Sunday, February 17, 2008

Another week

We're in the midst of some heavy duty times. Preparing for SXSW next month, which we are again NOT playing (though this time we should be doing an auxiliary festival), we are playing every weekend 1-3 times. This weekend we played once, in Dover, N.H., at the Brickhouse, though it looked like we could go to NYC Saturday night. No dice, thankfully. We're sounding pretty good, and Dover gave us a chance to kind of hone our chops again to see if we can strike a balance between soft and loud.

A spat of bad luck and health concerns almost prompted me to cancel this show, but I just asked Mike to take the lead and play mostly his material. The boy delivered the goods, as we ripped through some songs we haven't play in some time, as well as the classics. I kind of liked the feeling of being liberated from the microphone a bit, free to explore the stage without being tethered to the mic. But it was a short-lived victory, as my cord was ridiculously short and I could basically just turn around and look at Matt the whole night. Not that that's a bad thing. Also, due to a mixup, we were shorthanded equipment-wise and I ended up playing out of Ward's acoustic amp. But I also got to do more piano than I have in awhile and that felt good. Oddly enough, I also felt more inclined to speak to the crowd than I have lately, and that went fairly well, too. I showed some chest hair, which for some reason, I told them was "a new phenomenon for me."

The show started promptly -- that is, two hours late. And the crowd that was there was kind, though not huge. But I must say, on the whole, this is one of the more fun road trips I've taken in awhile, as both the ride up and back down were tons of fun, tons of laughs, tons of songs about putting sopapillas in the bank. Good stuff.
SET LIST (this is completely off the top of my head): Madeline / Debts / Loose Lips / Research Blvd / On the Lam / Trouble From the Start / Seasons / Six Hours / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Golden Fleece / Valley of Gold

Next week, we're back in Quincy at the Beachcomber for our last show with GGG for a long while. It's the first time we've played apart since Rhode Island, but locally, the first time since I believe -- get this -- Nov. 10. We love those dudes, though.

Still searching for a title for the live record. Leading contenders at present: "Who cares about rock and roll? (Rock sucks);" "Shank the brain;" "Troubleseeker."

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Extra surprise

I think fate flip-flopped on us this weekend. What I was expecting to be a crazy party was cool, but not too crazy. And what I was expecting to be subdued and calm was a crazily fun night in Providence, R.I.

Yes, as always, it has been too long. I really should have updated you after we cut the live record 2 Fridays ago. I won't get too deep into it, though I will post photos soon, but I will tell you what to expect. It will be an online-only release in all the usual vendors. It has 15 tracks, culled from new, old, released and unreleased material. All of the cuts are live except for the fact that due to clipping issues during recording that were out of control, we had to re-cut the bass and vocals. I would have preferred not to, but I don't think we sold-out our "live feel" soul. After all, the performances are all live, and the vocals were done with Mike and I at the same time, one take, minimal corrections, so it's still a warts and all procedure. The album does not have a name yet -- any ideas?

Now, to this weekend. I have been looking forward to this Drag the River show since we booked it. They're a sweet band that I thought would dig our style (I think they did? They had really nice things to say). This is possibly their final tour, though in this business it seems you never say never. I was pleasantly surprised to see that we were in the coveted third slot, perhaps the best time slot, right before Drag the River and right after our favorite buddies Girls Guns & Glory. Now, the crowd at the Mid East Up was quiet. Except for the usual suspects in the front, no act really got the crowd going and I'm not sure why. Perhaps because they were all looking forward to DTR and not interested in us? No, because even then they didn't get TOO loud. Maybe because a punk ethos says not to applaud? Who knows? After a performance that saw me break three strings, botch solos left and right as a result, Scott come unplugged, and leave every member of the band confused as to whether we played great or awful, there were lots of compliments (I, too, have a compliment for Matt for being able to read lips onstage when I told him we had to end "Shine A Light" early and he did so -- first time that's happened!). Lots of "Can I buy you a beer" talk. That made things better, because I was NOT having it onstage when my strings decided to go. Yeesh. Anyhow, cool show, but mostly because you can't ruin a night with GGG and DTR. Too sweet. Photos by Sooz here.
SET LIST (to the best of my recollection): Bad Television / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Debts / Golden Fleece / Madeline / On the Lam / Shotgun Wedding / Loose Lips / You'll Be Crying Soon / Shine A Light

The next night DTR played Providence. We did, too, but unfortunately couldn't pair up. We played a tiny spot in South Providence called The Libery Elm Diner that was, by all measurable counts, indeed tiny. The show was part of a series by locals Lucky 57 called "Your Roots are Showing" and it came with a bucket of beer and a free burger, so we were happy. But the little place filled up with locals who just come to groove and by the time we hit the stage after Mike MacDonald & The Widowmakers, we were in a euphoric mood. Lots of banter with the crowd and good times aplenty. We played a lower key set than usual, and, if you don't mind me saying, did it better than we ever thought we could, really. The songs we haven't played since late summer/early fall ("Seasons, "The Devil's Arms") were excellent. Who knew? Things were rocky with not one, but two Neil Young covers, but who cares? The show was a total surprise -- lots of fun, good merch sales, and a lot of good people. We paved roads to more Connecticut shows and at least 2 more Providence shows!
SET LIST (again, to my memory's best abilities): The Nadir / Madeline / Debts / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Seasons / Like Secrets Beneath / Ohio / Cinnamon Girl / The Devil's Arms / Golden Fleece

After the show, 3 of 4 Cassavettes somehow found their way to Jake's in downtown to catch the second half of DTR's set with some GGG buddies. Totally unbelievable night. Lots of laughs. One of the best nights I've had in 2008 -- and the best night I've ever had in Providence.

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