Oh, right. By “that,” I mean Jazz Fest. Sure, a Jazz Fest retrospective may seem a bit late by now, but (here’s where I kinda-sorta cop to being lazy) when you paratroop right into the thick of it at the end of a two-week tour, it takes a little while to fully recover and process everything.
Last time I wrote, we were at the beginning of tour with Gov’t Mule. Fortunately, we were able to adapt to their bizarrely professional schedule, where things start happening before 7 PM and you actually have to be on time for stuff. Despite breaking off in the middle of the tour for one very enjoyable evening in Lexington and then another in Asheville with our good friends Thomas Wynn & the Believers, we were able to settle into a decent routine. Bus bands like Mule often travel long distances overnight, which can make it difficult for van bands like The Revivalists to keep pace, but this tour was pretty mercifully routed and Mule’s crew was pretty willing to work with us.
Speaking of willing to work with us, extra-big hip-hop-style shout-outs to Slim and Jay, Mule’s sound guys, for running our sound for the duration of the tour. It made everything awesome.
Speaking of made everything awesome, restrained and dignified British-style thank-yous to Gov’t Mule themselves for having us sit in every single show of the tour. It’s a great learning experience to get to play with such incredible musicians, and, to be perfectly honest, it’s also a bit of a thrill to get to share the stage with such rock legends and soak up some of their crowd-love.
The preceding sentence was not intended to be quite so gross.
So the Mule tour was a resounding success, but there was still a battle at home waiting to be won, and we had to go win it. For sweet lady America. Jazz Fest this year was a trial. A marathon. A feat of both physical and psychological strength. Or maybe it was just a battle. Like my father never used to say: One metaphor at a time.
Maybe I’m overselling a little bit, but four shows in two days was a pretty awesome challenge. We started out Friday at Fiyafest, an event which over the last few years has snowballed from an annual friends-and-family crawfish boil into a sprawling day festival benefitting The Roots of Music. We were the first of twelve-ish acts on the stage at Fiyafest, which meant we had to get there early in case the stage crew needed to work out any kinks during our sound check.
Fiyafest was an all-day affair, but we couldn’t stick around for as long as we would have liked because we needed to get to the storied Mahalia Jackson Theater to sound check for our eighth and final show with Gov’t Mule. We were all going to sit in on Mule’s encore, but we had to leave early (SPOILER ALERT: we spent all of Jazz Fest leaving things early) so we could be at the fairgrounds the next morning, and somehow it was already 1:30 in the next morning, and oh dear we are not going to sleep at all tonight. Fortunately, Gov’t Mule bandleader and all-around rock legend Warren Haynes is a kind and understanding individual, and he shuffled the setlist around a bit so we could all have a little fun and still get away in time to still not really get enough sleep but yeah like whatever that’s Jazz Fest.
And then it was Jazz Fest.
We were the first of eight-ish acts that day on the Gentilly Stage, which meant we had to get there early in case the stage crew needed to work out any kinks during our sound check. The festival itself is impossible. It’s orchestrated chaos. The number of pieces that have to fall into just the right place at just the right time just to keep a single stage running within thirty minutes of its posted schedule is mind-boggling: the hurry-up sound checks, the constantly revolving drum and keyboard risers, the influx and efflux of gear, the transport vans running back and forth nonstop, the invisible volunteers who stock the hospitality trailers with precise allotments of Sprite and Miller Genuine Draft… And that’s just one of seven or so stages, not to mention all of the vendors and artists and demonstrations and signings and interviews scattered throughout. It’s a complicated system even before you factor in weather, human error, human noncompliance, and all of the other variables.
And there are always variables. In keeping with this year’s emerging theme of things that are supposed to be fun turning into big poopy messes, everyone was talking about the mud at this year’s Jazz Fest, and how, seeing as it was racetrack mud, it was actually mostly horse poop. Someone wrote a very nice write-up of our performance that spent two paragraphs talking about how everyone was walking around in poop before they even got to the music. Fortunately, lots of kind and resilient individuals braved the mudpoop and came to the ‘Fest early enough to see us.
Even with all of the muck and the hustle, Jazz Fest turned out to be a pretty pleasant day in the sun. The show went well, we had a nice time at the signing booth, and when all of our chores were done we still had a little time to watch Mute Math and Galactic (featuring Corey Glover and some other guy on vocals) and catch a brief respite before we had to leave (early, of course) to load in for our late-night show at the Howlin’ Wolf.
Despite the undeniable prestige of the festival itself, the jewel in the weekend’s crown was definitely the Wolf show. The Revivalists are no strangers to Jazz Fest, daytime or night, but this felt like a step up in terms of legitimacy and awesomeness. It was the most authentic Jazz Fest show we’ve ever done: We started an hour late from our original start time of “like 1 or 1:30 AM, maybe 2” and played until 5 in the morning in front of a suspiciously alert and enthusiastic crowd. We played off the cuff and were honored to host a revolving door of special guests. Like a real band. Sincere thanks to everyone who joined us onstage and made it a special night: Mike Dillon, Ben Ellman, Lucas Ellman, Jesus (the one from the band Lettuce, not the one from the bible, although Bible Jesus is a pretty cool guy in his own right), Jamison Ross, Eric McFadden, Ryan Zoidis, Eric Bloom, a guitarist who introduced himself as “Brazil,” Maggie Koerner, and probably other people who I am very sorry to have omitted.
It was a lot of fun to just get up there and call the plays from the line and adapt as guests came and went. At one point I had to run backstage while our friend Maggie was singing a song with the band to teach trumpeter Eric Bloom the horn line to “Shot of Tears” so he could play it with us. The whole night was like that, and it was so fun that we hardly noticed when 5 AM rolled around and it was time to call it a night.
Or morning, as it were.
For all of the craziness, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of the best times of the year. We’re always inundated with friends both old and new, and for a youngish band like us there are challenges and conflicts and opportunities to prove ourselves around every corner. The constant stream of familiar faces reminds us how big our world is getting, and how small it has always been.
The end. I’m sorry if you’re dying to hear about Hangout Festival (SPOILER ALERT: It ruled), but that’ll have to wait til next Wednesday because I’m a little backlogged at the moment (due in no way whatsoever to procrastination and ADHD). We’re about to be on tour for almost all of the summer, but the only thing we have this week is a benefit concert tomorrow (Thursday) night at Tipitina’s for the victims of violent crimes here in New Orleans (particularly the May 12th parade shooting) . It’s a great cause, so please come by if you can.
Today I write you from the lavish backstage area at Norfolk, VA’s Norva Theatre. Of course, anywhere with an artists-only bathroom seems palatial by our standards, but for goshsakes, pressing “3A” in the elevator takes you to a basketball court, and apparently there’s a hot tub somewhere around here.
Of course, nobody actually uses the hot tub anymore. One of the guys on Gov’t Mule’s crew described it as a “roadie bouillabaisse.”
Speaking of dirty fun, I am pleased to report that The Revivalists survived Wanee Festival with nothing more than a few missed showers and a lot of unabashed hero-worship. I got to see one of my favorite saxophonists ever and my all-time favorite band in the universe, and there are at least a few pictures of all of us with veterans who are way out of our respective leagues floating around Facebook.
The festival itself is an extremely successful production. There are only two stages: the classic festival stage with layers of security and forty-foot stacks of amplifiers booming across a huge open field, and a more intimate ampitheatre-style stage shaded by a canopy of live oaks and Spanish moss. The overall size of the festival’s beautiful campus hits that Goldilocks sweet spot- not too big, not too small. The people were all kind, our set was good, and pretty much everything was fun.
Also, Dave killed it so hard with Galactic to close out Saturday night at Wanee and if you don’t believe me you can check it out here. There’s a little bit of me on there as well, but who cares because you should actually probably skip to track twelve and listen to mad scientist Skerik take an innocent saxophone solo and gradually twist it into a tricked-out metal odyssey. Anyway, Wanee was cool.
And now we are doing real tour stuff again.
Well, sort of. Right now we’re on night two of eight with Gov’t Mule (and two more shows without them), but I almost feel guilty calling it “real tour stuff” when we’ve been playing seated theatres with catering and basketball courts. Anyway, we are driving to places. And when we get to those places, we play music and then leave. So that is happening.
Speaking of things that are happening, our Clevelandian comrades The Burning River Ramblers (whom I believe I have mentioned once or twice before) are finalists in a vote-gathering contest sponsored by Hard Rock Cafe which, if they win, will put them on an awesome international tour and basically make them rich and famous forever. They totally deserve it because they’re a great band in their own right, but if that’s not enough to move you then please remember that these guys rank among our oldest and dearest band-friends and a lot of why we’ve had such a great time in Cleveland boils down to their hustle and hospitality. So please, for their sake, for our sake, hell, as a personal favor to me, please click on this here link and vote for our friends The Burning River Ramblers:
And that’ll be our summer in a nutshell, come to think of it: tour, festival, rest, repeat.
Since we’ve all been on break, there is little to report. Some of the guys did a few side gigs in the area, a few of us spoke at the Loyola Music Industry Forum on Monday. Zack has been moving, which is awful.
The biggest thing that happened to me over the break is that a local news outlet called the NOLA Defender asked me if I would be interested in contributing a regular column on the subject of life as young traveling musician. Since I’ve already been writing about band stuff on a semi-consistent basis for over three years, I couldn’t think of a good excuse to say no.
So, starting pretty soon, Blog Wednesday is expanding! Kind of. Some of what I write for the Defender will be entirely redundant with what goes on here, and other times those contributions will be more informative as to the oft-unseen technical aspects of life on the road: where you eat, where you sleep, where you poop, how not to kill each other, that sort of thing.
So that’s how I spent my Spring Break. Still, I’m pretty sure Dave’s got me beat:
Alright, time to go to work. See you at Jazz Fest.
We’re on spring break! Two whole weeks of not doing anything at all (except for Dave, who is on tour with Galactic)! I don’t even know what to do with myself. Well, there’s always hours of video games SAXOPHONE PRACTICE AND CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE.
Not that we haven’t earned a break (except for Dave, apparently). It’s been two weeks since I’ve last had both the time and the energy to check in, and I’m really not kidding about either. The last week we spent on the road was some of the most hardcore banding we’ve done in years. We left at about eight o’clock on Monday night, drove until a bit past two in the morning, and checked into one of rural Alabama’s most luxurious motor lodges for a few hours of bed-sleep. We resumed driving at eight the next morning, which was the result of a turbulently-negotiated compromise between “we’re going to be so late!” and “we’re going to be so tired!” The one plus to having to leave a hotel at such a blasphemous hour is that there’s usually still breakfast in the lobby.
Our long, hurried trip to Raleigh more or less set the pace for the entire week. All of the shows had relatively early start times, so we ended up driving after a lot of them. We drove to DC after Raleigh, to Brooklyn after DC, and half of us took the van to Connecticut after Brooklyn. We actually slept in Connecticut after the Fairfield show, but we had to wake up early to get to Baltimore. And then we had to drive straight to New Orleans from the Baltimore show (a mere sixteen or nineteen hours, depending on traffic) so that Dave could squeeze in another rehearsal with Galactic. So if you’re wondering where we’ve all been for the last week or so, the answer is mostly sleeping. And Freret Street Festival. Everyone was at the Freret Street Festival. It was awesome and you missed it.
Oh, right, band stuff. Sorry, sometimes I forget that we’re actually musical performers and not a troupe of professional van-drivers or something. Anyway, we found the time for five shows during those six-and-a-half days of non-stop vanning action. In order, we hit Raleigh, DC, Brooklyn, Fairfield, and Baltimore. We had only been to Raleigh once before, so we weren’t sure what to expect, especially on a Tuesday night. It was a similar story Saturday in Baltimore. It was only our second time playing there, and Baltimore Soundstage is a big enough room that it can feel very lonely when you don’t have enough people in there. Fortunately, in both cities a surprising number of people seemed to know that we exist, and Tuesday and Saturday turned out to be a great set of bookends to the three middle shows.
Now, while we were admittedly a bit more confident about DC, Brooklyn, and Fairfield, I don’t think any of us expected to sell out all three shows. But hey, we did, and that was pretty cool, right? Unfortunately, because of the breakneck pace of this tour, there wasn’t really a whole lot of time for us to get into much trouble. It was mostly just driving when we should have been sleeping and sleeping when we should have been driving.
Also a hat-trick of sold out shows. I’m not going to let you forget that.
And now I need to make a bit of a rough transition so I can talk about the musicians we played with on this tour, because they were all really fantastic. Seriously, I’m going to make links out of all of the band names and if you click on any of them you will find music that you like. In Raleigh and DC we were reunited with The Hill and Wood, a blast from our distant past (summer 2009, to be exact) featuring the eldest of the Campanelli brothers. For the next two nights we were joined by some cool retro soul-type music acts, specifically Alecia Chakour (of Warren Haynes Band fame) in Brooklyn and Jesse Dee in Fairfield. And finally, after the Baltimore show, I think it’s safe to say that The Revivalists have a total band-crush on The Stone Foxes, a no-nonsense four-headed rock monster from San Francisco. But in spite of all of this awesome, the absolute show-stealingest music person of the tour was a gifted guitarist named Bobby Paltauf who sat in with us in Fairfield. Skip to the two-minute mark to hear him rip:
Oh, did I forget to mention that he’s twelve years old?
So that was pretty much it. Good tour, good people… good church, good steeple? Sure, whatever. Good enough for spring break. Until next time, friends!
So it turns out that South by Southwest, when done correctly, is one of those things from which you need a few days to fully recover. Yes, surprisingly enough, 48 hours of shaking hands, wading through crowded parties, and sleeping erratically can play havoc with the human immune system. Of course, if the worst thing I can say about my weekend is that I felt kind of crappy on Monday, then I’d call that a win.
The fun started Thursday night in Dallas. We spent the whole weekend packaged with The Soul Rebels Brass Band and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk (a word my spell check does not seem to recognize), which was great for us because we like doing shows with bands that we like (I’m looking at you, The Rolling Stones). There’s nothing like doing a few shows in a row with the same band to really get a feel for how they play, how they do business, just generally how they function. It’s a good way to learn, and not matter how well I know the band beforehand I always seem to come away with a deeper appreciation for their music.
As for the weekend itself, it’s hard to translate everything into a coherent, sequential narrative because South by Southwest is more like a shotgun blast than a conference. It scatters into a hundred different showcases and people and meeting and food trucks, and everything hits you in the face at the same time from different angles. Assorted highlights:
-Extra-large Jenga sets at Saturday’s showcase. Zack fought an epic Jenga-battle with a few strangers that at one point had an audience of almost ten people, and when nobody was using the Jenga sets they doubled as really uncomfortable bar stools.
-We may or may not have bent the fire code a little bit on Friday, because various badge-wearing authority figures showed up after our set in the backyard at Holy Mountain and started using some very official-sounding words like “violation,” and “fine,” and “get this place under capacity or we’re shutting you down.” So while we were trying to load out and the Soul Rebels were trying to sound check, the staff at Holy Mountain were trying to somehow convince fifty people to sacrifice themselves for the greater good by leaving the courtyard, probably forever, in order to keep the party going. How did they accomplish a nigh-impossible feat like that? By shutting down the outside bar for about five minutes.
-By the way, that load out business? We had to relay some of our gear over a seven-foot-tall chain link fence because the club couldn’t even let us into or out of our own show while the police were still around.
-I drank a scorpion with an old college chum named Ian. Not the cocktail, mind you, just a shotglass full of tequila with a pickled scorpion sitting at the bottom. So far I haven’t died from it.
-Reid Martin! Reid Martin, formerly of Blue Party fame (and more recently of driving our van home through the desert while we were sipping mai tais on a beach fame), has been tour-managing for the Soul Rebels lately, which means he was part of the fun in Austin.
-We found the eye of a weekend-long storm in an Episcopal church, where our old comrade-in-arms Paul McDonald performed a down-tempo acoustic set alongside his wife Nikki Reed. We hadn’t seen Paul since he ran off west to go be beautiful and famous, so it was good to catch up for a bit and see what he’s been up to. Paul and Nikki sang great harmonies together and played off of each other charmingly. That, paired with the quiet beauty of the church sanctuary, gave the whole performance a nice living room vibe that felt miles away from the street-level chaos outside.
-When we went to sign in and equip our totally cool artist wristbands, mine was held up for a few minutes because somebody brain-farted and entered my name as “Robert Williams.” Ed and I made and then immediately forgot about plans to introduce ourselves as “The Williams Brothers” all weekend.
-George and I, needing a change of venue, hopped a pedicab and spent the end of our Saturday at Lucy’s (they have one in Austin) watching some of our friends and fellow young New Orleanians play cool music notes as bands called The Cardinal Sons and The Scorseses. On the way there we rode past a DJ who had set up his entire set-up in the middle of a park and was blasting dubstep and turntabling spastically in front of absolutely no one. We didn’t stop.
-Finally, a catch-all for all the music friends we got to see for about five minutes each at various random times over the course of the weekend. It seriously felt like there was always an acquaintance from some far-off land hiding just around the corner and waiting to spring out for a quick “heyhowyadoinletshaveadrinkgottagogoodtoseeya.” That was probably my favorite thing about South by Southwest.
-Oh yeah we played a show in Dallas and it was fun. Happy birthday Josh Wiggins! You’re old now!
So that was our weekend. I think. I’m sure there are at least fifteen glaring omissions in that recap, but whatever, good luck proving it. We’ll be spending this weekend at or near home, thank goodness. We’re back at the Varsity in Baton Rouge tomorrow, and then Saturday we’ll be playing not one but two wonderful benefits in New Orleans. Daytime we’ll be at Hogs for the Cause, and at night we’ll be at Tipitina’s raising money to help legendary vocalist Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet move back home. So if you live in New Orleans and you don’t come see us play on Saturday, you might actually be a bad person.
But it’s okay, I forgive you.
Also, apparently there is a band called Soulfight that hails from “somewhere between Geneva, Switzerland and Strausbourg, France.” You can tell we’ve been a big influence on them, both musically and aesthetically:
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go make a sandwich and watch my NCAA bracket capsize.
Well, today we go back to work today. It has been a very productive and fulfilling week off, but there’s already a whole mess of South X Southwest happening somewhere off on the horizon, and we need to go get some of it. We’ll be stopping in Dallas on* the way, which is good because Dallas has lots of people that we like in it.
I’m sorry there was no Blog Wednesday last Wednesday. I’ve noticed a pattern emerging where Blog Wednesday goes completely to hell when we’re on tour for more than a week (understandably, I hope), and then when I get back home instead of getting back on track with it I often take a week off, or forget, or I start to write something but then a bird flies past the window carrying something shiny and that’s the end of concentration for the day. The point is, we at Blog Wednesday are committed to delivering a quality words-reading experience to you the eight to fifteen people who will “like” this on Facebook, and part of quality is consistency. To that end, we are working tirelessly to correct this unfortunate issue and we promise we might do something about it.
The worst thing is, last week I really didn’t have an excuse. We tend to get home from tours at about seven in the morning a day or two after our last show, unwashed and sleep-deprived from what was at least a twenty-hour van ride. But this home stretch was entirely different. Our two days Carnaval on the Mile in Miami were probably the two least stressful days in band history. I find that one of the most stressful things about being on the road is that you’re essentially tethered to six other people. Your dinner is usually elected by committee, you can’t leave anywhere until everyone has done everything they need or want to do (which often makes load-out feel like that episode of “Seinfeld” that takes place entirely in a parking garage), and when you finally get to wherever you’re sleeping, it’s your turn to share a room with the guy who snores like a yeti with a deviated septum**.
Miami was basically the inverse of that. The good folks over at Carnaval on the Mile went to great lengths to accommodate us. We had several rooms at a very nice hotel only a few blocks’ walk from the actual festival. Additionally, since we had to fly in for the gig, we needed someone to furnish us with all of the things we need for a show that we can’t fly with, which is most of them. In addition to staples like drums and amps, I have to credit the backline company for supplying me with a baritone sax, which is nearly unheard of, but should probably become standard practice considering what baggage handlers do to saxophones***. Anyway, having everything backlined and walking distance saved us from having to do pretty much anything before or after either of the two shows we played at Carnaval, thereby cutting out a lot of the stressful aspects of touring and allowing us to focus on total rockstar moves like being treated to awesome meals by Zack’s aunt Linda (not to be confused with Dave’s aunt Linda) and kickin’ it with some of our favorite band-friends.
Contrast with the preceding 48 hours for maximum contrast:
The day after one of those up-close shows in San Diego, we’re driving through the desert. Mike ate something that didn’t sit right, and he’s been throwing up all afternoon. We’re taking hills slowly because the engine temperature has been spiking. As we cross the night-and-day state line (the Nevada “welcome center” is, much like everything else in Nevada, a very well-lit hotel/casino), the trip odometer hits 777.7 miles.
In Las Vegas, we stop by the hotel to pick up our friend Reid, who has graciously agreed to drive our van home for us while we fly to Miami. Mike rests in the van while everyone who hasn’t vomited today loads our gear into the Hard Rock Café and starts setting up. Dave’s uncle Dave (who totally doesn’t live in Vegas) appears out of nowhere and we are excited to see him. Mike emerges from the van during sound check and survives the gig. At the hotel, it takes about two hours to check into our rooms, even though Reid has already checked into our rooms.
The next day, the Las Vegas airport is an absolute zoo. Our flight (direct from Miami to Vegas, which is about as baller as you can get) is so turbulent that the plane’s captain describes it as “pretty miserable” before decreasing our cruising altitude. We land in Miami and there’s a guy with a sign that says “REVIVALISTS.”
*: not really on
***: Break them all over.
Ever seen a movie or a cartoon where a lost sailor finally reaches dry land after spending weeks adrift? What’s always the first thing he does when he gets off the boat? He kisses the ground. It seems a bit too melodramatic for real life, but as a matter of fact we all just saw an actual person do this in the wake of The Great Poop Boat Crisis of 2013. I’ve never truly felt like kissing the ground anywhere, but two Sunday nights ago was about as close as one can get without being in any actual danger (or on a poop boat).
But let’s back up a little bit.
We’re currently in temperate California, a welcome change after spending nearly a week in a bizarre realm of perpetual white. Everything up there is hills and valleys, tall trees, frozen waterfalls, and icicles that reach all the way down to the ground and then back up again. In the same day we drove past both a dogsled race and a line of cars waiting to drive a makeshift racetrack coned off on a frozen lake. It’s hard to believe that the flat, humid, 75-degree home we left in our rearview is still happening only a few hundred miles behind us. The clothes and the people and the outdoors in ice-world are all so different, yet extremely hospitable. Except for the clothes. I don’t know how clothes can be hospitable, and I don’t think I want to find out.
At night, the cold swallows everything up.
And I mean everything. While some of us have experience with snowstorms from our past lives, living in New Orleans has not kept us in shape to cope with the shin-deep snowfalls up in the mountains. My super low-top hipster shoes fare unexpectedly well under these conditions, but our new van (which has so far done nothing to merit an endearing van-pun nickname and has thus been addressed only by varying strings of profanities), does not. On our way to sleep after our last Colorado show in Breckenridge (aptly nicknamed “Breckenfridge” by locals), new van flounders on its way up a hill a few football fields away from our hotel. The back right wheel spins without friction and stubbornly refuses our attempts to push, dig, or maneuver our way out. We shove Andrew’s drum rug under the tire as a last-ditch effort to gain traction, and in a matter of seconds it fires out from beneath the wheel and slams into the trailer behind the van. We are stuck. We take a cue from our curmudgeonly grandparents and trudge a few hundred yards uphill in a blizzard with all of our baggage in tow.
As I said before, I have never been so grateful to be anywhere as to kiss the ground upon arrival. But when we finally made it panting and windblown to the central-heated hotel lobby, I was pretty damn close.
Part III: Strange Worlds
Fortunately, we were able to get a tow truck to dig us out of the deep snow on Monday, and after much milling about and general relaxation, we wheeled crap-van towards the Pacific. White gave way to red somewhere between Utah and Arizona, and with it highways gave way to winding canyon roads, mountains to mesas, and Earth to Mars.
If Colorado is ice-world, and canyon states are off-world, then California is old-world. In spite of its sleek modernity, Los Angeles assumes the rosy glow of the 1950s at sunset, and the verdant hills and uniform clear skies between cities seem more prehistoric than anything else. It’s not hard to pretend that a 5-story mesh fence to the immediate west of I-5 is some sort of dinosaur pen, even though in reality it’s probably just there to make sure that the wind doesn’t blow trash from a nearby landfill onto the highway.
Part IV: In Which Rob Actually Describes Things The Revivalists Have Been Doing
Hello again, friends! Rob still here.
Sorry about all of those words. This is a strange time of year in America, where on average it’s only about half a day’s drive from a completely different climate, and we went through at least four of them in the first week of this tour. Between that and the combination of altitude and head cold that had me laying low for most of Colorado, the beginning of this tour was weird for me and so I wanted to try to make it weird for you as well.
We’ve actually been doing stuff! Lots of stuff! I was looking at much of it through a confusing layer of phlegm and fog, but I’m pretty sure it has been awesome. It’s been really exciting to see things shaping up so well in Colorado and California over the past year or so. Boulder and Denver are both great cities for us now, and I think we were all a little surprised at last Sunday night’s turnout in Breckenridge. Likewise, it was amazing to see so many people come out on a Wednesday in Los Angeles. Of course, we’ve been playingwithlotsandlotsofawesomebands along the way, so I can’t give us all the credit, but so far everywhere we go we feel the love.
Thursday and Friday things got a little different as we made our way north. Our set at Hopmonk Tavern in Novato ran somewhat in conjunction with a weekly jam session hosted by a local blues band. It was a nice change of pace to do a bit of a quieter set, and afterwards we got to just cut loose and have some fun playing with the local veterans. Friday marked our return to the Crystal Bay Club Resort & Casino in beautiful Lake Tahoe, NV, where we had the distinct pleasure of playing after an awesome all-star group featuring Soulive, The Shady Horns, and New Orleans legends George Porter Jr. and Papa Mali at the official Snowlive afterparty.
And then we had one of the best shows ever, ever. San Francisco is now hands-down one of the best places for us to play music. It’s crazy to think that we’ve only been there four times. Thanks so much to all the old and new friends who came out on Saturday and made everything all special-like.
Speaking of special friends, there have been a lot of girlfriend ride-alongs this tour. Zack’s totally awesome girlfriend Anne rode along with us for the first half of the tour, and quickly and unflinchingly did she adapt to the sights, sounds, and, unfortunately, smells of life on the road. Additionally, my totally awesome girlfriend joined up with us in Tahoe and rode down into San Francisco. But now it’s just dudes in the van again. So many dudes.
Part V: Epilogue
Tonight we’re in Santa Barbara, which is by all accounts a pretty cool place. This tour has gone by pretty quickly, and it’s hard to believe that we’ll already be home a week from right now. Adventures are great and I recommend having them. Goodbye!
CLICK VIDEO PLAY BUTTON FOR SEASONALLY-APPROPRIATE BACKGROUND MUSIC:
Yes, friends, that magical time is upon us once more. When food becomes that stuff that makes it harder to fit another twelve-pack in the fridge. When crash pads are lovingly (or perhaps resentfully) prepped for a revolving door of out-of-town (or just out-of-neighborhood) houseguests. When plastic beads are more valuable than dignity and sleep is just something that you can’t quite manage to wedge between Galactic and Zulu.
It’s Mardi Gras.
Yes, I’m aware that it has been Mardi Gras here for a few weeks now, but the city took last week off to ruin the Super Bowl and the week before that we were busy having the best Wednesday ever (thanks New York!) so it is only now becoming Mardi Gras for The Revivalists. For our part, we will be spreading the joy of The Season all throughout the city and beyond while still affording ourselves plenty of opportunity to celebrate the fact that Lent sucks.
Speaking of which, we have to leave town on Ash Wednesday. It’s only 20 hours to Boulder.
Wow. What a week. Five shows in five nights, one driving (and van repair) day, one business day, and tonight it all comes to a head at Mercury Lounge here in wonderful New York City. And then tomorrow we’re headed back home for the mother of all working vacations, Mardi Gras. Tour starts after that.
This is shaping up to be a great year. The handful of shows we’ve had so far have been extremely promising. Lately we’ve been getting some very warm receptions in new towns and places we haven’t visited in a while. The week started out with far and away our best-ever visit to Nashville, followed by far and away our best-ever visit to Memphis, which was admittedly a less impressive feat since we had never been to Memphis before. Which isn’t to imply that the Memphis show was lackluster, because it was actually a really good old school, down-and-dirty intimate bar show the likes of which we’ve been playing fewer and fewer these days. Strictly speaking, this should be taken as a sign of growth, but I know that someday we’ll get all misty-eyed thinking about cramming seven people on a five-person stage to play in front of a slam-close college bar audience, just like how retired football players love watching “physical” teams who play “real football.” People, us included, thrive on contact.
OTHER NOTES FROM MEMPHIS:
-The Soul Thieves are a great live band and you should check them out if you get the chance.
-People in Memphis say hello by buying you a shot of liquor.
-Lots of people in Memphis said hello to us after the show.
Friday was one of those “peel yourself out of bed” kinds of mornings. Fortunately, St. Louis. Yes, that is the end of that sentence. St. Louis is on the verge of becoming a Pensacola-level destination. It gets better every time at Broadway Oyster Bar, and Friday was extra-special because we got to help our new friend Bryan. The first time he and his girlfriend Whitney said “I love you” was at one of our previous shows in St. Louis, so Bryan asked us for a high-res image file of the “Vital Signs” cover a few weeks ago and on Friday he got the staff at Broadway Oyster Bar to put up a custom-made poster with a subtle message of proposal in the artwork.
Fortunately, she said yes. Fortunately, St. Louis.
We spent Saturday in Columbia, MO, a city that I totally forgot we’ve been to before because it was a long time ago. Sunday we added to the confusion by playing in Columbus, OH, a city that I remember playing because we’ve had some extremely memorable shows there (like the time we discovered Mission Man or the time somebody stole Andrew’s phone). This time, nobody stole any phones, but instead we just had fun and stuff.
Now it’s time for more fun and stuff. We’ll see you tonight, NYC.
Firstly, thank you to everyone who voted for us and pestered their friends to vote for us in last week’s Offbeat Awards. We had a lovely evening with many of our dearest friends on Friday, and we came away with a couple of statues that say we’re cool dudes. The second part is thanks to you, so thank you.
But I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. After all, stuff last week began on Thursday at the newly-swankified (at least since our last visit) Martin’s in Jackson, MS. We had to improvise a bit with the sound system because they had a blown speaker, but the good people of Mississippi were patient and receptive, and the show was highlighted (highlit?) by a guest appearance from local MC Fifth Child, who is a Loyola graduate and a friend of the band from the pre-Rob era (an era known among certain band historians as “the empty times”).
Saturday marked our return to Mobile’s legendary Soul Kitchen, and our first time playing the much larger room in the back. There is always a bit of apprehension about turnout the first time a familiar venue upgrades you to “the big room,” but darned if you magnificent sons- and daughters-of-guns didn’t show up en masse and bring it all together.
Now, we’re on an unusual Wednesday-to-Wednesday run, starting in Nashville tonight, capping off a week later in New York, and then driving home and relaxing in New Orleans, where I’m pretty sure nothing crazy at all will be happening next weekend.
That’s it for today! Hope to see you all in the coming weeks either on the road or at home during Mardi Gras. Now that I know longer have the Mayan Calendar to use as a crutch, I’m not really sure how to end blog posts anymore, so I’ll just leave you with a single word: