Tomorrow we are heading out on the road for the first time in 18 months for a short spin around the Great Lakes. We are nervous and excited and hope that those of you in the area can drop in and say hello. Joining us on-stage will be John Farnsworth and Jeff Bird. Here we go! You can find all the show and ticket info here.
We shuffled off to Buffalo, stumbled down the QEW… a morning departure, an intense but simple border crossing…and we were there. We've never really found a home in Buffalo. We've played various venues and sometimes miss the city entirely on any given tour, despite it being an easy two hour drive down the highway. Tonight we were in the smaller room at Buffalo's main concert hall. It seemed to fit well with the locals, as we had a full house…..it also helped that this was the one and only Trinity Session show on this leg. We fought the room during soundcheck, a large empty space with a lot of hard surfaces designed for acoustic instruments, not for electric guitars and a drum kit. But once the hall was full and we settled in and figure out the acoustics, the show slowly came together: in large part because the audience was excellent…enthusiastic and responsive. It was a perfect way to kick off this little road trip.
One long overnight drive and the road fog descends. Day 2 and it feels like we've been on the road for a couple of weeks. A ten hour drive around Lake Erie, where the lake effect weather keeps the roads in a constant state of disrepair, it's like trying to sleep in a giant Yahtzee can. Saugatuck is a pretty little town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, but it's quaint downtown strip has been overrun by kitchy tourist stores selling t-shirts and fudge. From the perfect repair and size of the houses and the boat slips it looks to be a town with an abundance of cash, probably a vacation spot for well-to-do Chicagoans. It was a pleasant spot to spend a day and to try and regather some strength. This is our second time at the Saugatuck Art Center, which is a functional room, not great sounding, not terrible sounding, but it was sold out which always helps to lift the spirits on stage. Last night we started playing Take Heart off of The Kennedy Suite. It's a delicate, tricky little number, which I think we did a good job of tonight. We also plan to add in Disintegrating to the set one of these nights. The audience was a bit tentative tonight, there may have been a few weekenders out for the evening who were a little puzzled as to what they were listening to….all-in-all a pretty good night.
Chicago is always a favourite stop. It's without a doubt one of the countries great cities. Tonight we were in a new venue for us, The City Winery. We have played The City Winery in NYC a few times over the past few years and its always a relaxed and enjoyable gig, so when we go the invitation to try out their new location we jumped at the opportunity. The venue is in the old meat packing district which is just west of the downtown core. The area is filled with some beautiful century old brick warehouses that are being refurbished and retro-fitted for modern day uses. This is what Chicago and all great cities do best…incorporate their past in to their present, build on their strengths. It was a two show night, which is always tough. The first show was a little rough, the audience a little pre-occupied with their dinner. The second show we relaxed a bit and let the music take us for a bit of a spin. Rahm Emmanuel (current mayor of Chicago, ex-chief of staff for Obama, ex-Clinton advisor, etc..) was in the audience for the first show and he came backstage afterwards to stay hello. Apparently he and his wife have been fans for a long time and they have seen us at various locations over the years. It was a pleasure to meet him, his wife and his friends. It never gets old finding out whose listening to your music, musicians generally work in a vacuum and occasionally one gets a glimpse at how music has the ability to cross so many different types of boundaries. We started playing Disintegrating tonight…its a tricky little number and needs some time to mature.
The tour schedule is now complete for October and November in the midwest U.S. We will be starting in Buffalo on 10/24 and will be stopping in Saugatuck, MI; Chicago, IL; Stoughton, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Iowa City, IA; Evanston, IL; and Ann Arbor, MI. All of the details are here.
(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.