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In my last blog entry, I spoke of possible tour mvps. One such candidate was that first meal of the day: breakfast. On many days I don’t eat breakfast, which is odd since it’s my favorite meal; in fact, I haven’t once eaten before noon since we finished our tour. Until this morning, that is. I woke up way too early today, after far less sleep than necessary. It wasn’t my intention to do so, but the moon, while beautiful, was just too doggone bright, dagnabit. Anyhow, breakfast ensued, and while nothing to write home about in and of itself, certainly got me thinking about Miss Fairchild’s favorite breakfast joints. We always do a top six around here, since that’s my particular number (do you remember that little tidbit about OLLSS’s tracklisting?)and well, I’m the one writing this blog, so I’ll certainly list six places. In fact, though, this is really a top five with one honorable mention. You’ll see why shortly.
No, not the song, silly! I’m talking about Nicks On Broadway in Providence, Rhode Island. Actually, I’m not sure if there is an apostrophe or not in Nick’s. It would seem that there ought to be, but too much literature, even some hanging on the walls of the restaurant, doesn’t have the apostrophe. Perhaps they are talking about a little cuts rather than someone named Nick. I am fairly certain that the chef/owner is not named Nick, after all. (I think his name is Derek…)
Nicks has always been on Broadway, believe it or not, somehow managing to move a number of months ago without having to change the restaurant name in the process. It used to be on the corner of Broadway and America and for that reason, was not only the best breakfast we knew, but also the nearest. You see, in those days, Miss Fairchild was based on America Street, as two of us lived there. Yep, some of that music that you enjoy with your eggs and dancefloor was created just on the West Side of Providence, across from an elementary school.
As for Nicks, it’s just the best, plain and simple (and sometimes a little complex). They make a fantastic frittata. (Just ask Daddy Wrall, who has finished not a few of them, despite their decided largeness.) They make one of the best huevos rancheros you’ll ever have, even if you are a traditionalist and don’t generally go for the multi-colored grilled tortillas and avocado sour cream. For this, you can ask Samuel P. Nice, who is a traditionalist, but will concede that these huevos are off the charts. I, myself, having had them once, found it near impossible to try anything else for close to a dozen trips hence.
But then came the tuna tartare benedict, the rabbit sausage, the cinnamon coffee cake muffin, the egg sandwich, the special soups, the fresh juice, the excellent espresso. They succeed where many have failed in the hashbrowns, adding sweet potato without venturing into the land of mushy. (People who want to eat breakfast in the land of mushy order oatmeal or cream of wheat.) I could list all of the memorable food, but it would take too long. Trust me, some weekday (weekends are too crowded and the wait is too long), get in your car and drive to Providence early enough to eat a breakfast at Nicks. It doesn’t have to be too early, I don’t think, because they keep the eggs coming until the middle of the day.
It would have to be Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis, right? I’ve already written about this place, but it bears repeating: this place rivals Nicks. I have too special a place in my heart to let any place bump Nicks from this list: the food came a little too quickly for me (I like to think every little thing is prepared to order, you know?) and there is so much more space that Nicks has, but this place is quite special. The homemade peanut butter is a huge selling point, even for someone like me who doesn’t looove the stuff. (Daddy Wrall would have to step in here; he knows his peanut butter.) The point is, it only gets a little better than this, and even that is debatable.
The Bongo Room in Wicker Park in Chicago is a fantastic breakfast and one certainly worthy of a spot on this list. In our many trips to Chicago, we’ve have almost always made it a point to eat at this particular spot, recommended to us first by our friend and yours JedSed of Chicago hip-hop fame. Not only did he show us how to get there and make us order a single pancake to share in addition to our more savory complete meals, he also warned us that the juice sizes are remarkable similar (so don’t bother with a large). At least I think he showed us that; else, I discovered that myself when one of us ordered a small and one a large. You’ll forgive my slipping memory. Point is, the eggs are fantastic, as are the sandwiches (breakfast and otherwise) and the burritos (breakfast only), but definitely don’t go alone and definitely do order that pancake. (We recommend the one with white chocolate if they have it.
We’ll go with Black Eyed Susan’s here. Now, I’m positive that this place does, correctly, use an apostrophe, which really contributes to my being able to sleep well at night. (Except last night, of course.) I have to apologize to the Centre Street Bistro, another great place to get breakfast on Nantucket, and one we’ve often embraced, but Black Eyed’s still takes the cake. Traditionally, I think we all go with the Thai or Portuguese Scramble here. It’s pretty special, too, that you can choose between cheese grits, black eyed peas or potatoes with your meal. The fresh juice is much larger than the Bongo Room, in case you were curious. And no, I don’t believe that Black-Eyed Susans actually have any relationship with Black-Eyed Peas, even these ones.
Relish, in Brooklyn, is another Fairchild favorite. They always have seating and something that we all want. I admit, I usually get something lunch-y here, but everyone else gets breakfast, so you’ll have to forgive me. We’d actually been here a few times before we found out this was filmed there:
The place is right across from a motorcycle shop and always a welcome stroll from wherever we find ourselves in Brooklyn (generally speaking). They also have outdoor seating, a summertime plus.
Six: Honorable Mention, that is
The only reason that Simon’s Coffee Shop only gets honorable mention is that it’s not really a breakfast spot. Yes, they have amazing scones, by the Danish Pastry House (baked at Simon’s every morning). And they have the absolute best coffee we’ve ever tasted. It’s just not a breakfast place in the same way these other places are. We recommend it, though, for breakfast or anytime. We even have a facebook group in tribute, if you’re into that kind of thing.
So there you have it, folks: breakfast, the Fairchild way. You will join us sometime, won’t you?
We made it. (An earlier version of me would refrain from counting my chickens since, technically, we’re still in the van as I write this. Sam, Wrall and The Rocket are all nestled snug in their beds, but Trick and myself are still wearing tire treads.) The road was good to us. We have been reassured that, fundamentally, people are good. Travelers and musicians are the historic beneficiaries of good-natured hospitality and this tour has proven that to us. I’m happy to say that we were welcomed everywhere we went with open arms; that’s a testament to you folks, our friends that invited us to your homes and clubs, who shared meals and advice with us along the way. We truly couldn’t have done it without you.
Today, I’ll give some statistics about our travels and starting tomorrow, we’ll investigate other aspects of life at Miss Fairchild, including new music (live, remixes and new songs), new videos (remember that vanilla place project?), interviews with the guys about their lives in music, and more. Stayed tune for that stuff. We’ll try to keep it entertaining…
States and Provinces performed in: 12
States and Provinces traveled through: 19 Shows: 15
Miles Traveled: 7,738.6
Number of iPods: 4
Number of working iPods: 2
Number of CDs: 0
Number of tapes: 3
Gracious hosts: 8
Fantastic breakfasts: 6
Crap breakfasts: 4
No breakfast: Never
McDonald’s: Also Never
Cracker Barrel Stops: 1
Vitamin waters: 68
Energy drinks: 11
Hunid Racks: 1
All-Natural White Pistachio Nuts: 1000
Cheese dishes served to The Great Dunlap by accident: 1
Oil Changes: 2
Tire Rotations: 1
Car washes: 2
Home car washes: 1
Gallons of antifreeze: 1
Gallons of gas: Too many
Tolls: Waaaay too many
Odd decisions by Madge: 11
Brilliant decisions Madge: 2,365
Rainy Days: 2
Clear days: All the rest (!)
Cracker Barrel Clap: 94
“Thank you Hunid Racks!”: 10
“You never know what the brain knows”: 420
“You’re Trick Johnson, bass player for Miss Fairchild!”: 41
Spinal Tap references: surprisingly few
People alienated by inside jokes: also surprisingly few
Fans win in a landslide.
Well, we played the last show of this particular tour last night. Within the next couple of days, I will post the upcoming dates (Baltimore, Brooklyn, Boston, Brunswick and more towns that start with the letter B) and continue to fill this blog with tidbits about non-touring Fairchild life and videos of people playing our songs. We hope you’ll stay with us for all that. For now, though, let’s talk about Milwaukee…
Despite three different stop-overs in Milwaukee over the life of Miss Fairchild, we had never actually performed there and I’m happy to report a fantastic show, full of life, energy and people. It would not be inaccurate to describe Milwaukee as a city on the way up, and we hope to be a part of that vitalization, musically and otherwise. Our friend Asher (alias Diamonds), a dj and member of The Glamour, invited us to play at Spaced out, his weekly party at MOCT Bar, where we were apparently his first guest band ever.
He is a fantastic dj and a great guy and it was great to finally meet him. I do believe that there will be video from the show soon, so you will all get to see what this place looks like. MOCT is an old building, a converted machine shop with four enormous garage doors that stay open to the sidewalk during business hours. It has a huge brick wall on one side, concrete floors and metal hoists hanging from the ceiling, which is at least twenty five feet high. Along the back wall is a bar that travels the length of the room. All in all, it is a beautiful room and a fun one to solve, musically.
Sam and Asher took care of that last part, the rest of us just playing our instruments and looking pretty. The crowd was large, loud and in ready to party. Apparently, someone had shipped in some fake snow down the street for snowboarding, and we were, in addition to a stand alone party, the after party for that event. So, with the masses assembled, and an absolutely banging opening set by Diamonds, we brought our Boston flavored funk to the midwest for the last time on this tour. We played well and had a brilliant time, meeting Nebby, the owner and Mark, Asher’s dad who was a huge fan. Taking out an old Hendrix cover brought us a lot of attention, as at least three people commented on how amazing it was to see us play “Manic Depression” in the way that we did. Well, we’re happy to oblige, folks. And we’re glad you dig.
Brothers Wrall and The Rocket headed home on airplanes and it’s up to Sam, Trick and myself to get Bessie home safely. As I write this, we’re in Ohio and happy to be here (for only as long as it takes to get through the state. No jab.) You see, we’re all excited about getting home for a minute, wherever that may be. Next stop New York City to leave Sam, then Maine for Patrick and then… well, if you have any suggestions, I’m game!
The more comfortable an audience feels with the band, the more likely they are to participate in sing-alongs, dance-alongs and clap-alongs. Of course, they are also more likely to yell thoughts, opinions and obscenities at us. (One favorite was at a Boston show, when one guy wouldn’t stop yelling “What’s your name? What’s your name?” with superhuman lungs, so loudly that we could hear over the P.A. system.) Tonight, it was apparently name game time. As soon as I picked my flute, one such adventurous fan screamed, Jethro!!!!” Daddy Wrall was dubbed “Wolfman” by another. Later that evening, Mr. Nice called Lil’ Sam, because, in her words, “he looks like a Sam.” (And presumably, he’s little.)
So, why not? The Lawfirm of Wolfman, Jethro and Lil’ Sam, now open for business in sunny Bloomington, IN, where it was a solid 90 degrees yesterday. I hope you don’t mind us changing our names again like this. We don’t mean to confuse you, but how can we stoop to refute such astute monikers, dude? (Plus, look at those photos of Wrall. They may not be cute, but this Wolfman thing is a hoot!)
Jake’s is an enormous venue, one of the biggest we have played. We could certainly have fit the entire ten piece band on stage, so it’s too bad we didn’t bring them with us. We had an extremely competent sound man in Ramsey, who did an excellent job, and we shared the stage with the inimitable Fluffy, who started and finished the night with some fantastic dj sets that included some of our favorite jams. Early in the first set he brought out “Remember the Time,” harkening back to our night in Billings. He also played “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” the Taco version, which is a recurring theme in Fairchildland, one we haven’t had an excuse to mention until now.
During the making of Ooh La La, Sha Sha…, Wrall, Sam and I spent quite a few hours analyzing the melody of “Putin’ on the Ritz”. We were inspired to do so by a long since abandoned horn line that was briefly under consideration for the record. The synth horns that we used in the demos for OLLSS (they’ve been destroyed, so don’t get your hopes up) were very similar to those in that particular Taco number, so we had no choice but to delve in and see what that song is all about. Apparently, it’s about faking it ’til you make it, also known as the Realistic Optimists Credo.
Needless to say, with “Puttin’ on the Ritz” in our mind, we couldn’t help but to take care of business on the big stage; I’m happy to say that it was a great show. Our friend Matt, a longtime fan, came down from Chicago with a crew from IU. We would be remiss to not mention Katie and Amanda, who did their research, and showed up at their first show ready to participate like Fairchildren do. It was a great time for all and thank you to everyone who came to show. Y’all are great, great, great. (Thanks to you too, Fluffy, for sharing the stage, putting us up and being a great guy.)
Waiting to get paid at the end of the night, we were greeted by a few wandering locals. Now, they couldn’t have been too local, since Ricky spoke with a Scottish accent and Lizzo with an English one. Now, Sparky, that guy could have been from Indiana, but who can be sure? They apologized to us for their city, though I can’t say why, and chatted us up about beef jerky and other things. Ricky was a vegan, but Sparky, knowing that local jerky is the best jerky, gladly accepted Wrall’s offer of some. Ricky will soon marry Lizzo’s daughter, which may explain why they would be in town. The moment that Ricky announced himself Scottish, Wrall saw his opportunity, placed his arm around the man’s shoulders and launched into a rousing, heavily-accented rendition of “Loch Lomond,” which Ricky joined immediately and unabashedly.
“You’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road.
And I’ll be in Scotland, afore ye.
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonny, bonny, bonny, bonny banks of Lochlomond!”
(Hey, we do it for the blog. For you folks. It’s a risk, but in the end, isn’t it worth it?)
Wrall’s Scottish accent perfected in the context of that traditional sing-along, he felt confident enough to test the accent in some regular conversation, but somehow it came out sounding like a highland version of Arnold. “Get to da Choppah, Lass!”
We introduced ourselves. Ricky, meet Trick. Trick, this is Ricky:
“Hi, I’m Patrick,” said Patrick.
“My father’s name,” said Ricky. “I believe it means…”
Well, it does for him, anyhow. Great people. Happy marriage to you, Ricky!
We hit the road in the morning, but not before watching the town filter towards the stadium for some early tailgating. At our particular (admittedly low) level of notoriety, we are not above recounting tales of our being recognized at movie theaters and street corners. It’s rare enough that it’s memorable. And especially in places where we’ve barely played, it’s as surprising as it is welcome to hear our names shouted by strangers. Daddy Wrall was of the beneficiary of this experience while walking from breakfast to the van. He was crossing the street when he saw a girl and her mom sitting in a parked car.
“Hey!” he heard the mom say. At first, he didn’t know they were talking to him and kept walking, ignoring them. “Hey!” she repeated and he realized they were talking to him.
Pointing to himself, he mouthed, “me?”
Wrall was still confused. He thought to himself, “What’s about to happen? I’m not from around here. I can’t answer any questions, give any directions.” But he walked toward the car anyhow, in uneasy anticipation.
“Are you the lead singer for Miss Fairchild?” asked the girl.
Realizing that he wouldn’t be asked how to find the booster club headquarters or the best falafel joint in town, his demeanor changed. He smiled, “yes I am.”
“I love your music! You played at Jake’s last night, right? I actually couldn’t come because I’m underage.”
“That’s too bad.”
Mom interrupted, “wait, what’s the name of your band?”
“Oh! There’s a Fairchild in Cleveland. Any relation to them?” She started into a lengthy story about a band or a family, it was difficult to say. “It used to be…and then this guy went here…and then…so she…” And so on and so forth.
This time, the girl interrupted, “Mom, I’m sure he has to go.” And he did have to go. All the way to Milwaukee. I wish I could have been there to recount her Fairchild story completely. Either way, let us never question the memorableness of our Wolfman Wrall, whether he be in an orange suit or a navy blue hoodie.
Stopping for five minutes every couple of hours has become such an indistinguishable part of our traveling, I often forget to recount some of the interesting things that happen at these stops. Before I tell (and show) this next one, let’s jump back in time for a minute, to some very clever graffiti:
The air hand dryer on the Steamship Authority ferry to Nantucket is where said graffiti was displayed. The instructions on the front read:
1. Press button.
2. Rub hands together vigorously.
3. Dryer stops automatically.
Some sharp soul had added, by scratching into the surface of the dryer:
4. Wipe hands on pants.
They really aren’t very effective are they? Until now, that is. At “Gas” in Lafayette, Indiana, there exists the hand dryer to end all hand dryers. Observe:
It scared the dickens out of us, but shoot, it worked. Lil’ Sam almost lost a finger (and Wolfman a tooth) in the process, but, darnit, our hands are dry. Until our next stop, this is Jethro signing off, Milwaukee bound for the last show of this particular tour. We’ll soon be home, with a whole new brand of blog.
Locally produced beef jerky is a thing.
Miss Fairchild on the Marquee is a thing.
Getting embarrassed by Mom in the presence of pop superstar Daddy Wrall is a thing.
75 cent Margaritas are (apparently) a gross thing.
Sam “looking like a Sam is a thing.
Sound guy waiting for the right band to come along and take them away from all this is a thing.
“When possible, make a legal u-turn” is a thing.
I’ve lived on an island full of seagulls, worked in gardens with mourning doves and blue jays. I’ve spent lot of time in pigeon-filled cities, but never in my life before Miss Fairchild had a bird pooped on me. Now it’s happened three times.
The first time, I was in a car, waiting for the band at Chicky’s in Westbrook, ME. Somehow, the bird crap found it’s way through a cracked car window, past my hand and the cellphone in it, avoided the seat belt I was wearing and landed on the only portion of my shirt that was exposed to air. I had to hang up the phone and the shirt was, for all intents and purposes, ruined, but this event is considered good luck, and I don’t say “no” to good luck.
The second time, I was in Somerville, MA, putting up posters for Miss Fairchild Presents The Miss Fairchild Show when I was hit square on my bare foot, in between my toes, while I was wearing sandals. This time was slightly more bothersome, as my options for cleaning my foot were limited, but I made do and, as I recall, that particular Miss Fairchild Show was pretty happening.
Well, last night in Chicago, I was targeted again. Changing into my gig clothes outside the venue, under an EL train line, I could a glimpse of something white out of the corner of my eye and felt something warm and wet on my left hand and shirt cuff. Sure enough, these Windy City pigeons were Dunlap hunting and I had been hit. Fair and square, child. This time, there was a large supply of wet naps (thanks Jim!) at the ready, and assuming my shirt lives on, I couldn’t be happier about the whole thing. You see, “who’s to say what’s good or bad?” aside, bird poop means good luck. If you think what I’m about to describe is a positive experience, though…
You would be absolutely right.
Skipping back a few hours, Miss Fairchild ran some errands today, getting our act together for a few last tour dates and settling some scores (not really, but it sounded good, right?) We stopped into a used instrument store that, interestingly, had for sale the exact mixer and compression unit for sale that had been stolen out of Sam Nice’s Camry two years ago when were here. I’m afraid for him to see it in the store in case he breaks down and pleads with the owner to give it back. Sometimes what’s lost is lost and he’s moved far behind those two items, as useful as they were. Oddly, the store was not featuring the rotating colored light that was also stolen from that car, the one with the semi-inappropriate shapes of a reclining, leggy woman in purple, green, yellow, orange and blue. I couldn’t say why not.
Eventually, we headed over to Empire Liquors to scope the scenario there. This bar is really hip and new, with a great staff and solid layout. It’s not set-up for regular live music, and I wouldn’t blame Ryan, the manager there, if he was skeptical about these strange dudes from Massachusetts bringing in a Mayflower’s load of instruments and colored signs. Samuel troubleshot the room with our friend Willy Joy as making a room sound good is one of his many varied talents. We had to import our own sound system and find a way to “stage” this thing we call a Show.
After the sound check, we ran off to have noodles and falafel. (Not both; we split. What do you think we are, anyway? Vacuum cleaners?) Daddy Wrall and I headed off to have an espresso and a walk, while the others made their way to the venue, where one of the bartenders was a Bostonian happy to see us in her new hometown. The whole staff was fantastic, in fact. Stand-up people. When people talk about mid-westerners being so [much] nice[r than east coasters], this is what they mean.
Eventually Daddy Wrall and I arrived at the back entrance of Empire Liquors, where we had parked Bessie. We headed toward the entrance, but we were surprised to find a couple of guys next to the door, near the van. One of the guys left real quick and I didn’t get a good look; the other guy was a long-haired, soul-patched, flannel shirt and corduroy pants-wearing dude in about his late thirties. He saw us and came quickly over.
“Wow, man! I wish I could do that!” he said, pointing at Daddy Wrall. (I should mention that Wrall and I were accidentally wearing the same exact color shirts
“What’s that?” Wrall asked, confused.
The anonymous man, stroked his soul patch (or jazz beard, if you’re Don DiLego) and pointed at Daddy Wrall’s Levon Helm-esque beard. “I’m just one of those guys that can’t grow a beard! I wish I could.” He looked at me, said, “You too, man!” and pulled us both in tight, knocking all three of our heads together. Despite this unrequested and unexpected show of affection, he didn’t seem threatening. Rather, just a nice dude in a dark alley under an EL.
“I also like the baby blue shirts, man! Very ‘Miami Vice’!”
“Yeah. Don Johnson!” Daddy Wrall played along. We were both interested to see where this would go. I had been holding my wallet and decided to put it in my back pocket.
“Oh, hey there! Didn’t realize you were a badge.” he said. It took a second to establish what he was saying, but we got the point.
“Oh, I’m not a cop.” I was trying to figure out how a guy wearing vintage Pony running shoes, torn up blue jeans and a powder blue tank top, with long hair and a beard, could be considered a cop, but considering I didn’t know this guy, his paranoia was fine with me.
“Hey, it’s cool, man. You can keep your badge out! Thanks for keeping the streets safe.” We discussed it some more, and he finally believed me, that I wasn’t a cop. “I was just giving that homeless guy some cash for a sandwich,” he said. “I mean, if I can afford 285 grand for ten days of security in Prague [funny how that city keeps coming up!], then I can help make sure a guy gets to eat.” I mean, my record sold 20 million copies, I’ve got houses in Beverly Hills and Manhattan. I can help a guy get a sandwich. Do you know who I am?”
“Do you know stang?”
“Staind?” asked Daddy Wrall. Then, singing, “You mean, ‘It’s Been a While’?”
“Yeah!” he said, “well, I’m Mike!”
And it turned out this was Mike Mushok, guitarist for Staind. He was just chillin’ in an alley, talking to us about how sad this neighborhood had become, how it used to be more real, how he wanted to fly us to Corpus Christi, Texas with him and have us back to the penthouse apartment for a late night party. He told us about being sponsored by Ibanez and donating guitars to school programs. He showed us that he was wearing two pairs of socks and that people didn’t recognize him because of the way he was dressed. We talked for a while, actually. He decided to come into the bar with us, ostensibly to see us perform.
In there, he met Trick and The Rocket, the latter of whom actually knew who he was. When Trick was standing outside the venue, Mike stepped out to have a cigarette. He turned to the doorman, “Hey, man. Take care of these guys, okay?” he said, referring to Miss Fairchild. The doorman eyed him skeptically. Mike whispered in Trick’s ear, “Hey tell this guy who I am. You know who I am, right?”
“Uh, yeah… you’re, uh, Mike. I actually don’t know your last name.”
“Oh. It’s Mshanogtke.”
“Uh… okay. Hey [to the doorman now], this is Mike Mschandrktogteh. He’s the guitarist for Staind.” The doorman seemed impressed. Mike returned to talk with Daddy Wrall and The Rocket. They talked about some “Rock and Roll stuff,” until Mike suddenly imparted his words of wisdom:
“You know what the important thing is, man? Stay true to yourself. Be in your heart and your head and stay true to yourself.” He left to “go get the rest of [his] band” never to return, which wasn’t surprising. He got a few beers and a copy of Ooh La La, Sha Sha… out of the interaction and we got a fun story. He’s just a guy, and Staind has little relevance to this thing called Miss Fairchild, but it was a fun time nonetheless. What’s that? You don’t remember Staind?
We returned to the scene of our meeting with Mike and my meeting with bird poop to sing a little before the show. While we sang, our friend Doug, from Akasha walked past. He didn’t know about the show, but now he would be able to stop in!
Continuing our song, the radiant Jackie Wilson showed up, Amazon-like. No, not that Jackie Wilson! This one’s a woman, and she enjoying seeing us have fun warming up for our show so much that she would just have to come see it. We were singing “The Love You Save,” which we brought out special tonight, even though we rarely play it. The stars were aligning. People were attracted to these odd, vested gentlemen, getting down for the funk of it in a pigeon spotted alleyway in Chicago.
Which brings us to the show! And what a show it was. In the spirit of funking extra hard when the stage and sound are less than ideal, we mustered up and gave the good people of Chicago no choice but to win a Miss Fairchild Audience Participation Award. You sang, you danced and you clapped, Chicago. And you deserve the medal. We’ve played in your city a half-dozen times, and you never disappoint us. May we see you again often and may you show your fellow citizens of world what it is to get down and have fun. You are School of Too Cool Dropouts and that’s cool with me. Y’all are warm. Y’all are scalding hot. And that’s some fun to Miss Fairchild! (Many thanks to Willie and Dylan, Ryan, Matt, Simon, Laura and Jedand many others that deserve many thanks. We love you all. And Happy Birthday Bryan. Your music is great.)
Staind is a thing.
Audience participation is a thing.
Motown music is a thing.
Bird poop is a lucky thing.
Summer came back a little bit. Our last few destinations, including Chicago (where we are now), have been more than a little sticky, which is “nice if you’re with a lady, but no good if you’re in the jungle.” This according to Adrian Cronauer. Well, we’re in the city and it could be nicer. JedSed has been putting us up while we’re here, a fact for which we are very thankful. That’s what family is all about, after all. But we would be remiss not to thank Bryan, because this is his living room, too. (So, thanks Bryan.)
Weather has not been too much of an issue for us. Rain did keep people away in Columbus a little bit, and we had to dodge the drops in Minneapolis a couple of days ago, but, for the most part, we’ve had no rain during load-ins and load-outs, and nothing too difficult to drive in. Even now, the humidity came back just in time, for our air conditioning has been repaired. It isn’t good sleeping weather, though, which can take its toll. A day off is considered essential in terms of making up on lost sleep, but ‘oh well.’
We did have an interesting food experience last night. We ate at El Barco and it was delicious. I’m sure you can tell by the before and after photos of Daddy Wrall’s meal, and Samuel P. Nice’s new “love” for seafood that we weren’t messing about when it came to our one big dinner out. After Wrall finished, our server asked if we wanted anything else. His response, “No room! I think that fish was as big as my entire insides.” Could be, could be.
We didn’t get to hang with our new friends from Lenka’s band like we had hoped. We needed to scope our performance space for tonight and rest a bit so we just couldn’t make it out into the suburbs. We’re really excited about the show tonight, not least because IT”S FREE for y’all. If you have friends in Chi-town, I would send them to Empire Liquors straightaway, because it won’t cost them a thing to get to down with Miss Fairchild.
Until tonight, though. Watch one of our heroes, because that’s some fun to me:
People saying, “_____ is a thing” is a thing.
Bass playing friends is a thing.
Mouse cough is a thing.
Have you ever noticed that when people come back from vacation, almost all they talk about (and even remember) is the meals that they ate? “On Sunday, we went to this really nice Indian restaurant and on Wednesday, we tried Snout Broth for the first time…” Well, I’ve joined you today from Milwaukee to play that role. Sure, we’ll talk about the gig in Madison and list bunch of things, but let’s first go back a little earlier in the day, to a time we call breakfast and a place we call Hell’s Kitchen. No, not that “Hell’s Kitchen.” …
I’m talking about the breakfast joint in downtown Minneapolis that promises the “Best Damn Food.” Some of y’all have heard tell of (and eaten at) Nick’s on Broadway in Providence, and I’ve come to tell you that Hell’s Kitchen is the first meal we’ve had to rival the mythical ones from days past at Nick’s. So, boring or not, I’m here to tell you what we ate yesterday.
We had homemade crab cakes turned benedict with red pepper hollandaise, caramel pecan rolls with cream butter, the most complex layers of flavor in a bison sausage we’ve ever tasted, enormous rich huevos rancheros that were the best Trick’s ever had, toast with delicious homemade peanut butter and homemade jam (no jar in sight), perfectly cooked eggs of every and any style, a delicious fruit salad, espresso, enormous cups of coffee, juice and all kinds of things! Bored already, huh? Well, you need to go to the mini-apple and try this breakfast. Trust us. If you trust us about anything, make it our record, And even if you don’t trust us about that, go to Hell’s Kitchen for breakfast. Hey, we blew a whole day’s food money on one meal and nobody regrets it for a second.
We headed to Madison, WI to play at The Annex, where our new friend Darwin arranged a fantastic bill for us to join. It was a Tuesday night crowd and a great one. We had a great time bringing our particular brand of funk to such a cool city. Actually, let’s talk about that, because sometimes when we say “cool,” we don’t mean that in a nice way. Madison is a warm city, not too cool for school in the least. They know something good and timeless when they see it, and they respond. (So, thanks Darwin and thanks Madison!)
The second act on our bill was a Czech grammy winner and pop star named Lenka Dusilova (or if you prefer to read English, her myspace has some songs and a biography). She was downright amazing, as was her band. (Mike, Joe, Ben, Grey: nice work gentlemen. Nice work.) The songs had amazing dynamics and ran the gamut from pretty folk-tinged ballads to raucous noisy guitar effects and harmonized singing. She sang in both Czech and English and we were completely entranced from beginning to end. We were happy to lend some gear and let the sounds wash over us. And we hope to see them tonight. You’ll find out in the blog tomorrow if that goes down successfully…
The last band, Reason for Leaving was also great and we really enjoyed their sound. (Adam, Sean, Kai, Lee and Jason: thank you for sharing the stage with us.)
Madison was fantastic, and is close enough to Milwaukee that we could make us a pallet on the floor at the home of the good Rev. Dr. Richard, or as we like to call him, Dad. He got up at 3am to meet us and show us where to sleep, for which we couldn’t be more thankful. Dad came home from work to make us some eggs first thing after we woke up and we headed into Wisonsin to check out the headquarters of Burst Collective, where Trick’s old friend Kyle is up to some new tricks. The place and the business itself is fantastic. They make some really cool music. At this site you can play around with adjectives to find music that suits a specific mood or energy. It’s really cool, so definitely check it out.
Speaking of energy. Hunid Racks is great, but how about Beaver Buzz?
Next up: Chicago! (Once again.)
Energy drinks is a thing.
Burst Collective is a thing.
Cheese is a thing.
Ultra-fast blogging is a thing.
We have spent almost all of our time in St. Paul at the intersection of University and Snelling. We played a show there. We bought drumsticks at the drum shop there. We had coffee there. We had our air conditioning line repaired there. We had an oil change there. We went through the car wash there. Sam Nice had dinner there. We just hung out there while waiting for these other things to happen. We must really like it there.
Of course, come to find out, that’s the most murderous intersection in St. Paul…
Don’t worry, everybody, we’re all still with you. It’s just funny when the public perception of these places and what one actually experiences are not actually very similar. Sure, the place itself is decidedly odd. On the south side of University Avenue is your typical strip mall: Target, McDonald’s and all that. On the north side there are pawn shops, adult video stores, halfway houses and seedy bars (including, of course, the one where we played). And directly behind those seedy bars and halfway houses there are family homes with tree lined streets and gardens. The result is more than a little disconcerting.
The show, in spite of later learned dangers about this neighborhood, went well. We had perhaps our best performance of the tour and were able to share what we’ve been up to with a city that we love, but have neglected visiting. (It won’t be so long next time, twin cities!) We played with Mike the 2600 King, who I always want to call Mike the 2600 Rex for some reason, and who is also a marvelous dj. He broke out one of our all time jams (“Strobelight Honey” by Blacksheep for those of you scoring at home) in the midst of a set of classic and super rare breaks and jams. He ran the gamut as far as mixing techniques and had us entranced.
We were able to make some new friends at the show, which is always great. Just as important, was the opportunity to see and play for old friends, two of home graciously put us up for two nights. (Colby and Yi-Lo, you guys are the absolute best. A thousand thank yous to you both.)
We discovered that friendly and honest mechanics extend beyond Canada, as the guys who fixed Bessie’s leaky line gave us the straight skinny and did the work we needed done quickly and without a fuss. We discovered that Jiffy Lube alway
s skips something (like this vacuuming that they are so proud to advertise). We discovered a fantastic drum shop, which, in a strange and ironic twist, The Rocket was unable to visit with us. We discovered ourselves, in essence.
(I’m kidding. I wasn’t going to get deep like that with you.)
There was barbecuing on Monday night, a meal spent discussing and recounting the extensive evidence of Fernie’s ghosts. Another tidbit that has come to light is this: about one hundred years ago, a rockslide a few miles outside of Fernie leveled an entire town. Half of a mountain slid off of itself and covered up one whole village, killing everyone. Nothing has been done, apparently, except that a road now runs through it and there is a small sign with a brief description of the event. If any place is ripe for being filled with ghosts, it’s this one. Trust me.
The meal eaten, we adjourned to the television for a bit of inspiration (not where you might expect, but be patient). Colby, being a fantastic bass player and true appreciator of funk music, was to be the host with whom we finally watched Bootsy’s Rubber Band, live in 1976. Bootsy is a huge influence on my bass playing on Ooh La La, Sha Sha… and on Patrick and Colby as basssists in general. His show also incorporates James Brown-type transitions like you see at The Miss Fairchild Show. In fact, seeing Bootsy do those transitions is a part of the inspiration for us. We bring our modern brand of funk to the table, but that’s no reason to leave the Show by the wayside.
And next we head to Madison, where we’ve never before played. It should be fun. We like Wisconsin, too.
Mike the 2600 King/Rex is a thing.
Skewers is a thing.
The most murderous intersection in St. Paul is a thing.
Clean Bessie is a thing.
Old friends is a thing.
Bootsy’s Rubber band is a Funk thing.
Before I report on the news, how about this: Our new friend Tim (DJ Co-Op) has confirmed our theory from a couple of days ago. Fernie is indeed a haunted town. He’s played at the Royal Hotel and can confirm all of our ghostly suspicions. He had a very similar experience and added a few key details, including the link above. If you have your own experiences of haunted Fernie, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post some up here.
We arrived in Winnipeg a little late and met the aforementioned Tim at Pyramid Cabaret, whose owner Dave is huge Red Sox and Patriots fan. Fortunately, the Sox beat the Yanks yesterday, so I can mention that with some amount of comfort. Dave was already a fan of ours, being that he likes Boston so much, so we didn’t even have to play well to stay in his good graces!
(We probably didn’t have to play at all to stay in his good graces.)
Another band (Shiny Toy Guns) was slated to do the early show at the club, so we wouldn’t be having a sound check. Instead, we left our gear and went looking for some food. We hadn’t eaten a real meal in twenty-four ours, so Tim took us to the vegan/alternative spot in town. As we were walking up to the door of the restaurant, there were a few guys with guitars and banjos playing songs on the steps of the building. One of them pointed at Daddy Wrall and said, “Watch out for the little guy. He’s trouble!” People knew we were coming!
The area where we ate reminded us a bit of Providence, which bade well. When Wrall and I went to get a cup of tea, the barista recognized us from the posters around town, which bade even better. Tim knows a lot about Winnipeg and its history, so on the way to our meal he gave us a little tour. The twist: we were in Bessie, but was along side us on his bicycle, pointing out the corner of Portage and Main (the gateway to western Canada) and other important sites. An odd way to get a tour, him on a bike and us in a van, but a welcome development. I think it goes without saying that we liked Tim already. (Check out the photo above. He’s the goalie, Trick and I are defencemen [Canadian spelling], Sam Nice is center and the Richard brothers play the wings.
Tim seems to know one of our favorite modern Canadian R&B singers, Remy Shand, who we (music consumers) haven’t heard from in a while. Remy’s from Winnipeg, a homemade superstar in his own right. And Tim knows our friend MC Epic, from Saskatoon. In fact, he told us a great story about Epic opening for Fugazi without having ever heard of them. “They seemed to be really popular, eh?” This is acceptable for Epic. After all, as the hook of one of his songs, he says, “I only like rap.” So there.
After we ate, we had a nice long rest at the hotel. Samuel napped while I restrung my guitar and shot the breeze with Trick Johnson. Today, Sam claims that Trick and I were cursing our rear ends off, which I can’t imagine to be true. Perhaps it’s the fact that we were listening to Guns ‘n Roses’ “Get In The Ring” or the fact that Sam was dreaming about 2 Live Crew that made him think that. T.J. and myself have family friendly conversations, exclusively, always. In fact, right now he’s distracting me with a fantastic story about crocheting and we’re about to have a round of “Row, row, row your boat.” As for Sam Nice, I think a name change is in order.
We arrived at the Pyramid Cabaret to the strains of Shiny Toy Guns, and sat outside learning about Winnipeg. Apparently its decline as a shipping port was due mainly to the digging of the Panama Canal. We learned about another haunted building, this one in Winnipeg. Unlike the Royal Hotel in Fernie, though, Tim wasn’t convinced that this one was really haunted. We learned that Winnipeg was founded at the coming together of the Red River and the Assinaboine River. Assinaboine is pronounced with the emphasis on “in,” not on “ass” as I had thought initially. In fact, I thought that Moyne LeHoyne Hoins was from around here. As his mom used to tell him, “Moyne, I woin [won’t] be able to bail you out, every toim [time] you get your ass in a boine [bind].” In fact, no.
Tim told us about the Winnipeg handshake, which is pretty messed up. Basically, it is stabbing someone in the belly with a broken beer bottle. Needless to say, we wouldn’t be shaking any more hands. Kissing babies, yes. Shaking hands, no. Hand pounds, yes. Handshakes, no. Knowing nods of the head, yes. Hands, no. Royal waves, yes. One firm pump, no. Sweet nothings whispered in ears… well, maybe not that either, but you get the idea.
Tim (now as DJ Co-Op) had a tough assignment in setting the stage with some funk after an emo band, and he rose to the challenge. Somehow, the room seamlessly transitioned to James Brown and Cheryl Lynn just in time for a little Miss Fairchild. It was a great night, all in all. The club had a really nice vibe, especially considering we were competing with Beyonce and a ska festival. (C’mon, B, didn’t you know we were going to be in town?) One guy approached us at the end of the night who had somehow seen both shows. “It just goes to show that 30,000 dollars worth of production is great, but not necessary. You guys brought it tonight and didn’t need all of that stuff.” Hey, we’ve got handmade signs!
The prevailing theme of the day was being recognized. (Or not, as the case may be.) In addition to the busker and the the barista, there was Chris, the Shiny Toy Guns fan that had heard about us and wanted a photo and a guitar pick as a souvenir. There was also this exchange as Daddy Wrall headed bathroomwards:
Some dude, touching Wrall on the arm: “Father!”
Wrall, looking around, confused: “Yeah. Daddy!”
Margo, seven feet tall and gorgeous, hearing this and catching a glimpse of Wrall and following him into the men’s room: “I love you.”
Wrall: “You don’t even know me. Are you here to see my band?”
Margo, with a quizzical look: “Wait, who are you?”
Wrall points behind her at the poster with his face on it.
Margo, wide-eyed: “That’s you!”
Wrall: “You didn’t know I was in Miss Fairchild?”
Margo: “No, but I love your style. I saw you and said to myself, ‘I just have to meet that guy.'”
Wrall: “Well, here I am.”
Margo: “Give me a shout on the mic tonight. I’m Margo.”
Wrall: “You’ll be easy to find. You’re the only seven foot tall supermodel here.”
And Wrall reports that last statement falling a little flat. Maybe it’s because Canadians use the metric system and she thought he said, “You’re the seven foot-having supermodel.” No one wants to be accused of having five more feet than regular people, even supermodels.
Continuing the theme, we returned to the hotel and a woman entering with us wanted to chat it up with the band. It was late, we were tired and couldn’t hang. “The James Brown band talked to me!” (Way to guilt a guy, for real.) But we couldn’t do it. So, we made many friends in Winnipeg, all of whom we hope to be seeing real soon! BIG ups to Tim, Tim, Dave and Elliot for hosting us and making us sound good. And to the people of Winnipeg, way to represent!
Our border crossing was not quite as easy this time around. After the usual round of questioning, we were directed to garage door number for a complete vehicle search. We waited for the door to open for ten minutes, all having to use the restroom, of course. When it finally did open, there were six or eight border guards opening and putting on blue latex gloves.
They asked us to all get our and empty our pocket and then sent us to a small triangular room with no windows, and definitely no bathroom. There was the normal barrage of leading questions that led nowhere and they searched through the van. Eventually, we were told that we could continue on our way. The man opening the garage door for us engaged us for a moment: “Happy to be back in the States?”
Me: “Sure are.”
Him: “Did you have a good show in Winnipeg? We get some pretty good acts up there.”
Me: “Yeah, our competition last night was actually Beyonce.”
Him: “How do you compete with that?”
Me: “I know. I certainly can’t dance like that.”
Him: “No booty shaking, huh?”
Me: “Don’t have that kind of a booty to shake!”
He definitely was showing us that he was a good guy despite his having to be border-ly with us, which was appreciated. I wonder if it would have been different if we had said “no” to his first question…
Sam Naughty is a thing.
Seven foot supermodel is a thing.
No soundcheck is a thing.
(Co-Op and Hunnicut/2) + (Certified Bananas-Certified) + Miss Fairchild = a thing.
The Winnipeg Handshake is a thing.
Rubber gloves is a scary thing.
While in Calgary, we took Bessie to a Minute Muffler to have the tires rotated and the front end aligned. Justin, our man there, was as straight up and forthcoming as we’ve ever encountered in a mechanic, telling us what we don’t need and charging us for the minimum work. He was able to squeeze us into a hectic day despite our being very late for the appointment and even gave some tips on how to fix another problem that we’ve been having for what could end up being ten dollars. He represented you well, Canadian mechanics!
We set forth on Trans-Canada Route 1 toward Winnipeg. The landscape over the course of the day was the most nothing we’ve ever seen apart from western Texas. The road stretched from horizon to horizon in a straight line and for as far the eye could see on both sides there was nothing. No mountains, no greenery, no houses, no animals. It was absolutely amazing. The sunset lasted for hours, changing colors and lighting up different parts of the sky. I couldn’t keep me eyes off the rearview. It was so beautiful that it made me want to swear.
We had planned to stay the night in Regina, and just before arriving, we pulled over to stretch our legs. We hadn’t reached the city lights yet and there were no towns nearby. Looking up, we could see more stars than I’ve ever before seen. Even in Maine and on Nantucket, we’d never seen such a sky. The dimmest stars were visible and the bright ones were brilliant. There was no moon, but we could still see all around from starlight.
We checked into the motel in Regina and in an ironic twist, none of us slept very well or very long despite staying in the nicest room we’ve had yet. I guess it happens that way sometimes. We did absolutely nothing while in town, as we have a little appointment with a few party-going Manitobans today and had to split bright and early, but our impressions of Regina are… Well, we don’t have any, really.
We do have this, though. It’s something that I’ve wanted to share with you since we were in Montana a few days ago. With no air conditioning, we’ve become reliant on 70 miles per hour to create a cooling breeze. This is what that “breeze” looks like:
Fortunately, we didn’t lose Trick Johnson’s birth certificate the first time we rolled the window down!
Speaking of Trick Johnson, a bit of sneezing inspired him to ask about the origins of the use of “God Bless You.” He has decided to use “Demons Be Gone” instead. Sam has taken to “DBGB’s!” as his exclamation of choice. I’m not switching (at least not during “Vanilla Place”).
Demons be gone is a thing.
Wind is a thing.
The Trans-Canada is a thing.
Nice Canadian mechanics is a thing.