(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.