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
(Start of ’10 album challenge’)
Late January
Lizards on a Tree
Oh Kill Me
(Did I miss one here?)
Imaginary Girl
Blueberry Farm
The Pieta
Tennessee Traveler
Roaming Dragons
Sloop John B
(Heavy Metal trivia)
Drum Solo
Rocket ships
Better Back Then
Dumb Angel
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:

Flower Boxes
Black is Back
Sloop John b
I wanna go home
The Pieta
Hi Ho
Dumb Angel
Heavy metal trivia
30th Anniversary

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.

Hoag’s Tour-Diary (entry #9)

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.