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Weekend at the Gorge 2016 pt.1

   After a few drafts of this blog post, and seeing it grow longer with each revision, I came to the decision to keep with The Gorge tradition and break it up into 3 separate posts over 3 separate nights. I promise, it all makes sense in the end. Or the beginning… Or maybe it won’t. Who knows…

Pt. 1: Prologue 
   It was the summer of 2004. I was freshly 21, single, and more than ready to mingle. 

   Dating was something that never came easy for me; despite my best efforts with women I usually found myself in that awkward space between romance and the friend zone that I often referred to as ‘dating purgatory’. Living in a small New England town of about 6,000, dating was already a difficult endeavor, as everyone already knew each other’s history, to the Norman Rockwell detail. 

   At that time in my life I discovered two things: 1) it was extremely easy to cross this magical, undefined, and ever changing line of what was considered appropriate conduct as regards to where these ‘relationships’ stood at any given moment, and 2) when said line was crossed, women got extremely pissed off. 

   One such confusing incident happened that summer at the fabled Green River in my Western Massachusetts hometown. This girl that I had been spending a considerable amount of time with, we’ll call her Jane, and I took a picnic down to the river. It was a perfect Berkshire day; we ate, drank, swam, and took a nap in the sunshine. I awoke to Jane using my chest as a pillow. All seemed good in the world. 

   At that moment a group of our friends showed up, which woke Jane from her slumber. They obviously assumed that things had progressed beyond where they actually had, which for some reason greatly angered Jane (I later found out that it was because she had a big unrequited thing for one of our friends that had shown up).

   After that day Jane refused to even talk to me. Not knowing what was going on in her head at the time left me at quite a loss. I absolutely hate having unfinished business in my life, but I could see no rhyme or reason as to why she was acting the way she was. So, I did what every rational guy in 2004 would do: I went to our local record store and bought her a cd. 

   One of the things that had originally connected Jane and I was my newly found love of the Dave Matthews Band, so I picked up their freshly released live album that had been recorded at The Gorge, wrote a little note blanketly apologizing for whatever it was that may have upset her, and delivered it to her at work. This apparently helped, because while nothing ever happened between us, we are still good friends to this day. 

   The one thing that I got out of it all, and the reason for that story, was that buying that album introduced me to Heaven’s Amphitheater, The Gorge, and set me on a mission to someday make the trek to Washington state for what had been dubbed ‘LaborDave Weekend’ by the fans; a 4 day event of camping and concerts that ended the Dave Matthews Band Summer Tour every year. 

   As it does, life got in the way. Every year it seemed there was some new excuse as to why I couldn’t make the pilgrimage to the west coast. 

   Fast forward 12 years. Dave Matthews Band announces that they are taking the year after their 25th anniversary tour off from the road, and I’m in Denver, which is literally 8 hours to the closest venue of the tour. My summer schedule was so jam packed between work and a travel wedding, that I wasn’t going to be able to take time off to make the trip to any of the midsummer shows that I wanted to. If there was ever a year that I wanted a trip to The Gorge to work out, this was it! I set myself to work on every angle I could think of. I was set to try my damnedest to make this trip work out!


Denver Comicon Weekend ’16

First Comicon 
   Things worked out perfectly that not only was I going to be in town for the week of the Denver Comicon, but that I was also able to secure entry fairly last minute to be able to cover the event. 

    As a comic book/sci fi/fantasy nerd, Comicon has always been a bucket list item for me. Somehow I had always been in the wrong city at the wrong time for me to be able to attend one. I mean, grown people getting to dress up in costumes and celebrate all the wonders of nerdom without it having to be Halloween and without having to have a kid in tow? Sign me up!

   Denver Comicon was set up as a three day event with all kinds of celebrity speakers, discussion panels, vendors and artists, and all sorts of other activities all jammed into the halls, meeting rooms, and auditoriums of the Colorado Convention Center. It was so last minute when I found out that I was going that I wasn’t able to request any exclusive interviews with any of the celebrity speakers, so I planned my first day so it would be taken up by testing the waters and making a strategy for the rest of the weekend. I arrived in the afternoon so as not to get caught up in the opening rush and give all the rabid fans a chance to settle down a bit. In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect, so I just strapped on my boots and dove right in.   

   The convention center was packed. Everywhere I looked costumes people from every fandom or milling around, conversing, taking pictures, and generally seeming to be having a good time. I made my way through the words of always making mental notes on things that I wanted to stop and take time to look at closer. 

   I was honestly overwhelmed. After a few hours of walking around and taking in the sights I had a pretty good sense as to what I would do the next two days. Knowing it was set to be a long weekend, I headed back to my car and went back to get a good night’s rest.

En Garde!

Day 2: Undercover 
   For the second day, I dusted off my Jedi robes that I had purchased for my niece’s birthday party. I had a few friends who were going as well, so we all met up at the light rail station instead of driving. 

   We garnered far fewer side eyes than I thought we would, being that we were traveling in our costumes. Then again, I have seen some of the characters that ride Denver public transportation on the daily. 

   The train dropped us off directly outside the front door of the convention center. Not having to find parking was a huge bonus, so the day already felt like it was off to a great start. We entered the building and got to work straight away. 

   Day 2 I used as my interview day. My friend Danny and I spent countless hours walking around getting short interviews with attendees for my radio show, The Reset. We had the ultimate conversation starter, being that I was dressed as a Jedi and he was dressed as a red shirt from Star Trek. We met all sorts of interesting people, and even ran into some of our other friends that we had no idea were there. Beyond the basic questions of ‘who are you cosplaying’, ‘have you ever been to a Con before’, and the such, the one question that I really wanted to know was “What does Comicon mean to you?” The question seem to really hit home with a lot of people, in the answers that we got were very diverse. Some said they enjoyed the “second Halloween” aspect of it, some were there geeking out on the celebrity panels, others there for the memorabilia. The one that really got me was the response from a 20-something girl dressed as an elf. She told me that Comicon was the one place where she actually felt she fit it. She said that she had been to a number of Comicons across the country throughout the years and it always felt like coming home. She viewed them as her family reunions, Christmas, 4th of July, and Thanksgiving all rolled into one weekend. That same sentiment was echoed through a lot of people but no one else articulated it quite like she did.

   After a long and grueling day of pounding the pavement, we headed back to the train. I felt that I had gained quite an insight on the heartbeat of Comicon, but I was really looking forward to spending the next day just browsing around and taking it in a tourist fashion.

Interdimensional Peace Treaties 

Day 3: The Finer Things 
   For my third day I wore the most comfortable clothes I owned and paired them with the most comfortable sneakers as well. The endless was walking around while wearing boots had really gotten to me, so I was looking forward to at least a semblance of comfort. 

   The first place that I went after arriving was to the vendor area. I noticed that the days crowd seems bursar than the previous two days. It seemed as if Sunday was more of a leisurely crowd, comparatively. 

   The vendor area was a giant room with row after row of tables set up with everything from prop replicas to paintings to actual comic books. 

I spent a couple of hours combing the aisles, wishing that I had it in this amount of money to be able to spend on all of the I spent a couple of hours combing the aisles, wishing that I had and in less amount of money to be able to spend on all of the cool stuff that I was seeing. 

   To end the day I found a room that was doing a Jeopardy style trivia game. Seeing it is a good opportunity to rest, I took a seat at the back of the room. My true nerd colors showed as I knew 95% of the answers to the questions. 

   I left the building knowing that I had only scratched the surface on what was Comicon. I was already planning my next year’s foray, hoping that the stars would align again and allow me to be able to make a return. 

For exclusive interviews with Comicon attendees check out my radio show The Reset! Follow the link below to see how to listen worldwide!
Much thanks again to Jason at Dstreet PR for the last minute accommodation!

Daily Dose of Dave

Dancing Nancies- Live From Central Park

The Central Park Concert was the first Dave Matthews Band album that is ever bought. I played those 3 discs until the laser etched grooves in to it as deep as the Grand Canyon. This version of Dancing Nancies has remained one of my favorite live Dave Matthews Band songs of all time, partly because of the alternate intro. Many times Dave changes the lyrics in the beginning of Dancing Nancies, but this has got to be one of the best ones. Boyd’s violin jam at the end is also amazing… And, I’m sure you noticed, there’s a YouTube video for this one… Enjoy!

This is the last stop

Days 71 & 72: The New Brookland Tavern
W. Columbia, SC

Having the last show of the tour be so far away from home made tour’s end feel slightly anticlimactic. Now, three days and 850 miles later, I’m sitting in my bedroom, stuffed on poultry and carbs, drinking coffee and reminiscing on the amazing time that our two and a half month long tour was.
On our last day of tour we woke up already in W. Columbia, SC, so the day was pretty much set to our own pace. We had breakfast, did our Planet Fitness routine, and then Nate and Stevie recorded some guitar tracks for one of the songs on the new record.
It was a very ‘business as usual’ kind of day. We headed to the club, loaded in, then grabbed some pizza from a nearby pub. We were on 3rd of 4 bands, so we had time to watch the opening acts and make friendly with the staff. The club had a semi dive bar feel to it, yet had a decent sized stage and plenty of room for the crowd.
The guys took stage and played with the attitude that only comes from being on the road for months at a time. After having so many shows in a row to be able to tweak the bugs out, it becomes an incredibly tight show.
The final load out was slightly different then the system we’ve grown accustom to. We had to pack the gear in a way that allowed everyone access to whatever they needed based on what order they were going to be dropped off the next day.
When we were all packed up, we hit the road north, everyone itching for home. We knocked out about two hours of driving before stopping to sleep.
We got back on the road by 7am, with about 10 hours of drive time on the gps. (Add an hour on to that because our bus’s top speed and the actual speed limit don’t always see eye-to-eye…) It took about 6 hours into our journey for us to hit our first bit of traffic…. And from that point it was all downhill.
It was two days before Thanksgiving and everyone seemed to be headed in the same direction that we were. Traffic added an extra four hours on to our trip, and by the time we finally pulled into the city we were all exhausted. I was the first to be dropped off this time, as I had a train to catch. I said my goodbyes and headed into Grand Central Station, another 3.5 hours ahead of me before I’d be home. The rest of the guys made their rounds to drop everyone off at their homes, and then it was official. The Motor Energy Fall Tour 2013 was over.
The end of this tour brought the close of a chapter in Man on Earth history. It marked the end of the “Things They’d Never Believe” era, and the beginning of something new.
For the last year or so, we have been dual promoting, both “Things They’d Never Believe” and some of the new songs that will be on the forthcoming album. Next tour will see us with a completed new album, the dawn of a new cycle in the Man on Earth chronology. We are ever moving forward, on to bigger and better things.
I would like to take a second and thank everyone who helped make this tour a great success. Motor Energy Drink, for helping us in all the ways that they do, and for being a huge part in bringing us to every city along our journey. Our family and friends who, even though they miss us while we are out, are right there with their love and support as we take over this country one day at a time. The fans, both old and new, for being the inspiration that keeps us going…. And I personally would like to thank everyone who follows along with this blog. Your kind words and constructive criticism have been the fuel that has kept me going. I hope each and every one of you is here the next time we set sail. Until then, stay safe, be well, and have fun!

Fight for your right to party

Day 70: Drive Day

I was originally going to lump this day in with one of the other posts, but there was a few adventures that are encompassed in ‘Day 70’ that warrant it having it’s own post.
With the last show of the tour in our crosshairs, there was a lot of questions about the plans for the next six months floating in the air that were begging for answers, and it felt like the right time to get them hashed out. So we woke up, stopped for showers, and then we headed over to the Landshark Pub, the Jacksonville Beach sports bar that our friend Brett watches the football games at.
Before we went in though, we had a band meeting focused on 2014. Big things are on the map, so y’all better stay in your seats! When the meeting was adjourned, we headed in the pub.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are far from being a Super Bowl contending team, and their fans know it. Nonetheless, they are not fair weather fans. The bar was full of die hard jersey wearing fans, chanting like frat boys every time there was a good play, or actually, any positive play, even just getting a first down. Bret told us that if the Jags won we all got free corn dogs, giving us incentive to rabble rouse and cheer along too. The Jags pulled it off, increasing their record to a dismal 2-9, but the win was so important to the fans that they never even thought about the big picture. The jubilant crowd was living in the moment.
When the corn dogs were brought out Root went over to grab a couple. Immediately, a mob mentality sparked up, Jaguar fans barking at him like feral dogs protecting a spilled garbage can, accusing him of being an outsider and to leave the corn dogs alone as they were only for Jaguar fans. I was sitting at the bar, watching how this was playing out, mentally mapping out my first move into the indignant mass of people if things got ugly. The loud mouthed leader sitting with his back to me would be first…. I glanced up at Root, and I could see him assessing the situation as well. While he appeared calm and cool, I could tell he was ready if things deteriorated. If he had been The Wolverine, his claws would have been starting to show.
Then, as quickly as things had flared up, they were done. Brett was right there, telling everyone that we were his friends and that we were cool, that he had offered the corn dogs to us, and there was no reason for complaints. As fast as they got riled up is as fast as Root was accepted into the crowd, crisis completely averted. The moral of the story is that we got some free corn dogs.
We decided to put some miles on the road instead of watching the second game. We made it up to southern South Carolina by 8pm, and found a small town pub in which to watch the Patriots game. Keeping up with the weirdness of the day, as soon as we entered the bar we were descended on by the barkeep and a few customers, all telling us that we had entered a private bar. Not wanting to cause issue, we asked where the closest public bar was. The barkeep told us that county law prohibited bars being open on Sunday nights, unless they were private members only establishments. And members could sign in a guest, but since we were strangers, no one could vouch for us. Resigned to keep driving, we prepared to leave.
But the barkeep kept asking questions, and soon, she changed her mind asking us to stay. It turns out that the county sends undercovers to try to bust bar owners who let in nonmembers to their bars on Sunday nights, and the fine is up words of 500 bucks an incident. Once we were accepted as non spies, everyone came up to us, introducing themselves. As we were hanging out watching the game, from across the bar we heard ‘Bombs Around Me’. One of the patrons, James, and his girlfriend were watching the video on YouTube. When they were done they came up to us, complimenting the song and the video, saying that come payday they were going to visit our iTunes Store.
The Pats were loosing horribly at halftime, so Root and I decided to hit the road and read the highlights later. It turns out that we missed one of the best 2nd halves of the year, the Patriots coming back from a 24-0 deficit, to pull ahead then to take the win in overtime.
I was sitting on the bus, receiving the dramatic play by play through the NFL mobile app. The real-time aspect of the app was flawed, creating a several minute delay in the information that we were getting. I felt as if we were World War 1 soldiers getting updates over the telegraph wire.
We drove all the way to Columbia and spent the coldest night of the tour in another Walmart parking lot, one more show to go before we headed home.