Related:We Are the Willows tour diary Vol. 21Tour Diary archive
My name is Peter and I write and play tunes under the name We Are the Willows
. What follows are some thoughts and stories about being on
the road playing music. Since returning home from my three-month-long tour
last summer, I've managed to get a full eight hours of sleep, eat three square
meals a day, and take a shower or two. But there is just something
about playing to a bartender and smelling like the Burger Kings' armpit
that I missed too much! So, it was time to hit the dusty trail again.
Madison, Wisconsin, has been a hard nut for me to crack. It has taken me playing there a dozen times to finally feel like there are
some folks who smell what I'm stepping in. The show at The Project
Lodge was sparsely attended, but what the audience was missing in
quantity, it certainly made up for in quality. Folks were super
attentive and responsive and there is almost nothing better than that. Peter, the guy who was running the show that night waived the room
rental fee so that I could actually get some dough! What a saint!
Dietrich Gosser and Ugly Brothers sounded radical as well.
Early on in my trip, the ol' family van had caught some sort of vehicular fever. It was runnin' real rough!
was tight though, so the ol' van and I had no choice but to carry on
and hope for the best. Speaking of the best, the folks in Dekalb,
Illinois, are incredible and deserve a medal. I had been in conversation
with Camille about playing in Dekalb for over a year and the stars
finally aligned. The event I was to play was an awareness-raising event
centered around reusing and recycling. I was also invited to join in
on Dekalb's Critical Mass, which they renamed "Courteous Mass" and
since I bring my bike along on tour, I joined em'!
I played at The House Cafe and it was
great! There were lots of folks there and they didn't seem to mind
listening to some dude with an acoustic guitar at 11 p.m. on a Friday
night. I played right after the NIU's all-male a cappella group "Huskie
I made a joke about being able to braid hair and this gal made me prove that I could.
That night I had a killer time hangin' out with great folks and ended up crashing in a Spongebob Squarepants bunk.
If you've read any of my tour diaries, you
may know that I have a deep and undying love for Peoria, Illinois. The
folks in that town have come to occupy a very special part of my blood
pumper. Steve has set up house shows for me every time I come through
town and I can always count on them being really special. The show this
time around was no exception.
The Bartman's; Jared, Stephanie, and their
infant Henry, played a great set and Henry was nice enough to stick
around for my set.
The blurry picture does not do his cuteness justice.
After playing in Peoria, I drove to Chicago. I was set to play a
couple songs for a Chicago based video group called Rooftop Sessions. We were going to film on the beach but some powerful fog had moved in. So, we did some brainstorming, a couple illegal U-turns, and found
ourselves in Millennium Park. Dan, Joel, and Mikel were super thoughtful
and enthusiastic. I had a killer time. You can check out the video
they made here
I then headed over to The Red Line Tap
where I was to play later that evening. I loaded my gear into the
venue, took an hour or so to find a parking spot, and made some supper
in the van. The bar wasn't very populated and I didn't make much dough,
but I met some excellent folks and had a good time. Plus, anytime I
get an excuse to eat Chicago Style Deep dish pizza in Chicago I take
full advantage of it.
My last date was in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I was real
nervous about the van surviving, but powered by left-over deep dish
pizza and the magic of unbridled optimism, she made it. It was a Monday
night at the Root Note Coffee Shop. Generally Monday nights are pretty
awful nights to be on tour, but I was pleasantly surprised by the folks
that showed up and by the fact that I saw some familiar faces. Dan
Collins played an awesome Radiohead cover and I tried to to do the
splits on stage. I mean, I wish I tried to do the splits.
I don't know that folks are meant
to be or do anything in particular, but when I'm playing tunes on the
road, I feel like I've found the thing that really makes me feel like
myself. This week-long trip through the Midwest reminded me that life
is short and I better get busy doing what I really want to do. More
travel stories to come ....