Tour Diary # 4 (repost from Facebook April 6th, 2010)

The more you travel the more you recognize scenes in movies. We watched "There Will Be Blood" a few nights ago and recognized the scraggly terrain as being somewhere between the dry netherlands of southern California, Arizona and New Mexico and the motel we stayed at in El Paso, TX looked just like the one that Anton Chiguhr shot up in "No Country For Old Men" which was an extremely comforting thought...! The sky is so much bigger in the desert. It's amazing how much civilization clouds our horizons. The people who used to live in this land believed and still do believe that the mountains were sacred and it was hard not to feel the same way passing by these giant natural monoliths that seemed to resemble ancient faces laid to rest.

Our first "last" of this tour was when, on our way out from my house, Ricky realized that she had forgotten a few things and so we stopped by her house to pick them up before officially hitting the road. It was weird thinking that this was literally our last chance for almost two months to go back for anything forgotten. We made a two day stop in Nipomo to visit Ricky's famous Grandma Rene in the hospital. She was an extremely sweet lady just as Ricky had described her over the years.

Our first official gig of this leg of the tour was in LA at a small joint near Venice called Cinema Bar opening up for Adam Marsland and his band. Adam is a great songwriter but he and his band are also one of the best cover bands around. After Ricky and I played our set, I guested with them on "Thirteen" by Big Star. We stayed with my Aunt Becky that night and then got up early the next morning (well early for us) to leave for Scottsdale, AZ right outside of Phoenix. The venue, Pranksters Too, was in the middle of a shopping center surrounded by a 99ยข Store, a Fresh and Easy, and a Planned Parenthood. Location, location.... The audience included a total of one person when we started our set but had multiplied by eight by the end of it! Now that's spin for you!

We stayed with Lucas that night whom we'd met off of and who kindly made us breakfast in the morning before our long drive to El Paso, TX. Someone who had been advising me on touring before I got started told me that a lot of touring musicians don't even play east of the Mississippi because everything is so spread out that it isn't cost efficient. I could see what he meant, but the beauty of the landscape we passed made up for it ten-fold. The gig in El Paso at the Hideaway Lounge was great. There was a good sized crowd that really seemed to like our music. One audience member invited us to be on her college radio show the next day. I've discovered on this tour that I really enjoy being interviewed on the radio. It's a really fun format to get to talk about all sorts of stuff.

We were supposed to stay with another contact while in El Paso but they ended up flaking on us so we checked into the aforementioned Coral Motel. El Paso felt way more like being in Mexico than anywhere in the US. Ricky and I were two of the only Caucasian people I saw anywhere. We played in Las Cruces at an awesome little performance space called Equinox owned and operated by a 23 year old woman named Jasmine. She brought out a great crowd for us who received our music very well. We were entertained before the show at the Mexican restaurant next door by an amazing mariachi band who charged $5 per song performed. Hey, there may be something to that...! One of the opening acts for our gig was an artist named Justin MacDonald who put his voice and acoustic guitar through loop and delay pedals to create an ambient sound that I could only compare to the second side of "Low".

While in El Paso, I received the tragic news that one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Will Owsley, had taken his own life. Owsley, as I knew him, the moniker under which he released his albums, was an old friend of my dad's and one of the greatest unknown power pop artists I'd ever heard. I got his first album when I was in sixth grade and probably have listened to it about once a week ever since. I got to meet him a few times and I even wrote him recently just to tell him how much his music meant to me but sadly I guess he'd come to a point where he couldn't see that life was worth sticking around for. I wish the whole world could hear his music. He was really that good.

We had our longest drive yet the next day from El Paso to Austin. It is said that they like things big in Texas probably because they can relate to it. Texas is huge! We passed a pickup truck with horns coming out of the front and another truck towing a tractor that said "Manly" on the if people needed reminding! We stayed with my cousin Larisa and her husband Jason. I got to meet my new cousin, their daughter Elodie who at two years old is already a Beatles fanatic! Start 'em young is what I say...

Austin reminded me a lot of Nashville at least aesthetically and culturally too. It was definitely a southern city but also had its own freak flag. It was cool to be in a city that was so much about music. I wish we would have gotten to explore it a bit more than we did and we may get our chance this weekend.

One of the highlights of the tour so far for me was getting to see my old friend Paige. Paige and I have known each other for probably eleven years or so and when she lived in LA she used to come up to Sacramento pretty regularly and play shows with me. She sang on a few songs on my album and I've always felt our voices had a really special blend. She moved back home to Texas about five years ago and we haven't seen each other since. Seeing her on Tuesday and catching up was really great. We had about two hours to pull a set together of old and new songs which of course included a lot of "well...I guess we'll just wing that part!" but it was also cool how much we remembered and that our voices still sounded great together. The venue was pretty empty when we played but we had a lot of fun. Hopefully it will be less than five years before our next gig together!

Ricky and I made the three hour drive to Dallas after the show to my grandpa's (or Goomba as he is affectionately known by his grandchildren). It has been more than four years since I was last here and it was great after a week or so of sleeping on strangers' couches and motel beds to finally be somewhere familiar. The Dallas gig we played tonight at Opening Bell Coffee was awesome. We played to a packed house and got one of the best responses we've gotten all tour. We just about sold out of all the CD's we had in our briefcase!

So that brings us up to the moment. We play Houston tomorrow night (or I guess tonight by the look of the time). I'll leave you now with way more videos than you could ever want.

Here's my tribute to Owsley. This is my cover of his song "Class Clown". This song has always made me pretty emotional but especially now:

Here are some videos of Ricky and I on the road. Pure indulgence. Don't watch these if you don' fact don't watch these at all. Skip these all together:

Here's Ricky performing at Momo's in Austin:

Here's most of Paige's and my set at Momo's. As you'll hear by the applause, the room was obviously packed...;0) :

Here are a few videos from tonight at Opening Bell:

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