Why should I go on tour, anyway? When Bon Jovi did it, they rode a steel horse and hot tubbed with the ladeez after thousands of fans screamed for them. When I told people my band was going on a west coast tour, my inner third grader imagined us gracing stage after stage with fans that crawled out of the woodwork. Instead, really close friends that I havenâ€™t seen in 17 years marked their calendars two months prior to come see me and have 15 minutes of conversation on a school night. (Thanks, Amy, Adrienne, Corrine, April B, Job.) Then, they kindly sat and listened to the music Iâ€™ve been creating for the past four years.
I still have a bit of an existential dilemma over what tour is about. On a selfish note, itâ€™s about performing with my band six nights in a row, becoming more connected and solid with each performance. On selfish note part B, itâ€™s about seeing old school friends and meeting new musician friends and subjecting them to my art. Itâ€™s hard not to be selfish as a musician. We practice a lot so that we donâ€™t make asses of ourselves on stage. We improve so that we can book better shows. As a guitarist, Iâ€™m literally staring at my navel.
However, on a more selfless note, tour is about developing a music community that goes beyond my hometown of Seattle, AKA, finding out who cares. For example, Ed from Apache Trail, and his wife Celia, offered us a place to crash after our Portland show, based only on a mutual friend from high school. Marty from San Francisco hosted us for his birthday, and did a beautiful â€œaskâ€ before passing the hat. Becky put together an amazing bill in Los Angeles. We can only hope to return the favor by hosting them in our city.
Natalie, David, and Rebecca are better at describing music. Iâ€™ll leave that to them. My blog is going to be about the people I met, unofficial members of the music community in my mind.
Monday, September 13: Leaving Seattle
I met Dan through his wife, Lark. She is a book artist, and 100% DIY. For example, when they got married, she grew the flowers, sewed her wedding dress, and cooked food for 200+ people â€“ with nary a hint of Bridezilla. Dan is a drummer, and for a moment in history, we jammed with my friend Bjorn and were called â€œThe Redheaded Sweeties.â€
Dan lent us his van for tour. He installed speakers, a new battery, and other mysterious mechanical parts. Dan and Lark handed me the keys and a box of delicious homemade cookies on Sunday night, with wishes for a good tour. It made Dan happy to donate the van to a touring band. We paid him a small sum, and the van ran smoothly to LA and back. Natalie and I picked up Rebecca and David from work on Monday night, and the conversation went something like this:
Nat and Teresa: Hello bandmates! Welcome to tour.
Rebecca: Oh my god. This is a touring van.
David: I didn’t really realize that I was going on tour until this moment. Now that I’m in the van and my stuff is in the back, I think it’s really real.
Or something less eloquent than that.
Tuesday, September 14: Eugene to San Francisco
We stayed with Rebeccaâ€™s family in Eugene on Monday night, a stopping point before our first show in San Francisco. We went to the Sweet Life for breakfast. I asked the barista to fill my thermos with hot water. I felt a little rude asking for a favor, and explained that we were on a road trip.
Barista: Where are you going?
Teresa: Weâ€™re in a band and on tour.
Barista: Did you play in Eugene?
Teresa: No, no one would take us.
Barista: Well, I host shows in my warehouse. Send me an email and Iâ€™ll see if I can get you a show next time youâ€™re in town.
We gave him a sticker with our website, and took his email. After some cyberstalking, I think his name is Aaron Sullivan.
At the van
Rebecca: Did you just get us a show in Eugene?
David: Did you just pull an MBA back there?
Thank you, MBA. Although I do not yet have a six figure salary at an overestimated high tech company in Seattle, I do have a show in Eugene that will further my expensive hobby.
Later that day…
We pulled into Kimoâ€™s Bar in San Francisco at 9:05 pm, approximately -5 minutes before the show started. Fortunately, Leopard Print Tank Top postponed their start time so that we could load in. Leopard Print Tank Top (I canâ€™t stop typing that fabulous band name) involved a ukulele, a bass, a keyboard, and lyrics so funny Iâ€™m not allowed to sing them in Another Perfect Crime. (We are, after all, a serious band.) I canâ€™t give any specifics, but the songs were about Jewish heritage and cats. Their outfits were satin, and they were unfortunately missing their belly dancer that night.
Jamie is a volunteer for the girls rock camp in San Francisco. For those of you who donâ€™t know anything about my band, and I canâ€™t imagine anyone who doesnâ€™t know this fact would read this far into the blog, Natalie is a co-founder of the Seattle chapter of the girls rock camp. Although we have almost nothing in common with LPTT musically, we appreciated one anotherâ€™s performances and planned for future shows. Â We stayed at my brotherâ€™s place in Berkeley. More on him later.
Wednesday, September 15: SF to LA
My girlfriend adores Becky Gebhardt. I get it now. When our original LA host contracted a virus and suggested we stay elsewhere, Becky threw open her doors, supplemented our truck tacos with avocado, played Paper Telephone with us, and gave us four places to sleep in her medium sized LA apartment. Now I adore Becky Gebhardt as well, probably almost as much as my girlfriend does.
Becky is also a volunteer for girls rock camp â€“ but in LA. In fact, she probably runs the place. Her full time job is playing bass in Raining Jane, a beautiful folk/rock/world-like band that tours nationally for realz. Like, with ladeez in hot tubs andâ€¦ you know, money. She now has a side project called (Something Somebody and his) Bountiful Hearts which, to my novice ears, sounds like classic rock with a David Bowie influence. Before I offend her further, you can read my bandmatesâ€™ blogs to find out what her band really sounds like.
Anyhooters, we played with Bountiful Hearts, Ingenue, and EZ Tiger at Silverlake Lounge on Wednesday night. The crowd was packed, and 75% women (if not more), strongly represented by Girls Rock LA volunteers. All the bands were REALLY GOOD. Like, I want to host them in Seattle so badly it makes my loins ache a little bit. All of the bands had at least one member who volunteered at the rock camp. Hello, community.
Becky and my girlfriend Jenn have plans of developing a network for touring bands through the Girls Rock Camp Alliance (GRCA). Right now, touring bands need to borrow a van and lug drum kits and amps. However, bands in the alliance could set up shows and lend equipment to touring bands â€“ allowing us to travel in our fuel-efficient hybrid sedans instead of a large van. Great idea, right? Rebeccaâ€™s talking about writing code for the website to keep track of equipment, bands, and calendars. But before that step, let it be known that we will host any of those bands in our home town.
Thursday, September 16: LA to Irvine
Music community member #5: Rita Gennawey, KUCI Radio Show host
Music community members #6: Jenn, Andi, Len, Margaret, and Chad
This was one of our favorite days, mostly because we did not have to get in the van and driveâ€¦ very far. I went to breakfast for three hours with my college friend and cinematic costumer, Corrine. Rebecca stayed with the drummer from her college band and subsequently visited her newborn goddaughter, and Natalie and David enjoyed a fabulous feast made by Becky Gebhardt while looking out the window at hummingbirds, flowers, and succulents.
Natalie and David selected a few songs for us to turn into acoustic masterpieces, and we rehearsed them in Becky Gebhardtâ€™s sunny apartment until it was time to go. We ripped Rebecca away from a newborn child down in Irvine, and headed to the radio station. KUCI is in a trailer in UC Irvineâ€™s campus. Rita met us in the parking lot, and I thought she was awfully cute, probably because she looked a lot like, well, me.
Rita played some songs, we played some songs, we played the songs of some of our friend bands. Whatever. Details. Our friends gave us feedback via Facebook throughout the show. I’m starting to love social media.
Margaret: I am listening right now and Rita announced you! *excited*
Len: The band sounds great!
Chad: I caught the end of it (are they done?!) and it was sweet!
Andi: APC, that rocked, and you rock!! That was truly da hunchback!!
Jenn: â€ŽInterview starts at 23:23, APC album tracks start at 24:00, live set starts at 48:00, DJ set throughout. OH! and buzzing silence (rain city rock camp band) starts at 1:30!
We went out to dinner with Rita. Rita is one of those people who does nothing half-assed. She hosts the radio show on top of her regular FT job. She doesnâ€™t play music, but is a collector and connoisseur of it. She supports and promotes bands. Honestly, I felt kind of music-dumb around Rita. I shop for music the way I shop for clothes: if it doesnâ€™t catch my eye/ear, Iâ€™m not going to spend time on it. This is why I obsess about Marnie Stern, Sleater-Kinney, and the xx â€“ and have no idea what Supergrass, Lady Gaga, and whoever-your-favorite-band-is sounds like. Iâ€™m ADHD and only listen to about three bands. Rita, however, listens to the CDs that get mailed to her. STACKS of CDs. Go, Rita.
Friday, September 16: LA to SF
My brother plays in a band called McPuzo and Trotzky. Theyâ€™re retro-political and funny. Specifically, they are two men from 1921 singing humorous pieces such as â€œDam America,â€ and â€œSuffrage is for Suckers.â€ When booking the tour, I asked Craig if he wanted to play a show together, knowing it might be my only chance.
Enter Martin. He hosts musical emergencies a few times a year. He selects a story (Jack and the Beanstalk, Star Wars), breaks the story into about 20 parts, and assigns them to musicians two weeks before the â€œemergency.â€ The night of the party, people show up, perform their original song, and eat food. Itâ€™s a fantastic concept, and Martin is the quintessential music community member. In fact, he asked me how we did Ladies Rock Camp, because he wants to create a version of it for his own friends.
Martin lives in a loft in Oakland, and offered to host our sibling show. We were greeted by the softest, fuzziest purple door, mannequins, cigarette machines, a saw table used as a coffee table, and a bicycle hanging from the ceiling. He fed us delicious Thai food and wine before taking the stage. McPuzo and Trotzky were the opener. Lots of puns â€“ none of which I can remember, old stylie tunes, and the highest density of filthy double entendres Iâ€™ve ever encountered in a set. Needless to say, Iâ€™m proud of my brother (McPuzo) and his partner-in-crime, Paul (Trotzky). Especially since Craig arrived in town from Spain the night prior and was jet lagged.
We played our set, fearing it was too loud, but playing it anyway. Martin told us we were the coolest band ever to perform in his home. McPuzo and Trotzky â€œmade a sandwich with us,â€ playing half a set before us, and half a set after us. Their friends lounged on the floor on pillows (supplied from Martinâ€™s pillow bureau). It was the most intimate show we have ever played. It felt magical.
Craig improvised on â€œFor You,â€ a song from our first EP, with his Stroh violin. It brought tears to my eyes. Momma and Daddy woulda been proud.
Saturday, September 18: SF to Ashland
This one almost doesnâ€™t count. We played a show at Caldera Taphouse in Ashland on Saturday night. Honestly, it was the loneliest and longest show. A couple listened to most of our set and bought a CD. A group of guys stayed for about 30 minutes. Another group of guys stayed toward the end and offered us a place to stay and a drink. (They were 21. We said “no” using a long, drawn-out passive aggressive technique, with regional influences from Georgia, Ohio, DC, and Denver.) The whole situation begged the question, â€œShould we play anyway?â€ since it probably cost more money to stay in a hotel than we made up for in food. The food was good. The beer was good. It broke up the drive. We improvised with one microphone for two hours. The end.
Sunday, September 19: Ashland to Portland
Finding a place to stay in Portland was, ironically, one of the biggest challenges. A friend of mine offered me a place to stay, but couldnâ€™t take the full band. A friend of a friend offered us a place, but she had cats and cats hurt me. As a compromise, I went back to the original friend, and learned that she needed to get laid instead of host me. Yes. Thatâ€™s what I said.
Sheryl to the rescue. She just moved to Portland from Seattle. Like, JUST moved. That day. We slept on her four couches. â€œA friend of Andiâ€™s is a friend of mine,â€ she said. Sheryl is a drummer. Kudos to Sheryl.
The first time we played in Portland, we were AWFUL. Our bodies were shaking, we cursed in front of small children, and it may have ruined our reputation in Portland. However, Leslie Yeargers has remained supportive. She now plays with her husband Jonny and fellow rock camp volunteer, Teri. We love these people. They are kind, they love music, and they encourage their kids to love music. Every time I see Leslie play, her bass lines become more and more inventive and interesting. I think thatâ€™s a huge part of the girls rock camp philosophy â€“ is that the learning is as exciting as the end result. Lather, Rinse and Repeat has some great songs. It was their first show playing out, and I canâ€™t wait to play with them in the future.
Joe-the-booker asked me to get four bands together. Not being from Portland, it was a bit of a stretch. I did a Facebook call, and my friend from high school, Alicia Robinson, referred me to Ed, the guitarist for Apache Trail. They ROCKED it. Good lord, my ears were burning and my body was convulsing. Ed and his wife Celia offered us a place to stay. We were already settled at Sherylâ€™s, but appreciated the gesture. They referred us to the best pancakes in Portland, and we went to bed at 3am.
There you have it. We donâ€™t have thousands of adoring fans, and I donâ€™t ever expect we will. However, we met and played with some wonderful people, and hope we can give them the same treatment when they come to Seattle.