Monday, August 31, 2009

It Takes a Village to Raise a Tour

So after my last post, I was gently reminded what it meant to choose windows. A few days before our tour ended in June, we got a call from our neighbor about a branch falling on our neighbor's house. Only it wasn't branch-size:

Both of our electricity lines were knocked out. At the time this happened, other things started to happen, enough so that I decided to keep a list of all the windows breaking for the record.

It cost a lot to partially remove the tree, which, after 9 months of touring, made it necessary to work temporarily and forgo our tour to Europe then visit to Greece.

It would have been nice to go to Greece, since my Dad died earlier this month. But life doesn't color in the lines you draw in your head. I never did either, but that doesn't make the deviations from drawings any more bearable. I'm happy that the Seattle Times wrote an article about Dad's life. I also put up a memorial. Luckily, as I have done since childhood, I took a lot of interviews with Dad and have some sort of record of his life besides memory. Of course, he stars in the documentary as well.

Binge Cafe is not a confessional blog (lucky for you, reader!) so I give these details only to provide some framework surrounding our current tour and decision to cut it short and fly to Greece for Dad's memorial in October.

Before we set out on tour, Rob, with the help of good friends David and Mike (tofu mama) painted our house as you see here. We'd been wanting to convert the blah white into bright for awhile. As one neighbor said about the orange (twice) “Is that primer?”

In between working normal-style, I made time to experiment with making ice cream, alfredo sauce, omelets, and cheese out of cashews and almonds, courtesy both of the Vice Dream recipe book and Rockin' the Stove's adaptation of the Veg Times recipe.

The ice cream here is a cashew blended with maple syrup, then whipped up to shape in my 70's ice cream maker. I made two varieties: the first, peanut butter (tasted similar to peanut butter ball dough), and the second, peppermint. I added shredded up chocolate chips to the latter. Both were slightly grainy creams. Thanks to expert friend advice, next time I would soak the cashews to reduce or eliminate graininess.

The cashew alfredo I adapted based on the goat cheese recipe, simply adding some water and fresh garlic to the blended mix, then cooking with noodles or quinoa which results in creamy delicious thickness.

Almond omelet

The almond omelet was a similar recipe, but I added fresh onion to the blender and some cheesy nutritional yeast and tumeric for color as well.

Before we left town we played our first show at the Pinhook. Needless to say, this sign says it all in terms of our love for everything 'hook:

Also before town-leaving I read a couple of books I'm about to recommend to you. The first also received an endorsement from Greco, who usually leans toward Spanish Art History but makes important exceptions:

This picture is also included due to my good friend Aguavino's request that Greco be given equal time alongside Syba, Binge-Cafe style. In any case, I highly recommend the book for all folks wanting to make a difference. Reviews are here.

The second book is also a must for anyone interested in how ideas (yours, maybe?) can have lasting impact, called Made to Stick. In detail, and with interesting stories and studies, the book reviews the main elements of 'sticky' ideas.

Virginia Commonwealth University

Our first stop on this tour was in Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University, sponsored by Green Unity 4 VCU, who also gave me a nice shirt with their club name on it. The Richmond alt-newspaper, Style Weekly, kindly covered the event as well.

During the screening I picked up a copy of Time Magazine ($5! Same as entire NY Times Sunday edition. What gives, Time?) simply because it had a big chunk of meat on the cover. Though the article touted the benefits of sustainable agriculture, one of the sidebars in the print edition pointed out that meat cannot be produced sustainable in today's quantities demanded, and that the best thing to do was eat more plants, directly. (!)

My people. And, my food:

The next day I had a noon screening sponsored by the Environmental Law Society at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA, whereby they staffed the event with vegan scones available at their very own college store. (The scones were courtesy of this awesome org called Vegfund. Upon approved application, they pay for vegan food for your events, providing it's an event that wouldn't typically be full o'vegans, like a vegan party.)

The town of Williamsburg itself seems less progressive, perhaps because it is a colonial tourstop complete with reinactments and shops full of stuff you don't need in an economic crisis or otherwise. (I hear you. Scones ARE needed, though, like air and water.)

Following this screening and a quick tour of the town Rob and I headed to Harrisonburg, VA, to screen my film at James Madison that night. The sponsors were EARTH and ARC. Here I am after the screening, at the merch/literature table.

James Madison University

We had a few days off after these screenings, and chose to busk the next day after buying small mini amps as documented here. During our busking, we met this super-nice club owner who invited us to play a show the next day. Unfortunately, I had no idea that my dad had died a few hours prior to our busking. I always thought that I would know when he died, or sense it somehow. It was not until the next afternoon that I learned he had died.

After this we spent some time in the woods which was good. There was no way I was playing the show. Here we are first at the chimneys, close to Harrisonburg.

A number of days later we played at Dahlak's in DC. It was the hardest show I ever played. Luckily we were surrounded by nice people and got to share the bill with Dawn Dineen and the Ash Lovelies.

Dawn Dineen
Ash Lovlies

During our time in DC, we were also fortunate to visit the studio of Yarner Records. Here is Dawn in her studio, all blueish and cool like the Cascades.

I also had screenings at James Madison University, sponsored by the EARTH and ARC clubs, George Washington University, sponsored by SALDF, HATS, and Green GW, and American University, sponsored by Eco-Sense.

George Washington U (before start time)

American University, Q&A

After staying for quite awhile in the DC area, we headed to spend a couple of more days in the woods which was a relief. One of these days, a not-so-good-feeling-day, Syba blasted past me while hiking on a trail and knocked me over, bowling-pin style, flat on my back. I felt much better afterward.

After the woods we headed to the University of Delaware where I had a screening with the Students for the Environment. The University of Delaware Review kindly covered the event.

Now we were off to Philly, the land of easily accessible vegan cake except that I am not eating sweets for 40 days as a sort of fasting during the memorial period. We did, however, enjoy the vegan cheesesteaks available at Gourmet to Go, or Govinda's.

Manhattan Room, Philadelphia (can't you tell?)

Later that night we played a show at the M Room in the Fish Town area of Philly. The good thing about the show was that we got to see and share the bill with Non Canon and a side project of the Hermit Thrushes, Water Beasts...(the project is so Side that there is no site, so I link you to HT instead).

Non Canon

Water Beasts

We headed out to NJ where I'd be screening my film at Princeton. We forgot the camera in Weston, so I present you in front of a majestic door that you will just have to believe is a part of the university:

Me in front of Princeton's majestic door
The next night we performed as part of Lazlo's Blow Up Radio showcase in Parlin, NJ at Buddie's Tavern with a couple of other bands.

Lazlo is one of the dedicated indie-music supporters that make up the village I'm talking about in our title line. So is his friend Scruff -- here they are on our last tour (I never blogged about the end of our 9 months on the road) before we played live on Blow Up Radio:

Scruff & Lazlo, June 2009

Lazlo is hosting a benefit for Spondylitis from October 16th - 18th, so be sure to check it out. Scruff is a devotee of Hawaiian shirts as well as Elvis Costello:

Scruff & Elvis, Sept 2009

The following night it was New Brunswick, where we played at Octopus Studios. Awesome show run by a guy from the Delfields, who also played at the show. Opening were the amazingly good Fun Machine, who played an entire set of Beethoven covers in preparation for a theatrical performance.

Fun Machine

The evening continued with us (thanks Scruff for the picture!).

Then followed with the Delfields:

The Delfields

And ended with a super-nice duo called Brick & Mortar, who had an interesting setup complete with two high-hats. The high hat was in such close proximity and used at such random intervals as to surprise the audience standing nearby.

Brick & Mortar (high hat in foreground)

After more woods/hiking, we headed back to Philly to screen my film outside at Drexel, sponsored by the Sierra Club and Asbury Ministries. The movie screened on a ginormous inflatable screen, which, to clarify, (by asking the tech people), you cannot jump on following the movie.

Seeing Through the Fence outdoors

Next we screened the film at Sarah Lawrence College, sponsored by SPAAR. The campus is quite small and reminded me of a cozy hobbit village. Quite the opposite with our next stop to screen the film at Yale:

Yale stairwell & me at the screening

The screening was sponsored by the Sustainable Food Project and the Yale Student Environmental Coalition. We had a great discussion and they even provided vegan cake! Which I did not eat. But Rob had two slices to make up for me.

Yale, Q&A

An article about the screening should be coming out in the Yale Herald later this week, as I interviewed with their film reviewer prior to the screening. The student with the hat in the forefront of the picture told me he thought that meat was more natural than non-meat foods. We discussed the antibiotics and hormones in modern meat, and how the factory mechanized process was anything but natural. In fact, a campaign to challenge the term is underway. Here's a quick guide to this term and more.

Sound guy Justin, Bob of awesomeness, and Rob, at Two Boots pizza

As continuing part of the It Takes a Village saga I introduce to you Bob from Bridgeport. We were lucky to discover Bob through CT Indie and Tweefort. He organizes shows in the area, and brings new meaning to the phrase 'above and beyond.' When he's not ensuring the Facebook invites include all the bands, expressing excitement about your NEXT show AND screening via invite walls, and encouraging you to go on various radio shows, he's booking the Two Boots in Bridgeport. Nice, nice man who has a lengthy history of involvement with indie music. Before the show, he invited us to attend an art opening at a local skate shop, also run and curated by super nice folks.

No pics of us playing, but here is a suavey shot Mr. Beloved insisted upon due to the fanciful backdrop:

That night we played with a Danbury, CT band Poverty Hash: well as the amazin' and super-fun Boardlords....

who will be forever known to me as the Floorboards due to the unfortunate combo of my poor stage-memory and hearing which resulted in my shouting out this name after "Stay tuned for ..." They embraced the new name gracefully and even said they are available in knotted pine or oak.

Speaking of floorboards, Weston is now sporting fine floor courtesy of Rob's brother in law who installed the flooring over our old, sad carpet:

Now muddy paws and spilled water dishes (Syba!) will be of little consequence.

Jamie & Rob

We've been hanging out with Rob's sister & family for a couple of days. This means some hiking in the woods and Syba jumping from cliffs (photo by Jamie):

Last night we played our last show of the tour at the Elevens. In our third installment of village-gathering we played with the Werewolf Police (with a member from the aforementioned CT Indie), Fields of Gaffney (met Eric Gaffney at our last Northampton show) and Merene (former Aaron B & the True Believers).

Fields of Gaffney

Werewolf Police


We enjoyed all of the bands. Big thanks to Mark for setting up this show, especially since it was right after a busy festival weekend. The night was officially complete with a dancing lady of questionable sobriety and frequent "wooo!" exclamations.

As a bonus, we found a huge rock in my drum cases at the end of the show. We're assuming the positive meaning of this, which is, we rock. Werewolf Police named the rock Stony, but we still didn't keep him/her.

Our last stop of the tour is a screening for Trinity College in Hartford, CT. In total, we had 20.5 tour stops for the past month, 13 of them screenings.

After the screening it will be a 10+ hour drive back. We're leaving for Greece on Wednesday, returning by the end of October.

This tour has been full of support from friends and kindness from near-strangers. Thank you everyone for being part of our nameless village.