Note to self (and you): If you don't want your van to smell like someone pooped their pants, don't allow your mother to give you a dozen hard boiled eggs to eat on the road. They stink up the van like nobody's business.
Okay. Good. Now we both know. My name is Peter and I play tunes under the name We Are the Willows. What follows are some thoughts and stories about being on the road playing music. It may or may not be worth your time to read.
The time has come once again for me to travel around and play some tunes. I packed up the ol' family van and hit the ol' dusty trail. This time with a bunch of presents from my soon-to-be-sister-in-law's bridal shower.
I've played in Des Moines a hand full of times. It almost feels like home. Some awesome folks played with me; my good buddy ol' pal Danny Wolf, and a couple Aqui Estamos records bands, La Strange and Cashes Rivers. The night was really fun and well attended for a Monday night.
Speaking of places that almost feel like home, Ames, Iowa certainly fits that bill. Nate at the Ames Progressive has hosted me so many times! This time he set up the show at his friends' house and the evening was really special. There is something about there being 15 people in a room who are intent on listening to your jams that makes ya feel like one million dollars.
Lincoln is a pretty cool town. The football stadium is huge and overwhelming. The south side of Lincoln feels a little like South Minneapolis. Duffy's is a super cool joint. Orion Walsh and Eli Mardock played the show with me there. The show was real awesome.
I biked around Omaha for the better part of the afternoon. Its a pretty cool city. There is also some major flooding going on. Holy smokes!
I met my pal Justin in Sheboygan, WI. He plays in an Omaha group called Midwest Dilemma. He and his wife Jackie were sweet enough to host me and some other folks at their house for a night of music. It was tubular. Everyone sounded incredible. At one point this guy Brad Hoshaw was playing a song and I was thinking, this tune sounds super familiar, then I started singing along and I realized he was playing a song by my friend Jeremiah Nelson from Madsion, WI! What a small world.
Justin got a little crazy after the show and pulled down this huge branch from a tree in his yard. Thatta boy!
I drove half way to Denver that night. I think this was my first night sleeping in the van. I ate half a block of mozzarella cheese and watched boy meets world in my van. Gross.
Denver rules. Its super clean and there are tons of things to do. Every person in that city is fit as a fiddle cuz they've got so many fun activities! They have a bike trail that goes through the city (kinda like the Greenway). I played at a joint called the Walnut Room. The sound was incredible. This gal Rachel Eisenstat played with her band Iron City. She asked if she could sing on a couple of my jams and I said, "Hell yes!" She rules. A dude who saw me in Atlanta had moved to the Denver area and came to the show. Wow!
The next night has gone down as one of my favorite shows ever. I arrived at Garret and Greg's (two unstoppably kind twin brothers from Iowa) house and I realized that they and their friends are not foolin' around when it comes to house shows at their pad. They filmed the whole show with a super duper HD camera and a couple 8 Millimeter cameras. They bought a bunch of beers for folks. They even had a local artist make a poster particularly for the show. Mine is of a grizzly bear playing a banjo and howlin' like crazy town.
They call their collective Mountain To Sound and I won't be surprised if it becomes the next Daytrotter type phenomenon. They'll have a website up soon with videos and audio from their shows. Minneapolis group For Wilson Riot has played there too! Cool!
The show was like pure magic. Folks were really attentive and engaging and they made me feel like my jams were worth a damn. After the show the dudes took me to this incredible bar in Denver called the Thin Man and wouldn't allow me to pay for one drink. After we were sufficiently boozed up, we went back to their pad, kept drinkin' and they convinced me to play some more tunes. I did. Yay!
One doesn't always get so lucky as to meet folks like the folks I met in Denver. Every person I met was so nice. Garrett and Greg, thanks one million times.
I was having such a killer time with Garrett and Greg that I was late to the house show I played in Fort Collins, CO. They were cool with it and the night ended up being really nice.
I've got a lot of killer things to look forward to on this trip; my brother's wedding, seeing friends I haven't seen in a long time, and being in parts of the country I've never been. I can't wait.
More travel stories to come,
See more of Peter Michael Miller's stories in our Tour Diary section.