Archive for March, 2014
Sunday, March 9th, 2014
We have had three days of clear blue skies. The temperature hasn't risen all that much, but the sun feels a smidge warmer, I have spotted an occasional dripping icicle and the other day I came upon a bunch of robins pecking and bob-bob-bobbing along…so change is in the air. Spring can not be far behind (at least that is what we keep telling ourselves). If we had put our marketing caps on before we began this leg, we would have printed up a bunch of “F@%K, I Hate The Cold” t-shirts for this run of dates. It has been the unofficial anthem and we have opened every show with it….it's our way of helping to chase away those winter blues.
Along with enjoying the sun we have also been enjoying the towns we've been in for the past few days. Ridgefield is one of those Connecticut postcard towns, with sprawling 18th century homes and a pedigree that stretches back to before the Revolutionary War. It's about as archetypical New England as these places come. Our venue in this town is the Ridgefield Playhouse, which we have played a few times over the past ten years or so. Its a good sounding little theater with a nice sized stage and a good crew. We did a Trinity show tonight. I thought we were a little sleepy, not quite clicking on all cylinders, maybe it was a hangover from three days in NYC.
We spent Friday at one of our favourite places: the Stone Mountain Art Center. This is a beautiful little venue nestled in the Maine woods just across the border from North Conway, NH. It is owned and run by Carol Noonan an ex-touring musician, who knows what its like to be on the road. She understands that providing the most basic things, like decent food and a comfortable clean backstage area, can make all the difference in a bands day and therefore in their mood and ultimately in their performance. Carol and her staff take that extra step to make every band that comes through her venue feel special. We had a great day and an excellent show in front of an excited full house.
Today we are in Great Barrington, MA. A very vibrant little town, nestled in the Berkshires…and today it definitely feels like Spring…I think we may have broken Winter's back. It's also the last day of the tour. We played here for the first time about four years ago and have been excited about getting back here ever since. Another very nice theatre and another excellent crowd, we gave them the last few drops of energy that we have left. It was a very good show, our tenth in eleven days.
We have a light touring schedule ahead of us for the coming year. It's time to pull back a bit and see where the post Nomad phase takes us. We'll be doing a short run in Southern California in June and then a few scattered dates throughout Ontario in the summer. We hope to see you out there, but if not, please keep in touch through the website or Facebook….pray for Spring…we'll see you soon.
Friday, March 7th, 2014
It's not often that a tour routing lines up so that you have a day off in a place where you actually look forward to spending a day off. This time out the stars aligned. We arrived in NYC without too much push-back from the forecasted snowstorm. Bobby, our driver, had to deal with a bit of snow on our journey up I-95, but by the time we arrived in NYC, the skies had cleared and we had a bright but chilly day to wander around the city. I stayed fairly close to the hotel and meandered through the cobble-stoned streets of Soho. I love this part of the city. It has changed a lot over the past thirty years, as money has poured in to the area, the artist lofts, after hours clubs and alternative art galleries have been converted in to high-end art galleries, high fashion clothing stores and insanely expensive condos, but it still maintains that village feel when you are lost in its streets…and there is something entertaining about ogling all that wealth.
On Wednesday me, Margo, Jeff and Pete went to Ellis Island. It's one of the many tourist things that I have never done in this city. It was a beautiful clear day to be on the water. We said hello to Lady Liberty but didn't have enough time to run up her skirt. Ellis Island's true import really hits home when your boat pulls up at the pier and you are herded down the ramp and into the sorting hall: just like one of the 12 million who were once processed through these buildings and then stepped out the other side and in to a new life. The shores were opened, the people flooded in and this odd, unfocussed mob started to build this beautifully insane country.
This time through New York we had two shows at The City Winery. Both of them have been sold out for a couple of months: it's always a good feeling to know that there is still a place for us in NYC. The first set of the first night was a little loose on our end, we pulled it together for the second set. Wednesday night we had an excellent show and seemed to connect with the audience right off the top. It's always a good time at the City Winery, we appreciate the hospitality and are excited to hear that they are opening up new venues in Nashville and Napa with plans to expand further in the not too distant future.
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Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
Ithaca (NY), Bethlehem (PA), South Orange (NJ) and Blackwood (NJ) Feb 26 – March 1, 2014
We had hoped that by simply slipping beneath the border we would find a hint of Spring. No such luck. There has been no respite from the cold over these past four days. It actually seems that much rawer down here and the fact that the heating in the bus can't seem to keep up with the cold outside, doesn't help. There is no escaping it. My neck and shoulders are in constant constriction, stressed, and as the body works overtime to keeps itself warm, all that I want to do is crawl back into my bunk and sleep. The crappy food and the four or five hours of sleep per night doesn't help matters. The joys of touring in February…ideally we would be making a run along the Gulf Coast at this time of year, but no such luck, its too far away and we've been watching True Detective on the bus and are a little bit scared to venture down there. To make things worse, most of these gigs seem to be in the middle of acres of windswept fields and industrial parks, held captive by the ice and snow. The audiences seem to be feeling it as well. The attendance has been a little sparse at a few of these shows. Everyone seems to be sheltering-in-place, waiting for a robin or two to appear, praying for a crocus to break through the frozen ground, before daring to stick their own necks out of their hidey-holes. I can't blame them. I sort of feel like I should be doing the same.
In Ithaca we played a strange community theater set in the middle of a State/City park, on the outskirts of the city, on the banks of one of the Finger Lakes. In the Spring or Summer this would have been an ideal location to spend a day. This time of year it is a little Gulag-ish, the wind coming off the lake made it unbearable to even go for a walk. It was a very nice sounding little room, the type that we would normally sell-out without too much trouble, but not tonight. But the audience was keen and we had a good show.
In Bethlehem we played The Musik Cafe, a nice, if a bit sterile, venue. It still needs a few years of seasoning. The venue is part of the revitalization of the old Bethlehem Steel Mill site. The old mill remains and looms as a backdrop to the stage through the floor to ceiling glass windows that make up the back wall. The mill is an amazing site. It could be argued that these monstrous ovens, shoots and blast furnaces were the heart that pumped the life blood through the American Century. The steel that came out of these mills is what helped to build America throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. Now they look like the remnants of a long forgotten empire, almost post-apocalyptic…all it needs is for Charleton Heston to coming riding along on his horse….the gig tonight was ok, but a bit formal. The room and stage feel a little distant from each other and the presence of a very large TV crew shooting the performance didn't help with the intimacy. It was a hard one.
Day 3 was in South Orange: a small, tidy little New Jersey town, near enough to NYC to give it bedroom community status. A sold out show, a good audience and a good performance.
Today, Day 4, we were in Blackwood, New Jersey, a town that nobody seems to have heard of, located somewhere near Philadelphia. We were stuck all day on a completely deserted community college campus, not a soul in sight. Not a dog or a cat, I didn't see a squirrel or a bird, it was a vacuum waiting to be filled by the Zombie Apocalypse. The venue itself was a dingy little room with nothing really to recommend it….. and it was a very slight crowd. We tried our best. The audience, small as it was, worked hard trying to keep us on track. It was one of those days that is best laughed about and forgotten, best to keep up a strong front, keep the doubt and foreboding at bay. Tonight we head further south to the Washington area. Maybe we'll find a bit sun, a little bit of warmth, a break of some sort.
Falls Church, VA – March 2, 2014
When I woke up this morning we were just pulling in to Falls Church. The front lounge was toasty, a kind of warmth that only the sun can create. Sixty degrees and sunny, life begins to not look so grim. Jared, Pete and I found a bar that was serving a late Sunday breakfast and watched the Capitals take on the Flyers while we ate our bacon and eggs….not so grim at all. While we were in the bar watching hockey, someone stole and then swapped out the day, the temperature dropped fifteen degrees, the blue skies turned into a snarl of dark clouds and the wind began to do its thing. And then the rain started. Cold, hard rain. We have a day off tomorrow in New York and there is a winter storm watch up and down the east coast, which could throw a large wrench in our day off plans. Sometimes its not easy to catch a break. Despite the rain continuing unabated for the rest of the afternoon, we made it through soundcheck and through the Oscar night red carpet ceremony. Tonight's gig was just what we needed. An excited crowd that didn't give a shit what the weatherman said, they were there to enjoy themselves. We had a very good show, loud and clangy, as I said, just what we needed. Who needs the sun…..