It was a good-for-the-soul kind of weekend. We played three really great shows—a secret loft show in Chicago’s Wicker Park; a cozy living room show in Lansing, Michigan; and a hometown show with friends Ember Schrag and Kayla Brown.
But on the You & Yourn front, things are quickly winding down. We only have one more show this year! We’ll be playing with The Appleseed Cast at Highdive in Champaign this Saturday, 9/18. If you haven’t heard, we’re expecting our first baby in mid-November and will subsequently be taking a hiatus from touring. We’re also hoping this hiatus will provide some time and space to develop and record new songs.
If you can make it out on Saturday, we’d love to see you. And if not, we’ll see you in 2011.(Photos taken by Kentaro Yamada at Thursday’s show in Chicago.)
Miguel (of Monadnoc) drove a couple hours south of Chicago with some poetry books and recording equipment. As we gathered in our living room, Nic asked, “So how does this work?” After scanning through a piece by Jack Kerouac and a poem or two, Nic began playing guitar. We added some harmonium and a little bit of bells; Miguel spoke into a mic. Questions were asked, like, “Where should the music get more intense to match the mood of the poem?” Gradually, the music transformed until it became something we liked, something that would complement the poetry well. And then, we pressed record.
Monadnoc’s ongoing READ/RECORD project goes something like this: Music plays in the background as Miguel reads a poem or other creative piece of writing. He’s recorded lots and lots of poems on his own and has recently begun collaborating with various people around the country. This past weekend we participated in a READ/RECORD CO-LAB SESSION. Our living room was transformed into a recording space for two days, and we made a bunch of cool sounds. The song still needs some mixing and finishing touches, but we’ll let you know when it’s online for your listening pleasure!
We had a great little trip to Wisconsin last weekend. Saturday we played at The Project Lodge in Madison and Sunday with our dear friends The Daredevil Christopher Wright at Paradigm in Sheboygan. There were a couple nice previews for the show in Madison–one from local paper the Isthmus and another from The Onion A.V. Club.
ELR Photography also got some great shots from the show in Sheboygan. You can see more of those on Facebook.
After spending a few days at home and starting on some new recordings, we’re off again. This time, our travels take us to the Northeast.
04.28.10 — Canton, NY — SUNY-Canton
04.29.10 — Winooski, VT — Monkey Bar
04.30.10 — Somerville, MA — The Sanctuary @ the Nave Gallery, Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church
05.01.10 — Biddeford, ME — Hogfarm Studios
05.02.10 — Easthampton, MA — Super Secret Show
05.03.10 — Brooklyn, NY — House Show
05.04.10 — Philadelphia, PA — Grindstone Cafe
05.06.10 — Jamestown, NY — Labyrinth Press Co.
05.07.10 — Youngstown, OH — Lemon Grove
05.08.10 — Champaign, IL — Mike ‘n Molly’s
After the blizzard/closed interstate in Wyoming and the break-in in Idaho (which we wrote about here), we considered turning around and going back home. But instead, we continued on, and the second part of our Northwest tour went quite well. We especially enjoyed our stop in Pendleton, OR.
The day had been long—woken up at 6 a.m. by the motel front desk clerk, talking to police officers and insurance companies, waiting to get a new window in the van, and then driving to Oregon. As we showed up at a wine bar called The Great Pacific in Pendleton, we were greeted with warm hospitality. It was exactly what we needed after the drama that had surrounded our recent days. Pendleton is a rodeo town, known for the Pendleton Round-Up, which is in its 100th year. We even met a man at our show who used to ride bulls in the rodeo!
Seattle and surrounding areas were green and flowering, as always. That is certainly one of our favorite parts of this country. After several shows in Washington, we made our way home through Montana and North Dakota. Our show at Rhombus Guys Pizza in Grand Forks, ND, left us with some entertaining stories. Perhaps our favorite is of a guy we’ll call Visor Bro (you know, visor, spiky hair, board shorts).
Every level of Rhombus Guys, including the rooftop deck where we played, was packed. Since no tables were available, we were eating pizza at the bar. Directly in front of us was a poster for the show that included our picture. A couple girls came and sat to the right of Nic; Visor Bro and another guy stood behind them. They were having drinks while waiting for a table to open up. Pointing at the You & Yourn poster, Visor Bro said, “Look at that guy. He doesn’t even look like he could hold a guitar.” The bartender responded with, “Umm…they’re sitting right next to you.” Of course, at that point Visor Bro began to backpedal. “Well…you don’t look that small in person,” he said. Too funny.
We were also left wondering if ska and skanking are making a comeback. At our show in Bellevue, WA, we saw kids skanking, and then in Missoula, MT, we played with a ska punk band. Makes ya wonder…
Photo taken by Jack Emerson Garland at Everyday Joe’s in Ft. Collins, CO
Our most recent tour started out much like any other, with a healthy dose of optimism about the days ahead. We kicked things off with four great shows—two in Nebraska, and two in Colorado. A particular highlight was our show at the Clawfoot House in Lincoln, NE. Home of Ember Schrag and Bryan Day, the Clawfoot is one of our favorite venues in the U.S. The atmosphere is a perfect combination of relaxed yet organized, welcoming and friendly yet professional. This time through we got to meet Ember’s two-year-old daughter. She showed off some awesome dance moves to Diamond Kazzoo’s opening set of old timey bluegrass tunes. I wish we had video.
Great little Mexican bakery around the corner from the Clawfoot House
Colorado was enjoyable. We played in Greeley and Ft. Collins, and then spent a couple days hanging out with friends around Easter. Our stay in Colorado even included a trip to Boulder to visit the Celestial Seasonings tea factory. When Tuesday morning arrived, we joked about the desolate drive through Wyoming that was in store. Nic even updated his facebook page that morning with, “Preparing for the views of desolation: I-80 through WY, and a jog to the north on a few lesser roads.” Our experiences driving through Wyoming have been something like this: dry, hot, barren land where nothing can grow and no one wants to live. But a few hours later, Nic’s status read, “Nevermind desolation. Just hit a blizzard. I-80’s closed. Shoot.”
They literally blocked off the interstate with gates and police cars, prohibiting any travel down I-80. So at 10:30 AM, we were forced to exit to the Flying J truck stop (pictured below). We scored a booth and hung out for awhile, expecting the roads to reopen momentarily. After about seven hours, we began to lose hope, but at that point, all the hotels in nearby Rawlins were booked, so we spent the night in our van next to hundreds (maybe thousands) of other weary travelers. Eventually, a little community formed at the Flying J.
Heather met a couple who were moving back to Washington state. They were riding in a small, crowded truck, with furniture (including their bed) in the back. They were anticipating an uncomfortable night’s sleep and the purchase of a new mattress, as theirs had been soaked by the snow. Around the 24th hour, a guy in the car next to us pulled out his guitar and started jamming in the snow. Soon enough, Nic had his guitar out as well, playing songs for a random truck driver. Everyone was bored and delirious, and things started to feel like a strange festival. Finally, at hour 26, we were back on I-80.
At this point, we had missed our show in Logan, UT, and it was questionable whether or not we could make it to Boise in time. We rushed along, making few stops, and were able to play our show in Boise on Wednesday night. Following the show, we treated ourselves to a motel, as we were desperately in need of a good night’s rest. Our heads hit the pillows a little after 2 AM, and we didn’t hear anything at all until the room phone started ringing frantically about four hours later. “Hello,” Nic says groggily. “Sir,” the front desk clerk says, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but it appears your car has been broken into.”
It was true. Sometime between 2 and 6 AM, someone busted out our passenger side window and grabbed everything within reach, including lots of electronics (GPS, Ipod, nice cameras, etc.) and a suitcase full of You & Yourn merch. (Sorry to those of you who signed up on our mailing list in NE and CO. That list was stolen before we could enter your email addresses.) The good news is that no instruments were taken and Sadie (our dog) was not in the van. Of course, we did what any person would—talked to police officers and insurance companies, waited for a glass repair person to come fix our window, called our moms, and then pulled it together and drove on to Oregon.
As Nic was settling up with the man who fixed our window, the glass man asked what we were doing in Boise. Nic explained that we were musicians. Then in an honest Idaho kind of way, the man looked Nic in the eye and said, “Huh. How’s that workin’ out for ya?”
We kicked off a tour in Omaha, Nebraska, last night, and we had the pleasure of playing the Clawfoot House in Lincoln this evening. Over the next three weeks, we’ll be traveling to the Pacific Northwest and back. Tour dates are below.
03.31 — Omaha, NE — Barley Street Tavern
04.01 — Lincoln, NE — Clawfoot House
04.02 — Greeley, CO — Zoe’s
04.03 — Ft. Collins, CO — Everyday Joe’s
04.06 — Logan, UT — Why Sound
04.07 — Boise, ID — 208 House
04.08 — Pendleton, OR — The Great Pacific
04.09 — Bellevue, WA — Ground Control
04.10 — Olympia, WA — Chez Puget
04.11 — Seattle, WA — Sunset Tavern
04.12 — Seattle, WA — Shenandoah’s
04.13 — Spokane, WA — Empyrean
04.14 — Missoula, MT — ZACC Gallery
04.16 — Bozeman, MT – Leigh Lounge (MSU-Bozeman)
04.17 — Grand Forks, ND — Rhombus Guys Pizza
04.18 — Minneapolis, MN — Kitty Cat Klub
Later this month, we’ll be heading to the Northeast for some recording and a few shows. More info on that to come!
Take good care,
Nic & Heather
We drove by this shrine in rural Mississippi, and immediately turned around to get a photo. We were especially confused by the flags that incorporate both Obama’s face and the confederate stripes. What does that mean? It feels ironic in many ways. Still not sure what to make of it.
Thursday, Feb. 25-Sunday, Feb. 28.
On Thursday morning, after staying in the crappiest motel we’ve encountered thus far, we stopped at a gas station to pick up some milk. As we were sitting in the van, enjoying our granola and orange juice breakfast, we noticed a little dog running along the highway, about to enter four lanes of traffic. Nic handed his bowl of granola to Heather and leapt into action. We were able to lure the little dog out of traffic, and then left him with the gas station attendants, hoping he would find his way back home!
As we proceeded toward Jackson, our friend Gillian reminded us of the Johnny Cash and June Carter cover: “I’m going to Jackson…” We weren’t sure what to expect, but Jackson was a surprisingly magical city. There seems to be a group of people there who are committed to making Jackson awesome. They are promoters of community, music, art, and bikes. One of those people is Lizzie Wright, and we were lucky enough to play an amazing show/birthday party at her house. The place was packed, and everyone was attentive during our set. It was a great night.
We were interviewed for the Mississippi Happening podcast as well. You can find that podcast and some video footage of the show here.
From there, we made a couple stops in Texas. Friday night we played at the Fuel Cyber Café in Humble (near Houston), and then Saturday we drove on to Austin. If you’re ever in Austin, we highly recommend Torchy’s “Home of Damn Good Tacos.” We especially enjoyed the Dirty Sanchez, which included scrambled egg, guacamole, fried poblano chili, and pickled carrots. Yum!
We played an awesome show that night in the backyard at the Annie Street Arts Collective. There was a stage made of scrap wood and Christmas lights hung in the trees above the stage. Chairs lined the yard, with a fire off to one side. Dana Falconberry opened the show, and Annie Street residents Some Say Leland closed out the night.
Sunday held a dreaded drive—1,027 miles from Austin, TX, to Urbana, IL. We stopped near Waco to get gas and kolaches at a place called Czech Stop. Hours later, another break found us at Tops Bar-B-Q in Memphis with some college friends. We made it home safely, feeling exhausted and unprepared for the return to our day jobs.
Thanks for following our journeys. We’re currently learning some new songs and will hit the road again at the end of March!
We began our February respite from the cold with a few days in the Smokies near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where Heather’s sister got married. After gaining a new brother-in-law and spending some quality time with family, we drove further south, playing six shows along the way.
Monday, Feb. 22; Cleveland, TN. It was great to see and play with our old friend Rob Alderman in Cleveland. We met him years ago when our former bands (Winter in Alaska for us, Bigger than Dallas for him) played a show together on a snowy, blustery night in Appleton, Wisconsin. And we’ve just kept in touch ever since.
Last week’s show was at a place called Live on First. It’s kind of like a storefront that is being used as a recording studio with apartments in back. People came, and they were really excited about the music. It was a great way to start a tour. Before leaving town on Tuesday, we checked out the famous chicken salad at a restaurant called Jenkins. Sure enough, it lived up to its reputation.
Tuesday, Feb. 23; Birmingham, AL. Our next gig was a living room show in a super cool downtown loft. The crowd was slim, as we were competing with the television show LOST. Even still, our host Bekah was really great, and we got to entertain a handful of people that night. Birmingham seems to have a good vibe. We learned that it is the “Pittsburgh of the South” (both steel cities), and we recounted the city’s history as a battleground of the Civil Rights Movement. The 16th Street Baptist Church (pictured below) was within walking distance.
Wednesday, Feb. 24; Pace, FL. Next we traveled to the Florida panhandle, near Pensacola, where it was much colder than expected. At one point during our drive, we got caught in a line of traffic. Must have been an accident, we thought. But as we got closer, we could see that a car was blocking one and a half lanes of traffic. Apparently, the guy needed to change his tire right in the middle of the interstate.
Many people at Wednesday’s show wanted to talk about the weather—telling us it had been the coldest winter in 50 years, and that people lost their minds. “It snowed in Florida, and people just went crazy,” we were told. We played in the garage at the Chumuckla House, and much like the night before, it felt like we were sharing music with friends.
For two of these first three shows, we called the host as we were driving into town. In both instances, the host said, “After you take the exit, you’ll see [insert name of fast food restaurant]. Pull over. I’ll be there in about 10 minutes.” We would then caravan to our destination. Though this is a practice we’re unaccustomed to, we felt very well taken care of. Thank you, southern hospitality.