We were driving home from Sacramento last night at some ungodly hour, and I was remarking to Ben all the things I should write down for our tour stops, so as to not make the same terrible mistakes time after time at the same places. Terrible mistakes. About carnitas. I was thinking – make a note in my phone; record a quick voice memo; scratch it out in a journal? …
And then Ben said: “use the blog.” He’s so wise! I think it’s the hat.
So – here’s a blog post that isn’t exactly a Coffee report, though coffee will be reported on. It’s a note to myself so that I can know better how to navigate Chico and Sacramento in those two most important aspects of touring: food & coffee.
Notes to self: Dear Gio,
Chico crowds are party crowds: take naps before Chico shows, and be prepared for anything. Anything.
Naked Lounge in Chico has awesome coffee and – on Saturday mornings – a record swap / live DJ. Perfect.
Don’t eat Chicken Tikka Masala before shows ever again.
At La Fiesta Taqueria in Sacramento, dear Gio, you always order pastor, chicken and carnitas tacos, because you can’t remember which of them you like. You like the pastor and the chicken. Stop ordering their carnitas.
…on a related note: the carnitas at Gordo’s taco truck in Chico is (are?) awesome. Order carnitas there.
Old Soul coffee in Sacramento is an Emperor’s New Clothes coffee shop. You don’t like their coffee or their roasting philosophy… or their idea that one barrista is enough barristas to both take orders and make orders. If you ever go back there, bring your sandwich board, pamphlets, and megaphone and do your Dark Roast Evangelizing in front of their misguided shop.**
The people at Fieldwork brewery are awesome. Give them lots of high fives.
**I get that some people like the light roast stuff. But some of us like earthy, roasty-toasty, salt-of-the-earth, make-me-feel-something-in-my-soul coffee. Some people like to read lots of historical fiction – or non-fiction best sellers. If I opened a bookstore, I would stock those books – even though I don’t read them. But I would also stock the books I like. Right? Can’t we have both? Oh, light roast coffee shops, why must we be such bitter (ha!) enemies??
We left on Thursday morning at 8am to get to San Luis Obispo. This was OK, because leaving from home means that I can drink my at-home, stove-top espresso percolator (AKA Mucca pot, AKA Bialetti 6 cup, AKA ‘Chester’) with the fresh-ground Hardcore Coffee (in Sebastopol right off 116 – best espresso in the county!) espresso beans. Add half and half.
The drive was eternal and consisted of a (… start sad, shameful music here) Starbucks stop somewhere outside of Gilroy. I’m a huge opponent of the chain – both it’s business practice of setting up shop right next to the local folk, and their bad espresso. But they have saved our entire band from bloodshed and mayhem countless times with their omnipresence and accessible caffeine even on the most remote roads of tour-dom. (…and… end music.)
SLO is a great place to play – especially when you are at the Fremont Theater. Yes, the theater is beautiful and the crowd was amazing and fantastic. But – very importantly – the theater is across the street from BlackHorse Espresso & Bakery. Tasty, and local. It was necessary to wash the taste of evil out of my mouth. It was good… but it was hedging a bit towards the light side of roasting… and you all know how I feel about that, dear reader. Let’s not belabor the point.
From SLO we headed down the coast for a show (the first of two) opening up for our buddies in ALO. Their LA show was at the Troubadour and I love that place. Also, those ALO guys are consummate gentlemen, and kick-ass musicians. It was a joy to be on tour with them. But, I digress. Conveniently, just around the corner from The Troubadour, is a wonderful little bar/cafe/bakery called La Conversation. The service was delightful and it was – by a wide margin – the most delicious, dark, roasty, perfect espresso of the trip. We’re headed back to The Troubadour in June (sources say), and I’m already looking forward to the coffee.
The show was also heaps of fun.
That night we drove to San Clemente to begin a 2 night stay at La Casa di Zolg. Our friends, Denise and Mike, are generous and amazing to the point of unbelievability. 8 people total in our band and crew, and we were in the lap of delicious luxury for two days. Leaving San Clemente is the worst decision that this band makes consistently, year after year. You’d think we’d learn.
2 espressos (or, to be italian and correct, espressi) were had in San Clemente. The first at my old stomping ground, Zebra House Coffee. It’s a damn fine espresso they serve there. The big to-do around town, however, was this North Coast espresso house that opened up right on the beach: Bear Coast Coffee. The new shop just won the annual “best-of” competition. I tried it. It was good, but depressing. The North Bay is now exporting this mistaken approach to coffee roasting… and people are buying into it! Noooooo! We need an international espresso intervention team to come in from Australia and get us back on track. I think that the ultra-hipster decor (bare wood, chrome, exposed beams and pipes, minimal everything) creates this Emperor’s New Clothes mentality in people. It’s not better espresso, but the decor hip-timidates people into thinking they must just not have ‘good taste’. I believe the same insidious mentality is at work in music as well… but that’s for a different report. To conclude – the new coffee shop was like seeing Acre Coffee (the hip new Petaluma chain, where I live) or Four Barrel (from the Mission in SF) in San Clemente. It was good – but not better.
We played The Belly Up in Solano Beach on Saturday night, again opening up for ALO. What a great venue… and another lovely local espresso shack across the street: Lofty Coffee. Had some great musical conversations with the excellent staff there… too much water in my “Gio,” but I blame myself for distracting the staff with my excited chit-chat about bands, shows, and Australia. (My actual mission in life is to have a coffee drink named after me: 2 shots of espresso with just about an inch of hot water – a very, very short – or, as I like to say, baby – americano, which will be called, throughout the world, a “Gio”. Pass it on. Help me achieve my dreams.*) Anyway, Michael (barista and keyboard player) – hope the new band works out, and you should send me a demo. Soul-Music meets Queens of the Stone Age was how he described it. No wonder I wasn’t paying attention. He was speaking to my hopes and dreams.
We drove home Sunday… all day. My first coffee of the day was ~gasp~ drip coffee. No morning espresso. Such is the magic of the Zolgs and their hospitality. Their drip coffee was exquisite and wonderful.
The whole band re-upped on caffeine somewhere in Valencia, at a Whole Foods. This is utilitarian – like a Starbucks stop. I may as well start telling you about pee stops.
We’re home now, I’m back with my Hardcore beans and Chester. I’m happy. The kids and Jenny are great, we’re getting ready to head to Chico and Sacramento. “Where to get espresso there?” and “will it be dark and roasty and delicious?” are the pre-tour questions I ask.
If you have any hot tips – let me know.
*The espresso drink, The Gio, is a drink that belongs to Molly – the owner of Hardcore Coffee in Sebastopol. It’s her drink, and at Hardcore, it is named after her. She introduced me to it, and I love her for it. I am actively trying to claim naming rights nationally, which is a bit dastardly. But it does protect you from ordering a Molly at an espresso shop, and having the EDM-experienced barista give you a hard, hard look and ask you in a low voice, “what did you say?”**
**This has happened.
The Coffee Report – Jan 20-28, 2017
When you have to get up at 3:45am to catch the airporter, it is advisable not to drink coffee so as to more effectively pass out on the bus.
This I did, good reader. And pass out on the bus I also did.
Having to be awake and functional from 6-8am the morning of our flight out was difficult: trying to focus on not losing my ID, getting my bass checked to Miami, finding gates – all of these things were made difficult by my lack of caffeine and consequent wooziness and disinterest in life and everything in the waking world.
It was, however, important to NOT drink coffee, so as to more effectively pass out on the plane.
And pass out on the plane I also did. Thank God.
The first coffee of the tour was half spilled all over my carry-on bag from my thermos. I can’t seem to find a way to not spill water bottles on planes. Tips are welcome. It was not warm, and it was not terribly delicious, but it was espresso with a little bit of (at one time) hot water and cream, and I felt clever for having thought so far ahead… less clever because my bag was rather soaked in espresso… but still. Pretty clever, right?
Here was the fear. The fear was that Jam Cruise would be rife with coffee but – terrifyingly – absent of espresso. I had hope, however, that the decadence, gluttony and sheer debauchery that seems inherent in a cruise ship would somehow – please – include an espresso bar.
Folks, it did.
One floor below my cabin, a pleasant mid-ship stroll away, there was espresso.
And it was good.
The first day the coffee schedule was a normal, diurnal human’s coffee schedule. I went to bed… late. As Jam Cruise continued, the coffee scheduled shifted as did the normal hours of activity. Jam Cruise – whether you do copious amounts of drugs or not – will transform you into a nocturnal dance-fiend. It is foolish to resist, so I didn’t. I hauled my bass around, jammed when I could, slept when I could, and ended up on a solid two wake-up/shower/coffees-per-day routine – one around noon, one around 8pm.
Getting off the boat was both liberating and an exhausting reality-crash.
We had a day and a half to drive from Miami to Charlotte, NC. We were back on the mainland, and back in the fickle world of yelp/internet-search coffee stops. Happily, my espresso dependence is recognized by the band (mainly because they don’t like to be on tour with the version of me that hasn’t had espresso), and so these road-side stops are not only tolerated, but encouraged.
Whole Foods is a regular stop: everyone can get a breakfast/lunch/dinner of their preference, there’s coffee and espresso, and – even though we spend exorbitant amounts of money for our granola-crunchy-kale&beet-leafy-help-me-digest-food-please food choices – we all leave happy (ish).
But, Whole Foods espresso is not something to write home about. Nor is Jam Cruise espresso. They are stop-gap measures to prevent the cranky-crankerton beast that is Gio-Without-Espresso from rearing his ugly, cantankerous head.
The first local espresso we had was in Savannah, after an amazingly hospitable stay at Casa Di Quattlebaum – the childhood home of our good buddy Austin Quattlebaum from Crow & The Canyon.
The espresso of the day was from Coffee Fox. The place was like many of your modern-day, hip local coffee roaster joints of which I am a strong proponent. However, it had fallen victim to a current localcoffeesmallroaster trend of which I am a huge opponent: the light roast. Folks these days like to roast the coffee just enough to brown it. It stays very flavorful on the high end, has lots of acidic bite… I guess some folks are into that. But not this bass player. I need something deep, full, dark, and roasty in order to fully satisfy those crucial, euphoric parts of my bassy-espresso-loving soul.
The espresso of Coffee Fox was too light, folks. The people working there were awesome and kind and wonderful, but the espresso was too. damn. light.
Happily, even when the espresso is too. damn. light. It still calms the savage beast. The drive to Charlotte could continue.
When we got to the venue I headed over for the traditional afternoon cup of espresso at Earl’s Grocery in Charlotte, right next to the Visulite theater. Excellent, beautiful, dark, full-bodied, roasted, full-flavored espresso. It was excellent.
So excellent that we went back the next morning.
I was a happy boy twice over.
(I am glossing over the part in the tour where we have – at this point – met up with The Infamous Stringdusters to open 3 dates for them. They are awesome guys, fantastic players, and their shows are incredible. But this is not the “Awesome Bands Report. This is the Coffee Report. So let me get back to it.)
The next day’s drive would be an epic 7 hour journey to Washington DC to the 9:30 club. Whenever we approach DC, I listen to Fugazi, one my favorite bands of all time ever. Their bassist, Joe Lally is one of my all time favorites – I grew up learning his lines and loving his playing. Remember this, as it will be important in about 2 paragraphs.
The theater was amazing… and so was the coffee a mere block and a half away at Compass Coffee. They got it right. Best espresso of the trip thus far. I attribute it to the magic of Fugazi, still at work on the streets of DC all these years later.
I asked the people at the theater about Fugazi. Gus, the front of house engineer (that’s the guy that makes sure the sound coming to the audience is groovy and perfect, for those of you wondering. If you want to have good show manners, next time a show sounds great, let your local front of house guy know. They work their asses off.) said that Joe Lally (remember? My favorite bassist from Fugazi? I told you to remember.) still came around every once in a while. I asked Gus if I could leave a love note for Joe, and Gus said he would deliver it for me. So I got to write a teeny-bopper style thank you note to one of my earliest influences, bass teachers, and inspirations. It was awesome.
Today we woke up and headed to breakfast and coffee at Busboys and Poets* in DC. The espresso (cappuccino this morning, actually) was good. Spectacular? Not really. But good. So now I’m well-caffeinated, needing to pee, sitting in the van as we drive to Philly.
We’ll be staying with uncle Pierre in Philly.
Best perk of staying with Uncle Pierre? He has an espresso machine built into his fridge.
*Bonus about Busboys and Poets – it doubles as a bookstore, and I had read all the books I’d brought for this tour. But – again – this is The Coffee Report. The Band Book Report will have to wait.
It’s been a lot of days and a lot of shows since the last little tour update. Many espressos were consumed. Many shows were played. I’m in a very… unique motel in Bellingham right now. We’ll cross the border and head into Canada tomorrow (can you say International Touring Band??!!).
So – I’ll try and encapsulate the missing week here in one post. Sorry for the brevity and the lack of photos (I’m sooo bad at taking those photos) – I’ll make up for it with detailed descriptions of what I ate and enthusiasm for the metal versions of Brothers Comatose songs I’ve been working on in the van.
After Prosser we played Spokane. Spokane is always a great time – ever since the good ‘ol Neato Burrito days. (Speaking of which, we stopped there for lunch before show time. Never disappoints!)
After Spokane we drove an hour and change to get to Cliff & Sharon’s. Cliff is the man that motivated the first ever Brothers Comatose tour waaaaay back in 2010 (2009? I can’t really remember). He booked us in Idaho, and we connected the rest of the dots in our old Red Chevy G20 Van, and thus was the touring life begun. We spent the next day lounging around Cliff and Sharon’s house, eating their food, sleeping, reading their books, and generally recovering our juju and mojo.
The next day we headed to Bozeman, Montana and the Filling Station. The show there was great as usual. That place adds a roadhouse spark to the music that must be some sort of magic generated by all the old beer cans and license plates hanging around the place.
Thursday brought us to Missoula and the Top Hat. Missoula crowds are some of the greatest, loudest, most kickass crowds you can ask for. We got a double encore that night. Double! It may have happened to us before, but I couldn’t tell you when. Boston from Bozeman made the trek to Missoula, and made us a kickass belt buckle. I laid claim to it. It’s got a skull on it, and it helps me write chunky metal riffs.
Friday brought the band and van into Victor, Idaho and the Knotty Pine. The night was raucous and loud with a bachelorette party in full swing. Penis hats were sighted. Barbecue was eaten. Good times were had.
Saturday was in Boise at the Neurolux. The show was a sold out, packed house, get-down extravaganza. Boise has been so sweet and good to us, and the show there was so damn fun. My amazing wife flew out to Boise on Friday with a friend to meet up with yet another friend. They had their reunion party times, and then Jenny and I got to see each other on Saturday. I finally had a dance partner for the Easy Leaves set. Makes these last 7 days away from home not quite so hard to bear.
Sunday saw us rolling into the distant land of Enterprise, Oregon. Home of the OK Theater, Darrell, Bart, and a huge host of good and generous people. The show there was a town potluck, and folks all showed up bearing delicious home cooking. I can’t over emphasize the powers of home cooking on the touring musician. It breathes life into the body. The show there was great with lots of guests coming up to sing and play.
Today is Monday, and we drove and drove and drove today. The Canada border crossing looms tomorrow, and we’ll play Vancouver tomorrow night.
Thanks for checking in for the tour log. I’ll try and get things a little more up to date in the future!
Guess where I am right now.
Did you guess in a van??
If you did, you’re right.
Last update was right before the Eugene show. Sam Bond’s was a good time – thanks to all of our friends and Eugenian fans who came out to get rowdy with us!
We stayed at a cheap motel right around the corner from Greek row… which was interesting.
Got up, had coffee and made the gorgeous drive to Sisters, Oregon. The show last night was a sell out party with some of the most earth-shaking crowd stomping I’ve ever experienced. It was a damn good time in a beautiful place. Thanks, Sisters. Also – Angeline treated us to breakfast in the bakery the next morning.
Good coffee, delicious food… I love those two things. It makes touring and these long-ass drives in the van worth it.
We’re headed for Prosser, Washington right now and I really have to pee. So – I’m cutting this little tour update short here because it looks like we’re pulling off in to a nice little wooded turnout.
lots of driving, some tacos, and finally getting to internet in Prosser, WA)
Here we are in Prosser, Washington, home of Brewminatti’s – a fine establishment for coffee, music, food and beverages. It’s a sold out show (woo woo!) and the barista here is gorgeous…
The coffee is made with precision and love as well – have I mentioned the barista?
Had delicious tacos across the street, and are now getting ready for some sound checking.
All is well and good in the world of well-caffeinated bass players.
We’re on day two of tour, and we are being well cared for… so far.
We begin our journey with a stop at Lucchesi’s Deli in Petaluma. The way/amount/degree to which/passion with which certain band members love the Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich (on sour baguette) is rivaled only by Paseo in Seattle (we’ll get to this in a few weeks – be patient, dear reader.)
Thusly fueled, we drove our well-fed selves up to Arcata.
Once there, we met up with our tour buddies on this run – The Easy Leaves. These guys… can’t say enough good things about their music and their persons. Love them and their groovy, laid back cowboy jams.
The Arcata crowd was huge and rowdy and they sang along with everything and they danced their asses off, and it was glorious. The Humbrews show was the ideal way to start a tour. There was a crew of dudes there launching each other into the air using secret ninja/ballet techniques. Ryan crowd-surfed and got blood on his shirt. It was awesome.
That night we rallied to the Pumpkin house where we were met by Team Bond, warm home-cooked food, beds, and their sweet Bernie Sanders sign over the door.
The late night hospitality was matched only by the next morning’s hospitality. We feasted on eggs, bacon, toast, fruit, croissants, beets, coffee, OJ, good company, good people, and more good coffee.
Leaving the Pumpkin House is never a good idea, but it is necessary if a band is to tour their tour-y selves to their next tour date.
Leave we did (after a group photo – complete with all parties save Sage of the Easy Leaves. He was probably checking out the rad art studio in the back and soaking up the creative vibes to then transform into some tasty songs) and we hit the long windy (as in ‘lots of turns and curves’) road to Eugene.
(Thanks to Bob for the pit-stop along the way where we picked up some amazing smoked fish, which we just dipped into. Salmon jerky? Tuna jerky? Some tasty, delicious fish jerky. We have more bits and pieces in the van. Gotta eat them fassssssst though, right?)
We’re at Sam Bond’s in Eugene now getting ready for soundcheck. In fact, I should probably stop typing and go and play some bass.
We left town last Thursday. We left wonderful, warm, sea-level California coast to drive East into mountains, snow, storms, and snow. Did we mention the snow?
We started in Ogden, UT playing two shows at Snowbasin ski lodge. This was pretty damn fun. We all got time on the mountain, including this six-foot-four no-center-of-gravity-I’ve-only-skiied-once-in-my-life-twenty-years-ago bass player. It was a blast. (There’s a sub-plot here where I had a very hard time finding any espresso, but I don’t want to interrupt this band update to lament the fact that the espresso machine at Snowbasin was closed, and we were forced to drink hotel coffee for 3 days. That would be ridiculous, and excessive.) Lots of Utah friends came out to support, and good times are had by all.
Sunday we drove to Evanston, Wyoming. We played in Travis’ bar, Suds Brothers Brewery. Travis, we should add, became our host, tour-guide, temporary band-mate, and provider for our extended Evanston stay. “Extended?” you ask. Yes. Extended. Monday morning saw the closure of I-80 East of Evanston due to insane blizzards, snow, ice winds, and other things that are foreign and strange to those of us who grew up where 40 degrees is considered very, very cold.
Evanston was snow-covered and cold, but awesome. Travis was the most generous host a stranded band could hope for. (Evanston also had espresso, which brings an end to our tension-packed sub-plot. Peace and happiness was restored.) We checked out some thrift stores, went cross-country skiing on the snowed-over golf course, bought fireworks, and ate all Travis’ food.
Today – after making a video in 20 degree weather (5 if you count the wind-chill – video coming soon) – we found out I-80 was open. So, here I am. In the van, all technologically connected to the internet to let you know that we’re headed for Colorado!
Think safe, friction-full thoughts for us on our driving, and we’ll see you out there on the frozen frontiers of the Wild West.
We spent the better part of yesterday at Ashkenaz in Berkeley (which is a lovely wood-y venue, by the way. My first time there.) experiencing the experience of in-ear monitors.
(Let’s parenthesize a huuuuuge thanks to the dudes in Hot Buttered Rum for letting us use their gear. It is fancy, and it is technologically advanced, and it is not the kind of thing you traditionally lend out… particularly to hairy band-types. Thanks, HBR!)
One of the great excuses of a bad live performance is the sound. Not being able to hear this; that was too loud; the room was too boomy; the room was too this or that; the monitor mix was blah di blah… Any of these are great for blaming mistakes on.
Two great tips for you up-and-coming musicians out there: 1.) When you make a mistake, look very disappointed at the person next to you – give them a look that tells the audience: “this guy over here to my right has – clearly – made a mistake”. Classic misdirection. 2.) If the mistake is non-transferrable, blame it on the sound. This allows everyone else in the band to quickly agree that, yes, that sound was bad and – conveniently – the reason for all of their mistakes too. Everyone is happy, egos are soothed, and (best of all) you can use this excuse – literally – every night…. Unless…
What if you were to all of a sudden have a device that made it possible for you to control your own sound mix directly into your ear holes? What if every night you could press a button and have the same perfectly balanced mix show up in your custom molded, sound isolating, high-fidelity ear buds?
Well, then, you’d be:
a.) stoked to be playing and listening to such a heavenly, accurate mix.
b.) eternally damned to own and admit to and work on your mistakes.
So. You can see that the decision is a difficult one. Not at all clear which path to take, and surely, no easy answers.
In moderately more seriousness, we really enjoyed trying out the in-ear experience. Not sure if or when it will make its way into the regular Brothers Comatose swing of things, but it was a very enlightening experience. It was only one day of a trial run, so there are – undoubtably – many things we would discover both pro and con in time. But, after one go, it was really wonderful to be able to hear instruments, parts, harmonies and dynamics so very clearly.
We’ll be gearing up in furred jackets, fuzzy boots and toasty mufflers for our upcoming run into the Hinterlands of the Rockies. See you Coloradoians in a week or so!
Holy van time, Batman. We’ve been driving.
After driving from Trumansburg, NY (Saturday night) to Telluride, CO (got in Tuesday evening) we were exhausted. Weary. Delirious, even. Thankfully, having no oxygen and looking at some of the most rugged, dramatic and beautiful landscape in the world brought us back… that and two nights in luxurious accomodations where we didn’t have to spoon each other on saggy mattresses.
We are now in Flagstaff, New Mexico. We’re upstairs above the venue where we are lodging for the evening. We’re having some landscape/scenery whiplash, but are otherwise doing fine. The high desert is beautiful, and we detoured today through Monument Valley – so we’re still shocked and awed – just in more desert-y way. Less alpine-y.
There are more stories up on the ‘ol Benedettiville site (link is in the blog post below) – that roughly follow the band tour schedule, though I have recently derailed pretty severely. As the story stands, Stella Gene (AKA the Pink Heart [famous superhero]) and I are saving the day on a distant planet while the band drives to Colorado with a robot bass player stand-in that they don’t know isn’t me. It’s good times.
Take care all.
Hey folks! Gio is back in the band, and that means blog updates! I do love writing these things… and there’s a fun twist to this particular tour. I’ve been drawing and writing tour-related adventure stories for my 4 year old daughter (and family) back home to stay in touch. They don’t interact well with our current website, so I’ve had to leave them on my own website – but I’m bolstering up our own blog with some words here or there.
So – please do check out our blog from time to time, and – if you’re interested in wizards, towers, monsters and super heroes – check out the tour adventures.
See you on the road soon!