Sunday, April 11, 2010

Touring and Prioritizing

Free Electric State release: Caress

First of all, we're super excited to be playing the CD release party for Free Electric State this Friday 4/16. We'll be at the Pinhook, starting at 10, followed by A Rooster for the Masses. The Facebook invite. We saw FES recently at the Cat's Cradle, opening the show for Deerhunter and Schooner. They were amazingly good. Nick's melodic guitar sentences channel the Pixies, and Shirle's voice reminds me of one of my favorite singers BITD Carrie Akre (Hammerbox, Goodness).

A few weekends ago we headed to Greensboro to play at the Flat Iron with Pinche Gringo & Crystal Bright & the Silver Hands. Pinche Gringo was a one-man band prior, and still retains a foot-operated snare he trades off with the kick while playing guitar. Here he is live:

Crystal Bright are new. Flippy did not fully capture their sound (or sight) but :

We returned to Greensboro a few days ago, this time to play with Bart of Invisible's newer project Workday/Schoolnight.

He's got a series of thrift-store tapes that he uses to dub into the mixes. Here he is in action:

We also shared the bill with Cassis Orange, one of whom will be moving to Durham! The drummer is based out of DC.

Here is a short video:

After our Greensboro show, we headed to Boone to leaflet. Boone students were incredibly nice and I met a professor who is interested in hosting a screening next Fall. We're planning on largely staying home and touring NC and surrounding states primarily. I realized that we'd been all over the country, but hardly screened Seeing Through the Fence in NC at all. Silly. I'm mapping out all NC colleges and universities now. If you know any professors who might be interested in screening the one-hour version for their class, let me know.

We also stopped by Asheville, primarily to leaflet, but arrived later than expected and were rained out. Lucky for us, Rosetta's awaited and we ordered a variety of foods you see here -- vegan mac & cheese, mashed potatoes & gravy, tacos with soyrizo, and a tempeh reuben.

If comfort food were a mattress, we bought the memory foam. I'm avoiding overt sugar like cupcakes, but just in Durham. Since the strawberry cake did not reside in Durham, I allowed myself a small discretion and ordered a slice. To my credit, I left about one bite uneaten, and shared it with Beloved.

After our eyes bigger than stomach meal, we decided to take a walk around Asheville. On our walk, Syba stumbled upon a friend.

Since Syba has proven to be smart through a battery of tests conducted due to some sour rumors began by our good friend Joe (tests consisted of a tennis ball, bowl, and me), we assumed she knew her friend the pig was brass.

It's common knowledge that dogs have a great sense of smell, but this sense must be super-power strong if she's picking up any scent here:

We'll be having that Santa Claus talk with her, "There is no brass butt..." etc.

After Asheville we headed to Cullowhee, to leaflet the next day. Due to several rock slides, parts of 40 was closed and it took us a heck of a lot of U-turns to find our way to this small town.

The next day, on our way to Knoxville to leaflet and play a show, we passed through several small towns including Gatlinburg, TN. I had no idea that hidden in the Smokey Mountains was a tourist trap including the spinning wheel of DEATH.

Fake Wheel of Death! (Based on real Wheel of Death. It keep on turnin.')

I'd rather be on that wheel than in a Tourist Trap. But it did seem like a fun place to spend a few hours, kind of like a guilty pleasure book/show such as the Three's Company episode I watched the other night.

Death simulations aside, it was a beautiful drive, but we had to stop once to let Weston's brake pads cool off because they were smelling like burning plastic due to all the hillly ups and downs.

I did have time to prioritize while Rob drove. I've been a bit overwhelmed lately both with all of the projects I'd like to start and other daily interferences such as email and Facebook. At one point I had decided to minimize my distraction exposure by creating Facebook Fridays. Translation: only checking this time-zapper one day a week.

The problem is, as a person managing a band and film, staying in regular contact is part of the guacamole dip. But with the charming alliteration, like Meatless Mondays, it's hard to resist the idea of Facebook Fridays. It might see it's day.

In any case, I took the time to list the projects I'm working on and would like to begin, prioritized them all, then broke each into smaller tasks as suggested by time management professionals. This way, when I start work on something, I make sure it is in the priority category.

First priority is screenings of Seeing Through the Fence combined with leafleting/activism. After seeing all of the investigative footage coming out lately, including this, it's hard not to take some form of action.

Once complete (though priority #1 will be ongoing), I can move on to the next project. For instance, one project I'd like to start is a series of tour stories from bands, compiled into a book entitled Breaking Down: Stories from the Road. But that's priority #4 right now.

Another project is a series of interviews, kind of like a talk show, from our porch (both literal and traveling porch). But this is later on the list as well.

Beloved Binge also has a lot of new songs, and it has been two years since we've released an album. Nevertheless, this is priority three. My preference is to wait until we have even more new songs so we select only the best to appear on the album. We'd like to release our fourth album on USB flash drive and vinyl. This time around we'll be shopping around for some help once we figure out how to do that. It'll be DIY + help. The help we need is filtering. A sifter.

Second priority after the documentary is a project I began even before my dad died this past September, a biography/memoir called Tales of a Greek Father. I have a collection of Dad's writings about his childhood years in the village of Pirgos, Greece, during WWII and the Greek Civil War, as well as his experience shipping over to Canada in the 60's then opening over 25 restaurants in the US without credit.

There is also another priority, a restaurant project that is currently top secret! But I'll dish soon enough. Which brings me to this blog: priority number 100. You can see I'm doing a good job with this.

We spent the next morning and afternoon at a park named after one of our favorite bands, who ironically, we missed due to our Knoxville show. The park must be low on funds for editors because they misspelled it:

Knoxville is trying to be known as the most dog-friendly town, so we heard, and this was carried out in many off-leash dogs rampling about in the fields and encircling river. Syba dipped and ran, repeat.

Then we were off to the Pilot Light for our show. The area reminded us of Seattle's Pioneer Square.

We'd been trying for some time to get a show at the Pilot Light, but never succeeded in getting a message back. I tried phone calls (old fashioned!) and emails (but never faxes). It occurred to me that booking a show is very much like launching a military offensive. As booking person, you are the General and the enemy is silence.

This in mind, I saved my best weapon for last, a smattering of Facebook inquiries to Pilot Light page administrators until someone emailed me with a date. Some might consider this stalking; we call it strategy. But it would never work with Facebook Fridays.

In any case, the Pilot Light army are super-nice and we were happy to meet many of them at our show. As Anne from Cantwell, Gomez & Jorcan predicted, things in Knoxville start late, but we were on early.

The Pilot folks kindly let us start later, but there still was not much of a crowd. We were fortunate that a press contact I had emailed came out to the show, the publisher of Blank News. He will be writing up our show in their next issue. He also told us about a festival we should play, called Big Ears, saying we were two weeks too late this year since it happened in late March. Bands included The National, Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom, & the Dirty Projectors. Luckily, he said, it sounds like they will be putting it on again next year.

Sharing the bill with us were Soft Opening (from Asheville):

...and locals The Sniff:

And video:

We rolled out of Knoxville around 2:30 am and headed home. Asheville on the way means another stop at Rosettas, but this time no cake.

Beloved Binge will be playing some Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, and Durham shows this summer, but otherwise no tour plans beyond NC for a few months at least. It's nice to be home to focus on writing new material, improving existing material, work on other projects, and watching the yard explode. But camping in parking lots will be missed, too.