notes from the eastern seaboard

Despite our rather abrubt arrival and departures to most of the cities we have gone through we try to experience one local thing that the area or city is well known for. . . in Texas it was BBQ, in Memphis it was BBQ, in Chattanooga it was fireworks, in Louisville it was baseball bats and whiskey, in New York it was bagels and pizza, and in Philadelphia it was cheese steaks. After scrambling around NYC trying to find some replacement tuning hardware for my bass we stopped for some bagels in the outskirts of Brooklyn. The service was typically New York . . . i was convinced the "gentleman" behind the counter was going to kill me if I said something wrong and the "gentlewoman" at the register looked annoyed that we were trying to get bagels. Despite the apparent gruffness and thick new york accents we were served and the bagels were oustanding. "Oh", i thought. . . "so this what real bagel tastes like." Alex was so taken by the delectable bagels that he devoured two and as we pulled away lamented that he had ordered, "six, no twelve, no, a bakers dozen!!!!!" (anyone???). Our drive to DC was mostly uneventful. . .we did see Baltimore in the distance and decided that Gram Parsons had never actually been there. . . it didn't seem as beautiful as he had claimed. As we pulled into DC and saw the memorial piercing the humid sky I felt a fleeting twinge of patriotism. . . then Matt suggested that we go launch bottle rockets at the white house and we all laughed and my building sense of national pride crumbled as quickly as it arose. Actually folks. . . this tour has built a certain modicum of national pride for all of us. We live in a great country that is full of some wonderfully supportive and genuinely caring people. It is refreshing to pull into a new city and feel so welcome. Enough sappy drivel. . . lets get to the meat of this blog. That meat, folks, is the meat of Pat and Gino's in Philadelphia. . . Pat and Gino's are the mecca of cheese steak fanatics. . . they have both been around for decades and are involved in a bitter feud that has created a classic rivalary in the hearts of sandwich fanatics. . .think Red Sox Vs. Yankees, butter side up or butter side down, Montagues Vs. Capulets, werewolves Vs. vampires, Army Vs. Navy. . . the list goes on and the allegiances are generations deep. So I ask you this. . . are you a Pat's man (or woman) or a Gino's man (or woman)??? We all had both which was a big mistake. . .it was like "crossing streams" and the resulting combination was toxic. The volatile sandwich feud continued through the entirety of our digestive tracks. . . i won't go into details for the sake of everyone reading this but the following hours were not exactly fun. The show in Philly was great, however, and the venue treated us like proper rock stars. . ..nothing wrong with that. We all wished we could have explored a bit more as is usually the case. . . .next time. Boston was a like a homecoming and it was awesome to see so many family and friends out at the show. . . thank you so much for everyone that made it out. . . it was much appreciated and we look forward to playing for everyone again. . . as we drove from boston we realized that we will no longer be heading east and today we begin the homeward leg. . . . Great American Music Hall here we come. . .
justin fantasy and OTW. . . . love you all


The Cracks

So much has slipped through them. Much time has passed since we last joined you. To tell you the truth, we've been very busy and have had some great times in the past few days. Louisville, Athens (Ohio), Pittsburgh, and New York City have infiltrated our hearts, minds, and maybe some other parts not worth mentioning. There were some amazing highlights in all of them:

--Shoney's and Billy in Louisville
--the amazing crowd and bands at Casa Cantina
--the amazing tofu fries at Casa Cantina
--the Athens County State Fair and Roller Derby
--Misha and Ryland's wonderful families and hospitality
--power outtages in Pittsburgh
--sandwiches with fries and slaw on them
--Local Honey and front step jams at the Thunderbird
--the smell of Jersey
--all of our wonderful, amazing, incredible friends in Brooklyn and Manhattan who made our stay there absolutely unforgetable
--the beautiful weather we were granted in NYC

The only real lowlights were the oppressive heat and humidity of the Midwest (which ended in Pittsburgh), our unsuccessful first attempt at entering NYC through the Holland Tunnel, and all the goodbyes we have to make to more new friends and plenty of old ones as we head down to Washington DC in the morning. The shows have been great and we can't wait to get back to these towns and enjoy more debauchery and rock.

Alex and OTW


Midwest Leg

Cracker Barrel. Sounds a little scary, doesn't it? Well fear not, good people. Or, the Whale will eat at said establishment and report on it. Driving up from Knoxville through Kentucky, we had to stop at this 8th Natural Wonder of the world. Our wonderful server, Becka, helped us peruse the extensive menus.

"Does this have meat in it?"


"Is this cooked with butter?"


Ahh, oh well. Turns out their salad is plenty good sans bacon and a plain baked potato with some BBQuay sauce hits the spot. Alex is fed! Mmmm. The gang got meatloaf sandwiches (Jesse and Justin, typically together), chicken and dumplings (Julie, typical), grilled catfish (Lindsay), and some chicken sandwich thing (Matt). Everything was surprisingly good, especially the endless Diet Cokes (floating away....) and the wonderful service. Then, Jesse and Justin played checkers afterward. Fun!

After a long drive, we arrived just in time to set up for our radio show on WEFT in Champaign. We have the set recorded and if anything is decent, maybe we'll put it up on the site. Afterwards, we hung out with Mike Ingram at Cowboy Monkey (the venue we're playing at in two weeks) for some beers. Lindsay and I ended up singing a couple songs on stage with Matt, Jesse, and Justin heckling us. You get up here and try it, pricks!

We'll be playing in Muncie, Indiana with a couple great bands tomorrow at Village Green Records. Should be fun. Then on to Louisville, Ohio, and Pittsburgh. I'll get someone else to blog next.

Alex and OTW


A Day Off

But before we get to that, let's recap a bit:

August 1st--Denton

Thanks to Jimmy, Scott and Spitfire Tumbleweeds, and 100 Damned Guns for a wonderful North Texas evening. The show was fun, the beer was cheap, and the weather was hot. Thanks to my buddy Ian for showing up and for the old lady from the post before this who informed us that in 1947, Floyd Tillman was "hot." Yeesh. Also, thanks to my Aunt and Uncle in Irving for putting us up at 3am and feeding us a wonderful breakfast in the morning. And, of course, to Pepper.

August 2nd--Memphis

Young Avenue Deli is a wonderful, wonderful venue! Thanks to Giant Bear (especially Mike for the floorspace) and Arma Secreta for playing great sets and showing us the Tennessee we've all heard so much about. Just as nice and hospitable as advertised! And the BBQ! Let's just say that Logan has a bottle of The BBQ Shop Hot Sauce coming his way when we get home (courtesy of Gabe).

August 3rd--Chattanooga, TN

What a great town! The Blue Ridge Mountains really look blue and they really smoke! As does literally EVERYONE in the South. We were persuaded by the large "FIREWORKS!" signs and bought many, many bottlerockets and M-90s as well as several "Tennessee" trucker hats. A gigantic thank you to John from the Black Diamond Heavies for helping us out with our Chattanooga show. This led us to JJ's Bohemia. "JJ" stands for John and Jenny, the wonderful and accommodating couple that run the place. The initial "5 Band Bill!" was nothing compared to the rock that would ensue within its little room. Great bands from Tennessee (Knoxville, Memphis, and Chattanooga) and another band from Brooklyn filled the place up and PBR Tall Boys reigned supreme. After chasing the bats from the trees with loud shouts of "Horse Apples" and "WHEY!" we took the stage and everyone went nuts. Most of all, George sexy-danced throughout the room and made everyone feel like they were at a family reunion: familiarity, drunkenness, slightly awkward conversations, hilarity, and total embarrassment. All that was lacking was the Potato-Sack Race. The other bands (Westside Daredevils, Ghosts I've Met, the Glass Mondays, and Antenna Shoes) were all awesome and lots of dancing would take place throughout the night. We all swapped eternal love and email addresses and hopefully will be playing shows with many of them at later dates. Thanks to all of them and to John and Jenny for having us on the show and letting us sleep at their house (and their neighbor's unfinished house).

August 4th--Athens, GA

After a late morning and into the afternoon in Chattanooga (a beautiful river city we must get back to very soon), we rumbled down the highway towards Athens. Athens is a college town, usually hit or miss in the summertime when school is out. This night would be a hit and the Caledonia Lounge would be lots of fun. We had some friends come out to the show (Ryan McCullough) and one of them, Hunter, would be the host of our debauchery for many hours after the show. I'll get to this in a second. Amanda and Jeremy from Tin Cup Prophette are incredible and playing with them was a big highlight of the trip. The opener, Vulture Whale, were also awesome and we hope to get together with them in their hometown of Birmingham, Alabama on our next tour. Thanks to Kevin for making the sound the best we've had so far on tour. After the show, we headed over to Hunter's house where we proceeded to light off all of the fireworks we had previously bought the day before. Between the bottlerocket duels and my bandleader firebombing, it was tons of fun. And no one was hurt! Yay! Well, besides Jesse who has a little burn on his neck from a rogue bottlerocket. Chin up there, buddy. Then we formed what will now be the great noise rock band of all time, HORSE APPLES. Look for us to open up some shows starting in the fall. Damn! Oh, and Lindsay recorded an album. And we ate vegan/vegetarian food (finally!) for breakfast.

Today, our first day off since we started, we drove up to Knoxville, Tennessee to stay with Jess's dad. We traveled through the Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee Reservation of North Carolina and let me tell you, I have rarely seen anything so beautiful. Mountains and rivers and truckers, oh my! We're now laying low and trying to get to bed before 3am for the first time since we started the tour. We have officially finished our Southern leg and I can confidently say that we did rather well and had a blast doing it. We all miss our significant others and friends dearly and we hope they are thinking of us too. Sorry for the brief recalling of the first few days since the last blog (too much grain alcohol I guess). Anyway, we'll do our best to do this more often. We're driving up to Champaign, Illinois to start our second week and our Midwestern leg of the tour tomorrow. Cracker Barrel and Wafflehouse await. I'm gonna go sit on the porch and watch the fireflies. Enjoying the South.

Alex and OTW


A Vegan in Texas

It's Wednesday night, prior to the gig at Dan's Silver Leaf in Denton. This place is charming in that sort of "I knew you were coming, so made you a delicious dinner of spam fried in bacon grease on a piece of white buttered toast" sort of way. Tommy likey. But we all recall, Tommy is a very large boy.

The boys just had a conversation outside with an adorably drunk 76 year old woman who, from what I could gather, was telling them about some hookup of hers 35 or so years ago on a houseboat. After the punchline, where she discovered the man was the best friend of her son, she said "Take care, children!", and then more than lovingly tousled the curly mane of lucky Mr. Semler, the (older) ladies man. "Ma's been drinkin' again," was the response from a man out the window of the bar. I hope she sticks around for the show and gets rowdy.

We left the cradle of Ausin, and of dearest cousin Shelley today at midday after one last lingering dip in the pool. That stay was sort of a reward for the first two days of our trip. Shelley was a most fabulous host, and we will miss her! And I will miss sleeping in a bed where I can practically make a snow angel, and I touch no one and nothing besides Egyptian cotton. Oh sweet King size.

We got in the car (not van, it's hard to adjust to the new terminology) around 2, and headed off to fix the trailer connection. We've discovered the night lighting on the trailer doesn't work, so we've been driving with our hazards on at night. It's a quick fix, but the all night drives with flashing lights are bringing me back to the days of DJ Dan and Green fuzzy pants, and it's a place I made myself promise I would never go again. We happened to stop right next to the store of Gram Parsons' daughter, Polly Parsons, and we went inside for a peek. It's a vintage clothing and more store, and we discovered the "and more" involves a back yard porch-like stage. The nicest lady in the world greeted us, and offered us a 20% discount on everything in the store. She even told Jesse if he didn't have the cash, he could mail it to her later. We were all pretty excited to be talking to THE daughter of Gram Parsons. We shortly discovered, however, that this was a new owner, a woman named Kelli. We still gave her a CD and said we'd like to play there the next time through Austin. She may not have been Polly Parsons, but she was still the kindest woman any of us have met in a long time.

The rest of the drive to Denton was fairly straight forward. A sign of homemade beef jerky lured us off the freeway to yet another BBQ meal, but the rain and traffic kept us on track for time reasons. This is our last show in Texas, sadly. Alex may be happier about it than some. There was literally ONE thing on the menu at our lunch time stop that he could eat, and that was a plain baked potato. The cream was corned, and the string beans were in something super tasty that had to be made from some sort of delicious animal fat.

We should be taking the stage soon. We'll be housed tonight by Alex's aunt, Nancy, and then tomorrow the training wheels are off, and we'll probably be sleeping in the gutters of Memphis. Just kidding, mom.

Julie and OTW