Posts Tagged ‘Grass Valley’

Tour Diary – San Francisco, Grass Valley and Berkley, CA (June 19 – 21, 2014)

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

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June 19th

San Francisico has always been one of my favourite cities in North America. It's an extreme city, intense, truly urban. There is a lot of wealth here and there is also a lot of human tragedy and it all plays out on the streets. The street life here reminds me of NYC back in the late 1970's. It's a city where you always have to be slightly on guard and be aware of what's coming at you half way up the block; a city where the locals know which streets to avoid as a matter of course. Intense and vibrant.

We flew in here yesterday. Pete and John drove the gear. We all left LA at about the same time and seven hours later we all arrived at the hotel at the same time, which tells you a lot about the speed of commuter air travel these days. Jared, Pete, John and I found a hole in the wall Indian restaurant and had one of the best meals of the tour. We played the Great American Music Hall tonight. Its one of the few legendary halls left in the US. It's always a thrill to stand on a stage where Duke Ellington once stood. We had an amazing night tonight. The audience let us know from the second we took the stage that they were not about to let us get away with anything but an intense, focused, creative effort…and so we gave it to them. So. Much. FUN!

Yesterday the world champs, Spain, lost and were eliminated by a very strong Chile. Today we watched England go down to the mighty foot of the Uruguayan striker Suarez….which essentially eliminates England from the tournament.

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June 20th

This morning we drove two hours North and in to the interior to Grass Valley. We came through here about 18 months ago when we were in the area to play the Hardly, Strictly Blue Grass Festival in San Francisco. It's a cool little town that has a gold rush history. The town still has a hint of its gold rush roots, you kind of feel like you should be wearing your six-shooter while walking down main-street…although I suppose that wearing ones six-shooter while walking down main-street isn't such a relic of the past as one would hope it had become. In any event, this small peaceful, hippy enclave was a nice respite from the intensity of San Francisco. We had another very good show in front of another very good audience….I suppose I should be getting jaded about all these good audiences and the quality of our performances, but I never take that kind of stuff for granted…it's like a baseball team when the offense is hot, you ride the streak as long as you can and you keep your fingers crossed.

We watched a listless Italian side get beat 1- 0 by an inspired Costa Rica team and the French continue their rampage through the first round by beating the Swiss 5 – 2.

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June 21st

Before we left the hotel this morning we watched Messi put his Argentinian squad on his back and score the only goal of the match, with one minute remaining, to give the Argentinians a ticket to the next round. In the car we listened to the Netherlands vs Ghana match as we made the trek back to the San Fran area, to Berkeley. Soccer is definitely not the best sport to listen to on the radio (maybe the worst), but we got a sense of the game. It was a boring first half and then all hell broke loose: four goals in less than fifteen minutes and the game ended in a 2 -2 draw. This sets up a dramatic game for the US tomorrow against Portugal. If they win they will win their Group and move forward in to the elimination round. Sunday will be a busy day in the bars of the USA. We were at the Freight And Salvage tonight in downtown Berkeley, home of all things Left in America…at least that is its rep, I'm not sure what comprises the Left Wing in America anymore or whether those kinds of definitions are even relevant. In any case it was a very nice room, very airy and comfortable with a very good PA. We kept the good vibes rolling forward and had another excellent night in front of another excellent audience. We are absolutely exhausted but the audience infused us with enough energy to come through with another good show.

This has been an excellent tour. We fly home tomorrow with a great sense of satisfaction and a little money in our pocket (which is the ultimate combination when it comes to touring). A huge thank you to all of you that made the effort and paid your hard earned dollars to come to a show and especially to those of you that took in multiple shows (special commendation to Jason, Chris, Terry and Stephen who took in them all)….we truly appreciate it. We have a few shows throughout the summer and then we plan to take several months off the road. During that time we'll start working on a new album as well as few one-off recording projects. Please keep in touch through the website and through our Facebook page, that's where we'll be hanging out, drop in and say hello.

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Tour Diary – Grass Valley, CA (June 20, 2014)

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Jason Lent will be following us and the World Cup over the next 10 days. We'll be mixing things up by posting his diary as well as Michael's diary (whenever he can pull himself away from watching futbol).

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by Jason Lent

Winding into the valley of grass, the intensity of San Francisco and before that, Los Angeles, finally began to dissipate and we could relax. The never ending expense of parking a vehicle in San Francisco was exchanged for a historic mining town with a single stop light downtown. A warm sun and well stocked record and book stores made Grass Valley the most enjoyable day of this tour. There's not much to do in Grass Valley but I'd love to have more time here to not do much. 

The venue was the standard small town arts center, cozy with an excellent sound system and lacking a bit in personality. It feels fairly new so hopefully it will age gracefully. The town deserves it. The show sold out and those in attendance came out to hear a lot more than "Sweet Jane". The Nomad set included the first appearance of the razor sharp "Ladle' and the band was locked into the material. The band has taken quite a few requests on tour but tonight was truly epic for a long time fan. The second set opened with "Crescent Moon" and included a sinister "Floorboard Blues" and an aching "Spiral Down". The little arts center turned into a Texas roadhouse as Mike channeled Lightnin' Hopkins on "32-20 Blues" and "Shining Moon". Even "Sweet Jane" transformed itself on this evening as Mike and Jeff fell back in the final verse and Margo sang over only the bass line. It was a subtle addition of space that breathed new color into the song on this tour. 

Throughout this tour, I've been finding new meanings in a lot of the music that only time can reveal. The song that converted me into a Springsteen fan and my favorite American rock and roll song ever written is "Thunder Road". As Margo sang the opening line in Grass Valley, the song opened itself up to me in a new way. We ain't that young anymore but there's still magic in the night rang more true than ever. Nothing last forever and there's a finite amount of Cowboy Junkies left in this world. Hearing Margo sing "Thunder Road" tonight was a powerful reminder that I need to be at as many as those magic nights as possible. 

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Tour Diary – Grass Valley and San Francisco (October 5 and 6, 2012)

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Oct 4 and 5

We’ve been laying low in Junkieland for the past 6 weeks as we’ve all been busy with getting our kids settled into their various schools; figuring out what kind of teachers we’ll have to be dealing with this year and settling into afterschool programs: all of those little and large, mundane and important details that make up “real” life. This weekend is a quick two show sidestep into our alter-lives, a quick break with reality and then back into it just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving. It hasn’t been all family and kids for the past month. Pete has been hard at work finishing off our new studio (The Hangar) and I’ve been up to my elbows packing up The Clubhouse, our home for the past ten years. One accumulates a lot of crap in ten years: every dark corner and every top shelf piled high with pieces of odd shaped metal and molded plastic. I’d hold some unidentifiable piece up, turn it my hands for a minute or so trying to figure out what it belongs (or belonged) to and then pitch in the trash. My rule of thumb for moving is that if you come across something that hasn’t moved from the same spot for the past ten years then odds are you don’t need it…out it goes. So we said goodbye to The Clubhouse, the room where we recorded One Soul Now, At the End Of Paths Taken, all of the Nomad Series and many, many one-off songs and Latent projects. It has been a good room for us, but it’s time to move on….intimidating but exciting.
 

This weekend may be a bit of a relief from our “real” lives but there is a lot of work involved. We are doing two shows in Northern Californian, which means we don’t have the luxury of stepping onto our bus and waking up at the gig….flying is never fun and flying with stacks of gear is really never fun. A twelve hour journey including a 3 hour layover in Denver and a few hours trapped on one of United’s Prison Planes (the seating space was so small that you might as well have been in shackles and I swear that the flight attendants were taking time off from their regular jobs as prison guards at the local pen). The final turn of the screw was the 60 mile van ride at the end of the flight to our final destination, Grass Valley, a small town just north of Sacramento.
Grass Valley is a cool little town in a great part of the country filled with cool little towns. It is an old Western gold mining town and it still has that frontier feel as well as a healthy scattering of funky locally owned coffee shops, bookstores, used record stores and all those little homegrown business that make up a thriving community. We had an amazing audience tonight. The show has been sold out for quite a few weeks so there was a nice buzz of anticipation in the crowd and that fed us all night. We had a very good night. After the show we loaded up our vans and made the 150 mile trek to San Francisico; the allure of an empty late night highway, a free hotel at the other end, lots of late night radio, some strong coffee and a little bit of Red Bull, pulling us along.

Oct 6
The reason that we made the effort to come out here for the weekend was an invitation from the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. An amazing weekend of music set in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and it’s all free to the public. The festival is in its twelfth year and it has all been underwritten by one man, the late Warren Hellman, a man with large pockets, a love of music and a healthy philanthropic nature. It is an amazing festival and perhaps it could only work in a city as quirky and adventurous as San Francisco but I think if Mitt Romney wants to get elected and if he is really interested in doing something positive for this country he should use his billions to personally underwrite free music festivals in cities and towns all over the country….that should be his sole campaign promise…”If I’m elected I’ll pay for an annual free music festival in every town and city across the country with a population over 60,000. Thank you, good night and God Bless America.”
 

We had an amazing day. Golden Gate Park is an unbelievable public space filled with giant eucalyptis trees and giant pines, gardens and playing fields, lakes and museums, bike paths, walking trails, it is a spectacular example of visionary urban planning. The weather was perfect, we ran into a few old friends and made a few new ones and we had a very good show in front of a sea of people: all in all a perfect day and a very good weekend.
 

Tomorrow its back to TO. We’ll continue to set up The Hangar and look forward to a couple of shows near home at the beginning of November and then at the end of month we’ll set off on an adventure across Spain, Italy and Portugal. Stay tuned.


 

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