Monthly Archives: November 2013

Stairway to heaven

Day 63: Smith olde Bar
Atlanta, GA

When we woke up, and after a nice McD’s surprise (breakfast til 11!!! Georgia gets it!), we headed over to the Georgia Guidestones.
The Guidestones is a nearly 20’ tall granite sculpture with 10 guidelines for future humanity carved in to it in 6 different modern languages, and also there is a message on the capstone carved in 4 ancient languages. Instead of me delving into a huge description, here’s the wiki page about it:
There’s some really cool features designed into the sculpture. For example, there’s a slot cut into the cap stone that allows sunlight to pass through at noon each day, the beam of light then highlights the current day of the year. After some pics and a video update, we got back on the road to Atlanta.
This wasn’t our first stop in Georgia, but it was our first gig in Atlanta. On earlier tours we’ve played Savannah and Macon, but Atlanta eluded us until now.
Smith’s Olde Bar was huge. There were two floors to it, the first being the restaurant/pub with a few great old style bars, some tables, and a small stage. The upstairs was a legit rock club, with an awesome sound and lighting system, a decent sized stage, and TWO green rooms! (Both were painted, in my opinion, Ironic Green.) Band stickers and sharpie drawn graffiti plastered the backstage walls, those and the smell of beer mixed with bleach finished off the classic rock club vibe perfectly.
The fact that the rock club was on the second floor added another awesome and interesting element to our night. (In all fairness, y’all can’t hear that I dipped that last sentence in more sarcasm than previously thought humanly possible!) After backing the bus up a precariously narrow rear driveway, we had to unload and carry the gear up a super long flight of metal stairs, then into the club, down another half a flight, and finally out and around the stage to the side stage gear spot. The fact that there was a slight rain shower happening added an element of danger to our usually mundane load in (as if the stairs weren’t enough!)
The soundcheck was pretty comprehensive, and I think for the first time ever, Nate asked for his vocals to be lowered in his stage monitor.
After the show, the load out was just as fun as the load in, (more sarcasm!) with the added bonus of one of the other bands all standing in the way smoking cigarettes on the landing as we were trying to walk by.
In order to maximize the next day’s potential, we left Atlanta right after the show, with Gainesville, Fl plugged into the gps.

Oh, Gravity!

Day 62: Drive Day
South Carolina/Georgia

The ride from Greenville to Atlanta is on the very far end of what we like to have for distance between shows. Typically, we try to have only 4 to 5 hours of drive time between gigs. But, sometimes you’re left with an unavoidable 8 hour run. Having an extra day between the shows was a huge help, as we drove about halfway before stopping at a movie theater for another tour movie night. Nate and I went to see Gravity, a film that you have to see on the big screen in order to truly appreciate. Nate had already seen it, but decided, especially since I’m a bit of a scifi nerd, that seeing that there was an opportunity to catch it in 3D at the theater, we should seize it. I had little knowledge about the movie’s plot, which I think adds a bit of excitement into watching it unfold. I was very happy that things worked out that I was able to see it before they took it out of theaters.
After the movie, we decided to head in the direction of the Georgia Guidestones for the night. Along the way there, Nate and I listened to a Startalk podcast hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson all about the actual science of the movie Gravity. One of his guest hosts was an actual astronaut, so it was really cool to hear someones first hand experiences in orbit, and how they relate to how space was portrayed in the film.
When we reached the town of Elberton, GA, we stopped for the night. The path to sleep was slightly hampered by the constant sound of freight trains lumbering down the tracks behind the Walmart that we were parked at. Once my brain tuned out the background noise, sleep finally set in and there was no waking until morning.

Break the spell of the typical

Day 61: Tipsy Teapot
Greenville, NC

As I’ve said before, playing sound guy with someone else’s mixing board and equipment is hardly ever a fun situation.
After a typical non-eventful day of driving, Planet Fitness, Taco Bell, and then more driving, we landed in downtown Greenville. Town was bustling. People were everywhere, moving about like summertime ants on spilled drops of ice cream, some gathered, others moving along the sidewalk to their next destination. There was an outdoor stage not far from the venue that had a soul cover band blasting music into the streets.
The venue was half bar/music hall, and half tea house/used book store. It was another we-show-up-and-do-everything kind of show. The sound system was riddled with issues, with more non-working parts than a Ford Edsel. We had to test every channel, every cable, and every microphone, just to scrape together enough equipment to start the show. After getting the sound levels as good as we could, we set up some house music and then waited for the time to open the doors.
Even after testing all the house equipment with a solid soundcheck, we still had a few technical difficulties. We were able to fix everything by the second song, and things proceeded without a hitch the rest of the night. We had a group of people that were waiting for us and for the doors to open, which is always a great thing for us to see in a new market. On top of them, by the end of the show it was clear that we had made some new fans in the area.
The streets were still packed as we loaded out, and it became even clearer that we would be back to Greenville sooner rather than later.

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’

Days 56-60: Drive days, Off days

There are some highlights to drive days. One, is that we tend to be up early enough to get McD’s breakfast. It’s by far not the best thing on the planet, but when were outside of Dunkin country, there’s not really too many places that I’m aware of to get quick to-go breakfasts.
We trekked east across the rest of Ohio and thru Pennsylvania, up hills and literally under mountains, finally pulled into NYC in the early evening. We dropped off Stevie in Manhattan, then headed to Queens to drop off Mochello and Nate. The traffic was absolutely horrendous, the trip to Queens took over an hour, the typical New York congestion clogging up the streets like Charlie Sheens nose after a bender. When we finally made it out of Manhattan, it was fairly smooth sailing to drop off Mochello and Nate.
I road up to White Plains with Root so that I could catch the train north to Massachusetts and figure out my eye glasses situation. The trains run every other hour, and because of the initial traffic in Manhattan, I was 10 minutes late for my train. Luckily, it wasn’t the last one of the night. I finally made it up to Great Barrington after 2 am, making it one super long travel day.
The next day I was able to make an appointment at an eye doctor, but because of the turn over time I was only able to get new contacts, which is better than nothing. I spent the rest of the day and the next one hanging out with family and friends before catching the train back to the city on Wednesday morning.
After an unproductive appointment at the Apple Store about my MacBook, I met up with Nathan in Bryant Park and we walked to his car by way of the New York City Public Library. The Library has always been on my bucket list of New York sights that I keep meaning to stop and see but never seem to have time to. We had a few minutes to kill, so we did a quick Nate guided 10¢ tour. The Library’s cavernous rooms are separated by equally vast and intricate halls, the walls built with large white marble blocks, the looming cathedral ceilings covered with Michelangeloen style paintings. Beautifully carved wooden moldings accenting the grand classic styling in a way that couldn’t be any more ascetically pleasing. It struck me that I could spend YEARS just exploring the massive collection that is available to the public, let alone the private sealed archives that the Library houses.
After the quick tour we headed to grab some dinner and meet up with our friends from the band Cilver. We went to a famous deli for sandwiches, then headed to Rockwood Music Hall for the Johnny Miller album release party. (Nate did a job for Johnny’s label, conceptualizing, filming, directing, and editing like 8 music videos for Johnny Miller’s music. I got to help film one of them, marking my first ever foray in to green screen filmmaking!)
The show was great, but, being early in the evening, seemed short. Some other friends of mine came out, so after the show we went out to another bar up on 11th. About 10:30 I met back up with 3k, who I had last seen at the album release party. I stayed the night at his place, but before we went tree we stopped to meet up with Man on Earth’s producer, Coops, for some bubble tea and hang time as a pre-birthday celebration for 3k, who’s birthday is Saturday. I’m personally not a fan of bubble tea, which has little tapioca ‘bubbles’ in it that have an unsettling texture to me. We hung out for a bit, then headed to Queens for the night.
I spent much of the next day binge sleeping, sporadically waking up to cook and eat a frozen pizza, but before I knew it, Root was outside with the bus, and we were all all aboard and set to be back on the road. We drove for about four hours, found a Walmart and settled in, in what has become a easy to deal with routine.

Against the wind

Day 55: Bethel Road Pub
Columbus, OH

Waking up knowing that there are pancakes on the horizon is one of the best feelings in the world. Waking up knowing that Ben Crawford is making pancakes completely negates the fact that I only got 3 hours of sleep.
When we stay at our friends houses I like to try and be one of the first ones up so that I can shower and wake up in a non rushed manner. I took that ‘thankfully-last-night-I-pretty-much-drank-just-one-type-of-liquor-so-the-room-isn’t-spinning’ shower, then sat on the couch and realized that when we watched it earlier that morning, we had talked through almost the whole episode of The Walking Dead, so I could only remember parts of it. So I queued it up and watched it while I waited for our crew of zombies to rise up from their mostly dead states and get their day started. Everyone awoke in time for breakfast, and the healing powers of Ben’s pancakes and Gail’s breakfast casserole brought everyone back to a less comatose state.
Soon, it was time to head out to Ohio. We said our goodbyes to Amanda and Stephanie, then the rest of us shipped out too. I rode with Gail and Ben to keep them company as they were making the ride to Columbus for the show. We dropped of their daughter at Gail’s parents house, then hit the highway. Somewhere along the way we realized that we were very close to catching up to the guys who were on the bus, even though we had left almost 45 minutes after them and also had made a couple of stops . (That’s why I jokingly call the bus ‘our tortuga’….. Slow and steady)
It was getting dark out, and I wanted to wave as we passed them, so I took off my glasses, hung them on my shirt, set my phone’s flashlight to strobe, and rolled the window down. Holding my phone super tight so the wind wouldn’t take it, I brought myself close to the plane of the open window. As we passed the bus, I waved and pointed the strobe in their general direction do they would notice me. What I didn’t count on was a gust of wind screaming across the plains, battering the car and sucking my glasses right out the window. It took a second, but after the shock set in, so did the realization that not only were my glasses gone, I was also on the last pair of my contacts…. And they were about too old to keep using. Cursing, I resigned myself to the fact that there was nothing that I could do in the present, but that it was an issue that I had to deal with asap.
We got to the pub after the guys had already loaded the gear in and I found out that we were in charge of running the door for the show. (No, the bus doesn’t have a rocket engine hidden somewhere on it… We had to stop by Gail and Ben’s hotel so they could check in!) Before I started playing door guy, Nate, Stevie, Gail, Ben, and I went to the next door restaurant to grab some dinner. Oddly enough, this was only our second time having a real sit down Mexican dinner of the tour. It seems we’re slacking something fierce.
After dinner we went back to the club and I assumed my responsibility as doorman. It was awesome to meet long time fan Mike, and finally to meet Ohio twitter fan Samantha and her friend Lilly.
One thing though, let me tell you, running the door is one of the most boring, thankless jobs associated with a rock show. It seems like everyone complains that there’s a cover. And it seems everyone wants their girlfriends 2nd cousins coworkers husband to be on the guest list… Or something as equally ridiculous as that. Plus you’re stuck, tied to the entrance of the club, having to stop people that would just as soon walk past you. It’s quite like being a toll booth operator, which they say has one of the highest suicide rates of any profession.
The cover that night was only 3 bucks, and to be fair most people paid without hesitation. There was one middle aged lady, maybe about 45 years old, who when I told her it was 3 bucks to get in, threw her hands up, exclaiming, “Eff that! 3 bucks? I guess I’ll go drink somewhere else!” Then she curtly spun around, and walked out the door, never returning. (At least while we were there.)
It made me wonder, do people realize that most of the time when there’s a cover, that’s how the band is getting paid? With a $3 ticket, which is like the price of a mediocre beer, after you split it, the house has to be packed to the gills for anyone to make any money. I guess that people don’t even think about that. They think the club is taking them twice: at the door, then at the bar.
After load out, and goodbyes to Gail and Ben, we hit the road, trying get a few hours out of the way so the long haul back to Nyc wasn’t so daunting.