Wednesday, April 7, 2010

TOUR, entry 3 by evan the sister of mercy

Our third and final day of driving to the first show has taken us up into the remote reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, or “The U.P.” And though on a map it looks like it should belong to Wisconsin, or even Canada, you can see why Michigan would want to reach over and claim it for itself. Frozen lakes pocket dense forests that enforce a peaceful silence over the land with their sentries of ancient trees. During a roadside stop our delighted hollers echoed and disappeared into the ranks of gray trunks.

After stocking up on replacement fuses for our van’s power inverter and bakery outlet bread for our daily sandwiches, we made our way to Marquette’s lakeside downtown. There we found a music store with instruments in the window but nowhere inside, and a recording studio in an historic house-turned-strip-mall that we unfortunately had no time to cut a song in. On the lakeshore the discussion inevitably turned to the strange blend of emotions we were experiencing at the thought of opening for a band we grew up listening to.

Tonight’s show was quite the way for our first-time tour manager to jump in and learn how to swim. First of all, the water in the analogy would be frozen as the venue turned out to be a hockey arena. The show’s coordinators were somehow completely unaware of our inclusion in the night’s proceedings and we were banished to a less-than-pleasant smelling locker room with nary a bottle of water to quench the thirst of our dry, open hanging mouths. Any tour’s first night is going to be a hectic, but this has seemed particularly haphazard. Katie, Third Eye Blind’s tour manager, also a first-timer, would later ask, “Does anyone do this more than once?”

During load out, I realized my guitar was conspicuously missing from our gathered gear. No one in 3EB’s crew had seen it or had any idea what might have happened to it. But we did. The hired help that assisted us in removing our instruments from the stage seemed to be comprised of students from the university putting on the show, who probably assumed that every piece of equipment laying around belonged in one of the two semi trucks traveling with the show. Though the fellow supervising their loading maintained that the crates holding guitars were full and couldn’t possibly be holding mine, he let me investigate. “But you gotta go now—we’re about to close her up.” Scrambling over bicycles, boxes of t-shirts, and the disassembled stage, I reached the front of the carrier where the guitars were kept. There, sitting on top as if waiting for my rescue was the misplaced instrument. Holding it aloft, I gingerly picked my way over the uneven terrain and rejoined my band mates in the van.

A rocky start to be sure—it was also our first proper tourdate with our newly configured trio, which demands most of our spare limbs, and all of our concentration, to make up for the lack of a drummer. Everyone, including us, seemed to be getting a feel for things. But we enjoyed sending our unpolished sounds out over the board-covered ice, and getting to know our tourmates whilst joining them on their bus for a toast. Our lovely couch surfers for the night had a pet bunny that was trained and as soft as they come. As I drifted off I knew we were only going further down the rabbit hole, but I imagined it belonging to a furry friend like him, and the thought was quite comforting.

Tour ENTRY 2. by evan

Everything had been going well today. We secured a place to stay with family friends in Minneapolis while driving north without a set destination for the night. Casino billboards peppered the drive with moments of amusement:

“Voted sexiest casino in the Midwest!”
“Come Gamble, Get Free Buffet!”

We were nearly enticed by these siren calls, but managed to stay the course. Upon arrival, the smell of baked goodies, one of our gracious hosts, and Emily, a deaf, floppy-eared Collie, all emerged from the house to welcome us.

We set up shop in the kitchen with our trusty new travel-sized food processor, the centerpiece of our plan to eat healthily yet affordably this tour, and whipped up batches of hummus and salsa for dinner. (If you have any food processor recipes that don’t require refrigerated ingredients, please submit them below.) After finishing off with some chocolate chunk brownies, everyone was quite satisfied. Except Joshua—it was no sensation of contentment warming his belly: “Does anyone else’s stomach hurt?” A trio of shaking heads answered.

Our efforts to dismiss this disturbance to the evening’s enjoyment as a case of simple indigestion were soon abandoned as Joshua staggered out the back door in a desperate search for fresh air and some sort of relief. We found him doubled over in pain, groaning for it to end, the pain or his life. If not the first, then he would beg for the second, expecting and eventually accepting its imminent approach.

It was decided a trip to the hospital was in order and we sped off toward the facility, three miles distant. Though our trip did incur one casualty—an electrical box hiding in the shadows at the edge of the lawn—our wounded comrade was still clinging to life. While en route, one of his crazed mutterings was deciphered as a request for water, and a bottle was held to his lips. Pulling into the “Exit Only” of the E.R. drive, his coherence returned and he began objecting to the urgency of our mission. The water was washing away the pain. By the time we sat down in the lobby, our boy was back to his old self, completely free of pain even at skeptical prods beneath his ribcage.

Waiting to make sure the reprieve wasn’t temporary, Joe’s phone diagnosed the ailment, with helpful input from the security guard, as a gallstone. A call to Mrs. James confirmed a family history, and another to his wife was placed to see whether the insurance co-pay would be worth a cautionary checkup. Four hundred dollars, a devastating sum. Perhaps Obama’s just-passed health care bill would put an end to charges discouraging preventative care, we didn’t know. As it was, we would have to pray another attack didn’t occur on the desolate drive to the U.P., or worse, onstage.

TOUR, day one.

We started and ended our day with James residences, arriving at the elder generation’s in Lincoln, half a day after leaving that of the younger in Willamette Mtn., UT. We look haggard and reek intensely of garlic. The former we were aware of, thanks to numerous gas station mirrors along the way, the latter we were informed of gently by a concerned Mr. James—“Have you been eating hummus?”

The blog is shortly being taken over by the one,
the only,
the tall,
the skinny.
Evan Coulombe.

We left this morning at 6:45 a.m., an impressive forty-five minutes after our intended departure time. The punctuality continued with our new tour manager, Pablo, at the wheel. Our GPS recorded a peak speed for the trip of 95.3 mph, inspiring pride in both “Pabs” and our road-worn van, Betty. Flying across the Midwest plains, the roadside windmills swept us along with their giant arms.

Nearing the Nebraskan border we happened upon a guitar-slinging hitchhiker and, looking from each other to the empty seat and back, hastily pulled over. This fellow traveling musician was making his way back to Manhattan after leaving for California on a songwriting pilgrimage in October. Joshua, eager to try out his new handheld stereo recorder, quickly coaxed him into playing a song for us. Hesitant at first, he became increasingly enthusiastic and the performance grew to include the results of his songwriting journey, intriguing back-stories, and some Beatles covers (his “moneymakers” at rest stops and subway stations). As if shocked at what he had let himself be talked into, he anxiously asked us to drop him off at the next small town, where he planned to sleep on the lawn of a church—a man after our own hearts. A sample of the recording can be heard above and will likely be the last “Van Session,” as the seat will be filled tomorrow by Joe, our keyboard player.

In the canyons beyond Park City we spotted two coyotes messily devouring a deer. We aren’t a particularly superstitious bunch, but this was obviously an omen of great significance. The two coyotes surely symbolized the two legs of our tour, one with Third Eye Blind, the other with Matthew Perryman Jones. The deer would be … well the American public, I guess, who would fall to us like prey. Or perhaps just the plentiful bounty we would receive for our efforts. Either way, the Universe was smiling upon us