Friday, September 10, 2010

Mini-Tour Part 3: Common Grounds and Lexington, KY

We pulled into Lexington around 4 with a few hours to hang out before the show.  Our buddies Tara and Rick have recently moved in with Mark and Kristi, who we had met before and were thrilled to finally get the chance to get to know.  They were even more awesome than we had anticipated AND they have the coolest dog ever:
Her name is Cheeseburger.  She likes getting her butt scratched and has the softest armpits we've ever felt :D  She also sits up like a person while regally surveying the room with her droopy face.  She loves pawpaws and is terrified of corn husks.  Needless to say, we had a blast hanging out with this crazy dog all weekend.

The Common Grounds show was wonderful, as usual.  Melissa and Katie were the coolest baristas ever, making us delicious lattes including an Almond Joy (chocolate, almond, and coconut) and a Honey Bee (vanilla and honey).

We had the honor of playing with Jerry Belsak that night, who moved us all with his warm, heartbrakingly glassy tone and stunning arrangements.

It wasn't the biggest crowd ever but those there were as nice as they could be- we always vote quality over quantity.  We also met a great guy who happens to be best friends with another great guy that we met at our Salisbury shows- and guy 1 came out on guy 2's recommendation!  Thanks, guys!  Can't wait to see you both again :)

Ricky Lewis from The Key Note Speakers sat in with us on djembe and kicked some serious arse (no surprise!).  We're eager to play with him again.

Ron killed with some pirate songs to a happy late-night crowd.  If Common Grounds hadn't been closing and we hadn't had somewhere to be, we would have stayed there all night.  It really is a fantastic coffee shop.  It's in an old 2 story building that we still haven't properly explored.  It's full of chess boards and cushy sofas, warm-colored walls and pretty lamp fixtures, rotating artwork on display and it's always buzzing with that particular breed of nice, laid-back Kentuckian that we have yet to find anywhere else in such concentration.

We made our way back to Tara and Rick's after the show where Mark had cooked up an incredible meal of ribs, bacon & greens, black beans, and rice.  It was so rediculously delicious, it's a little hard to think about!

We stayed up way too late with a wonderful group of people telling stories, playing music, and enjoying a few adult beverages.  It was a great night.

We woke up to rain, which was a little sad since we had planned to go camping in the Red River Gorge.  But it worked out great because there was an art fair in town we got to prowl around.  We saw all sorts of beautiful local work and heard a killer band called Prefab Rehab who is definitely worth checking out.

After the fair, Mark made us mouthwatering soup beans & rice so good that my tastebuds almost mass-suicided, resigned to never having a better meal- but then Mark said he'd make pork loins the next day and my mouth found renewed purpose :D

That night we went to see our buddy Byron's band, A Melodic Horizon in nearby Richmond, KY.  They were AMAZING!  Curse Childers writes the wonderful lyrics which he sings with his smooth, willowy voice.  The arrangements are rich, the sections complex, and the musicianship is through the roof!  It is music that you can fall right into the groove of and each song is like a present- all different and all full of surprises.  I can't wait to see them again.

A Melodic Horizon kindly offered us time to play while they took a break.  The crowd was in right away.  We played The Worm and Curtis Turner to a rockin' house.  Alas, the bouncer was not diggin' the tunes, so we skipped Chopo.  We were thrilled to get a chance to play- especially because it broke the ice for us to meet some of the awesome people hanging out.  I sincerely hope we cross paths with all of them again.

A Melodic Horizon's second set was just as incredible as the first.  It flew by before we knew it- I would have listened to them all night.

We made our way back to Tara and Rick's for a relaxing and even later night than the first.  It's impossible to crash early when there are such great people around. 
A few hours of sleep later, we had an easy morning, sipping delicious French press coffee and soaking up all the wonderful company.

That afternoon, we went to the Red River Gorge and were blown away by all the epic scenery. 

We saw Skyline Bridge, Tara and Rick's regular campsites, 
 and a huge spider that I hope I can forget about.

Tara and I went for a dip in the river before we headed home for another chill night of good people and tremendous food.  Mark made more of his amazing greens and a porkloin that melted in our mouths, smothered in mustardy BBQ sauce that I'd chug by the gallon if I could.  He also grilled corn on the cob, which Cheeseburger fled from.

We also picked up supplies for Ricky to make panang, an incredible Thai dish that he masterfully prepared.  I think I had three helpings by the end of the night, not counting Mark's dinner.

It was sad to say goodnight and even sadder to say goodbye in the morning.  We had such a fantastic time.  I'm just glad we have another Lexington show booked, or I'd be plunging into unbearable Kentucky withdrawal.

We had a smooth drive home full of epic weather that I thoroughly enjoyed from the passenger seat.

Now the September Tour looms on the horizon.  We're feeling a little overwhelmed and that much more eager to hit the road.
I just posted brand new tracks that we'll be releasing this trip as a preview of the final CD, which we'll have remastered with nice packaging for a CD release tour we anticipate for December or January.  We also have a brand new T-shirt design coutesy of Ron, which we've turned into a screen and are going to print our first shirts with this very evening.

I'd say goodnight but sleep is nowhere in my very near future...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

8.2010 Mini-Tour Part 2: The Acoustic Coffeehouse

We woke up the morning after our wild romp at Shenandoah Pizza in the George Washington National Forest.  Our free campground book had led us slightly astray- we followed the directions faithfully but they only led us to this random gavelly patch of flat ground by the side of a forest road so backwoodsy that the gps couldn't detect it.  We're not convinced was an actual campsite, but we made an early getaway, thus avoided any undesirable confrontations :)
We slept well enouhg after a late night of delicious pizza and stargazing.  Mars was SO bright that night- it cast shadows on the ground!  The "site" was also scattered with glow worms, which I've never really seen before.

We packed up and set off on a cool, beautiful, rainy drive to Johnson City.  Thelonius Monk provided a perfect soundtrack.  We passed all sorts of crazy places in GW Forest, including Whiskey Creek on Thundering Herd Road in Churchville, VA and this unfortunate home near Dire Wolf Lane:

We rolled into J.C. a few hours early and had a lovely walk around town, stopping at a couple music stores, one of which had a decent uke selection.  I got to play my beloved bass uke again and fell in love with a mango Kala baritone.  It was so pleasing to play that it got me thinking I might try picking up guitar again, because baritone ukes are truly like little guitars- the sustain, the rich, warm tone, the body that hums against you as you play, it was awesome.
We made our way back to the Coffeehouse, cutting my foot on a piece of broken glass along the way- flip flops were not the brightest idea.

There was actually a 6pm band scheduled at The Acoustic Coffeehouse that day called The Mudbugs and I'm SO glad we got to see them!  They played a very relaxed but lively set of old New Orleans-y pop tunes with killer harmonies, sax solos, super-slick drums, piano, bass, and charming between-songs-banter to boot!  And they were as nice as they could be- total pros.  We were very impressed.

We hung out with a few familiar faces, including Steve Strawberry and all his slick dance moves :)  We feasted on an AMAZING reuben and bbq chicken burrito, sippin' chai tea, Fat Tire, Star Hill Amber Ale, and Gaelic Ale (which we ended the night with- I think it was my favorite!).

Feeling a little sluggish from all the good food, we had a great time rockin' out to Captain Ronzo.  He played more new tunes, including I Need My Gun, Spirited Voyage, and I'm Not a Psychiatrist.  Some folks weren't quite sure what to make of the punk-rock pirate at first, but he totally won them all over, including a dancing man wearing these crazy toe-shoes and a groovin' little girl who danced like the house was on fire.  It was awesome.

We weren't lucky enough to have dancers for The Galt Line set, but we did have the trumpet player from Demon Waffle join us for a bunch of songs, which just rocked our world.  We had such a blast jamming with him- he especially killed on Chopo and Chinatown Special.  I'm so bummed to have no footage :(  We also had the drummer from Existentia join us on hand drums for a tune or two- such a treat!  We played loose and easy to an appreciative crowd that we thoroughly enjoyed. 

The glory of Acoustic Coffeehouse is that we have just as much fun hanging out afterwards as we do playing tunes.  We always meet so many wonderful and different types of people there.  We hung out with a financial planner and an arborist right along with musicians and professors, as well as a super-sweet couple that just moved to TN and are working towards starting a goat farm!  How cool is that?
We also met the awesome artist who drew this (while wasted!  Totally amazing!), who was a joyous and charming interior designer with very nice friends :D:

We didn't leave the A.C. until after 4am and only because we absoluely forced ourselves to go- we just couldn't get enough of all the awesome people!  But it's always like that at The Acoustic Coffeehouse.  It's such a crossroads for all kinds of people from all walks of life and you can't help but love it.

We finally made our way to Morristown, TN as the sun came up, pitching our camp at Cherokee Park- a beautiful lakeside campground in the Land Between the Lakes region. 

We saw a bit of the sunrise over the water as we collapsed in our tents...

...then were roasted into wakefulness about 5 hours later.  We were under several huge trees but somehow still ended up in a fully-sunned oven.

Ah well, we were eager to get to Lexington and sleep is for chumps, anyway.  The following drive was all neon sky and glowing green hills- breathtaking to say the least.  And we were en route to some of our all-time favorite people in on of our all-time favorite places.

To be continued.... DUN DUN DUUUNNNNNN!!!