Monthly Archives: April 2014

Walk This Way

Day 21: Covington House
Newport, KY

We didn’t have a far ride to the Cincinnati/Newport area. After an a.m. workout and showers, we stopped at this place called Skyline that Nate has been talking about for some time. I guess this place is such a Cincinnati staple that once a month in NYC a group of Cincinnati natives fly in food from the flagship restaurant for a fresh taste of home dinner. (Which sounds all well and good… As long as they don’t serve Kool-aid there… Then I’d think it a bit cultish). Skyline’s famous dish is their chili, which isn’t what you’d think. Starting with a bed of spaghetti, it’s then topped with a semi-sweet chili, then your choice of a plethora of toppings, including onions and beans, and all topped with a healthy amount of shredded cheese (When I say ‘healthy’ I mean ‘generous’, not like ‘oh-it’s-so-good-for-you’!). As far as taste goes, it’s an odd combination at first, but then you ‘get’ the concept of what they’re going for, and it’s not too shabby.

After lunch we headed to the area of the club. There was a local coffee shop with free wifi a block from the venue, so we set up shop there to do some work. The owner and baristas were super cool, taking time to chat with us about the band. The cafe closed early, so Root, Mochello, and I took off to explore and do some street promo.

Newport, KY is a cool town. We walked about 4 or 5 blocks, which seemed to be about half of the strip. We found record stores, thrift shops, antique stores, a comic book place, a skateboard shop, bakeries, and a couple of pizza spots (which, of course, Mochello had to try both of!). All the people we came across were super friendly, and one of the record store employees even wanted Root and Mochello to sign the flyer that we were handing out. After a few hours of pounding the pavement we all headed back for load in.

The Covington House is a former church that has been converted into a venue. When we first walked in we saw a bar with a tiny stage and a PA system that looked like it would burst in to flames if it had a microphone plugged into it, let alone an entire band. To our relief we found out that the show was in one of the other two rooms, ours being the upstairs one.

Open Air Stereo was having some equipment malfunctions that took extra time to figure out, so it was a line check–>play kind of night for us, which is fine. Adaptability is one of the necessities of retaining sanity when you’re on the road as much as we are, so the delay was like water on an Rain-x coated windshield to us.

Rick, the manager for Miggs was at the show and offered to keep an eye on my merch table while I ran the lights, so I was able to sit behind the board for our set and also for Miggs set. Merch duties called right after that, but it felt good to be back there again, even for just the one show.

After the show we finally got to have some hang time with the guys in Miggs. They met us at a local casino, and while the overpriced tables prevented us from really playing the tables, we got some drinks at the bar inside. After a bit, the Miggs had to catch a cab to meet up with the rest of their crew, and we retired to our bus for the night.

Share it Fairly But Don’t Take a Slice of My Pie

Days 19 & 20: Club Cafe
Pittsburgh, PA

A few days up in Massachusetts is always enough to refresh me. Mid-tour that doesn’t happen a lot, since my hometown is off the beaten path a bit, and we normally don’t have three days off in a row in NYC. The time off made rolling in to Pittsburgh that much more stress free.

I wasn’t with the guys the last time they played Pittsburgh, I had to fly back to Denver and couldn’t finish the last few shows of that tour. What I missed the last time was Mochello falling in love with the city. For the last year and a half or so since that first visit, every time we’ve rolled into a new city we hear, ‘Oh, it’s nice, but it’s no Pittsburgh…’. So you can imagine my interest in seeing what he was comparing everything to.

Pulling in to the city I tried to get a grasp on this vision in his head, but everyone’s taste buds are different. There are some cool painted bridges, and some New England artsy style buildings, but in all honesty, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the desire to move to the city as he is. Yet, there is something about it that appeals strongly to Mochello… Hey, I don’t judge!

Club Cafe is a smaller venue on a side road off the main street of the section of Pittsburgh that we were in. Before soundcheck, the club took a food order for all of us, something that you would think that bars and clubs with food on site would normally provide to the artists that are performing, but rarely do. When the venue offers a comped meal to the performers, I tend to view it as a sign of the good character of the owner, and it tends to hold true. Personally, I’d rather a comped meal over drink tickets any day. Most bands will probably disagree with me, but the way I see it is the mark on booze is typically at least 400%… Food is usually about 200% (Here’s my time spent helping with restauranteering endeavors speaking…) To explain: For a club to offer two drink tickets to a single band member costs the club about 2 bucks. Those two drinks probably retail for 8-10 bucks (at least!). On the other hand, let’s say they comp a $10 entree. That meal on average would cost the club about 3.50, plus the time to prep, cook, clean up, etc. It’s mush cheaper and easier to throw a few drinks at someone. So in my opinion, for a venue to offer a meal shows that they care a bit more about the artists, and that’s why I see it as a good sign

After dinner and soundcheck, the club had an acoustic opener on the bill. It’s honestly a flip of the coin in today’s concert going crowd as to whether or not a local’s crowd will stay. The sad fact is that a good percent of the time the local’s crowd dissipates throughout the evening, and by the time our show is done we’re lucky if a few of their people stick around. Pittsburgh was one of the good 50%, with almost everyone that showed up for the opener staying around, and being attentive and rocking out to boot.

Trox, the tour front of house sound engineer, was impressed by the venue’s sound, commenting that it was some of the best on the tour so far, even beating out some of the bigger clubs.

After load out, we headed off toward Kentucky, stopping just outside of Columbus, Ohio for the night. The next day we did our now all too familiar routine of Planet Fitness/Starbucks, and then decided to do a band dinner at Olive Garden. Root was the only one who didn’t succumb to the trap of their highly addictive breadsticks. I’m not sure what they put into those, but I’m sure that they have to be on some DEA list of addictive substances, somewhere between crack and heroin…. After dinner, we drove a bit more, then everyone finally let the food coma fully set in, promising themselves that they would work off the pasta carbs at the gym the next day.

Memories Make Me Want to Go Back There

Days 15-18: Church
Boston, MA
&
Days Off

“You told me to go back to the beginning. So I have. This is where I am, and this is where I will stay. I will not be moved!”

The drunken ramblings of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride echo in my head every time I roll into Boston with the band. Boston always has a special place in my life when it comes to Man on Earth lore. Way back in yesteryear, this adventure started for me with a song and a half, a free cd, and a bored overnight in a parking garage.

I first met Steve Nathan at a club called T. T. the Bears, in Cambridge. At the time, Man on Earth was a completely different lineup, aside from Nate that is. They were doing a run with the guys in the band Dive, and they all jumped on the bill with Disquiet, a Western Massachusetts band that I was working with at the time. Boston is over two hours from my hometown, and my then girlfriend had an extremely bad habit of making us late for everything. We showed up after Dive had finished, and with Man on Earth almost done with their set. They were halfway thru their classic ‘Come in Closer’ and then they rolled right into the amazing controlled mayhem of ‘Something Better’. I was instantly hooked. (If you’ve jumped on the Man on Earth train in the last few years, then you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. For a while the song ‘Something Better’ was the Man on Earth set closer. Nate would whip the crowd in to a frenzy, and even have a stage party of sorts, inviting fans on stage for dance offs and the sort… Good times! Feel free to harass their inbox daily as to why this never happens anymore…. Just don’t tell them I said to!) Anyway, after the show I found Nate sitting by their merch table, struck up a conversation, after which he gave me a copy of ‘The Time Spent Wondering’.

My ex had a bit of a shopping problem in addition to the chronic lateness, so being that we were near big malls (the closest to my hometown is about an hour away), and being that it was already 3am by the time we rolled out of the club, she decided she wanted to spend the night near Boston and go shopping in the morning. I drove to the shopping mall, parked in the garage so we could grab a few hours sleep, and I popped in the cd that Nate had given me. And that was the beginning.

Returning to Boston five years later strikes a bunch of nostalgia points, but quite honestly, this is a completely different band than back then. Not just in the solidified lineup, but in maturity, diversity, and talent.

The venue we were playing in Boston this time around was called Church. I personally like odd names for venues, it make for interesting conversation, i.e. “Do you want to go get a few drinks and rock out at Church this weekend?”. Some of our Boston friends came out to hang, proving that even when the Red Sox loose that the city still knows how to get down.

After the show we headed back to New York. I stayed the night (or more correctly the morning… We didn’t get to White Plains until about 4am) at Root’s so that I could hop on the train in the morning to head back up to Massachusetts for the few days that we had off before we ship out on the 5 week run to the Pacific Northwest and back.

Par for the course, I experienced the correct amount of misadventures that are inherent with me headed home, but that’s about her story. I did get to see my family and some of my friends, so it was worth it. Wednesday afternoon I caught the Greyhound back to the city to meet up with the rest of the guys, and once we were all together we set out toward Pittsburgh, and the five more weeks of this tour.

She Likes Hair Bands

Days 13 & 14: Toquet Hall
Westport, CT
&
Mohegan Sun Casino

The Westport, CT show was another unique gig. It was an all ages show at the local teen center, so the vibe wasn’t that of a rock club to begin with.

We began the day with the typical roundup that happens when we do NYC shows. Stevie G met Nate, Gail, and I at Nate’s place, and then we tracked down Mochello (who was, shockingly, at a pizza place 3 blocks from his house).

Once we had Moch on board, we set off to White Plains to get Root. The drive from there to Westport felt relatively quick, even though we got stuck in an hour’s worth of traffic that made a weekend of being interrogated at Guantanamo seem more appealing.

The overcast skies turned to rain as we pulled into Westpotrt. The venue was, even with Google Maps on hand, rather difficult to find. The entrance was down an alleyway, up an elevator, and then down a hallway. Being a teen center, it had the feeling of a high school auditorium. Well, maybe a late 1800’s school auditorium. The room had vaulted ceilings with exposed beams that resembled the inside of a converted barn. There was an upper loft area that could have been used for hay storage, but for the fact that there was no way that building had ever been used as a barn. The architect must have grown up mucking stalls though, because just being in the room I almost felt the urge to hunt for a shovel and start cleaning up some poop….

The walls of the room were lined with couches, and the Westport kids that had shown up for the show made full use of them. The venue had booked a local teen band to open, which was a mostly cover band that had a handful of their own tunes. Once they were done, the guys took stage. Since I was still stuck on Merch, and there was no lighting set up to speak of anyway, so I was tied to the table again. Mid-set I had to leave to change out a guitar, but that was the extent of my excitement for the night.

For the majority, the local kids were content to hang back on their couches or at their tables, so Nate took the show to them. In classic Nathan fashion, he used the mic cable to it’s full extent, climbing on chairs and tables, finding the furthest point that he could go to in the crowd to set up a perch point.

The Miggs headlined that night, so once they finished we packed up as fast as possible and headed to our destination for the evening.

We decided to drive to the casino for the evening, mostly so that Mochello, who plays poker for a living, could join in a Saturday tournament. Gail came with us as she had a flight out of Hartford early the next morning. She was able to experience first hand the non glamorous side of being on the road. When you don’t have money to spend a casino can be downright boring. Root and I spent the majority of our time on Saturday trying to find cocktail waitresses on the gaming floor, because at Mohegan Sun the drinks flow free if you are sitting at one of their games. The place was so busy though, that we couldn’t find any waitresses to speak of. We spent much of the day playing a very sick, frustrating game of Where’s Waldo, where the waitresses were the target.

The casino’s free entertainment for the evening was the 80’s band Kix, which after the monotonous day we had, was like a desert oasis. After the band was done, it was time for wheels up on our bus. Gail had an early flight, so we had to get to the general area of Bradley International Airport for the evening. We found a Walmart 15 minutes from the airport, so once we got there we all initiated ‘long nap’ mode, so we could get some shut eye and not make Gail late for her flight.

Sparks

Day 12: New York City
The Bowery Electric

New York City shows are always some of the most hectic for us. On top of the normal issues that are inherent with playing gigs in the city, the guys also have the added dynamic of having to split their attention with their significant others and families. And rightfully so, seeing that we are on the road so much.

Adam and I started our day in White Plains 3 hours after we got there. The bottom step of our bus and also the tail pipe have both been in need of some attention, so while we had the bus up at Root’s place we capitalized on the chance to put a band-aid on them. We also used this time to take care of our laundry.

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The welding took up the whole morning, and soon it was time to shove off. We made our way down to the city, doing our best to avoid the minefield of abundant potholes that cover the streets of New York.

When we got down to the venue there was a movie being shot right across the street. That meant that parking, which is already a ridiculous experience in the city, was that much more of a pain. We circled the surrounding blocks countless times, like vultures waiting to swoop in at first opportunity. Giving up for the time being, we parked at the edge of an intersection, unloaded our gear, and then Nate took over the search. After he found a place to weigh anchor, the guys set up for soundcheck.

On this tour, Miggs and Open Air Stereo are co-headlining, which means that whoever is headlining that night get the opportunity for a full soundcheck. The rest of us get a quick line check, which is a sped up version of a soundcheck. Being that this show was our hometown album release party, we were given the headlining slot, with the longer soundcheck. Once they were done, getting all their levels correct, the guys headed off to an interview.

Gail, the head of our street team, had flown in for the show, so I went with her and some of the band girlfriends to grab some dinner. Afterwards, we headed into the venue for the show.

The Bowery Electric is a narrow venue, so once the show started there wasn’t much room to move about. To get from one end of the bar to the next was at least a 5 minute trek of excuse me’s and push throughs. The club is well aware of that so they had a camera set up pointed at the stage, that fed to tv screens above the bar.

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Some unforeseen circumstances led to the departure of our Merch girl, meaning that I was sentenced to the booth. (Ok, it’s not so bad… It’s just that I’m not used to being tied to one area all night… And I miss the light board!)

After the show everyone went back to their homes, and Gail and I went to Nate’s. The lack of sleep the night before got the best of me and I passed out faster than a hemophobic at a slaughterhouse.