It has been forever and a day since this blog was updated, and much, oh much much much has happened*.
So much has happened that I’ll only be able to fill you in on the most important details. Which is to say, the espresso details.
We got home from our midwest tour, and we took a week off. When we’re home, I never have to worry about where the espresso comes from. We Benedettis buy our beans from Hardcore coffee in Sebastopol, grind ‘em at home, and then brew them in a stove top espresso percolator, commonly known as a mucca pot. Our pot is named Chester. He’s a real trooper, let me tell you. He brews some damn fine espresso. It’s actually one of the things I look forward to most about being home. That sweet, earnest little espresso pot, my friend, Chester.
We got back out on the road the next weekend. Goodbye family, goodbye Chester.
We headed up north to Sisters and Yakima. My coffee spot of choice in Sisters is Navigator News. It’s connected to a bookstore, has groovy art, and delicious, dark espresso. From there we hit Yakima for a shut-down-the-main-street-and-party festival. I like those. Especially when the main stage is kitty corner to North Town Coffehouse. Good stuff, and the barista ran his own music production and distribution company, Red Scare Media, with some very cool music on it. I recommend checking it out if you’re into strange, compelling, noisy, rocking and underground sounds.
The next week we were on the road with The Devil Makes Three. I can’t say enough good things about that band, their crew, how they live their musical lives, and the support and inspiration they’ve been to little BroCo here. They’re champs in every way. Also, Cooper is always reading cool books. He offered some great recommendations. Coffee for the weekend was supplied by Mia Cuppa Cafe, in Fresno, and Blackhorse Espresso in San Louis Obispo. Solid and worthy stops, both of them. Mia Cuppa has the bonus feature of shelves and shelves of used books for sale. Books add a flavor of mystery, sophisticaton, and joy for me to any environment. My dream home wouldn’t have walls – only bookshelves.
The next weekend the family and I rallied up to Benbow for the summer arts and music festival. Damn good times. We camped in the redwoods, made new friends, and the kids romped and stomped all over the place. We had river time, circus time, camp time, it was glorious. (Chester goes camping with us, by the way, so coffee was delicious – extra delicious, because camping makes everything taste ten times better.)
The next week we rallied to Tiny Telephone studios in San Francisco to start our next recordings. It was so. damn. awesome. John Vanderslice is producing, and I love the way he works, his recording ethos, and his aesthetic. We made some good music… and had some good coffee. Mission Pie has fantastic espresso. Their food is good too, as was all the food that JV enthusiastically introduced us to during our too-brief stay. (John’s attention to music is second only to his attention to good food and coffee.)
The next weekend the family and I packed up and began an epic week on the road with the band. It started with some sweet camping in Los Padres National Park. Chester, sturdy, reliable Chester, was along for the ride, and providing great coffee at all hours.
The band met up with the family in San Diego. We played a few dates opening for The Record Company – a consummate rock and roll band, and great guys to boot. The coffee scene was on point. Zebra House Coffee in San Clemente (our base of operations: Case de Zolg. The greatest place on earth), and La Monarca Bakery in LA. In between the Record Company dates we ran up to Live Oak Festival near Santa Barbara. It was such a sweet, rootsy, good time. Hot as all get out… but very sweet. We camped, and Chester delivered.
The family headed back, and the band continued on. We were headed for Phoenix, Arizona. Our target was to play music on the hottest day on record in the hottest place in the country. We had two days off to work on new tunes and rest up in LA before we headed for the raging inferno that every media outlet reported to us was Phoenix. It was a dark time for espresso. Where we stayed – that bastion of hospitality and sweetness, the ancestral home of Ryan Avellone – is surrounded by Starbucks. Two days of Starbucks espresso, and I was beginning to doubt everything, the world was void of meaning, colors were fading, hope was dwindling. The only bright spot on the espresso horizon was the knowledge that we would be staying at a hotel in Phoenix for 2 nights, and I knew that they served espresso. Joe looked it up.
The feeling I felt when, the next day, I walked up to said Phoenix Hotel cafe, and saw their cheery sign: “We Proudly Serve Starbucks Coffee”, was the same feeling that I had watching Star Wars Episodes 1-3: betrayal, despair, anger, and crushed expectations.
When you combine the two days of Starbucks in LA with two days of Starbucks after getting to Phoenix – a combined 4 days of Starbucks – I was in severe withdrawal. I was, as they say on the street, jonesin’. Thank god for Flagstaff. The town is surrounded with good espresso joints. Firecreek Coffee Company was close the venue, and delicious. I doubled up my espresso order. It broke the curse of Starbucks. I came back to life.
Quick side note to introduce this sweet post-show story from Flagstaff: I have constant and chronic problems with my arms, hands and fingers from too much bass rocking. At Flagstaff I was feeling it pretty strong, and I was stretching a bunch on stage and shaking out my hands. When I came off stage, there was the amazing Dr. Tiffany Johnson, Flagstaff Chiropractor and fan, and she adjusted my arm and hand. And then, Sean from Hawaii came over, and he was a licensed massage therapist, and he worked on my back and shoulders. Espresso, and then body work. My game was fully back on, and Flagstaff endeared itself to my heart in a very serious way.
From Flagstaff we hustled to Albuquerque, where we played at an Aquarium. The cafe had pretty bad espresso, but an amazing tank filled with sharks and turtles and stingrays, so it was still awesome. We had a damn fine breakfast at Tia Betty Blue’s the next morning. The espresso was tasty, and their food was spectacular.
From Albuquerque we headed to Evanston, WY. We played their Bluegrass festival, and partied for Ben’s birthday. Coffee was hit this morning on the way through SLC at Publik. The espresso roast was lighter than I like. I bet it would have been a delicious hot cappuccino type of espresso… but if you just get a double shot with a touch of water, add some cream, and then don’t drink it for an hour and half (because you’re trying to sleep in the van because you only slept for 3 hours)… it is lacking. Probably not their fault, though.
And now we’re driving on the 80. We just left Elko, so we’ll be back home by tonight… sometime. Maybe one more coffee stop on the way in Reno. I’ll let you know how it is next time.
Lots of other things happened during this last month, but I feel like I have represented the most important parts of that month. The coffee parts.
There were some equally important parts that involved slices of pizza… but other than that, i can’t imagine what you’d want to know.