So, finding the bathroom in the dark is becoming a recurring theme. Heather and I got into Savannah last night after a hideous fight with I-95 traffic. I think I’ve griped about the non-charm of the entirety of Interstate 95 before, but it seems particularly prone to having stuff strewn across it by truckers as well, so not only is there nothing to look at, there’s also invariably some stretch of it that is impossibly impassible because (in this case) someone has run an 18-wheeler into a wall and spilled huge steel girders all across the road.
So, we didn’t end up going to an open mic last night, because we wanted to play with Chris.
Chris is an old roommate from college, and one of my favourite memories from MICA. I know he reads this, so perhaps I HAVE to say that, but I actually mean it. A quick sketch of him would involve angular features, a quick wit hidden by a calm voice, gaunt ribs, honey and bizarre cartoon figures. I associate him with indie rock and Johann Vasquez and the Nightmare Before Christmas.
An interesting observation – when I encounter friends of friends, you invariably see old photographs and then you meet them and they’ve changed their hair, their manner, their mode of dress. One thing that I’ve really Loved about reencountering most of my friends as we’ve travelled is that they’ve remained pretty… well… “stable” isn’t the right word… but “static” sans the arrested development type overtones to the term. Heather noted it and made the hypothesis that artists specifically are such visual people that they latch on to an image of themselves pretty early in their Lives and stick with it. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe our exploration of self just focuses on what we do rather than who we are cause we’ve given up on that so early, simply giving ourselves up as freaks.
There’s entirely too much thought going into that. Heather’s enjoyed meeting my friends, and likes the fact that she hasn’t really been caught by surprise by them. They look and act pretty much as I remember. I’m pleased that I sort of return the favour. Chris’ voice is a little deeper, I think, and he’s perhaps a little more serious, but he has cooler toys, and we spent an hour or so flying X-Wings and TIE Fighters into one another, trying to blow up one another’s capital ships. I’m still not quite sure how he managed to win. Shooting Ewoks in the head was also pretty satisfying, though not nearly so much as death-hugging a Wookie with a Wampa. It was a good night.
Life’s okay. Chris took us to the beach yesterday, and the weather was simply perfect. Amy’s telling me that there’s snow back home (of COURSE!) but I can’t be made to care – I don’t usually like the beach, but the landscapes around Savannah are just exquisite.
Tuesday night we drove up to Blufton, South Carolina to play the Blufton Ale House.
My natural inclination in all things is to get places early, and even though I’d talked to the actual HOST this time, who’d assured me that nothing occured till 10pm, we still ended up aiming for about 9.30pm. Of course, it makes things easier in that I don’t actually want to leave the house. Chris and Star Wars, Battlefront II, and the dog and the cats and Pamela all combine into a powerful “oh, I don’t REALLY have to work tonight, do I?” kind of force. We end up leaving later than I desire with a nagging feeling that we COULD really stay just FIVE more minutes… one more mission? Hunt one more Jawa? Kill Luke Skywalker ONE more time?
We sigh, pat Artemis, Zorro and Spooky on the head and then, having run out of excuses, leave.
And of course, with my individual temporal aesthetic, even though we miss the place and have to double back, even though we’re a little bit worried that we’ve become lost in the dark backroads of South East South Carolina, we still end up waiting for about 45 minutes before the music starts.
John O’Gorman is the host and part owner of the Blufton Ale House, and talks about how before settling down here he’d made a Living for 10 years just playing guitar – and the more I listen to him play, the more I’m inclined to believe it wasn’t the meagre Living we’re making now. This guy is a BEAST.
So, after watching him and the first guy on the list perform about an hour’s worth of covers, Heather and I approach the stage – and we know that either things can go poorly – because the audience has been rocking out to covers and only likes familiar things… or they can go well – because the audience has been rocking otu to good music, and likes all good music.
Things went well. Very well. I was really flattered to find out later that John had been in back asking Chris and Pamela about us. You don’t do that about people you don’t like. Probably the musical equivelent to asking someone to find out a little more about that GIRL you like… you KNOW the one… the one with the long dark hair? Is she REALLY crazy?
After our set, we took some time to work the room, sell CDs, etc., and then John asked us to sit in and jam with him for another half an hour plus, and we went through every Jimi Hendrix tune I know. John and I swapped leads, and an amazing bass player (coincidentally from Largo, MD) sat in as well, inspiring all sorts of good chaos. Of course, all of this happening while being handed tequilla shots. It was a good night.
On the drive home we encountered a frightening number of deer. Staring. Peering. Bounding out of the darkness and retreating into the fog. Beautiful beasts. We creep back into the house hounded by Spooky and collapse into bed.
Last night we played the Bay Street Blues open mic in Savannah, GA. Strangely enough, though we’ve been here for almost a week, this is our first time actually playing in Savannah. Playing music, anywho. We’ve played with the dog, and played with the cats, and played a lot of Battlefront… but music? Psh.
The open mic was pretty successful, and we met a lot of cool people, but the homecoming was somehow the fun part. Chris was wise and stayed home to get some sleep (though there’s something about these bars with real, if tiny, stages and a LOUD sound system that make us play our best), but there’s something simply very homey to coming back to a house, greeting the dog and trying to keep her quiet, and having a sleepy voice asking how the night went. You sit and talk for a bit, exhausted and still glowing warmly with the tequilla that you got at yet another bar. Then there’s a bit of work to wrap up, and then finally bed. Life’s pretty alright.
Sleepy rob. We’re in Wilmington, NC and Deanne’s new house is just beautiful. The dogs are welcoming and curious about the scents of Spooky, Artemis and Zorro. So much sunshine, but 40 degrees cooler than it was down in Savannah. Really good gig last night, and we’ve been shopping, running errands – but now I just want to relax on the couch and watch tv. It’s nice not to be driving.
Savannah was just such a good experience, and I’m eager to repeat it. Unfortunately, I’m looking at our calendar, and it seems like the earliest we can do it is in August. I’m a little frustrated by that. Not only is August just a brutal time in the year to be going that far south, but we’ve been doing this for two and a half years or so, and we still don’t have the kind of organization that I’d like to have. I’d like to be able to sit down and chart something out that makes sense, and put on the map all the points that I really, really just WANT to go to.
Even the Journal reflects that – where I’d like this, perhaps, to be more organized – a real showcase of writing, I’m perhaps lazy in allowing it to be a rambling thing. Certainly more personal, but compared to the writings and articles of Heather’s heroes (like Ernie Pyle), the Journal is comparatively incoherent. I’d like to one day see this put together into a book – I’d like this to be read by a LOT more people – Chris pointed out that there really isn’t anything else like this on the internet, and I would like to take advantage of that somehow. People Love to read about other people’s Lives – and maybe mine’s just not seedy enough… I need volunteers to make my Life a little more sordid.
I’m sitting in the Smelly Cat Coffeehouse in Charlotte, NC amidst old painted doors and desk lamps and hanging metal foil biplanes. It seems a very cool place though the strawberry banana smoothie is perhaps not as lush as I would’ve liked.
The last couple of days in Wilmington have been beautiful – the weather’s been nice, and we’re among lots of friends there, with the only angst coming from the fact that we don’t have enough time to share among all of them.
It’s places like Wilmington where I sort of realize how thin I’m spread. I think we’re finally to the point where we’re not really interested in spreading a whole week in one town – we’ve done a lot of “show up, play gig, play gig, leave town” sort of scheduling this time around, and though it makes us feel more accomplished, and perhaps it’s a bit more lucrative (not to mention all those different town names sure look better on the back of the postcards), but it means that we’re a little neglectful. I was really glad we got to go out to lunch with Bambi and all of her friends on Sunday afternoon – out to Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn – the only biker burrito place I’ve ever been to with an Elvis motif. Great food, in-house salsas… I’m very happy with the feasting right now. Not a REALLY good trait for someone who’s trying to lose some road-weight, but I’m a special brand of at-the-moment-abstinant hedonist.
Meaning – damn but that was a good burrito… and then we got Deanne’s cooking in the deal? More “damn”.
In any case, I’m wondering what we’re about to get into with the Evening Muse. The NoDa arts district seems strangely quiet and maybe even run-down for an area that I’ve heard SO much about. Despite a penchant for purple buildings, I have yet to build up much of an opinion of the area. The art galleries are closed, we were some of the only customers at Cabo Fish Taco (where Katie suggested we have linner) and we are the solitary souls inhabiting the entity that is the Smelly Cat.
I’m sure it must REALLY come alive at night.
During my spare time, I try to write or call people that I haven’t talked to in a while, with the idea that keeping connections with other people is a good thing, and with the concept behind THAT that renewing old friendships can be good too – if only for the educational value. Myspace has made that easier, makes it all too easy, perhaps. I’ve been startled by the sheer number of old high school friends are out there and floating around. Going through the high school searchy thing, a surprising number of my old classmates had at one point joined the circus. Odd. I guess we all craved departure. And like myself, most of them have never quite made the leap of actually Living outside our home state. I’m glad I’m not the only one making contact here and there. It sometimes makes me feel like a stalker.
Nightmares about apocalypse. Heather claims I have a lot of them, but I think they’re just the most memorable, perhaps. All in all, this one was a lot less graphic (I’ve had a good number where I’ve woken up with a very intense memore of childrens slack-fleshed fingers rolling out from under my boots), but a little more stressful. People packed in a panic into some sort of shelter, and then realizing that some unspecified THEM has taken the opportunity to launch a nuclear megadeath at us. Watching the red lights trail across huge maps and action boards… realizing that we only have space for 30 or so people in the reinforced shelter below. Trying to figure out how to get 30 people from the hundreds without causing a panic…
And Deanne had gone to see the New York Museum of natural history recently – the idea that we’ve only been around for 100,000 years and that the dinosaurs had existed fro hundreds of MILLIONS of years had a real effect on her, and her thoughts had been echoing in my head. Hell… we haven’t proved ourselfs, we could be just a fluke. Look what we’ve initiated… red lines crossing the Atlantic… why are we worth saving? Don’t bother, don’t cause the panic.
Last night we played at the George Washington Bookstore and Tavern. Just an open mic, but nearly as lucrative as most of our gigs. Had a lot of fun watching people jam and playing along and just enjoying the people we’ve been meeting. Someone bought me tequila again, and I think that I shall be taking that in smaller doses from now on.
Heather and I got very, very lost on the way back to Katie’s house, and what should’ve been a 30 minute drive on the outside took well over an hour. Maybe even longer – I don’t remember when we left the bar.
Ugh, got back to the house at around 3am and then got wrapped up in my online world for about half an hour before just collapsing into the waiting arms of the couch, under the watchful empty eye-sockets of the skeleton in the corner.
Sitting in Concord, NC. Dinner is slowly happening to a peice of pork in the kitchen, and Heather’s playing with the cat, and I’m realizing that I’ve truly been slacking in the whole Journal department. I’ve got to write tonnes and tonnes to catch up with the pictures, perhaps… I could just cut and paste some of those stupid myspace quizes, but then again, I think you all would hate me for it.
We’ve spent the last several days with my friend Katie, from college. That’s how you can know her, College Katie. The area’s been really kind to us, and Katie was a great host, providing us with a cat and cassarole.
We got into town and played the Tosco House Party at the Evening Muse in the not-really-quite-an Arts District of North Davidson Street. I felt kind of bad being disappointed by it, but here we were, in town mostly to play a gallery crawl, and there were… well… a COUPLE of galleries there… but all in all I was expecting something… bigger.
The “House Party” was a one-song open mic that kicks off with a big group sing / jam that made me miss PLOJ viscerally. Everyone we’ve met in and around Charlotte has just been so nice, they definitely reawakened my “I wish I could pack you all” urge.
Thursday night, at our friend Ben’s suggestion, we headed out to the George Washington Bookstore and Tavern, which is not a bookstore. For some reason every time we talked to someone about it, that was the comment we got. “Where are y’all going tonight” (Yes, they really say “y’all”) “The George Washington Bookstore and Tavern”. “Oh, that place is great, you know it’s not a bookstore?”
This is said almost conspiratorially. I nod knowingly and let the reaffirmation that it’s not a bookstore flow over me and wonder what we’re getting into.
The place was awesome – cool decor, decent sound system, and a lot of really cool players. I got to scream some good 80’s battlecries in response to a song with a tonne of Thundercats and Transformers references. Fucking phenomenal harmonica players. We ended up staying till around 1.30am (a lot of, “oh, we should stay for this one last person” kind of things) and then got really, really lost on the way home.
Let me give a shout out to Microsoft’s Pocket Streets on my phone! Hell yeah, you got me home, and though it’s the uber monopoly that will eventually implant chips in our heads to make our brains Windows compatable, they also got us back to Katie’s place by 3.30am, which is better than we would’ve done on our own.
Last night at the Evening Muse for the Gallery Crawl, we played hard, and we played really, really well. The synergy between musician and audience is, I think, maybe hard to describe to someone who’s never experienced it.
The Evening Muse is a really well-known folk venue. Possibly the premiere room of it’s type in North Carolina now that the Six String has closed. To be there for this event was a big honour. We were the first act, and somehow, the March weather that had been looking the other way for the past several weeks, leaving us with 70 degree weather, leading me to pack our coats in an inaccessible depth of the Saturn (left side bottom), March reasserted itself with a vengeance, taking its toll on the pedestrian crowds.
As we started the night, the room was only half-full, and a lot of the people were there for the artist who had hung his work in the room earlier in the day. Very loud group of people… by our second song the room was packed and you could’ve heard a pin drop. This is the way we should play every night – and the way an audience should be.
They were enraptured, sitting lightly in the palm of my hand, we were funny, we were sexy, we were mysterious and friendly and intimate. By far one of our best shows, a lot of it owed to the fact that this audience drank us. I wish we had tape. “Speaking Louder Now” was exquisite, passionate and pained and dynamic. We ripped into them.