Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Young at Heart

Music is a pretty amazing thing - for me, it's probably my one true passion.

The day after my father died, my ex and I went to see our favorite band, NRBQ; they were playing in Woodstock, NY, very close to my parents' place in Poughkeepsie, NY, and I knew that it would be a few sure hours of pleasure/relaxation during what was to be a trying week before we had his memorial service. I couldn't tell you what songs they played that night, and I sure didn't feel like dancing, but I remember sitting at a table with my vodka tonic and just letting the music wash over me. At times that night, the music actually made me feel happy, and I was reminded that in spite of my sadness about my father, life goes on, and there would be happiness ahead.

A similar event occurred after my mother's memorial service. My mother had been a member of a local chorus, the Camerata Chorale, for over 20 years (I had been a member for several of my high school and college-age years), and I asked them to sing several pieces at her memoral service. Later that evening, the group had a concert of their own. My mom had been planning on going to the performance, pretty-much come hell or high water, and I had told folks in the group that I really wanted to try and make it to the concert. However, once my mother's service was over, my adrenaline level just dropped. Still, my aunt and uncle and I made it to the concert and I was so glad that I did. Music, once again, proved itself to be a healing power for me.

Tonight I went to the fabulous Cape Cinema in Dennis with my friends Chef Tony and Kate the Weaver tonight to see the documentary "Young at Heart", about the Young at Heart chorus of Northampton, MA and their preparations of new songs for a 2006 concert tour. What a fantastic, well-told film. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, that had me laughing heartily at times, grinning from ear to ear at others, and still others weeping until tears were running down my face all the way to my neck.

The Young at Heart chorus is a group of 70+ year olds who sing various rock/pop/soul songs. Many members of the group are in their 80s, some are in their 90s. With folks in that age range, they have to deal with all sorts of health issues, which are covered in the film. Some are kind of funny (one group of members carpools to rehearsals in a tiny little car with paint scrapes on the sides, always driven by Lenny, not because he's a good driver - he's not - but because he's the only one of the three of them who can still see to drive) some poignant (one retired member comes back to sing a song in the local Northampton concert and has an oxygen tank with him that adds an additional "percussion sound" to the song during his performance), some positively devastating (during rehearsals, two members die).

There was one sequence that I thought was just wonderful, where the group is performing at a local prison. At first, during an upbeat song, we see lots of smiles and laughter from the inmates, but it's not clear whether or not they are laughing at the old folks singing. However, by the end of the peformance, when the group dedicates their final song, Bob Dylan's "Forever Young", to a member of the chorus who died the night before, there are shots of the prisoners crying, and after the song, they meet the chorus with hugs.

What comes through in the film is the spirit of the chorus and the power of music: they're willing to try anything, and they have a real "the show must go on" attitude, and performing is a catharsis for them.

By all means, see it - but have plenty of hankies at your disposal.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Andale! Andale!

One of the saddest things to happen here in this little burg this winter was the indefinite "closed for vacation" of mexican cafe Ay Caramba, a fave of many of my friends and a regular stop on on the usual suspects' birthday party train. Ay Caramba opened very soon after I bought chez valet and was a welcome addition to the neighborhood. They always took a couple of weeks vacation in the winter, so when they first closed this winter, there was no big concern. Then we started to hear rumors that they weren't re-opening, and the sign in the window changed from saying "closed for two weeks" to "closed until the end of next month" and then stories appeared in the local newspaper that they were looking to transfer the business and liquor license.

Well ... early Tuesday morning, on my way into town from the CTP tour ... there was a sign in front of the restaurant ... "Andale Cafe opening May 20" ... that was that very day, Tuesday! For the rest of the drive home (fortunately for the rest of the guys in the van, only 1/4 mile), I kept singing "Andale Cafe - Opens Today" and doing a bit of a "happy dance" along with it.

Thursday night, Ms Greentwig & I swung by to check things out - as it turns out, the place is now run by a former waiter of Ay Caramba and the menu is very, very similar to that of Ay Caramba - o rapturous joy! It looked like the dessert menu was a little bigger, and tacos are now sold by the pair rather than individually. Also, tuna tacos look to have a different sauce. Oh, there are now several bean choices: black beans, pinto beans, refried beans, and refried beans w/ chorizo. The only semi-bad thing is that they have yet to get their liquor license, but they hope to within the next month or so - and they have glass bottles of Jarritos, so really, who cares if they have a liquor license or not?!?!

So ... if you were a fan of Ay Caramba, I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed by Andale Cafe. If you never went to Ay Caramba but thought about it - what the heck are you waiting for? Get over there and spend some $$ - ANDALE!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

CTP Tour Wrapup

I admit it, I like lists ... I just can't help myself. So, what else was I to do but compile a list of all the songs we played on our little five-show tour and the frequency of each song. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
  1. Air Running Backwards
  2. All My Good Luck is Gone (performed 2x)
  3. Anne
  4. Ball the Wall
  5. Bob What's-Is-Name (performed 5x)
  6. Born Again
  7. Bongo's Summer Cottage
  8. Broadway (performed 2x)
  9. Brooklyn Bridge
  10. Brown-Eyed Girl (performed 2x)
  11. Candle
  12. Chandler Travis, King of the World
  13. Charlie's Prelude
  14. Crab Napkin (performed 3x)
  15. Dance School
  16. Delaware
  17. Did You Ever Know?
  18. Do the Don't
  19. Don't Blame Me
  20. Eje Ka Jo
  21. Fluffy
  22. French Toast Man (performed 2x)
  23. Fruit Bat Fun
  24. Get Right Back Where We Started From (performed 2x)
  25. Hello Mrs Nussbaum
  26. Honeydripper
  27. I Know
  28. I'm Chandler's Butterfly (performed 3x)
  29. Ivan in Paris
  30. King of the Road (performed 2x)
  31. Kramat
  32. Last Thing I Needed
  33. Mayor of Drunktown
  34. Mid-Morning in Moscow (performed 5x)
  35. Milk Truck on Fire
  36. Money Won't Buy You Happiness
  37. Must Be Love
  38. My Baby Likes to Boogaloo
  39. My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
  40. Nature Boy (performed 5x)
  41. Never Never Land (incl. Phil's keyboard solo/intro)
  42. Not My Fault
  43. Not Unhappy (performed 4x)
  44. Other Thing
  45. Rich Woman
  46. Ronald (performed 3x)
  47. Sha La La (Lover's Heart) (performed 2x)
  48. She's Filthy (performed 2x)
  49. Softly in the Night (performed 5x)
  50. Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
  51. Taoist Vacation With Mashenka (performed 2x)
  52. Thank the Lord (performed 2x)
  53. That's What She Said (performed 4x)
  54. Theme from "Dr Kildare"
  55. This is Home (performed 4x)
  56. Ticky Don't Do That
  57. Two Cents Tops (performed 3x)
  58. Vasco da Gama (performed 3x)
  59. We're From Fruitarama (performed 4x)
  60. When the Roses Shine in Picardy (performed 2x)
  61. Where's My Glasses (performed 3x)
  62. Yo Tomo Mi Mano (performed 4x)
  63. (You & Me) Pushin' Up Daisies (performed 2x)
  64. You Asked, I Came
five shows, sixty four songs, only four of which were performed at all five shows (five performed at four of the five shows) ... and there are a bunch of CTP standards/regulars that we didn't even get to (a few examples, just off the top of my head: "Jazz Dazzlers", "Family's Family", "Time Marches On", "Stay Like That", "Llama Rhymes With Mama", "Got To Let Go Sometime", "Bad Bad Boatie").

I think we all had a pretty great time on this tour; I know I did and would gladly do it again. From what I hear, feedback from the venues has been very positive as well. Hopefully, we have some new places to play in the future.

It's hard to believe it was just a week ago that we hit the road.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

CTP tour, Stop Five: Rodeo Bar, New York, NY

We hit the road Monday morning - Newark, DE to New York, NY - there was some debate as to where we should get breakfast, and we ended up at ... Waffle House ... YES! Funny enough, I never get the waffles at the ol' WH, but I do love the hash browns; Monday morning I got them scattered (the potatoes), smothered (onions), covered (cheese), and peppered (jalapenos) ... mmm mmm ... good! We didn't play any WH songs on the jukebox, but I think Grayson got a picture of the songlist and Chandler now has a new goal - somehow, we want to try to record a single that gets sent out to Waffle Houses! Anyone have any ideas/connections?

After breakfast, we had a fairly uneventful drive to New York ... that is, until we got close to New York City ... as it turns out, Bianca (our GPS unit) doesn't differentiate between Brooklyn and Manhattan when you tell her you're going to "New York, NY" ... and as a result there are two "376 3rd Ave" listings when you get to the address area ... the menu of addresses also included 3rd St's and 3rd Places, and as a result, the 2nd "3rd Ave" was on another page, so it wasn't obvious that there were 2 of them ... so we chose the first one, which was in ... yes .... Brooklyn. Fortunately, we had PLENTY of time, so it was just a minor inconvenience (and really, gave us something to giggle about) ... oh, and as a result of this error, we ended up coming into Manhattan over the Manhattan Bridge, which brought us up to Houston St ... so we just HAD to stop at Katz' Delicatessen, right?!?! Especially when there was a free parking spot on the same block as the deli! Mmm ... Katz' pastrami sandwich, half sour pickles, knish, and Dr Brown's black cherry.

New York on a Monday night - we really weren't sure what to expect. What we got was a really receptive club and audience - a few familiar faces in the audience, some we hadn't seen in years and from far away, and a bunch of new faces, many of whom even stayed into the wee hours of the night. The band was in rare form - we were feeling loose and playing tight - it was great stuff. Lots of "opa!"'s from the band as we channeled our greek friend from the night before (I may not have mentioned him yet - that's coming soon!).

During the break, a spanish speaker came up to me and told me how much he loved "Yo Tomo" ... he seemed to think Chandler's spanish was perfect, but I suspect he might've been a bit drunk. My voice was beginning to go - and I forgot to bring water up on stage - I actually squeaked on the first really high note of "I'm Chandler's Butterfly"! We got one of the best receptions ever for "Brown-Eyed Girl" - at one quiet point, right before the "shalalalalalala" section, I heard some guy saying "that's just harsh", and another guy up front was laughing throughout the entire thing. We played "Ronald" again - I think maybe it'll stay in the rotation, we'll see.

Tour premieres: "Air Running Backwards", "Bongo's Summer Cottage" (requested by Chandler's nephew Jeremey, partially played as an illustration of why we wouldn't do the whole thing), "You Asked I Came", "Milk Truck on Fire", "Fluffy" (finally - it's been on almost every setlist so far!), "Charlie's Prelude", "Dance School", "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening", "Brooklyn Bridge", "Candle", and "Born Again" (which we did after Chandler started band introductions to the "Bob What's-Is-Name" bassline).

Here are the setlists [I'll update earlier show posts with setlists very soon, too]:
Set 1:
  • This is Home
  • We're From Fruitarama
  • That's What She Said
  • Softly in the Night
  • King of the Road
  • Air Running Backwards
  • Bongo's Summer Cottage
  • You Asked, I Came
  • Milk Truck on Fire
  • Fluffy
  • Not Unhappy
  • Sha La La (Lover's Heart)
  • Two Cents Tops
  • Charlie's Prelude
  • Yo Tomo Mi Mano
  • Broadway
  • Crab Napkin

Set 2:
  • (You & Me) Pushin' Up Daisies
  • Dance School
  • Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
  • She's Filthy
  • Get Right Back Where We Started From
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Taoist Vacation With Mashenka
  • Candle
  • I'm Chandler's Butterfly
  • Brown-Eyed Girl
  • Mid-Morning in Moscow
  • Ronald
  • Vasco da Gama
  • My Baby Likes to Boogaloo
  • Nature Boy
  • Born Again
  • Bob What's-Is-Name

It was fantastic to see our friend Frank Goodman from Nashville - he happened to be in NYC, figured there was nothing to do on a Monday night but checked the listings anyway, and low-and-behold, there was a listing for us! This was his first time seeing the whole band, having only heard a skeleton crew in the past. We met Frank at the 2004 Folk Alliance conference in San Diego - he has a great ezine called Pure Music and is a talented singer and songwriter - we featured him on our "Love to Turn You On" page a while back.

After the show, we took it easy packing up - sold a few CDs, chatted with new and old friends - eventually, once we had the vans all packed up, we took a little break in the club, chatting with the Jack the booking agent about other NY state ideas and having a last drink of the tour (thanks for the scotch, Jack!). And then it was hugs on the sidewalk and into our vans for the drive home - the sun came up around Providence, RI and an hour & a half or so later, I was home. I'm happy to be home, but sad that we're not doing any shows for close to a month. Fortunately, I have the opening of the Wellfleet Beachcomber this weekend to keep me from being bored!

[Sorry for the delay posting this - after we drove back to the cape of cod, I got a little bit of sleep, but was mostly useless for the day.]

Monday, May 19, 2008

one more from the road

It's almost checkout time (unless someone negotiated a later checkout and didn't tell the rest of us), so this will almost certainly be my last post from the road. The beds here at the Super 8 did NOT have pillow top mattresses - quite the opposite, in fact - which seems to have made my back very, very happy this morning.

Weather is beautiful here, maybe mid 60's and sunny, with a strong wind. From what we can tell, this should be with us for the rest of the trip - great!

Rumor has it that we might try to stop at a Waffle House for breakfast this morning - I hope so, because it just wouldn't be a CTP tour without at least one Waffle House experience. Maybe they'll have some new WH songs on the jukebox!

OK ... that's it for now ... when next I post, it should be from the comfort of my own home.

Later, gators!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

CTP tour, Stop Four: East End Cafe, Newark, DE

It never fails to amaze me - we in the band can all be hungover and/or road-weary, but we hit the stage and all that is just water under the bridge - all the energy we need is available and many of the aches & pains disappear. Tonight, for me at least, was one of those nights. I was drifting in & out of consciousness the entire drive today; my back was killing me (it's been hurting off & on for most of the tour, but the bed last night, while very soft & comforting, was in hindsight too soft for me). I'll admit it - I dogged the load in & setup - but once we hit the stage, my back felt much better and I had tons of energy for the show - the healing power of music (and maybe a vodka tonic or two ...) Now that the show is over and done with, I'm back to feeling exhausted - as soon as I finish this blog post, I'll probably turn in for the night.

It was another fun gig tonight, though ultimately kinda frustrating - we were supposed to be working for the door, but not too many people came to show *and* the guy who was supposed to work the door for the club and collect money didn't show up - so ... we got dinner out of it. But hey, we got to play Delaware for the first time, so at least there's that.

Among the members of our audience tonight was a very nice couple who saw us last night in Maryland, bought a couple of CDs, and brought another couple along tonight (and they bought a CD, too) - that made us feel pretty good. We played another close to two hour show tonight, and probably duplicated 6-8 songs from last night's show, so this couple heard probably 3 1/2 hours of different CTP tunes in two nights. Being in Delaware, of course we had to do Chandler's song "Delaware" - it was a bit rough around the edge, but it worked. And we played "Ronald" again and made it through the thing pretty well, so who knows, maybe it'll get into the rotation again. A bunch of tour premiers tonight: "Dr Kildare", "Money Won't Buy You Happiness", "Ticky Don't Do That", "Fruit Bat Fun", "Chandler Travis, King of the World", "I Know", "Rich Woman", "Do the Don't", "Mayor of Drunktown", "Brown-Eyed Girl", "Broadway", and (of course) "Delaware". Still no "Fluffy", "Calling Me Back Home", or "Dance School" - all three songs that I know Chandler would like to do with the band - hopefully, tomorrow night!

Tomorrow we drive to New York, do our gig, then drive home - so if I post again from the road, it'll probably only be tomorrow morning. I'll post a final tour post once I get home.

post-tour update, here's the setlist:
  • All My Good Luck is Gone
  • Theme from "Dr Kildare"
  • Money Won't Buy You Happiness
  • French Toast Man
  • Where's My Glasses
  • I Know
  • Rich Woman
  • Do the Don't
  • Delaware
  • Softly in the Night
  • Mayor of Drunktown
  • (You & Me) Pushin' Up Daisies
  • Ticky Don't Do That
  • Two Cents Tops
  • Ronald
  • That's What She Said
  • Crab Napkin
  • Chandler Travis, King of the World
  • Fruit Bat Fun
  • Mid-Morning in Moscow
  • Brown-Eyed Girl
  • Broadway
  • Nature Boy
  • Bob What's-Is-Name

sobriety and miscellany

OK ... now that I've had a chance to recover a bit after getting my drink on last night ... a few things I forgot to say last night:
  • we spotted our first Waffle House on the drive down here yesterday - somewhere in Delaware, I think it was - maybe we'll stop there today, though I kinda doubt it - we can hope, though
  • Chandler & I both picked up bags of Utz cracklins ... like fried pork rinds, but even better ... YUM! Anyone ever seen these on Cape Cod?
  • we were told last night that the area around here is basically the Hamptons of Washington, DC - someone else heard that Rummy and Cheney have houses in the area
  • I forgot to mention the loose vibe the band had last night - everyone seemed to be having a blast - tons of spontaneous dancing on stage (especially by keyboardist Phil Clements) and a most excellent group lie down on the stage after Chandler told us to "bring it down" during "Other Thing"
  • hotel here is quite lovely - pillow top mattresses, Aveda products, flat screen tv, clock radio w/ cd player and aux input - all the finery - rooms aren't huge, but still very nice, and the water pressure left something to be desired, but that's really just being picky - it's definitely far from some of the el cheapo hotels we've stayed in on other tours.
  • weather was gorgeous yesterday up in New Jersey - slightly overcast but still quite nice down here - so far, today looks great, at least here - I think we might be hitting rain as we travel north, though.
  • looks like a good Sunday brunch here, too - and I'm on my way down there just as soon as I submit this blog post

Maryland, My Maryland (CTP tour, Stop Three: Avalon Theatre, Easton, MD)

Do we really have to go anywhere else after this show? Can't we please, please just stay here in this great hotel and keep playing across the street at the Avalon Theatre? Puhleeeeeeeeze????!?!??!?


*big, heavy sigh*

OK ... we'll continue on.

I guess.

A small (though not as small as we had last heard for advance tickets) but very enthusiastic and appreciative crowd greeted us at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, MD tonight. To be honest, they probably weren't all that appreciative at first, but they warmed up to us very, very quickly. And the band tonight was really firing on all cylinders, if I do say so myself.

First - the venue - the Avalon Theatre is an old vaudeville and silent movie house. It dates back to 1922 (there's some of the original foundation still visible as you go down to the basement - very cool). The first floor/main seating is open, so they can do standard concert seating or, as they did tonight, tables with chairs. There's a balcony as well - all told, the max seems to be about 400. They've done a fantastic job with restorations, too.

We had a green room down in the basement - they fed us pizzas, and there were plenty of beers, soda, and water in the fridge. Hell, we even had a shower down there - now that's the way to treat the talent! Thanks guys!

The general consensus is that a theater is really our best venue - especially with a dance floor to the sides of the stage, as this one had. People can dance if they want to, and they can sit and listen during the quieter numbers.

Chandler was initally planning one set, but combined his two set lists into one, along with a few audibles. We playend the instrumental "Ronald" for the first time in ages - and actually did a pretty damn good job on it, too! It's a favorite of the guy who booked us into the club, so we really tried to make it happen - thanks, Tim! His SO requested "Vasco da Gama", too - we did that for the first song of our encore - first time on this tour. Trumpeter Grayson Farmer did a fantastic job tonight on "Ball the Wall" ... the fade out was absolutely transcendent! By the end of the night, I was exhausted, but very, very happy. I think I might've twisted my ankle slightly - it started hurting only after the show, while I was selling CDs, and I have no idea when it might've happened - I guess that's the mark of a pretty freakin' fun show! All told, the set was probably pushing 2 hours.

A special shout out to our opening act, a really nice guy named Kentavious Jones - he's a really good singer and guitar player - a friend of his was playing a hand-drum along with him on most of his songs. I really, really liked his last song, which was a solo guitar and vocal love song which he told me later he wrote for a friend's wedding - sweet, without being too sappy, I thought.

After the shoe, we walked across the street kitty-corner to our hotel and checked in - once we all settled into our rooms, we all met up at the lobby bar, where we hung out and drank until they kicked us out around 2. Brunch tomorrow looks great, too - really, can we please just stay here?

Oh yeah ... I loaned my camera to some stranger in the theater tonight, and he got this great pic of trombonist Bob Pilkington. A bit dark, but I'm sure any of you who have been there when we played "That's What She Said" when Bob was there will almost certainly recognize the look.

I only wish we had shown up *before* the Mental Health fair!

post-tour update, here's the setlist:
  • Kramat
  • Must Be Love
  • We're From Fruitarama
  • That's What She Said
  • Don't Blame Me
  • Yo Tomo Mi Mano
  • Honeydripper
  • Anne
  • Ball the Wall
  • Hello Mrs Nussbaum
  • Softly in the Night
  • Not Unhappy
  • Sha La La (Lover's Heart)
  • Where's My Glasses?
  • Ronald
  • Thank the Lord
  • This is Home
  • Other Thing
  • Mid-Morning in Moscow
  • Crab Napkin
  • When the Roses Shine in Picardy
  • Did You Ever Know?
  • I'm Chandler's Butterfly
  • Eje Ka Jo
  • Bob What's-Is-Name
  • Vasco da Gama
  • Nature Boy

Saturday, May 17, 2008

CTP tour, Stop Two: Ocean County Library, Bayville, NJ

That's right - tonight, we played in a library - and here's proof! In the fiction section, I believe. This pic is of us at the end of the night, right before we left - so apologies for our lack of pagentry. The guy in the middle of the front row, between Chandler & Dinty, is Scott, who booked us the gig and, from the sound of things, would love to have us back - thanks, Scott! MDF Linda suggested that we get one of the librarians to come up and "shush" us. Chandler loved the idea - when I told him after the show - unfortunately, things were a bit crazed before the show, and I forgot to pass on the suggestion to Chandler before the show. Too bad, it would've been funny.

A very receptive crowd - ranging from the very young to very old - most of them stayed for the entire hour and a half show. Another mostly hits show (most of this tour will be), though Chandler managed toss in the brand new "Two Cents Tops" (you can hear a demo version of the song on our Song of the Weak!!! page) - we played quite a bit off of "Let's Have a Pancake", including "That's What She Said (clean version)", "Crab Napkin", "Nature Boy", "This is Home", and, of course, "Bob What's-Is-Name". One really well received song was Chandler's rendition of "Never Never Land" from the musical "Peter Pan". Oh, and the kids seemed to dig "French Toast Man" (of course they did!). After the show, we sold a few CDs, too.

We were back to the hotel around 10 pm - geez, what to do, what to do - I thought I was wide awake and planned to hit the hotel bar, but after some really bad chinese food downstairs (hey - they delivered) in Chandler's room, I decided against the hotel bar and came back to my room to watch some TV and write to you, my faithful blog readers.

Tomorrow we have one of our longer drives, down to Easton, MD - but only a little over 4 hours, probably, really not all that long, especially compared to some of our past tours. The latest word we have is that ticket sales are a little light for the show tomorrow night at the Avalon Theatre, so if you have any friends in Maryland or the vicinity, please tell 'em to check us out! We also hear that our hotel is right across from the theater, which is highly convenient.

post-tour update, here's the setlist:
  • Ivan in Paris
  • We're From Fruitarama
  • This is Home
  • That's What She Said
  • Softly in the Night
  • French Toast Man
  • Two Cents Tops
  • Thank the Lord
  • Not My Fault
  • I'm Chandler's Butterfly
  • My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
  • Taoist Vacation With Mashenka
  • Not Unhappy
  • Crab Napkin
  • Phil Clements keyboard solo (which goes right into ...)
  • Never Never Land
  • King of the Road
  • Yo Tomo Mi Mano
  • Mid-Morning in Moscow
  • Get Right Back Where We Started From
  • Nature Boy
  • Bob What's-Is-Name

Friday, May 16, 2008

online review of last night’s show and weather update

Our show last night in Philadelphia has been reviewed online by a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, David Hiltbrand: review here. We're particularly pleased with his description of Chandler as looking "like a cross between former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee and character actor Jack Elam". Oh yeah, he liked the music, too. Thanks, David!

And the rain has mostly abated - no longer pouring, it's now just sort of gray. The latest local weather is showing tomorrow being mostly sunny, with a daytime temp around 72F - hopefully, that'll be our basic weather for the trip to Maryland.

Load in is in about an hour and a half, showtime a couple of hours after that (7pm). Should be a relatively early night for us, depending on what we find to do around here after the show.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! It’s raining!

And a good morning to you all (still morning for me, I don't care what the clock says). I first woke up this morning to some pounding outside my door - but not pounding on my door - I have no idea what it was, but I did manage to get back to sleep. Very good blackout curtains at this place, because next thing I knew, it was 11am and the phone was ringing, telling me it was checkout time - though we had requested an extra hour, to noon,when we checked in. I guess that was OK, though, because I wasn't too rushed getting out of the place.

And here I sit in the lobby of the motel, waiting on everyone else ... I think they all got their wakeup/get out calls at noon, so who knows when I'll see 'em.

Oh ... yeah ... it's raining ... pouring ... looks like we'll probably get some rain every day of the trip, if the predictions are close to accurate. It had become sort of a tradition on CTP tours to have some torrential downpours - one year in New Orleans we loaded in & out of Tipitina's through midcalf-deep water, another year we had a show in New Orleans knocked out because of a hurricane and then had to basically follow the hurricane up the coast on our way home. The last couple of tours had been fairly dry, but we're back to rain rain rain on this one, it would seem.

Oh well ... as a drunk friend used to say to our friend George from Chicago ... "tra la, tra la la" ... although some people tried to convince to add a final "tra la" to that, he never succumbed to the pressure because, as I'm sure you all will understand "that would be shorta shilly"

CTP Tour, Stop One: The Fire, Philadelphia, PA

Oh joy, oh rapture - it's the Chandler Travis Philharmonic on tour - new audiences to torture/amuse/whatnot!

Stop one: The Fire, in Philadelphia, PA. The drive down was fairly uneventful - one van from Boston, another from the Cape of Cod - the Boston van chose to ignore their GPS, while we in the Cape van put our trust in Bianca (that's the name given to our GPS by our friends Mr & Mrs Thurston Kelp, who were gracious enough to loan her to us). We took a non-standard route to the George Washington Bridge, and she had us get off of I-95 around the New Jersey/Pennsylvania border only to get back on the highway, but other than that, we got to the club only about 1/2 hour late.

The Fire is a fun club - a combination of music club and neighborhood bar. Chandler says it reminded him a bit of the Abbey Lounge. I think it reminds me of Maxwell's, in Hoboken, too. A couple of things that made me fall in love with this club:
  • there was a little kid hanging around while we were loading in - at some point, I saw her and her dad drawing with chalk on the outside brick wall of the club - she stuck around through at least some of the first band, too, I think. Now, some of you might think this was some sort of corrupting influence, but I didn't get that vibe at all - it was just cool
  • after our set, I noticed a dog walking around the bar; that was cool enough, but then I saw the bartender put a bowl of water on the bar and try to convince the dog to hop up onto one of the barstools to drink from the bowl. it was obvious that this was normal at this bar.
  • hang out with your drink right outside the side door to the club? no problem!

Anyway, we were on the bill with two other bands, Johnson's Crossroad from North Carolina and a local Philly band called The Great Unknown.

Everything was going ok - we got drink coupons, the club took orders for food, and then we found out that the rooms they had offered us for lodging were not, as we had thought, a few local hotel rooms, but rather two rooms above the bar with a couple of double futons. There was some discussion back & forth between Chandler and the club, but it turned out to be a failure in communications and that was that. So ... we're now at a Crossroads Inn (formerly Rodeway Inn, if the logo on the phone in my room is to be believed) just over the border in to New Jersey. Check in was pretty interesting, too - it was paperwork like we were getting security clearance, rather than spending the night in a $45/night motel! But hey - it's a place to lay our heads for the night, so we're fine - oh, and they have free wireless internet access, so who am I to complain?!

So ... back to the show ... a good kickoff to the tour, I think we all thought ... we ploughed through a 50 minute or so set of mostly "hits" (This is Home, Mid-morning in Moscow, Roses in Picardy, Nature Boy, Yo Tomo Mi Mano, Not Unhappy, Bob What's-Is-Name) and won over a small but boisterous crowd. The sound guy, Gordon, was great - I'm listening to my recording and it's crystal clear - there's a definitely chance that this will be the best we sound, mix-wise, for the whole tour.

Unfortunately, I missed much of the opening set by Johnson's Crossroad while I was eating dinner and getting into my valet duds, but what I heard sounded pretty good, I thought. They play acoustic country music, all around one microphone. The songs I heard struck me as kinda depressing, but that just might be the songs I caught, not representative of all their tunes. I wish I could report more, but you can check them out for yourselves - they have a myspace page.

The Great Unknown, who also have a myspace page, reminded me quite a bit of The Band. Kinda funky blues/country, with at least three vocalists. They borrowed the June Trailer Dancers for a couple of songs and that really drove home The Band reference for me. We all had a little mutual admiration society at the end of the night and we're hoping to get together with them again in July, when they head up our way to New England. Also, their lead vocalist, Todd, told us about some cool potential Philadelphia gig - I guess there's some sort of weekly carnival in West Philly - a real carnival, with clowns and sword swallowers and the like - and they have live music, too! He is friends with someone in a band that has a residency there and they are looking for other bands to play with them. Keep your fingers crossed, because this one sounds like something perfect for us!

OK ... that's all for now ... tomorrow (well, later today now), we play the Berkeley branch of the Ocean County Library, for their summer kickoff party. This time, we already know the name of the motel where the booked rooms for us! Oh, and I'm kinda hoping we'll find time to climb the world's largest elephant or at least play some mini golf in Cape May, NJ.

post-tour update - here's the setlist:
  • We're From Fruitarama
  • All My Good Luck is Gone
  • This is Home
  • Softly in the Night
  • She's Filthy
  • Where's My Glasses
  • Mid-Morning in Moscow
  • When the Roses Shine in Picardy
  • Vasco da Gama
  • Not Unhappy
  • Last Thing I Needed
  • Yo Tomo Mi Mano
  • Nature Boy
  • Bob What's-Is-Name

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chandler Travis Philharmonic TOUR dates this week & weekend

Come one, Come all! Tell your friends, tell your enemies!

Thursday, May 15 - Fire (412 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA - 267-671-9298) -the CTP's Philadelphia debut! w/ The Great Unknown, The Cush, and Johnsons Crossroad

Friday, May 16 - Ocean County Library (Berkeley Branch) in Bayville, NJ, 7pm

Saturday, May 17 - Avalon Theater in Easton, MD (40 East Dover St, 410-822-7299) Our first show ever in Maryland, and at a very fine venue!

Sunday, May 18 - East End Cafe (270 E. Main St, Newark, DE - 302 738 0880) ~ After almost 40 years, Delaware is one of only two state in the US that Chandler has never played (the other being Hawaii), so we are very pleased to be making our Delaware debut!!!

Monday, May 19th - Rodeo Bar (375 3rd Ave New York City, 212 683 6500)

Sure hope to see some of you there - I'll be the guy in the tuxedo.