Monday, September 13, 2021

Travelin', Man

Saturday, August 28: Atlanta. Hometown show at Chastain (or whatever it's called now)! It was such a wonderful experience to play for friends and family. It's safe to say that we gave this one a little bit extra. A great night.

Friday, September 3: Columbus, Indiana. We played some kind of fundraiser thing in an airport hanger. Maybe it was for the local animal shelter?...nothing's coming to mind. Anyway, Columbus is more progressive than you might think if I said "small town in southern Indiana," and many of the cool residents were in attendance, and they were digging us. This one was easy, and a good way to easy back into reality after the Atlanta show.

Saturday, September 4: Columbus. Originally, we were scheduled to play a public concert in Columbus on this night, but it felt apart because of COVID stuff, so we had the day off. 

First stop: Yat's! It's decent cajun/New Orleans food, and it's a nice change from the usual rotation of Mexican/pizza/Chipotle/sub food. Yat's does participate in the shitty-instant-rice thing (as I mentioned in the previous blog post), but it's easier to overlook it in this situation where the rice isn't solo. 

Also, bonus points to Yat's for having vegan food! I had the vegan white chili (which is my go-to at Yat's), and it did the job. I also had a half serving of the beans and caramelized corn thing. It was ok, but the white chili thing is much better.

This is Hank. I talked to him and his brother Mushroom outside of Yat's. I think Hank was embarrassed because Mushoom wouldn't stop barking. He's a sweetie.

After lunch, I practiced flute for a few hours (as quietly as I could), and then went for a long run (long for me). I tried to go to the Indian restaurant, but it was closed. I then tried the pizza place, but they were also closed for the night. The Mexican place was still open, so I had veggie fajitas that gave me a bellyache. I guess I should've gone with the tacos. After that, I went back to my hotel room and practiced saxophone for a couple of hours (also as quietly as possible, though I was in between the elevators and Monkeyboy, so it was fine), and then went to bed.

Sunday, September 5: Westfield, Indiana. Before we headed north to our final gig on this trip, I went for a run in the opposite direction to yesterday, and quickly found my way to corn fields and dirt roads.

We all met up at checkout and decided to try the pizza place. Food was good, service was slow. The weather was nice, though, so no big deal.

This day's show was a benefit concert in Westfield, which is a northern suburb of Indianapolis. Nice place for a gig. Pleasant weather, easy load in, good looking people to watch during the show.

Wednesday, September 8: travel day. We got home from Indianapolis on Monday afternoon, and two days later we were back in the air, making our way to Tucson, Arizona. What had originally been a direct flight turned into two, with a layover in Salt Lake City. Enough time to eat a burrito and walk around for a minute.

The lady who sat next to me on the flight from Atlanta to Salt Lake was impressed by my ability to nap on a plane. "You were so still! For hours!" Like, maybe she thought I was dead? It's a gift, lady.

We got to the hotel in Tucson a little before midnight. Check out these hip, modern rooms! And a squared off toilet!

Thursday, September 9: Tucson, Arizona. I fought it as long as I could, but finally at 9 AM I put on my shoes and headed out in the hundred degree heat. Unbelievable that anybody willingly lives here. My morning run had a lot of walking in it.

For lunch, I found an Indian place that served empanadas (say whaaaaa?). They also had a some more traditional kind fare, so I went for that.

This place seemed to attract middle aged white males (myself included). A woman entered and ordered lunch, and one of these dorky guys said to her, "I once ate Indian food for two weeks straight," and SHE FELL FOR HIS TRAP! He proceeded to tell his victim all about the two week trip to India that he and his wife took eight years ago, and the different cities they visited ("The call it the triangle"). She finally picked up her order and bolted.

This evening's event was a corporate party featuring several of the music's original artists, so after lunch we had a a few hours of rehearsal to refamiliarize ourselves with their music. First up, we played with Mickey Thomas of Starship (Fooled Around and Fell in Love, Nothing's Gonna Stop Us, We Built this City). Following Mickey was Wally Palmar of The Romantics (Talking In Your Sleep, What I Like About You). Then Peter Beckett, Voice of Player (Baby Come Back), Elliot Lurie (Brandy), and Robbie Dupree (Steal Away). 

For dinner, I headed around the corner to a ramen/sushi place and had Vegan Street Noodles. I even sat I the same spot I sat in the last time we were here. Pleasantly spicy.

This gig was decent (not great), mostly because the rented gear was so beat up. One of my keyboards was messed up and wouldn't let me use a sustain pedal. The original choice for Monkeyboy's guitar amp had a bad tube in it. The basses were dirty and rusty. The drum monitor died during the show. Worst of all, a few of the wireless microphones quit working in the middle of the show, and when Zach opened them to try and change batteries and frequencies, the old batteries were held in place with chewing gum wrappers! This was the rental company's first show after shutting down for COVID, and they didn't check anything before sending it out.

Nevertheless, we played well, and the audience gave us good energy. I remembered my parts, and (most importantly) remembered to transpose my keyboard down for Nothing's Gonna Stop Us, and then remembered to change it back (a legendary mistake I made the first time we played with Mickey). 

And it didn't go too late! 

I woke up in my clothes at 2 AM next to a bag of chips, and Speed on the TV. Goddamnit that movie is stupid. So then I had to get up, take a shower, brush my teeth, take out my contacts, and officially go to bed for four more hours.

Friday, September 10: travel day. We left the hotel at 7 AM, and just as we were getting in line to drop our bags, our first flight (to Los Angeles) was delayed by about two hours. Finally, we got on the plane and flew to LAX, got on a bus to take us to a different terminal (because LAX is one of those airports that's forever under construction), got off the bus, walked to the gate for our flight to Atlanta, and got on that plane.

The Queen, The Kippen, and The Pilot

It was a long day, and a long flight (cue the shrieking toddler two rows in front of us), and because we missed our original connection, we ended up sitting in the last two rows (48 and 49) of the plane. It finally touched down in Atlanta around 9:30 PM.

Saturday, September 11: Birmingham, Alabama. There was just enough time to repack my suitcase and sleep before we got in the van and drove to Birmingham for a wedding.

This room was really cool looking, but maybe not suitable for a nine piece band. There was so much natural reverb that it was tough to hear anything clearly. Also, it got pretty dark once the sun went down! But whatever; it was pretty easy. Birmingham's got a nice vibe. They're trying to be cool.

Lots of fun in the green room (which was also the loading dock, but pipe-and-draped for a little privacy).

Sunday, September 12: home!

Outside of all this, I did squeeze in a quick recording session at the end of August. Someone I've never met (I still don't even know his or her name), texted me out of the blue. All the text said was "saxophonist?" I replied, "yes," and we said that he had something that he needed me to play on and how much would I charge. I gave him a price, he sent me an mp3, and I recorded a few passes, and texted him links to the folder I'd put them in on Dropbox. He sent me a similar thing to show me what he wanted (I don't understand why this didn't happen BEFORE I recorded the first round of solo, but...), and I sent him a couple more passes more in line with what he wanted. He liked it and sent me the payment. We never spoke. I have no idea who he is, what he did with it, what he played on it--nothing.  Isn't that wild? Is this the future?

Anyway, here's a sample:

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Let's Go!

Friday, August 13: Nashville. This summer's trip through Tennessee took us to Marathon Music Works for a Friday night show. Not a bad room! It's a big old warehouse converted into a concert venue and sounds like it, but I can dig it. Big stage, great backstage area, and a massive group of fans. No food in the area, though, so I'm glad I remembered to bring something from home for dinner.

I stole this picture off the internet, but it's me, so that's fair, right?

Saturday, August 14: Indianapolis. We were very lucky to play the White River Pavilion in the middle of downtown Indy--the sixth concert at this brand new venue. Wow! It's amazing. I feel like Indianapolis does everything well (or at least the way I like it).

Even after a good warmup on my instruments, I still had time to sneak in a run around the canal walk, and the weather was perfect. This is a cool little spot.

Dinner for Indy was catered, and this sad plate of carbohydrates (especially you, big scoop of instant rice!) was a pitiful attempt at midwestern vegetarianism! I spoke too soon, Indy!

Anyway, I had two of these plates--I was hungry. I also ate most of the fruit tray, and a big hunk of Mark Cobb's birthday cake. Not a banner day for my diet.

We came out at 8:15 and jumped on the first tune (the Isley Brothers version of Summer Breeze), only to have the power go out on the whole city grid! Woah! Nobody'd ever had that happen before. We tried to buy a little time by playing Take It Easy with acoustic guitars (I'm gonna bet the only thing you could hear was me on tambourine), and then bailed on that and went backstage. After about fifteen minutes, they restored power, and we crushed the rest of the show. This place is awesome, and our Indy fans are really great. Coming back to the midwest is always fun.

Thursday, August 19: Gilford, New Hampshire. I'd never heard of this place, but the people who run it are big music fans, and they have it set up to be a venue where bands want to go and just hang out--in addition to the big stage with lots of seats for fans, there's a pool, a fire pit, a putt putt course, catering, showers, laundry, bikes, scooters,'s set up for a good time. If you were on a bus tour that rolled in at 11 AM, there's plenty to keep you occupied until the show.

This was not our most massive crowd by any means, and it was a rainy Thursday and our first time in New Hampshire, but it was still pretty great. Hall and Oates was here just ten days before us, and I bet they'd say the same thing. 

We spent the night at a DoubleTree, which means you get a warm chocolate chip cookie before bed. Thank you very much.

Friday, August 20: NYC. We drove for a long time to get to New York, and trying to get into the city on a Friday afternoon was challenging. 

Our show was at a new venue for us, Pier 17, right off the FDR. When we arrived (NO JOKE!), the NYPD was LITERALLY FISHING A DEAD BODY OUT OF THE EAST RIVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And the local crew was like, "Oh yeah, happens every couple of days. Some of the bodies come from way upriver! The current kind of traps them right here." 

Now that's New York!

fishing for dead guys

Pretty much everywhere we play in NYC is cool, but this was something particularly special, with the most insane rooftop views we'll ever get.

It also had the most "Hello Cleveland!" labyrinth of hallways to get to the stage.

This one was epic. A couple of thousand people, the Brooklyn Bridge behind us, the Statue of Liberty in front of us. Amazing.

Also, a lot of nerves--I think we were all really tense. It would be nice to enjoy these big ones more.

I did ok, all things considered, though my evening was marred by the malfunction of my wireless sax mic system, so I had to stay very close to my keyboards or risk signal dropouts. My ego! There are no incredible pictures of me at the front of the stage, sax god for all to see. That and holding on for dear life during the Africa solo are my only memories.

After the show, we drove about an hour north of the city to spend the night. It was a long day in the van.

Saturday, August 21: Webster, Massachusetts. Indian Ranch is this weird venue in the middle-nowhere-Massachusetts, kind of in a campground/trailer park. The shows are also in the afternoon (1 PM), so we had to get up way early and drive a lot so that we could load in at 10 AM.

The people show up, though! I don't know how all these people knew to come see us, but the place was full, and they really dug the music. After the previous night's pressure cooker, this one felt really easy.

For this show, I used my wireless receiver that I keep with my fly date gear (which I'd forgotten I had in the trailer), and it worked flawlessly. Damnit! I wish I'd thought of it one day sooner.

I guess the trailer is getting pretty hot this summer. The shellac that glues the pads into the keys on my saxophone is melting and oozing out! That's probably bad.

We drove away around 4:30 PM, headed south to our hotel in New Jersey. Tropical Storm Henri was headed right at New England, so our timing was perfect (and lucky). Surprisingly, I was unable to get any food delivered--I tried the Indian place, the Thai place, the burrito place, and a pizza place. Maybe they were closing up because the storm was coming? I thought it would've been pretty easy on a Saturday night at 9:45 PM. Maybe it was a sign. No dinner for Dave.

Sunday, August 22: Wolf Trap, Virginia. Another big day of driving. Our van stopped near Newark for lunch, and I opted for a Qdoba burrito. The food was fine, the service was underwhelming, so it was exactly what I was expecting.

Sooooo...Wolf Trap is right outside Washington, DC, and it is amazing.

Right off the back of the loading dock, there are some trails through the woods, which I happily checked out on my run. I was hoping for a loop (and there appeared to be one on the map of the facility), but all the trails I tried were just kind of spiderwebs of single track that usually turned into small loops or dead ends.

After trying every trail that I could find, I gave up and ran a few laps around the parking lot. Not as pretty, but I needed to hurry up and get some miles in. I'm sure all the yacht rock fans were like, "Who's this weirdo running laps out here where we're tailgating?"

Wolf Trap catering was outstanding. I had two of these plates. Not pictured, but after the gig, I ate the entire fruit tray, too. And a few bananas.

This place was crazy cool. There were enough dressing rooms that even our crew could have individual spaces. Here's mine.

the lounge


And the gig! We sold over 4,000 tickets, mostly to people on the lawn just outside of the bottom level, but the seats were pretty decently full, too. Hell yeah!

Also, my wireless was perfect again. I am officially condemning the unit in my rack and using the fly date receiver. Amazon has been contacted, and the replacement is on the way.

Monday, August 23: Madison, Wisconsin. We were supposed to fly out of Dulles in DC to Madison (with a pit stop in Detroit), but when we arrived at the airport, we found out that the first leg had been delayed enough that we would miss the second leg. Rebooking! Delta was able to get us there, but we had a layover in (of all places!) Atlanta. Let's go!

Airport breakfast and silliness. Killing time.

this is not worth $10

Today's gig was a corporate party for some health insurance people. Easy, but it was guaranteed to not be as exciting as the night before. It was indoors, though, and over at 9 PM.

Tonight's vegetarian entree was (I think) chana masala. Do these people get me, or what! It was great. I would've eaten two bowls of it.

Unfortunately, the gig was delayed a couple of times, but we finally got on stage and did our thing. This is pretty much what we had for an audience for two hours--kind of a snoozer! There were several tables of people listening, I should add. Completely painless, though. And the backline gear was excellent, which I always appreciate.

...and then it was over! I packed up my saxophones, flutes, EWI, and all my other crap, and we got on the bus to the hotel (that's a lot of vehicle for nine dudes).

Tuesday, August 24: Homeward bound! Most of us flew Madison to Detroit, and after a brisk walk, Detroit to Atlanta. 

I wish the Atlanta airport looked like this.

We made it home! This week is our big Atlanta show at Chastain. Sleeping in my own bed for the next ten days.