Tour Diary: Gown
I am Gown, a previously isolated individual who spent a year caretaking a private island in the Pacific Northwest. For me, it has been a long journey outward, but I think that my experience last fall during my European tour, during which I spent over two weeks travelling alone from town to town on trains, taught me that I was never as isolated as I thought I was during that year traveling back and forth to town by kayak. I am going on a two-week trek with Sunburned (Hand Of The Man) to play at The Ecstatic Peace showcase at SXSW. I am really looking forward to playing in places I haven't played in two years as well as playing in some new places and being in a van with Sunburned. I am going to do my best to document my time on this tour and share with you what it is like for me to hop in a van and head halfway across America and back. Two years ago I went right across the country with Christina Carter (with whom I have a duo called Bastard Wing), and at that point, it was all so new and exciting I don't think I could have understood what it meant, what was happening, and how the events would change the way I viewed things. Tours seem to be very difficult, but also very fufulling and exhilirating at the same time, and I hope I can capture some of those moments and feelings for you.
03.10.07 - Ithaca, New York - Cornell University
03.11.07 - Buffalo, NY - Mohawk Place
03.12.07 - Columbus, OH - Cafe Bourbon Street
03.13.07 - Louisville, KY - Pour Haus
03.14.07 - Nashville, TN - Ruby Green
03.16.07 - Austin, TX - French Legation Museum (Arthur Party/SXSW) *
03.16.07 - South by Southwest- The Mohawk Austin, Texas
03.18.07 - Proletariat Houston, Tennessee % ^
03.19.07 - Shreveport, LA - Cooper Manor ^
03.20.07 - Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn
03.21.07 - Mt. Pleasant, SC - Village Tavern
03.22.07 - Chapel Hill, NC - Night Light
03.23.07 - Washington D.C. - The Red & the Black
03.24.07 - Amherst, MA - Gladtree Festival
^ Magik Markers
* as Bark Haze (Gown + Thurston Moore)
Sunday, March 25
Last night of the tour at The Bar in New Haven. They do a band up right: great beer made in house, amazing pizza, and one of the best salads I have ever eaten -- amazing. Taylor, Michael K, and John M joined me again for a big version of the Gown band; it was great, going places that weren't conceived, droning, buzzing, rocking, and back again. Lots of people were out for the show and Sunburned were great with a total heart/mind melt version of "Machine," with Michael searing the vocals into my brain. It was a fabulous way to end the tour. I was really sad to drive away; it felt like I could do this forever. But of course, it is great to be back home with all the lovely things that home offers.
Show: Washington DC
Band Played With: Magik Markers
Food: Vegan soul food in Atlanta, Thai in Austin
Venue: The Bar, New Haven
Thoughts: Taylor Richardson
Number of Lectures from Ron: Zero
Biggest Disappointment: That Paul had to go home/Ron wasn't there the whole time
Annoyance: Shrub hunts leave sticks in my back
Saturday, March 24
We drove all night after the gig last night to make it home to Northampton -- well, at least my home. Last night was the best gig of the tour by far. I broke two strings in the first minute or so and ended up breaking three overall. Taylor joined me on drums and we tore it up. Sunburned played a great set comprised half of drone and half of total psych burn. It felt great to have a show like that where both bands were great. The seven hour drive was done with one break, where we fell asleep in a rest stop somewhere in New Jersey. It was supposed to be just 30 minutes, but everyone zonked out for over 2 hours in the end. It was worth sleeping in the van and pushing ourselves not to have to do the drive today though, and it is great to be home. The show tonight at Gladtree (the festival going on up here) was good fun. I saw the Emeralds (who were great), Lightbulb play their noise rock set, and others. Most of Sunburned joined me on stage tonight and that was fun; their set was aggressive with an extended version of "Machine." Byron read from his book and then him and Thurston read Tankas for Yoko, which was super funny and awkward at times. I then had to go home exhausted, nothing left in the tank. I imagine the rest of the stuff was awesome, but I just had no energy left and absolute delirium was setting in.
Thursday, March 22
We went to the Cartoon Network to pick up the missing drum parts and then cruised over to Mount Pleasant, SC. It was a crazy scene there, sort of a local food/sports/music bar that totally reminded me of home. The people that came to see us were totally happy and excited we were there, but the locals were fairly frustrated by the noise elements of the show. I would imagine that they would have the same problem with the hip-hop shows that happen there too, so I guess it wasn't a big deal. The only complaint for me was we got in too late to go to the beach and drove inland to a cheaper hotel after the show, so we didn't get to go to the ocean.
Wednesday, March 21
Arrived in Atlanta and ate some amazing vegan soul food, so great to eat food made with fresh ingredients. We then drove around Atlanta a little and checked out some record and book stores. I didn't buy anything, but it was nice to look. The club was near the soul food place, and Taylor and I went back there for dinner. The show was good; Taylor is from here and his family and friends showed up. Sunburned played a great set and his parents were impressed.
Tuesday, March 20
Time to hit the road for the long drive to Atlanta; we aimed to get as close as possible and made it to Montgomery, Alabama. The highlight of the drive, other than the swamp which surrounds the road along I-10, was the amazing ability of Michael K to sleep pretty much the whole way -- that is a touring skill I certainly need to develop. I will sleep in the van again tonight, night watchman-style; I like it better than most places anyway, and the van seat provides a more reliable mattress than most floors I have been on.
Sunday, March 18
Bye was said to our friends at SXSW, as we cruised down the back roads to Houston, TX. We met up with Johnathan of Kork before the load in, and he helped us find a BBQ joint which interested 4 out of 6 of us. Taylor and I walked down to a Mexican joint which he figured smelled like bum; I wasn't paying any attention, but they had no idea if they used lard in their beans, so we starved. I can't really comment on the show, because I was in a bad mood because of various things. The Markers were amazing as per usual, and MV and EE joined Sunburned for a crazy blow-out session. After that, I retired to the van for a nap, something about Houston really bummed me out today, and I can't wait to get out.
Saturday, March 17
Today is an off day, time to rest and relax. Christina and I left the hotel around 2 and were lucky to get in a cab with someone who had already been waiting an hour for a ride. We checked out a killer Markers recording session in a theatre where we were the only audience; they had expanded to a trio with Lucas on tapes. Then we jumped in a cab as it went by and ran in to see Jandek play in the church. It was a totally amazing quartet show with an animated Jandek on guitar; the sound had a really no-wave flow (or anti-flow) to it, totally industrial and heavy at times. It was totally great, and I felt lucky to have been there. We then jumped into another cab, ate dinner at the best Thai place ever, and went to a friend's house for a little hang -- not a bad day at all.
Friday, March 16
We stayed in Waco last night, at least close to Waco. I slept in the van to watch over the gear and whatnot, though I think that the van was probably more comfortable than the floor of a Motel 6 with five people already in it. We woke up early and started driving to Austin to get there early enough to play the Arthur (formerly known as) party. It was at the French Legation Museum in Austin, which has nice park-like grounds, with plenty of grass to lay in on a beautiful afternoon. The scene at the party was laid back, with Magik Markers and Sunburned playing sets. Bark Haze (Thurston Moore and I) played around 5. I guess it was a good set; people liked it, but it was super hard to hear the other side of the stage. We then took off to the Ecstatic Peace showcase at The Mohawk, which was a great event with amazing sets by Charalambides, Magik Markers, and The Thurston/Nancy/Spencer/Pete quartet, among others. SXSW is a crazy scene filled will thousands of hipsters, nerds, music scribes, bands' peeps and hangers on, all walking around the town consuming, listening, digesting, drinking, etc. It is really amazing to see it all; I don't know if I like it very much, but it really isn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Thursday, March 15
We are now on the way to Waco from Nashville. Last night in the home of country music, we saw some crazy sights. We went to Hog Heaven, which is across the street from this park where a woman did what is know as the sherlock: with pants pulled down at a picnic table, she relieved herself out of both ends at the same time. In fairness to her, the sherlock has been pioneered by several members of Sunburned during their illness early in the tour. We saw/heard a man rapping about being from his mom's vagina and then singing CCR; when he walked by us, he said "Thanks for all the shit you gave me/ I deserve every bit/ but I got all the LSD." This whole sort of scene continued on for hours. It was way gone. I can't even begin to imagine what it is like if this is a daily event in this park. The show was good; John from the Cherry Blossoms played some lovely songs, and during Sunburned's set, Taylor threw himself into a pile of branches and blossoms that he had pilfered from the empty industrial lots that surrounded the Ruby Green art gallery where we played. Chris Davis and Nashville Dave treated us like kings; they are some of the most amazing people in America. I feel really lucky to know them. Today is a super long drive as we try to get as close to Austin as we can, but at least all of us feel a little better.
Wendesday, March 14
There wasn't that many people at the show in Louisville, which was disappointing since last time I was here it was a great show and great fun. There was karaoke going on in the bar beside us, and that sort of bled through into my set. I played sitting down for the first time in a while, and I felt like that was a successful change, allowing me to focus on my guitar playing a little more than usual. We stayed with Aaron Rosenbloom who lives a gorgeous old carriage house at the end of a dead end road. We got up early, went to a health food store, and got the oil changed in the van before heading out to Nashville.
Tuesday, March 13
Columbus was fun last night. The venue Cafe Bourbon Street is one of the best I have played in America. That is the good news; unfortunately, 5 out of the 6 people in the van have thrown up in the past 36 hours. Sunburned are sort of like the waking dead, and I am the only one who has not been dreadfully ill. It seemed like it might be food poisoning, but since we all ate at the same places with some of the same, some different things, it is very confusing that I am still okay. The amazing thing is they basically are all near dead sitting in the van until it is time to play and they set up and unleash a killer set. It leaves me sort of in awe and pushes me to play harder since I feel good. After the show we drove outside town to stay in a hotel and get some real rest for the night and got refused from 2 hotels as they had vacancy on their signs, but somehow when we got inside, there was magically something wrong with their computers. It is crazy that a van full of ill people is refused because they might be noisy and whatnot; all we wanted to do was sleep. Today it is a short drive to Louisville, a town which I love and am really looking forward to.
Monday, March 12
We had heard that it was hard to find food in Buffalo, and it proved to be true. We ending up eating at a coffee shop about ten blocks from the venue and it was one of the few things around. The area we played in had the strange empty feeling that maybe goes away during business hours, but on nights and weekends, it feels like some kind of horror movie where zombies are going to come out of the next alley. The show itself was sparsely attended, but the people that were there were really great and treated Sunburned and myself wonderfully. We were served and promptly drank many Molson Canadians; I am not sure why that was the beverage of choice, but I decided to follow John's lead on it. Three of the others got some kind of food poisoning or illness at some point during the day on Sunday and ended up quite sick; they are not up yet, but their health will determine how long today feels to some extent. I have never really had an idea of what Buffalo was like, and it was pretty much like I thought. We are now on our way to Columbus after stopping by a Western wear and tack shop, so John could shop for a suit, and Taylor is convinced that he needs dock shoes to compete with this more fashion-concious Sunburned.
Sunday, March 11
So far we have played shows at Bard College and at Cornell University in Ithaca. Both shows have been well attended and organized and have gone really well. The logistics of a Sunburned tour seem sort of daunting from a distance (especially for a solo performer), but when it comes down to it, they are experts at tearing down a stage and loading up a van. After the show at Bard, we cruised over to Woodstock to stay at Adam's house (Adam is often a member of Sunburned). In the morning he got called into work, so we took our time leaving town and explored the village of Woodstock. We pulled into town proper with Dead blasting out of the van, and it was difficult to find parking even in the middle of winter, so I can't imagine what it is like in the middle of summer in this typical "artists centered" tourist trap. We went into a store that had tie-dyed flags and shirts hanging outside, tempting items included pot leaf-shapped sunglasses. Today we are heading up to Buffalo, NY.