 Archives

Home Stretch

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     This is the home stretch; we are on I-70 bound to St. Louis, to BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups, one of our favorite venues from last January's tour. It is strange and fun to see the same places we last saw framed in the depths of winter now recast in summer's haze. Although we do stay in some fine hotels we also sometimes end up on floors and couches. Last January we all recall the wind whistling through old houses, thin blankets and ice and snow. Now, it's all sweat stains and no AC. Like always, touring is about extremes.

     The best of the tour is up to debate, here in the van; Chicago American Music Fest at Fitzgerald's, Ottawa Blues Festival on the inside stage at the Canadian War Museum, the second night in NYC at The Rodeo Bar, taping a live show for XM radio in the swamp that is our nation's capital. Ont he other side of the scale is Williamsport, where nobody told the sound man that we were coming (despite our picture in the window), or last night's show in Terre Haute, where we played for about five hard core music lovers and against 50 or so drunk college kids. The music was good, the band kicked ass (as they always do), but the music was just another kind of noise to drink and breed by.

     I think about this a lot. Without the endorsement of mass media, music (or any art) must compete with all other input, which includes all advertising. To the unprepared, uneducated and undefended mind, the tools of advertisers are well tuned to play upon our most vulnerable instincts. Self image, sexual repsonses, and desire are all manipulated to maxim effect with a surgeon's precision. Some of the best minds of our generation work over time to create desire, invoke a response, and get you to spend your money on whatever product paid them to pimp. Over time, in order to survive in this environment, we must develop a filter to protect us from this constant assault. Any art that you come into contact with must also deal with this filter, and I would like to think that the message that we are trying to communicate in our music is more complicated than a deodorant ad or beer commercial. And I don't want to have to tell you that you're stinky or need to get people drunk to get laid.

     When we were monkeys living in the wild (and we were monkeys, still are, and God loves monkeys) in order to survive we depended on our senses to warn us of danger and to help us find food and other monkeys. The finer our senses were the better the chance we would survive. Now, if we are open to our environment and respond to all stimuli we encounter, we quickly spend all available money and end up living under an off ramp. We depend on our ability to discern what is good for us and what's not. But the media gets louder and louder, and we find its reach expanding every day, flashing lights at little monkeys, flat screens over urinals, computerized calls to cell phones, ads everywhere you can look. So, for millions of years we have honed our senses, but no longer! Now our survival depends on our filter, what will we allow ourselves to see?

On the Road

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Already passing through Dallas, we left Austin at 8 and it is now 11:11 AM. I have given up the wheel to Rob Hooper, Beat-master and mighty thread leg of the three legged monster of a Band. On the Road, Kerouac and Nelson sing harmony as we burn some of the first of less than a half of the oil the monkeys get to play with. Rob hooks his iPod up to Skeletor's sound system (that's the name of our road chariot) and through the cassette tape CD adapter it pipes out piano jazz and now The Who's first sounds. Our July tour starts tonight in Memphis.


This is a state of the art of DIY rock and roll road show, American music in its natural habitat. Morale is good, still have a few of my Wife's(!) chocolate chip cookies that the band reveres, but the conversation hinges on the $100 cap on the gas pump credit card purchase. Bands who would have made a good living (for a musician) at $2.00 a gallon find the price of go juice comes out of their coffee money. The Band of Heathens (heard 'em yet?) had to replace the engine in Colin's sprinter, which could mean a month of work for nothing but the glory.


Is it Glory? Some big shoes to fill here. All of us in the van (including new road manager Lauralea) fell so hard for music we were willing to give up the comfort and security of home to chase the ecstatic rapture that we tasted at some live show in our past, something powerful enough to still have us in its claws. All rock and roll posturing aside, and that is a lof of posturing, let's be clear: Brittany Spears drinks for a reason; the music has got to be good or this is a waste of time. Gather around chillen', we are called by a higher power to act as the Instruments of Love.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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