Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Toad tonight, Road tomorrow

The night before I started recording my solo album, wandering off into the expansive, lonely wilderness without my friends, I serendipitously watched "Into the Wild." It was not planned, but it hit home and made me relate in a cheesy fashion. Before this tour? "The Perfect Storm." Again, seemingly apt, considering that there's a lot of teary goodbyes before the ragtag group of misfits hits the open sea (or road, in our case). However, considering the ending, hopefully it's not a harbinger. Then again, the end of my recording process wasn't at all like the end of "Into the Wild." So I think we can write our own ending to these stories.

Last Toad Tuesday tonight. I'm pretty pumped because I think it's going to be pretty darn wild. Lots of good times, lots of good friends. I want to start early, and stay late, and make sure we soak up as much time with the important folks as possible before we hit the road. I know it's not a long tour, but this is our LAST local show until our CD release on November 6 at the Middle East Downstairs (speaking of, tickets just went on sale and the first 50 people to pick them up get a special prize -- I mean it. So, I just want to enjoy this one.

Here's where we're headed, starting with a stopover in Buffalo, NY tomorrow. And since I got a new phone yesterday, you can follow this whole shebang on TWITTER -- whoo!

9/24 Javier's, Cincinnati, OH (Midpoint Music Festival)
9/25 Brand X taping @ Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
9/25 Al's Bar, Lexington, KY
9/26 Barley's Taproom, Knoxville, TN (w/ The Tenderhooks)
9/28 Hi-Tone, Memphis, TN (w/ The Tenderhooks)
9/29 WDVX Blue Plate Special (radio taping), Knoxville, TN
9/30 The Pinhook, Chapel Hill, NC (w/ The Tenderhooks)
10/1 The Milestone, Charlotte, NC (w/ The Tenderhooks)
10/4 Velvet Lounge, Washington, DC
10/6 Khyber Pass, Philadelphia, PA
10/7 Pete's Candy Store, Brooklyn, NY
10/8 The Oasis, New London, CT
10/9 The Dive Bar, Worcester, MA

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Trashed, like Grover

Couple quick things, most of which are (oddly) now covered by Twitter (is this making the blog look long-winded, and perhaps obsolete? That's what happened to Fritz's Xanga, as you'll recall).

First off, for those of you in the digital age who don't like hard copies of CDs, or are partial to instant gratification, we now have our new CD, "Shake Down the Sun," available in both MP3 form and CD form. Click here to buy for absurdly low prices (but it's always cheaper if you come to a show!). Please support the cause!

Next up, we are for some reason (not ungrateful, of course -- just surprised since we weren't notified at all) up for Band of the Month over at Deli Magazine. You can vote for us here, and it would be much appreciated.

Final quick mention, we are close to re-confirming our Philly show at Khyber Pass for Oct. 6. The club switched agents and it was in limbo for a bit, but we are looking pretty good to go now. I will keep you posted as we get closer. For now, let's plan on meeting in Philly Oct. 6 for a steak-and-cheese (that I can't eat anymore, since I don't do the red meat, but you can enjoy) and Shiner (in select places). Yuengling will be the backup.

Last night's Toad show was looking rocky at the start, but really smoothed out over time. Mike's amp had some serious issues and I'm still fairly certain, upon listening to the recording of last night's show, that his overdrive pedal is shot. Lots of between-note squealing going on. Anyhow, after the first four songs or so were wildly unbalanced, we got the knack of things and, best of all, the place started to fill up. It was pretty packed by night's end. Due to the delay caused by equipment problems, we decided to forgo the set break and play through. Good thing, too, because that's when we really started "cooking." Still a bunch of mistakes, and a lot more loudness and showboating than I would have preferred, but all in all, it was OK. Crowd was a bit quiet for being so filled out, but they seemed to enjoy it. And I enjoyed that, clearly. Either way, quote of the night goes to Creamer, explaining to a new fan that Grover does NOT live in a trashcan with Oscar the Grouch, explaining, "Don't get me wrong, I mean, he's all dirty and shit, but he doesn't live in a trashcan."
SET LIST (I'll need to check this against the recording): Ordinary Girls / Debts / Research Blvd / Empire Central / Don't Get Me Wrong / There's a Reason / Whitewashed / Golden Fleece / Trouble From the Start / St. Anthony / The Nadir / On Our Own / The Devil's Arms / Valley of Gold / A Hard Rain / Lights On / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / Seek Cover / Cedar / I Come From the Water / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

Our last Toad Tuesday before we leave for tour is Sept. 22 -- so, yeah, next week is going to be nuts. All I'm saying is you better be at Toad next Tuesday, and early at that. We might just go crazy!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: A wee bit of blog and newspaper chatter, since I haven't check in awhile, and confirmation that Sean Murray recalls his offer to book us once a month at The Oasis.

Cheap Thrills - For Toad, last night: "Wanted to go to Toad last Tuesday? Cassavettes and Mia returned just for you. From gig to gig, I've Cassavettes hit multiple points on the roots-to-rock meter. Who knows what mood they'll be in, but the room size suggests they'll be in an easygoing alt-country groove tonight."

The New Haven Advocate, For I Am Festival, last weekend: "This year that includes New Haven's avant-skate rock trio The Vultures (who drop their long-awaited, razor-sharp first full-length Chingus exactly a week after I AM) and psych-pop ensemble M.T. Bearington (who had to cancel last year's festival but have continued to amass audience goodwill through 2009); Boston's Cassavettes (a band Murray was so excited about "I promised them I would book them once a month — I definitely haven't done that!"); and, from New London, ukulele-punker Brian Skidmore and his band The Weird Beards ("they've been getting a huge following as of late," Murray says."

Finally, I noticed in my scouring of the net, that we are mentioned on a couple Australian music sites, because we are playing next to Aussie Mia Dyson. I wonder if this exposure will finally make us big Down Under (and no, that's not a member joke).

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Out on the town

Crazy weekend. My buddy Jimmy is in town, so things have been hectic at work as I try to handle not taking off any time (since the band is going on tour next week) with actually seeing the kid and making the most of his stay. As a result, we burned the candle at both ends this weekend, starting with a show Friday at The Beachcomber.

Now, usually, when we play the Beachcomber, we have Girls Guns & Glory on board. They are from the South Shore and a reliable draw. Also, it's usually summery weather, which is good, because this place is a beach joint and ALL ABOUT summer feelings. In this case, we didn't have either, and while I was surprised and fairly pleased with the outcome, I'm not so sure the club was. The only thing besides an iffy draw that might have caused ire is that (despite my best efforts), we ran overtime by seven minutes. I know this because when I jumped off the stage, the detail cop grabbed me and said, rather disgusted "1:07 -- you're welcome." I said, "Thanks?" Yes, a question. Regardless, we had a good time, and had some Alabama slammers and tooters. I'm pretty sure both are just juice. The band was sloppy, but didn't I just tell you about the Slammers and tooters? We were probably getting a sugar high off those drinks. Besides, it's the Beachcomber. It's supposed to be wild. Jimmy had a good time though, and on the way home, begged for Burger King then fell asleep, woke up, and screamed into the BK intercom. Good night.
SET LIST: Ordinary Girls / A Hard Rain / Research Blvd / Lights On / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / Golden Fleece / Seek Cover / Trouble From the Start / Whitewashed / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

The next afternoon, we all met up in our old stomping grounds of New London, Ct. on a dreary day. Not the kind of day you want to play an outdoors show, but such was the case at the I Am Festival. Weird note: Since we've been going to New London, the great thing about it is that it is fairly constant. Nothing changes, and it's always fun. This time, it seemed like EVERYTHING had changed, some for the much, much worse. Two divorces, one death, several coast guard guys shipped off to other remote areas (Bahrain?). It was a lot to take in. As for the show, it was an impressive set up, but I think the weather dashed any hopes of big crowds. And we may not have been right up most of the kids' alleys -- even if one dude was really into it, headbanging and nudging Jimmy repeatedly. We did sell a decent amount of merch, so maybe folks liked the jams more than I thought? It's hard to read a crowd sometimes. After all, even when I'm really into something, I rarely act like it. It's just a thing. A vibe thing, I guess. Anyhow, I officially started my experiment of recording all of live shows (fingers crossed) and have yet to dump the audio, but an initial listen sounded OK. Again, we were sloppy and I'm coming down with a cold, I think, and having some major trouble singing, but some songs were pretty on. So, we'll see what happens as I undertake Cassavettes' archives project.
SET LIST: Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Seek Cover / Don't Get Me Wrong / Golden Fleece / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

After the show, Jim and I went south to NYC for a quick 24-hour whirlwind adventure. Some of the highlights: hanging with AJ whose new place and new life are equally fantastic; hanging with Joe Bug, L Ro, and Stephen (and Jimmy and AJ) at Pete's Candy Store without having to play a show; doing the tourist thing at the Statue of Liberty (where we went through two security checkpoints, one of which inexplicably blows air on you in short, sudden bursts), Wall Street, Ground Zero, Times Square, and Central Park; seeing a dude in the park with a battery-operated blender, illegally mixing margaritas for customers out of a backpack he was carrying about; and finally, having some really good NYC food (sweet deli sandy, awesome late-night za). All in all, good, albeit brief, trip. Looking forward to the tour, as this seemed like an early preview in some ways, of both the good and the bad.

Tonight, we complete our costly, yet fun, tour of New England with a visit to the Patriots game (my first), which has Matt green with envy -- making him look very Christmas-y when you add in the red hair. Tomorrow night, we're back at Toad for week two of our residency. Ought to be a good one!

Finally, hard copies of our CD are for sale now on Nimbit (see below) and I joined Twitter to convince more folks to come to our shows (see right rail). Hopefully both are positive connections!

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Dipping and diving

Good show Friday at the Dive, on the outdoor patio no less. Not much to say about it -- standard set, we played everything normal except "Trouble From the Start," "Seasons" (you could make a case that that is no longer normal), "Lightning in a Bottle" (ditto), and "Like Secrets Beneath." Surprisingly, we got a great response to "It's Gonna Be Alright," and even better, we sold a few CDs! This was, after all, the first show that "Shake Down the Sun" was available. Weird, eh? Playing that late on the patio caused that weird morning dew to build up on my amp and my satchel, and when I wiped it off, at first I thought some jerk spilled beer on it. Then, my senses caught up, and I drifted in memory back to sleeping in my backyard as a kid and waking up to find myself covered in dew. Oddly enough, at that time, I remember usually thinking that the sprinklers had turned on. Always looking for something to blame...

Anyhow, the only other news is that I quit stalling and joined Twitter (be our friend...or follow us or whatever it's called) so that we can update from the road on tour and post about shows and what not.

Here's the big post I sent out to fans about tonight's shindig (not on Twitter, obviously):

Hello friends,
In June, we played a FREE show Toad in Cambridge's Porter Square every Tuesday as part of a residency -- what we deemed "Toad Tuesdays." Well, we here at Camp Cassavettes, as well as the staff at Toad, were so pleased with everyone's party attitudes each week that we're doing the residency again this month! Starting TONIGHT, Cassavettes will play for FREE the next three weeks at Toad -- until we leave for tour! Tonight, we are playing the late show, starting at 10 p.m., but every week after we will be back to the early show, at roughly 7 p.m. Excited? I thought you might be!
 
Cassavettes at Toad
1920 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
Porter Square stop (Red Line T)
9/8 (late show, 10 p.m.), 9/15 (early show, 7 p.m.), and 9/22 (early show, 7 p.m.)
21+, and TOTALLY FREE!
http://toadcambridge.com/
 
And........... as if a FREE show at Toad each week weren't enough to get your tail wagging (and maybe it isn't), how's this:  We'll be selling advance copies of our new album, "Shake Down the Sun"...for...wait for it...FIVE BUCKS!!! So come on out!
 
Also, the cold air is already starting to sweep into Boston. My, my, my, that was a short summer, wasn't it? Well, before it chills out TOO much, come toast summer one last time, with our annual Bash at the Beach, this Friday, September 11, at The Beachcomber in Quincy! Also on board are our old pals Ette and The Rambling Souls -- it's gonna get nutty. Go here for all the details: http://beachcomberquincy.com/
The next day, September 12, we will play a day-time show in New London, Ct., as part of the annual I Am Festival with Deer Hoof and a slew of other great acts. Should be fun!
 
Finally, since the CD is out, we are taking this baby on the road. We will depart after our last Toad show on Sept. 22 and not come home until the thick of fall -- Oct 10. Here are the full dates (more may be added), so mark your calendars, out of town folks -- we hope to see you out there on the road!
 
9/24 Javier's, Cincinnati, OH (Midpoint Music Festival)
9/25 Brand X taping @ Xavier University, Cincinnati, OH
9/25 Al's Bar, Lexington, KY
9/26 Barley's Taproom, Knoxville, TN (w/ The Tenderhooks)
9/28 Hi-Tone, Memphis, TN (w/ The Tenderhooks)
9/29 WDVX Blue Plate Special (radio taping), Knoxville, TN
9/30 The Pinhook, Chapel Hill, NC (w/ The Tenderhooks)
10/1 The Milestone, Charlotte, NC (w/ The Tenderhooks)
10/4 Velvet Lounge, Washington, DC
10/6 Khyber Pass, Philadelphia, PA
10/7 Pete's Candy Store, Brooklyn, NY
10/8 The Oasis, New London, CT
10/9 The Dive Bar, Worcester, MA

That ought to do it! Make sure to keep an ear to the ground for "Shake Down the Sun" -- mark your calendars:  the official release party is November 6 at the Middle East Downstairs with Cassavettes, Quixote, You Can Be a Wesley, and Movers & Shakers! In the meantime, we hope to see you at Toad...or on the road!

Whoops, put my work email on here. Ignore that (I just deleted it, but if you're seeing it in RSS, disregard)...

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Back from beyond

Quite a nice trip to San Fran and Napa. I enjoyed the trip thoroughly, up until the ride to the airport, in fact -- TD and I completed a bike ride over the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito just before boarding. As for the wine, I only went too far once -- on a port wine called Caberet (not to be confused be cabernet sauvignon) from Nichelini (the most quaint, and in my opinion, most legit winery we toured). It was a bad combo of port wine and cigars, neither of which, I must admit, am I very experienced in. But for the most part, we spent the days traveling about, sampling at the vineyards, and spending more money than we should have. It's funny how much that area of the country looks like central Texas. During my morning runs, I was really taken back to the time I spent in the hill country outside San Antonio last September. Perhaps I will post some photos shortly.

So, I have yet to reconvene with my musical kin, but tonight we shall. I'm excited because I'll have copies of our new CD. One of the things this trip gave me perspective on may be quite huge, actually. I must have listened to "It's Gonna Change" three times. Once, a relative put it on during dinner to embarrass me. That sucked. But later, I made peace with that record -- no small feat, as any musician who has a back catalog knows. I have long looked at that record as a good stepping stone album, but also a missed opportunity. I fully believe, still, that it's a STRONG record, writing-wise, but it just didn't showcase the performances we wanted. It was rushed, perhaps -- a lethal combination of not knowing any better and not wanting to overspend (sounds like the port wine/cigar combo, eh?). But listening back to it for the first time in a long time, it sounded refreshingly new. There were so many elements I had forgotten -- not the least of which is how much pleasure we used to take (and the crowd used to take) in "It's Gonna Be Alright." The song fell out of favor when I stopped playing piano live, and our reworkings have never really worked. But, listening to a live recording of our two-year anniversary show, when Mike hits that opening chord, the crowd goes ballistic. A girl screams like it is literally the most exciting moment of her week -- she actually sounds more terrified than excited, so maybe she saw a ghost at the exact same time that Mike hit the chord. It's insane! I don't recall that kind of response to the song, but see, memory forgets these things. Washes right over them. I'm not saying that we need to bring that song back all the time -- that would be a step backward in our evolution of a band. But it's also important to remember where you came from. I think this trip really gave me some perspective on that. I guess that's what family reunions are for (even if that recollection was about music).

Also, listening to that same two-year anniversary live show (yes, I gave Cassavettes material a thorough listen), I noticed that we opened, of all things, with a song that we had not played but once before or really since, at least in a dog's age (it's called "She's a Bright Light"). It's funny, because I brought up the idea of resurrecting this song to the band about a month ago, and the response was better than I expected. Best of all, for being a "piano song," and a "harmonica song" (like "Alright"), this one actually lends itself to the switch to a guitar-driven tune. I messed around with it at about 3 a.m. the other morning. I think it could work. Worth a shot.

Anyhow, the band has a busy month coming up, with touring and what not. This Friday, we're back at The Dive for the first time in a long time. Next week, we re-start Toad Tuesdays (late show next week, 10 p.m., but 8 p.m. for the weeks after that), then my buddy Jimmy visits just in time for us to play The Beachcomber in Quincy again and the I Am Festival with Deerhoof in New London. We actually got a nice mention from the local paper, The Day.
This year, folk-rocker Tim Easton, who's played with former New London- and now Los Angeles-based band Quiet Life, is on the card, as are up-and-comers Free Energy and Cassavettes.

Finally, a dilemma: The band has a weird offer right now that could possibly fund our tour. But it would require selling out...again, possibly. My thought: Is it selling out if there is no profit for us personally? I mean, yes, it's generally selling out to give up intellectual property for any reimbursement -- but then isn't selling CDs sort of like selling out? Being somebody's swag dog doesn't interest me much, but if a small commitment, and doing something totally lame for a month, can bankroll our entire tour, save us from going way deeper in the red, and help us further our dreams (rather than our own bank accounts), should we do it? Or is it a deal with the devil either way? Ponder that one, my friends.

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