2011 US Tour Post #3 - Lizards, whales and pancakes oh my!

Hey guys!

So I have to confess something that I'm sure I otherwise would have been barred entry at the gates of heaven for when the time came (and still might be).  After checking out at the Budget Inn in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Saturday morning and packing all of our luggage back into back of the van (I swear, Ricky and manage to take more luggage inside somewhere we're only staying overnight than anyone I've ever heard of), Ricky and I sat in the front of the car a few minutes longer wolfing down a quick breakfast when we noticed a lizard hanging out on the sidewalk right in front of the hotel room we had just vacated...and we'd left the door wide open.  It was only a matter of time before the little guy would find its way into the cooler climates of the now empty but not for long room, away from the growing southwestern heat.  So what did we do to possibly intervene and prevent our successors of the room from finding a creepy crawly surprise perhaps under their pillow or in the blankets later that day?  Nothing!  We drove away leaving the door still wide open and the cool covers of the bed the lizard's for the taking.  I have been wracked with guilt ever since.

The remorse I've felt for doing nothing to prevent this potential calamity that was likely to befall an unsuspecting perfect stranger that day may have been amplified by the unbelievable kindness that we have been shown by perfect strangers and aquaintances this whole week on tour.  These are people who would build the Great Wall of China to prevent a lizard from sneaking into your hotel room and have been the reason why Ricky and I have yet to spend even one night sleeping in the van and only one so far in a motel.  It feels like we're not just making new friends all across the country through the process of touring, but new family.  The two things that have been extremely important to every one of the people thus far who have been so generous to let us stay in their homes are God and music...no surprise there!  But, as usual, I'm getting ahead of myself...

When we last left our heroes they/we had just arrived at my Aunt Becky and Uncle Ray's house in Orange, CA, which has in some ways become our homebase for Southern California shows.  Our first gig of this leg of the tour was at the Stage in San Diego which we had played at back in December during our Southwest tour.  We were the headliners on a night of mostly standup comedy (some intentional, some not...) and I think we really brought the house down...if you get my drift...  I didn't check the marquee to see whether or not we were listed before or after the puppet show...  It's hard on the road not to slip into the mindset of why are you still playing at Tuesday comedy night in a half empty room that could probably only hold up to fifty people at capacity, this after passing the local arena on the way to your own gig.  These thoughts really lead nowhere unless they can be channeled into motivating us into working harder to moving past this stage to greater things.  John Lennon used to lead a cheer with his brother Beatles where he'd ask, "Where are we going boys?" and they'd respond, "To the top Johnny, to the top!" and he'd ask, "And where's that?" and they'd call out, "To the toppermost of the poppermost!"...or something like this.  This by the way was when they were still playing as the backup band for a stripper in a rat infested Hamburg cellar.  So I suppose everyone has to start somewhere.  Here's me playing "Too Much Time" at the Stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_3MZMIgA-I

The next night's show was the Freakin' Frog in Las Vegas, another return venue from a previous tour.  We played after another singer/songwriter/loop box master named Daniel Park who created lush violin laden tracks (which he played) right there on the stage.  I got a loop box a few years ago and have dabbled with it a little here and there over the years, but seeing a few artists on this tour really use it in very cool ways on this tour has inspired me to take another look at it when I get home.  Small crowd, but the sound was amazing and I got to play a real piano so I was happy!  "Juniper" live at the Freakin' Frog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bAjU7eQE_k

The best part of that night in Vegas came after the show when we arrived at the home of Louis and Ana Smith.  Louis is an amazing gospel singer/songwriter/pianist/maestro who used to come to lead worship at the church I used to attend many years ago.  In fact I hadn't realized just how long it had been since I'd seen the Smiths; the last time was most likely the trip we all took to London together in spring 2005, so it's been a while.  Louis and Ana let us in around midnight and we spent the next two hours filling each other in on the time we'd missed with each other and sharing new music.  Louis played and sang a new song for us on the baby grand piano in their living room and if you've never seen Louis perform, he's one of those artists who is so passionate about music and what he's singing about that it brings chills to anyone within earshot.  Ana made us a delicious breakfast in the morning and when we left a few hours later, we felt like we were leaving home all over again.  Louis and Ana are truly unforgettable people and definitely knew how to make us feel loved and cared for.

Our next stop was Mesa, AZ.  We played at a venue called the Goat Head Saloon...."Angie" anyone?  Ken and Peggie Balcom, the couple who were to be hosting us that night, met us at the venue and had brought some friends with them.  This was our first time meeting the Balcoms but they treated us like old friends from the get go.  The crowd was really enthusiastic for us that night, aided in no small part by the group who had come specifically to see us and one particularly lively middle aged man sitting in the table right in front who yelled at the top of his lungs "YEAH!" and pumped his fist in the air after every single song, and told us repeatedly after the show that he was "so f***ing pissed that there aren't more people here"....I almost felt bad to see him so genuinely upset by the lack of more people.  Here's our "standard" closer of "Parchutes" and "Stingy": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIKCGfgaZoY

The Balcoms' house was lined wall to wall with instruments.  Organs, guitars, pianos, steel drums, cellos, marimbas and anything else you could think of could be found in almost every corner of the house.  Ken and Peggie had spent years touring with their own group Cavu (an acronym for Come And Visit Us...how great is that?) and had accumlated over the years what amounted to an instrument museum.  They were full set up to record at the house and encouraged Ricky and I to come back to record on their instruments sometime in the near future.  The whole family and I stayed up until 2am enjoying banana smoothies made by daughter Caralie and singing three part harmonies to Simon and Garfunkel, CSNY, and Beatles songs as if we'd been singing together for years.  When we were getting ready to leave the next day, Ken even regaled us with his own original goodbye song.  We left again feeling like we had joined another amazing family and had a new home to look forward to coming back to.  Here's the Balcoms and I singing around the dinner table during our midnight jam session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTM0d4-3O8E

That day on the trip from Mesa to Las Cruces, NM, I did something I'd never done before which is write a song while on tour.  On previous tours, that had always been a challenge because there was very little alone time which is usually preferable for songwriting.  I'd had this particular idea brewing for a few months but as we were driving through that desert country, it all just came spilling out or as I proclaimed to Ricky, "I'm going into labor.  The baby is finally being born!"  If you didn't see it when I posted it earlier, here's a video of the new song, "Shot In the Dark": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8ZXeiaBL9U

I had a weird feeling about the gig in Las Cruces that night.  It had been booked fairly last minute and I'd received an email the day before from the booker who was also going to be providing the entire sound system saying she hadn't had much time to promote.  We showed up at what appeared to be an independently owned version of Borders with a little coffeeshop area inside.  The people working at the counter had no idea we were coming and the booker never showed up with the sound system.  I've heard of this happening before, and I think we'd been lucky that this was the first time it had happened to us.  It was a drag to suddenly not have a show to play that night but we made up for it by getting an extra few hours of driving that night before staying at a motel in Fort Stockton, TX, the aforementioned Budget Inn with a dried up pool in the middle of the parking lot....for some reason, Ricky and I both imagined a whale spending the night in that pool...home sweet home for the night!

We left the motel following our reprehensible inaction involving the lizard and headed to San Antonio.  On the last tour we had played literally to an empty room at a place called GIG in San Antonio on a Sunday night.  I was sick at the time and grateful in a way that no one was there.  During the last few songs of the set, a few people wandered in to put up fliers for another show and immediately fell in love with Ricky's music.  They passed her stuff along to their friend Gordon Raphael, producer of the Strokes and Regina Spektor, who fell in love as well and has been working with Ricky almost ever since on her next record.  I was excited to return to that same venue in San Antonio four months later now that Ricky had achieved a bit of notoriety there.  My friend Paige drove out from Houston to do a set with me which as always made me sound twice as good as I ever do without her.  It was a great show overall and we got a great response from the crowd overall.  Here's Paige and I performing "Angels" at that show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ_i0VzodN8

After the show, we went over to the apartment of a guy we'd met at the show named Bryan Hamilton who made us a delicious pasta dinner.  Some other friends of his who'd been to the show as well came over also and we all stayed up until nearly 6am talking philosophy, religion and music.  It was great finding a group of such kindred spirits.

We had the next day off.  Ricky and Gordon were scheduled to do some work at Gordon's studio so I stayed at the house that Gordon was living in and did some recording myself.  I brought most of my new recording gear with me on the road and this was just the opportunity I'd been waiting for to use it.  Over the next 24 hours I was able to cut an almost finished recording of "New December"....perhaps material for the next ep!

We left San Antonio for Houston yesterday afternoon.  After stopping by Paige's Acoustic Radio show at a downtown pub where she regaled us with covers of songs by the Backstreet Boys and Ke$ha, we finally made it to Uncle Brian and Aunt Ilda's house where we were greeted by the two of them as well Kahlua the wolf, Coco the parrot and all the other members of their household menagerie.  After experiencing so many new people and places, it was refreshing to finally arrive somewhere familiar.

We've had a whole slew of new donations from all sorts of wonderful people that I'd like to thank by name before I wrap this up.  So a huge thank you to:

Nolan Frost
Jerry Shawn
Dana Gumbiner
Dave and Rachel Lyman
Dustin McCall
Dean Preston
Holly Dallas
Brian Batch

You guys are all amazing!  We have now raised over $1000 which has been helping us with gas tremendously.  We are currently preparing recordings of the live shows and postcards to send to you guys.  Anyone else who would like to donate can do so at www.feedthemuse.net/bourgeoisberger  Also, you can always keep up to date with the latest tour dates which continue to be updated regularly at www.adrianbourgeois.com/shows.

That's all for now folks!

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