All Writing and Photography © Alex Livingstone/Owner's Closet

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ok, now we got it

(Part four of a sequential tour narrative. Go to April, 25 2009 to start at the beginning)

I'm sitting in Iowa City, getting ready to go to Minneapolis for our gig at the 400 bar. We played and rehearsed yesterday at the Day Trotter studio in downtown Rock Island, IL. We cut versions of "Porcupine," "The Young Girls," "Broke My Heart" and a new one called "I'm In Love With You." It was a fun experience but after a five hour drive, an intense rehearsal and live-to-two-track recording, we were frazzled and needed to eat dinner. There was a cheesy pizza restaurant below the studio in which we grubbed and decided to drive to Iowa City, drink some beers and construct a set list. And that's what we did. Got a cheap room next to The Mill and wished we were playing a show.
The show in Ft. Wayne the night before was pretty good. The stage setup was a little awkward and the stage was extremely illuminated but it was fine. The Brass Rail reminded me of The Fire in Philly... pretty dingy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Showdown in Roundtown

(Part three of a sequential tour narrative. Go to April, 25 2009 to start at the beginning)

Our first show was in Circleville, Ohio which is 35 miles south of Columbus. We ran into Sam and Jenna right when we pulled up to the venue, Toodles Pumpkin Inn. We loaded in, ate lasagna from a joint across the street, and hung out for a few minutes before playing. Sometime in between setting up and playing, the stage area took on an odor of feet that was pretty gross. I had gone to the bar for a shot and beer and while I was gone someone must have hidden some Fromunda cheese in Tim's amp so it would heat up and really permeate the room.

Anyway, we were to play three sets with two breaks no longer than fifteen minutes apiece. We had a list of around 25 songs and we played all but three of those. In their stead, Tim whipped out at least as many that I had never heard before which was exciting. We jammed a few blues numbers out, stretching our legs and seeing how we play together. After all, it was the first time the three of us had even been in the same room together. All in all, the show went really well. People I talked to expressed that they couldn't tell we had never played together before. I was a bit loosie-goosie but that's to be expected. I had been in a van for the better part of two days and was hung over from the previous night's adventure in Nashvegas. We spent the night at Tim's in-laws house, which was a really nice place on the out-skirts of Circleville. After the nightcap of a cold Natural Light I took from Richard's stash in the garage fridge, I retired to a bed and a room to myself. Oh, sweet slumber.

Kissing Bug

(Part two of a sequential tour narrative. Go to April, 25 2009 to start at the beginning).

Did you know that Chuck D died from kissing bug related illnesses? It may be quite true. Oh, and by Chuck D I mean Charles Darwin, the original Chuck D.

Kissing bugs have been known to plague inhabitants of southeastern California.

Do you know what happens when the gnome returns home?

Do you know where Engagement, Ohio is?

Tell me what Austin has that Columbus doesn't. (Don't answer that, actually).

Bucyrus, Ohio has an annual bratwurst festival.

Circleville, Ohio has an annual pumpkin festival. So what? More interestingly, the town of Circleville was originally laid out in concentric circles and was a major stop on the Erie Canal system. Now it has neither characteristic.

Dick's Den is the same as it was and Carabar is fun. Shrimp tacos are good and cougars are fun. Hot sauce and hot dogs/sausage go hand in hand.

The Horseshoe Bar in Bucyrus sucks pretty bad. I have never wanted to hear "Black Hole Sun" that loud.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Easton Tour, Part One

(This is the first part of a sequential tour narrative).

As some of you may know, I have been hired to play bass for Tim Easton on his tour supporting his new album Porcupine. I thought it would be fun to write about the tour so here goes.

Tim flew into Austin Wednesday night and we headed out for Ohio the next morning. By the time we got on the road it was 11am and we didn't really stop until we ate a late lunch in Little Rock. Sam Brown, our drummer to be, told us that we needed to have a soul food lunch at Kitchen Express and I'm very glad we made the effort. I had the two piece dark meat fried chicken plate with stewed okra and green beans with two glasses of sweet tea. Oh yeah. I grew to love this type of southern cooking when I lived in Tennessee and eating it welcomed me back into a part of the south that I haven't visited in awhile. At the same time, I felt like I had successfully made it out of Texas, where the tea is not always sweet and the soul food usually has some annoying Louisiana-infused theme. Not that I dislike coonasss cuisine, I just like to eat it when I want.

Anyway, back in the van with Tim behind the wheel for the first time. We spent a lot of our time in Arkansas bonding over the Beatles. Listening to anthology tracks mainly. It was dark by the time we crossed the Old Man and though Tim had some Alaskan friends in Memphis that night, we decided to keep going. Barely ten miles east of Memphis on I-40 we were welcomed to Tennessee by some of its finest troopers. They pulled Tim out behind the van, asked him our business and then asked me for a corroborating story. They took me to the back of the van where Tim and I signed a waiver that allowed them to search the van. While officer #1 searched the van, officer #2 told us about how much he likes Jimmy Buffett. Once it came out that we were musicians, I guess the guy thought we would like to discuss the musician he most respects. He claimed that though he had been a fan for thirty years, that he wasn't a parrothead. Right. Thankfully he wasn't a dickhead either because they let us go with no tickets or anything. I guess a couple of clean white boys a breath of fresh air after their arrest of a guy with a firearm earlier that evening.

We decided to drive all the way to Nashville and we made it with time enough to drink at three different bars on the west side of town. The Goldrush, The Villager Tavern were both near Vanderbilt while the dingy basement pool hall that ended up being the most fun of the three was more towards Berryhill where we were gonna stay. I had driven most of the way and as thanks, Tim got me thoroughly hammered. He played some pool with some crazy locals and I just hung out, happy to be in Nashville again. Our crash pad for the evening was Alex the Great, the studio where Porcupine was recorded. We spent a few minutes trying to suss out Way Out West but were too spent and crashed out.

In the morning, Robin came over and caught up for a few minutes before we left. Tim played me the Al Kooper Christmas album that had the J & H Productions bit on it. Incredibly funny stuff. That record also had the Buddy Rich yelling tapes which is also infinitely entertaining. We cruised by the Gibson showroom to pick up a backup electric guitar for the tour. It turned out to be a sweet Epiphone Sheraton that may end up being Tim's main ax on this tour. After a bagel sandwich and coffee at Bongo Java we hit the road for Circleville.

The drive through Kentucky was awesome because it was such a beautiful day. Even though there weren't any leaves on the trees due to it still being early in the year, the scenery was exceptional. As we drove through Louisville I spied one of the coolest skateparks I've ever seen. It was all cement and the kind of thing I dreamt about as a kid. On to Cincinnati where I spied the Roebling Bridge but was too far away from it to get a good photograph. Once in Ohio, we called ahead to the restaurant connected to the venue so that our free dinner would be ready for us when we got there. We were running a little late and at this point we were both a little loopy but also very excited about the three piece jams to come.

Monday, April 13, 2009


I have to start digging into the Tim Easton catalog today.  We leave for tour in ten days and I have at least 12 songs with which I must become one.  I already know nine songs from SXSW and in addition to those, Tim has requested us learn a couple of covers which will remain nameless.  Some of the tracks he sent me are very mellow and we will possibly be reinterpreting them in the three-piece format.  All and all, I'm stoked about the tour.  It has come to pass that we will be taking the Champeen van so last week it got a great tune up.  This week I have to tune up the interior... that thing is a total catastrophe.  

Sunday, April 5, 2009

SXSW Part 3


I woke up damn early and Tim picked me up around 10:30 so we could make it to his solo performance at the Front Gate Tickets Morning After Day "Party."  The party was that shit was free; Evita's Botanitas was making rad tacos, the douche that runs Torchy's was giving away coffee, and some chick in her workout clothes was giving away Bloody Marys.  Nakia and His Southern Cuzins played first and, aside from his voice, was very worthy of the stage in front of City Hall.  Tim Played a nice set right after and soon after he was done, we went and picked up Stepro and headed off to Maria's Taco X-press.  It was the second of two Sin City parties and we rolled in, devoured, and took off.  We started of with The Young Girls and the woman who sang on the album got up and sang with Tim on that number.  The four-piece ripped though the set and after I chugged a Fireman's 4, I took Tim to a coffeeshop so he could use the internet and find out where his second solo gig of the day was to be.  Apparently, the hosts of the party didn't announce the party site until the day of... dumb.  
On his way to the party, he dropped me off at Trophy's where I saw RED FANG! Finally.  They delivered like everyone said they would.  I wish I had jumped on the "new" cd's they had for sale because they sold out of it.  I'm just gonna have to wait for the new one to come out.  After a short talk with John Sherman, I walked down to Jo's (bad service) coffee where I was to meet Tim and direct the van downtown towards our showcase.
We found a rad parking spot and dicked around downtown until our showcase at midnight.  Oh yeah, that's when I saw Metallica at Stubb's.  That's right, suckers.  All I have to say is:
Creeping Death
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Harvester of Sorrow
Broken Beaten Scarred
Sad But True
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Master Of Puppets
Seek and Destroy

It was an amazing set and they played two ...And Justice For All songs they didn't play when I saw them in Novemeber.  Considering I love this band and I feel pretty lucky to have seen this show, I must finally admit to myself and the world that Lars isn't a good drummer.  He was dropping beats left and right but whatever...  I'll listen to the records, like I am right now.  
Back to Habana Calle for the Ground Control booking showcase.  The set with Tim went great except for him breaking a string on his electric and having to play his acoustic the rest of the set.  After enduring a set by Deer Tick, Caulkins and I crashed at my pad... 


Tim picked us up early and we headed to Yard Dog where we did a three-piece set around 12:30pm.  It went really well (natch) and we all went our separate ways because our shows were done.  I had to work at nine o'clock that night so I was into the idea of cold chillin' on the couch or something.  Before I even made it to the couch, Tim texted saying, "We have a gig! 5pm at Jovita's.  Can you do it?"  Though Aaron hadn't been with us at Yard Dog, he was able to make the afternoon gig (despite being a little late).  This was perhaps the funnest gig of the week because all pressure was off and we got to jam and just have fun.  Not that we weren't doing that at the other gigs, but this one just didn't matter.  We knew what we could do and had a great time doing it.  Our seat-of-the-pants version of "Five Years" was better at Jovita's than at Yard Dog when it was sprung on us on stage!  I then drove the band and a bunch of Irish men and women down south, dropped Stepro off up north and went to work at 9pm.  Givin' her for Bob Boone.  Just getting up and going to work everyday.


This week were the last session Jim and I are going to have for a couple of months.  On Tuesday, he's going out on tour for his job and by the time he gets back, I'll be out on tour with Tim Easton.  Knowing this was the case, we scheduled a percussion session with Bert and he RULED it!  We recorded percussion on eight songs and a new full kit for the bridge of "Flash In The Pan."  We got the kit overdub first and then blew through the other songs in a few hours.  Then we partook in yellow bellies and tequila out by the fire to celebrate near completion of tracking.
Two days later (yesterday), Jim and I had a vocal session for which I sang new leads on "On Your Own" and "Cashin' In The Dimes."  Actually, last night I think I decided to call the latter of those "Jar of Dimes."  Not that it matters much to you because you haven't heard it yet!  After that we roughed out the 11 songs for which we've completed tracking, leaving 3 to complete when we reconvene in June.  Between now and then, we'll be mixing and analyzing via internets and such.  We'll see how it goes.  I'll tell you what though, these roughs sound pretty damn good!