Monday, September 12, 2011

The Galt Line Beer and Sausages Tour Day 21

See You In Toledo

We met the The Faux Paus some months ago in Elizabethtown PA. Later we saw them again at Elephant Talk. They kindly set up this show in Toledo for us. This was their home turf, so we figured that this show would be a breeze. We were really looking forward to this one.

We left our campground and hit the highway. Old people in RV’s watched us pack up. It was weird.

 We were in Toledo by early afternoon. Here, we made a discovery. As outsiders in Toledo, we were lost. What does one do in Toledo? Just driving around town wasn’t yielding anything, so we posted up in a pizza place with free WiFi, and learned a little about the city. We found a record shop nearby and burned some time flipping through records and used CD’s.

The Kinks – Live at the BBC

Queen – A Day At The Races

Link Wray –Rumble: Best Of

Frankie’s Inner City was the venue for the evening. It’s a standard rock club on the east side of the river. When we were invited in, we got the sound sorted quickly and loaded in. The other bands began arriving right away. We were pleased to meet the members of Drinking Mercury and Miracle Vitamins. When the doors opened, the place filled up respectably.

Some friends of ours came out. Jeff Beach, Harry McDickerson, Greg Kolbeck, and new friend Leanne (spelling?). We had met these folks while playing in Bowling Green OH. They were kind enough to come and share the evening with us.

Drinking Mercury opened the night with some indie influenced, but good and loud rock. There was enough guitar noises to keep me happy for a while. We went up next and crushed our set. The crowd was in, and we sweated and shouted for them. I even threw my guitar, It was very rock and roll if I do say so myself. Though, I did check it over thoroughly after the set, so I can’t claim too many rock points. Miracle Vitamins came up and did a set of introspective songwriter ballads with keyboard, guitar, and tight vocal harmonies. Then The Faux Paus mounted the stage and captivated the audience. We stood and chatted with our friends, joking about duck dicks and such. It was a fine night.

Afterwards we stepped out to a Denny’s and calmed our bellies filled with PBR’s. Over coffee and late night breakfast food we discussed furries and the Toledo music scene. Hannah and Amanda put us up and that was that. Next thing we knew, we were dozing off to the sound of a whirring fan and a purring cat.

Next… Canton OH, Brewed Roots, The Most beautiful losers, and true exhaustion.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Galt Line Beer and Sausages Tour Day 20

Eatin’ in Eaton OH

Leaving our very comfortable and shady green campsite was a little tough to do, but it was time to leave Indiana behind and give it a go in Ohio for a bit. A little place called Taffy’s was the spot for the night, in a town called Eaton Ohio. Some rural roads took us winding through eastern Indiana, with farm fields and green woods in all directions.

Eaton is not far from the Indiana border. Once we were on the highway, we rolled in to town in no time. There was a lot of time to kill, so we got some sandwich stuff from Wal-Mart and found a little park on the edge of town.  Fort St. Clair is an old fort used to secure the area for white settlers. Now it’s a shady spot on the only hill in town. We ate sandwiches, and napped in the car for a few hours. Pretty rock and roll, I’ll tell you.

Then it was McDonald’s for a bit to use their WiFi. When the time came, we headed downtown and parked right outside of Taffy’s.  It’s a small place in a row of old town shops. From the narrow door to the street you can see a lounge, a large counter, and a room in the back where they sell some nice beers. Next to the door is a high stage with great sound equipment. Sarah, who was working the counter, let us in and gave us a pair of beers. The place was completely empty, so we set up slowly.

When we were ready, we started in. Our mix was pumped to a speaker outside, and we figured that playing might bring someone in off the sidewalk. Eventually Gina, a woman who walked in for coffee, sat down in an overstuffed leather chair and gave us a listen. Before long Adam, a local artist, sat down next to her and hung out. We played a few tunes until Manfred walked in. Manfred owns the place. Since he came in, we decided to take a break to talk to everyone. It seemed more interesting than playing with a full set up on an elevated stage to 3 people.

When we sat down, we learned that Adam makes sculptures out of scrap metal, and the Gina works at a local nursing home. Manfred is from Germany, and made a fortune by starting a company that markets credit cards over the phone, and has lived all over the world. We played a couple of tunes to wrap up.
 As we were loading out, Manfred was talking to us about playing in Europe. He made it sound pretty attractive.

We left Eaton and got a very quiet campsite on the Indiana border. The tent was pitched, dinner procured, and we had electricity from an outlet on a post in our site. We watched movies on the computer while drinking beers and eating fried chicken until we passed out. Awesome.

Tomorrow… Toledo, what’s with it?

An Adam Grimes Original Sculpture

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Galt Line Beer and Sausages Tour Day 18 and 19

Married to Marion IN and a Day Off… Kinda

We woke and had pancakes, turkey bacon, eggs, and coffee. It was awesome. Next we showered. That was also awesome. After that we did our laundry. That too was awesome. When that was done I wrote some blogs. That too was awesome. Then we ate lunch. It was bacon and lettuce sandwiches and soup. This was awesome too. Basically our day was pretty much awesome. It was so awesome in fact, that we were very relaxed and didn’t want to go to our show. We did it though. We are so professional.

Marion IN was about 40 minutes away across some rural roads. Driving past the high corn and little farm houses showed us just how far out we were. Soon we were sliding into Marion, past small residential neighborhoods, and finally to a large town square with an enormous courthouse. Beatnik’s Café was right across the street in a little store front. When we walked in, we were instantly greeted by Trace, who owns the place.

Trace slapped beers in our hands and introduced us to Michael Martin, the other act for the evening, before launching into an explanation of the history of his place, his career, and the town of Marion. All the while he was sucking down huge cocktails served in large orange bowls. While getting inebriated, he told us about his time as a photographer, record store manager (of the second highest grossing record store in the US), and his father’s local political career, James Dean being born in the town, and his own foiling of a KKK rally commemorating the last public lynching.

While we were talking, and touring what was soon to be Trace’s new beer garden, Michael Martin had started up, and was strumming through a bunch of tunes, originals and covers. He had collected a few friends to come out and see him, and it seemed a fairly energetic, if small crowd. When he was done, we set up as fast as we could.

Unfortunately, the room cleared when Michael was done, and after a few tunes, he cleared off also, though he did offer us a spot for the next night at his place, Doc’s Music Hall, which was in the next town over. We played as hot as we could to Trace, and a regular named Julian. Pretty soon we just decided it was better to hang out and talk to Trace.

Right when we were settling in, the band for the next night Peter and the Twins, showed up. They said that they’d popped into town a day early and decided to check out the place. We all sat around and played music and drank beers for a few hours. We promised that we’d come to see their set the next day and jumped in the van to go on home. It was 4 am when we laid down.

We woke the next day, around 11, and went to Wal-Mart. We got some cheap cuts of meat and some vegetables, which we went right back to the campsite and cooked up. There was wine and coffee and laying around. Now this was a day off. Not only that, but we had taken care of the computer work the day before.

It couldn’t last forever. Around 9 we jumped in the van to catch Peter and the Twins’ set. Trace was pleased to see us, and spent the whole evening saying nice things to us. The band was great. They played straight up rock and roll originals for about an hour, then powered through covers for another hour until we found we were too tired. Turning in early was our greatest decision. In our tent, we slept for a full 8 hours.

Tomorrow… Taffy’s, an Indian Fort, and a very energetic German man

The Galt Line Beer and Sausages Tour Day 17

The Indianapolis 500 (minutes of torture)

In the night, the plains slide by without you noticing them. One might blow by miles of highway without noticing. Only Chicago broke the monotony while we drove through the night to Indianapolis. Stars speckled the sky, and near dawn, a series of red lights rotated against the sky, showing the outline of giant rotors slowly turning on a wind farm.

Blythe took over the driving at a truck stop, and pulled us into a shady and green campsite. After some quick business in the office, we were in our site, pitching the tent, then crashing for several hours. The heat woke us around noon, and we fixed a quick lunch on the picnic table while we figured out the details of the night’s show.

Indianapolis, as far as I could tell, is a collection of closed, two story shops, and torn streets. The Melody Inn, our venue for the evening, is in a strip of empty stores on an otherwise abandoned street. We waited outside, meeting the members of Jeff Randall and The Sunday Best, until someone arrived to open the place. Melody Inn is awesome inside. The walls are covered with all sorts of crazy bits of punky Americana. There was a low stage just inside the door, and a long bar on the opposite wall. Also there was a lounge in the back, and through a door, a large garden.

Dave, owner and the evening’s bartender, gave us a few beers while we watched Cootie Crabtree set up. Cootie is the guy who set up the evening. He put together an impromptu band, and did a hot set of country originals, and rootsy covers. Everyone sat in very well, and the music was good. Cootie very kindly announced us before handing over the stage.

We set up fast and launched into our tunes. There wasn’t really anyone there, so we didn’t get much of a reaction. The guys in Sunday Best had mostly stepped out, and the 2 people at the bar were talking together about something else.  Cootie clapped loud for us and tried to get the small crowd to be engaged a bit. Still, we went through our set just the same, and came to a close. Dave, owner, and Mike, sound guy, seemed to like us alright. As did a friend of Cootie’s and the girlfriend of the bass player in Sunday Best.

Jeff Randall and The Sunday Best got up next, and played a classic rock styled, southern flavored set. The night was over in no time. Cootie kept apologizing about the small turnout, but we explained that we were tired from the overnight drive, and that it was a Sunday anyway, and that it was our first time in Indy.

On our way back, we hit Wal-Mart for some breakfast for the next day, as well as some $3 wine. In no time we were laying in the tent, reading a copy of The Onion that Blythe picked up in Chicago.

Tomorrow… Pancakes, bacon, coffee, wine, laundry, and work.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Galt Line Beer and Sausages Tour Day 16

Bring em in to the Bremen Café

We found some showers at our campsite. After scrubbing ourselves, we were ready to hit the town. A short drive brought us into Milwaukee. We still had all day though. We couldn’t just wait outside of the venue all day. Instead we found a little coffee shop called Rochambo. They had strong coffee, as well as some beer, wine, and coffee based cocktails.

With coffee mugs in front of us, we answered emails and posted blogs for several hours. Next we walk through the streets, seeing sidewalk cafes and restaurants, marinas on the lakefront, and high rise condos. This was a side of Milwaukee that we hadn’t seen before. This was a nice afternoon.

When the time came, we jumped into the van and motored across town to the River West neighborhood. Bremen Café is nestled in the ground floor of a boarding house style building. Inside is a curved bar behind which sits a pretty good sized beer selection. The interior is wood walled, covered in neon beer signs and posters advertising local art openings and concerts. There’s a large chalkboard suspended over the bar communicating the specials for the evening.

We were greeted by Phil and Ryan of 4th Street Elevator. They were opening for us in this evening with some Gypsy Jazz. They introduced us to the bartender, Meghan, and the owner David. Everyone was sitting out on the street, drinking beers. This seemed like our sort of place. Soon we were loaded in, beers in hand, and were meeting everyone around. People were very nice, and everyone seemed to be involved in a band or some studio doing visual art. This was clearly a pretty hip crowd.

Phil and Ryan stepped up and slid through a bunch of jazz standards, a Dave Grisman tune, and some originals. They were very slick. While they were playing, our friends Rick and Sarah popped up. They had seen us the first time we played in Milwaukee, gave us a spot to play for our second, and were now here to see us on our third. They kindly brought some friends along, and before long, the bar was packed.

We stepped up, and played for 2 ½ hours. It was awesome, though exhausting. Unfortunately, the bartender kept telling us to turn it down. The crowd understood however, and stuck with us right to the end. Ryan passed a jar around for tips for us. We also sold some shirts, and so made a good bit of cash. We stuck around for 2 hours, talking to everyone in the place, basking in compliments and finding out what everyone’s been up to for a year. There were many offers of places to stay, but we declined in favor of driving through the night toward Indianapolis, where we were playing the next day. We talked while we drove, about Milwaukee, and how the place has grown on us since that first, terrible show at Linneman's.

Tomorrow… Melody Inn, Cootie Crabtree, and a perfect place to spend a day.

The Galt Line Beer and Sausages Tour Day 15

Which way does the Horseshoe go again?

After a short breakfast with Austin, we sat down at The House Café to watch CMKT4 back up a very odd act. A man named Gary Mullis lives in DeKalb. He writes songs. Lots of them. He’s an older man, as tall as I am, with white hair, apparent energy, and a distant stare. When he greeted me that morning, he asked me if I was with the newspaper. He was wearing a loose fitting cowboy shirt, old jeans, and a leather fanny pack filled with scraps of paper on which were written the lyrics to his tunes.

He sang, sort of, while CMKT4 clung to his rhythms with authentic sounding country music. Gary likes country a lot. One of his tunes consisted of him telling the story of Hank Williams' life while Zach bent country lead lines, and Jeff and Austin held down a country shuffle. Gary doesn’t exactly sing, or exactly recite. He rolls through his tunes like a loose cannon on a tilting ship. Between songs he talked to the audience candidly about receiving awards for his songwriting, and invited any members of the press to come up and look at his awards. It was a crazy show.

Afterwards we departed, somewhat reluctantly for Chicago. Much to Neha’s chagrin, I’m sure, I don’t really like Chicago. At least I don’t like playing there very much… so far. Maybe we just haven’t found our spot. Well, we headed in anyway, knowing that this might be a strange night. We pulled up to the curb outside the venue about 2 hours early. We popped in to check out the place and say hi to whoever was running the night.

A woman was leaning on the wooden bar, checking her email. She looked surprised when we walked in. “You guys want food or something?”
“Um, no thank you,” Blythe said. “We’re actually playing here tonight. We wanted to check in and look around.”

“Ah” said the woman.

“Are you Eva?” I asked. We had discussed the details of the show on the ride in, and Blythe recalled that it was Eva who had booked the show with us.
“Yes” said Eva.

“Oh, then we’ve been talking to you on email.” Blythe said cheerfully.
Eva only nodded. We introduced ourselves, and ducked out of the dim bar room and onto the sunny street. With some time to kill, we thought we might walk the neighborhood and find a more comfortable place to hide out. Walking the streets, we found a diner with some cheap food. After some hefty chicken salad sandwiches and potato soup served by and ancient and slow Russian woman, we hoofed it back to the bar.

The sound guy, Chris, had arrived. We loaded in and told Chris how we wanted to do our sound. Pretty soon, Root Hog began showing up. I tried to greet some of them at the door, but they walked right past me without looking at me. After they had set up a little Blythe and I approached them together. Now that we had gotten their attention, we decided on set order and some set up details, and got to talking about the band. I had asked them on the bill because of some tracks I heard on the internet. Apparently the guy responsible for them had to leave the band.

They didn’t seem too interested in what we were doing, but were nice enough and set up quickly. Sound guy Chris did a quick and efficient sound check for us, and we were off. We played a very tight 45 minute set to a crowd of about 12 completely apathetic people. Most of Root Hog left during our set. We were treated to silence at the end of all of our tunes. Chris liked us alright. We loaded out as fast as we could, grabbed a beer and strapped in for Root Hog’s set.

Once we sat down, a number of people came up to us and said they enjoyed our set. Root Hog laid into some classic rock based, but jazzy jams. We stayed until our beer was done, but felt a little too bitter to hang out much longer. We said our goodbyes to Eva and Chris, and started the journey toward Milwaukee to find a campsite.

During the ride we talked over our future in the great city of Chicago. None of the places we had played so far were worth going back to for us. Austin, from CMKT4 had mentioned a few spots we might try. I think we’ll exhaust the list of spots we can play and then never go in to Chicago again. Its sort of like our experience with NYC.

The Long straight highway cooled our brains, and in a short 90 minutes, we were at our campsite. It was a quiet, family oriented county park, with watchful rangers. We passed out fast, ready to cleanse our palettes with a show in Milwaukee the next day.

Tomorrow… A draw in a far away town, a real live Gypsy, I think, and Milwaukee surprises us again.

Our new merch set up in the dark

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Galt Line Beer and Sausages Tour Day 13 and 14

At home in the House Café

Day 13 was a day off. What does a day off look like for The Galt Line. Well, there was a lot of microwave food and $3 bottles of wine. There was plenty of work on the computer, and lots of cable TV. We worked and napped and drank. I pounded through some blogs while Blythe changed the strings on the uke. I also pounded through too much wine, and found my head pounding when the sun came stomping across our room in the morning.

We gathered our things, checked out, and pointed the van out of town toward DeKalb. Some friends of ours, CMKT4, set up a show for us at their hometown spot, The House Café. This venue serves coffee, tea and sandwiches, along with some good beers. They have shows nearly every night. Being right on the main drag, and near Northern Illinois University, it has a nice built-in crowd of music appreciators.

CMKT4 had set us up on a night with local songwriter Bill Leighly, Songstress Aura Weaver, and country madness group King of the Demons. We felt pretty good about this night, and were eager for a good show after our two recent, more awkward shows.

When we rolled in to town, we met Austin, Jeff, and Zach at House Café, loaded some stuff in, and greeted some familiar faces. With some time to kill, we rolled over to Zach’s house, met his wife Heather, and his two energetic young boys Seth and Miles. We hung out in the kitchen and bullshitted for a while before going on back to The House for a beer, some food, and music.

Bill Leighly started the night off with some cool band arrangements of his tunes, with some truly badass fiddle and guitar. Next up, Aura fascinated us with her strange songs and wild delivery. We jumped up to play a very hot and short set. The drummer from Bill’s band sat in on djembe for a tune. The crowd was good to us. We loaded off as fast as we could to make room for CMKT4, who delivered a tight set of earthy-but-electronic acid rock. Last up was King of the Demons, who totally crushed it with very amped up country music.

It was a pretty nice night over all, easy and efficient. We went over to Austin’s to celebrate. Blythe, Zach, Austin, and I cracked beers and discussed taking bands on the road, the obstacles and advantages. Soon after Zach ducked out for the night, Austin capped off the night by showing us how he had trained his giant cat, Yoda, to play the piano. It was totally golden. Then we slept.

Tomorrow… Gary Mullis, Chicago again, getting brushed off by Root Hog, and camping in Milwaukee.