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
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.
After waking up to a broken furnace and then spending the day working or hanging out with family, we found ourselves exhausted…and in Indianapolis. The Planet Home, where we played last Friday, is a huge old house that’s being renovated by a guy named Ben. The place used to be organized into four apartments, but Ben is knocking down walls and converting it into a single-family home. With lots of open space, it was a great spot for a house concert.
The line-up was almost identical to our last show in Indy, which was over three years ago—Lovely Houses, us, and Kendall Ludwig. We had a great time at the show and were able to connect with Ben on our mutual love for Polar Pop. Dave from Lovely Houses said we don’t seem like Polar Pop people. “In fact,” he said, “Ben is the only person I know who seems like a Polar Pop person.” At that point, old memories came flooding back.
Ben is a gas station enthusiast. When we met him three years ago, he was on a mission to visit every gas station in Indianapolis. He had a spreadsheet where he was rating each place on a variety of factors, such as cleanliness and selection. He now knows how to adjust the mix of syrup and water in fountain soda. Apparently, when you remove the Coke cover, there are two knobs that can be turned using a pocket knife. It is the perfect positioning of these knobs that creates a great-tasting fountain drink! When gas station attendants catch Ben fine-tuning his soda, he just tells them he works for Coke. As we were leaving, Ben directed us to the nearest Circle K, where we picked up some Polar Pops for our Saturday drive.
Next we made a stop in East Lansing, MI, where we played an intimate show at an art gallery called (SCENE) Metrospace. It was great to see some snow, and we were able to take a short detour to visit Lake Michigan in Saugatuck.
We ended our weekend trip with a Sunday night gig at The Orphanage in Chicago (pictured above). The Orphanage is a cool art and music space in the upstairs of an enormous old Lutheran church. We were pleased to see our college friends Joe and Dave. Dave even brought us some homemade pickled green beans! They look awesome, and we’re excited to try them. (We’re just saving them for that perfect moment.)
After the bands played, an Orphanage volunteer pulled out a turn table, which was followed by some amazing hula hooping. We’ve heard rumor of this hula hoop trend, but we didn’t really get it until now. (The following video is posted with permission.)
A road through the UW-Madison campus
Monday, Nov. 16, was a drive day to get from Brooklyn to Grand Rapids. We left NYC early that morning, drove for about 12 hours, and eventually crashed at a motel around Toledo, OH. Tuesday we drove on to Grand Rapids, MI, for our show at Cave Café—a popular restaurant/student hangout in the commons area at Calvin College.
The following night we were in Madison, WI, for an intimate Wednesday night show at an art space called The Project Lodge. In our conversations from stage, we discussed the opposition to a proposed commuter rail. An article we had seen in the Isthmus said that Vicki McKenna (a radio announcer in the Madison area) thinks the commuter rail is “about those damn liberals trying to micromanage everyone else’s lives.” A guest on McKenna’s radio show (Republican Party spokesman Bill Richardson) even suggested that a commuter rail would turn the city into the Soviet Union or East Berlin. Damn liberals. Fittingly, we also learned that Stalin’s daughter lives in Madison.
A view of UW-Madison on a rainy afternoon
Next we traveled north to Menomonie. Sadie got sick while we were eating lunch, resulting in a mess throughout the van, a stop at Shopko to find carpet cleaner, and driving with the windows cracked despite rain and cold temps. Nonetheless, we made it. Opening for LOW at UW-Stout was certainly a highlight of this tour. It’s a huge honor to open for a band you admire. We played for 35 or 40 minutes, and then LOW was on. One of our favorite parts of the show came during LOW’s encore. It went something like this:
Alan Sparhawk of LOW: Are there any questions I can help answer?
Girl in Audience: What should I do with my life?
Alan: How much have you traveled? Where have you traveled to?
Girl: I’ve traveled quite a bit. I’ve been to the West Coast and to Colorado.
Alan: Oh, a Phish fan.
Girl (with a hint of defensiveness): No, not that at all. I lived out there and then moved back here.
Alan: Well, you should go to Holland, and then travel down to Barcelona. Be careful in Barcelona though or else you’ll get mugged… Have you considered theology?
Alan: What are you studying right now?
Girl (dodging the question): This is getting a little personal. How about I just go to Holland, then to Barcelona, and I’ll figure it out from there.
Alan: Well, ok. And Tel Aviv. You should go to Tel Aviv. So start in Holland, then after you get mugged in Barcelona, go to Tel Aviv…
We drove to nearby Eau Claire after the show and stayed at our friend Pakou’s apartment. Before leaving town on Friday, we accompanied Pakou to a lunchtime Chris Koza concert at UW-Eau Claire.
Our final stop on this tour was in Ames, IA, where we were able to connect with our friend Phil and play a fun house concert. (Some of you may remember Phil as the pedal steel/guitar player who sometimes sat in with Casados.) Phil recently scored a nice lap steel at an estate auction, and we gladly gave him a reason to try it out. Saturday night’s house party was complete with food, drinks, and lots of music (us sandwiched between six local musicians). It turned out to be the rowdiest crowd we played for on this tour, but we were able to engage them and had a really great time. Honestly, we can’t imagine a better way to wrap things up.
All in all, the tour was excellent. We’re approaching some time off around the holidays, with a handful of Midwest shows throughout December. We’ll keep you updated on our plans for 2010. Thanks for reading!
We just completed a week of great shows in the Northeast. We’ve been lucky enough to play for full rooms and appreciative audiences. Thanks to those of you who have come out to shows and befriended us along the way.
Our CD Release Party kicked off this string of shows on Saturday, Nov. 7, at an art space called Indi Go in Champaign, IL. The crowd was a perfect combination of close friends and strangers, and the room’s natural reverb complimented our sound very nicely. Caleb Engstrom played an opening set, and the night felt really special. Following the show, our housemate and some comrades proposed an after party at nearby Mike ‘N Molly’s. We attended the after party, of course, but in typical Nic & Heather fashion, we had not yet packed our bags (and were leaving early the next morning), so we ended up sleeping very little that night.
On our way east, we made a stop at The 509 in Huntington, IN, and were happy to see several familiar faces, including our good friends Josh and Alyssa. From there, we spent a couple days in Jamestown, NY, where we were able to chill with the Christopher Bell and pick up some locally-made borsari salt. We played a well-received show at the Labyrinth and saw a couple nice reviews while in Jamestown—one in the daily paper, The Post-Journal, and another in the Chautauqua County alt weekly, WORD. After describing the sound and subject matter of our new album, the reviewer for WORD writes, “Why all of this is invigorating and not depressing is hard to say. Maybe because it’s so candid….”
Next stop: Syracuse. We played at an independent coffee shop/café/bookstore called 2nd Story. Following the show, we went for a late night walk with some new friends and our dogs. It was our first experience with a fennel plant. The nice folks with whom we were walking picked some fennel and encouraged us to chew on the dried flowers, eating the seeds and freshening our breath.
On Thursday and Friday, we had a couple college shows that took us further north. Thursday night we played in Canton, NY—a small town with two colleges up by the Canadian border. And the following night we were in Middlebury, VT. On our way from New York to Vermont, we met a large sign that read, “Bridge to Vermont CLOSED.” Our GPS was no help, so we stopped at a local gas station and learned that the detour involved a ferry ride across Lake Champlain. Despite this minor snag, we still made it to the show on time.
Photos taken by the St. Lawrence River in Ogdensburg, NY. A random fisherman volunteered to take the second photo. We didn’t even ask.
Lots of crowd interaction has been a theme of every show, but our show at Middlebury College was especially fun. We played a longer-than-normal set, which allowed us to cover a multitude of topics in between songs. Early in the show, we discussed use of the phrase, “Shit, man.” As one might imagine, that influenced the dialogue of the evening. Other discussion items included Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex, the harmonium, Nic getting hit by a tree, and the Second Vermont Republic. Nic warned the audience that we would make judgments about them based on whether or not they participated in our sing-a-long. Sure enough, they proved themselves by singing very loudly to our cover of Akron/Family’s “Woody Guthrie’s America.”
We drove into the mountains to Firefly Ranch Bed and Breakfast after our show in Middlebury, and the “Rustic Cabin” (pictured above) became our home for the night. The cabin looks like it may have been a shed at one time, but is now an active part of the bed and breakfast. It was very cozy, but was sans running water. Luckily, the main house was not terribly far away and had both toilet and shower access.
Saturday was grey and rainy. We wanted to hole up in the Rustic Cabin to drink tea and write, but instead, we traveled to Montague, MA. We played in the upstairs of The Bookmill—an old mill that has been transformed into a secondhand bookstore with a neighboring café and record store (pictured below). We were surrounded on all sides by floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books. The vibe was serene as I sipped red wine in the dim light and listened to the sound of the river outside backing a guitar/clarinet/upright bass trio (known as The Accident that Led Me to the World).
Our final stop in the Northeast was a Sunday night show at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. We always love visiting New York City, and Pete’s was a great space for our music. The bartender made us some yummy spiced hot cider with rum, and we got to catch up with several lovely friends.
After a short night, we got up early Monday morning to begin our trek back to the Midwest. We have four more shows in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa before we will sleep in our own bed again. Once again, thanks for keeping up with us!
After a couple weeks at home, we’re off again! This time our journeys will take us to the Northeast and around the Midwest. We’re espeically excited to be opening for LOW at UW-Stout on Nov. 19. We’re also stoked to announce that we’ll be opening for Andrew Bird on Dec. 8. Tickets are on sale now.
11.06.09 — Champaign, IL — In Studio @ 107.1 WPGU (stream online @ http://the217.com/wpgu)
11.07.09 — Champaign, IL — Record Release Party/Nic’s B-day Bash @ Indi Go Art Coop
11.08.09 — Huntington, IN — The 509
11.09.09 — Jamestown, NY — Labyrinth Press Co.
11.11.09 — Syracuse, NY — 2nd Story
11.12.09 — Canton, NY — SUNY-Canton Underground Lounge
11.13.09 — Middlebury, VT — Middlebury College Gamut Room
11.14.09 — Montague, MA — Montague Bookmill
11.15.09 — Brooklyn, NY — Pete’s Candy Store
11.17.09 — Grand Rapids, MI — Cave Cafe @ Calvin College
11.18.09 — Madison, WI — The Project Lodge
11.19.09 — Menomonie, WI — University of Wisconsin-Stout w/ LOW
11.21.09 — Ames, IA — Tom and Mary Jane’s House
Show details can be found at the in person page. Hope to see you out there!