Sunday, February 28, 2010

Week Four: 23rd stop in 27 days, SXSW, & more

We're home! 23 stops in 27 days, so we're a little tired but gearing up to go play SXSW next week.

We started off our last week of February sweetly at the 24 hour mostly vegan ice-cream shop, Karma Cream. Half of the displayed flavors are vegan as are most of the toppings.

If you're too cold for cream, vegan cupcakes are on hand unless it's 2 am after your show in which case they're all gone, which is good, because cupcakes at 2 am are never a good idea. But another sundae is.

Karma Cream is in Gainesville, where we played our show at Tim and Terry's which is near the University of Florida off the main strip. The Gainesville alt-weekly The Alligator kindly covered our tour, renaming Beloved Binge to Blessed Binge in the process.

One of the most important things you can do as a touring band is ensure that you are playing with a good local band. By good I do not mean Karen Carpenter on drums and Jimi Hendrix on guitar – though that would be worth blogging about.

Rather, a local band who understands how to take care of touring bands because they tour and/or understand the reciprocation inherent in the touring community relationship. This extends to the band's audience – if you are a good match, their fans might just like you as well and stay to see you play. This is in contrast to fans who are just there because their brother/son/sister/daughter is playing, or because Johnnie is cute.

The folks at Tim and Terry's were super sweet. It's the kind of place where people hang out on their porch and play music. They provide bands a delicious meal and a percentage of beer sales during their set.

We must not have inspired much beer-drinking in our set, because at the end of the night we received $5. This was a wakeup call for BB. First on our to-do list is to write songs about beers and beer-drinking (“This Bud's for BB!”). Second is to make new t-shirts, “BB drinks Beer” or “Beloved Brewsky,” inspired by the name Rob was called while leafleting a campus (“No thanks, Brewsky.”)

I'm also thinking that we can throw out our no-drinking-while-playing policy and drink beer heavily during out set, and even extend this to soaking one another and the audience with PBR. The classic drink-reminder that we haven't yet employed is to simply ask an audience member to buy us a beer, then spill it all over my gig rug, then ask for another.

In any case, we played with a band Red Paper Bird who had a very nice guitarist and singer, but the bassist thought he was both Super Cool and Hot. Either temperature extreme made him a joke. Ladies and gentleman, this is a public blog, but I don't mind being honest here. Example one: I was talking with the bassist and one of the nice guys, giving city/venue recommendations...the bassist, ignoring me, turns to the nice guy, shows him a video on his iPhone, continuing to ignore me. Nice guy apologizes a minute later...Rob reports bassist was showing nice guy videos of naked ladies. It wasn't just what he was showing, but that did make it worse. It was the level of disrespect this guy showed both on and off stage. I'm sure he's not reading this blog because there is no frontal nudity, but words of advice: you know, I actually have no advice.

The drummer twirled his sticks so much it resulted in missed beats, and after their set he exclaimed, “Weren't we original?!” to which I replied, though it was not a question, “No, not really.” The singer had a nice voice, the sax player was good, but nothing was original. I'm not faulting them for lack of originality. Though I believe there are bands playing 'original' music out there, like children, most music has parents. There are degrees of originality, however, and this was at 1.5 if 1 is a direct copy of another style.

Preceding the music portion, a poetry ensemble called the Last Word hosted a number of poetry readings by different audience members. I was told it would be very raunchy, so I awaited the Raunch. It could be the many poetry readings I went to in Seattle BITD, but aside from a few references to cavity searches, this was pretty tame stuff.

The next day we got a call from the venue, and apparently we were shorted, and were given a little bit of additional cash. Beloved Binge will now officially end its endorsement of Beer and start writing raunchy poetry.

After a trip to the 24-hour Karma Cream, we headed to the Paynes Prairie State Park nearby, only 10 miles outside of Gainesville. The next morning, Syba was happy to be in the woods again, and playing her usual keep-away / hide-&-seek game around Weston. This involves one of us running around Weston and her chasing us.

It really was a beautiful park until we found out there were ticks and had to make sure Syba didn't roll in the leaves anymore.

We got a digital camera after our last one died, and took an art shot of Syba smelling the ground.

The preserve was alive and swampy.

We went out to the boardwalk to watch the creatures, and heeded the warnings.

Be very afraid.

This next picture is for my friend Aguavino. I think it should be part of a Name that Bird contest. Or at least, tell me what this bird is.

Not only were there birds and alligators, but the cutest armadillo made his/her way out to the trail.

We hiked about 8 miles that day, though dirt and through mud.

If you look closely, you can see Syba mocking Mr. Beloved. Though she did not come out of our hike clean, she definitely has better instincts in crossing mud paths than Rob or I.

Mud paw: fun on the road

As usual, it was wonderful to be away from the city after a long week of shows and screenings. That particular week we had seven events within five days, so we were ready for a break. On Monday, I screened the documentary for the newly formed Philosophy Club at Santa Fe College in Gainesville.

The following morning Rob and I handed out free samples of over 300 So Delicious Coconut Cream bars to students at the University of Flordia, Gainesville, along with Vegan Outreach brochures.

They went so fast we could not sample them, so we retired to Karma Cream for one last stop before leaving for our show that night in St. Augustine, FL.

Once again we met the Bakery Outlet folks and all headed to Nobby's. Rich does a tremendous job of organizing and promoting shows and more. Check out the festival he's playing in, and helping promote on a grass roots level, Harvest of Hope.

He'll also be handing out free vegan food samples as of this writing so stop by his table!

This particular show was organized by Patrick, whose band the Winslows headlined. The first band to play was Neil's solo project from Indiana, who all played later that night, switcharoonie extreme style, as Jenny is a Boy.

Version #1, Neil Cain

Version #2, Jenny is a Boy

Following was a band from New York, Tiger Piss. We played our set, then The Winslow's took to the floor. A picture of them from outside:

And in:

A short video, bringing back the mosh:

I don't know if I have mentioned this, but Rob is a great source of support at screenings. Here he sits and awaits my intro at Valdosta.

Here we returned and screened Seeing Through the Fence with the Philosophy & Religious Studies club. I presented for this group last year, and was kindly invited back.

The professor and advisor of the group, Cristobal, does an excellent job of bringing events to Valdosta that would otherwise not make this somewhat remote location a tour stop. We had a wonderful time discussing the topic and look forward to returning again someday.

Next we were off to the beautiful city of Savannah to play a show at the Sentient Bean. We had heard of this place during our last trip and vowed to play there. We arrived early which gave us time for Syba park action:

Savannah is beautiful, with old stately homes lining the street by Forsyth park.

Later, we played, but were the only band. I do not recommend this. You need a local, usually. A local band was supposed to be lined up, but it did not happen. From a brief sampling, I'd say our best shows are not at coffeehouses. As a local pointed out to me, folks aren't at this venue for shows usually. We felt more like background music. Again, in hindsight, we could have sung songs about drinking coffee.

You know it!

However, we enjoyed an awesome sandwich and the people of the Bean were super nice. Met a touring poet too, and we exchanged CD for poetry.

Also, the local alt-weekly Connect Savannah wrote a blurb about the show and compared us to the White Stripes. We are like the White Stripes in that I'm a female and Rob is a male, and we're a duo. In any case, we are grateful that the reporter mentioned our show and included our chess press picture, the one my mom has in a frame at home.

Our show in Myrtle Beach came about through a Myspace status update. I had never used the feature, but decided to say something like 'I'd rather by playing my new Mini-Korg than writing this update.' Patrick of Some Ambulance responded to the post, and said he liked our songs and we should come play Myrtle Beach. Turns out we really liked their music as well, so he set up a show for us at Club Drink.

Rob talking with Patrick of Some Ambulance after our visit to the Myrtle Beach dog park, Barc Park.

First to play were locals the Filthy Few who were kind enough to allow us to set up a show on the date they had already booked.

Next up were the excellent L. Brown Odyssey, with creatures including a horse who simply danced and drank on stage, a viking in faux fur, and other characters I'm not certain of. These lads are from Charleston, SC. I highly recommend you check them out.

L. Brown Odyssey video flip:

Next up were Some Ambulance:


As the name suggests, Club Drink was definitely a drinking bar. Okay, all bars are drinking bars, but the drinking was particularly heavy this night. It was also the celebration of two birthdays, both of which were Some Ambulance members. The club became progressively packed as the night progressed, ending with our lights-on set that we cut short due to it being after 2:00 am. The crowd was super-responsive and it was a great way to end our Snowbird'n tour.

The alt-weekly, the Weekly Surge, wrote up our show here (

Some exciting news: we're heading to SXSW next week to play with the band I mentioned on my last post, Blowfly. Their documentary, the Weird World of Blowfly, is premiering at SXSW. The producer also worked on Loud Quiet Loud, the Pixies documentary we saw recently.

Blowfly is playing after the premiere, so Tom (heckler from last post) invited Beloved Binge to open for the show / after party, after seeing us play in Miami at Churchill's.

In more good news, we're playing with our home-slices the Midtown Dickens at Super Happy Funland in Houston the day before! Blowfly is also on this bill. We're looking for a show in Birmingham, Alabama for the way down, or a screening.

One last bit of news – I was interviewed for the new project Our Hen House. I first met Jasmin a couple of years back during the New York premiere of Seeing Through the Fence. She worked for Farm Sanctuary as the NYC outreach person. In short, she and her partner, Mariann, are amazing. I hope you have time to check out the interview, and future episodes of Our Hen House.

BB with Traci and Patrick of Some Ambulance after the show.

Thank you everyone for your support and good thoughts during our time on the road this past month. It has been amazing meeting new people and being a part of the touring community.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Week Two: Boars, Beaches, and Seatbelts

We may be surrounded by a heck of a lot of sand, but our 2nd week has us continuing to wear Russian hats and heavy coats, along with the obligatory shivering and cursing of the cold.

After Columbia, SC, we headed east to the lovely town of Charleston, which, I learned, is called “the Europe of the South.” The splattering of parked bikes near the College of Charleston where I screened my documentary reminded me of Amsterdam.

At the beginning of our tour, we were handing out free Primal Strips courtesy of VegFund to students when leafleting. We also gave out a few at my Charleston screening.

Students at the screening reacted to the free strips and literature

At this screening I met my second Greek – another stopped by the Columbia screening. Greeks can be very loyal that way – whether or not they are interested in the topic, they will come out to see other Greeks!

This screening was hosted by Alliance for Planet Earth. Fritz, the group's leader, kindly brought fresh fruit and bread for the audience.

Next we were off to play at Outer Space, directed there courtesy of Fritz himself.

Rob, Fritz, me

Fritz would like to see an alternative to Capitalism and presented us with the sweetest road gift, a box full of pecans, beans, quinoa, and spices.

Outer Space is under an overpass, and warm as heck. Easiest load-in ever from parking lot to door to floor.

Seems to have a built-in audience as well – the audience of 50+ stayed for the entire show and actually listened to the bands. This was a Wednesday night, too.

We played with two other duos, a new offshoot of another band called Cabbage and Sleepy Eye Giant.

Sleepy Eye Giant

This duo even had a mini-Korg ala ours as well as a I-forget-what-it's-called but it runs the Korg by foot, using pre-programed bass lines. Pretty cool!

Weston and BB eventually made it to Florida, via reststop. We camped here one night and the next day I found reststop ruins on a walk!

Ruins, circa 1980?

We hit Jacksonville to leaflet next. I tried to engage Syba during quiet times in play but apparently my hint via stick was not enticing.

Nevertheless, she enjoyed some rolling, which is always a crowd-pleaser.

One professor walked by as Rob offered a leaflet to “help animals” and she nodded toward Syba and said, sarcastically, “Nice touch.”

Getting clean.

Touring ain't always glamorous (unlike the rest of this post) and here Weston stops to do our laundry. We made it up to him though the next day when we stopped at the beach.

Now that's Weston.

Syba, conscientious objector to photo taking

Rob, dog whisperer. This usually precedes Syba burping in his face.

Beach BB, baby.

We dusted off the sand and headed toward Yesterday's Social Club to play the Infintesmal monthly showcase bbq.

Plenty of vegan options were available and Rob ate well that night.

There were many bands sharing the bill, all a part of the Infintesmal family. We were grateful to be included since we are foreigners.

Jack of Devil's Playground kindly transferred our show to this showcase, and the sweet folks at Infintesmal included us. They also have an awesome band, called Memphibians.

Another early band we really enjoyed and have a t-shirt to prove it were Tuffy. Though they are compared to Modest Mouse, I think they deviate as well. After the show one of the guitar players drunkenly was selling/giving away his shirts, so we traded him one for a CD.

Another highlight was a band that takes Switcharoonie to a new level, Dig Dog.

All three players took turn at the drums and each was excellent. Catchy songs and fun stage act with audience stage-sitting.

We were happy to meet a handful of vegans and vegetarians too. One of the co-founders of the label is vegan, and his fiance runs the “Southeasts only completely vegan catering company,” Amy Guacamole. Check it out. She knew all about cashew cheese technology and vegan sausages.

Next we were off to the woods to get some quiet camping time and hiking in with Syba. Hiking was somewhat conducted in fear after Rob learned that wild boar inhabit the woods and, per the ranger's warning, will Take Your Dog and Eat Him/Her. (And feel no guilt!)

While I did not want to encounter such a fate, I thought that this claim might be a little overblown and a way for them to encourage you to keep your dog on leash. Until, that is, we encountered this:

Wild Boar Prints!

Later that night, we awoke in fear upon hearing loud rustling in our camp. The rest is hazy, but I believe I nudged Rob and said, “The boar are here! The boar are here!”

However, in the sanity of daylight, hoof prints were not to be found at our camp. Images of their knocking over Weston and grabbing a tasty meal of Syba faded to a slight feeling of silliness. This was reflected in the following photo shoot, which I call Fern on Your Head and Pinecone on Your Head.

Besides pinecone walking contests, we also enjoyed a hike.

Next we had a screening in St. Augustine, the “Oldest City in the USA.” Of course, this means the oldest that was “discovered by Europeans.” It has a nice cozy downtown, but very touristyish.

We screened the film at Flagler College and were happy to find the members of Bakery Outlet Records in attendance. (We're looking forward to our show later next week at Nobby's back in St. Augustine!)

A nice reporter from the Gargoyle attended and interviewed me afterward. There should be an article soon.

We then headed out with Rich and Ashley of Bakery Outlet Records and enjoyed our first meal at a raw vegan restaurant. The food was phenomenal and the whatever it was made of sundae was delicious. Better still was hanging out with the awesome BOR folks.

Next we were off to Winter Park to screen the documentary at Rolllins College with the EcoRollins group.

They had a delicious buffet of spanikopita, hummous, pita, and juices. The screening was held in a ballroom so fancy I felt like I should have worn a suit, or at least, a sweater without dog hair.

After the screening we had a show at the Peacock Room, but heard there was one of those Supreme Master restaurants nearby so we headed out to order some delicious foods.

How can you go wrong with such a happy name? While we waited for our order I fueled up. Weston needs gas and I need sweet:

The Peacock Room show was mostly uneventful, though we met some nice folks at the end who helped Rob leaflet the next day, and the sound guy / owner was fun to talk with. He played Seattle during the early 90's and we talked about RIP clubs I miss terribly such as Rkcndy and the wonderful OK Hotel.

For this show, we were to play the entire set of 3 hours. I wrote up a setlist and divided it into three sets, and BB played a lot of oldies and songs we don't typically perform, mostly for an empty room as the bar and performance space are separate. However, bands receive a percentage of bar sales so we didn't do too badly financially. I would recommend playing with a local at this venue (as with most others) though.

They were very dog-friendly and Syba got to hang out and be our audience. Though Syba's all about the clubs, the next day it was dog park time.

Florida dog parks are pretty decked out complete with multiple drinking stations.

Some dogs took turns, while others simply shared the small bowl.

Next we were off to Miami. I was not really looking forward to it as my only images of the city were from references of very old MTV Spring Break specials. As we rolled up to Sweat Records, located in a neighborhood that makes ours look like Disneyland, we were happy to find our friends inside:

Not only did they stock vegan cupcakes, but primal strips and more vegan goodness. Fellow husband-wife duo Pocket of Lollipops played their sympatico off-kilter songs for us.

There was a lot going on that night in Miami, and Matt (Sweat Records employee) recommended we check out the International Noise Festival next door at Churchill's Pub after our early show. This began what I can only call a whirlwind of days and new musician friends and unexpected shows that we've never quite experienced before. It was this night that due to a few random chance experiences we began our venture into the music community of Miami.

The first surprise was not related to the Miami community but our own: we were beyond happy to find Scotty not only attending the fest...

...but putting on a camera-flashing audience-gawking performance via Clang Quartet:

He and many others travel from afar to attend this conference, organized by Rat Bastard, the Godfather of Noise, whom we met later that night.

We also ran into a man that happened to stop by our Sweat Records show earlier that night. He said he liked BB then invited us to play the conference the next night, Friday. Since we're not a noise act, I was worried BB would not quite fit in. He hushed us up and pointed out the other non-noise acts playing. It wasn't until later that I realized the conference was more about acceptance of different musical expressions than about simply noise acts. It's all noise.

This same man refers to himself as the “Japanese Jew” and has played in several projects including his most recent, Big Bad Brown. I'd link you to his site, but he doesn't have any recordings up and does not plan to. Luckily, I've got a short video posted below.

He also had a recording studio for years. He is apparently referred to as the Miami Andy Warhol, which ain't just because of his glasses. We discussed production (he is an executive producer at Universal, I believe) and he introduced us to his current bassist Henry. In talking with him about music and also the question I have “what's the most difficult thing about being alive?” I found him to be humble and compassionate. And comedic.

Miami runs late, and we were at this club until after 2:00 am and could have stayed longer. Met many of Ravelstein's friends and had some great conversations that night, which are my favorite (conversations).

Saturday was for more dog parks, and we found another in Tropical Park. For some strange reason most of Miami parks do not allow dogs. Luckily, the dog park did in fact allow dogs, and Syba found a friend right away.

This park, like others in the area, had a bunch of fun stuff like climbing toys and jump through hoops.

We were ready for our set at Churchill's. The club has been around for years and Marilyn Manson got their start here. It has that feel of longevity and history, a long-time dive similar to the Milestone in Charlotte.

BB played on the outdoor patio after a noise act. The sets were all pretty informal, which was good since Rob's guitar was tuned to a bass that night. Nothing like a little dissonance.

Our new friend Henry played next, with his informally named project the Mystics.

With distorted bass hitting and slamming throughout, then bow-breaking at the end, one can only imagine how dangerous Henry's set was after he asked his bandmate, apologetically: “Did I hurt you in the end?”

They were awesome, but might have been responsible for breaking my camera as the above is the last normal picture our poor 2002 model camera took. From then on, there are some artful, but distracting lines present:

Camera fall down and go boom. Is there therapy for cameras?

My solution? Ala Dawn Dineen and her new duo Somerset Frisby, I bought a Flip Video Camera. Footage to follow. I'm amazed at the sound and picture quality.

Saturday night we played a show for the other side of Miami, at a love festival taking place at Tobacco Road. It's more of a sports/blues bar, and I remembered what it felt like to play to an audience not so much into the rubble pop we play. In fact, I ended our set early, but did not throw my drumsticks. In the beginning, the sound guy asked if I knew how to play the drums well. It wasn't a good sign. If we had of just played a show here, we would have dismissed Miami completely.

Good news was, Churchill's called us to ask if we would like to join the bill with our new friend Henry & Ravelstein's band for the Fat Tuesday party on 2/16. We were planning on checking out their show anyway so why not play as well.

Before this, our next stop was a trip back to West Palm Beach to visit my Dad's eldest brother Sotos, and his wife Eleni. Though they live in Toronto they head down here each year to avoid becoming frozen. It was wonderful to be with family for a couple of days. A highlight was their singing a duet with my Dad's sister Katie and Uncle Taki (who are in Karditsa, Greece) via Skype:

On Tuesday we held a noon screening of my documentary at Florida International University for the Environmental Law Society.

Afterward we enjoyed some down time at VO Leafleter Extraordinare Linda's home. She kindly treated us to homemade quesadillas made with the new Daiya vegan cheese.

Later that night, we headed back to Churchill's for our show with Big Bad Brown and Ravelstein. We liked them a whole heck of a lot. Here is one of their hits:

It was their first show with their 'new' project, and a Tuesday night, so pretty quiet...that is, until Tom showed up. During our set this tall blonde man that reminded us of a combo of Rob's dad and brother started the Super Heckle of BB. It was great. Some words were exchanged about my drumming and insults hurled about our lack of knowledge of bands he rattled off. Then we dedicated “Miso” to him.

Turns out he's going through some hard times, and quite a character, writes a music blog for the Miami Herald, and plays in a band called Blowfly (the singer wrote songs for KC and the Sunshine Band and others and reportedly wrote/rapped the first rap song).

We ended up staying at his house two nights, and he not only accompanied us to my documentary screening the next day, but ran up to tell the radio station who then made an announcement, handed out handbills at the college (Miami Dade, Kendall) and did an (unrequested) intro to the event (or rather, to the state of security at the college). Afterward, he took us to a veg restaurant, then an Indian store next door where we met up with Henry briefly.

Here we find him back seat driving:

They will click-it-or-ticket-your ass in a heartbeat.”

Now I can use this when my navigational skills are challenged by Beloved.

Later that night we went to Whole Foods for a group shopping trip then I made some greens and vegan sausages.

Exhausted but happy after Miami, Rob and I were off to Ft. Myers on Thursday for another screening.

Thank you to everyone who has treated us so kindly on the road. After our last long tour, I reworked my idea of "local" to include the community of musicians we meet touring. The road is a place where character is exposed and you find out, quickly who your friends are and who will become your future community.


Eleni, Flip Video ("Flippy"), Rob and Syba