Yesterday we spent all day at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival in Kemmerer, WY.
This was our second year, and I’m really hoping that it’s going to be our second year of many. This place is so good. I have to be brief, as we’re supposed to be in the van heading home in about 15 minutes, so here is a short run-down of the day:
Got in to the fest at 10 for the band scramble – an open-to-the-public call-to-arms for all musicians. You sign up, get assigned into a random band, and then have an hour to put together three songs. The bands then perform their three songs on the main stage, they are judged by the crowd on a decibel meter, and the winning 3 bands take home some money. It is rad. Such a great idea – bringing the community onto the stage, bringing the bands into the community (if they so choose) – it is awesome. I’m not saying that my band won… we didn’t. We lost pretty hard. But it was still damn good times.
After that I found a guy named Marty, slinging and old Martin who seemed to know every old country song ever written. When the band finally rolled down to the fest, I grabbed my bass and went to school, so to speak. We played for a good while, and by then I had to go warm up with the band. I told Marty I would be looking for him afterwards – I couldn’t get enough of that music!
We went on the main stage at 4pm, and it was like coming back to a home town. We made lots of friends last year, and it was so cool to see people from the year before singing along to the tunes and sporting the shirts! We got special requests from families, we had our guest singer come up for the encore again (thanks Allie!) and had a damn good time.
After the set we got to meet all the good folk over at the merch booth, then Phil and I wandered back over to find Marty. He had gathered Jeff to sing, another guitar player and a good little crowd. We played for a good long time with those guys. Every song is just too damn good! I can’t tell you how good it is to find people that know the music that well – that can tell you how to play it, and that know songs that you will not ever find on a radio or a disc. A total gift, that. Thanks Marty.
Rolled home late, went to bed. We’re all binging on the Hotel breakfast now, getting ready for the long road home. Say a prayer for us – wish us luck – burn an offering to the van gods, and we’ll be back home tonight.
We have been far and wide in the last couple days.
We finished the gig in Ketchum, ID and pretty much just went right to the van. We had a plane to catch the next morning at 8am in Boise, so we had to make the drive that night. We got into the Boise Super 8 at about 2 am, had a wake-up call for 5:30. Your body starts to not trust you if you make it wake up every 2 hours. Everything gets hazy and confused. We hauled ourselves into a shuttle and onto a plane, and slept our 2 hour flight back to San Jose, CA. Yep. San Jose. We were home! We were so close!
The amazing Kelsey and family (thank you guys!!) picked us up at the SJ airport, drove us to quiet beds in the Los Gatos hills, and fed us delicious food. It was like waking up in a dream world – back in California, family taking care of you, food and comfort everywhere – like our real bodies were still in the van or in the Super 8 in Boise, but – in our sleep deprived, schedule wrecked selves – our dream selves were back at home in California. The reason for all this travel business was a private event that night. The flew us out for the evening – we played, and went back to casa de Kelsey for more sleeping and home cooking. The fresh-baked berry crisp was off the charts. Perfect.
Next morning (ie yesterday) we were up by 9 to catch our 11:20 flight back to Boise. We get back to Boise, and then it’s back into the van and a 7 hour drive to Kemmerer, WY – home of the Oyster Ridge Music Fest. We got in at 10pm, just in time to catch the last song by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers – our soon to be tour buddies. We said hi to some of our friends from last year, availed ourselves of the generous hospitality tent, filmed a quick video (hopefully to be posted soon) and finally made it back to the Best Western, where I type from now.
Got some good sleep last night, and now it’s time to get to work – also hoping to catch the festival’s Band Scramble – they mix up groups of whoever shows up with an instrument – give you an hour to rehearse a song, then put you up on the stage. It’s a come one, come all type of event. Should be a good time. We play today at 4pm, and leave tomorrow morning in the wee hours. We aim to be back at home – good and proper this time – Sunday night.
Dammit, anyway. Too much time inbetween these blog posts. Dear tech industry: please work on the chip I can install into my noggin so that while we are playing awesome shows I can directly upload footage via my eyeballs, and text via telepathy so that I can stay up to date and fresh on these blog posts!
From where we left off:
Yes, it was raining in Seattle, and yes we played anyway. The wind was ripping through the courtyard we played – and ripping through the microphones. It was like listening to us and a soundtrack of you with your head out the window of a car on the freeway at the same time. Pretty crazy. We had some lovely die-hards hunker down, bundle up and rock with us for the afternoon and, I’m sure, hordes and hordes of frothing Comatosians held back due to the shoddy weather. Alas.
We piled into the van post-show (a moment to complain about Seattle traffic and parking) and made for… PASEO!!!! Holy good gracious sakes alive, folks. The long awaited return to Paseo and the most perfect sandwich in the known world. It had been 16 long months, and absence had made the heart grow fonder. The sandwich lived up to all expectations. It also sat like a little happy food-diety in my belly for many hours after. Oh, Cuban Roast, why are you so far away?
Our real and final destination was The Roost in Bellingham. You may remember The Roost from such previous blog posts as “We love the Roost” and “The Show at the Roost last April was Cussin’ Amazing,” and other similarly named titles. It is easy to feel at home there – Nick and Jonah see to that personally. They even had a giant chili feast that they shared with us. In the photo below, it’s not that my neck disappeared while on tour, it is just relaxing deep into my body after Cuban Roasts and chili, and is happy to be at a sweet home away from home:
(* just tried to post the completed blog and it deleted about 4 paragraphs about The Roost and Bainbridge – so sorry, but I’ll have to give the edited version here *)
The Roost gave us a serious contender for best show ever. The room was a full, sweaty, singing, stomping, dancing container of revelry. It was perfect. It was what you hope every show would be. Thanks to all of our friends we met last April who turned out – thanks for all the new friends who gave it a shot, and thanks so much to Jonah for bringing us back and Nick for hosting. We love the cussin’ Roost. Can’t wait to get back.
The next day our mission was to make the ferry and get on Bainbridge Island for our Treehouse Cafe show. The Treehouse Cafe is like the isle of the Sirens from The Odyssy. They have delicious (and free) coffee, delicious (and free) food, and staff of gorgeous ladies running the show. It is an amazing place to end up after being on the road for days and days. We had a great time back on the stage – so good to see our NW Grandma come out for the show – good to see Mike and Kyle again, and a big thanks to The Brothers Avallone for rallying the troops. We crashed out that night on the island (thanks Jenna!) and this was our view the next morning:
We got to sleep on things called beds. It was glorious. We even got in a load of laundry.
That was yesterday morning. We drove all day and part of the night to get to Bozeman, Montana, where I am typing from right now. Montana is (sorry if you’re getting tired of this) beautiful and scenic, and a wonderful place to look at. Hoping to spend some time in a music store, a Library, and an office-supply store today. Lots of work to be done before we open tonight for Charlie Parr at the Filling Station. We hear it’s a good place. Looking forward to playing with such a badass.
I’ll leave you with some sweet sounds from the esteemed Mr. Charlie Parr:
Hey y’all. Gio here.
As you all know (or are about too) I teach classes when we’re not out touring. I’m up at 6am. I am also the adoring father of the amazing Stella Gene (photo reference here:)
I mention these things because my sleeping world is very different from the sleeping world of other musicians you may know or have heard about… or go on tour with. I hear about sleeping in, staying up all night – I read about these things in fairy tales and tall tales. These are strange and mythical stories to me… most times. If there is music to be played, though, then … well, then I am IN. So long as I’m playing or singing time has no meaning. I’d rather play music than sleep.
When we rolled into the Oregon Country Faire it was already 10:30pm, and I’d had a week of early morning Stella wake-ups. By all rights, I should have been miles deep into the land of Nod, chasing ‘ol Sandman around and demanding more than my fair share. But no!! We got in, grabbed the instruments and hit the winding paths and trails of the Faire. (First we caught a bit of a Grateful Dead 1972 set that was showing on a giant screen on the Main Stage… maybe more on that later?) I can’t really describe all of the fairies, wizards, gnomes, polka-dot jumpsuit revelers, 12 foot tall coyotes, Golden Girls and other magical and fantastical creatures that we passed in our travels – you really do have to be a live witness. We found little nooks and crannys, and belted out songs, and had little crowds of dancers and stompers, and moved our little hootenanny around the Faire.
When we had blasted out our voices and run out of songs, our personal jam was over, and it was on to other jams. Quite literally, you cannot walk 100 yards through OCF without finding a group of musicians playing. A lot of these people have come up year after year and have their places and jam-partner reunions, a lot of the players are musicians from the official band schedule. These are some high quality jams, folks!
We stopped around a campfire encicled by a ring of kickass latin drumming. I jumped in with the bass, Ryan jumped in with the guitar, some other guy had his nylon-string, and we rooocccckkkkked it out. People danced. We made friends, played soe super groovy grooves. When that was done, it was back to camp, where the campfire jam was in full effect. Music, music, music. The next night – after rocking out to the midnight, random, middle of a vast parking lot, almost secret set of Brokedown in Bakersfield, I rolled out and found a killer traditional bluegrass jam. Learned some tunes, hollered some harmonies.. had a real good time.
I can’t even begin to describe the sight and scenes that are happening every step of the way as one is cruising from parking-lot sets to bluegrass jams, or from trail busking to the campfire… it is amazing and mind-blowing and incredible and must be seen to be fully grokked. I just wanted to try and paint a picture of what a musical playground the Oregon Country Faire can be. At any point of any day or night, you can find good players to play with and make some very fun music. It was awesome.
The fact that the best chicken sandwich I’ve ever had could be purchased at a booth at OCF is a very different story… but no less of a reason for going back.
More remembrances and tales as they come back. For now, it’s off to a library or some such. More work to do… and you can only get so much coffee shop loitering time out of a double espresso.
We left last Friday for the Oregon Country Faire. We got to Portland on Monday. The problem with waiting this long to write a blog post about it is that every 5 minutes of Oregon Country Faire time is worth at least 3 blog posts. Now that we have 4 days worth of OCF experiences to try and relate and share, we are severely back logged with memories and typing-time. Sorry. The best thing we can recommend is that next summer you block out a weekend of your life and get yourself to Veneta, Oregon. There is absolutely no way we can describe what the Faire is like.
It was like meeting Old Grandpappy Festival – the first. The Elder Fest. The fest that raised up and grew lots of little, baby festies. It was educational and amazing.
We’ll tell some more specific stories later in the week – hopefully get a few different voices in the mix. For now, I’ll leave you with this photo:
We leave in about an hour and a half for the next tour – this one around and abouts to Wyoming and back. Be sure to tune in right here – we’ll have video up and blogs up most every day, I hope.
We start the tour at Oregon Country Faire this weekend… don’t know if the internet connections in Fairy Land are strong and supported or not, so we may be slow to upload till Monday or so? But then you should expect a steady stream of information. Look for highlights on what I have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Possible comments about how the rest of the band is still sleeping (you’ll read the jealousy between the lines) and lots of things like “this town is the greatest and they got down and partied with us and we had a n awesome time and then drank some Lagunitas together”. … wow. I kinda just spoiled the writing for the whole tour.
Hopefully we can get some other Brothers’ voices on this blog too. We’ll see. A lot of them – while being fine bowers and pickers – are not used to our modern and complex ways that involve ‘internets’ and ‘passwords’.
For your entertainment and my venting of frustration in the meantime, I offer you the infographic below – not sure if my tiny font will show up – you may have to click the photo to see the big one:
I was trying to make some copies in a Fed-Ex/Kinko’s, and they had this poster there. It got me allll fired up. They’ll have another one up next year, I’m sure, but the guy will have thick-black framed glasses, a giant ‘stache and beard, and a plaid snap down shirt. The guy on the poster that the plaid-guy is holding will be shouting earnestly into a microphone with a banjo in his hands, and the flier will read: Hootenanny! Raaaaah!!!! Stop turning peoples lives and passions into marketing tools!!!!
…or, at least if you’re going to, make sure that they know how to hold guitars and finger chords. please.