The drive from Tulsa into Kansas City, Missouri was incredibly welcoming. The Midwest greeted me with rolling green hills, trees that don't have barbs or thorns, pop, goulash, and lemon bars from Barb's Pot Luck at Sweet Jesus Lutheran Church.
The show in Kansas City was a nice change of pace. Though there were a ton of things going on that night, including Def Leopard playing up the street, there were a decent amount of folks out, and the staff at Czar Bar were extremely friendly, including this dude Dutch Humphrey who played before me. This dude can write a song. My pals in the band Furniture rocked faces off...or socks...or melted something off...or rocked out with their...hmm...well, they were great.
I then drove to Columbia, MO and spent some time playing on the streets to try and make some dough and get some folks out to my show the next night. Columbia is a quaint college town that one would certainly never notice if you didn't know it was there. I made a little bit of dough, met some strung out hippies, and watched a movie in my van. The show the next day was a little disappointing. At one point there were a lot of folks there, and it seemed like they were there to see their pals play, but even when the final band played, no one really stuck around. Weird.
St. Louis has a park that is simply incredible. I hear it is comparable to Central Park in NYC. I spent all afternoon biking around, walking through museums, reading, and generally milling about.
Pop's Blue Moon is a small neighborhood bar where you get the feeling that people really like each other. I played with a band from Florida. They allow smoking in the bar and the combination of that and singing almost every night for over two months made me sound like a drowning cat. I guess it didn't matter too much, there wasn't anyone there who was listening.
I ended my set early, packed up, watched a little of the other band's set, and hit the road. I'm generally pretty religious about sticking around and watching everyone play but I was super anxious to get to Champagne, IL and see some pals.
I played at an awesome joint in Champagne, called, Mike N' Molly's. They have this incredible outdoor stage that bands play on in the summer. It was a perfect environment.
I hung out for a bit with my friends in Champagne, then hit the road for Peoria. I was looking forward to this show for a number of reasons. First, my friends in this town are incredibly good people. They make me feel like I'm home. Second, I knew it would be a good show. The house show I played in Peoria on my last tour was one of the highlights of that tour. Also, my friends in Austin, TX, who are from Peoria were skyping into the show!
Playing to a group of people who seem to really care about your music, and also, seem to care about you as a person is a really powerful experience. For me, it sorta made up for a lot of the shitty shows I had prior to that.
After the show we drank beers, biked to a bar where I fell asleep in a really cushy chair during a game of pool, biked to a pizza shop, biked back to the house with a tennis court sized pizza, devoured the pizza, and again, I fell asleep while hanging out. Awesome.
I've been to this gas station outside of Peoria, IL about six or seven times. I get the sense that this woman who works there recognizes me.
Fairfield, IA is a magical place. Every time I go there I'm pretty sure I leave part of myself there. I'm also pretty sure that if I didn't love Minneapolis and my friends and family here so much, I'd move to Fairfield. Also, Dom lives there, and he can do the splits.
I played at a joint called Cafe Paradiso. At this point, I almost would have preferred just hanging out with my pals to playing a show. The show went well though, and I then spent far too little time hanging out.
The last day of tour has always been a weird stir fry of emotions. I felt extremely excited to be in Minnesota and be so close to home, I felt a bit nostalgic for the first parts of the tour, sad and a bit disappointed with how a lot of the shows turned out, hopeful/determined to make things more successful in the future, and extremely tired. I drove to Winona on winding country roads listening to Dosh's record The Lost Take
My girlfriend took the train to Winona and we spent the day having a picnic and walking around Winona. The show at the Acoustic Cafe was a great way to end the tour. Karen was there, my sister and dad were there, my pals in town were there, my friend Adja Gildersleeve played and sounded great, and I had a killer time playing. I forgot to take pictures though. Oops.
I didn't really get much of a chance to settle in when I got home, as We Are The Willows had been asked to open for Halloween, Alaska for their CD-release at First Avenue. Assembling the full band requires scheduling rehearsals around eight other people's very busy schedules, so I had rehearsals everyday 'til the show.
Playing at First Avenue with incredible bands like Communist Daughter and Halloween, Alaska was definitely a light at the end of the tunnel of a pretty difficult tour. We all had a killer time.
Arriving home after being away for close to three months elicits a very strange feeling. I think the thing that gets tricky is that, for me anyways, "home" is very tightly tied to the people I care about and over the last year I have made so many good friends, and have begun to deeply care about people all over the country and in a way, they feel like home. In a way, Fairfield, IA or Keene, NH, or Dallas, TX feel like home. How is it that one can feel "at home" and "away" simultaneously in so many different places?
Anywho. I can't explain how lucky I feel to have traveled over the last year, and how grateful I am to all the folks who have been instrumental in my doing so. I hope to keep doing it.
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