Hoag’s Tour Diary (Oct. 2013)

Alright, got 3 shows under our belts so I’d say this tour is officially in full-swing. And by that I mean Bonesaw has lost (and then found) his wallet, Sean has gotten violent with his tempermental tuning-pedal, Smell has given myriad speeches on why he hates it when I eat tortilla chips inside the van, and I have…well I have managed to somehow piss off Smell by eating tortilla chips in the van. (For real man, get over it).

We have a have stage manager/sound guy with us this time, and his name is Dylan Jones. I think. He’s a pretty secretive fellow. Often wears dark clothing to more smoothly blend into the shadows. So he says his name is “Dylan Jones” but that sounds an awful lot like a name someone would use as an alias. Anyway, we’ll call him Dylan. (Don’t call him “Dyl” though. The other day while he and I and Bonesaw were exercising in the hotel weight room Bonesaw asked “Hey Dyl, you ever do burpies?” and after a beat Dylan said, “About as often as I let people call me ‘Dyl’”). He’s the type of guy who doesn’t like a lot of attention. So we won’t dwell on him, but I’ll just say that he is a great addition to the crew, and it’s amazing to have someone working sound for us for the first time in our career. Here’s a picture of Dylan fixing something under the Whale. Pretty fitting that you can’t see his face.

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And here are some photos we took from the road on the way up to Omaha.

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The very first thing we did on this tour was meet up with Fansaw Joe Pietro in Omaha, NE for a 5-on-5 full court basketball rematch from when we were in town last year. That time we beat them, but only on account of our superior conditioning. This time Joe had 4 teammates that were 6’3” or taller. (“It wasn’t on purpose! I called all my friends and they were the ones that could make it!”) It was a close game though. We were up 10-7 (game to 15) when Joe called a timeout and held a meeting with his team. Then they came out and went on like a 6-0 run. Joe himself turned into a whirling dervish of point-scoring efficiency. Dude was a professional baseball player not too long ago, so he has that x-factor. That burst of speed. Not to mention four teammates that were 6’3”. But whatever, no excuses.

Here’s us all after the game.

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That night we played in Omaha to a smattering of hardcore fansaws from the region (shout-out to Matt, Jake, Elena, Megan, and the friends they brought). That’s not ALL the people who were there, but almost. We’ve only done one club show in Omaha, so it’s all good. I remember at the end of the night Bonesaw saying to us “Ya know, it’s all about your perspective. You could look at our visit to Omaha through the lens of ‘we got our asses kicked in basketball then went to play a show to 20 people and made $85 that doesn’t even pay for a tank of gas’, or you could look at like “sweet, we got to play some basketball then we got to rock some of our new shit to 20 hardcore fans”.

Here’s how my drums are lookin’ these days, by the way. Underlit, baby!

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And here’s how the amps are looking. (Ya know, “Carousel” theme).

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The next morning we met up with Joe and Elena (and their new baby Bo who is a riot) and Elena’s mom Ellen and Jake Gardner for breakfast at a great diner called “Diner”. Jake even gave us a preview tour of the new “Hive Bar” he’s putting together. It’s gorgeous, and we will definitely play there next time we’re in Omaha.

Next night we drove up to Ames to stay with my aunt Priscilla and uncle Charlie for a day off. Priscilla and Charlie are great for a lot of reasons, but here’s one: As soon as we got there they gave us $20 to go down the street and buy beer. “Just don’t get any light beer”, Priscilla said. I just smiled and walked off. A woman after my own heart! It just so happened that Iowa State was playing Texas that evening, so when Smell and I walked the gauntlet of fraternity houses on our way to the beer store, we were heckled mercilessly by pimply drunk college dudes hanging out their third floor windows. “Hippies! Check it out guys, hippies! Go STATE!” to which Smell stopped mid-stride and said “actually….HOOK ‘EM!!”. The pimply dudes loved that.

A couple other reasons my aunt and uncle are so cool? Charlie got Priscilla a bottle of Gopher Poison for Christmas, which says a lot about them I think. And Priscilla helped us stuff lyric sheets into envelopes for two hours. (Speaking of which, has everybody gotten their packages yet?)

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Here’s some of Priscilla’s art

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Next day it was off to Chicago. We really wanted to do well in Chicago because we’ve been there a bunch, so we were delighted when 9pm rolled around and the place was swarming with high-intensity fansaws. Too many to shout out to. But I’ll try. Nneka, Aubrey, Andy, Shelby, Frenchie, Jon Adams, Jerad, Scott, Jon’s brothers, Dustin, Wing Ding, Wheeler, Dave, our cousin Will, etc etc etc. We did 100 people in a city very far away from home, and it was by no means a passive crowd. Everybody was piled right up front and ready for action. Big thanks to Greenbook for opening the show, and for not being a reggae band. You guys sounded great!

Before the show, Bonesaw gave an interview with Ian Wheeler of “Wheeler’s Weekend Jams”, so we’re looking forward to seeing that footage crop up somewhere soon. I desperately wanted to sneak up behind Bonesaw and do a pie-in-the-face thing, but there were no pie stores around.

Also, before I end the Chicago segment of the tour diary, I want to mention two things. One, the dinner we had at some Thai food place down the street from the Elbo Room. It was a delicious meal of sodium-packed greatness. The placemat told me that because I was born in the year of the monkey, I would “make a great politician”, but I’m not sure about that. All I’m sure about is that those noodles slammed hard, so thank you.

Secondly, I just wanted to mention a conversation I had with Jon Adams, who hosted the legendary “Lu’au-au” 20-tour show from earlier this year. Jon told me about a kid interning at his company who was battling a difficult depression. I got the impression the kid was sort of an outcast. Jon thought he would enjoy the new Full Service record, particularly the song “Sawdust”, so he brought in a copy to work and told the kid to take a listen. Apparently it really grabbed the kid, and it has helped him get through a difficult period. I thought that was really cool. It may come as a surprise to you, but I rarely consider the fact that our music might be helpful to somebody. I know it helps me a lot. I face my fears and doubts and worries (as well as my joys and loves and hopes) in the lyric and song-writing process, and it’s pretty powerful to hear that somebody identifies with me when they hear a lyric.

Here are some photos from Chicago.

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Also, how cool is it that Jon reached out to a kid in need of some guidance and goodwill? You’re a good man, Jon.

After Chicago we headed up to Sarnia, Ontario for a show at a great club called the Metro. Thanks to Lauren and Greg for putting that together and for bringing out all those people, too. Wow. We also had some people cross the border for us too, led by Sheri, Tony, and Tray. Can’t forget Matt and Lauren for their help as well. Good job all around, guys. What a sweet photo session afterwards on top of the whale, too.

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Perhaps the best part of the trip to Canada was Dylan’s unbridled excitement at seeing a real live “Canadian Tuxedo” in Canada! He asked us to take a photo on the sly as he stood next to the guy.

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After the show we headed back to Lauren and Greg’s where they put us up for the night and made breakfast for us the next morning. And not just eggs and coffee (which would have been plenty). We’re talking P-Meal (Canadian bacon), strawberries, eggs, sweet bread, toast, juice, coffee, tomatoes, avocado, and cucumber. They should run a bed and breakfast. Oh, and thanks for the Whale door-knocker guys. It doubles as a rubber-band gun!

After Sarnia we had the night off on our way to Cleveland, so we holed up in a hotel room and watched football all day. Also drank some beers, too. And made fun of lots of commercials. And each other. Fell asleep, grabbed some breakfast sandwiches and coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, and rolled out to Cleveland. Got into Cleveland around noon, so we had some serious time to kill before our show that night at 10:30. So we did as we usually do about that time…we went to the zoo! It was a good zoo. Not Omaha-level, but a damn good zoo. All the major mammals were represented, and the amphibians too. Sort of lacking in the fish department, but that’s what aquariums are for I guess. They had safari animals too. (It’s weird seeing a giraffe in Cleveland).

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The funniest thing we saw, though, was a pair of monkeys engaged in some kinky grooming. To them there was probably nothing kinky about it. Purely hygienic. But when you assume those positions…I don’t know man. It’s just hard for a human not to laugh, you know?

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And here are some disgusting naked moles.

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Fast-forward a couple hours later and Smell and Bonesaw are seeing a movie, Dylan goes to the shoe store for some new kicks, and Sean and I take naps on the Whale benches. There was also some tortilla-chip eating happening in there at some point, but I could do this freely and without fear of ridicule because Smell was out watching a movie. We both needed that time I think.

Head to the club, set up our gear, set up merch, and then WHAM—the greatest dinner I’ve had in a very long time. Maybe it was enhanced by how hungry and road-worn we were, but man…the potatoes in particular. Out of this WORLD. I went to the kitchen afterwards to thank the chef and ask about the potatoes. “Oh, thanks. Just salt and garlic really,” she said. Bullshit. There was a heavy dose of magically-delicious in those things.

The show in Cleveland was a first for us. We had a painter come up on stage and do a live painting during our set. It was so fun for us to turn around after (or during, let’s be honest) a song and see what he was up to back there. We played “Hi-ho” last and in the time it took to play the tune he had added a big pirate ship to the scene. I’m ashamed to say I don’t think I ever got the dude’s name. Bonesaw, if you’re reading this and have editing capabilities, please add his name.

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Well, you’re all caught up folks! Stay tuned. We’ve got Princeton, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, and New York City coming up in the next few days. Had a day off in Philly today and played some frisbee golf in the yard!

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Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #15)

Brick Kitchen: Charleston, SC

You know you’ve been around the block a few times when there’s nothing particularly strange about spending an entire afternoon hanging out in the waiting room of an auto-repair shop. Usually there’s some crappy coffee, a few Time magazines, and ESPN day programming on the flat screen TV.

We had a day like that today. As I said, the Whale needed some part replaced. This one, in fact. Doesn’t it look like a steam-punk mask or something?

Anyway, there was some pretty entertaining Little League Baseball playing on ESPN so it wasn’t that bad. We couldn’t stop laughing at this little pre-game segment they did where each team picked a representative to compete in a quick dance-off. These little dudes were real cocky about their moves, but the on-field mascot (a giant mouse I guess?) smoked them both with a simple lean-back-body-bob-double-arm-float. Smell cheered real loud when the mascot did this bit, and that made sense to me because the mascot reminded me very much of Smell. That’s a compliment, Smell.

So when they finally squared away whatever was wrong with the Whale, we hit the road to Charleston where Matt Appleman had put together a show for us at a charming old converted-house restaurant called the Brick Kitchen. It had perfect “backyard” feels and it felt very appropriate playing our set there. Living room furniture outside on the porch surrounding a covered stage. Murals of fish and crabs on the wooden fence surrounding the property. Kinda felt like we were back in Austin, only we were very close to the water so the air was much more moist, which I think helped loosen up the vocal cords.

Many thanks to Matt for putting this together, and for the grilled Mahi with sweet potatoes and 90-minute IPA.

Also, great to see Sunny’s brother Jason and his wife Angela and their three kids. I’m not sure how the youngest Jameson outlasted his older brother and sister, but he sure had a motor last night. There was a brief crying session after we played “Gymnasium”, but we fixed that real quick with “Wheels on the Bus”, which–we learned later–is his favorite song.

Only one bummer about our Charleston experience, and we won’t let it affect our overall impression, but sadly we had a few things stolen out of the van while we were at Walmart right before the show. Lost Bonesaw’s laptop, and Smell and Sunny’s backpacks. On the way to the hotel after the show, the conversation went something like this:

Sunny: “Aw man! I had my hackysack in there. They took my hackysack!”

Smell: “I know! I had my Indian Pottery in my bag.”

Bonesaw: “I lost all my email contact folders, many important band documents and files, and generally the entire command-center workflow that keeps this band going. But I’m sorry to hear about your hackysack and Indian pottery shards.”

Then the night got worse when I turned in an inexplicably poor navigation performance trying to help Bonesaw get us back to the hotel. We ended up going over the same bridge 3 times. It got pretty tense. Actually it rounded the corner of tense and got so ridiculous that we all ended up laughing pretty hard. It was 1:30am at the end of a very long day and I guess the guys simply did not have the energy to really get mad at me.

Well that’s a wrap, folks! Hope you enjoyed my diary entries from this tour. Catch you on the next one.

Set list

Lately
I wanna go home
Tennessee Traveler
Carousel
Revisited
Hallways
Gymnasium
Wheels on the bus
Hi ho
Strings
Homies (1st time played with Sunny)
Coconuts
Empty Sea
Evergreen
Ice Cream Cone
Blueberry Farm (Bruce3 on vocals)
Sloop John B
Apples
Trumpets
Water
Drum Solo
Greetings
Cleepies
Canopy
Ramona
Honeybee
Circus Freak

Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #14)

Malone’s Pour House: Charlotte, NC

Whenever we play in Charlotte, this dude named Will (many of you Circus Freaks may know him) is our point man. Will hosted us at a house last year in Charlotte, and this time he put together a show at a local pour house called Malone’s.

Will also helped us get to a reliable mechanic (something in the Whale, I have no idea what it was, it’s not interesting anyway, it’s fixed now, let’s move on), and drove us around around town when we Whale was washed ashore.

He also scored us 5 guest passes to the Dowd YMCA so we could run 3 v. 3 basketball.

Will can ball. He hangs out near the 3-point line and has an infuriating ability to make a jab-step and pull back for a jumper. Usually a swish.

He played with Bonesaw and Sunny’s Red Team, and they defeated me, Smell and Bruce’s Blue Team in humiliating fashion in game one. We then took game two with a renewed focus on defense and off-the-ball movement. We also had some success with getting the ball into the low post and feeding cutters coming in from the top of the key.

Game 3 went back and forth. Tensions reached maximum level when I elbowed Bonesaw with great velocity in the mouth and nose region. I heard a lot of rattling. Teeth? Jaw? Nose bone? I couldn’t tell. But I was expected blood. Thankfully there wasn’t any, but I did receive a tongue-lashing from Bonesaw for being a dirty player. I told him he was all up in my space. He told me I need to keep my elbows lower. I told him I was executing a standard swim-move to get around a close defender and that sometimes these things happen in basketball. Then he shook it off and checked it up.

The game continued to go back and forth until Red Team went on a run and got it to 12-8.

What happened next is a blur. Somehow we went on a 4-0 run and tied it up at 12. Red Team scored a quick bucket to make it 13-12, and we checked it up. Very important possession here. I was thinking “just get it even at 13 and force a turnover to get the score advantage back”, but Bruce had other plans, receiving the pass from Smell off the check. He then dribbled around to the top of the arc and heaved up a 2-pointer.

“No!! I shouted”. We had nobody in position for a rebound and Blue Team is not known for its perimeter shooting. But…somehow that damn thing made it through the hoop and we were suddenly sitting on a 14-13 advantage.

After an offensive board on a Red Team jumper, Smell hit me up top and I drove to the lane. When I released my tear-drop shot, Bonesaw fouled me and even called himself on it, but it didn’t matter. The shot went in. Blue Team wins.

I told Bonesaw as were all high-fiving and saying good game, “I’d slap your hand but you just slapped the shit out of mine on that last play, ay-ohhhhh!!”

I thought that was pretty clever.

After some dinner at Qdoba (and a rare ice cream indulgence by Bonesaw at a nearby Ben & Jerry’s), we headed to Malone’s pour house for the show. Our acoustic set works best as an intimate affair, so to that end we arranged chairs and tables on a raised-deck section of the club. With all our lights and some new fake flower bouquets I bought earlier in the day at Walmart, we were really able to create a nice ambience.

Great turnout from some serious fansaw notables. Justin, did we ever get you that Tennessee Traveler thing? Scott, thanks for those beers. And everyone else, thank you for being there and singing along. Glad you got “Revisited”, Jessica. And Will, thanks again for helping us out all day (and the next day).

Oh! Also, we successfully completed the FS “Album Challenge”, in which we set out to play at least one song from every album we’ve ever made. And Will requested “Dumb Angel”, which we’ve done twice before, and hadn’t ever felt comfortable until tonight. I think we’re turning a corner on that one, acoustically speaking. It’s fine to play electric, but there are all sorts of re-calibrations that come with playing a different, much smaller, mostly cymbal-less kit with brushes, not sticks.

Enjoy the video recap!

Set list

I wanna go home
Trumpets
Honeybee
(Start of ’10 album challenge’)
Late January
Lizards on a Tree
Oh Kill Me
Ramona
(Did I miss one here?)
Imaginary Girl
Blueberry Farm
The Pieta
Tennessee Traveler
Coconuts
Roaming Dragons
Sloop John B
(Heavy Metal trivia)
Revisited
Drum Solo
Evergreen
Canopy
Rocket ships
Lately
Better Back Then
Gymnasium
Dumb Angel
Greetings
Hi Ho

Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #13)

Roanoke, VA: Chandler Lambourne, host

From the Potomac River near Fredericksburg to an old railroad district in Roanoke. Oh, the places we go!

Chandler-Roanoke’s host-booked us to play in the courtyard of a new apartment building that his friend Joe manages. The building sits 50 yards from the train tracks and used to be the corporate headquarters of the train line. Joe has been successful in turning the converted apartments into an attractive place for young renters, and he has recently started throwing get-togethers in the courtyard to create some excitement about the place and a sense of community amongst the tenants.

Aside from the loud freight trains forcing a few timeouts during our set (which was really more funny than annoying), the acoustics were great in that courtyard. The vocals swam around in the natural reverb of the three-building horseshoe formation, and the kick drum enjoyed some extra depth as well.

Other highlights of the night included 4 of the biggest pizza pies I have ever seen in my life (boxes roughly the size of New Mexico), and somebody FINALLY winning Bonesaw’s nightly game of “Heavy Metal Trivia”. (Bone’s been playing bits of heavy metal riffs, usually a Megadeth riff, and if someone in the audience gets it right they win a t-shirt).

Chandler and Joe, you guys did a fantastic job putting this thing together, and screw playing a club next time we’re in town–let’s just go back to that courtyard.

And again, sorry Smell and I stayed behind on the pre-show hike, Dragon’s Tooth looked like fun, but Blue Team needed some rest.

Enjoy this wrap up video.

Oh and here’s the first video in an instagram series I’ve started called “Stairwell Reverb Sessions”. Whenever I find a stairwell with good reverb, I’ll do a little a capella, simple because its hard to resist and stairwells often having amazing reverbs. This episode 1 is from a Ramada in Roanoke.

Set list:

Ramona
Coconuts
Lately
Cleepies
Flower Boxes
Revisited
Youuu
Black is Back
Egwene
Sloop John b
I wanna go home
Honeybee
Carousel
The Pieta
Hi Ho
Dumb Angel
Heavy metal trivia
Evergreen
30th Anniversary
Canopy
Trumpets

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)

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)

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.