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

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Part 2: Sucks, Drags, and Smash and Grab

Our motel in Niagara Falls wasn't close to the falls which was a slight bummer for the guys. I, on the other hand, didn't care much having been there two or three times already. Both sides, at that. Our two rooms were next to each other in an otherwise vacant motor court. For our motel rehearsal of new material, we set up a stripped down version of our gear in the older brothers' room. "Maid of the Mist," "Dirty Windshield," "Until It Kills You," and "What Do You Live For?" were a few of the numbers. Mark took copious notes on structure and dynamics that would no doubt come in handy down the line. We had a lovely Italian dinner at Michael's on Pine Avenue. Any time you're in the Niagara Falls area, I recommend eating anything with red sauce at Michael's. Alpha Dog was on the tube later on. Scary film about idiot kids in California. Man, that place seems f'ed up, I'm glad I didn't follow the desire I had to move there back in 1994. Who knows, though? Might have been fun.

We left ALT at the motel (because he didn't have his passport) and headed for the border as a three-piece. Our crossing was painless and we made it to The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto by 5:30. After a slight miscommunication with Brian the Front of House Knob Twister, we sound-checked and all was smoothed out. The first two acts on the bill were ok, the second of the two being the only other band on the bill I liked. Aside form "Daily Life," our set was mainly Porcupine, much like the ones we played at SXSW. At the end of the set, we decided to load straight into the van from the stage. Only problem was that some crackhead motherfucker broke into our van by smashing the huge window next to the first bench.
Thankfully, the club owner caught the asshole in the act which prevented him from totally cleaning us out. As it stood, the theft of his satchel with passport, phone, ipod, the previous night's charts, and other personal belongings left Mark the primary victim. The alleys and streets of the neighborhood behind the bar were combed with hopes that the thief gave the bag a quick rifling through and ditched it in the bushes. Our search was unfruitful and after patching the window with cardboard, loading the gear, using all of our drink tickets and hanging out with the friends and family who had come to see us (great to see you Tyler and Megan!), we headed back to the border. With a U.S. driver's license in his wallet and a tattoo of the Ohio state burgee on his forearm, we had confidence that the patrols would let Mark back in. Correct in our beliefs, we soon had the merciful guards behind us and were back with our estranged bandmate at the Roadway Inn. A damn sucky experience that ruined a great show. The gear was loaded into the rooms and with that Christmas Eve anxiousness, it took awhile for the kids to fall asleep once they went to bed.

The next morning (four hours later), Tim Got up at 8am and started calling auto glass replacement services. In Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Albany, we couldn't find glass and labor for less than $550. Ouch. Tim called JP down in Brooklyn who started the search for glass while we were hightailin' it to the Mercury. The long drive across the state of New York wasn't nearly as bad with a cardboard window as I thought. And I am always impressed with how beautiful a state it is.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Part 1: All The Pretty Girls Turn 40

Sitting inside WalMart is not awesome. However, knowing that the van has had an oil change is awesome. This stop also allowed us to get supplies like CD-Rs and legal pads. Once we gas up, we're heading off to Niagara Falls, NY for a two night stint at a lovely motel where we're gonna set up camp and work on arrangements for new songs. But let me back up...

Saturday night was quite interesting. My plane landed in Columbus @ 5:30 and I promptly took a cab to the house where Tim was going to play a private gig. The hostess and party throwers were very nice and hospitable, considering I didn't know them from Adam. They had built a stage in the backyard and set out hay bales for for theater style seating. A great crowd assembled for Mona's 40th and for them, Tim played two hefty sets. Actually, the first one was 30-40 minutes long but the 2nd was behemoth. Cuz was pulling out all sorts of tunes, specifically J.P. Olsen numbers from way back. This only encouraged him further that we should record "Crazy" in a couple of weeks. The revelers wanted me to play with Tim but by the end of the first set, I was in no shape to do that. I enjoyed myself thanks to the lovely Columbus evening provided me by Mother Nature and the extraordinary hostess Haley. They had an air mattress for me when I crashed at 3+am.

We had an early van call and ended up leaving Columbus around 12:30pm. We had to pick up the Crate combo amp Parker so generously loaned to me/us. We also had to get our tour vessel from Sam. Our fart box is the Sun's old van, a grey E-350 not unlike the 'peen van.

We barely managed to iphone it to Galion to pick up the rest of the band, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Mark Stepro. We were on a tight schedule but made it to Nelsen Ledges State Park despite the absurd AT&T blackout in Mid-Ohio. Tim claimed he could get a signal in the Middle Of Nowhere, Alaska which makes one wonder why it's impossible to get a signal north of Columbus. Midwest dark ages with a side of sauerkraut.

The benefit we played was for National Autism Awareness. That's a great cause, I think, because of the complex issues austistic people and their loved ones/care givers face everyday. What I don't support is the jams the band before us was dishing out. Jam bands. Blargh. The stage, setting and PA were all very nice and allowed us to have a great first gig as The Freeland Barons. We rocked out the majority of Porcupine and got sonic on a couple of songs. The Daily Life sounded good on its maiden voyage. Get What I Got worked ok for being so complicated. Joy was fun.

Dr. Ralph Stanley played after us and it was quite nice. He just stood there and sang some songs while his band of Christians did all the work. Ralph sang "Oh Death" acapella which was touching until he forgot the words. Oh well, the guy is 82 and deserves as much slack as he wants. After waiting and inordinate amount of time waiting for Donna the Buffalo to play, we got bored and took off down the road towards Buffalo. The decision was made to find rooms in Erie, PA so we headed downtown to see where the action was. Turns out there wasn't much action in plain sight so we headed into The Docksider Bar for a brief respite. Bad idea, for it was Karaoke Sunday the The Docksider and the singing was atrocious. So we had a couple First Night of Tour beverages and found a room at the Tallyho-Tel on the interstate. No luck in finding The Wonders' Memorial Practice Space. Maybe next time. The next morning, it was off to Niagara Falls, NY.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Music Month

Yesterday I worked my last bartending shift for nearly a month and happy about that I truly am. Not because my job sucks but because I am going on tour with Tim Easton again. Also at the end of the tour, we are recording in Nashville for five days. Yes hell! I'll be playing my first gig out of the country (Canada) and will play my first gigs in Brooklyn and Louisville. We'll be playing on World Cafe which will hopefully be more lively than Mountain Stage. One of our shows is with Ralph Stanley and another is with the Minus Five (Pete Buck!). Our gig in Nashville on the 19th is for the Americana Music Association conference which should be fun. I already know that a couple great friends of mine will also be in town that week. Recording and partying will be the M.O. It'll be like making Van Halen II or Rumours or something. Partytimes!

We will be playing in Georgia on the 25th, driving my ass back to Nashville to fly home on the 26th. That night I will practice with Grand Champeen in preparation for our gig the following evening with Birds of Avalon and three days later with Prescott Curlywolf. Then that Friday, a 3/4 Freeland Barons will play at the Scoot Inn. The Freeland Barons is the name of the outfit that is about to tour with Easton, including Easton. So between September 1(today) and October 2 (Scoot Inn), I am playing music and traveling. Jealous much?

Right now, I am at Pocketchange Studios with Jim, working on the mix to "Nine Years." After listening to last week's mix of the song, we decided the drums and bv's needed a little attention. Last week saw the 99% completion of "On Your Own" which by the way, sounds incredible. I think we are both psyched about OYO turned out. So much so, that it will be hard to have to wait at least a couple of months before we can resume mixing in earnest. I think today we're gonna try to get to a couple other tracks done so we have a few to solicit in the interim period of no-mixing.

My gig at Flipnotics last week went well. I played twenty songs and feel good about all of them except "Cheap Therapy" because I forgot its words. I thought my cover of "Gardenia" was good and the impromptu version of "Angels' Share" worked out. I'd like to thank all of the folks who came out to Flip's on that rainy night. I think I'd like to do it again sometime soon.