Monday, March 22, 2010

Sleeping in Seattle (and other places)

This blog is affectionately dedicated to my friend Joel Williams, even though he has nothing to do with the content of this particular posting, but it's his birthday on March 23rd.

Hi there everyone,

Sorry, It's been a little while since my last one of these, but I've had a good excuse. I've been doing a short little tour of the West Coast with two very special people and amazing writers and musicians, Miss Savannah Jo Lack, and Miss Annie Bacon. It was the first time I've actually driven extensively around northern California and up through Oregon and Washington state, and boy, is it a pretty scenic place.

After a few days in San Francisco, where Annie and Savannah both reside (if you're a SFO resident, you should really check them out), we rehearsed, played a little warm-up show, and managed to get in a little socialising on the side. The next day we headed north in our amazing tour vehicle, the sprinter, which was big enough to take a mattress in the back, an addition that we were all extremely grateful for.

Our first stop was Seattle, via a short stop in Portland, where had had to pretty much hold each other back and not buy anything buying from an awesome music store called Old Town Music, which is right there on 3rd Avenue downtown. Portland seems like a pretty nice place, and kind of feels a bit like Launceston, although bigger, and minus all the things that make Launceston a bit of a drag at times (rednecks, I'm looking at you). Another place worth stopping in at in Portland (besides going to see a Trailblazers game) is Voodoo Doughnut, which literally had the most impressive range of doughnuts I'd ever seen. I was tempted to try one called "Cock'n'Balls", which I assume must be cooked in the shape of a ball-sports obsessed Rooster, but there wasn't one on display in the case so I never got to find out. I did however try one with vanilla icing and toasted coconut, and frankly it was so good I wished my shrunken starving musician stomach had room for another one. I'm not much of a sweet tooth at the best of times, but this was enough to make me reconsider. Even if I did feel a bit sick because it tasted so good.

After leaving Portland, we started to play a game with the self-explanatory title of "Look at THAT f*cking Volcano", the aim of which is basically whenever you see a Volcano, the first person to say "Look at THAT f*cking Volcano" gets 10 points. Suffice to say, around this area it was a very high scoring game. There are Volcanos everywhere up here (lucky for us, not spewing forth hot magma and lava into the air at the time) and it is an amazing site to see these snow capped harbringers of destruction from a distance, towering over the landscape with 'don't f*ck with me' written all over them. As you can tell, I find Volcanos pretty impressive.

After we escaping our inevitable doom (had we hung around for a few hundred thousand years or so) from these earth-shaping titans, we drove into Seattle, where our gracious host Mr John Fitzsimons was exactly that, a very gracious host. Now, if Portland is like Launceston, Seattle is definitely like Hobart, although again quite a bit bigger, but including the pre-requisite stunning harbor and stupidly beautiful surrounding mountains. Besides being the home of Grunge music and good coffee (I wouldn't know about the latter, being not much of a lover of the dirty bean), Seattle is also regarded as one of the unofficial origins of the hipster. Now, whilst you won't find that written on a plaque anywhere, it is kind of obvious by looking at the people there. They definitely seem cooler than everyone else, and I felt so uncool (somewhat akin to my goofy period in grades 8 and 9) I was tempted to get a tattoo, large-rimmed spectacles and disillusioned attitude just to fit in. Although this would not really be doing it justice by this simple surface based description. Seattle people are actually incredibly nice, even the hipsters, and are actually fans of culture, music, art and whatever creative expressions people have, which is what makes them GENUINE hipsters (ie very hip and switched on people). Our friends that we made in Seattle are awesome people and I look forward to hanging out and playing there again, even if they did make us feel incredibly dorky just by being within 30 feet proximity to them. Incidentally, whilst in Seattle I also took the opportunity to be a tourist for a couple of hours and went down to the Pike Place markets and had possibly the best fish and chips I've ever had. Go check it out if you ever find yourself in Seattle, and there are also some wicked bookstores around there too.

OK, so after a triumphant show in Seattle, we drove down to Dunsmuir, which is a small gold rush town in northern California, at the foot of Mt Shasta (yet another Volcano). Here (after a few sound difficulties) we played acoustically to an extremely appreciative audience at Sengthong's Blue Sky Room, which is a fantastic venue, and they really made some travel-weary musicians feel a lot better through some awesome food and incredible above and beyond hospitality. The town itself is pretty darn stunning too, with an one street olde-worlde western vibe to it (without any cheesiness), a stunning backdrop of mountains, the Union Pacific railroad, and it is also one of the origins of the mighty Sacramento River, which really isn't very big at Dunsmuir, but sure as hell gets a lot bigger before it opens up into the bay just north of San Francisco and Oakland.

After coming down from the mountains the next day we arrived back in San Francisco, one of my favourite places and in my opinion one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We played a gig the at The Blue Macaw in the Mission district, and those who live in the bay area know that the Mission district is the place to go to get a good burrito. The gig itself was awesome, and actually the first time I've ever played one of my own shows in San Francisco, despite spending a lot of time there. We then proceeded to party down San Francisco style, and I don't remember much after that.

After waking up feeling surprisingly good, we headed down to Los Angeles for a combined set at Room 5, which is one of the best places to see live acoustic music in LA, if you don't mind posh surroundings in your live music experience. Seriously though, it's a nice place. For lunch the next day, we headed to Langer's delicatessen in the heart of little Mexico, right opposite MacArthur park (yes, THAT MacArthur park), which is apparently the home of the best pastrami sandwich in the world. Now, given that Savannah and I aren't very good carnivores, we passed on the experience. However, Annie and our good friends Rowland and Luke Weinstein all seemed to enjoy theirs, judging by the blissed out looks on their faces upon completion of these behemoth piles of pastrami, cheese and mustard, all barely contained within the two slices of bread that are seemingly added as an excuse just so they can call the damn thing a sandwich. So if you're a pastrami fan, check it out.

Our last stop and gig on this all-too-brief tour, was Santa Barbara, home of the ill-fated soap opera and occasionally confusing series of one-way streets. Here we played a show in Jeff's Tea House for a large and extremely appreciative audience. A very large thank you to Jeff and friends for amazing hospitality and a good time had by all. We'll most definitely be back.

So now I'm back in Nashville and the same bed for a little while, though the mattress in the back of the sprinter was certainly starting to feel very comfortable indeed. for all you west coasters, we'll be doing it again later this year I'm sure, so be sure to keep a look out for us. We'll probably even manage to get a few more stops in next time.

So take care, and you'll be hearing from me again very soon, with some exciting new music news...

Be good,


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