2011 US Tour Post #4 - The Super Minky Bell Hunters Festival (Texas post)

"BRRRRING.....BRRRRRING"  I groggily open my eyes to see what unseemly hour it is that someone is calling.  7:30am.  I hear my uncle's voice, "This is Brian....yes....oh sure...fine fine...okay....thank you....*click*"  Not a moment later..."BRRRRRING....BRRRRRING....this is Brian...."  My uncle's obviously a popular guy at 7:30 in the morning.  Then it all begins a third time and I become suspicious.  The filtered tone of the rings and my uncle's voice gives it away that I've been fooled yet again.  This whole routine, recited with the utmost authenticity, is all being performed by Coco the parrot, a master magician and ventriliquist and a devilish rascal at that.  This bird is known to put pieces of food on the edge of his cage and wait for an unsuspecting dog (or wolf) to come for it when it can lunge out of the shadows and chomp the poor canine on the nose.  And yes I did say wolf.  My aunt and uncle have a pet wolf who seems to believe himself to be an oversized golden retriever.

Ricky and I spent the majority of our first day in Houston as we do most days on tour that the option is available, sleeping in until about 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  Paige called around 5:30 to invite me to Sushi dinner with her and some friends where the conversation revolved around black holes, Willie Wonka, and David Bowie.  The show that night was at a venue called the Mink.  It's always strange actually going to these venues after booking them usually several months in advance and holding some mental picture in my head of what the place might actually be like.  At the Mink, you had to walk through the bar, around a corner, actually go outside the building into this alley and then up some stairs to get to "The Backroom" where the live music was held.  I'm surprised no one got lost trying to find their way back there.  We actually had a good sized crowd out to see us, primarily thanks to Paige bringing out her peops.  This was show number two of the week for Paige and I and, as it seems to usually go with us, it was better than show number one and we found all sorts of loose ends we hoped to tie off for show number three.  After years of performing together primarily on my home turf, this was our first show in front of an audience of primarily her friends and family.  The response was the same as we usually get, that our voices blend great together and that we should really think about starting a full time band together....  We did do something that we'd never done before which is include a cover song to close out our set.  Paige is certainly no stranger to cover songs, but it was a bit of struggle to find one song in her repertoire of mainly top forty hits that I knew.  We finally landed on one, "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young.  No matter how many of your own songs you have, there's nothing like giving your audience something familiar.

"Dream On" live at the Mink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kALoVCgFHBg
"What I Need" live at the Mink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRT8JSje1XQ

My uncle Brian took me to the Houston farmer's market that morning to load up on bread from his son Jerry's bakery.  Jerry's bread is one of the greatest pleasures my taste buds have ever experienced and while no bread has a very long shelf life, it's my favorite snack to have on the road while it lasts.  It had dawned on me the night before that my old friend Christopher Fairman had moved to Austin a few months earlier.  When I started playing shows in Sacramento when I was 15, Christopher was the only other guy around my age doing the same thing.  Our paths have managed to run somewhat parallel to each other ever since.  I texted him to let him know that we would be playing in Austin the next night and he invited us to stop by the coffeeshop he worked at which was holding an open mic before our show.  After a two and a half hour drive from Houston, we walked in the door of Thai Fresh/Caffein Cafe to see a girl with very familiar bright red hair working behind the counter.  It was Natalie Gordon, another emigrated Sacramento musician and my old best friend from ninth grade.  It was very surreal seeing Natalie and Christopher almost half way across the country, and refreshingly unfamiliar seeing such familiar faces after a few weeks of mainly new people.  The show at Headhunters that night was awesome.  We opened for a local multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter named Brian Batch who I met when he performed as part of Alpha Rev at Live In the Vineyard and his new band, making their debut that night, knew how to funk with the best of them.  The crowd was excellent as well and after a few lackluster Austin gigs over the last year, it was great to finally play to a crowded house and experience why Austin is known as the live music capital of the world.    There's a rumor going around that I might be relocating to Austin at somepoint in the near future...but you didn't hear it from me....;)  I debuted my new song that I'd written the week before at that show and it went over really well.  The first performance of a new song means more than you might think.  If it doesn't get a good response, it might be a while, if ever, before I play it again.  This one definitely got this audience's stamp of approval so it's stayed in the setlist pretty much ever since.

"Pictures of Incense" live at Headhunters - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viWEjR1yErc
"My Sweet Enemy" live at Headhunters - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0aBtLQC3t4

After a manditory stop at Kirby Lane Cafe for a full stack of gingerbread pancakes, Ricky and I made the four hour drive to Dallas, getting in around 5am.  The one thing that kind of put a damper on the night for me was having my third phone of the last three weeks break while supposedly safe in my pocket.  Ricky is convinced that the natural magnitism of my body causes electronics to break, an actually recorded phenomenon and a curse I wouldn't be surprised at all to be afflicted by due to my luck.  I spent most of my first day in Dallas at the Verizon store where the concept of obtaining a new phone seems to be lost on most employees.  It was good to be back in Dallas though, to see my Goomba, and just to be in that old house.  My dad was there too to visit him and to see our shows while we were in town.  He'd invited lots of his old friends to our show that night at Opening Bell Coffee, a place we'd played a couple times before, and as a result we played to a packed house.  Paige drove up and we performed our third and final and in my opinion best set of the tour together.  We got an encore and everything--this after playing every song we thought we knew together--but that didn't stop us from faking our way through one more song (or I should say, I was having to do most of the faking as it was Paige's song which she had no problem at all performing).  Hopefully more shows for the two of us are on the horizon for the near future. 

"Heart of Gold" live at Opening Bell Coffee (this entire show was professionally taped so once I get the footage I will post that) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaNCFrd7VXg

The next two days we were scheduled to perform at the Dallas International Guitar Festival that was being put on by my dad's old childhood friend Jimmy Wallace.  The Festival showcased probably hundreds of different guitar manufacturers and stores from all over the world showing off their wares as well as various clinics and performances going on throughout the weekend on different stages within the spacious Dallas Market Hall.  We were booked on a small stage in a dark hall in the back, a little off the beaten path so the amount of people who happened to wander back there to catch our set each day was small, but the ones that did were very encouraging and bought CD's.  Our friend James Hunter, the 16 year old guitar wiz-kid from One Eyed Rhyno, had flown out for the festival and we hung out with him most of the time we were there.  We met Rick Derringer who had his own booth there.  I also met Todd D'Agostino (a.k.a Mr. Chauntelle DuPree) a really nice guy who has his own guitar shop and brand, LaRose guitars.  I got to see one of four specially designed guitars with artwork hand drawn by Sherri and Chauntelle DuPree.  Eisley was set to perform at the festival as well, but unfortunately on Sunday, the one day Ricky and I would not be there.

Our set at the Festival on Saturday was at noon, a strange time for us to be performing a show, and after hanging out for another hour or so, we drove to Spring, TX for our second show of the day at Dunn Bros Coffee.  Dunn Bros was an extremely sterile version of Starbucks and there was absolutely nobody there except two teenage baristas who spent most of our set in the backroom with headphones on.  My uncles Bruce and Brian did show up and so Ricky and I performed a private show for them primarily of songs that we hadn't performed live in years, if ever. It was a fun exercise, and preoccupying our minds with remembering old lyrics and chords kept our minds off of the fact that there were as many people in the audience as there were onstage...

Sunday night's show was at Super Happy Fun Land, a venue that definitely lives up to it's name.  It's a very hard place to describe.  It's a dimly lit vast warehouse with every square inch of it covered with some strange trinkit or piece of art or something to make you do a double take at.  Huge paintings of monsters and...Where's Waldo for that matter...cover the walls and the bottom of the stage was lined with old comic book cut outs.  Giant cabbage patch dolls loomed over the stage and there were clown dolls everywhere.  Very interesting place.  The first band on the bill was called the Grass Skirts who sounded like if Cake decided to perform all of their songs with a Hawaiian flare to them and only sing about Hawaiian themes.  We played after them and were followed by a God only knows how old blues artist, Little Joe Washington who had played with the likes of Muddy Waters and Lightning Hopkins back in the day.  Apparently some kind of local legend.  A singer/songwriter named Poopy Lungstuffing was supposed to close out the night but she was nowhere to be found after Little Joe finished his set.  With a name like Poopy Lungstuffing, one can only imagine what we were missing out on....

"The Wall" live at Super Happy Fun Land (not sure what possessed me to pull this one out of the attic, haven't played it in probably five years or so) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tipDPa8Ovp4
"Shot In the Dark" live at Super Happy Fun Land (I realize it would have made more sense narrative-wise to have posted the video of me doing this at Headhunters, but this is a better performance) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4d-UfLGkHI
"Clown Review" live at Super Happy Fun land - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpaXvUlYJ0w
Blues legend Little Joe Washington - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI6OesA1fOI

And that brings us to today, our first day off in about a week which I've spent back at Uncle Brian and Aunt Ilda's house loading up on Jerry's bread for the road and enjoying some of the last real mexican food I can expect to find for quite some time.  Tomorrow we set sail for my motherland of Louisiana, the state where my dad was born as well as his dad and "his father's father before him" and so on and so forth.  I've never been so I can't wait to see what's in store....!