On Leaving the Brothers Comatose

Submitted by Gio on

Dear folks and friends and family -

You can see on the right - where all the events are posted - that I am playing 3 shows with The Brothers Comatose at the end of this year.  What you may not know is that I will be officially leaving the band as of January 1, 2014.

Jenny and I have been talking and struggling a lot with the decision over the last year, and after this last tour in September, things solidified.  After Emmaline (the new baby) showed up on November 2nd, the decision was clearly affirmed.

I love playing music, you all know that.

I also love being out and about, adventuring, seeing new things, meeting new people and friends and - most of all - eating new foods.  (If it wasn't for the Brothers Comatose on tour, I never would have had real southern barbeque; South Carolina barbeque sauce; chicken and waffles for breakfast; Chicago deep dish pizza... in Chicago; New York slices... in New York.  This is not to mention the gorgeous home cooking we were fortunate enough to share on more than one delicious occasion.)

But food, adventures, and fun music notwithstanding, being away for so long - so often - has been too hard on me and the family.

After the September tour Stella (the first night I was home after 3 weeks away [after so many weekends and 5-10 day tours all summer long]) asked Jenny if I was going to be staying for dinner.

Ouch.

It took weeks to get her to trust that when I left for work, or for rehearsal, I would be coming home again.  The relationship that we have is so fun - so centered on quality time, games, stories, and things that can't be duplicated or simulated long-distance - that I was really feeling, for the first time, the effects of the constant touring.  Combine that with Stella's ability to communicate more precisely and directly exactly how much she missed me, and her fear of my leaving, and it put things into a very clear perspective.

There are so many other factors at play in a decision like this.  Seeing the band that you're going to be leaving poised for such great things is a difficult thing to walk away from.  Looking at their amazing tour schedule and knowing the good and great things that are still on the horizon for the band can be like a siren song some days.  But even in the few short months since we've come to this decision, I can see and feel the warm goodness of our choice.  I've gotten to be at every family function and see my parents, my brothers, my nieces and nephews, my friends from childhood and from other musical projects of days gone by.  Jenny and I get to plan things together and spend weekends as a family.

I've gotten to really invest in this website and consider the musical and artistic possibilities of the future.  I've gotten to look at the community I live in and make my plans for how to bring music and music education to the world around me in a meaningful way.

I've gotten to re-energize my beloved job at SV and build up some continuity and energy with my music students for the first time this year.

The mission to save the world has been rekindled, and that - of itself- is inspiring.  Knowing that the first priority is family and not traveling makes the decisions easier and stronger.  Jenny and get to plot ways to make music together - the dreams of the full family band (now that Emmaline is here) are growing and building.  No longer are we just a power trio!  We have entered Quartet land... and it feels very good.

It's a huge loss to step away from a fun band with good friends, but it is a net gain of infinite proportions to have my kid(s) [Emmaline isn't so aware of the great and momentous things going on, so much as she is aware of being hungry, and pooping a lot] know that I want to spend time with them first and foremost, and that my family trumps all other priorities.

It feels wonderful here at Team Benedetti headquarters, if a bit bittersweet and nostalgic for the good-ol-touring days at times.  I will miss my family from the road, and I'll miss the big red van.  But at least I won't be missing my wife and my daughters.

And that feels very good indeed.

Making a Flier

Submitted by Gio on

Dear, dear readers.

I know, I know.  I haven't updated on the tours recently - I haven't updated much of anything recently.  I blame a very adorable 2 and half year old. 

I wanted to let you know a bit about the flier that we'll be plastering about for our upcoming New Parish show on August 22.  I pitched my idea to the band via email, and they let me do it.  Let me be clear: I sent the tablet-in-photoshop drawing to everyone, and - as it appears below - they all signed off on it. Possibly they were all at a party without me and very drunk?  Who can fathom how bad decisions really get past management.  At any rate, here is what they approved:

flier mock up brothers comatose new parish

A 5-headed giant splashes his way from the city and towards Oakland for a show across the bay!  Honor is done to giants!  To comics!  With the band green light, it was time to get a bit more... accurate?  Detailed?  Less blobby and silly?  Yes yes and yes.

I looked up some Bay Bridge photos, put on Iron Maiden albums (in chronological order, starting with Killers) and started on the pencil work.  And voila!  The real deal:

pencil outline for parish flier brothers comatose

Phase 1: complete.  The pencils - the outlines were in place.  Our 5-headed Bay-Thrashing Giant was alive!!!  Aliiiiiiiive!!!!  But... lacking in color, wouldn't you say?  Yes.  No one would look twice at a flier like this!  Naked!  Bare!  A mere skeleton!  Unleash the inky-inks!!  More Iron Maiden!  Where Eagles Dare!  Powerslave!  Hallowed Be Thy Name!  Several albums later, with some serious tinkering with scanners and tablets and more layers in photoshop...  Phase 2 was complete.  The flier was complete.  Fully armed and operational.

colored version of parish flier for the brothers comatose

I'll post an image of the final, final, final version on the main page once all the salient details are in place in a suitable font.  Hope you enjoyed the evolution.  I had a lovely time listening to Iron Maiden... I mean, making the flier.  See you on July 22 at New Parish.

Banjo-B-Que to Wakarusa - The Photo Blog

Submitted by Gio on

The weekend began with a 3 hour delay at SFO.  There was something wrong with the wheel.  Luckily we had a non-stop flight to Georgia, and no obligation to play that night, so we were able to relax and enjoy 3 hours of quality time at the airport.  This time out Jenny and I were trying to figure out ways to make my being away easier on the little Stella Gene - so I started posting stories and updates for her on YouTube.  The first story told was about a blue dragon looking for his friend wormy.  Thanks to the airplane delay, I was able to get it drawn, colored and posted before we left the ground:

blue dragon and wormy

When we finally got to Georgia we were met by the legendary Jack Delbridge.  This man was amazing.  I will reveal his amazingness to you, dear reader, as it was revealed to me - in stages.  The first stage of amazing was coming to the airport to pick up 5 dudes - 4 of whome he had never met - driving them back to his home, and providing us with transportation in the way of his own dear Jeep for the weekend.  So the legend begins. 

jack's basement collage

This is Jack's basement.  He and his housemate built it.  It used to be 2x4s and dirt, and now it is a stone-walled, concrete-topped, 5-tap bar.  Legendary status +1.  We had some of our deepest band conversations to date in that room.  Great ideas were hatched, debated, pondered, argued, and agreed upon.  Truly, this is a room where great things come to pass.

banjo-b-que 2013 stage

Our first show was at the 2013 Banjo-B-Que in Evans, GA.  We had the good fortune to play this last year, and it was a blast.  This year we are happy to report the same smokey-good-times were had by all.  The artist food is comprised of the BBQ that was submitted for judging in the competitions.  Incredible.  We played two sets - above you can see our afternoon set on the main stage.  We then traipsed off to the evening side-stage (as seen below).  We rocked and rolled.  That night we were housed in the same hotel as The Steeldrivers.  Great, great band, and great, great people.  Richard, their banjo player, was kind enough to let some of our crew hang out with him late into the night and play on his near-priceless banjo.  So I was told.  I was fast, fast asleep.  It takes me a few days to adjust my father/teacher schedule to the band/tour schedule.

banjo-b-que 2013 stage night time

We had a few days off following the Banjo-B-Que and our good friend Georgia was kind enough to introduce us to her mom, put us up in her Mom's place, and show us around the pool, some barbecued chicken skewers, some down-time to work new material, and a serious game of Catch Phrase.  We are not used to time off... which might be why no pictures survive from that sweet, sweet R&R.  We did, however, start our Band Roll Call at this time.  We tried to post one every day and were - for the better part of it - successful.  Click the links to visit our You Tube page and you can see the silliness that I'm talking about.

chicken and waffles

It should be no surprise by now that my favorite part about touring is eating good food.  Enter the legend of Jack Delbridge.  The man heard we liked chicken and waffles and - BAM - makes it.  Makes the best damn chicken and waffles we've ever had.  Turns out the fellow - in addition to pulling some tours with special forces search and rescue in Iraq - has a degree from culinary school.  Legend Status +2.  We rolled with Jack out to Knoxville, TN for our next tour date. 

knoxville barley's taproom

We had a good time playing in Barley's Taproom, but had an even better time listening to Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys.  They were so damn good.  We rocked their CDs all the way to Greenville, SC the next day.  I don't have a good photo record of Greenville - but were were fortunate and honored to stay at Ryan's cousin's house.  The beds were so soft and cozy!  The show that night was boot-stomping good times.  It was a sparse crowd in a huge venue, so we finished the set acoustic, down on the floor amongst our good and noble friends and had a grand time of it. 

We drove to Abington, VA the next day.  We played music all day, and ate smoky ribs all night.  It was glorious.  Exhausting, but good.  Thanks to the amazing Doug for putting everything together out there.  We almost made it to his house to shoot guns and ride horses, but time was not on our side.  We had to get to Chattanooga.  Once there we would reunite with Jack, and head for Wakarusa.

chattanooga crowd

Chattanooga, TN blew our minds.  A huge crowd of people were in the plaza for the Nightfall concert series, and we had a glorious time playing music to them.  Dancers, whoopers, hollerers - these people gave us a much-needed shot in the arm.  Everyone we met - from the organizers to the sound people to the fans - were damn good, nice folk.  Oh dearest Chattanooga, we want to come back to thee! 

santa cerveza

At the end of the night, we were unable to finish all of our hometown, backstage Lagunitas.  What to do??  Well, there is an urban legend among touring bands that if you clap three times, and spin around, and sing "Santa Cerveza" loudly in front of a mirror, than a hairy, sack-of-beer slinging character will appear and save the day.  Thanks Santa Cerveza!

The next day we rolled out - the journey to Wakarusa now officially underway.  Jack came on as our Tour Manager and was faced with the distastful task of having to drive our rental van all the way from Ozark, AR back to Atlanta, GA by himself.  Legendary Status = +3.  On the way out we tuned in to reports of ferocious weather, cancelled sets, massive winds and heavy storms from Wakarusa and - so it seemed - all the roads between us and them.  We decided to take a slow trip out, and post up at a motel.  This gave us time to visit Jack's friend Sam and shoot guns.  We didn't actually get to shoot them, but we did take a picture of Ryan looking... tough? 

ryan and guns

The liesurely drive out to Wakarusa also gave us time to visit our good friend Teddy Thomas who was serendipitously recording his new record in Nashville.  We rolled into his studio and sat in on some vocal takes.  It sounded absolutely badass.  So good.  Did I mention that the producer on the record (and the studio owner) was a certain Fred Vail?  The legendary tour manager of The Beach Boys??  We had to get a photo of that:

fred vail

We made it to a motel in Clarksville, lounged in a hot tub, threw water balloons at each other, and made a nice night of it.

wakarusa cart

I had to include this shot because it gives you a small idea of the vast and formidable amounts of mud that were facing us at Wakarusa.  The festival is in a picturesque mountain park - lush greenery and trees all around.  But after the torrential rains and typhoon winds, it was a raging mud puddle.  Thankfully, Wakarusians are a hardy and fun-loving bunch.  Most had weathered the storms and were in good spirits when we rolled in Sunday.  The weather was clearing, and Snoop Lion was headlining that night.  All would be well.

ben on the phone at wakarusa

There is our nondescript, boring white rental tour van.  It is hard to be away from our sweet red lady for so long.  Here Ben is... calling the rain and telling it to stop dumping buckets on the festival we just rolled in to.  That man has some serious authority.  Just look at his security guard in the background there.  Serious.  That's what this photo is.

wakarusa junk

The good Wakarusians made this awesome sculpture out of all the destroyed canopies / tents / shade structures that the storm had demolished.  There is a hilarious sign in there that reads:  For Toby Keith - Do Not Remove.  There is a Country music festival on the same grounds the very next weekend... and Toby Keith is headlining.  We love these Wakarusa folk.

band shot at wakarusa

Wakarusa was good to us.  We had some seriously amazing adventures.  Stories for the record books.  Jack earned Legendary Status +4 and +5 for his Tour Managing and Golf-Cart-Commandeering while we were there.  We met amazing artist laisons, great people, helpful people, gracious and generous people.

We also rocked out to Snoop Lion:

snoop lion

It was exciting to be 3 people away from a living legend... and the rest of the band seemed pretty stoked.  I don't know the words to a single Snoop song... I could sing along with a few hooks, but a whole song?  Nope.  I could, however, sing every song in the Soundgarden repetoire - including the early work when Hiro Yamamoto was the bassist.  Different musical passions in the 90s, I suppose.  I actually had to leave the show early because my body - literally - could not handle the bass.  It was moving my intestines and spinal column, and I think was ivading my spleen.  Crazy what that level of subwoofer can do to a man.

That night of Wakarusa was eternal - the music stopped around 7am the next morning, and we rolled out at 9.  We got to the airport in a muddy, dirty, exhausted, happy heap. 

gio sleeping in airport

I got to hang out with Graham and Scott - bassist and drummer from Tornado Rider - who shared my flights home, and that was awesome.  The rest of the band (on another flight) had to leap over small buildings and sprint between connecting flights.  I heard the story later - it seemed way less fun than talking band talk with two chill and cool dudes who shred their instruments. 

We head for Colorado next week, and the family is coming with me!  Expect more photos, and more mentions of my gorgeous wife and baby.  Until then, thanks for reading.  Now go leave us some tour memories on the scrapbook page, already.

Checking up on The Family

Submitted by Gio on

Last weekend we rolled up and down the 5 again.  We've been through this area so much in the last three years, that it is very much starting to feel like family.  We come into town, check up on each other, give hugs, share some food, play some music, and then say our very temporary goodbyes.  This past tour we had the pleasure of rolling out with the esteemed Mr. Josh Rabie, singularly excellent fellow and fiddle player.  You may remember him from such bands as Watertower Bucket Boys and, subsequently, Watertower.  He is a shredder, taught us Brothers a big heap-ton of old-time fiddle tunes and traditional bluegrass numbers, and appreciates a fine cup of coffee.  Hellova guy, there.

Our photo Blog begins with this guitar.  We were up at the crack of dawn to make it to Eugene for our first show at Sam Bond's.  I was starving.  We had been driving for days.  In these harsh and ration-less conditions, I was near collapse.  Food!  I cried from the back seat.  Nourishment!  I begged.  No, Gio.  First, we had to stop at McKenzie River Music so that Ben could see his secret girlfriend:

bens dream guitar

If anyone has a spare $2000 lying around, and wants to get this for Ben, please do so.  I'm not sure I could take another 10 hour drive without food as our first and primary destination. 

Sam Bond's was great fun, and we had the good fortune to crash with Brad and Asha.  Not only are they great people, fun to hang out with, aspiring and brilliant professionals in beautiful and creative fields, and owners of lots of couch and floor space.... but they also are the world's greatest purveyors of Band Breakfasts.  This was our homemade Eggs Benedict.  Yep.  Brad made that sauce from scratch.  Our road family is awesome.

breakfast with brad and asha

A lot of people ask us (no one ever asks us) how we stay so fit and trim while we're out on the road.  Well.  If you took the time to join up on our Instagram feed (@broscomatose), you would see regular and ridiculous photos of us at rest stops across the US firming up our pectorals, and flexing our quads.  I was the lucky recipient of our last candid, rest-stop-cali

sthenics-photo-shoot.  Note my awesome green lightning-bolt socks, please:

gio does supermans at a rest stop

We stopped on the way to Bellingham to pick up our favorite videographer / road-warrior, the amazing Jessie McCall.  Whilst stopped in Portlandia the ever-astute Josh noticed a giant puddle of important looking stuff pooling beneath the van.  He is natural at respecting vans.  Here he is with Alex - note the look of fatherly concern on Alex's mustachioed brow.  We do so love our van.

josh and alex assess the van

When the band decides to buy a commune and raise our little Brothers Comatose on a big farm where we alternate between touring and goat-herding, it will be in Bellingham.  Hopefully very near to Jonah and The Roost.  We met up with our old tour-chum Saturday night at his home-turned-venue.  The opening band were our good buddies Juniper Stills - formerly Wyatt Parks and The Mute Choir.  Here's a photo of us jamming on the front stoop of the Roost, followed by the Stills rocking The Roost Stage:

jamming on the roost stoop

juniper stills at the roost

And - following our traditional mind-bendingly great time had at The Roost, we follow it up with breakfast at The Copper Hog.  Dear Copper Hog - your food is good, but we would like to register a complaint:  Please bring back the Chicken and Waffles.  It is the stuff dreams are made of.

Our last night was spent in Portland, Oregon.  We were back at Mississippi studios and we loved seeing all our Portland family.  We even got to hang out with some of our favorite musicians that we've met on our travels:  Observe our Brothers Comatose hanging out with Portland's Sisters Shook (from The Shook Twins, naturally):

shook twins meet the brothes comatose

The van made it all the way home on Monday, and she'll be at the doctor all the next few weeks.  Looks like some steering and transmission issues have been raised.  I'm sure it will be very easy to fix, and extremely affordable.

We head out for the great South East again this weekend.  A festival of Banjos and Barbeques, a week of club dates, and then Wakarusa.  Keep your eyes here for more photos and updates, folks.  Thanks for being such sweet folk to us, and for coming out to the shows, for putting us up on couches, for dancing, and letting us pursue this madness of a touring life. 

woooooooo hoo!

Hipnic & Family & Touring

Submitted by Gio on

Welcome to my joys, ladies and gentlemen:

Stellachoke on the way to Hipnic V

That is my Stellachoke.  She is rare and delicious. She and my amazing bride made the camping trek down to Big Sur for Hipnic.  We were a full family unit on Mothers Day Weekend.  Do you know that fruit / veggie stand on the side of Highway 1 right around Moss Landing?  The one that advertises things that seem alien and impossible?  10 avocados for a dollar?  Well, we stocked up there.  That's where I snapped this shot of the rare Stellachoke.  The drive down was gorgeous.  Highway 1 to Big Sur is incredible.  We rolled into camp late, set up tents, made fires, opened cases of Lagunitas, and enjoyed a Big Sur weekend that was never for a moment foggy, damp, or windy.  It was perfect.

Big Sur campfire

(Our camp photographer, Ryan, either a.) getting Artsy   b.)  accidentally taking a picture whilst falling asleep by a campfire  c.)  taking one last photo before sacrificing his technology to the altar of outdoorsy-camping-and-roughing-it.)

Did I already mention that the weekend was glorious with its weather?  I did?  Well, in case thou  didst not believe me, here is another example of Captain Avellone's Photo-Vision-Quest:  He found himself in a mountain paradise with friends we made in an LA parking lot years ago.  Turns out they staked a claim in the heaves of Big Sur.  Ryan knew we wouldn't believe him so he, wisely, documented the sunset from his lofty perch:

BIg Sur Sunset

I know, I know.  A music festival is only partially about the people you're with and the perfect, balmy, Mother's Day weather.  It is also in large part about the music.  Luckily for us, a festival put on by The Mother Hips and Folk Yeah is a festival where we are going to be awash in the sounds we would want to be hearing all day every day.  The lineups were ideal, the performances were lush and sweet and warm, and the setting was Big Sur.  A stage in front of a giant meadow and hills and redwoods and blue skies.  Here's an example featuring our favorite people to ever sling guitars:  Our Beloved Gramblers:
Hipnic V Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers Set

We had the honor of playing the closing set on Sunday.  We warmed up for the event all day by swimming in rivers and lounging in campsites drinking coffee.  When we actually did get to work, we were warming up in a glade of dappled shadows, on the banks of a rippling creek.  My family was all around, my lovely bride and the Mother of our child was by my side all weekend, and it was Mothers Day, and our friends were thick both on the stage and off, and everything in the world was right and good.

The Brothers Comatose rehearse at Hipnic V

Thanks to all of our friends that came out to the festival and hung out with us and brought us bourbon-sweet-potato pies.  We love you all.  Thanks to the Mother Hips for being an example of how to get a festival together as a thinly veiled disguise for a giant weekend party with all of your favorite people.

We now head into the great Northwest.  See you on the happy trails, folks.

The Weekend in Photos

Submitted by Gio on

Here it is - I'll explain what I can for each one.  Thanks to John for capturing some quality images of Charlotte and Shakori - and for driving me to the airport from the festival.  He played me some live Violent Femmes and bought me Eastern North Carolina BBQ.  That ranks you a Champion in my book.  Enjoy the photos:

In which The Brothers Comatose sing and play and begin to have a glorious time in Charlotte, NC - this is from The Evening Muse.  We opened for The Whiskey Gentry - an excellent band of awesome folks from Georgia.  Speaking of Georgia...  our friend and road-buddy Georgia put us up in her driveway (you'll see how/why) and took care of us all weekend.  Thanks Georgia!

The acapella singing in Charlotte

Full Band in Charlotte

In which the Brothers Comatose journey in North Carolina and visit the home of the Avetts.  Jim and Susie fed us lunch, told us stories, let us enjoy their incredibly cozy and comfortable hospitality and front porch, and Jim toured us through his guitar collection.  He played us tunes, doled out wisdom, and offered book recommendations.  We traded CDs and then headed off to Pisgah.  Pretty awesome people.  Looking forward to running into them again.

Ben playing one of Jim Avett's guitars

We have a conspicuous absence in the photo journal - no photos of the Pisgah Brewery show - the gorgeous backstage with the pool table and Pacman - the newly remodeled stage, the delicious BBQ and sausages - the epic after-show jam in the RV.  Thanks Pisgah!  We love you folks.  If you'd stop being so damn fun, and if your beer wasn't so good, maybe we'd remember / have time to take a picture or two.  Sheesh.

So this next one - finally - reveals the RV.  I chose the RV reveal shot to also feature Phil and a ridiculous banjo.  This thing was silly.  Beds all over the place, tables, a fridge, a bathroom... who knew that Vans came that big?  We still love our Van, and we still respect her and only her... but it was damn fun cruising the highways and byways in a 30 foot rolling luxury hotel room.

Phil a banjo and an RV

The rest of this photo journal is all from Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival.  We had the luck to tour the West Coast with Donna the Buffalo in November.  We made friends and - as it turns out - they happen to throw one of the greatest festivals of all time out in North Carolina every year.  They invited us out to play, and it was incredible.  The hospitality, the environment - not a corporate sponsor in sight... it was like Kate Wolf and Oregon Country Fair had a laid back, groovy younger cousin out in NC. 

The photos are from our performance Saturday night on the Grove stage - one of our collectively favorite performances of all time.  The people here made us feel so freakin' good.  I couldn't wipe the smile off my face all night.  It starts with our first song - only a few brave souls to be found at this West Coast string band's first Shakori appearance... 

Shakori first song

... and then, about 3 songs in... the sun went down, the lights came on, and the people wrapped us up in their North Carolina love.

shakori fans at night

...and thus, we proceeded to get down.

shakori get down

We even had an epic hype crew of festival kids that tore the stage up with us.  Where did they come from?  We don't know.  Ryan saw them, got them out on the stage, and they killed it.  So. Damn. Fun.

shakori hype crew

And then, the final night... Donna The Buffalo invited us out on the main stage to rock with them.  These people are awesome.

on stage with donna at shakori

And then we packed up, brought back the RV and came home.  One amazing weekend.  The only thing missing from this blog post about North Carolina - and perhaps most importantly - is a record of their delicious pulled pork - to be eaten with their delicious vinegar-based sauce.  So, here you go.  Smell the hickory!  Savor the Greens!  Marvel at the tender delicacy of the Pork!!

bbq

There you have it. 

Can't wait to go back.

Thanks again North Carolina for being so awesome. 

Charlotte

Submitted by Gio on

Don't take red eye flights, people.

They leave you groggy, delerious, unsure of what day or time it is... 

But they do get you to Charlotte, NC with plenty of time to sleep, eat, and get coffee before a Thursday night show.

...

Now I'm torn as to the goodness of the red eye. 

Any-ol-ways...

We got to Charlotte and picked up our amazing, gigantic, and altogether luxurious 30 foot RV with some help from our good friends Meredith and Georgia.  It is a band palace.  A huge, impossible to drive, moving band palace.

We drove it back to Georgia's and promptly fell asleep.

We woke up, I went out with Meredith to pick up the bass (thanks Violin Shoppe!) and poor Ryan (whose flight was separate from ours and also delayed) taxied his tired self to Georgia's house for the full band rendezvous.  We were re-united.  Like the Transformers that could combine into a giant dinosaur.

The show Thursday night was at The Evening Muse with our long lost friends, The Whiskey Gentry.  The sound was glorious, the crowd was full of good and noble, music-loving souls.  We made some new friends, asked about recommended BBQ spots, and rocked out to the W.G.

Post show, we rolled our moving headquarters back to Georgia's, and then I, your faithful scribe, went to sleep.  3/5 of the band rolled out to the notorious and legendary night-life of Charlotte.  But that, dear readers, is their story to tell.  And they, dear readers, can't seem to figure out how to post a blog post.  So, if you want to hear about the late night antics, and the full story about how Ryan lost a finger, and why we are now on the run from the NC police, you'll have to hit up those night-life-loving fellows.

Love to you all - see you soon.

-GIo

East Coast - Part 2

Submitted by Gio on

Hey there Folks.

Gio here again.  I was first one to the airport tonight, so I have some time to devour as I wait for the 10:40 red eye to Atlanta. 

We're on our way out to North Carolina again.  We were there last May, and we're all excited to go back. What I should say ...

Ooh - had to stop the Blog post - Ben just called.  I have to go to the security gate and grab a guitar from him.  He can't get through!  This is real life on the road happening now!!  Wow!  The blogging excitement of it all!

Talk to you soon folks.

Family and Friends on the Road

Submitted by Gio on

Hail hail folks. 

We just rolled in tonight from a lovely trip down to Los Angeles and Ventura.  Played some very awesome shows, got to be on TV, got to goof around behind the news desk, and got to see family and friends in far off lands that we wouldn't get to see otherwise.

I'm tired and weary and exhausted, and I'll be up to teach the 'ol Zero Period Jazz Band tomorrow morning... but I had to just jump on here and put in a word or two about traveling with a band.  No, scratch that - not "a" band - this band. 

Ryan's family lives in Los Angeles - Ryan grew up down there.  Thanks to our tour schedule and the awesomeness of Ryan's family, we've spent lots of time with the Avellones.  I have even come to feel that the stretch of carpet between the front windows and the back of the couch is my stretch of carpet.  Ryan's younger brothers have vanned it around with us - this last weekend they even brought along some killer gear and shot footage for a potentially amazing music video (the footage of us in the TV studio was gold, I tell you.  Gold.)  Our friends from high school that have ended up in LA have been huge supporters, wonderful late night partiers and skilled late, late night taco-truck-finders.  The band allows these relationships to exist outside of the internet, and I love that.

This last weekend was logistically easy enough that I was able to drive down with Jenny and Stella (my lovely lady and our lovely little baby-lady).  And for a place to stay, we were able to stay with our family that we see all too seldom.  The result was amazing time spent with the little cousins / nieces / nephew, great time spent with the whole family, meals shared, kitchen floor early-morning banjo-jams of Pie for Breakfast, gracious hospitality, and some very wonderful quality family time spent with people that we love, but don't see enough.  Saturday's show took us to Ventura, and we were lucky enough to be able to stay with friends that had moved south years before and that we hadn't seen much of since.  Got to catch up, got to play music with the youngest son who picks a mean banjo (and came and sat in for a couple tunes that night), got to see the creative and inspiring things they are all up to, got to sleep in their cozy, loving house, and got to raid their fridge in the morning.  And, once again, the band and our tour schedule got it all to happen.

I suppose the only down side is that when you're in town but also working, the schedule is tight.  You don't get to spend all the time you want, you don't get to have the lazy conversation over the cup of coffee you were hoping for...  but damn.  It sure beats a text message and a facebook status update.

So, for every time I jump on the 'ol Blog here and begin to sob about missing the family, about being on the road too long, or anything along those lines, y'all can just link this post back to me and remind me of how many great friends and family members we've met / made / stayed in touch with / partied with / crashed-on-the-floor-of and gotten to see and hug and spend time with thanks to the crazy schedule and traveling antics of this van-driving bunch of hooligans.

It is glorious.

Coffee flavored Coffee

Submitted by Gio on

I don't know if anyone else remembers this old Denis Leary bit about coffee flavored coffee...  (I won't embed the thing, but if you're interested, click-a right-a here-a).  A disclaimer - it is straight from the year 1997.  When "www dot ____ " jokes were cutting edge. 

I only bring it up because since 1997, we have gotten fancier.  Not that I have to worry about maplenut crunch, or hazelbean sunrise, or flavors like that... at least not at the espresso slinging joints I find myself in.  I bring it up today because - like everything that starts out as a love / passion / joy... when pursued and studied and analyzed at such serious and imperial lengths... things get lost.   I'm talking about espresso, of course.

For example.

Our touring route routinely brings us up I-5.  This - happily - takes us through the heart of GreatCoffeeVille USA.  Arcata, Eugene, Portland, Seattle, Bellingham - good coffee.  I love espresso.  I will walk blocks and blocks to find the espresso shack if options close and closer are only sporting the drip.  The beef I am about to raise has to do with espresso and only espresso.  Not drip.  Drip away all ye mighty drippers!  Do your thing!  More drippy power to you!  In a hotel lobby at the crack of noon, I may even join you at your watery and drippy quaffing.  But - when I have my druthers - it will be espresso.  Why espresso?  Because I like thick, dark, roasty-roasted, rich, full-throated, volumptuous espresso, that's why. 

Enter the beef.

Recently - not only up and down our I-5 trek, but also, I'm sad to say, here at home - yay, verily, even in my little P-cow-town, our espresso is being made.... less espresso-y.  The philosophy, as I understand it (as I've had many a barista explain as they look down their noses at me), is this:  When you roast a bean (similar to roasting anything, I suppose) - you roast out the actual flavor inherent in the bean (or potato, or chicken, or bell-pepper - you get the idea.)  If you roast it for a short while, you will have maximum flavor.  If you over roast it - if you roast it until the beans are extremely dark (Italian roast, it used to be called, I believe) - it is akin (so the philosophy goes) to burning a delicate dish of roasted snapper, or fava beans.  Gone is the flavor, gone is the delicate art of the roaster, gone is the bouquet, the high notes, the tannins and the hints of blackberry...  And so the espresso that one finds at many a (you hoped) very-delicious-and-hip-and-with-it-coffee-shop is - sadly - not the espresso this bassist is looking for. 

When I order espresso, I am looking for the dynamic and complex flavors of espresso: curvy, sensual, gorgeous, velvety coffee-ness.  High notes, fruits, nuts, herbs, all that is well and good for the drip and the french press and the teas... but please oh please, coffee world, not for espresso!  These hightened flavors that one boasts of are gone if you don't drink the coffee drink in one swift shot.  By sip number two, the bottom has fallen out of the flavor, and you're left with an extremely bitter, foundationless, non-robust cup of very complexly flavored non-espresso.

So.

I wanted to take this little soap box moment to thank Lighthouse Roasters of Seattle.  They get it.  They have all kinds of coffee there - they are serious coffee folk!  They know about flavors and roasting times.  They know about complexity and seriousness of coffee afficionados.  And yet - and yet they roast their espresso with a full pair of cojones.  There is a foundation deep and pure and sonorous as Nina Simone in their espresso.  They didn't hand out a light-roasted, maximum flavored, hoity-toity cup of bitter disappointment.  Nay.  They offered this bass player the best cup of coffee he has had on tour to date. 

Thanks Lighthouse Roasters.  Please send your roasting team out to the roasteries and espresso bars of the world to spread your good news!  To share your secret lore!  To embrace the world in a warm, dark, cozy womb of flavor and substance that is - in some places - in danger of disappearing all together!

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