It's been a month and it seems like much of this time was spent in Ohio. We know all about the Buckeyes or at least that they are peanut butter and chocolate and maybe something about sports. Apparently, after a quick Google search to show my worldliness, they are many other things like a type of Chicken, aircraft, and butterfly.
This past year as many of you know, we helped organized a Durham showcase for the annual WE Festival in Wilmington, NC. After the show, a highly energetic young Buckeye named Matt (he was swinging from the rafters during our set) said we should play his town and subsequently hooked us up in Lakewood, Ohio at a DIY place called Studio Uno. The space was dark and velvety with the feeling of an old New Orleans bar and a bit Ringsidey without the fire hazard but with the average age of attendee about 17-20. The show was booked by the kind Starvation Army Zine (who also referred us to the last-minute Kent, Ohio show we played last Wednesday...see below). The Lakewood show was one of those nights where the lineup completely changes from poster to show, and everything is loose like silken tofu. Matt's new project Hector Vega, a melody-changing/switch fun instrumental duo, opened up the show lottery:
Following this, no one knew who was going to play, but the kind Green Escalators stepped in their instrumental set, featuring a lot of droning that encouraged hearing of things not there like singing and horn sections. It could have been the pink wine, but I don't think so.
These guys were also kind enough to let us shower and park at their place. Omar, touring all the way from Israel, then played an acoustic set. I liked the song he wrote in Hebrew the best.
It's not that I think that musicians should only use their native language when songwriting. Heck, I throw Greek in the song soup sometimes, and I didn't start learning Greek until age 11, my first trip, when I needed to know where the ice cream was. As stated in my profile, Greece is where my heart is, somehow. When I use Greek in songs it is because it must be said that way. But it seems that many songwriters, at least some I've heard in Greece and elsewhere, use English as a mechanism to make their music more appealing to a wider audience, more marketable. Songs are like teenagers, they're their own rebellious beings that you can set some ground rules for but ultimately leave them the heck alone because you've already raised them and it's too late.
Sometimes folks ask whether or not it is difficult to be vegan on the road. Though we have not made it to the middle-belly of these united states yet, I would answer a very big and capital NO to that. We spend about $2 per meal each day by cooking stuff in Weston. Pictured below are items from just one of many coop grocery trips where I live up to my name and get a bunch of food (yogurt, roasted red pepper baba ganoush, creamer, field roast, etc) including a vegan cupcake and cookie.
I included Syba's canned vegetarian dog food in this display for you too, to show we're feeding her as well. Here is more evidence that her needs are being met by showing you a dog park she attended after the shopping trip in West Cleveland.
We had some time off while in Cleveland, and Rob wanted to see the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. I've got a nice little picture of it here.
Rob heard that if you are a band, and give them your album, you do not have to pay admission. Good thing because the price was about $22.00. We gave them Blender Theory and, it's true, folks. They keep an inventory of all albums received. Which either means they have a really big room or a large wastebasket.
I was assuming the museum would be sort of hokey, and was fully prepared to keep the complaining in my head between me and I, to thereby avoid ruining Rob's experience. I was surprised, then, to find that after our visit I had this purpley-cloud feeling I can only describe as "inspired." Some of the shorter video presentations were kind of useless, but there were some interesting items in the museum, like Ian Curtis' lyrics to "Love Will Tear Us Apart." I was less interested in the various costumes of performers but it was kinda cool to see the various instruments used on songs you've heard a million times.
The purple feeling was less about objects created by people we idolize and objectify into a fame-box than the overall effect of celebration of something you have chosen to do despite the many zeros associated with the business (0 paycheck, 0 audience members, etc). Here this museum is, giving our profession some credit. Of course, as the name suggests, these musicians are successful and famous - it is not really celebrating the indie band touring in a falling apart van (see below). But many of the bands did start out that way. And I must say their acceptance of music as payment was kinda nice. I think I'll try that at other stores, like Target. Paying in CD currency everywhere. Blender Theory is stronger than the dollar.
The show I mentioned above, hooked up by Starvation Army Zine, was next to Turnup Records in Kent, Ohio, in a basement apartment. Scott of Camp Loops founded this record store, which famously hosted many punk bands under another name BITD (back in the day).
Speaking of, we played with Camp Loops and they were an interesting mix of sampled four track, screaming harmonies, and bass drum playin' while standin.' They have played the Nightlight before and I can see why. We had a great time, I bought some pink wine to punctuate the event, and I met a fellow Greek there.
He actally attended the school right next to Pinewood in Thessaloniki, the highschool I attended when I was 15. Of course, at that time, he was either a tiny embryo engaged in stem cell research, or in diapers. But it's still cool.
Before we move onto our next topic, I thought I would show a peaceful picture taken at the auto repair shop we were lucky enough to break down near and roll right into from the off-ramp when leaving the Kent show and heading back to Cleveland the next am.
Weston's front toe (wheel?) was smoking! And it wasn't American Spirits. So we stopped and did the logical thing, which was to pour water from our water bottles on it. We phoned AAA but they hung up on us so we decided to head / roll off the ramp and there was the shop right there. Here is Weston's toe without a hubcap (it rolled off and was crushed on the freeway):
And here is Weston's toe without the toe:
The good news is, the long stay at the auto repair shop allowed us to focus on finally screen printing our "I don't like people...but I'm tryin'" t-shirts that we bought at a nearby Goodwill. Rob also got to sport his hat.
By the looks we got from patrons of the auto shop, as well as auto shop employees, I'm guessing that customers don't typically screen print their band t-shirts while waiting. My guess is reading magazines about autos in the waiting room might be more common. But whether they realize it or not, this auto shop was set up perfectly for screen printing. We were able to dry them out and fold them with little hassle.
I think they came out pretty good, mostly. On a couple that we messed up, Rob suggested we just screen print over the messup to create a "psychadelic" look (hippy).
To cheer ourselves up after spending a lot of money on this toe thing, we went and got vegan milkshakes at this place in Cleveland called "Tommy's" (thanks Michele!). It was a lot of shake, but we committed to it fully. We were off then to find the next rest stop. Unfortunately, there was only a "service station," which isn't as peaceful, but we were fortunate in other ways.
Westina (Weston's girlfriend)You might assume the picture above is Weston with a new fancy stripe. When finished with dish-washing in the "family" bathroom at the service station, we returned to the parking lot to see Weston's soulmate a few spaces away. As you might imagine, when the owners of Westina arrived, we engaged in Westfalia talk. They were self-described empty-nesters who were on a three week trip from Chicago. Their Westina was imported from Germany direct. Their speedometer still works unlike Weston who stopped counting after the toe incident.
Finally out of Ohio, we arrived in Michigan the next day. We played with a band you might get to see soon in either Chapel Hill or Durham, a dance-pop-Prince-duo Charlie Slick. We, and the other 100 or so people who attended, loved 'em. Keep a look-see on their tour schedule to see when they will be in the Triangle.
There were bubbles involved. Who would not like that?
Charlie created an awesome light show of his own here, manipulated by his other bandmate Shelley, who plays the lights on a keytar looking thing.
The show took place at the Vail Coop. There are about 23 student-aged people that call this old home home. I must say that they were some of the nicest people, thanking us for playing, offering up showers & meals the next day. We're kind of shy though and don't like to bother people so we left to go sleep in the Mejier parking lot.
The next day we headed to Livonia, where I screened my film for VegMichigan, ran by a kind man named Jerry. We parked at his house, and he even had a back yard for Syba. Unfortunately, as some of you know, she isn't into yards or any sort of us-imposed boundary. We were in Jerry's house for about 15 minutes when we remembered this. She had "left" the fenced in yard and placed herself in Weston's front seat. I didn't think she could still jump over fences like in her youth, but we all know she can open gates/doors etc. For all the hassle she gives us about going into Weston every day (tail between legs, cowering, walking as slow as doggedly possible up to the van, etc -- people who witness this can only assume its due to the vegans' abuse) it's a bit odd to say the least.
On Monday Rob leafleted at Eastern Michigan U, where the President of the AR group spotted him and helped him leaflet for a few hours. We got in the car to leave, and headed out of the university parking lot. The light turned green, but Weston stalled as he's been doing lately due to fuel injection issues he's seeing the auto shop for today. Someone behind us honked. Rob started him back up, and with no warning, Weston began randomly honking his horn without pause and at different rhythms, as if to sound human. This created quite the scene, so we pulled over for lack of any other solution. He finally ceased after a few minutes and has not acted up, horn-wise, since. But we live in fear, folks!
Yesterday, however, another car honked at us, this time seemingly random. When we arrived to our destination, we saw why.
But luckily, in true Weston-style, he broke down very conveniently:
He was fixed right up at the above auto shop for another handy fee.
Here is what Syba thinks of this additional repair, and traveling by Weston, in general.
Actually, I had her sit next to this to show how huge it was, but it was really from a horse. We stayed one night at a campground in Michigan, which ended up being worse than rest stops but better than Walmart parking lots.
We have most of this week off from shows and screenings, but this is good because we will be playing or screening most of October, which I'm really looking forward to...our updated schedule (combined) is still on our Myspace Blog here. I spend most of my days in libraries working on show/screening promotion or booking.
The cold has set in so I think we need to stock up on thermal undies or underoos. Thanks everyone for reading the blog. I think it has a new layout now. Hope its easy on the eyeballs. Speaking of eyeballs, after a month, Rob finally got his glasses repaired. The frame broke our first day out and he was wearing them lopsided this whole time. He says he feels like a person again, which can only be good, I think.