Posts Tagged ‘Jason Lent’

Tour Diary – Falls Church, VA (April 23, 2010)

Saturday, April 24th, 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.)

New York. New Jersey. Delaware. Maryland. Virginia. Five states in under four hours and each extracted their fair share of my beer money for tolls. I decided to take the back roads from the hotel into Falls Church to save up for dinner. The rolling, tree lined roads were dotted with the new estates of recently acquired wealth. Falls Church sits somewhere near Washington, D.C. but I never figured out how close. The town itself appears to be a few intersections lined with a tiny strip mall. It has the feel of a commuter colony feeding the larger urban areas that sit over the hills.

The venue tonight was a rock club with some dinner theater mixed in. The venue offered seating if you ate dinner and had two bars on each side of the sound booth for those just drinking. It had every appearance of a loud night with a sell out crowd and no seating in front of the stage. Lee Harvey Osmond attacked the stage tonight with Jeff Bird shifting to the bass cabinet and playing some funky runs on the low end. The set was blistering and Aaron Goldstein showcased his guitar skills on several songs while Tom towered above the crowd and delivered his musical sermons.

Tonight, the set list reflected the crowd’s noise level but the aging P.A. had enough heart to drone out the geese and anything else in a three-block radius. I played a hunch when I saw the venue and stood up front in the pit all night. Beers were spilled on me, couples talked endlessly and the entire pit swayed in time with the songs. I loved every second of it. There was very little room for the delicate strains of the more intimate material and it reminded me of the early years when we crammed into these rock clubs on a more regular basis. The band played like giants tonight and delivered the rock and roll to a hungry crowd. It was loud and had an attitude. As Tom Wilson said during the opening set, I don’t know where the f*ck I am but I’m happy to be here.

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Tour Diary – New York, NY (April 22, 2010)

Saturday, April 24th, 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.)

As I headed into the concrete jungle of New York City, I kicked up the Jay-Z and put myself in an empire state of mind. I was born here and now it was time to survive here. I did my research all morning, mapped out a route and an alternate route, printed up coupons for multiple 24-hour parking lots, fueled the car, and packed a survival bag of clothes and computer. A few right turns later, I found a secure garage for $30 and the odyssey began.

The Museum of Natural History was just a few blocks up the street and brought me back to my childhood. I suddenly found memories of looking up at the dinosaurs holding my father’s hand that I thought were long forgotten. Right across the street, the winding paths of Central Park beckoned and I lost myself in the trees for two hours. I met some street musicians, watched lovers embracing on the grass, and sat on a bench as a thunderstorm made its way across Broadway. All in all, it was a perfect day and there was still the matter of a Cowboy Junkies concert.

The band played the NYSEC tonight, which converted a church into a concert hall but kept the pews. The music sounded tight throughout the set. Really tight. Perhaps as a nod to the church setting, “Working On A Building” erupted towards the end of the evening. At one point, the raucous jam hit a peak that I thought would end the song but through the smoke and fire came Al and Pete’s steady groove to propel it further. The show was accentuated by the best lighting of the tour, which draped the band in shadows and let them practice their unique alchemy.

After the show, I wandered down Broadway and found Times Square alive at 1am. With no plan or sense of direction, I managed to walk by Radio City Music Hall and the Ed Sullivan Theater. Everything is in New York. Literally. As I made the walk back to the hotel, a young couple emerged from the subway and stood gazing into each other’s eyes. Everywhere I went in New York City today, there was love to be seen. The lyrics of “Renmin Park” waltzed through my head as I crossed their path and dodged the yellow blurs of angry cabs.

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Tour Diary – Bay Shore, NY (April 21, 2010)

Friday, April 23rd, 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 poorly paved highways out of Syracuse made for an uneven drive south as the anthracite mines of eastern Pennsylvania rolled by. As I crested a hill in New Jersey, the New York City skyline began to inch over the horizon. At that point, the GPS on my i-Phone, now nicknamed Joey Conrad, sent me into the heart of darkness that is New York City on an ill fated route that left me instantly lost.

Unprepared for the tolls, I was short three dollars to escape from New York via the Queen’s Tunnel. Not trusting my GPS to get me to a bridge, I pulled into a parking garage near an ATM and paid $9 for a 45 second run to the ATM. As I pulled the $20’s from the machine, a gust of wind caught one and it blew down the sidewalk (I can’t make this stuff up). I watched an older lady stop it with her foot, glance in my direction, and start to stick it in her pocket. I did my best New Yorker “hey!” and she shoved it back at me without breaking stride.

Two hours of stalled traffic later, I arrive in Bay Shore, NY and found the venue. I called the motel I passed on the way in to check on rates and the lady on the other end asked if I wanted it for the entire night. I decided to ask around and two different bartenders told me to avoid the local hotels since they were mostly for the hookers and drug dealers. Clearly, neither worked for the Bay Shore Visitors Bureau.

The show tonight was in a performing arts hall with stadium seating, clean restrooms, and a well-behaved crowd. After Syracuse, the experience felt a little sterile for a rock and roll concert. The band broke the night into two sets and the second half felt more focused. The new songs, “A Few Bags of Grain” and “Stranger Here,” are becoming razor sharp and threaten to blow the roof off a show in the near future. The night ended with Mike and Jeff unleashing a threatening “Lay It Down” as the lighting director continued his trippy, swirling light show.

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Tour Diary – Syracuse, NY (April 20, 2010)

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The Westcott

(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.)

First impressions being what they are, I walked into tonight’s venue somewhere in Syracuse, NY and my flip flops stuck to the floor. The stench of warm beer, puke, and really warm beer permeated every surface. Too shoddy to continue as a movie theater, someone had the grand idea to remove the seats, drop a PA system on the floor, and start booking bands. To their credit, the venue staff worked hard to mop and straighten up during sound check.

Tonight’s crowd was fairly small but the beer specials made them sound like a Roman army in Margo’s monitor. Lost in the repugnant smell of the club and the noise of the bar was some fantastic moments of music that were not missed by those paying attention. “Shining Moon” came on strong early and “Stranger Here” reduced my notes to comic book adjectives. Pop. Bam. Pow!

The acoustic set made it clear that the quiet material was destined to drown in the drone of the bar. At that point, Nigel Tufnel slipped into the sound booth and turned everything up to eleven. A three-song run of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” “Dark Hole Again,” and “Murder Tonight In the Trailer Park” to close the set was triumphant over the steady chatter.  When “Lost My Driving Wheel” began to close the night, the din of the crowd had subsided and everybody took notice of the music on stage. Finally.

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Tour Diary – Boston, MA (April 18, 2010)

Tuesday, April 20th, 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.)

Something always seemed to be missing today. The tour bus was missing air in a tire, I was missing a sock until after lunch, and the flowers were missing from stage when the band opened the set. Even worse, the band was missing hockey on the bus when the satellite went down. It was that sort of day as the quiet villages of Maine were quickly replaced by the insanity of the Boston area highways.

The Sommerville Theater sits in Davis Square on the outer banks of Boston’s urban sprawl. It still functions as a movie theater and the smell of popcorn permeated the concert. Downstairs, we stumbled upon a funky little art museum to help pass the rainy afternoon. A few of us early arrivals rummaged through a pawnshop’s CD collection and I found every CD I ever sold for beer money in college. Hootie, Gin Blossoms, Garth Brooks (don’t ask), Belly, and countless others looked at me like abandoned children. Oops, sorry guys!

Mary Gauthier opened with deeply personal songs from her upcoming release produced by Michael Timmins. Tonight’s show followed the opening script of last night’s set and the show found its’ footing once the missing flowers were retrieved for Margo. Aaron Goldstein’s pedal steel sat perfectly inside “Southern Rain” and adds a distinct tone to the overall sound of this tour.

The stage was adjusted slightly placing the penalty box of percussion (it’s playoff time and the Avs won, expect some hockey references) on an angle to the rest of the band. This allowed better viewing of Pete’s life behind the glass. He wields the sticks like paintbrushes and the little flourishes on the ride cymbal during the bridge of “Sweet Jane” gave an old tune a fresh coat of paint.

The Bruins are playing well. The Celtics are showing some heart. The Sox were in town and a marathon was commencing the next day. Despite all the distractions, the fans came out and supported the band. A nice end to the “work week” but I’m already looking forward to Syracuse on Tuesday.

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Tour Diary – Rockland, ME (April 17, 2010)

Monday, April 19th, 2010

boat yard in Rockland

(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.)

After a slow, midnight drive out of Brownfield, ME, I found myself sliding my credit card under the bulletproof glass of a Motel 6 as a young man in the lobby coordinated the arrival and departure of some lightly dressed women. Anxious to leave my room (cell) at first light, I drove into downtown Portland and walked into a small coffee shop. Greeting me on the stereo was Townes Van Zandt. I settled in for the first side of the album and then walked a few blocks to the indie record store to fill up a bag of songs for the ride up the spine of Maine where the ocean’s fingers extend into the dense forest.

Rockland, ME provided a magnificent setting for a relaxed day on the seaside. I wandered alone for a few hours and then crossed a street and ran into (Crazy) Ed and (Cookie) Bob. They were unable to shake me the rest of the day and the group swelled as old friends and llamas pulled into the small coastal village. Exquisite sound, a fantastic audience, and the band playing an inspired set made for a memorable night far away from the tidal pull of the “real” world. The new songs shimmered and Margo’s vocals soared through unclouded speakers where every line hung like a whisper in your ear. As the last note of each song faded, a moment of silence briefly existed before the crowd roared with applause. I love those moments on tour.

After the show, we made for the only pub in town and found a father jamming with his two young (very young) sons. The three piece was holding down the bar as the local police cruisers made laps around the block waiting for someone to stumble into their path. As we returned to the hotel, one of the region’s bigger metal bands (according to one of their “fans” hoping to meet the band members on a more personal level) was packing up their gear and the hotel felt like a surreal version of the “Riot House” on the Sunset Strip with fans of both bands jostling for the elevator. Another amazing day stacking up the miles and set lists.

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Brownfield, ME (April 16, 2010)

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

DSCN3312_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.)

All the world’s antiques have been shipped to Vermont. Coming off a late night drive from Buffalo and a short nap in Albany, I awoke envisioning four open lanes pointing straight to the horizon, a Dunkin Donuts coffee break every 56 miles, and track seven from Renmin Park blasting with the windows down. Instead, today’s drive was a torturous crawl through rain soaked Vermont on twisting one-lane roads with antique stores spaced every few hundred feet. Crossing into New Hampshire, the rain turned to blowing snow and I was traversing mountain passes and groping for a phone signal to check my GPS.

Walking into the Stone Mountain Arts Center, the white-knuckle ride over the last mountain immediately dissipated. Some venues manage to put the artist at ease and others are a treat for the ticket holders. This place nails the music experience for both. A rustic wood room with a high peaked ceiling and exposed log beams gives the music enough room to breathe while the floor to ceiling glass windows behind the stage give a glimpse at the stunning scenery outside. Bands are treated to an extensive collection of vinyl, a pool table and instruments to tinker with before taking the intimate stage. Oh, and the food and staff are superb as well.

The band entered as looped sounds from Renmin Park danced through the speakers, which faded into “A Few Bags of Grain” off the new album. It set the mood of the night perfectly and was a wicked opening number. The audience was dialed in from the drop of the puck and stayed on the same page as the band throughout. It became a shared experience where the surroundings made it impossible not to enjoy the night. The set list was diverse and a shimmering “Escape Is So Simple” left enough space between the notes to hear the snow falling outside. A beautiful night.


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Tour Diary – Buffalo, NY (April 15, 2010)

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

DSCN3305_stitch - Copy

(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 second leg of the 2010 tour kicked off in Buffalo, NY as the Buffalo Sabres were hitting their playoff ignitions down the street. Tonight’s show took place at Asbury Hall, the performance hall within the restored church appropriately named Babeville. Hometown heroine Ani Difranco saved the crumbling edifice in downtown Buffalo and created a beautiful venue with two performance rooms, an art gallery, and the headquarters of her indie label, Righteous Babe Records.

Today, I was blessed with the opportunity to tour Babeville and meet the wonderful Righteous Babe Records folks. Their love for what they do is infectious and spending the afternoon on a couch in the offices writing under the gaze of pictures, paintings, and statues of Ani was an inspiring moment on this adventure. Her music was the cornerstone of my college years and influenced the path I’ve taken through life. The rabbit that roamed the offices and occasionally looked at me suspiciously only added to the good karma of this day.

Like most big cities, Buffalo has fallen on harder times and the streets were mostly empty around my hotel when I pulled in last night. However, there is a good vibe permeating the streets if you wander down the right ones. Thanks to some kind new friends who found me at a tequila bar, I was deposited on a funky side street full of eclectic bars and restaurants. It’s hard not to feel welcome in a city where two women don’t think twice about giving a strange guy from Hawaii a ride across town.

For the show tonight, I set sail with the infamous Bob’s and Marsh (quietly at her 75th show) in the balcony. The sound at that altitude was flowing below us and it gave us a dynamic view of the extensive lighting on stage. At times, the notes from stage were darting below us like brightly colored fish as the chatter of the crowd lapped at our ark. The set list included two new songs off the Renmin Park album that arrived in our hands today (digital for the young hipsters and an old fashioned CD package for the rest of us). The new material continues to expand the band’s sonic palette and included Jeff triggering samples under Margo’s vocals. The adventurous tones of the new songs were bracketed by the crowd favorites and the good vibes spilled into the aisles during the encore with people dancing throughout the venue.

I’m no cartographer but Buffalo to Maine looks like a pretty long drive. Hmmm, just checked, its 588 miles (which is how many times the crowd yelled “Sweet Jane” tonight). Time to hit the roads. Buffalo, I shall see you again.

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Tour Diary – Cleveland OH (March 27, 2010)

Monday, March 29th, 2010

downtown Cleveland

(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 end of the tour sat in Cleveland and I awoke in Chicago. I added some friends to the Honda Civic and speed limits were merely suggestions as we raced across the Midwest to make the final show. We arrived just in time to taste the infamous sausages at Skippy’s tailgate festival. Great food, new and old friends, and Margo in a pink Snuggie made for a memorable afternoon in a Cleveland alley.

The downtown area of Cleveland felt vacant and the economic downturn was evident everywhere you went. The new baseball and basketball stadiums loomed over the area but there were few signs of life for a city so large. A few blocks from the stadiums, the playhouse district housed at least five theaters and Cowboy Junkies were playing in one of the larger rooms. The restored theater was a stark contrast to the rock club from last night.

Finishing an eleven-show run in only ten nights, the band’s set stayed with the most reliable material from the tour. The sound was pristine and Al’s bass lines were especially noticeable throughout the night. Joining the tour for the final stop was Lee Harvey Osmond who played a dark and stormy collection of tunes to set the mood for the evening.

Morning in Cleveland brought cold and rainy weather as a small herd of fans headed for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Bruce Springsteen exhibit took up most of the visit and seeing the handwritten lyrics of some of the most important songs in music history felt like a religious moment.

A six-hour drive brought me back to Chicago and the end of the first leg of the 2010 tour. It covered over 3,000 miles but I was never more than eight hours from Chicago. The band played a new show every night and each venue had a unique personality that colored the experience. The end of these little tours is usually met with sadness as the real world drags me back under. This time, I’ll be remaining at sea until the band comes ashore in Buffalo, NY next month. I hope to see you there!


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Tour Diary – Madison, WI (March 26, 2010)

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

The capitol

(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.)

An easy day started with a hike to the highest point in Mukwonago, WI to clear the head and fill the lungs with the crisp air. Madison greeted me with bright blue skies and a warm sun. The venue sat a few blocks from the opulent state capitol building that anchors the center of town. The college lies nearby and the streets were alive with students going to and from class. The main drag had a cool record store, plenty of interesting shops, and several microbreweries. It was a great place to spend an afternoon.

The show tonight was at the Majestic, a typical rock club in a college town. The balcony was built crooked giving the entire room a slanted appearance. The bar sat a little too close to the stage and the P.A. speakers had probably seen their share of glam rock bands over the decades. It has been a few years since I caught Junkies in such a club and I forgot how much fun these places can be. The show was sold out and the line stretched down the block before the doors opened. There was a great energy in the crowd for another sold-out show on this romp through the midwest. 

 The band came to play and there was a ton of punch in the mix. Being free to roam, I caught a few songs from the balcony and Margo’s voice was soaring into the highest reaches of the club. The chatter from the bar was easily bested by the P.A. and “Bread & Wine” sliced open the evening. We emerged from the show and walked right into a wild Madison night full of drunken co-eds. It was time to heads toward Cleveland…


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