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


Michael said...

Stop criticizing Rob's driving! The man is an artist of the roads!

Sequoya said...

Great blog, I love the home movies!

andromedia514 said...

Hey guys, the friend I have in Knoxville, is out of the club biz (has been for a few years apparently) So, I guess i can't help you out there!
Looks like you guys are having alot of fun! Some very funny pictures and captions (dog whisperer moment was funny) It's so weird, your trip is really taking me back to my childhood!

Be safe and see you soon -

Somerset Frisby - Dawn said...

Woooot! Flip-Camera Vidoegraphers UNITE! ;)