Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #7)

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.

Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #5) Aug. 2013

My best friend growing up was named Jeremy Menkowitz. I’m talking Kindergarten. This is a dude who, because he was Jewish, when he was about 6 years old asked his mother what the deal with the whole “Santa Claus” thing was, and after his mother told him it was a myth, kept the secret from me for a good 4 years because he didn’t want to ruin the magic of christmas for me. THAT’S a friend.

Today, “Rem”s parents hosted a show at their house, the one where he and I ate pizza, played video games, swam, played wiffle ball, went sledding, etc etc etc. Man, it was kind of a trip going back there to play a concert as an adult. Not only that, but many of my old friends who still live in the area came, and a lot of them have little babies! I’m looking out into the pool where we all used to splash around, and I’m seeing them with the MINI version of them watching ME play music. My friend Pete’s little girl Quinn even requested a song: “The Wheels on the Bus”. (We obliged).

Bruce and Shelly (Rem’s parents) provided a huge platter of Hoagie sandwiches (that’s right), and they had this amazing wooden cutout thing with a long-haired wig, bandana and baggy shorts, and a tip-jar affixed to one of the arms. I kept seeing it out of the corner of my eye and it kinda freaked me out. In a good way.

Another highlight was having my friend Poop’s dad (long story) play mandolin on “Tennessee Traveler” with us. We asked him to do the rest of the tour with us, but he has obligations to fulfill out in Quakertown, PA. It’s a standing offer, Alfred!

Many thanks to the Menkowitz family for inviting us back. And nice touch providing that plate of Philly soft pretzels.

Set list was:

(Vitali introduction)
I Wanna Go Home
Wheels on the Bus
Blueberry Farm (Hoag voice crack, apology issued)
Late January
Tennessee Traveler (Poop’s dad Alfred on mandolin)
Blueglass Lake
30th Anniversary
Hoag Drum solo
Ice Cream Cone
Roaming Dragons
Cleepies (tentative name)

Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #4) Aug. 2013

So there are these dudes in West Chester, PA. A guy named “Hammer” is the one who booked us, but it’s a whole big brotherhood they’ve got going on, and they throw this thing called “Ahk-Stock” for their friend named “Ahmed”. Only the video recap can really do it justice, but the following words and phrases will give you a quick idea of what this thing was like: a neighborhood, an old speed limit sign on the corner that had the “2” of “25 mph” painted over (5 mph), lawn games, cup-holders that stick in the lawn, food, big open field, canopy tents, dogs, a river, fishing poles, small-mouthed bass, a homemade raft with a makeshift motor and steering helm attachment, home-made stage involving branches and leaves and bamboo, a huge game of ultimate frisbee, lots of Eagles and Phillies clothing, a fire-pit, a girl who could throw a football like freaking Terry Bradshaw, a group of marines, a trio of linebackers from Shippensburg University, and two sets by Full Service (one electric and one acoustic).

Hammer and his core crew treated us very well. They loaned us equipment for our electric set (since it’s the only electric set of the tour for us). They provided Bonesaw with gluten-free beers (he drank two!). They got us t-shirts commemorating “Ahk-Stock”. They even hd spare bathing suits out just in case one of us bozos forgot their suit (I did). And they way they organized an impromptu 4-team Ultimate Frisbee round robin tournament was impressive and I might even say inspiring. (side note, for anyone keeping score…Bonesaw, Hoag, and Smell’s team took first place).

Hammer made set-lists for both our electric and acoustic set, so it was pretty much the perfect Full Service experience for him I suppose. And it was great playing some rare ones like “Eyes Like Snow”, “Subterranean”, “Laundry on the Line”, “Like a Pony”. Plus, we hadn’t played an electric set since The Circus (!!), so that felt really good.

All in all, what a ridiculous time we had. You know it’s gonna be a great show when there’s a dude in the crowd with an Allen Iverson Sixers jersey on. And when the whole crowd boos Smell for being a Cowboys fan. Enjoy the video!

Oh and here’s the sweet Iverson jersey I mentioned. This dude was cool.


Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #3) Aug. 2013

Just finished a backyard set at the Steffy house outside of Baltimore. First show of the tour! Actually first we went to the wrong house. Some rowdy-lookin’ dude with a barking pit bull and lots of tattoos answered the door. Not the Steffy’s. Oh wait, hang on, we are in the van now and about to try to hold our breath driving the length of the tunnel under the Baltimore Harbor. Be right back…

…ok we’re back. Sunny and I were the only ones to succeed. Bonesaw could have done it but he was driving and he didn’t want to put is at risk. Yeah so anyway, that first house wasn’t the Steffy’s. We were joking that when Joe Pitbull went back inside and was like “baby I thought you told me you stopped selling drugs” and he was like “I did, baby! Those people were lost!” and she was all “Oh REALLY….That group of long-haired tattooed hippies in sleeveless shirts was NOT here to buy drugs?!” Hahaha. Oh well. Hope that didn’t happen.

So we finally got to the Steffy’s. Great set-up. Bruce opened the show, as he will for most of the tour, and then we played 24 songs and I did a drum solo. Not improvised, it’s more of a composition, or a drum conversation I guess. It’s dedicated to Max Roach and I call it “Brushin’ Up”…get it? Because I use brushes in the acoustic show! Haha oh man I’m good.

Anyhoo, Vitali made an appearance this evening as well. He was a little scared of Z-Bo the big brown dog, but he managed to put a little monologue together. Other special things about this set? We played a new song called “Evergreen” from the upcoming album for the first time ever. When we played MJ, Bonesaw whispered “no guitar solo” just before we started the last chorus. But I didn’t relay the message down to Smell, who in turn–I guess–would have relayed it down to Sunny. I didn’t know we were playing freakin’ “Whisper-Down-the-Lane” tonight. Plus, by the time the message got down to Sunny it likely would have changes. Perhaps to the opposite. “Sweet! Bone’s gonna play a longer guitar solo! Right on!” Alrighty folks, here’s the set list from tonight, and some videos.

I wanna go home
The Pieta
Hi Ho
Black is Back
Evergreen (debut)
Hoag Drum Solo
30th anniversary
Pizza Song (first time in 8 years) Revisited
Sloop John B
Blueberry Farm
Vitali Interlude
Huge Gray Blue

Circus Freak

Hoag’s Tour Diary (entry #2) Aug. 2013

Just saw a bumper sticker on the back of a pickup truck that said “Eat More Possum”. Vitali said he “has appreciatings for that!” The truck also had a sticker that said “I do piercings…by Glock!” I don’t think anybody “has appreciatings” for that. Reading a book this tour about the American Revolution. Man, those Sons of Liberty sure thrashed the city in the mid 1760’s. Pretty much sound like drunken thugs, but I suppose I’m glad we don’t have to answer to a country across an ocean anymore. Thanks guys! Also, Patrick Henry sounds like a hoot. No patience for the process, just wanted to go straight to the game. He had an aggravating ability to back up his ego with his intellect, though. Anyway, you’re probably here to read about our TOUR, not about the Sons of Liberty ransacking Governor Hutchinson’s mansion. But, what can I say? We haven’t played any shows yet. We play tonight, though. I think we’ll debut Dumb Angel acoustic. I have the damnedest time remembering those lyrics. The second verse is only slightly different from the first, and I think that’s why. It’s very frustrating to have Sean and Bonesaw constantly reminding me when I’m the one who wrote the lyrics. Makes me feel stupid. But tonight I’ma nail it!

Just stopped in at our 90 year old friend Norm’s house in Maryland. Norm is a fantastic man. So spirited and funny. He was telling us stories of being in the Navy. “Yes, I was in the Navy! How do you think we won the war?” We thought that was the joke, so we laughed, then he added, “By not letting me do any of the fighting, that’s how!” I love Norm. I wish he didn’t live so far away, or else I’m sure I’d see him at least once a week. He taught me how to tie a slip-knot when I was six, and the one tap-dancing lesson he gave me may have set me on a path to playing the drums, who knows. Norm lost his beloved wife Irene maybe 20 years ago, and just recently his second wife Sydell passed away. I know this visit meant a lot to him. Tears welled up in his eyelids as we said goodbye. But I feel better knowing that he is soon going to Nantucket with a new lady friend he met! Go Norm!

We played a song for Norm on his front lawn. We got about 3 bars in before he said “Wait!” and ran inside. He came back out with a pair of claves (wood-block thingys) and said “ok play something with a beat!”, then he jammed with us on “30th Anniversary”.

Here’s a video of that. And also a highlight reel from our trip to the waterfall the other day.