“20 Tour Theme Songs” album!

On our most recent “20 Tour” (fan-hosted concerts in backyards, etc) we took a set break during the party and composed a song from scratch that in some way captured the essence of the party… all in under 20 minutes! We recorded each song with an iPhone and have compiled them here! Some were hilarious, some were disasters, all of them were FUN! Click the album name to hear all the songs.

 

Florida Tour Diary #1

Day off in Ft. Laurderdale! If you’re wondering where you can find a strip mall, try Ft. Lauderdale, there are a couple here. Also popular? 32-lane highways and signs that say “No Left Turn”. Honestly, if there are any civil engineers out there (Mikey I’m looking your way), can you please help identify a possible reason that Florida has basically outlawed the left-hand-turn? In what twisted world does this make things easier for automobile transportation?

But I shouldn’t hate. The people here are very friendly and open (met quite a few at the show at the Culture Room last night opening for Rx Bandits), and I’m sure the beaches are the bees knees. Should be hitting up the beach here pretty soon in fact. This morning after our breakfast run to Dunkin Donuts (egg and cheese on a multigrain, add extra egg, small orange juice, medium latte, why am I telling you this, who cares) we parked the Whale in a strip mall (!) and went our separate ways. Actually I’m pretty sure everyone went to some weird Sci Fi movie starring the lovely Mila Kunis, and though I’m usually down for any movie as long as the multiplex has amazing chairs and huge movie posters and floor-laid track lighting on lush hallway carpeting,  for some reason I wasn’t interested this time. I have a strange relationship with the Sci Fi genre, some days I’m just really not feeling it. Like today. So I took the tour bike (compliments of Fairdale Bikes) and the laptop over to the strip mall across the street (!), but they didn’t have a coffee shop or anything, so I went to the strip mall next to the strip that was across the street from the strip mall and found a Dunkin Donuts (not the Dunkin Donuts we went to this morning).

So now I’m writing a tour diary drinking another latte! Today rocks so hard! No it’s all good, we’re going to the beach soon. After Mila Kunis saves some weird planet and then has alien babies with Channing Tatum.

I’ll tell you what did rock though, last night’s show with Rx Bandits. Their crowd is full of really open-minded music lovers, and though I don’t think they knew exactly what to do with my incredible jokes and our sophisticated, high-brow brand of stage banter, I think they were picking up what we were doing musically. Some full-on metal dude with long hair and tats came up to me afterwards and was all “Duuuuuude! That song ‘Honeybee’ was the SHIT!” So you never know.

And man, RX is phenomenal. They’re like a slippery underwater octopus/sea-horse that shreds rock n roll. And on top of that, they are hilarious and fun to watch old Prince performances with. Shout out to Choi the Ambidextrous, Embrina Simone, Righteous Brother Joe, and Chris Son of Thunder. Can’t wait to do it again in Orlando tomorrow and on a cruise ship later this week.

So I guess I’ll just go backwards on this diary. That takes us to….Saturday, Brannon and Rebekah’s house in Ft. Myers for a 20-Tour house show. Man what a cool place they have. They just recently moved in and are in the process of creating a pretty serious party pad. It’s almost like a music venue. Huge wrap-around tiki bar on the back porch that sits next to a pool and hot tub and a little water fall that goes into the pool, ALL of which sits next to a peaceful little canal that wraps around their property. There was even a manatee sighting. And I think somebody caught a catfish. Met some real cool folks and re-united with some old standbys like Gayle and Scott. Bonesaw even had a beer at this show! A Corona, to be exact. I think he just really loves that scene in the first Fast and Furious where Paul Walker goes to Vin Diesel’s house party after saving Vin Diesel’s ass after the street-race, and Vin is like “Hey man you want a beer? You can have anything you want…as long as it’s a Coronaaaaa…”

I turned in around 1am but I was told in the morning that Smell and Sean got down on some key-lime pie or something. Kinda wish I had seen that. But I’m not really, because I was pretty excited to spend some time on the Tempurpedic mattress that Brannon had in one of his guest rooms. Unfortunately Bonesaw was also in the bed with me, but I didn’t let that get in the way of the splendor of it all. And truthfully, he’s a pretty great bed-mate. I’ve been told by the guys that I’m not a very good one myself, but I think that’s just because I like to throw in a little game of footsy to mess with them. I really don’t think the problem extends into when we’re actually asleep, because I tend to hug the edge of the bed pretty hard and I pay close attention to any directional-changes that are happening (to avoid face-to-face bed sharing).

My god, what were we even talking about? Oh, the show. Yeah it was a fun show. We played another game of “Who Can Mess Up the Worst?” this time over the song “Greetings”, and it may have killed the game forever because it was pretty much taken to its limit. So here’s how you play: Basically each band member must—at a random point in the song—intentionally attempt to sabotage the song. It can be a melodic move, like playing a part a half-step up or down from the original key, for instance, or it could be rhythmic, like playing a beat that is un-listenably contrary to the tune’s actual pulse. The problem with this game (well there are a lot of problems with this game, least of all that it sort of ruins the entire song and makes everything horrible) is that if you’re not careful, your sabotage attempt can come off as just being Jazzy or progressive. So it’s actually harder than it might seem. I mean I suppose you could just start doing a Chewbacca imitation when you should be singing the chorus, but even that might be met with a favorable reaction from the audience. You just never know. So you sort of have to have your finger on the pulse of the audience and see what their vibe is. Are they the type of group that will take a Chewbacca chorus in stride but be unwilling to accept a break in the song’s rhythm? Because they’re the ones who vote for the winner.

But like I said, we may never play this game again because of how hard it went down at Brannon’s. The song was cruising pretty beautifully for the first minute or so, and I even tried to call off the game and audible into a straight-up version of “Greetings”, but I was unable to make eye-contact with everyone. So I decided, alright f*** it, I’ll start things off. BUT…I made a rhythmic attempt and it proved to be a mistake. It was contrary, but as the audience explained to me afterwards, it was more awesome than anything else. What can I say, you know? No, I’m just kidding. I always really want to win the game and I feel like I missed a chance on this one. So then the song continues, blah blah blah, everybody’s waiting for someone to make the next move, and right as we dip into the pre-chorus, both Sunny and Bonesaw make one simultaneously. We were told afterwards that this was not discussed beforehand and there was no collusion, so all we can really be sure about is that when we hit that pre-chorus they unleashed a two-pronged Red-Team attack on me and Smell. What made it even more devastating was how it happened from the flanks. Smell and I always set up in the middle of the stage, so here we were just being assaulted from the right and the left. AND…Sunny and Bonesaw each chose a different mode of attack. Sunny’s move was to play the Chorus over the pre-chorus, and Bonesaw’s was to play the pre-chorus, but flatted by a half-step. It was the perfect storm. Hit so hard that I sort of just…folded. I had nowhere to go rhythmically or melodically so I was forced into silence. Like a knock-out punch. The audience didn’t even have to vote. Truly one for the history books.

Brannon and Rebekah, thank you not only for hosting such a great show and introducing us to your motley crew of friends, but also for flying the Whale flag on the front-yard flagpole and for having us over early to fish and play beer pong and see manatees. And for the tempurpedic mattress. Also I borrowed some toothpaste by the way.

OK, from Saturday backwards into Friday…that puts us in Orlando for a 20-Tour living-room show at Mike and Rebecca’s house. They originally planned to have us play next to their pool in the backyard, but the unseasonable chill in the air forced us into the living room, where—it turns out—the acoustics were excellent. Mike was particularly jazzed about the impressive sonic qualities that had heretofore lay dormant within his home, and I swear I saw a glint in his eye that betrayed a budding interest in possibly turning his house into a sort of suburban live music venue. Which we fully support of course.

Rebecca, on behalf of Bonesaw I’d like to thank you for having some gluten free snacks for our fearless leader. And also for opening up your engagement barrel of whiskey so that Sean and I could partake of its joyful promise. And the little Whale napkins you had on the tables? Solid touch! To say nothing of the name-tags and sharpies you set up near the front door. Brilliant!

Great to see Ryan, an old friend from the Rombello Cruise make the hour and a half trip in, and also a new guy Cliff who happened to see our name in an email from “Bandsintown” and after checking us out online decided to drive the 3 hours to catch this random house concert. Pretty cool. He also loves Mastodon! WE LOVE MASTODON TOO! That’s how I knew he was really cool. He also came to the show two nights later at the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale. Think we can get him to come to the Circus? I think we’re working from a 75% chance right from the start, so things are looking good.

And maybe even some of the new people we met here who didn’t drive 3 hours will come to the circus. It was a very hospitable and attentive group, which of course is really the perfect combination I suppose, right? So thanks Mike and Rebecca!

Rewinding now to Thursday, the first night of the tour, in St. Augustine Florida. Played at a place called Café 11, and thanks to the fine promotional efforts of a Mr. Chad Cockney we played to a great first-time crowd. Never played in St. Augustine before so we were a little worried. Although we knew in advance that we’d at least get to see our friends Barb and Mr. Ed (mom and step-dad of legendary fansaw Marisa Roberson Friedhoff)). Actually Barb and Mr. Ed brought out a pretty rowdy crowd just by themselves. Some of whom were Canadian which made the vibe even livelier. Somehow. But it did.

Big fist in the air for the opener Root of All, a great 4-piece roots reggae band from St. Augustine. Equal parts dread and Dead, if you ask me. They struck the perfect balance between reggae and psychedelia.

And Chad, those 3-Daughter IPA’s you had on special could really deliver a solid jab-cross, jab-cross. Impressive!

Ok well it’s our day off today and it’s almost over, and I gotta say, I could really use the 10pm-12am hour for a little de-compressing. So I’m gonna end this diary entry and turn the computer off right now. Or am I just being a sissy? We spent all day at the beach, how worn out could I possibly be? (Yeah we went to the beach after they did the movie and I started this diary at Dunkin Donuts. Threw a bunch of Frisbee. Swam around. Walked on the boardwalk. It was jussssssst right.) But no, its fine, the entry is complete anyway. But you won’t hear from us until after the 311 Cruise, so stay tuned for the second half of this tour diary in a couple of weeks.

Sixthman photo booth and 311 Cruise!

The Full Service Circus 2 was a HUGE success! One of the fun new things this year was a Snapbox photo booth provided by our partners in Sixthman Productions. Peep all these crazy photos! (Snapbox is a cool local photo booth company… check her out!)

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Snapbox ATX photo booth provided by Sixthman @ The Full Service Circus 2! 

Speaking of Sixthman… did you hear that Full Service has been added to the 311 Cruise to Jamaica!!

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The “Identity Crisis Tour”

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From sky-divine festival to retirement home, our most recent Tour kept us on our toes.

8:30am. The back door of our van, The Whale, is slung halfway open. I’m the last to the driveway. What am I, a rookie?  Finding a home for your bag in the back of the Whale is no easy task, and it’s even harder if you’re the last one outside.

But I’m ready for the challenge. Michelangelo would stare at a huge block of marble until his eyes pulled out the sculpture already within. Like the great renaissance artist, I must see the space for my bag before it’s there. Remove and realign items that had already been comfortable. Shove, bend, force. Sometimes an elbow gets involved. But there’s always room. Somewhere. Somehow. Be like Mike.

Closing the door is a whole other thing. Better stretch before your attempt, ’cause it’s all torque and force. It’s a full-on arm wind-up and hip-rotation, like a goddamn tennis serve. It ain’t quiet either. It’s an aggressive maneuver that shakes the very core of the earth and can probably be heard halfway down South Congress Avenue.

Pack-difficulty notwithstanding, we all love the Whale dearly. So much so, in fact, that before we leave we always, without fail, convene at her jaw for a pre-tour prayer. Hands on the hood, eyes closed. Healthy transmission, trustworthy break pads, that sort of thing. Then we pile in.

I know our first stop is in Cincinnati, but beyond that I have little clue. Most tours, I am aware only of the direction we’re going in, and maybe the first destination. I know that sounds hard to believe, but it’s just the way it is. Over the years I’ve learned to trust that my brother Bone (also the band manager and booking agent) will book a tour jam-packed with adventure. And music is usually only half of it.

The debriefing begins before we reach I-35. (Heading north…I had that much right). As Bonesaw runs down the list of dates and locations I realize just how strange this tour will be. I hear “sky-diving festival in Cincinnati, retirement home in Willow Grove, Skatepark warehouse in Cheltenham, Elementary school in Falls Village Connecticut, sea-side barn in Rhode Island, community clubhouse in suburban Charlotte, Horse Farm in South Carolina, and wedding at a brewery in Atlanta.

Woah. Even by our standards this tour is a little schizo.

A few years ago we found ourselves wanting to diversify our venue palette, so to speak. We had just released a very mellow album called “Roaming Dragons” and knew that the normal rock clubs we’d been touring through for years wouldn’t be the best fit. The songs from Roaming Dragons were heavy on 4 part vocals, acoustic guitars, niche instruments like glockenspiels, melodicas, and slide whistles, and percussive textures like tambourines, shakers, bells, and brush sticks rather than full on drum set arrangements. We felt the songs would be best served and received in smaller, more intimate settings.

In addition, we thought it’d be fun to take the power back a little bit. We’d been on a “fan empowerment” kick and thought it’d be a gas (pun intended) to drive around the country without ever dealing with a promoter or “talent buyer”. Instead, the fans would book us directly; to play their living rooms, backyards, surprise parties, schools, weddings, etc. We’d do 20 shows per tour, play 20 songs at each show, for around 20 guests, and the hosts would pay the equivalent of $20 per guest. (They could assume the entire booking cost themselves or they could charge their guests upon entry).  We called these tours “20-Tours”.

Soon the 20-Tours became our main way of touring. Once the word got out that you could book us and we’d play anywhere you wanted we had fans emailing us months in advance. When we booked somewhere between 10 and 20 shows we’d pile into the Whale and take our show directly into peoples’ homes. When we arrived we’d find that the host had arranged catering, designed and hung banners, sent clever show flyers to their friends, and sometimes even printed t-shirts, bracelets, or hats commemorating the day. People even started to bake cakes in the shape of our mascot, the Whale. We now have a “Whale Cake Hall of Fame” club without about 12 members, and a “Host Hall of Fame” for all the hosts who have booked us two times or more.

One of my favorite things about 20-Tours is that we get to see where our fans really come from. When we tour rock venues and play a show in Atlanta, for instance, we only experience the club, not Atlanta. And the fans that come to the show are from somewhere near Atlanta, not downtown Atlanta. But when we go to, say, “Will Scroggin’s house” and play for his friends and family, we see his world. Johnson Ferry Rd., not “Atlanta”.  He tells us where there’s a park to play soccer, and where there’s a slammin’ breakfast diner he’ll take us to the next morning. It’s one of the advantages of these 20-Tours; we really get to zero in on America. And our fans.

20-Tours typically bring us to homes, but as I said earlier, this latest one brought us to a bewildering menagerie of venues. Depending on which show you went to, you either watched us from a parachute harness, a wheelchair, a half-pipe, a folding chair in a gymnasium, a picnic blanket, a couch, or a bale of hay. And, you were anywhere from 6 months old to 95 years old.

Show #1: Skydiving Festival, Cincinnati, OH

Played this one at a drop zone facility inside a large hangar. Daredevils bustling around, loading into prop-planes, reviewing post-jump Go-Pro footage on screens set up around the snack bar.

I know what you want you’re gonna ask. Did we jump? Negative. I made a promise to my mom. So did my brother Bone. Our mom is a worrier, you see, and while you might use the word “wimps” to describe a couple of dudes in their 30’s not jumping out of a plane because their mom begged them not to, I’d prefer to use the words “good sons”, thank you very much. Plus it’s just such a convenient excuse when the people at the drop-zone tell you “c’mon man you can jump for free, let’s do it!” There’s no fucking way I’m sky-diving, man. Like Seinfeld said, at that point the helmet is wearing you for protection.

The night ended with everybody heading out into the landing field to release hot-air lanterns into the night sky. A nice bit of poetic feng shui, I thought. Drop yourself from the sky during the day, and send your lantern up to it at night.

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Show #2: Holy Redeemer Retirement Home, Philadelphia, PA (Hosted by John Kepner)

The downstairs lounge was packed for this Wednesday afternoon hour of rock. We’ve played retirement homes before and it’s always interesting because for the most part the crowd is completely unresponsive. I’m not making light of these folks’ situation, I’m just saying that many of them are out of it, suffering from exhausting illnesses, heavily medicated, or simply too old to show much physical or emotional reaction to the music. But you always have to keep in mind that it means something to them. That the music is moving them inside if not outside, and that this is where it matters most anyway.

That being said, there are always a few people who are completely with it, able to dance around a bit, and who can banter with you between songs. On this day there were about three such folks. One lady who danced something I like to call the “Walker Shuffle”, one who stood front and center snapping her fingers with great finesse and occasionally hitting on our handsome bass player (“gimme two more weeks and I’ll probably be single,” she said), and a gentleman with an ear-to-ear grin who kept asking the staff if “we could get some beer out here!”

I don’t think I have to tell you how fun this gig was.

 

Show #3: Skate the Cellar skate park, Philadelphia, PA (Hosted by Brett Williams)

From a retirement home to a skate park. I know there’s a segue here somewhere. Let’s see….at both shows there were a lot of people engaging in wheel-based modes of transportation? YESSSSSSSS. Nailed it.

But the similarities come to a slam-the-breaks halt right there. And the take-away story from this skate park show is a little jarring after reading the paragraph on the retirement home show. So I’ll start with this; when we woke up on Thursday, none of us in the band thought to ourselves, “time to head down to the skate park, play our show, and then a little later get a fucking KNIFE PULLED ON US BY THE CLOSING BAND, HOLY FUCK.”

It’s a shame that this show will be defined in the annals of Full Service touring history by this insanity, because our host, Brett “Cakeman” Williams, is such a sweet guy and both he and we were so excited to be playing the new facility he’s worked so hard to build for the skating community. Plus, we played a great show. Attentive crowd, good sound, good energy. The trifecta. But then in walked the crazy.

So we play our set, clear the stage, and we’re packing up the whale while the other band gets their stuff set up. They make some noise, switch off the lights in the warehouse, and we hear a motorcycle revving into the property and a siren noise coming from a bullhorn. The band launches into some horribly dissonant sludge while the lead singer hops off the motorcycle and climbs to the top of a flatbed trailer with his bullhorn. He is wearing all black and has slicked back black hair and a full black beard. His eyes are wide. He’s sort of Charles Manson-esque in this way. But not as squirmy. He’s like half Manson, half Ed Norton’s character from “American History X”.

Anyway, he’s on the trailer with his bullhorn while the band is behind him—in the caged part of the trailer—sludging through some drony noise in an ungodly, evil tuning. Maybe low “A” or some shit. Then the singer raises the bullhorn to his mouth and shouts “AUSTIN TEXAS FUCKING SUCKS AND THE BAND BEFORE US IS A BUNCH OF FUCKIN PUSSIES AND THEY CAN EAT SHIT AND COME SUCK MY FUCKING DICK!” Then he starts screaming some more.

I turn to Bone. He can’t believe it. Without saying anything to each other we both walk up to the singer and hold our arms up like “What the fuck, man?” and in one sneaky little movement (this guy was part Heath Ledger’s joker, too, actually) he pulls out a knife and makes the “slit-your-throat” motion. Then he brushes his cheeks with it. Gently. Fuckin’ psycho.

Obviously, Bonesaw and I retreat without hesitation. We should probably pack the rest of our stuff and just get the fuck out of here. Back at the Whale, Smell and Sunny have the same idea. So we shove everything in and hop into the van. Things back in the warehouse are getting crazier by the measure. The singer starts throwing glass windows, cinder blocks, and beer bottles. Glass is everywhere. Then he starts firing bottle rockets into the crowd. We say goodbye to Cakeman, advise him to shut it down and call the police, and get the fuck out of there.

I have nightmares that night.

 

Show #4: Pat & Ali’s house, Newport, RI (Hosted by Pat and Ali Downes)

An equally difficult transition to make between these two shows as well. The only knives we saw in Pat and Ali’s backyard were for cutting a cheesecake one of the neighbors made for the guests. I guess that works.

We know Pat and Ali from our years touring with Pat’s band “Badfish”. They live in a small, quiet neighborhood in Newport where everybody knows each other and the neighbors open their barn/apartment to touring bands that come through the area (thanks again, by the way!). Pat and Ali have a great dane the size of a horse and a 6 month old baby the size of a watermelon.  This was just the place we needed to be after the Skate Park Knifing.

Huge turnout for this late summer backyard party. Pat and Ali did a superb job decorating their yard with remote controlled LED lights (Smell had a blast with that), Full Service banners, and circus animal pinatas. They hosted us last year as well (meaning the evening included a Host Hall of Fame ceremony) and I get the feeling this might turn into an annual event. And how ‘bout this you guys; each time we come back we’ll add another verse to the song we wrote for your wedding two years ago. And by the time we’re all 60 it’ll be like a Homer-sized ballad that’s 500 pages long.

Pat Ali

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Show #5: Falls Village Elementary School, Falls Village, CT (Hosted by Brook Martinez)

Brook Martinez is an old friend from my and Bone’s elementary school days. Now the dude teaches kids who are the same age as we were when the three of us met. I wonder if, in 25 years, one of his students will call up one of his other students and say “Hey man, your band should roll through the school I teach at and play an assembly. Remember? Like when Mr. Martinez had those hippies from Texas come play for us?”

I hope so.

Anyway, yeah. About 60 kids in those metal folding chairs at half-court of the gymnasium, us on the fold-out stage in front of them. We took questions—some of them legitimate (“What’s that thing with the tube coming out of it that the pirate guy is playing?”), and some of them silly (“Do you guys like cats?”), we told them what it’s like travelling the country (“Sometimes the van gets stinky and we fight, but mostly we just have a blast!”), and how sometimes you have to throw your drumstick in the air just for fun because it’s ok to let performance get in the way of execution. (The next song I threw my stick in the air and performance definitely got in the way of execution.)

Brook even taught some of his students the line from our song “Trumpets”, and one girl nailed a very brave solo, which was impressive because apparently she’s never improvised before.

Afterwards we went back to Brook’s place (a castle-looking house built by an eccentric Italian sculpture in the 30’s) and he and his wife Sarah cooked us a huge lasagna while his four-year-old son Leo taught us about Dinosaurs. (“Did you hear?? Tyrannasaurus Rex is not the biggest dinosaur! They found a bigger one called ‘Dreadnaughtus’ in a place called ‘Ar….Argen….Argentina!!”).

Thanks Brook! Please have us back!

 

Show #6: The Radke Family, Charlotte, NC (Hosted by Marino and Kim)

Marino and his wife Kim have hosted us before. Less than a year ago in fact, which I feel qualifies them for some type of special Host Hall of Fame PLUS status. They live in a suburban neighborhood outside Charlotte and this time–like last–they reserved the neighborhood’s clubhouse for their 20-Tour booking. The high vaulted ceilings make for some very enjoyable reverb, and the plush couches and armchairs provide comfortable seating. (It sounds like I took that from the brochure). Marino and Kim had us over to their house for dinner before the show (jalapeno sausages, pizza, local beer) which was great because we got to see their little French bulldog. He cracks my shit up.

They also presented each of us with one of the rubber bracelets they made up to commemorate the event and to give away to all the guests.  Again, like Pat and Ali, I get the sense that the Radkes might turn this into an annual community event. No pressure though.

But how great would it be if we had annual, fan-hosted events like this all over the country?? We already have the Full Service Circus in Austin (a 3-day event featuring music, sports, food, etc) where everybody can come visit us, but how cool would it be if there were these little satellite festivals all over the U.S. where we come visit them. I think it might happen. Hell, it’s already happening.

Anyway, thanks Radkes! Hope you enjoyed this year’s theme song. I know it was a little slow and swampy-sounding, but I thought it came off nicely.

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Show #7: Applegate Horse Farm, Pelzer, SC (hosted by Karla)

I immediately took to a horse named Jasper, who happened to be the birthday girl, Tabitha’s, horse. Jasper just had a sweet, mild manner about him. I think he liked my drums, which I set up just outside his stable. It was nuts, actually; as I was sound-checking, the horses really came alive, and not in a “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT NOISE LET’S GO BATSHIT CRAZY” type of way. They just stopped what they were chewing and started running through the fields, all grace and beauty. After a verse or two they pulled up closer to the fence in front of me and settled in for a good listen. Serious eye contact too. I like playing for horses.

Karla has wanted to host us at the farm for a awhile, and it worked out that today was her friend Tabitha’s 30th birthday, so we had much to celebrate. Tabitha’s husband Joel cooked up the burgers and brought out the beer coolers and we took turns riding Jasper before the show. Set up the merchandise on the hay bales inside the barn, careful not to disturb Karla’s barn cat, “Taco”. As Karla told us later, “You know, ‘Taco Cat’ backwards is still ‘Taco Cat’!” I am not too jaded for that not to blow my freaking mind. I thought that was awesome. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a palindrome.

OH! And for anyone who was at last year’s Full Service Circus, we finally got that photo of Bonesaw on top of a horse shredding a guitar solo. And for anyone who wasn’t at last year’s circus, that sentence sounded a little weird I bet.


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Show #7: Melissa and Matt’s Wedding, Atlanta, GA

Another induction into the Host Hall of Fame! And they got married today, too! Unbelievable joy. Joy augmented by the assorted varieties of craft beer at the microbrewery where they held the wedding; Monday Night Brewing. (Slogan: “Weekends are overrated.”)

Melissa and Matt chose a cool spot. You walk into the brewery and there’s this huge wall with hundreds of ties hanging on the wall. It took me a minute to understand. Why ties? Ohhhh….to symbolize the worrrrrrk weeeeeek. The idea is you bring in a tie, hang one on the wall, then pull one off the wall that you like. Or something like that. I think you can also donate to some organization that provides people with ties. Not sure. Smell, Bonesaw, and I just jacked some from the wall because we forgot our own. But we pinned them back up after the show. Or at least I did.

We played “Lately” as Matt and Melissa walked down the aisle, no vocals. Then the officiant (a friend) quoted from Huey Lewis’ “Power of Love” (which, when delivered in a spoken-word manner, is quite beautiful and wedding-appropriate actually) and pretty soon the lovebirds were married. Then we played a few sets, people watched, smiled, ate, and that was that. The pulled chicken sliders were scrumptious and the french fries slammed. It was a great sunday afternoon, and we thank Melissa and Matt for including us in their big event.

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So that was the tour. I don’t even have a concluding paragraph really. I mean, shit…What do you say at the end of that? I’m just glad I’m in this band, glad each day is whacky, and glad each audience is different.

Every day, such an oddball memory. — “Oddball Memories”, from Carousel

Thanks,

Hoag

Hoag’s Tour Diary: Spring 2014 “20-Tour”

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Wednesday Kansas City: Jill’s house

As we pulled in to Jill’s place we thought to ourselves, “This neighborhood looks kinda familiar.” Later on when one of the guests arrived (Chrissy) we were able to confirm that 3 years ago we played this SAME BLOCK when we played Chrissy’s house on our first ever 20-Tours. (For those of you in the dark, a “20-tour” is a fan-hosted show we play acoustically at somebody’s house (or maybe a nearby park or something) and we typically play about 20 songs, for around 20 people, for a 20-day tour).

So anyway, what are the chances that two different 20-Tour hosts—completely unrelated—from Kansas City, hosting 3 years apart, would live on the same freaking block? Seriously, this is not rhetorical, if you are a science-type, I want you to provide me with some percentage-likelihood’s here.

Had a fantastic first show of the tour here at Jill’s. Her friend Krissy co-hosted, and the two of them did a great job setting up a nice backyard vibe. Set back from the porch there sat a very photogenic tool-shed that we all gathered around for a group photo. I’m pretty sure it’s our facebook cover photo now.

Standout moments from the show:  Bonesaw initiating a somewhat un-flattering game of “Each-band-member-intentionally-messes-up-during-the-following-song-and-audience-judges-which-messup-was-the-best-and-most-harmful-to-the-tune”. Kind of an odd idea, and a game we’ve never played before on PURPOSE, but the results were funny. I decided to use my mess-up immediately by playing a completely different beat and tempo (the song was “I Wanna go Home”), and Smell followed suit with some very distracting and loud off-beat cowbelling. Bonesaw waited a while until after the bridge, when he dropped the key a half-step which made for a decidedly confusing experience and inspired a repellent reaction from the crowd, akin the wrong sides of magnets trying to deal with each other.  Sean saved his for the very end of the song, when he played a horrible final note of dissonance. When polled, the audience agreed that Bonesaw’s half-step key change was the worst (best?).

Another great moment: Jill and Krissy dueting a couple songs mid-set and as an encore, Jill on guitar and vocals and Krissy on a drum. It’s rare that hosts play a song during the set, so this was a wonderful treat. Well done, ya’ll two!

Also great to see some KC standby’s out that night, like Taylor, Ashleigh, Chelsea, and of course former 20-Tour host and fellow neighborhooder Chrissy Frische.

 

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Chicago

Checked into a most-excellent Wyndham for three nights near Chicago. Special thanks to our travel agent Dan Hernandez for setting us up here. Man, Wyndham Wingate’s are the best. We got a lot of Days Inn’s on this tour too, though, which are in the Wyndham family (and so under the purview of Dan and his connections), and I think I’ve finally hit upon the difference in quality between a Wingate and a Days Inn. I’m not saying this to complain, Dan, I hope you know that. I’m just a hotel connoisseur and I pride myself on being able to speak articulately on the subject. So here it is, summed up: Days Inns aren’t bad, but they’re sort of like the Civic to the Wingate’s Accord. They seem to earnestly yearn for acceptance with a self-conscious, “Hey guys, look at me, I can do hotel stuff too!”

Anyway, we had a great stay in Chicago at that Wingate. Thursday we were off, so I went with Sean and Bonesaw to see “Captain America”, who is a bad-ass, but like a Days Inn, has always struck me as a Civic in Superman’s more impressive Accord universe.

The following evening we headed downtown to hang out a bit before our electric show(one of only two this tour) at the Elbo Room. In our wanderings we found a sweet toy store with an amazing offering of puppets for sale. I bought a very versatile and expressive chicken puppet that will soon be getting a lot of gigs under “Full Service Films” (Red Team-Blue Team Productions).

The show at the Elbo Room went pretty hard. I’d been spending a few days deep in a Guns n Roses YouTube wormhole watching live footage from 87-92, so my tank was pretty full with high-octane rock fuel for this electric gig. I channeled my inner Steven Adler and punished those drums as best I could.

Adam, promoter for the Elbo room, as always treated us like Kings, and in fact he brought in a film crew to document the night, as he is trying to ramp things up at his club and show the Chicago scene that this room (new lights, sound system, promotional efforts, even refurnished Green room) is legit. It was an honor that he chose our performance to be representative of the room’s new cool-factor. He even filmed myself and a bunch of friends after the show being loud and partyish in the green room. He said it was the first time it’s really been used and he wanted to show how fun it could be. We were happy to oblige!

Chicago always comes out for FS. Dustin, the Adams’s, Dave Garbe, Ian, Lauren (thanks for the necklackes!), Nneka, Aubrey and Andy, Shelby, Cousin Will, Jim, Jon Adams, Ryan, etc….(who’d I miss? Don’t be afraid to call me out)….you guys are certainly the core and we thank you for always being there. Paul and Dorian, too!

Standout moment: I wasn’t fully aware of what was going on when it actually happened, and I’m still not sure I really get it, but I’m pretty sure Bonesaw invited somebody up to the stage and presented them with a bowling trophy? Can anybody confirm and explain this?

 

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After a rough night’s sleep (thanks, beer) we woke up and headed out to a public park clubhouse to play a surprise party that Nicole organized for her husband Don (and also for her brother Adam. Gosh….wait….his name was Adam, right? And it was her brother, right? I’m so ashamed). Balloons, cakes, a really high-level potato salad, and lots of friends and family (“kids from 1 to 92”, as they say).

When we finished our set, Don told us we had officially secured “number 1 favorite band” status in his book, which is always a nice thing to here. Nicole, you and your sister and family did a spectacular job with this event, you should be very proud. We can all only hope for such a loving partner in our lives. Don is a lucky man.

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Next morning. Time to head out to Andy and Senoa’s show for our Chicago finale. The rain moved us inside, but after some slight re-arranging of the living room, we were confident we had created the perfect indoor 20-Tour vibe. Add to that Senoa’s chili, a local beer called “A Little Crazy”, a bunch of dogs, several rowdy Chicagoans, and some Jack Daniels for myself, and you’ve got one for the ages, folks. We broke mid-set to take 10 minutes and write a song dedicated to the show and the hosts (something we don’t always do, but have done before), and emerged with an incredibly stupid tune in the style of KISS (as requested by a fan known as “Sixthman Alex”) that touched on—among other things—Senoa’s chili and its potential for a dangerous fart-box scenario, what with 30 or so people crammed in a small living room.

 

 

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Indianapolis, IN

From a living to a garage, we play it all. Ryan and Timea had us over for their second 20-Tour hosting, which (did you know this?) grants them automatic and immediate entry into the Full Service Fansaw Hall of Fame! Well done, guys! The first time they hosted, we were all out on some property they’d recently purchased, but this time we came to their house and set up in their garage. (It’s not often our stage is flanked by an ATV four-wheeler and a large snow-blower, but, like I said…we have a very loose concept of “stage”).

Best moment of the show? Ryan’s wife Timea, a student of the bass guitar, replacing Sean on our song “Revisited” has to be the winner. Kick-ass job, Timea. But in a close second-place, I’d have to put my post-show snowball-pegging of Smellman, captured incredibly by Bonesaw in this photo.

If there were a level beyond FS Fansaw Hall of Famer, Ryan and Timea would surely be inducted, and for the following reason; they sent us home with samples of a home-made wine they recently bottled bearing the name “Sunsplash”—a reference to a song from our 2009 album “The Earth Still Wants You”. Sunsplash is a Strawberry Rhubarb concoction that we hope to serve at the 2014 Full Service Circus this coming October. Thanks Ryan and Timea!

 

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Swift Creek Farms, South Carolina

It was a long drive (deep to right field) from Chicago to South Carolina, but mostly painless thanks to a good book (Jonathon Lethem’s “Fortress of Solitude”) and Guns n Roses YouTube clips. It was late when we pulled into my sister-in-law’s dad’s house on a farm in South Carolina. We pretty much let ourselves into the guest house and passed out.

But when we woke up….wow. This property was paradise. Horses, gardens, a pool, tennis, basketball, archery, a pond, an off-site campground reachable by bike or Mule, the works. My brother Tyler was unfortunately on an assignment for the New York Times (in Chicago, of all places), but my three nieces and one nephew were all there in full spring break mode. Which, because they are between the ages of 5 and 12, is all pool, movies, archery, s’mores, campfires, and in the case of my and Bonesaw’s nephew Mackey, 45 games of basketball a day. (Kid never stops. And I’m through going easy on him, because he can play. He’s half my size but in the last year he’s developed a serious head-fake that I ALWAYS bite on. The games got so intense that we actually both drew blood on each other).

My sister-in-law Jen’s father Mike, and his wife Tina, invited several of their friends over and we set up in front of the pool for a twilight set. After the concert we all headed out to the campsite for s’mores by the campfire and eventually into the teepee for some games of “7 Beep Beep”. Every played that? You go in a circle saying 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on until somebody gets to a number that either has “7” in it (like 17) or is a multiple OF 7 (like 42). The goal is to get to 100. It’s way harder than it sounds. But we did it. Mostly thanks to the kids, who are fresh off their memorization of multiplication tables in school.

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Not a far drive to Charleston, SC  the next day for our show hosted by Matt Appleman at his venue the Brick House, so we arrived with plenty of time to visit Sean’s brother, sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews. Those kids are so sweet. The oldest girl, Austyn (8), melted my heart when, after our show at the Brick House, she came up to me and whispered “you have such a BEAUTIFUL voice”. Her words meant even more to me in light of the fact that our show was not very well attended, despite the tireless promoting efforts of Matt and the Brick House. We simply don’t have much of a following in Charleston, and for that we are sorry, Matt. But we had fun nonetheless, because of Sean’s family, our old friend Anna, fellow rugged traveler Dave Cardonick, and of course the great people at the Brick House, from Matt all the way to the monitor guy, an older dude with big hands who I was told could play a mean bass guitar. Thanks, too, to the owner Chris, who is fighting hard to create a venue that the people of Charleston can be proud of and excited about, but who is also having a tough time with permitting requirements and noise complaints. Keep on, Chris!

On to Charlotte, NC! One of Full Service’s favorite spots in America, in fact. Why? Great fans (Marino, Will, Jules, Scott, Beth, Lindsay, Jesicca, etc) and great yoga. An assortment of band members typically head over to Yoga One when we roll into Charlotte to attend class with legendary Yogi Lindsay Crisp. This time it was just me and Bonesaw (Sean hurt his back the day before, playing wiffle ball with my nephew, and Smell went off to a salvation army store in hopes of finding a hunting knife. He found one). We always do the hot yoga when we visit, which never gets easier, really. Hot Yoga is a b***h. We got through it but spent the rest of the day trying to guzzle enough water to adequately replace what we’d lost in sweat. I don’t think I ever caught up.

Anyway, later that evening we headed over to the Radke’s neighborhood to play what turned out to be our biggest 20-Tour show of the tour. Marino had a BIG crew come out to see us, and we rewarded his efforts with a Radke party theme song. Something about his “living in suburbia” but being able to throw “parties that are superbia”. Quite silly, really, but well-received I think.

Marino and Kim have a very kind family and group of friends. To their two kids Caswell and Z-Man, thank you so much for your help with the merch and the equipment. Stay in school! To Kim, it’s not every Easter the four of us get personalized Easter baskets, so thank you for that. Those snacks and towels came in handy in the Whale. And to everyone that came and rocked that neighborhood clubhouse with us, we are definitely coming back to your zip code and doing this again.

 

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West Virginia! Our first time here. Add it to the list, Bonesaw. And man, this one was out in the country, that’s for sure, and I mean that in the best possible way. It feels good to travel way off the grid, and Jessie and Darren hosted us with bottomless hospitality and enthusiasm. Easter egg hunt for the kiddos, Whale-coloring contest, gluten-free options, local beers, a campfire, and an excited and attentive group of family and friends. And Darren, without those signs on the way to the house, I’m not sure we ever would have made it, because google maps has not made it here yet. (Nor has AT&T for that matter).

There was some serious buzz among the audience after the show that we’d likely be seeing a lot of West Virginians at this year’s Full Service Circus, and I hope this happens. You guys have that Circus-style energy. We need you! And congratulations to the dude (what was your name? It was crazy, like “Sweezil” or something) who won Bonesaw’s “Heavy Metal Trivia” game.

 

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Atanta, GA

Will Scroggin hosted one of the first 20-Tour shows three years ago almost to the day, so with his show on this year’s tour he obviously earned himself a spot in the FS Fansaw Hall of Fame. Atlanta is home to many standout fansaws, in fact. Nick, Emily, Dusty, Kevin, Vanessa, Brian. And we made some more this warm night in Will and Nick’s backyard. I can’t remember all of your names, but I remember we had a good time. I also remember a tasty cupcake I ate. That thing was yummy. It was so yummy, in fact, I had to make sure that the locusts and tiny red spiders falling on me from the trees above, and the multi-colored flames from the tiki torches surrounded the stage were not figments of my imagination that I owed to the baked good, but were in fact actual and real-life.

Will, you are a good dude. You surround yourself with good people, too, and it was our pleasure to have been introduced to so many new folks at this show. Big Mo! Manny and….damn, dude…what was your name? Brian? And what was the name of that dude who helped us load out all our gear? Also, Niko and his girlfriend.

Perhaps the standout moment of this night, though, was when a guy and his girlfriend (again, the name’s escape me. I blame the cupcake) came up to us after the set and told us they had originally become fans back around 2006 or 2007, when we covered and uploaded to YouTube a cover of the Mastodon song “Blood and Thunder”. They were big-time Mastodon fans and our video popped up in that realm, they said, and ever since then they’d been following us. This was their first live Full Service experience. Isn’t that crazy? All because of that Mastodon cover we uploaded to YouTube all those years ago. Great to meet you guys.

 

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Well, it was a quick tour, but packed with action. Stay tuned for the VIDEO RECAP coming hopefully sometime this weekend. Thanks to all the hosts and all the guests! Interested in hosting a show yourself? Email Bonesaw at bone@fullservicemusic.com and he’ll put you on the list.