Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Asheville, NC, aka far southeast Portland

We played a show in Asheville, NC, an awesome town with great music and fun stuff to discover on every street. It's a weird pocket of vegetarian kids that listen to indie music in the middle of all these typical southern towns. Now we're in Charlotte, and it's an enclave of non-southerners that all work in the financial sector and eat sushi. It's definitely possible to explore the southern states and not find any stereotypical gun-toting Republicans.

In fact, it's really not that different from Oregon: Portland is full of people that recycle and bike to work, but if you go to any of the logging or farming towns, you mostly find the other end of the political spectrum. I came to the south expecting to find the stereotypes I'd heard about, and that was still my impression after the first trip, but now I'm thinking that was mostly confirmation bias. It's not that different after all.

We're headed back to Portland to record some music, so the tour is over. I might post again on how that goes, but right now, it looks like we'll be ridiculously busy. So long for now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cops and hitching

One downside of hitching is that it's somewhat illegal, and more broadly, looked upon with suspicion by the law. Laws vary from state to state (the big deal is that you can't hitch on freeways), but generally, if I see a cop, I put my thumb down and try to look busy with my bags.

Yesterday, though, a cop came up while we were unloading our bags from a ride on the side of a road. We weren't doing anything illegal, but he came up and started reading us the riot act anyway. He did it in the worst way -- that way that some cops have that's very antagonistic. He asked for our ID's, and Kat handed over a passport, which he had plainly never seen before. He flipped around the middle pages, where it has stamps from all these random places, and he and Kat have an exchange that goes something like this: "Do you have a real ID?" "This is my ID, it's my passport." "I know what a passport is, I'm not an idiot." Kat reaches out to flip to the photo page for him and he jumps back. "Don't reach out and grab me." Arg. He goes to harass the guy who had given us a ride, and we sit down a feel like shit for a few minutes for having gotten this guy involved with some asshole.

Then a backup car pulls up and we get more worried. Some dude with mirror shades gets out ambles up to us, but it turns out that he's awesome and tells us everything is gonna be fine. A third guy pulls up and we get to chatting while the asshole cop hassles the driver. They're telling us about the music festivals they went to, and they're like "play us a song!" So it turned out fine -- in fact, one of them drove us 20 miles up the road -- but we thought we were gonna get screwed for a bit.

(Bonus story: the only other time I felt like I was in trouble on the road was also when I was not breaking any laws. Some cops pulled up and started hassling me for no reason, and they made it very clear that it was not OK to ask what I was doing wrong. They searched my shit for pot and drove off eventually, but it left me shaking with anger: cops can really screw you over, and they don't have to have a good reason.)

Monday, October 12, 2009


Our first show on this trip was at Rocktoberfest. We flew in on a Thursday, practiced like mad for two days, and played a quick 40-minute set on Saturday afternoon. This is a big, huge festival, but it's put on mom-and-pop style, so unfortunately, we didn't get any cash.

However, we did get magical golden wristbands, which got us free entrance to all 3 stages, and free food and beer for four days. We also got two wristbands for our Charleston friends Brent and Kim. We rocked and drank with them and others for the last four days, and it's been a pretty good time. It's fun that there are no big bands here, because everyone's a surprise: sometimes a band full of skinny highschoolers comes up and rocks out like the Strokes, and it feels like you found a little seashell on the beach. A seashell full of awesome!

We're staying at the Green again, with awesome folks like Nat (who's doing vigilante security work, including breaking the face of rowdy drunks) and Joe (who's wearing the "Willie Nelson for President" hat, given to him by Willie himself). When we're not there at night, we're wandering around the campground, trying to salvage unruly drum circles or smoking a five-foot-tall hookah. It's my first time at a proper music festival, and it's a big party that I hope to come back to next year.

We also played a gig at a charity event, and though they paid us a nice little check, they neglected to sign it. We have to go wrangle the cash out of a friend of a friend -- we're leaving town tomorrow. Wish me luck.

The Start of the Tour!

We're back on the same circuit, starting where we ended last: with Eddie the dentist from Awendaw Green. (If you're not familiar with him, check the old posts.) Eddie, Nat, and the whole Awendaw Green crew are throwing a big music festival -- as it turns out, the biggest in South Carolina -- called Rocktoberfest. There are 100-some bands here, including zero bands you've already heard of. It's a ton of fun -- more next post.