Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #12)

Fredericksburg, VA: Jason Foreman, host

It’s rare to live near a body of water and be able to see that water out of every window in your house. Let’s think, you’d either have to a) live on a tiny island–almost like a sandbar, or b) live very far out on a peninsula.

At Jason’s Foreman’s parents’ house it is possible under scenario b. They live on a patch of land on the Potomac river and the water wraps around their property in a peninsular fashion. In fact, according to lore, they live on the land from which Pocahontas was taken to Jamestown. The boat took off from a jutting piece of land about 100 yards from the grill on which Jason’s stepdad Jack–on the night of our recent backyard visit–cooked the most delicious burgers I’ve ever had. (I ate two).

Jason originally planned on having us play at his house, but earlier in the week decided to ask Jack and his mother Linda to host the band and a bunch of friends. A million thank yous to them for saying yes, because their hospitality and their home and yard made for some great memories.

It would have been worth the trip just for the sunset, actually, but when you factor in those hamburgers, the conversation, that cool fly-swatter gun, the bits of Indian pottery that Smell excavated from the yard, and a terrifying but, in hindsight, hilarious and impressive swarm of gnats (a torGNATdo?) that attacked us at the beginning of the set…well all that combines to make for one hell of night.

Oh, and a pony keg of Stone IPA, throw that in there too.

Enjoy this video, it will do more to recreate the experience than my words can.

Hoag’s Tour-Diary (entry #10)

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After the show at Bruce’s family’s house we headed to my cousin’s place in Old Lyme, CT for a day off. But it was a “day off” only in the sense that we did not perform. We did, however, put in a few hours of work on their vineyard.

A handful of years ago, my cousin Matt and his lady Donna were visiting their parents (my aunt Mary Ellen and Uncle Sal) in Old Lyme. Matt and Donna had been living in California where they had developed an interest in wine, which had given birth to a dream of one day owning and operating a small vineyard. So one day during a visit back to Old Lyme, Matt was sitting on the patio with his dad when he noticed something.

“You know the way this property is laid out would be perfect for a vineyard. The sloping hill facing west. Cool air down at the bottom.”

After he and Donna had returned to California, Matt received an email from his dad that said if he ever wanted to come back, he’d give him that land to start a vineyard. So back they came, and it’s been quite the endeavor.

On this day, Matt and Donna needed help putting up netting over about 12 rows of vines to protect them from birds. It’s a pretty simple process, facilitated by a genius contraption that Matt’s friend put together; it looks sort of like a gallows, but you place it in the back of a Mule four-wheeler and it basically helps thread the netting high above the vines, so that two people get on either side of vines and guide the netting once it threads through the contraption as the Mule drives slowly down the aisle. (I don’t if that makes sense but maybe the video below will help). Anyway, we did that for awhile, then a couple of us went down to the river at the end of the street and swam, while Uncle Sal mowed his lawn (i got some classic footage of this that highly Rockwellian).

Later on, Aunt Mary Ellen ordered us a bunch of pizzas and we sat on Sunset Hill (the name of the vineyard) and sampled some of their wine.

This would obviously be a great place to do a Full Service 20-Tour show, so we’re just waiting until the harvest party to make for the perfect experience.

Hoag’s Tour-Diary (entry #11)

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A year ago the four of us in Full Service flew up to Newport to attend the wedding of a very dear friend. We even wrote a song for him and his wife-to-be, and performed it at the wedding. You may have seen pictures, all of us dressed in the red pants, teal belts, and pinstriped shirts that Pat Downes (singer of Badfish, and the friend/groom of which I speak) put together for members of the wedding party.

So that was a year ago, almost to the day. And TODAY, we again found ourselves in Newport, this time as guests at Pat and Ali’s new house.

Actually it’s not a new house, it’s quite old and quaint. But to them it’s new. It’s tucked into a quiet but lively neighborhood very close to the Narragansett Bay. All the neighbors are old-school friendly, and even the architect of Pat and Ali’s house lives on the block. That’s sort of how “local” it all feels.

But we weren’t just here to drop in, Pat and Ali were hosting a show. As soon as we pulled in the driveway it was clear they were on a mission to make this show one for the record books. The garden beds were mulched, the weeds had been pulled, the grass was mowed, the canopy tent was out; you could already tell what the night was going to be like.

After heading down to the bay to take a dip (Vitali got scared, see video below), we picked up Pat and bought an obscene amount of beer while Ali went to the grocery store to get snacks and food to grill.

One of my favorite things about these backyard tours is setting up the lights. If I may say so myself, I think we’re getting pretty skilled with light-design. Here at Pat’s the potential for a most excellent display lay in canopy tent’s proximity to surrounding bushes and trees. So not only did we do ground and overhead lighting for the stage under the tent, but we clipped canister-floods and draped string-lights into the arboreal surroundings. This, combined with the blankets and potato sacks that Pat laid out on the lawn for guests, made for a nice little mini-amphitheater.

One thing we learned from this show was that little kids have an inspiring affect on adults. There was a group of a little girls who arrived at the party wearing their Full Service headbands, clearly ready to dance and have a great time. The spirit proved contagious to the adults in the crowd, and within 20 minutes, headbands were flying off the merch table and onto guests’ foreheads.

In the video below, you will notice a creature that looks like a gray horse, but is in fact a canine. A Great Dane, to be exact, bearing the name “Madaket”. Friendly as can be, but notable for its earth-shaking yard gallop (she knocked Bruce back a good 3 feet when she “said hello”–poor thing doesn’t know how big it is), and also for its fetch-stick, which is not so much a stick as it is a TREE LIMB. The thing is bigger and heavier than an oar.

Anyway, I don’t know what my point is. I guess it’s just a really impressive beast and I thought it deserved a shout out in the tour diary.

Enjoy the video below, I think it’s a pretty accurate representation of how the night went. A million thank yous to Pat and Ali, and to all their friends that came out on a Monday (was that really a Monday??) to listen to some music in a very tidy and well-lit backyard.

PS–sorry to P and A for not properly rehearsing the wedding song we wrote for them. Obviously if there was one son you wanted to hear in your backyard it was the song ABOUT YOU, but we goofed and didn’t make sure we remembered all the parts. You requested it, and we were able to stumble through it, but we will nail it next time, promise.

Hoag’s Tour-Diary (entry #9)

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Saturday the 10th put us in Milford, CT for a show at Bruce’s parents’ house. Many of you know Bruce, he’s our roommate back in Austin and he is Bruce of the “Bruce 3” solo act. (He’s also with us on this tour).

Bruce comes from a sailing family. A competitive sailing family. So oceanic is their vibe that the inside of their home has the distinct feel of the belowdecks of a ship. The wallpaper is a deep-sea green, and there are nautical things hanging everywhere. And trophies, lots of trophies.

Interesting thing about sailing trophies, they come in a wide variety of mediums. There’s the standard cup-shaped trophy, usually mounted on a wooden base. Then you’ll see silver platters. Cocktail trays. Desk clocks. Pens. Watches. So you’ll see all these little (sometimes big) items around Bruce’s house with “1st place: Secret”. Secret is the name of their boat. But it’s no secret (wait for it…) that this is a family of elite sailors.

In fact, Bruce’s dad wasn’t even at the show. He was competing that weekend in a race. But we got to meet his mom and brother (whose name is Bryce, how awesome is that?) and many, many of his salty friends.

The crowd was very attentive for the show, and we played some rare ones like “Sit at the Table” (thanks for the request Sean Fisher). We even played the Ocean Suite in its entirety for the first time. (“Swimming Mood”–“Little Creatures” Interlude–“Huge Gray Blue”).

BUT…the highlight of the show did not involve any music whatsoever. I called a Blue Team water timeout around halfway through the set, and walked in across the porch deck in front of the whole crowd towards the sliding door that led to the bathroom inside. What came next is a blur, but basically what happened is….I walked directly through a screen door. Broke it. Just demolished it.

It was the strangest sensation. It felt like I was an octopus getting caught by a huge net made by some enterprising member of Bruce’s family. But alas, I cannot claim even the small martyrdom associated with being a caught-seabeast. I can only claim embarrassment and shame at being such an inept, landlubber laughing-stock. If only someone had been taking video.

In fact, I’m ashamed to report that there I have no video wrap-up for this show. I was slacking I guess. And actually the only footage I took was this 10-second clip of a few of us playing a pre-show game of wiffle ball. Somebody is grounding out weakly (ahem, Joe). Soooo…enjoy that.

I’ll be sure to document better next time.

Big thanks to Mrs. Kuryla, Bryce, and of course Bruce for all the work they did to help make the night a bug success. But you guys might wanna put up a sign near that screen door. Came outta nowhere.

Here’s a photo of some of those Bruce Family trophies. That’s a clock, a cutting-board, a candle stick, and a silver cup.

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Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #8)

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A little while ago we decided that anybody who has hosted 2 living room/house shows is automatically inducted into the Full Service Fansaw Hall of Fame. Kind of like hitting 500 home runs pretty much guarantees your entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Now, ladies and gentlesaws, we are proud to announce Ryan and Stefanie as new inductees into the FSFHoF. They first hosted us back in April of 2012, and now—just 16 months later—we are back in their vibed-out basement playing for them and their friends.

When you put on an event twice, the special things you did at the first event that carry through to the second receive “tradition” status. So I think it’s safe to say that Ryan and Stef have created a tradition of decorating the basement with homemade crafts. Last time it was a crazy octopus banner type thing, and this time it was a foam rocketship, little tiny cutouts of all the members of FS, and—the centerpiece—personalized logos to hang above each member onstage. (Depending on your point-of-view, they are either personalized superhero capes, personalized UFO’s, or personalize salt-shakers. You decide).

We were pretty loose at this show, for whatever reason. Mistakes a-plenty, but none of which really bothered me (and they usually do, as surprising as that may seem). One of the reasons we flubbed some stuff was because we played songs we have never or don’t usually play acoustic, such as “Dumb Angel” and “Better Back Then”. We also played some new ones like “Evergreen” and “Cleepies”. But the crowd was friendly (notable cruise alums Chris and Olga made the trip in), and we had a great time bantering with them.

Also of note? On Dumb Angel, I landed a pretty sweet stick flip at the end of the song. You can see it (and how surprised I am at the achievement) in the accompanying video. (James, did I spell “surprised” correctly?)

Also in the video, you will find a Yankees collage hanging in their kitchen. Ryan is a huge fan. But I give him considerable grief for the inclusion of A-Rod in said collage. Sorry dude, but the guy’s a bozo!

Vitali didn’t make it to the show, he stayed back in Philly with Momsaw and Dadsaw, but he was well-represented on a shirt Ryan had made back in May when he and Stef came to the Circus. (Again, see video).

Anyway, great time out there in the woods of Milford, PA. You always gotta keep an eye out for bears during load-out, but I’m happy to say there were, and never have been, any incidents. Let’s hope that’s a streak that continues when we play at Ryan and Stef’s for a third time, whenever that may be. (Begging the question, is there a level higher than the FSFHoF? And does a third hosting guarantee entry into that?)

Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #7)

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When we were home for a day off my mom busted out this record player she got for me at a garage sale. It was a steal at only $10. I’m digging the wood and compactability (?) of it. The side latches are cool too. And best of all, you can actually crank the volume on it pretty high.

After Momsaw showed it to me, I went down to the basement to check out her and my Dad’s old record collection, which until now was useless in the absence of a record player. GOLD mine. The Tempations, The Supremes, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and White Albums. Frank Sinatra, James Taylor, Carly Simon, John Denver, George Harrison, Mozart, Bach, and soundtracks to The Empire Strikes Back, the first Muppet Movie, and even the “Sounds of the 1980 Philadelphia Phillies World Series Champions”.

I know I’m way late to the party on the whole record player thing, but there really is something exhilarating about it. It’s tactile. You take the big square sleeve, pull out the big round vinyl, place it under the big straight needle, listen to the needle to vinyl contact scratch; it’s a whole process. That’s what’s fun about it, there’s a process. There’s no process in the digital listening experience. Point-and-click, or finger-to-touch-screen just doesn’t cut it. The listener doesn’t DO anything to help make the experience happen. We are not complicit in the experience, we are removed from it. With a record, there’s a flow of involvement from creation to listening experience: The artist writes the song, the microphones in the studio record it, and the listener unpacks the product and places it onto the mechanical record player.

Can’t wait to bring this sucker back to Austin.