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

Thursday, May 21, 2009

$24.58, I bought a headache.

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

Lynch's Irish Pub is a fine establishment in Jacksonville Beach, FL. It was recommended to us by a hotel employee so we took the lead and were moderately pleased. The blues band was good and the girls were good looking but the dudes were meatheads. So it goes. Our room at the Hilton is nice...perfect for blog madness.

Where was I? Oh yes. We were waking up in New London, needing to get back to Brooklyn to drop off Bartow and Aaron. But first, we had to scenery dork over to Mystic for some clam chowder or some crap. Quaint small town on mother's day=long lines at the chowder shacks. So we don't know where we are and I'm hungry so I start getting cranky and impatient. After following Sam and Tim Scenery I pulled the plug on the wild chowder chase and ate deliscious Mystic pizza with Bartow and Aaron (who was sick and didn't feel like walking all over town). It was good and I was ready to drive back to NYC and get to the South. Well, Sam and Tim didn't seem like they wanted to leave yankeeville so we found a pizza restaurant on Staten Island to make the experience last just a little longer.

I forgot to mention that an old friend of mine from when I went to N.C. State now lives in New London. I haven't spoken to him since 1995 but I saw his name on a flyer for a tattoo art show and knew it had to be him. The folks at the club confirmed that he is from N.C., tall and nice. There had been a fifty year old ban on tattoo parlors in New London and now Colby has gone in, had the ban lifted and opened a parlor. Alas, I didn't see him though I would have liked to. Colby got me into the Smoking Popes, among other bands. I thought it would have been fun to get a tattoo from him that night but he never came by the club. Oh well. I found it funny that if I had gotten a tattoo from him, two of my three would have been from Connecticut.

Soooo, we left Staten Island and drove all the way to Fredricksburg, VA where we spent the night. In the morning, we ate Waffle House and kept truckin' on down to Winston-Salem where we landed at Krankie's Coffeehouse. What a great establishment? My family met me there and I took off with them to have dinner and so forth. It was great to see them again, but that goes without saying. The show at the Garage was a lot better than we expected for W-S on a Monday night. The opener was good but he played too long. It happens and it's annoying and you get over it. Everyone wants to play in front of people but you don't always get to, as evidenced by us in Auburn.

On the way to Raleigh the next day, we went through Chapel Hill and I had lunch with Scott, Jason and Arun. That was nice. I saw Bill Kelliher walking down the street which got me bummed that I couldn't see Mastodon at the Cradle that night. Still listening to Crack The Skye and loving it even more. I bought the new Obits record in Iowa City but haven't heard it yet. Also, I got a couple care packages while in W-S, one of them containing the new Gary Louris/Mark Olson album. It is rather awesome. For the first time in a while, I have a bunch of new music to listen to!

Tim and I just listened back to some of the recordings the New Excuses made in Orlando Tuesday. That shit is hot. A brand new Gminor waltz of Tim's was particularly live and raw.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I swam in the ocean

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

I am in Cocoa Beach, FL right now. After a few more minutes of coffeeshop'n with Tim, we're gonna head over to Ron Jon Surf Shop so I can get a Ron Jon t-shirt. after that, we're heading to Jacksonville where we're staying at a lovely resort for two nights. I hope the weather's nice so I can swim in the pool or relax in the hot tub. Perhaps I'll watch HBO all night long. Either way,
I had a great swim in the ocean a couple of hours ago. The sun was out and there was a healthy breeze blowing. The clouds, that have been dumping rain on the majority of Florida, parted for a while which allowed a nice moment at the beach. Sitting here right now though, it seems like the clouds are rolling in. It's time to get a Panama Jack painter's cap with flaps. Or maybe a pooka shell necklace...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'll have the four piece fried chicken dinner. All white meat, please.

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

I don't remember the drive to NYC but I'm sure it was raining because the second leg of our tour was covered in precipitation. We had a 4:30 load in and miraculously, we made it on time. It was miraculous because instead of taking the Holland Tunnel straight to the Mercury Lounge, we took the Lincoln Tunnel to midtown and stopped by the Gibson Guitar showroom for some hollow body hook ups. Also, Tim wanted to get his Tele's string breaking problem fixed, but that's another story. We then headed south to Chelsea where we found a PRIMO parking spot right in front of Joey Cases' Dirty Bird To-Go. Fried chicken, cornbread and roasted beets. Damn fine cooking! Joey C then took us around the corner to Chelsea Guitars which is located in the front of the Chelsea Hotel. I had wanted to see the Chelsea Hotel for a long time so I'm glad we made the short trek. Richard Lloyd, Dee Dee Ramone and thousands of lesser known degenerates did a lot of bad shit in that place. These days though, it seems like it'd be a even tougher to give it away on 7th Avenue.

I must take moment and say that the newest Mastodon record is fucking phenomenal. It got a hold of a copy right before I left Austin and I am totally hooked. Also, I heard the new Dynamite Brothers and Birds of Avalon records today. They rule as well.

Right now I am sitting in the hotel room in Athens, Georgia waiting on a load of laundry to dry so I can head over to the 40 watt and load in for tonight's show. Cameron is coming to town and we're gonna have a grand old time, I guarantee.

My cousin John got to the Mercury right after soundcheck and we went for Thai and beer. Great to see him again. The show had started when we got back and Bartow was there too. We went on at 8pm and rocked out. Aaron sounded so good on lead guitar and that just made us sound more phenomenal as a group. It was a shorter set than usual but that's New York. Get on, do your thing, get out. We all headed back to Brooklyn in the pouring rain after load out. Bartow, Tiffany and I went back to their house for a quick beer and beddy-by. The next day I picked up the boys in Park Slope and headed off to Philly where we got lost again, thanks to the iphone, which has now been dubbed the liephone. We got Tim to whatever radio station it was he had an interview on and the rest of the brodeo had beers in the cafe. I ran into an ex-coworker on the street...small world. Before we got to Johnny Brenda's, we passed The Fire which instantly worried me that we were playing in a shithole part of town. When Grand Champeen played the Fire four or five years ago, that part of town was awful. As it turns out, the neighborhood is up and coming and Johnny Brenda's is THE place to play. We were all extremely happy with the whole night. The owner greeted us warmly, the soundguy was behind the board the ENTIRE set (I'm looking at you Continental Club), the food was good, the bartenders were nice and the room itself was unique and warm. The other night I told Kevn Kinney that we had a good show at a great venue in Philadelphia and he didn't believe me. We proceeded to swap "New Excuse" stories and let me tell you, he had some good ones. The point= Johnny Brenda's rocks. We went back to Brooklyn after the gig and crashed at JP Olsen's house in Park Slope.

I slept extremely well but when I woke up at noon, I got outta there and took the F train to Bartow's where I took a shower and changed clothes. I got back on the F train to Broadway-Lafayette and Bartow at his office around 2pm. We had great Vietnamese sandwiches, went browsing for mothers day gifts in SoHo and checked out a new coffee shop called La Colombe he had heard about. Then, FINALLY, I walked the brooklyn bridge. It was a beautiful day and I took some great photos from and of the bridge. It was a great walk and I'm so glad I did it. Bartow and I freshened up and then went back into the city for pizza at another new place he's heard about, L'Asso. It was good pizza and a bottle of shiraz. Then we cruised over to the venue of Tim's artwork showing for margaritas, wine and a brief solo acoustic performance by Tim. Bartow and I then headed to the upper east side and met Tiffany at some restaurant/bar called Southern Hospitality. Ha! It seemed like they were trying to emulate the style of a southern restaurant like Lupie's. The only problem is that when it's filled with yankee goombah fratboys, it ain't gonna be a southern restaurant. Why don't they keep their own lame New England style instead of ripping off that of the South? Whatever. We left there and went to some other bar that was filled with lame music and people. The bar itself was cool as shit with the majority of the patrons in the basement catacombs. Screw that, back to Vinegar Hill.

Bartow and I got picked up for our scenery homo event of driving out to the tip of the northern fork of Long Island in order to take the ferry from Orient Point to New London. We had lunch in Westhampton at a cute little diner called Eckert's and saw the beach nearby. It was after lunch that people start admitting to illness and our van becomes knowingly inflected with swine flu. Great. The ferry ride was nice except that there was a thick fog on the sound and we couldn't see anything once we got past Plum Island. Oh well, no big deal. We were out of the van and having nice bro time. Once we got to New London the liephone deceived us several times before we made it to the hotel, only to go straight to the club. I was behind the wheel and I don't like getting lost so I was a little aggravated. So much so, that Bartow and I did carbombs immediately after parking the van at the Oasis. That's better. Sean and Shannon at the Oasis were terrific, feeding us and plying us with libations. The opening band, Tommy McLiketohearmyselftalk went on later than scheduled which put us on later than we wanted and backed our set right up against last call which always sucks. It was a dick move by a bush league local band who wanted to hoard the stage instead of acting professional and being considerate towards the out of town band/headliner. We had a great third show with Aaron and due to he and Sam having watched the new Wilco film before the show, their performances were a bit more inspired from having seen the movie. It's kinda what we used to do back in the days when we skateboarded. We'd watch the Search for Animal Chin and get all psyched to go out and try kickflips for two hours.

Back to the hotel where sickies Aaron and Sam shared a room while Bartow, Tim and I had another. Since this was the last show of Phase II, I will end this post before it gets any longer. I mean, does anyone have enough time to read this shit?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tim Easton and the New Excuses

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

Hello Charleston! The drive up to Charleston, WV from Whitesburg was quite nice. The sky was a porous veil of clouds allowing both sunshine and rain to peer down onto the mountainous, wooded landscape full of trees in varying states of bloom. We got to Charleston and relied too heavily on the iphone, causing us to get lost and frustrated. Yes, the iphone is amazing but it doesn't not always make a perfect substitute for a Rand McNally road atlas or a simple phone call for directions. We eventually found the Mountain Stage building, but had enough time check in to our hotel. Mountain Stage set each of us up with our own room at the Marriott which was sweetness. Back at Mtn. Stage we ate a catered dinner and ragged on the Kings Of Leon for posing like The Band on the cover of Rolling Stone. I mean, really. The little Colonel Sanders bow ties, theater dork vests and preacher man hats with the Upstate New York background. Puke. Their music is just fine but their imaging and marketing is stupid. It seems like they have to rely heavily on their cuteness because their music isn't good enough to speak for itself. It's all image these days, people. The days of bands like Supertramp becoming successful are over. The popularity industry isn't interested in supporting thirty or forty year olds who make awesome music. REM got in just under the wire... when it was cool to look weird.

The Mountain Stage performance was stiff due to its nature. We had a specific amount of time to perform five songs and we had to be very quiet and there was no beer. It was exactly like the mild mannered NPR thing that has been parodied on Saturday Night Live. When we took the stage, Sam needed to make quite a few adjustments to the drum kit and instead of interviewing Tim in front of the crowd, or even just vamping on some g-rated shit, the emcee stared silently at Sam which in turn made all of us uncomfortable. I think the emcee did a pretty mediocre job at entertaining but I guess Garrison Keillor he ain't. Not cool. What was cool was going to see the Carpenter Ants at the Empty Glass later that night. The Carpenter Ants were partially the Mountain Stage house band and partially some other dudes. They did some great obscure old R&B, rock and roll, soul and gospel tunes. During one of their set breaks they let us play a few tunes which allowed us to kick out the jams and achieve redemption for the stiff performance earlier.

We had the next day off and we spent it driving to Vienna, VA where we stayed the night with a friend of Tim's. At one roadside stop along the way, we saw a huge painting of a bloodied Jesus on the cross, telling us we were going to hell. All we needed was a restroom break and some snacks and to have such guilt and judgment thrown at us! Well, I never! Actually, I have. That is my experience in Western Maryland. Once we safely removed the van from our nation's interstate system, we had some grub and watched a little TV before retiring for the evening. Though it hadn't been a stressful day, a day full of driving can be tiring nonetheless.

Tuesday morning we took the Metro into DC and looked up Sam's congressional representative in order to get into the House Gallery and see the government at work. Once we got into the gallery, we found out that the "work" our government was doing was trying to convince the powers that be that a post office in Long Island, NY should be renamed in honor of Geraldine Ferraro. We heard testimonials from Representatives from five states other than NY which was a little confounding, considering it's one of how many thousand post offices in this country! Rename the damn thing and get on with it! After that experience, I had lunch in the Sculpture Garden Cafe and then explored the Museum of American History. The reconvened near the Black Ops Bench on the mall and then took the train back out to Vienna.

The show at the IOTA Cafe was pleasant. There were some people there and it was raining and the opening band from Nova Scotia was great and we played well. I appreciate Avery and Alice and Brandon and Alan coming out to the show. It's great to see old friends when passing through their town on a tour. Next stop, New York City.

By the way, this show in Arlington marked the beginning of the second phase of our tour. No old bits. All new bits. Act II in progress. Enter our fearless swordsman, Senor Tasjan.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Can't Keep Up

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

Yeah, I can't keep up with writing. So much has happened since I last wrote, I don't even remember when I last wrote. I'm currently in Brooklyn, having a beer after having walked the Brooklyn Bridge with my friend Bartow. It was my first trip across the bridge on foot and after having read The Great Bridge, it was a terrific experience. The weather finally cleared up. It has rained everyday since we were in Minneapolis and it's getting quite old. I hope it stays clear for our trip up to Connecticut tomorrow. The plan is to drive out through Long Island and take the ferry from the tip of the island over to New London where we are playing that night. We want to stop and see Ace Frehley's childhood home if there's time. Should be a blast.

I just looked at my last post and it was in Columbus which was a week ago. Damn. There have been four shows and one live recording for radio broadcast since then. We've been in appalachian territory and huge east coast cities. Touring is awesome.

The show in Columbus ruled. We really needed it as a group. The crowd was right up against the stage and definitely feeding off our energy which in turn, gave us something to feed off. The previous weeks performances led perfectly to that moment. It's a shame that no one recorded it. Megan Palmer, who played on Porcupine, played violin with us on quite few numbers and added a great element to the songs she played on. Stones Throw Away specifically. I enjoyed seeing Shane and Micah Garage that night... it was cool of them to come out. I wanted to see Josh Kayser too but i should have known he'd be a punk ass bitch and not come out. Jive ass muthafucka.

The next evening we played Whitesburg, Kentucky at a venue called Summit City. We took Highway 23 (Columbus' High Street) down through Michael Hurley's home of Portsmouth, Ohio and crossed into Kentucky where we stayed on 23 until we split off on 119 south. The light rain and fog covering the thickly wooded hills made me feel like Whitesburg was a secret hamlet tucked away in a distant holler that we were quite lucky to discover. Amelia and Joel owned Summit City and really took care of us while we were there. We stayed in the apartment on the second floor and had some tasty grub made right there in the venue. That happened to be Kentucky Derby day which may have contributed to the smaller turnout. That's our new excuse anyway. After all, we are Tim Easton and the New Excuses. Even though I couldn't care less about the derby, I had a Mint Julep in honor of the regional event. It helped me realize that I just don't like bourbon that much. The mint and sugar were tasty but the bourbon just put it too far over the line. Anyway, the opening band Folk Soul Revival did a nice little set and then we played to a decent crowd. We were certainly loud in that room but it worked out. We heard a lot about how Jason Isbell had recently played there and that he had gotten loaded. Jason Isbell, Jason Isbell, Jason Isbell, etc...

Bartow and I are heading into Manhattan to have dinner and then go to Easton's art show in Soho. I'll have to get back to this later because I haven't covered Charleston, D.C., New York or Philly. In a nutshell, the show's have been great. The last two nights, in New York and Philly, have been a four piece with Tasjan back on lead guitar. That dude rips and has added another layer to the music that has really catapulted the performances into an even greater realm than they were before. Later...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ohio Buttguys

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

Now I'm back in Columbus. It has been a good ride up to Minneapolis and back. The show at the Hideout in Chicago last night was weird. I've played the Hideout many times and that was the most reserved crowd I have ever seen. I have a feeling that everyone that came to see the show thought it was gonna be a more mellow affair. I listened to some of the recording today and it was rocking and mellow... a great mixture, in fact. It's really too bad if people don't appreciate what this outfit is doing with Tim's music. We're giving it a life that if doesn't often see except on recordings. I know he plays with other folks from time to time but we're really getting this shit going. So last night there was a timid arc, a shy horseshoe, a cool line. Everyone was as close to a wall as they could get and you could hear a pin drop after the applause between songs.

The set in Minneapolis the night before was a lot of fun. It felt like the first real show, largely due to the high-end PA, rock club lighting and general proper club vibe that the 400 bar possesses. There were a few SNAFUs in the set but nothing to cry about. The crowd came out to see the show and everyone stayed until the end, seemingly enjoying everything we did. There were even a few ladies dancing! Tom Sullivan, the proprietor of the bar, regailed me with stories of Karl Mueller and other rock dignitaries that have graced his stage. The fun night was compounded by the presence of Baby Grant Johnson and Kruddler. After the show Tony and I stayed up with some Pabst and pizza. Good times up north, for sure.

We're playing the Rhumba Room with Sam's band You're So Bossy opening the show. It's raining but it'll be good regardless. Home town show be rocktastic!