Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iowa City (Or, "Thunderstorms and Grain Belt are Chasing Me.")

Today I have a day off in Iowa City.

Last night we performed at this interesting little place called PS1 (not to be confused with PS1 in Long Island City). PS1 (Iowa) is a small public art space in the basement of the Jefferson Building, which is on the edge of Iowa City's UI Campus.

It is small, intimate and decorated with Christmas tree lights and an intensely neon mural on the far side of the room. It is filled with folding chairs and a few sofas and benches. The space isn't designed for music, the PA is small and the room is HOT. But they do what they can to make the artist comfortable and also use it to host fiction and non-fiction readings, art openings and other events of cultural import in Iowa City.

I would recommend it for artists who don't have a big rep and are low on the gear requirements. Two of the opening artists played without using the PA and the sound carried fairly well. If you've got a big voice, you can totally take this room on sans amplification.

The downtown of the city is dominated by a large pedestrian mall that has a crapload of bars lining it. Most of them are college-y, frat-type places that have cheap drink specials and horrible music playing (think John Cougar Mellencamp being enjoyed non-ironically).

All bars weren't lame though - we did stop by this one bar just off that main drag called The Picador, which was pretty rad. They had two dollar well drinks and both of my travel companions (RC and Greer) got pretty wasted. Me too. They also had a bottled beer for $1.50 that was called "Grain Belt". Not my favorite, kinda fruity aftertaste, but you could do way worse for that price.

The back of the bar is dominated by a medium sized beer garden, and our bartender, Colin (who has a band called Super Sonic Piss) was kind enough to lay off the hip-hop for ahile and play us a bunch of Mike Judge animated shorts that were freaking rad.

We are staying with a friend here, his name is Caleb Engstrom and he has a pretty impressive collection of visual as well as audio work that he has executed. Check him out on the myspace. He is also one of the kindest and best band hosts in the world. This morning I got coffee, cantaloupe, banana, clean towel and shower. So I am off to an awesome start.

Last night we got rained on hard and there was a giant thunderstorm. Pretty awesome mid-west type weather, but it was scary in light of the recent flooding and the giant piles of sandbags still floating around the town.

Since I have the day off today, and the weather looks like it is clearing up, I am going to try to find this mysterious "co-op" where people get really delicious looking sandwiches. If you have any suggestions on what-to-do or where-to-go in Iowa City, give me a heads up!

LINK : www.grainbelt.com
LINK : The Picador
LINK : PS! Iowa City
DOWNLOAD : Caleb Engstrom - The Happiest

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Kansas City (Or, "Fourth of July!")

Spent fourth of July in Kansas City, which was a blast. We played at this little gallery in what i presume is the "arts district" of the town as there was nothing but galleries and loft buildings around. The people were really friendly and they drank A LOT. Lots of hard partying. It really reminded me of the old days at H Street Studios in Fresno and a little bit of Williamsburg.

I guess there is a little bit of that everywhere. Art. Music. Beer.

If you're a small band coming through that part of the world (i.e. the midwest), I would highly recommend you try and hook up a gig there. I've played once before in KC at the Record Bar, which was alos a nice place, but I really prefer the laid back and ghetto environs. It is called the Skinless Gallery. The name was a bit of a turn-off for me, but the level of hospitality and the sheer number of friendly and interesting faces totally made up for the name's lack of appeal.

In Minneapolis now. Recorded this before we left.

Lyrics after the jump.

Last Year (mp3)


the road is clear and wide
the future looks bright
the sky looks like it could swallow us whole
we're on a roll

go directly to go
collect 200 dollars
it is california, dude, bro, we can just chill out
somewhere we'll find a couch
figure everything out.

hold your breath through the tunnel
clap your hands
make it all disappear
that was last year and this is another.

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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Live From The Hi-Dive (Or, "No Teeth and No Hair.")

The band I am playing with this summer, the fantastic El Olio Wolof, had a show at the Hi-Dive in Denver last night (if you are in Denver tonight, go check out my pal, Nik Freitas's show at the Hi-Dive!). Overall the turnout was way disappointing, but the hospitality was really great and the staff were friendly and all that. Thanks Jenny and company. And we got a green room, which is a rare treat so far on this tour.

So I took the opportunity to write and record a little song. You can hear the openers in the background -- the Roger Green Band -- and i clipped a couple of times.

No time for "do-overs" right now.

DOWNLOAD : Put Me Down (mp3)

Lyrics after the jump.


If the future was tied up with ribbons and bows,
sky high hotel rooms and sold out shows
i don't know if i'd try quite as hard
as i do
to prove myself to you

not that i've never dreamt of success
one million sales or one million hits
but mostly i've dreamed of being the best
and a skyline with no regrets

if you're climbing a mountain
don't look down
hit a wall
don't give up no ground
can't find the party
can't find the door
just find the best spot
to sleep on the floor

and if you've got no legs
your arms will get strong
never leave love
you can't come to know harm
no teeth and no hair
no cross left to bear
just a chip on the shoulder
where you touched me there

put me down.

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