We’re back!!!! After an amazing sixteen day tour through California and Arizona, I woke up this morning in my own bed, in my own house, in the beautiful Siskiyou mountains. This tour I experienced a perfect blend of fun and work, met some amazing people, played a lot of packed shows, and saw some of the most epic scenery the good old United States has to offer.
From Valley Center, CA we ventured back to L.A. where we squeezed in some quality family time with our Mom. Our Mom’s pad is a sanctuary within the chaotic urban sprawl of metropolitan Los Angeles. It’s a great place to kick up your feet, work on some songs, and rejuvenate for the lengthy push ahead. After a couple days we were off to Gallaghers in San Diego, CA. No trip to SD is complete without a pit stop to the world-famous Stone Brewing in Escondido. For $3 you can take a brewery tour, engage in a tasting session of rare stone beers, and walk away with a sick little souvenir glass. The brewery had recently completed a massive renovation of their outdoor space which feels more like a desert oasis than the back of a major brewery. Koi Ponds, trails, grassy seating areas, and shady maples engulf the area directly adjacent the tap room and several families sat soaking in the afternoon sun, enjoying amazing brews amidst a beertopian backdrop. We made a few friends, imbibed ourselves, and made our way down to a packed house at Gallaghers.
Matt Hopper made the drive from Topanga Canyon, the Brothers Gow were in attendance, and I even saw a Canadian friend I had made in Thailand a month earlier. The energy in the venue likened to an irish pub in the heart of Dublin. After the show we headed back to the Gow house where Ethan whipped us up the stiffest old fashioned’s I have ever had in my life. A quarter of the way through our first drinks and we were out for the count.
The next morning we found ourselves hung over but ready to greet the day. We headed up Newport Avenue to the digs of a fellow with a guitar collection unlike anything I have ever witnessed. I am dead serious. I have never seen anything like this man’s collection. Not in a store, museum, or home. Nowhere. It is completely and utterly, unrivaled. Vintage Fender’s, Gibson’s, Martin’s, Yairi’s, Ibanez, J Beil’s, Lyon and Healy….you name it. Think obscurely, and this guy had it. He had a Gibson Army/Navy guitar from World War I. The last time one was available for purchase online was 2013. The only thing that may have compared to his vintage collection was his custom shop creations. All in all this man had hundreds of stringed instruments and not a single one of them was short of completely unique and rare; a million dollars worth of guitars in one house, easy. I can’t decide if it was even real. I constantly felt on the verge of fainting. If we all create our own heaven, mine looks like this guys house.
After the house of holy tour we made our way to Phoenix. The show was in a historical venue called The Rhythm Room that also doubled as the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame. Sound was on point and the small crowd of 30 or so were there to listen to music. The engineer said it best when a couple asked how late the bar was open. “When the shows over, we close. We are a venue, not a bar.” We had some folks from Oregon out at the Phoenix show as well. Christian brought his daughter and Ben Purcell brought a friend from School. After the show we ate late night taquitos and laid our heads to rest on the floor of Mr. Purcell’s Phoenix apartment.
Friday morning we left the apartment and headed into the Northeast corner of Arizona, to a mystical place known as Flagstaff. “Flag” as locals affectionately refer to it, is my second favorite small town/city on earth (behind Ashland of course ;). It’s the southern California mountains meets the Oregon high desert. The trails run like a dream, the beer is tasty, and the people are kind and fit. The vibe reminds me of what Ashland was probably like 25 years ago. I had put out the SOS on book of faces looking for a place to crash the weekend of Flag. Our shows there were Friday and Sunday with a Saturday off between (what?!?!?! A Saturday off you say?!?!?!) and as many of you know, and as many do not know, we try to avoid 100 dollar per night hotel rooms as it can deeply cut into an already delicate tour budget by shacking up with family, friends, and new folks out on the road. This particular trip our random lodging situation would turn into a great friendship and one of the most hospitable tour layovers of my entire life. The Pfeiffers welcomed two rather suspect strangers into their home for 3 nights and days, they took us to national parks, parties, breweries and bars and at the end of the weekend I was sad to say goodbye. The good news is that the Flagstaff shows were overwhelmingly well received. We have already re-booked both venues for October and can’t wait to get back to Hops on Birch and Flagstaff Brewing.
That Monday we drove the windy highway to Sedona, stopping at Slide Rock State Park along the way for a cool dip and a nap on a hot rock where I lay staring at a toad not two feet from me also resting on the same rock. We stoically sized each other up for the better part of an hour, basking in the dry southwest heat. I kept thinking the little guy must have been trying to communicate with me telepathically…..and no, I did not lick the toad. The show at Vino Di Sedona would prove to be the most mellow of the tour, but the 15 or so in attendance listened intently and most left with cd’s. We were also treated to a surreal stage view of huge spires of sun soaked red rock escarpments cascading into the desert in the soft Arizona twilight. I doubt I will find a better scene to play music to in my lifetime.
That night we found ourselves heading west on I-10 back to southern cal. Over time I have found that the only reasonable time of day to drive into the Los Angeles area is in the middle of the night. It is the only time you are not likely to encounter soul smothering traffic, even though it’s still not a given. We arrived at our Mom’s house Tuesday morning and spent the day relaxing and visiting.
Wednesday we made our way into downtown Los Angeles for a house show in Silver Lake. We spent the afternoon looking for places to park where we hoped no one would break into our car, walking around Echo Park reservoir, enjoying beers at Angel City Brewery, checking out vintage guitars at Old Style guitar shop, and eating burritos at the only abandoned warehouse dive Mexican joint I have ever been to in my life. It was a good day but one that left me scratching my head as to why anyone would voluntarily live in downtown L.A., much less spring for $3000 rent fees in a place I had to imaginatively struggle to find beauty in. San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York….I get it. L.A., I do not. The people are great though, especially all the wonderful souls who attended that night’s capacity house concert at Jaden Larue’s in Silverlake. Jaden has been doing a monthly concert sensibly billed “Silverlake Music Sessions,” and she was cool enough to let us be a part of the April show. She has a great thing going and it was really awesome to get such a stellar reaction from a room full of folks living in one of the hippest areas of the country right now. It can be very hard to impress people who live in places just saturated in amazing talent, but if these folks weren’t enjoying themselves they did a tremendous job of putting on a show for us. Thanks to Jaden, the other acts, and the listeners for making our first downtown L.A. experience a memorable one.
With tour quickly winding down we played last Thursday night at our home away from home, Dale Brothers Brewery in Upland, CA. This is the spot all our So Cal friends and family turn up to socialize, see how we sound compared to last time, and drink beer with us. It’s always a family affair and always a massive highlight. My friends from my early days in So Cal are still my closest. Even if we don’t see each other enough, I feel most comfortable around these people. You know who you are and I love each and every one of you like family.
The morning after Dale Brothers we began our trek home to Oregon but not without one last show stop on the Northern California coast. 10 hours later we were in Ukiah, playing in the coolest little bar I’ve been in for some time. It was located above a restaurant, complete with a vaulted ceiling and a sweet stage. The friendliness reminded me that I was close to home. Most of the patrons in attendance already knew who we were and greeted us by name upon arrival. They had checked us out on youtube and were stoked for the show. I also forgot to mention this earlier but nearly every show we played on this tour had folks either from Southern Oregon, or who had been sent by people from Southern Oregon. This show was no different as a couple who had seen us play in Grants Pass with our good friend Rachel came out to the Ukiah show along with a few newbies. In Davis there was Shawn and friends, in Flagstaff there was Melissa and all of Seth Hansson’s friends, in Upland there was Jenn from the Bella Union!
I think the moral of the story here folks, is:
1. Tour kicked so, so, so much ass.
2. We have the best friends, family, and fans a band could ask for.
3. Southern Oregon is our home and we love it the most but there is good people and good beer everywhere.
4. Musical talent in the American west is on point. (See: The Regrettables, Brutha White, Blood Feud Family Singers, Bjorn and the Sun, Jaden Larue)
5. We are blessed. It’s the only way I can describe it.
We are home for a few weeks with pit stops in Yosemite, the bay area, and nor cal, but hit the road again May 2nd. We will be heading all the way east to NYC and back with many adventures to be had along the way. Come join us and let your friends and family know. We love new faces but we love stalkers more 😉 Cheers!!!
Catch us in May!