Posts Tagged ‘Jason Lent’

Tour Diary – Denver, CO (June 25, 2010)

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

“…the song which defines that time is ‘200 More Miles’. It is about the wanderlust that infected us all during that year. When I listen to it I am placed right back in the van…alone with our thoughts, nobody on the road but us and the long haul truckers, and the music we are listening to is so piercingly beautiful.” – Michael Timmins

Leaving Phoenix, the band headed up the highway on a 15 hour trek to Salt Lake City while I weaved up the back roads that hugged the Grand Canyon and pushed on through Moab, UT. The eroded monoliths of rock were stunning and I stopped just outside Moab to watch the sun fall into a pillow of clouds. Two more sleeps and this journey would be over. Sneaking into Colorado through the back door of Grand Junction, I pulled over and slept until daybreak. As the sun rose over the green peaks and brought a deep blue to the sky above, I crossed the majestic Rocky Mountains. Denver came into sight as I made the final descent and the end of the adventure became a reality. When I get the rental car back to Chicago on Monday, I’ll have crossed 13,000 miles, seen over 30 shows and visited 37 states. Each night, I was reminded of the brilliant music the band can produce under any circumstances. Each day, I was blessed with their companionship. Tonight’s final show took place in one of the interlocking suburbs that connect Denver with Boulder. The small outdoor amphitheater was pleasant but sterile. It lacked the funky, eclectic vibe you hope to find at an arts complex. Having covered over 5,000 miles on this leg, the band took the stage tired but the music hid that truth from the audience. The acoustic set included a loose, fun ‘Anniversary Song’ and an understated arrangement of ‘Witches’ that ranks up there as one of the musical highlights of the tour. An emotional ‘200 More Miles’ lowered the curtain on my adventure. The song rooted itself in my soul on this journey and I’ll never let go of the experience. The desolate stretches of highway alone with my thoughts, the small moments of friendship shared in new towns, and each live performance reminded me of how precious each day can be when you follow your heart. To the band and crew, thank you.


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Tour Diary – Salt Lake City, UT (June 24, 2010)

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Temple Square

Jason looked at the map and decided that maybe he should miss the 15 hour drive to Salt Lake City. So I am reclaiming the Tour Diary for Salt Lake City. Jason will return for the end of the road in Denver.

We started coming here twenty years ago. At that time it was pretty obvious there wasn’t a reason for the city to be here except that God had said it was to be so, and, unfortunately, God is not a very good urban planner. It was a dull, uninspiring town. But over the past couple of decades (and the Olympics probably helped a lot) this city has evolved into an energetic, if still homogonous, city. It’s still dominated by God, but there are enough outside influences kicking against the pricks, to give it a bit of a spark. There seems to be quite a few young street punks ambling about, which means that there is rebellion brewing in the suburbs, which is a sign of good things to come. It’s now an interesting place to visit and it should get even more interesting in the coming years.

Whenever we are in Salt Lake I always take the time to stroll around Temple Square, the Mormon Church’s power center. I find it to be one of the most peaceful pieces of public real estate in the urban USA (I guess its technically private real estate, but it’s always a very welcoming and open space which gives it a very public feel). It has a very focussed energy. The gardens and the buildings are absurdly tidy and clean but there is something inspiring about the place, maybe it’s all of those choice pieces of scripture carved in granite and set throughout the square.

It was an outdoor gig tonight, part of the Arts Festival, with a very enthusiastic audience. RocknRolla.  It was a very fun night.

The Temple

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Tour Diary – Phoenix, AZ (June 22, 2010)

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

DSCN3604_stitch

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

More beautiful scenery escorted me to the New Mexico border and then I headed straight for Flagstaff, which was ablaze. Arriving in Phoenix with a day off, I spent a little time exploring Old Town Scottsdale. Downtown Scottsdale looks and acts like South Beach Miami but nestled in the center is a few blocks that kept the old west theme. Joining me in Arizona on a surprise visit were Kurisu and 2esses from the message board. Seeing some friends walk into this leg of the tour was a very welcome sight. The next morning, food poisoning knocked me out of action and I tossed them the camera and deputized them as tour diary photographers. I recovered enough to make the show and we headed over to the restaurant with our passports taped to our foreheads. The venue lacked the experience to pull of a sold out show by a national touring act and bungled the experience for those who came out to see the band. It didn’t matter that half the crowd seemed intent on talking and eating. The band’s engineer controls the knobs and turned the band’s sonic assault to full blast. Geese were drowned out and the band laid down a rocking set. The acoustic ‘Bea’s Song’ and a crackling ‘Sir Francis Bacon’ were the most memorable moments. It was Al’s birthday and the band and audience serenaded him during the introductions, which prompted him to move behind his amp. The local Scottish cultural center even sent some gifts over. Happy birthday Al!


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Tour Diary – Albuquerque, NM (June 20, 2010)

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Albuquerque skyline

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

I woke up in the backseat of the car in a truck stop somewhere in west Texas. I pointed the car down the asphalt artery cutting through the wasteland and set my sights on the horizon. The low standing shrubbery stretched to distant hills on both sides. Cutting north from I-10, the roads passed abandoned junctions where cinderblock shells and rusted metal trucks slept forever under an intense sun. At some of these junctions, a few well-kept homes would be visible off the road but there were no signs of life. Plans to spend the night in Roswell, NM were abandoned upon arrival. The sign at the bank put the temperature at 103 degrees but it actually felt much warmer. The GPS told me that Albuquerque was 200 more miles up the road. I decided to push on after a hilarious hour spent at the UFO Museum where most of the exhibits look like science projects done by 8th graders. I loved it. With the end of the tour in sight, I’ve been listening to ‘200 More Miles’ more and more. The spirit of the song has taken on new meaning as I push towards 12,000 miles of driving since the tour started in March. When it was written, the band was still driving themselves from show to show and I’m sure they spent some nights sleeping in the car like I did last night. It was their dream, their adventure. I know that feeling now. The venue tonight was a large, beautiful sounding theater. The audience was superb. A three-song encore wrapped an excellent night of music in a charming town.


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Tour Diary – Austin, TX (June 18, 2010)

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

One World Theater

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

With a day off between Houston and Dallas, I decided to check out Austin before the tour bus pulled in 48 hours later. The famous 6th street resembled most college downtowns with a ton of bars and clubs geared towards those drinking on a budget. There are tons of live music venues in Austin and the town must get rocking during the SXSW festival. It was not on this day so I carved out a spot by the bridge to watch the bats take to the sky at dusk. If you go to Austin, you have to see the bats. Well, the little buggers stood up me and 500 other tourists. It wasn’t until two nights later that a local told me the bats were not cooperating due to all the females being pregnant. Nestled between the mansions in the hills above the city, the theater looked like an upscale Mexican restaurant. Walking into the lobby, I thought I accidentally joined a wedding reception in progress with two twins doing country songs as a well-dressed crowd ate dinner. The band played upstairs in a small room that felt more cramped than intimate. It was a sweltering night in the audience and Margo made similar remarks about the temperature on stage. Just behind Mike’s amp, an artist set-up a canvas and painted along to the music. After each show, the paintings went up for auction. I thought about bidding on them as gifts for Cookie Bob and Crazy Ed but I didn’t think the $17 in my pocket would get very far. The band spread twenty-eight different songs across the two shows giving the fans that stayed for both shows a real treat. As soon as the show ended, I drained two bottles of Starbucks juice and pointed the car west.


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Tour Diary – Dallas, TX (June 17, 2010)

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

Before I was born, two important moments in American history bookended the 1960’s. Earlier on tour, I laid in the grass on the grounds of the Woodstock Festival in Bethel, NY. Today, I stood on the grassy knoll and watched traffic pass over the white ‘x’ in the middle lane where the 35th president of the United States of America was gunned down. Without commenting on my Catholic school education, I will admit that Kevin Costner and Oliver Stone made me more aware of Kennedy than any high school history class.

The book depository looms over the plaza and a museum has encased a recreation of the sniper’s nest in glass for tourists to visit. There was an unpleasant tinge to the idea of looking out that window so I chose to stay under the shade of a tree as an unforgiving Texas sun baked the city. I read today that the Kennedy assassination marked the American people’s loss of faith in its own government. I wish I had been around before 1963 to see what the country was like and what it lost that day.

The show tonight was somewhere in the outskirts of Dallas. I made it to the Mexican restaurant next door to the theater in time to watch Mexico put two past the crumbling French. On stage, the band put in a long night’s work with 18 songs spread across two halves. After today’s experience in downtown Dallas, ‘I Just Want To See’ hit me hard early and the rest of the night never matched that intensity. The enthusiastic crowd cheered the band into “the hits” encore of Angel and Jane before rushing to the lobby to watch the final minutes of the Lakers/Celtics game.


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Tour Diary – Houston, TX (June 15, 2010)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

The late night in the French Quarter pushed back the morning drive considerably. My first visit to Texas was met with traffic and lane closures astraffic inched into downtown Houston. The House of Blues sits in the heart of downtown in what felt like a newer shopping plaza still searching for tenants in a recession. It was my first visit to one of these venues and it was even more branded than I expected. The cool artwork on the walls loses some luster when you see it plastered on t-shirts and coffee mugs for sale. Above the stage, big screens showed commercials (novelty drum sticks on sale!) until the band took the stage and someone put the Lakers game on every TV. The upside of all the merchandising and $8 cans of beers is the high end P.A. hanging from the stage.

The punch of the vocals in the mix and the rich set list gave Margo license to let loose. There was a swagger to her performance tonight and she swayed her arms as if possessed by the music. On ‘Hunted’, Pete dropped the gas on the groove and the entire song came apart at the seams (in the best way) as Jeff wailed through an extended solo. Before anybody could catch their breath, ‘Lost My Driving Wheel’ built into a lonely lament with Pete’s kick drum beating quickly and lightly under the chorus like a nervous heart stranded somewhere in Texas.

In the morning, I weaved through a neighborhood and found a house made of beer cans tucked between newer town homes. Local artist Coley gave me the insider’s tour of the property. In 1968, an unassuming upholsterer spent his retired days inlaying marble, wood, and metal into a concrete landscape. Once the yard was complete, he began siding the house in beer cans, about 50,000 of them when it was all done. His wife and him lived out there remaining years happily in the beer can house. Just another five room love story.

World Cup Fever has infected the tour and I pulled over in La Grange, TX to catch the second half of the Uruguay game and grab a bite. I found a tiny Mexican restaurant where the cooks were huddled around a Spanish broadcast of the game in an unused dining room. I joined the festivities and ate the best Mexican meal of my life for $5.95. The language barrier notwithstanding, we all seemed to agree the red card on the South African goalie was a bit much. La vida es muy buena.


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Tour Diary – New Orleans, LA (June 14, 2010)

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Cafe du Monde

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

Headed straight for the French Quarter as I rolled into New Orleans. It was crawfish etouffee for lunch followed by beignets and café au lait at the legendary Café du Monde. The not always pleasant smell in the streets, the aging, colorful buildings and the sagging balconies give New Orleans a personality all its own. There is no shortage of voodoo shops and graveyards in this old pirate town.

Tonight’s show was held at a juke joint that first opened in 1977. Not much had changed inside since then. Tipitina’s was named one of the top 40 music venues in the United States by Paste Magazine. Longevity is sometimes mistaken for importance. The skies opened during soundcheck and then as the rain moved on, a rainbow came down on the roof of the club. In a town steeped in superstitions, I took it as a good sign for the night ahead.

The show was loud, aggressive at the right times, and subdued when the music demanded space to breathe. The musical crayons sometimes strayed outside the lines but it only added to the unique evening. The acoustic set wrapped with ‘River Waltz’ and the acoustic guitar went directly into the intro to ‘Bea’s Song’ and a new arrangement of the trilogy was born with Al and Pete remaining still until the solo. When they came in, the undercurrent of the song began to quicken and built into a tense ‘Dragging Hooks’.

A late night excursion to Bourbon Street provided some well earned R&R for the band’s might  crew of two. Generous pours or rum fueled the exploration of a quiet Monday in the French Quarter. There were more beignets and coffee at Café du Monde as the clock pushed past 2am and Bourbon Street began to dwindle down to only bad decisions waiting to happen.  It was time to go home.


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Tour Diary – Baton Rouge, LA (June 13, 2010)

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

the Mississippi

(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)

A straight shot south with little traffic brought me into Cajun country. The venue was in the heart of downtown Baton Rogue but that heart wasn’t beating on a hot Sunday afternoon. Very few places were open and even less people were out on the streets. A few miles away, the college campus promised restaurants and record stores but in this heat, a few miles sounded like forever. Behind the venue, a path followed the top of the levee and gave a peaceful vantage of the slowly passing water.

The Manship Theater is housed in a larger arts complex. The curved room extended only eleven rows deep with two single row balconies stacked to the ceiling.  Intimate with immaculate sound, it promised a solid night of music. Across the street, the old capitol building stood majestically on a tiny hill. Tucked in a corner of the second floor, I stumbled across the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame. It barely filled the small room. Downstairs, an extensive exhibit provided two different perspectives on the work of The Kingfish, Huey Long. The controversial governor and senator fueled his public works and policies to share wealth (good) through corruption (bad) and possibly kidnappings. As I walked back into a wall of thick morning humidity, I realized that I’d probably have voted for him.

After settling in with ‘Misguided Angel’, the show kept gaining momentum and turned into a fantastic set. The room captured every movement of the band. The sound of a guitar pick scraping steel strings on ‘Sir Francis Bacon’ and the murmur of the insect loop on ‘Cicadas’ became voices of their own. Without the pedal steel from the last tour, ‘Cicadas’ sounded more sparse and haunting. It moved into ‘Good Friday’ and ‘Driving Wheel’ to close out a stellar performance by the band. As I walked to the car, I accidentally crossed the water exhibit outside the arts complex and a powerful stream of water shot up my shorts. It was a welcome and refreshing end to an excellent day on a very hot road.


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Jason’s Video Diary (May – New England)

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Here is Jason’s video diary for the May tour. It’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time to see Pete working on his mind over matter opening act routine…its gonna be real big. To catch up on Jason’s Tour Diary, enter “Jason Lent” in the Junkies Blog Search window and check through the Blog archives.

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