CAKE Road Journal
January 12, 2013
Montclair, New Jersey
December 31, 2012
Los Angeles, CA
December 11, 2012
Manhattan - New York City
November 16, 2012
November 15, 2012
November 10, 2012
September 15, 2012
September 7, 2012
September 6, 2012
August 11, 2012
August 10, 2012
August 4, 2012
Del Mar, CA
July 28, 2012
July 26, 2012
Council Bluffs, IA
July 21, 2012
July 14, 2012
Grass Valley, CA
July 7, 2012
July 6, 2012
June 16, 2012
Champlain Valley, VT
June 15, 2012
June 14, 2012
June 2, 2012
Mountain View, CA
May 13, 2012
May 11, 2012
May 10, 2012
May 8, 2012
April 22, 2012
April 21, 2012
Oaklahoma City, OK
April 20, 2012
Kansas City, MO
April 19, 2012
April 17, 2012
April 16, 2012
April 15, 2012
April 14, 2012
February 25, 2012
February 24, 2012
February 18, 2012
Los Angeles, CA
February 17, 2012
Solana Beach, CA
February 16, 2012
December 31, 2011
New Year's Eve at The Fabulous Fox Theater, with The Imperial Opa Circus, and Wolff and Tuba.
December 13, 2011
Salt Lake City, UT
The Great Saltair
December 10, 2011
Getting back into the mix in Tempe.
December 9, 2011
December 4, 2011
Thrills in the Lone Star State.
December 2, 2011
Charlotte's got a lot! Walking through downtown's Tryon Street on the way to soundcheck at Amos'.
December 1, 2011
96X Winter Meltdown.
November 19, 2011
The Hague, Netherlands
Volare, whoa-oa! The orchestrion in The Hague.
November 18, 2011
Concern about Luxembourg's banking secrecy laws, and its reputation as a tax haven, led in April 2009 to it being added to a "grey list" of nations with questionable banking arrangements by the G20.
November 16, 2011
November 15, 2011
'By supporting the union under President Lincoln at a time when there was an economic blockade of the southern states the Lancashire cotton workers were denied access to raw cotton which caused considerable unemployment throughout the cotton industry'.
Extracts from Lincoln's letter to the working people of Manchester, thanking them for their help, are reproduced around the plinth of a memorial here.
November 14, 2011
The one and only London, England.
November 12, 2011
November 11, 2011
The beginning of our European tour. Copenhagen begins to celebrate winter magic.
October 30, 2011
Occupy Oakland and the Unlimited Sunshine.
April 4, 2011
Los Angeles, CA
Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson- Los Angeles, CA.
October 15, 2011
New Orleans, LA
October 14, 2011
October 11, 2011
New York, NY
Lower Manhattan and Occupy Wall Street.
October 8, 2011
When I was just a baby,
My Mama told me, "Son,
Always be a good boy,
Don't ever play with guns,"
October 6 & 7, 2011
September 28, 2011
Mexico City, Mexico
September 26, 2011
On the road and backstage in Houston, Texas.
September 24, 2011
San Francisco, CA
Playing it safe on the San Francisco Belle.
September 17, 2011
Port Angeles, WA
The Elwha River on Washington's Olympic Peninsula is to be cleared of two large dams. The E-town radio show was there to acknowledge the occasion. The soundtrack is Danny Barnes on banjo; singing his new song, "Road." E-town host Nick Forster on bass guitar.
September 16, 2011
CAKE in Oregon.
September 15, 2011
Good to be in Portland again.
September 14, 2011
Jimmy Kimmel Live
A big thank-you to the staff and crew at Jimmy Kimmel Live!
September 11, 2011
Dana Point, CA
Our tour brought us to Orange County's Doheny Days Music Festival. The music track is Tinariwen's "Cler Achel," from their album "Aman Iman: Water Is Life."
September 10, 2011
St. Louis, MO
Another day in the life. Pointfest at Verizon Amphitheater.
September 4, 2011
The 2011 Sonic Boom Festival in Edmonton, Canada.
August 29, 2011
The Tonight Show
Meanwhile, back at The Tonight Show, it is past 11:30, and the aardvark's getting down.
August 12 & 13, 2011
CAKE tours a honeywine "meadery" and a whiskey distillery during a two-day concert stop in Columbus, Ohio.
July 31, 2011
Music lovers brave the elements at Japan's 2011 Fuji Rock Festival.
July 8, 2011
Put an umlaut on that "o."
July 6, 2011
On the outskirts of Milan.
July 5, 2011
July 3, 2011
July 1, 2011
Reporting from the cradle of Western civilization, and the birthplace of democracy.
June 28, 2011
The Late Show with David Letterman
An unexpected encounter with the cast of Larry Crowne.
June 17, 2011
President Jefferson instructed Lewis to observe "growth and vegetable productions, especially those not of the United States," and to find new and beneficial plants.
June 16, 2011
Salt Lake City, UT
Go ahead and jump!
June 13 & 14, 2011
Episodes from our two day visit to the mile-high city of Denver, Colorado.
June 11, 2011
Las Vegas, NV
If you want to have cities, you've got to build roads.
June 10, 2011
Calexico, civil rights activism, and a knowledgable driver.
June 3, 2011
Kansas City, MO
On a warm day in the city of fountains, CAKE shares the bill with Mumford & Sons.
June 2, 2011
Some people like to make life a little tougher than it is.
May 21, 2011
Getting to the gig. It's all about the show.
May 20, 2011
Local, John Green, takes us on a quick trip to the thundering waters of Niagara Falls after soundcheck.
May 19, 2011
May 18, 2011
Motorin' in Detroit.
May 17, 2011
You are about to enter...The Lobster Zone.
May 15, 2011
A nectarine tree is introduced to its new family.
May 14, 2011
Captain Barrymore Courageous guides the ship through great turbulence.
May 13, 2011
Right here, in Madison.
May 12, 2011
Super snowy through Denver.
April 29, 2011
The Beale Street Music Festival. The level of the Mississippi River on this day was at levels not seen since 1937.
CAKE recommends the films "High Noon" and "Jazz in the Afternoon".
April 23, 2011
Taking it to the streets in Portland.
April 22, 2011
Fever pitch in Boston.
April 21, 2011
New York, NY
The West side and Terminal 5.
April 19, 2011
The neighborhood of Williamsburg.
April 17 & 18, 2011
You'll receive the federal funding.
April 14-16, 2011
Washington DC 4-14 to 4-16 at the 9:30 Club. Everyone's talking about the Civil War.
March 20th, 2011
CAKE is haunted as they travel and prepare for an uitverkocht show at Paradiso.
March 19th, 2011
The train to Paris for a show at La Cigale.
March 18th, 2011
Our first concert overseas in some time.
March 17th, 2011
We flew from San Francisco to London, then boarded a train for Paris to perform for French television.
March 14th, 2011
Santa Clara, California
Preparing for Europe in Santa Clara, California.
March 3rd, 2011
Surveillance helicopters follow John McCrea around Los Angeles, and CAKE makes a debut appearance on Lopez Tonight.
March 1st, 2011
It's the Betty White Show!
February 22, 2011
CAKE returns to Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Monday, February 21, 2011
Los Angeles, California
"Is This Love?" It's Mark "The Loveman," Pender.
Sunday, February 20th, 2011
Los Angeles, California
No soundcheck. La Brea Tar Pits and LA County Museum of Art on a clear and crisp day in Los Angeles.
Saturday, February 19th, 2011
Los Angeles, California
Gabe gives a generous tour of the bathroom facilities at the club.
Friday, February 18th, 2011
Los Angeles, California
We arrive in Los Angeles for four nights at the Troubador. CNN is there to greet us.
Greg Vincent plays the pedal-steel guitar during soundcheck with Xan and Paulo.
Conveyer belt suspense at LAX.
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
San Francisco, California
The band plays the coda to "Wheels" during the last of four nights at the Fillmore.
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
San Francisco, California
"People on the line, enjoy your freedom."
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
San Francisco, California
Chinatown and Charlie Wallace.
Monday, February 14, 2011
San Francisco, California
St. Valentine's day, The Fillmore. Gabe Nelson on bass and vocals.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Drums and Guitar at Roseland sound-check.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
A super windy day in Seattle as a storm rolls in. Featuring Jonny Hahn on piano.
Thursday, February 10th, 2011
Vancouver, British Columbia
CAKE returns to Vancouver.
Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
Friday, January 21st, 2011
Jerry Lee Lewis. Great Balls of Fire!
Thursday, January 20th, 2011
Once again, we had the honor of performing at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Enjoy this reel from a snowy Winter day.
Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
A trip to Stone Mountain!
Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
We heard the great news that "Showroom of Compassion" was #1 on the Billboard chart.
Monday, January 17th, 2011
A video postcard from the afternoon of our first of three nights in Atlanta.
Sunday, January 16th, 2011
Time to go to soundcheck. Enjoy this video vignette!
Saturday, January 15th, 2011
St. Petersburg, Florida
The Fountain of Youth?
Friday, January 14th, 2011
Boca Raton, Florida
We commence the Showroom of Compassion tour. Another short film to reflect upon.
Tuesday/Wednesday, January 11th and 12th, 2011
New York, New York
Manhattan's Upper East Side, Times Square, and Rockefeller Center on the day of the "Showroom of Compassion" release, and the following day's NBC Late Night appearance with Jimmy Fallon.
Friday, December 31th, 2010
Bringing in the New Year! Another super-short film.
Thursday, December 30th, 2010
Fire and forge in Old City Park, Dallas. Enjoy this first installation of the CAKE Road Journal's Video Vignettes.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
St. Louis, Missouri
Joe Edwards has made a remarkable presence in the Delmar Loop district of St. Louis. Joe owns and operates The Pageant Theater, where we performed. He recently built the Moonrise Hotel and owns several other buildings in the neighborhood. It all started with the Blueberry Hill Restaurant and Lounge in 1972. Blueberry Hill is one of the places where you can still see Chuck Berry perform.
We look forward to returning soon to St. Louis, "The Gateway to the West."
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
We were lucky to stay at a hotel near the Chicago River, where this city's architecture and orientation to the water is especially striking. Our short, but very cold walk to the venue brought us by the busts of capitalist pioneers outside the Merchandise Mart.
Here's to the brave woman, Ginger Littleton, who snuck up behind the deranged gunman at the Panama City School Board meeting, and made a valiant attempt to knock the gun out of his hand with her purse!
Thanks Q101 in Chicago, and everyone in attendance, for a very memorable evening.
Monday, December 13, 2010
It was 11 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon in Milwaukee. We played at the Eagle Club for a show organized by radio station WLUM. Their motto at the Eagle Club: "If I can't speak well of an Eagle, I won't speak ill of him." That must be comforting for their members.
We for once agreed to let the lighting director use the fog machine on-stage. It can make the mirrored ball look pretty dazzling, after all. Well, evidently an extremely crucial circuit broke during it's use, and a gigantic and dense cloud of fog enveloped first the drum kit, then the whole stage, then the rest of the room. It was totally ridiculous. It looked like a thick wall of gas the police use to disperse a riot. It was as if a huge yellow sulfur cloud belched forth from a gaseous crater.
We are driving to Chicago tomorrow, so we'll be passing by the newly constructed Mars Cheese Castle on the way. The sign has very recently been moved from the old building in Kenosha, to the new building, and followers of the store are anxiously awaiting the grand opening.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Los Angeles, CA
Clear weather throughout the basin. Clutter of the immediate landscape along with a spectacular sunset is a bewildering juxtaposition of commerce and nature.
The Battle for Los Angeles movie is coming out soon. It is creepy. Will it help to keep the spirit of uniting this already united, functional, factioned, but peaceful city? Apparently it was an idea worth exploring.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
New York, NY
Craig Hymson was a guest at our show. Craig is the associate producer of an inspiring documentary on the life of activist, healer, and sacred clown, Wavy Gravy. The film premiered in New York City the week we were there. It is called, "Saint Misbehavin' : The Wavy Gravy Movie." The movie reveals that activism can be compassionate, intelligent, and a lot of fun. Not only that, but Wavy's life story cuts through a fascinating swath of the American people's history.
Monday, December 6, 2010
Do you know Pittsburghers have a dialect all their own?!
Sunday, December 5, 2010
We performed for the "Mountain Stages" radio program with host Larry Groce, (Remember the song "Junk Food Junkie"?) at the Capitol Cultural Center in Charleston. The episode will be broadcast in March.
There are very many more notable musicians from West Virginia. Bill Withers, for instance, is from Slab Fork, West Virginia. This year's documentary "Still Bill," is a good portrait of the man.
Some other West Virginians that you can learn more about at the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame are George Crumb, Fuzzy Haskins, Calvin Simon, Starland Vocal Band, Billy Cox, and Walter "Jack" Rollins, who wrote Frosty the Snowman.
Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert of Starland Vocal Band co-wrote "Take Me Home, Country Roads." They were writing it with Johnny Cash in mind, but as John Denver was a guest at their house, they played it for him and he loved it. They all finished writing it together.
Nice people here, and it has abundant natural beauty. West Virginia was settled by Scots-Irish. They fought the British in Europe, and they fought them again in North America to keep their land. They preferred livestock to farming large plots of land, so the mountains suited them well. Senator Jim Webb, of Virginia, wrote a book on this subject: "Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America."
West Virginia has been exploited for its abundant natural resources of timber and coal, and has historically been owned mostly by people from out of state. Currently, one part of the state is dealing with potential health issues due to the chemical company, DuPont.
Saturday, October 30, 2010
Charlotte is nicknamed "The Hornet's Nest," based on British General Cornwallis' remarks concerning his unsuccessful attempt to secure the city during the War of American Independence. The most popular nickname, however, is The Queen City, in honor of Britain's first black queen, Charlotte, wife of King George III.
September 29 - November 22, 2010
San Francisco, CA
CAKE and the San Francisco Center for the Book are currently working on a book for our new song, "Bound Away."
The book will be made with available, already manufactured, and re-used, materials. CAKE brought in their old 100% cotton t-shirts and denim jeans for the cover papers.
The paper for the pages will consist of 100% post consumer materials.
Here is paper-maker and handmade products expert Pam DeLuco demonstrating the vintage platen press to CAKE's John McCrea and Xan McCurdy.
Here is the designer of the book, Allison Weiner, showing us sample pages.
Allison Weiner with program director Michael Bartalos, showing off their Vandercook cylinder press #4.
CAKE has experienced hands-on participation. Last week we helped carve the linoleum cut images that will be pressed to the pages, and this week we assisted with creating the paper pulp.
The first edition will be 1000 copies, and available through our website.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Bonner Springs, KS
Kansas City is known as "The city of fountains."
Although the venue was nearby, we missed an opportunity to visit the National Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
New Haven, CT
We arrived by train to New Haven's Union Station. Riding the escalator up from the platform, our attention was drawn to some amazing art on the wall. It was a reproduction of a 20 foot x 15 foot pencil drawing of Manhattan, by the artist known as Krikko. The original took four years and 2,496 pencils to make.
Trombonists Matthew Wright and John Sipher, of the Syracuse Symphony, joined the band onstage at Toad's Place for our new song "Federal Funding." This was the first time we've had brass guests onstage. Their professionalism and proficiency on their instruments contributed to an outstanding moment for everyone.
For the final encore song, "Sad Songs and Waltzes," the audience sang and swayed along. A beautiful moment. Thanks for a memorable show, New Haven.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
New York, NY
We performed for the very first time in Manhattan's Central Park, at Rumsey Playfield. Thunder and lightning preceded the show during our soundcheck, and left puddles onstage. Witnesses in Brooklyn claim they experienced a tornado that evening.
Before taking a train to New Haven we were interviewed by Matt Pinfield and Lesley Fram for RXP 101.9 FM.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Everyone knows that Philadelphia is home to the Liberty Bell, which most likely was rung to mark the public reading of the American Declaration of Independence on July 8, 1776.
Who is lesser known, is the super-heroine, Liberty Belle, whose powers of enhanced speed, strength, and stamina are linked to the ringing of this iconic symbol.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Clifton Park, NY
After our second set, we went outside to get some air, and a young woman was being attended to by the staff and security of the venue. This concert-goer had consumed way too much of something. She came around to her senses just enough to ward off an impending call to the ambulance company. We're glad everything was fine. Please take care of yourselves out there!
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Saturday, September 11, 2010
The morning after the show, on the way to the band's tour bus outside the hotel, Vince was accosted by a strung-out, possibly mentally-ill, very tall and smelly man. The disturbed man had just been denied on a request for a bummed cigarette, and was walking backwards yelling obscenities. Away from the disturbance and on his way out of the hotel lobby , Vince, at that same moment, had read the word "poussez" on the hotel door, and was practicing the phrase "poussez le porte" (push the door) to himself. The moving of the lips was detected! Perhaps, it was misinterpreted by the wild man as calling into question his measure of masculinity? Was further insult being piled onto this fellow who was obviously down on his luck? The man (who happened to resemble Scottish actor and comedian, Billy Connolly), came charging back to confront Vince, eye to eye, inches from his face, presenting an opportunity for bystanders to witness a random act of violence. Would a knife or gun appear from the pockets of this desperate and angry wanderer? After the two stood toe-to-toe for several tense seconds, an altercation was avoided with calm and unarming words. Although it seems unlikely, we sure hope the stranger had a "bon jour."
Friday, September 10, 2010
We were performers at the Envol et Macadam music festival in Quebec City. Envol is a French word meaning "to launch into battle", or to "take flight." Macadam is descriptive of a roadway or pavement made with broken stone, and named after the Scottish engineer who invented it. The symbolism of this name for the festival becomes clear, when you see that the site for the stage is directly under the elegant archways of freeway on-ramps and overpasses. Literally, a pavement launch. The concrete supports have beautifully surreal paintings covering their surfaces.
Quebec City has a completely intact Citadelle in the old section of town. These city walls are the only ones in North America.
French language and culture are proudly preserved in Quebec City.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
It felt good to be a part of Oakland's Art and Soul Festival. Thanks, organizers, for inviting us, and thanks to anyone at the show. It was a beautiful day in Oakland.
We hella love Oakland.
Last week we were honored again by NASA, by including us in their Top-40 Space Rock list. On shuttle missions, after an evening of rest , the astronauts listen to a wake-up song from the Mission Control Center. In the past, Mission Control has played both "Stickshifts and Safety Belts" and "The Distance" for the shuttle crew. This time NASA is letting the public decide what will be played. The songs with the most votes will be heard on a very important upcoming mission.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Big parts of Alaska are under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. This means there is a lot of Alaska that is not a state park, a national park, or privately owned. It's all there to explore. There is so much wilderness. It is rich in minerals. The keen eye of someone simply walking, can still to this very day spot gold veins in minerals on the ground such as quartz.
There is so much to see there that is different from the lower 48 states. Even around Anchorage, the mud flats on the coastal shore are fascinating. The dried mud on the fringes of the marshlands is dense clay mud which to the touch feels like hard rubber. What looks like solid rock, is springy to the touch. It has the appearance of the black stone ledges of other familiar shorelines. People don't walk out into the mud, because they know you can get stuck, or worse yet, fall all the way through.
There is a prevalent wild mushroom here called Amanita muscaria. The Tlingit would follow an unsuspecting caribou after it accidentally ate the toxic mushroom. The animal would die eventually from being poisoned, then the men would drink the urine out of the bladder and go to battle. There is a conversation, among those curious, that perhaps the popular Christmas-time myth of Santa Claus is a projection of the surreal influence of Amanita muscaria. The jolly old elf is presented in the context of northern European shamanism where, according to tradition, the shaman would dry his amanitas from a conifer tree and then visit the yurts of his community, entering through the smoke hole to bring gifts of sacred mushrooms to the people. It is not much of a stretch to see that these reindeer herding shamans were the iconic model for the fat red and white clothed Santa, who himself looks very much like an amanita mushroom.
At the show, the crowd at the Moose's Tooth enjoyed some excellent bluegrass from the Mountain River Valley Boys. At this time, the skies opened up for some sun for the first time in weeks, and we kicked into our set. After the show, the skies closed up again for the next two days. The power of music.
Hats off to Steven Slater, the Jet Blue flight attendant who was honored as The Colbert Report's Alpha Dog of the Week. They say there is an ABCD code among flight attendants, which represents the four type of people who might carry-on way too much luggage: "All about me", "Business", "Casual", and Deer in the headlights," the novice traveler who is obliterous to functional common protocol. It's obvious there are many factors which contributed to this 20-year veteran's melt-down. Maybe the beleaguered steward could have felt a little better, just taken the edge off his discomfort, and prevented himself from cussing out the unruly passenger, grabbing hooch, and taking the emergency slide, if he did a little of what the flight attendants call....."Cropdusting". When the human body travels in a pressurized cabin, our insides react in the same way that a thin plastic water bottle might.....cruising down the aisle with the trash bag gaining gastric relief may have gone a long way.
So sad to leave, hope we can go back someday to Alaska. Thanks, everyone at Moose's Tooth.
P.S. Check out this 1964 earthquake footage.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
San Diego, CA
We performed for San Diego's 91 X-fest, along with several hard rock bands, at Chula Vista's very large Cricket Wireless Amphitheater. Playing at an event such as this happens for us occasionally, and it's always good to be invited. The scale of the event, sonically and venue-wise, is something that gives one pause. Super-duper heavy metal pirate rock is alive and well.
Chula Vista translates to "beautiful view," due to its scenic location between the San Diego Bay and coastal mountain foothills. Archaeological evidence shows at least 10,000 years of human habitation in the region.
In 1916, Chula Vista saw the Hercules Powder Company construct a kelp processing plant covering a 30-acre plot of land. Kelp was an ideal source of materials used in the production of explosives. The plant produced potash and acetone to make cordite, a smokeless powder used extensively by the British armed forces in World War I.
Thanks for a great day everyone. We're going back home for a rehearsal and more mixing and mastering tweaks, before our trip to Alaska for a show in Anchorage.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
It was a very good summer tour. Thank-you everybody, for coming out to the shows. We enjoyed your company.
Our last concert was in Greenfield MA. Could this be another city named after General Nathanael Greene of the Continental Army? Not sure. The event was the Green River Festival, and we had the pleasure of taking in a set from Calexico before it was our turn. They are in excellent form.
The Green River festival has always involved giant hot air balloons. Near the end of our set the colorful balloons were inflated, and after our last encore song they began to launch into the sky to drift away over a distant hill.
Shout out to Ristorante DiPaolo! Thanks for the lobster rolls!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Seven years ago in West Warwick, Rhode Island, the Station nightclub fire occurred. The fire started just seconds into headlining band Great White's opening song, when pyrotechnics were lit for the stage. The site of the fire is now an empty lot with a makeshift memorial of variously colored crosses, left there by loved ones of the deceased.
Among the 100 people who died in the fire, was thirty-two year old Tracy King, a volunteer at the club that night. Video shows him going back into the club three times to rescue concert-goers. During his life Tracy made appearances on David Letterman's Late Show, performing amazing feats such as juggling a canoe or refrigerator on his chin! (On the link you'll need to watch through two other tricks, but the wait is well worth it!). He is remembered by friends in Rhode Island for his kindness and generous concern for others.
Friday, July 16, 2010
The emergence of a new industrial system in Lowell, New England, and across the country marked a major transformation for the United States. The call to work of the factory bells signaled, throughout 19th century Lowell, the rise of textile manufacturing. Workers streamed through the mills' doors, the measure of their days controlled by the clock. They left behind the pace of agricultural labor in their rural communities to join the workforce of the textile mills.
Inside Boott Mill, there are two-hundred ingeniously designed weaving machines made of wrought steel, leather, and wood, moving in great clanging polyrhythm together. Long leather belts attached to axles along the ceiling drive the linseed scented gears, which through a mind boggling number of moving parts, weave spools of thread into sturdy fabric.Occasionally, rhythms from separate machines synchronize into the same cadence, resembling the sound of legions of foot soldiers with metal boots on cobblestone streets.
"There have been a good many foolish essays written upon the beauty and divinity of labor, by those who have never known what it is to earn one's livelihood by the sweat of the brow...Let such be silent. Their sentimentalism is a weariness to the worker."
John Greenleaf Whittier
The Stranger in Lowell,1845
(Great amounts of thunder and lightning at the show! Good to weather the storm with another great audience.)
Thursday, July 15, 2010
For this date, we found ourselves at the Charles Ives Center for the Arts, atop the campus of Western Connecticut University. It's an outdoor amphitheater in a forest, with a small lake behind the stage. The stage is actually a large deck above the water, and a moat extends towards the spectator area (to fend off unruly concert attendees).
Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954), longtime resident of Danbury, was an American modernist composer. He is widely regarded as one of the first American composers of international significance. Ives combined the American popular and church-music traditions of his youth with European art music, and was among the first composers to engage in experimental music. His compositions foreshadowed many musical innovations of the 20th century.
After soundcheck, we presented a tree to Ives park. The tree is an American Hornbeam, a relative to the Beech tree. It was donated by area landscaper Geoff Schur. Geoff is also an aficionado of music from the African continent, and recommended many groups for listening, including Africando All-Stars, a musical project formed in 1990 to unite New York-based salsa musicians with Sengalese vocalists.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
There are many cities in the United States named after General Nathanael Greene of the Continental Army. The Palace Theater is in one of those cities, near Pittsburgh.
Nathanael Greene was a major general of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. When the war began, Greene was a militia private , the lowest rank possible. He emerged from the war with a reputation as George Washington's most gifted and dependable officer.
A quote attributed to him:
"We are soldiers who devote ourselves to arms not for the invasion of other countries, but for the defense of our own, not for the gratification of our private interests but for public security"
Donnie Iris was at our show, and said hello to us afterwards. Thank-you to everyone there at the Palace Theater, home to the Westmoreland County Symphony Orcestra.
Monday, July 12, 2010
One of the rainiest shows we've done, at the Lifestyles Pavilion in Columbus. The audience soaked up the sheets of rain, and our electronics were wet enough to short-circuit. We're glad there were no unfortunate events strong enough to stop a show that had great momentum. Being on the west coast, it's easy to forget that the midwest has some intense summer rainstorms.
Other memorable rainy shows that come to mind for us are an Unlimited Sunshine event in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, and the Fuji Rock festival in Japan.
Thanks for sticking it out in the rain Columbus!
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The Vogue Theater is in a section of the city named Broad Ripple. They call it The Rip. The Rip can be visited by bicycle via the Monon Trail: an urban greenway that is perhaps one of the busiest in the nation.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
On our connecting flight from Chicago to Louisville, for our appearance at the Forecastle Festival, we bumped into a group of music students from Ecuador who had received scholarships to travel and perform. They are an all-star group who are this year's Kennedy Center Jazz Envoys.
Louisville is within a day's drive for half of the country's population! When early settlers began the westward expansion, the Ohio River was the primary water link between the West and the Northeast. A series of rapids along the route, however, forced settlers to disembark and portage around the falls. This stopping point became a strategic area for distribution and eventually grew into the city of Louisville, which was named in honor of France's King Louis XVI.
Muhammad Ali is the most recognized and most loved person from Louisville, if not on the planet. He has earned love from all races, all nationalities, and all religions.
At the festival we saw The Tillers, a gospel country music group from Cincinnati, who have a "sustainable living road show." It's solar powered from energy gathered during the day. In addition to that, they make great music.
Later in the evening, someone in the audience set paper lanterns with votive candles aloft into space. In time, the lanterns looked like three bright planets or closely aligned satellites far through the light cloud cover.
Check out the 86-64 movement that is afoot in Louisville.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
San Francisco, CA
CAKE was pleased to perform at a fundraiser for the Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center in San Francisco. The center is a great resource for individuals and families in the North Beach, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhoods. The direct goal of the fundraiser was to raise funds for a solar panel installation. The other bands joining us were the big and true second line groove and soulfulness of the California Honey Drops, and the always formidable and rollicking majesty of King City. Our friend, Charlie Wallace, joined us on the pedal steel guitar for "Walk on By" and a new song "Bound Away."
After soundcheck, we met with the parents and children of Tel-Hi, who sang a very special thank-you song to us all.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Salt Lake City, UT
Passengers on our airplane experienced this view of the Grand Canyon as we traveled from Arizona to Utah.
Salt Lake City had an oil spill of its own earlier in the week, when a pipeline leaked an estimated 33,000 gallons of oil into a creek that leads to Liberty Park. Mayor Ralph Becker has vowed to make Chevron pay for the clean-up. About 150 birds have been identified so far for rehabilitation. About 75% are Canada geese.
Our show was at Library Square, and the experience was none other than enchanting. The audience sang like the Tabernacle Choir, and a crescent moon rose over the coliseum-like library during our set, as evening settled on a fair summer day.
Friday, June 18, 2010
It's warm here for sure. There's no denying that.
Tempe is a college town, with big spaces all around. A first evening encounter gives the impression of an abandoned downtown area. The reality though, is that nightlife does exist within a central area, and the riverfront is a safe and peaceful place to stroll in the evening. There appears to be an eccentric extroversion to this high desert town. A hearty D.J. is busking on the sidewalk at night to a small gathering, with powerful speakers and aggressive beats.
Down at the Mill Avenue Bridges, there is a programmed and built-in light show under the light rail. The sign from the Mill Avenue Bridges into town says, "City of Tempe. Welcome! Our city is an inclusive community. Tempe is the best place to live, work, and play together."
Well, all right!!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
San Francisco, CA
A leprechaun from O'Reilly's pub magically introduced us, and a hearty crowd braved the cold weather for our set at the 11th annual San Francisco Oysterfest. The Great Meadow at Fort Mason does pick up a lot of the fog rolling into the bay, but that doesn't take away from what an ideal setting it is.
Here are two Irish toasts that you may want to use sometime:
***May misfortune follow you the rest of your life, but never catch up.
***May those who love us love us. And those that don’t love us, May God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, May he turn their ankles, So we’ll know them by their limping.
Friday, April 23, 2010
A spooky discovery freaks out residents of Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Feel the warmth and welcoming spirit of the Calgary Stampede.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
This report comes to you from Canada's energy capitol, Edmonton.
The Events Center, the venue, is adjoined to the West Edmonton Mall, a modern day bazaar of every thing and activity imaginable. For example, you'll find a shooting range where customers have an opportunity to experience the exhilaration of firing high powered rifles and handguns. Does your local mall have that?
Here is a paper target from the wall of the shooting range and autographed by visitor Ted Nugget.
There were no gladiator matches to be found, but they have laser tag, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, ring-tailed lemurs, seal lions, sharks, a triple 36O loop indoor roller coaster(everything is indoors), ice skating rink, submarine ride, wave pool, water slides, bungee jumping, segway rides, water massage capsules, a Chinatown, pirate ship in a lagoon, giant humpback whale sculpture, movie theater lobby with fire breathing dragon, myriad other attractions, shops, and ventures.
Thank you, audience, for the show.
We listened to the new album on the three hour ride to Calgary. It was quiet through the first three, no four, no five songs, no the whole album, except for suggestions regarding the song order and one or two volume levels noticed briefly. Quiet accompanied the entire album, which is really nice because we've been starting and stopping these songs for months in the studio, discussing every aspect of them.
It was a victory to finally listen all the way through and be commended by Bobby, our stage technician. From someone like him, who has seen our concerts more than anyone, his appreciation meant a lot.
Afterwards, we found some music on the radio dial that suited us, and we traveled to Calgary in more silence as midnight approached out on the plains...
Friday & Saturday, April 2 & 3, 2010
This was our band's first time performing in Hawaii. As we've been wrapping up work on the new album, the timing was right.
We'd like to express our appreciation to the audiences at each of the two evenings at The Pipeline Cafe.
Honolulu is the location on the island of Oahu where Hawaiian royalty preferred to live. The breaking waves are long and smooth, and the fresh water supply is plentiful. A deadly poisonous jellyfish, the Portuguese man-of-war, mars an enjoyable swim on the other side of Oahu. Here, they are not a great danger.
Of course, the Diamond Head Crater is an iconic natural landmark that gives an unmistakable identity to images of Waikiki Beach. Rainbows are a frequent sight here, and we were fortunate to see several.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
San Francisco, CA
Invited as performers for this year's benefit for the charitable Bill Graham Foundation at the Fillmore Auditorium, it followed that our experience was umbrella'd by the great Fillmore traditions passed on from the inaugural mid-60's years . Led Zeppelin, ,The Who, Cream, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Creedence Clearwater Revival have performed here. In those days, Bill handed out apples as the patrons left the venue, and many attendees also took home small handbill versions of the famous psychedelic art posters. Greensleeves is played to signal the end of the event to the crew. Red curtains and chandeliers. All still here.
Dan Hicks and the Hicksville Express were also here, plus we had a nice backstage visit with Bonnie Simmons, our manager during many a memorable year, who was surprised to know she is the new director of the foundation!
Good luck Bonnie!
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Welcome to 2010, an unused year and the start of a fresh decade. We wish you the best in the current revolution around the sun! On Dec 31st, 2009, we brought our show to The Moore Theater in Seattle WA. The event included music by San Francisco's King City, Seattle's own Throw Me the Statue, and two performances from dancer/choreographer Amy O'Neal with Locust. This was our first New Year's Eve in Seattle, so as it turns out, we've celebrated New Year's on Elliot Bay once in a blue moon. We observed that the Emerald City understands how to celebrate the occasion. Thank you to everyone who was there, for a remarkable and unforgettable evening.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
A good time was had by all, at the Etown radio show taping. This episode will air coast to coast on NPR, public and commercial stations in 2010. Find out more about the Etown radio show and listen to previous episodes through the Etown web site.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
We traveled by train from Buffalo to Syracuse. Rail travel is something we always want to do more of on tour, so we enjoyed the ride very much. The pace is consistent and the scenery lush. To complete the trip we did need to jump in a car at the Amtrak station towards the village of Turin. On the way, we passed by Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, NY. The American stand here in 1777 was a major factor in repulsing the British invasion from Canada.
On the radio during the drive, we listened to a couple of good interviews on National Public Radio. One featured author, Charles Wilkins, who offered lucid tales from his new book, "In the Land of Long Fingernails: Gravedigging in the Age of Aquarius." His job on the cemetery grounds gave him a lot of time to reflect on the simplicity of death, juxtaposed with the mandatory rituals expected of the living. One of the epiphanies a respected associate shared with him-- Perhaps one's soul becomes the stories we tell about a person after they're gone.
During that same broadcast, we also heard from the enlightened Douglas Rushkoff, author of Life Inc. His goal is to empower individuals to take control of their lives at a local level, avoiding the pitfalls of dealing with high interest rates and large corporations.
The weather was absolutely beautiful this year for the moe.down at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin Village, NY, near the southeastern perimeter of Adirondack State Park. The stage was built at the bottom of a ski slope, facing uphill. During our set, the crowd illuminated themselves with plastic glow sticks, which together with the sight of a full moon behind the stage and our spinning mirrored ball, made for a terrific light show. The band moe. is celebrating their 20th year as a band, and the 10th year of this festival. We were grateful to be included.
Friday, September 4, 2009
The Town Ballroom, where we performed to an amazingly great audience, used to be called the Town Casino. Performers such as Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin appeared here. During prohibition Al Capone did brisk business in this very building. When the heat was on by the law in Chicago he'd come to Buffalo. In fact, underneath the theater there is still a network of tunnels and rooms where liquor was transported and gatherings held. With Buffalo being right across a frozen lake from Canada, runners could smuggle liquor directly across the frozen surface in winter. There are still cars that can be found at the lake bottom from whiskey runners who encountered thin ice. More recently, in the 1990's, when the city of Buffalo was constructing their light-rail tracks across the street from The Town Ballroom , there were many bodies discovered as digging commenced.
Speaking of bodies discovered, there is a solid group of daredevils and stunters over the last 100 years who have been inspired to defy death(or not) in spectacular ways at nearby Niagara Falls. The very first person to go over the Falls in a barrel was a woman. On October 24, 1901, 63-year-old school teacher Annie Edson Taylor survived, bleeding, but virtually unharmed. Soon after exiting the barrel, she said, "No one should ever try that again." However, 14 other people have intentionally gone over the Falls since then, despite her advice. You can read about their varied fates, and see photos here, here, and here.
Friday, August 28, 2009
San Diego, CA
The Scripps Institute of Oceanography is in La Jolla, just north of downtown San Diego. The Institute recently lead an expedition to explore the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. You can listen to what they found here.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
We performed at the newly renovated Fox Theater in downtown Pomona. From the glory days of Hollywood, to disrepair, the Fox in recent times became the site for rave parties and a locus of gang-related killings. It was purchased by the city, is fully restored now, and it's cultural significance to Pomona has been renewed.
The silver-lined theater now looks as it did in its heyday, a premiere example of the 1930's style motion picture theater. The interior was purposely designed to provide temporary relief from the harsh realities of the depression era. At that time, the Fox Theater was also the perfect distance from Hollywood to allow directors and studio executives an opportunity to preview their films and still get back home the same night. Pomona offered an atmosphere, outside the influence of Hollywood, that more closely resembled the rest of the country.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Los Angeles, CA
There are probably very few places you can go in the world to eat Korean tacos, and it may be that Los Angeles is in fact the only place. These kind of aberrations are what make Los Angeles a lot of fun. There certainly is a lot of fashion here, created with great intentions by experienced, educated, and talented individuals. Perhaps, however, the unselfconscious and glaringly unstylish occurrences that spring from the abyss of this ever evolving and still defining culture are probably the most interesting to witness.
Good memories were conjured when a friend recounted his experience of recently attending a wedding at the Beverly Hills Hotel. During a meal at the hotel's Polo Lounge, he spotted Phyllis Diller at a table enjoying herself. Phyllis is featured in our video of "Love You Madly." She agreed to be on the judging panel for a cooking competition between two of our band members. She is an incredibly gracious comedienne and celebrity, and just to hear a story about her enjoying herself as usual in Los Angeles was gratifying.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
At the luggage carousel, a pleasant woman named Cherish was there to pick us up in T-town. Evidently, her mother was a big fan of David Cassidy and his version of The Associations song which is her namesake. Worth noting, although not the inspiration for her name, Madonna and Kool and the Gang also happen to have songs entitled Cherish!
The organizers of D-Fest(diversifest) have grown a festival that is great for Oklahoma musicians, downtown businesses, concert-goers, and the music industry as a whole. It is the Mid-west's largest music convention. We were honored to headline on the final night of the event. Congratulations to all the organizers for the smashing success of this 8th D-Fest.
The main performances of the festival take place in the Blue Dome Arts District, named after a notable landmark; a former gas station with a building design similar to a blue- domed mosque. For a relatively compact downtown, Tulsa boasts a great number of art deco buildings. An excellent example aside from the blue dome is the old train depot, which has become a jazz hall of fame.
The U.S. Highway 66 Association was established in Tulsa, earning the city the nickname the "Birthplace of Route 66." The road, a benchmark of national mobility, created a link between Chicago and California. Tulsa served as a popular rest stop for travelers. During this period, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys began their long performing stint in downtown Tulsa. In 1935, Cain's Ballroom became the base for the group, which is largely credited for creating Western Swing music.
Sunday, June 19, 2009
Ironworks and tobacco were always big industries in Richmond. During the 1870's, a tumultuous era of the Post Civil War South, add another industrial success: Valentine's Meat-Juice, a nourishing protein tonic of pure beef extract. Valentine's Meat-Juice was often taken by the ill and those with a weak constitution in order to give them strength, similar to multi-vitamins we take today.
Using a hydraulic press, meat juice was made by extracting liquid from lean chopped beef. The pressure exerted on the beef caused blood, water, and natural minerals to be released. This liquid was collected in a receptacle and cooked slowly over low heat until reduced to a concentrated form. The meat juice was now ready to be bottled and sold.
Meat juice was usually taken straight from the bottle by the spoonful, or mixed with hot water and drunk as a beef tea.
Saturday, June 18, 2009
In the early morning on the inner harbor, a woman with a large box of Dunkin Donuts is walking the footpath and offering breakfast to strangers.
At the old Mount Royal Train Station, the Maryland Institute College of Art has taken part in an ongoing process, beginning in the mid-1960's, of preserving the landmark building. The festival stage was set up outside the station, and our concert was a part of the city of Baltimore's Artscape event.
Driving through town on our way back from the concert, we were surprised to see a multitude of pedestrians dressed as fantasy cartoon characters. What we witnessed was the Otakon convention, a gathering of Japanese anime fans. Now we know.
Baltimore really does have a culture all its own. With one day, we can't sum it up, but there is something very uniquely good about this city.
If you're a fan of Google Earth, check out the Delmarva Peninsula sometime. The amount of tributaries will boggle your mind.
Friday, June 17, 2009
Arriving in the evening, a day before our show, we were able to catch Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. In her own words, she was "Taking us back to '65," and the sound is ever so present in this moment in time. Sharon and her band are excellent, and it was perfect evening weather near the Ottawa River.
We're staying at the Marriott here in Ottawa. At a Marriott in Montreal today an outer concrete panel fell from the 16th floor onto a woman celebrating her birthday with her husband at a street level sushi restaurant. Also, there was a terrorist bombing at the Marriott in Jakarta yesterday killing six. Glad we already went to Jakarta.
Founding father, Colonel Jonathan By, and score of laborers (there were 1,000 fatalities during construction from malaria alone) built the Rideau Canal. The canal connects the Ottawa River to Lake Ontario. It was built primarily for strategic military purposes at a time when Great Britain and the United States vied for control of the region. The canal played a crucial role in allowing British forces to defend the colony of Canada against the United States of America, leading to the development of two distinct political and cultural entities in the north of the American continent.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Santa Rosa, CA
One of the most striking images witnessed at this year's Harmony Festival was the trio of a Jew, a Muslim, and a Catholic priest walking as a group together. Surely, this had to be dress-up fun by veterans of the Northern California folk-fest scene! But wait! They were legitimate, and direct from Jerusalem, no less. Eliyahu Mc Lean, Ibrahim Abu el-Hawa, and Ibrahim Issa are some of the members of a group called Jerusalem Peacemakers. Their aim is to contribute to peace with justice and a decent life for all people in the Holy Land. These peacemakers are working together to help loosen up rigid beliefs, bridge the gulf between peoples, and to help people recognize they're all in this together and that polarization and violence do not work. These men and women are courageous and knowledgeable. Here are some of Eliyahu's recent activities.
Saturday & Sunday, May 30 & 31, 2009
The traffic lights here will notify you of exactly how much time you have remaining to either cross an intersection or to wait for your turn. Instead of counting down from 10, as many crosswalks in the country do, these count down from 59 seconds. This could be useful, one might guess, for knowing exactly the duration of your opportunity to use the blackberry behind the wheel of your car.
Ben's Chili Bowl is a renowned food establishment in the Historic U Street neighborhood. Barack Obama and Bill Cosby are two of their most celebrated customers. The place is bustling! Here is a notable selection from the "history" page on their website: In 1968, the assassination of Dr. King lit a fuse of rage. Riots ensued. Most of the city closed down; Ben’s remained open. Stokely Carmichael of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was located across the street, obtained special police permission to allow Ben’s to stay open after curfew to provide food and shelter for activists, firefighters and public servants desperately trying to restore order. After the riots, the area was in shambles. Businesses shut down. But there was some glimmer of hope in the neighborhood as the concept of "Black is Beautiful" emerged. Ben’s continued to serve an eclectic crowd of Regulars.
On the Capitol Mall, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a profoundly moving and thorough encapsulation of an extremely dark time. The dire economic situation in Germany after their defeat in World War One motivated the National Socialist Workers Party (Nazis) to scapegoat an entire race of people as the reason for the problems of the time. The rationalization was supported in large part by a book called the "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." This is a slanderous piece of literature that is full of false and paranoid information about the evil jewish plot to take over the world through parasitic control of the global economy . The book was in fact plagiarized from a french satire of late 19th century written by Maurice Joly entitled "The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu." Joly's book was written as a satirical attack against the ambitions and methods of French Emperor Napoleon III. The dialogue was readapted to enact a supposed conference of the Elders of Zion. Furthermore, The Joly book was in turn based on material borrowed from a popular novel of the time by Eugène Sue entitled "The Mysteries of the People," in which those plotting to rule the world were the Jesuits instead of Napoleon III. Neither the Joly book nor the Sue book mentioned Jews. For an accurate depiction of how Germany's Interwar Jewish community was a loyal and well-integrated part of society see page 107 of David Crowe's book, "The Holocaust."
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is across the tidal pool, and off the beaten path from most of the tourist activity. The following are samples of the inscriptions on the stone walls of this extensive and impressive grotto.
"Freedom of speech
Freedom of worship
Freedom from want
Freedom from fear."
"The only limit to our realization of tomorrow
Will be our doubts of today
Let us move forward with strong and active faith."
"Unless the peace that follows recognizes
That the whole world is one neighborhood
And does justice to the whole human race
The germs of another world war will
Remain as a constant threat to mankind."
"More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars."
"We have faith that future generations will know that here, in the middle of the twentieth century, there came a time when men of good will found a way to unite, and produce, and fight to destroy the forces of ignorance, and intolerance, and slavery, and war."
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."
"Man and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance the lives of men."
Thursday, May 29, 2009
New York, NY
The experience of being in New York City always exceeds expectations. There have been those who have moaned, as it has been evident since Mayor Giuliani's administration that the area around Times Square has been cleared of drug dealing, prostitution, and seedy XXX stores and theaters. These nostalgic folks must have liked that these underground activities were so out in the open and tacitly accepted by a free society.
Have to say though, this vital and centrally located entertainment and business district is much better for the clean up. Perversions are certainly easy to find for those people who have a need to facilitate this aspect of themselves, and regardless of how you feel about big commercial stores, now this place is more welcoming for everybody. In fact, the entire city feels safer and more inviting.
Bryant Park is an excellent spot just east of Times Square. There are racks of books and newspapers put out every morning by the parks department for visitors to read for free on the comfortable tables and chairs under the sycamores. That's good city living! Adjacent to Bryant Park is the New York Public Library with a spectacular reading room.
Tash & Justina of The Gyronauts joined us onstage at Terminal 5 for the song "Jolene.". They are experts with hula-hoops and the audience enjoyed the spectacle very much.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
This is our first time performing in Hartford. The Webster Theater is in a neighborhood outside of downtown and looks like it gets a heaping helping of punk rock and heavy metal shows regularly.
We are planning a drive to New York City after the show tonight. Skipping a hotel room and hanging with the tour bus before the soundcheck while getting some reading in seems like a pretty good idea. Several of us have read Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel "The Road." The story is a post-apocalyptic one, centered on a father and son constantly on the move and surviving day to day amidst famine and the constant threat of cannibals. Perfect tour reading!
There is undoubtedly an interesting story of how the sandwiches here have been dubbed "grinders." Some cities have their subs, others their heroes or hoagies, and Hartford definitely has its share of grinders. Shoulda coulda had a giant grinder here. Next time.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Lowell, Massachusetts is where the OTHER American Revolution occurred...the Industrial Revolution. Eli Whitney's cotton gin (short for engine) was utilized in a fully realized factory form in the mills here. Water power from the Pawtucket(Native American word meaning falling water) and the Concord River ran the mills. Lowell has also been called the "Venice of the Northeast" for its extensive network of canals.
The large brick mills are now museums or have been converted to luxury apartments. Long ago, the Massachusetts Mills company moved their cotton production to Georgia where it was cheaper to produce textiles because of the proximity to cotton fields, lower wages, and less government taxing and regulation.
A major textile museum and The New England Quilt Museum celebrate the past here, the latter hosting the annual Lowell Quilt Festival. There is a Jack Kerouac Commemorative on the site where the original Massachusetts Mills once stood. Kerouac (born 1922) had a self-described beautiful childhood roaming the fields and riverbanks of Lowell MA, and taking evening strolls in the summer with his mother and aunt while listening attentively to their gossip.
Thanks to Ray Robinson's Sandwich shoppe for the friendly service and great food!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Kansas City, MO
This was a good week. A milestone was bringing three new songs to the stage that we've been painstakingly working on at the studio in Sacramento. To present the new music to audiences is another rite of passage for us. The songs were well-received and when the album is entirely complete, we will once again be moving forward to a new chapter of touring and performing. It is a reorientation to a lifestyle we know well, and we will be entering it again with a further evolved perspective on this unique experience.
It was good to be back in Kansas City. The venue, Crossroads, is in a neighborhood on 18th Street, not far from the legendary African-American community centered around 18th and Vine. Jazz greats, Charlie Parker, Count Basie, and Lester Young are some of the many influential artists who came out of that 1930's powerhouse of a music scene.
Time to go home, get back to work on the album, and gear up for a short tour later this month to New York, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
Thank-you to everyone who attended our concerts this week. We appreciate you.
Friday, May 1, 2009
When it rains in Arkansas, it really rains!!
Buckets and buckets of water came down this afternoon here in the Ozark mountains. An incredibly large volume of water at an impossibly consistent rate fell for an improbable amount of time. According to locals, a method of determining when the deluge will let up, is to look to the western horizon for a hint of sunlight.
Later, just after soundcheck, there are tornado warnings at the Arkansas Music Pavillion! The staff had never heard the siren warnings here before, and people begin scrambling for their cars to race for the cover of the large shopping mall nearby. We are told by our stage manager, Bobby Mack, that the safest place for us would be in our bunks in case the glass windows blow out in the front room of this bus we are on. The winds eventually subsided and everything was on schedule for the evening of music.
While sheet after sheet of precipitation are not ideal conditions for an outdoor event of this kind, the new structure of the Arkansas Music Pavillion proves sturdy and adequate as a shelter for all. The intermission of our performance is punctuated by massive thunder claps and the steady clammer of rain cascading to the ground from the gracefully sloped roof of the amphitheater.
The local television news in the morning reported that hail the size of hen eggs fell nearby!
P.S. Razorbacks! Enjoy a meal at Asian Fusion, a new restaurant on MLK and School. The food is great, the decor is pleasant, and the owners are gracious and friendly.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
We took a short walk down Commerce Street, from the hotel to JFK plaza. The monument on the plaza is symbolic of an open tomb. Tall walls are supported above the ground with a vast and welcoming open space inside designed to convey the message that the spirit of this great leader will always be alive and emanating positively from this place.
One block away, Dealy Plaza is the site of the assassination. The 6th floor of the book depository building, where a sniper perched, is now a museum dedicated to the presidency and legacy of JFK. It also chronicles the events of those infamous days beginning with the landing of Air Force One at Love Field on November 22nd, 1962.
Being here, the gravity of what happened during that presidential motorcade through town sinks in. We find ourselves integrating new information into the collection of our own personal experiences of this tragic American experience. We've been witness retroactively only through television, movies, books, and magazines. At this moment we are present in real time at the very spot that previously had only been known to us through the blunt and ubiquitous Zapruder super 8 film.
Staring at the spot near the grassy knoll, where bullets reached the president, is both a goulish and healing experience....a fascination with violence and tragedy, and at the same time a cleansing of the nightmarish images we've found accomodation for within us. We stand in the sunny glare of an average day in downtown Dallas.
Our driver to the the venue here in Dallas happened to work as a body double for the Lee Harvey Oswald character in the CBS special "Marina's Story" starring Helena Bonham Carter as the widow of Oswald. The resemblance is unsettling as we get to know this friendly man.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Enron, AIG, and Halliburton all have big offices here in Houston. Walking the sun saturated and gusty sidewalks of downtown, in the shadows of their huge edifices, it's hard to shake the feeling that these giant companies all teamed up and fleeced the excess wealth off the backs of tax payers and investors. Is it possible that they are all working together as a fraternal network to benefit their wealthy Texan tribe at the expense of the rest of us? A conspiracy of their own comraderie. Business as usual, where one group outfoxes another. As the crown prince of the lone star state, Bush enabled them to do it to us.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
It's humid and warm here. They had pouring rain all day yesterday here in Austin.
It's been awhile since we've been on tour together, and the tone of the group conversation is shaped early on . The topic of discussion centers mostly on the H1N1 virus outbreak. Our stage manager frequently asserts the idea that this flu outbreak is a conspiracy by the pharmaceutical companies who could conceivably unleash this pandemic at an unsuspecting public, then turn around and sell their antidote to our government. It is concluded that nobody could be that evil, but his theories capture our imagination and can't be completely discarded. Later that night, as insurance that we'll be able to complete this one week run of shows, John wears a surgical mask onstage so as not to contract swine flu.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
We were honored to be one of the first bands to play the newly renovated Fox Theater on Telegraph Avenue in downtown Oakland, California. The interior design of the theater, regardless of its hodgepodge of international influences, holds up in comparison to any of the finest theaters we've seen. Something that hasn't been rehabilitated yet, but future pilgrims to the theater can look forward to experiencing, is billowing smoke pouring forth from the cauldrons belonging to the towering pagan statues on either side of the stage.
Although CAKE is best known as a band from Sacramento, Oakland has become a second home for us. Because of this, and the fact that there were undoubtedly people here from Sacramento, this felt like a hometown show. Thank-you, to those in attendance, for your appreciation, enthusiasm and effort you made to be at our concert.
Good luck to the Oakland Fox Theater. Here's to a new chapter, and the making of a remarkable and storied future!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
CAKE and their audience shared a German-themed New Year's Eve in Wisconsin's beloved Milwaukee. Although this city has been inhabited by many immigrants from Poland, Austria, Italy and Ireland, as well as many Jews from Central and Eastern Europe, the greatest number came from Germany. The German influence is the most widespread. Much beer has been manufactured here. Among the famous beers are Pabst, Miller, Blatz, and since 1895, Schlitz has claimed to be the "beer that made Milwaukee famous," and inspired the song, "What Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made a Loser Out of Me)."
Before running off to another gig at a brewhall across town, The Brewhaus Polka Kings performed (It is worth noting that a key figure in the history of this group and architect of its sound, Frank Yankovic, won the first Grammy award for a polka artist in 1986). The Brewhaus Polka Kings, along with their guest vocalist, Bobby Baker, tore through standards such as: "Those Were the Days(My Friend), "Caberet", "Edelweis," "Valdery, Valdera," and Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Let's not forget the excellent tune, "In Heaven There is no Beer (That's Why We Drink It Here)." Thank-you Brewhaus Polka Kings. You are truly great.
At the Riverside theater, along the frozen Milwaukee River, Bier Maidens were serving libations in the lobby, and on stage Amy Ammen and her charming canine friends were in sublime rapport; Amy's dogs dazzling the crowd with their feats of agility and obedience.
Sacramento's music duo, Agent Ribbons, sparkling in purple, orange, and gold satin dresses, slayed the audience as usual with their own kinetic and poetic style of rock and roll. It is an honor to spend this New Year's with them.
Being in attendance on this New Year's Eve you would have witnessed the world famous Racing Sausages racing through the theater as Wagner's "Flight of the Valkyries" accompanied each oversized and ethnically stereotyped wiener's quest for first place. If you are not a Brewers fan from Milwaukee but you watch the news, you may remember an incident where Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Randall Simon hit one of the sausage mascots with his bat during a game. Simon took a half swing at the Italian sausage character, hitting her from behind and causing her to tumble. When she fell, she knocked over the woman dressed as the hot dog.
Midnight arrived, and after we reminisced with CAKE's rendition of "Auld Lang Syne," then ran through a few more songs, we gave Elvis (impersonator Shawn Sharp) the stage. Aside from his ability to effectively impersonate Elvis, Shawn has an absolutely great voice. He delivered powerful and effective versions of "My Way" and "America the Beautiful" to an audience that hadn't anticipated this performance at all. He cast the spell on them.
At the Potawatomi Bingo Casino, January 5th-8th. Shawn Sharp will compete in Tribute to the King/2009. Good luck Shawn. You deserve the title.
Happy New Year everyone! We sincerely wish you the best, and we hope 2009 is your year.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Because of the great number of wildfires, the summer of 2008 was a rough one for California firefighters. We are grateful for their hard work and sacrifice. Recently, Volunteer Company 61 of Butte county asked if CAKE would perform a benefit concert to help raise funds for a badly needed emergency response vehicle. We gladly obliged at the Oroville Municipal Auditorium on October 18th, 2008. CAKE made a video documentation of this event.
Friday, October 10, 2008
San Francisco, CA
CAKE supports Proposition H, the San Francisco Clean Energy Act. We performed in support of its campaign at The Independent in San Francisco on October 15th, 2008. Sonoma county resident Hans Bruhner was there, and at his blogspot he provides an excellent firsthand account of his experience at the pre-party and concert.
Friday, October 3, 2008
The Colby College Museum of Art features some great art by Alex Katz, and this distinguished liberal arts college, in Waterville Maine, is arguably the birthplace of the popular drinking game, Beer Die.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
They don't call Baltimore "Charm City" for nothing. History is important here, as many national legends originated from this place.
For instance, at the "Flag House," Mary Pickersgill sewed the Star-Spangled Banner in the summer of 1813. Assisted by her daughter, her three nieces, and two African American servants both free and slave, they cut, pieced, and sewed the large flag in six weeks. The flag flew over Baltimore's Fort Mc Henry for a year before the British bombardment on September 13 and 14, 1814. The sight of the large garrison flag flying over Fort McHenry after the 25-hour bombardment inspired Francis Scott Key to write the poem which became the National Anthem.
The "Phoenix Shot tower" is another example of history being a visible part of daily life in Baltimore. Centrally located in downtown, it is a 215 foot tall structure resembling a smoke stack, and built with more than one million bricks. Shot pellets used as ammunition for muskets were produced by pouring molten lead through perforated pans at "dropping stations" high up in the tower. The swift passage of the lead droplets down the shaft rounded the pellets into shot. The "quenching tank" of water at the bottom cooled and solidified them. Despite technological improvements, the principle of the "drop method" is still applied in the production of small shot.
Nearby, at St. Vincent de Paul, North America's first Catholic church, in addition to offering many other services for people suffering from the effects of poverty, they allow homeless citizens to camp in their adjacent park.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Sayreville is named after James R. Sayre, Jr. of Newark, co-owner of Sayre & Fisher Brick Company that once flourished here. Extensive clay deposits supported the brick industry from the early 1800s until 1970. Company representatives in 1950 had estimated that a total of 6,250,000,000 bricks had been produced since the founding of the company.
At one time the Raritan River Railroad passed though Sayreville and had several spurs to service Sayre & Fisher and other local industries. Featured in a 1914 episode titled "The Juggernaut" of the silent movie series "The Perils of Pauline," the railroad got a brief taste of stardom.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The British took command of this Dutch settled city in 1674 and proceeded to build large European style churches and government buildings here.
At the modern Empire State Plaza, the New York State Cultural Museum has an exhibit devoted to the tragedy of 9/11. A piece of the landing gear of a Boeing 767 that hit one of the towers is displayed here. The piece includes the brake, a wheel, and a portion of a tire. Two pieces of landing gear were recovered from the streets of New York shorty after the attack. One was located on the corner of Rector and West Street, the other was recovered on Park Place. Seeing the shredded and muddy rubber of the tire provides a chilling nearness to the events of that day.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
We were greeted on a rainy morning in Rochester, NY, by Paul, the promoter. He is native to Rochester and grew up with Lou Gramm, the singer and songwriter of the band Foreigner. At age 19, Paul went on tour with Foreigner and enjoyed the opulent life of bigtime 70's rock. Flash forward to the year 2000, and Paul has invested a lot of money into getting an enormous castle-like fortress from 1905 up to code. This brick building once functioned as an Armory, and we're playing here tonight.
Aside from Lou Gramm, Bausch and Lomb, Susan B. Anthony, actors Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Taye Diggs, rapper Genuwine, the founder of Kodak; George Eastman, the introducers of the first plain paper photocopier; Xerox, and Jazz singer Cab Calloway are all from Rochester.
Scientists of the paranormal have been asking questions of the entities that may still spiritually inhabit the spectacular old brick buildings here. We heard these scientists did indeed have contact with a certain spirit who worked as a nurse and was having an affair with a dentist in their building. Ooh la la! Wouldn't you know they found a saucy story! Because of all the soldiers dying in the infirmaries at the Main Street Armory, they hope to be searching for the paranormal there next.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
At the border crossing at 3:00 am, returning to the U.S., our bus parked next to a substantial group of young Hassidic Jews going back to New York state. Their tour bus was heading back to Brooklyn after a meeting and celebration in Montreal. The journey probably had something to do with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Some had incredibly long curls on their sideburns. They have the most unique look of just about any group we can think of in North America. In Montreal there is a neighborhood called The Plateau, or Mile End, an old Jewish neighborhood not unlike New York's Lower East Side. In the early 1900s, mass immigration propelled the Jewish community to more than 100,000, setting the foundation for a flourishing Jewish culture.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Set in a beautiful ravine in Southeast Hamilton, Albion Falls once powered Pioneer Mills and was known as "Lover's Leap" after a jilted maiden cast herself over the edge to die on the rocks below.
Early in the nineteenth century, young Jane Riley, disappointed in love with Joseph Rousseau, stood at the top of a steep cliff not far from thundering Albion Falls and flung herself 100 feet to the bottom.
Alas, poor Jane Riley,
for Joseph she did die
By jumping off that dizzy brink
full sixty cubits high.
Joseph's mother said: "Let the blame rest on my shoulders". Some years later, when in apparently good health, she suddenly shrieked: "Jane's hand is on my shoulder," and fell dead on the floor. Jane had evidently taken her at her word.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
After our soundcheck at the venue, Sound Academy, there was a spectacular view of the sunset and Toronto skyline from this location across the waters of Lake Ontario.
The prominent feature of the skyline is the spired CN Tower. The CN Tower, if you include its antenna, is the tallest structure in the world. "Spider Dan" Goodwin, the world's foremost building climber, successfully scaled the 335.3 m (1,100 ft) of windows of the elevator shaft twice in one day, setting a world record on June 26th, 1986.
At the historic and formidable St. Lawrence Market, you may bump into "Toronto Fiddler Ray Sullivan", who has been "Fiddlin' in the City" since 1983 in the subways and the foyer of St. Lawrence Market (in Old Town Toronto they are celebrating over 200 years). In the reverberating entrance to this historic building, he played a tune called "Ashoken Farewell." It is a sad Civil War song that he composed, and he mentioned that it is featured in a Civil War documentary. As he regaled us with the somber and beautiful melody, one could imagine the sonorous narrations of Morgan Freeman.
It was good to be onstage together again, and we introduced a new song called "Hold You" to the set.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
San Francisco, CA
We performed at a gigantic festival in San Francisco's magnificent Golden Gate Park, an area once covered by sand dunes and considered inaccessible and uninhabitable. The "Outside Lands" festival was organized by the same people who have made "Bonnaroo" in Tennessee such a success. Camping is not allowed within San Francisco city limits, but the upside of this location was the ability for concert-goers to arrive and depart via public transportation.
Understandably, there were some glitches in the complicated logistics of this first annual event. One festival-goer named "Yell" wrote to the San Jose Mercury News and described the scene: "Let's talk about how absolutely awful it was trying to LEAVE the polo fields when Radiohead ended. We stood at a complete standstill for about 45 minutes before making it to the fence, and we were able to avoid jumping the fence like so many others. We thought we were in the clear, until A HIVE OF BEES attacked those of us leaving the fields. BEES, people. With stingers. I was stung no less than six times, once in my hand." Yell
Sunday, June 8, 2008
We performed "in the round" at the floor of an inverted pyramidal shaped lawn at the Denver Botanical Gardens. It was both challenging and interesting to be surrounded in this way. It made the encore ritual a most awkward affair to navigate. How to be coy, with no easy backstage escape, under 360 degrees of watchful eyes was an undeniable challenge to grace.
We saw the truly great playing of jazz trumpeter Greg Gisbert later that night at El Chapultepec, Denver's oldest jazz club, at the corner of 20th and Market. Greg has been an integral member of many of the finest big bands of the modern era, has several critically acclaimed solo albums, and plays with the phenomenal group Convergence.
A special shout out to the late and great Bob Luly, a very talented guy who we used to see at our shows when we were in Colorado. His pioneering accomplishments in the fields of audio technology and satellite antennae technology were brilliant and a substantial part of history.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
The Chautauqua Playhouse in Boulder is one of a kind. The Chautauqua movement started in upstate New York in 1874. There are 12 around the country. President Teddy Roosevelt descibed the Chautauqua movement as "The Most American Thing in America." It's the nation's first mass educational and cultural movement. During the Chautauqua movement(1874-1930), troupes of educators and entertainers traveled the country, bringing educational, cultural, and recreational programs to people in non-urban areas throughout America. These "Circuit Chataquas" visited more than 10,000 towns. In addition over 400 locations in the country held an annual summer chat assembly. These assembies exposed people to prominent speakers, educators, artists, and entertainers at a time when less than two percent of adults held high school degrees.
The Colorado Chautauqua in Boulder was established in 1898, and remains the only continuously operating Chautauqua west of the Missississippi.
Friday, June 6, 2008
There was a tornado two hours ahead of us on the road from Grand Rapids to Lawrence, where we were due to perform at the Wakarusa festival at Clinton State Park. Our bus driver, Mike, was an excellent pilot, and surely would have pulled over if our safety was uncertain. In the early morning hours, he saw three overturned trucks on the road! One was completely upside down, and one was on its side with its top torn off. The third had an enormous truck stop sign resting on it.
It was amazingly clear weather in the later morning, as we continued across the prairie to our destination.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Grand Rapids, MI
The day of our show in Grand Rapids, the 5 millionth customer walked through the gates of the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park where we were due to perform at the amphitheater that evening. The park, described as "a national treasure" by President Jimmy Carter, is second only to Greenfield Village as Michigan's busiest tourist destination. It was made possible by the support of Frederick and Lena Meijer. Fred's father Hendrik, a Dutch immigrant, founded Meijer's Grocery in Greenville, Michigan in 1934. Hendrik was a local barber who decided to enter the grocery business when hard times came during the Great Depression. His first employees included his son, Frederik Meijer, then a 14-year-old grocery bagger, who would later become the chairman of the company. Meijer is credited with pioneering the modern supercenter concept in 1962, and was among the first to offer self-service shopping and shopping carts. Worth noting, their donations to Hurricane Katrina disaster relief included food and bottled water, which arrived on the store's trucks at relief centers in Mississippi before government aid.
We saw many great sculptures here, including ones by Kenneth Snelson, Henry Moore, Alexander Liberman, and Andy Goldsworthy's Grand Rapids Arch. The show-stopper here is a colossal bronze horse based on a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci. This monumental horse sculpture is the completion of a project that was started 500 years ago by da Vinci. There is another one like it standing in Milan, as a gift from the American people, in gratitude for the treasures of the Renaissance.
Thank-you, Bryan, for the great tour.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
If you're a conversationalist, plane flights can be a theater in which to receive other travelers' life stories. We're generally pretty quiet on planes, and assume that our fellow passengers would prefer quiet also, but sometimes a conversation gets started with a person who has a compelling story and it's hard to stop. On the trip to Indiana, we sat next to the proprietor of the Fiddlehead vineyards and wine cellar, whose Pinot Noir is mentioned in the movie "Sideways." During the double dating dinner scene, Miles asks Maya, "What are you drinking?" She says, Fiddlehead Pinot Noir....I know the vintner, she comes in to my work every week." Yes, it's true. We shared a row of seats with the accomplished vintner mentioned in the script.
On the connecting flight to Louisville, there was bad weather and tornado warnings, but a terrific lightning show in the late night clouds.
Xan McCurdy celebrated his birthday on the night of the concert in Elizabeth.
A big thank-you to the audience for singing "Happy Birthday" so well and helping Xan to bring in his next year.
We had a cherry tree to give away, and the winner of the tree was decided by a dance-off to probably the most difficult song to dance to in the world, "Arco Arena." Off the cuff, these things happen, but our two sporting contestants were audaciously bold in the face off this daring challenge.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Although we're not quite in agreement that the word "snarky" would describe our demeanor, we'd like to direct you to Globe Correspondent Jonathan Perry's review of Boston's 15th annual Earthfest.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
We played the 2008 Summer Breeze Music Festival at the University of Chicago with The Cool Kids, Andrew Bird, and Talib Kweli.
Here's to the crowd of dancers stage right during Andrew Bird's set. One of the smaller men started hopping around in the middle of the dance pit with his arms and hands in a bunny position. The larger guys would take his momentum on the down bounce then launch him into the air on his up bounce. He was getting some pretty good air.
There was quite a forceful thunder storm during our set. The lightning was only one and a half miles away. During the a capella melodica breakdown in "Frank Sinatra," an incredible boom startled everyone. We managed to play a set without anyone being electrocuted, and that's just great.
The quiz portion of the evening for the tree give-away was done quickly because of the torrent, so unfortunately we had incorrect statistical facts. The correct information is: The odds of being killed by a shark are one in 280 million. The number of sharks killed annually by humans is 26 million.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Edmonton is in the same province as Calgary(Alberta), and therefore these two major cities have a bit of a rivalry going. An Edmontonian helped us to understand the rivalry more deeply by explaining that it's really just based on hockey.
There is a string of street lights lining the freeway on the way to the airport that strikes absolute awe in it's repetition and simplicity.
The West Edmonton Mall, where you can bungee jump indoors, might be bigger than Minneapolis' Mall of America where 258 Statue of Liberties could lie inside, and its all weather World Waterpark is comparable in scope to the indoor ski slope in Dubai.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Cowtown, The Stampede City, The Heart of the New West. Calgary is experiencing an oil boom. Gasoline prices are now high enough for the refining of oil from their nearby tar fields to be economically feasible. The city struck us as resembling a combination of Denver and Dallas; cowboy town near the Rocky Mountains experiencing massive growth via an oil boom.
Some local stories passed on to us this evening by the audience include grizzly bears that eat magic mushrooms, and a streaker who was knocked unconscious after slipping and hitting his head on the ice at a National Hockey League match.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
We met Paper Lions this evening who will perform with us for all our shows in Canada this week. They are from Prince Edwards Island, (known for being the setting of "Anne of Green Gables"), on the east coast of Canada between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. They are a young group, and play with a creativity and determination well beyond their years. We are honored to have them join us.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Vancouver Island is a very large island. This is something you have to constantly remind yourself of as you are in the quiet city of Victoria, the most well-known city on the island.
Question: What do you call the object that is pushed along the ice towards its target in the sport of curling?
We've been giving away a free tree at every show ever since our first Unlimited Sunshine date last year. Sometimes to win a tree all you have to be is the oldest person in the room, or the mother with the most kids, but most of the time the winner must have the correct answer to a question of historical or cultural significance.
The answer to the above question, as any Victorian would know: a rock.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Through the course of several decades, many residents of Seattle have seen the amazing tranformation here from fishing village to notable metropolis.
In addition to all the other great things about Seattle, another place of value is the Frye Museum located in the neighborhood known as "first hill". Charles and Emma Frye, well known citizens, left a legacy of generosity to anyone who appreciates the visual arts. They decided to share their collection of 232 european paintings to the public. Admission and parking are free.
There is a bizarre story about how the initial capital for the museum was generated. Charles Frye had made his fortune in the meat packing business. After Frye's death, his friend and business partner Walser Greathouse helped get the museum started. Somewhere around this time, in the 40's, a test flight of a plane being developed for World War 2 crashed into the meatpacking plant. Tragically, an expert pilot died, but the money from the settlement helped Walser Greathouse create the original financing for the museum.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
With a giant round table, pyramidal translucent ceiling, and Star Trek enterprise styled sofa chairs surrounding the periphery of this conference room, it could be imagined that we were stationed within Dr. Evil's headquarters on this upper floor of the Middlebury College hockey rink on this breezy moonlit evening in Vermont.
Burlington, situated on the shore of Lake Champlain is nearby. One of the more enduring mysteries surrounding Lake Champlain is the legend of Champ, purportedly a giant aquatic animal that makes the lake its home. Sightings have been sporadic over time.
Aside from whimsical legends of mythical creatures and the easy modern popular culture associations such as Ben and Jerry's or Phish, there is a significant history which has most likely had an influence on the people and land of Vermont leading up to the present day.
Vermont declared itself an independent nation in January, 1777. The army of the Vermont Republic was based on Ethan and Ian Allen's Green Mountain Boys, the basis of the Vermont militia. Although Vermont initially supported the American Revolutionary War and sent troops to fight the British invasion from Canada, Vermont eventually adopted a more neutral stance and became a haven for deserters from both the British and colonial armies. Vermont, of course, did eventually join the United States as the 14th state in 1791.
During its years of independence, Vermont deflected land claims from the British colonies of New Hampshire and New York. "The Song of the Vermonters," is a ballad that describes this period of time.
Hoall to the borders! Vermonters, come down,
With your breeches of deerskin and jackets of brown;
With your red woollen caps and your moccasins come,
To the gathering summons of trumpet and drum.
What seek they among us?
The pride of our wealth
Is comfort, contentment, and labor, and health,
And lands which, as Freemen we only have trod,
Independent of all, save the mercies of God.
Yet we owe no allegiance, we bow to no throne,
Our ruler is law and the law is our own;
Our leaders themselves are our own fellow-men,
Who can handle the sword, or the scythe, or the pen.
Come York or come Hampshire, come traitors or knaves,
If ye rule o'er our land ye shall rule o'er our graves;
Our vow is recordedour banner unfurled,
In the name of Vermont we defy all the world!
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The balmy weather combined with thunder, lightening, and a heavy downpour assured us that we had traveled far from the west coast. We didn't see Old Georgetown during our visit, but you can see it here. With just a little research before departing for Texas, we would have realized that an hour exploring this vintage architecture would have been a pleasure. Another place we didn't see was the Innerspace Cavern. The cave was discovered by the Texas Highway Department in 1963 during the construction of Interstate 35.
We did have the luck to enjoy the hospitality of a conference room on campus, prior to our show at Southwestern University. There, it was discovered that an audio-visual system existed, in addition to a large-size pull-down projection screen. Gabriel Nelson had brought with him a DVD of The Midnight Special, a weekly musical television series that aired during the 1970's and early 1980's on NBC. The program featured over 1,200 performers during its run. Some notable guest stars and hosts included Peter Frampton, Aerosmith, Elton John, Ray Charles, James Brown, Rod Stewart, AC/DC, Tina Turner, Barry Manilow, Steve Martin, Marvin Gaye, Billy Joel, Rick James, Aretha Franklin, David Bowie, Billy Crystal, Beach Boys, Diana Ross, B.B King, Kiss, Gordon Lightfoot, Andy Kaufman, Doobie Brothers, Richard Pryor, The Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Wolfman Jack, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Cars, Eddie Money, Blondie, Jim Croce, The Spinners, Dolly Parton, and Fleetwood Mac.
The show was noted for featuring musical acts performing live, which was unique since most television appearances during the era showed performers lip-synching to prerecorded music.
Monday, December 31, 2007
San Francisco, CA
We rung in the new year at The Warfield Theater in San Francisco, one of the city's last surviving vaudeville houses. At midnight, after Satan counted down from 10 on a giant brass gong and the band led everyone through a singing of Auld Lang Syne, two Chinese dragons, symbolizing power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity, floated through the audience. From the stage, Taiko drummers imitated the sound of thunder, driving away evil spirits. Good tidings in the new year, CAKE.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Santa Cruz, CA
Santa Cruz is a California town that combines the Southern Californian beach life with time honored Northern Californian eccentricities. This city was also extremely close to the epicenter of the quake of '89, Loma Prieta. Three deaths occurred when brick storefronts and sidewalls in the historic downtown tumbled down on people exiting the buildings. Modern downtown Santa Cruz was effectively rebuilt from scratch, much as San Francisco was rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake.
The Lovemakers joined us for this show. Check out their video at youtube for the song "Save Me."
Wednesday & Thursday , December 12&13, 2007
New York, NY
It is with heavy heart that we leave this Unlimited Sunshine tour. Thank-you Oakley Hall, thank-you Detroit Cobras, thank-you Brazilian Girls, thank-you Agent Ribbons, and thank-you King City. We will miss you.
P.S. If you ever have the chance, visit the Lower East Side Tenement Museum at 90 Orchard Street.
Have a happy new year.
Monday, December 10, 2007
It's a thrill to be performing at 1776 D street at Constitution Hall with the Washington Monument right outside.
We took a quick tour of the World War II memorial, the Viet Nam War Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial where the following words are inscribed on the wall:
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain- that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."
November 19, 1863.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
The canal walk in Richmond is something a visitor has to see. George Washington was the first to envision the canals as part of a continuous transportation route from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. The canal system eventually extended as far west as Buchanan, Virginia, but it was the railroads that finally fulfilled Washington's dream.
Belle Isle is a great destination for a walk. As you cross the pedestrian suspension bridge above the James River, there is an open space. At different times this field once held a Powhattan Indian fishing village, a Colonial era horse race track, small farms, a Civil War prison, a 19th century iron plant, a rail line, and a 20th century steel plant. Signs of the prison and factories remain today.
Here also, there is an historic site of great suffering as well. During the Civil War over 50,000 northern enlisted men passed through this six acre open air prison. Without much shelter, food, or sanitation they died by the hundreds in squalor and misery. Inconceivable today, it was unofficial policy on both sides then to make prisoners too weak to rebel....or fight again.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
We witnessed first hand the phenomenon of the audience dancing on-stage with the Brazilian Girls. Sabina often invites the crowd up at the end of the set to celebrate with her and the band. Not something you see everyday. No keyboards were hurt in the making of this moment.
Friday, December 7, 2007
This Unlimited Sunshine Tour has been a great success. All bands have been well-received by the audiences and many friendships have been made backstage. If you've been to the show, thanks for coming. We hope you had a good time.
It is always a pleasure to play at a venue of such historic significance as the Orpheum Theater in Boston. It began as the Music Hall in 1852 and served as the original home of the New England Conservatory (Tchaikovsky's first piano concerto debuted here in 1882, as did the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1881).
In 1915 they started playing silent movies here. There is a display case inside showing some of the films from this era that were shown there...such as a silent versions of "Carmen", and some Russian silents like "Potemkin."
Thursday, December 6, 2007
This was an earlier show this evening, so a lot of us on the tour went out after the show to a place near The Strand Theater called Tazza's where we heard a local band play. The female vocalist sang in the style of Indian sub-continent music, while accompanied by guitar, drums, bass, tabla, and pedal steel guitar.
There is a diner near the hotel serving breakfast, and everyone there has a thick Rhode Island accent. It always feels good to be at a spot like this that has such a sense of place. There is nowhere else in the world this diner could be other than right here in Providence.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
First snow of the year in Portland, Maine. It's pretty cold here. The trees have lights on them downtown, and it is chilly but with a cozy character to the town. Beautiful Merrill Auditorium is attached to City Hall and has the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, which at one time was the fourth largest pipe organ in the world.
Oakley Hall is sounding just like you wish a rock band would sound. Great vocals with harmony, tight ensemble playing with unexpected rhythm changes, knowing what sounds good about electricity through a guitar, and having a style all their own even though you know they know what was good about what came before them. They say check out Spacegallery some time.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Not an Unlimited Sunshine date, but still a very memorable show here in Stumptown. During the show we gave a Gala apple tree away to David Stevenson after he agreed to plant the tree on his parent's land as opposed to keeping it on his balcony.
There was a huge storm that hit the Oregon Coast especially hard yesterday. Hurricane force winds and heavy rain battered the state for two days in a row, killing at least two people and leaving entire communities dark and isolated as the storm blocked roads with trees, power lines, high water and mud.
Sunday, December 1, 2007
Tonight's concert venue is a large auditorium with modern character standing alone adjacent to the parking lot of Anaheim's Angel stadium. Overall the structure resembles the Paramount Studios in Hollywood, and it was built for the purposes of an Academy Awards fantasy dinner theater. Orange county was the fertile ground for "Medieval Nights", an exploration into the world of middle ages banquet dining (think very large turkey leg) accompanied by a jousting tournament. Building on the success of "Medieval Nights" someone created "Tinseltown." Here, guests would pretend they were attending an Academy Awards event, walking a red carpet with photographers flashing bulbs. Inside the ceremony would include awarding selected guests with the Oscar trophy. The concept didn't have a consistent enough clientele, therefore it exists now as a glamorous concert destination.
We gave away a Sago Palm this evening to an Orange County resident. We hope this tree brings it's caretaker good luck.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Los Angeles, CA
If you are ever in downtown Los Angeles, make a visit to The Original Pantry at 9th and Figuerora. Through a door which has no key, you'll enter a cafe that has never closed since 1924. They are never without a customer. Expect to wait for a table, as there were already 50 patrons lined up on the sidewalk at 8:00 in the morning for breakfast. More than 2,400 eggs are used every 24 hours here, and more than 3,000 hogs are required to supply the pork used at the Pantry annually. Through many long years the Pantry has endured as a staple of Los Angeles' diverse culture and style.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
San Diego, CA
There were many introductions to be made, on this the first night of the Unlimited Sunshine Tour, as the bands met for the first time. This is a deep line-up, and the first night brought strong performances from all the bands: Agent Ribbons, Oakley Hall, King City, Detroit Cobras, and CAKE. It is a true pleasure to be a part of this experience.
We had our first tree giveaway this evening. Gentleman Zach from Vista CA demontrated a superior knowledge of the Fuerte Avocado sharing the stage with us, therefore he is now the honorably appointed caretaker. Zach's home of Northern San Diego County is known as the avocado capitol of the world, and we know Zac will enjoy his young tree.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Monterey, California. You might know this coastal central California city for Cannery Row, John Steinbeck, nearby Pebble Beach, or their world class aquarium. Neighboring city, Castroville, is the world's foremost supplier of artichokes. What's more, it was here that Jimi Hendrix set his guitar ablaze during the 1967 Monterey Pop festival. As a matter of fact, we performed on that very stage as part of the first annual Music Summit festival. Bassist Gabriel Nelson maintains a belief that he could perceive the faint impression of woodburns from the voodoo fire, indelibly marked on the timber, in front of his bass cabinet.
What is really fascinating about this place, that the modern citizen might not know, is that for some time it was the only port on the North American west coast, other than Sitka, Alaska and San Diego, California. The customs house, where all incoming shipments were taxed, is the oldest state building and #1 on the register of state historic landmarks.
The idea of manifest destiny, gave the United States enough of a sense of entitlement to wrestle control of Mexico's Alta California to take for their own. Over the course of just a handful of generations, we are brought to this current time. From Native Americans, to Spanish Missionaries, to Mexico, to U.S., to scuba diving and the PGA tour. Just like that. Blink of an eye. Teletransportation can't be far off.
Don't forget to think of the Franciscan monks of Monterey next time you select Jack cheese for your sandwich.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Santa Fe, NM
In Santa Fe, on the grounds of the Indian School, there is another unique amphitheater. Unlike Red Rocks, where the fascination is derived from nature, this facility is man-made. Originally, this space was built as an experiment in ecologically minded urban living. When the project had to stop because of code violations, someone had the good idea to build amphitheater seats into one side of the deep excavation. The first impression is that you are on the production sets of "The Planet of the Apes", or "Logan's Run."
The architect, Paulo Soleri, coined the term "arcology" as shorthand for "architecture for ecology". The concept of this particular structure can be likened to a "city-as-a-hill," in that it would have functioned as a multi-directional megastructure with life flourishing on its surface for aesthetics and urban agriculture. The living space is basically underground. There are sidewalks that take you downhill to the center, and it is apparent that the walls and top could be used for growing things. It also looks like rainwater and sun would be used as wisely as possible. Holy moly, the mirrored ball looked great here.
It had been a long time since we had been to New Mexico. Too bad, because the people, culture, food, and landscape are unlike any other in the country. Hearty thanks to a great audience.
Friday, September 14, 2007
During the Jurassic Period, the Red Rocks area, in what is now metro Denver, was lush with tropical vegetation. Over the eons, mountains emerged, waters receded, and the dinosaurs disappeared. The dinosaurs left bones and footprints, and so it happened that this was one of the first localities west of the Mississippi to yield dinosaur bones in abundance.
Native Americans also camped, hunted, prayed, and celebrated here. They left behind their tools and buried their dead in the deep crevices between layers of stone. When Euro-Americans first visited the area, the Utes were using Red Rocks as a special place. The Utes may well have used Red Rocks for their summer Bear Dance, which they stage to this day. Grizzlies, according to the creation myths, were the reigning animals on earth, sent by the Great Spirit to keep order. Bear Dances were originally held on the first day of spring to celebrate bears coming out of hibernation.
By the late 1930's this natural amphitheater took shape as a modern performance space, with staircases and seating. During construction, workers tested the acoustics by spinning a coin on the stage and listening at the top of the amphitheater to hear its fall. Later, boosters would insist that listeners sitting in the back row of the rock-walled amphitheater could hear whispers uttered on stage.
To really appreciate Red Rocks Amphitheatre you need to be there or at least see a good photo. We are grateful for this second opportunity to perform here. To the organizers of the 2007 Monolith Festival and all those present, we thank-you very much.
*Special thanks to Thomas J. Noel, for his writing and research in,"Sacred Stones: Colorado's Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre."
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The population in Aspen around 1880 was actually triple of what it is now. When the United States government de-standardized silver, Aspen felt the economic impact in a big way, as this was a major mining town. They have obviously bounced back. Some citizens here even consider this to be the center of the universe.
The late composer, musician, friend, father, son, and brother, John Denver, has a sanctuary down by the river just on the outskirts of downtown. It is a pleasant amphitheater shaped meadow with several seven foot tall half dome granite boulders that have entire song lyrics engraved on them. A Stonehenge of popular songs.
We took the 72 up and out of town the morning after the show. We stopped to admire "The Grottos" along the way, a chain of waterfalls with interesting rock formations and swimming holes. Once out of the valleys, we took in the Continental Divide at Independence Pass. At 10,000 feet up, in Leadville, we almost stopped for ten frames of bowling at Kristi Lanes, but we imagined physical exertion at that altitude would be too exhausting.
If you are interested in living in Aspen, you should consider that the supply of real estate is limited and demand is just getting greater, so you'd better jump on it. The Prince of Saudi Arabia's house is listed for only 155 million dollars. Better hurry.
Aspen might be worth visiting, if only just to see and touch the 8 foot tall grizzly sculpture on the pedestrian mall. It is made entirely from nails...and feels like it!
Friday, August 17, 2007
Del Mar, CA
We performed in the Plaza de Mexico, rather than the infield where we have in the past, at Del Mar's horse racing track. The production company built today's stage in front of the main entrance's mission style tower. It was a very fine place for music. At concert time the ornate plaza was packed with all ages from 8 to 80 on this coastal Southern California August evening.
Our dressing room was a trailer in the parking lot immediately adjacent to the stage, which meant the usual Cushman transport was not an option this time. In the past we have embarassingly enjoyed the commute on this maintenance cart to the previous location of the stage on the infield of the racetrack. The feeling of being on a Cushman vehicle is satisfying, for the simple reason that there are so many moments in one's life (airport, high school campus) when the envy is palpably felt of wanting to get a lift on one of these trucksters. In professional sports, an athlete must be severely injured in order to enjoy this form of transport off the field as he is warmly cheered by the crowd.
Del Mar is the place "where the surf meets the turf" according to the song written by co-founder Bing Crosby, a resort where he and his fellow Hollywood elite came down to enjoy the cool ocean breezes in August. The elite of the entertainment world came to see the elite of the horse racing world, as top jockeys John Longden and later Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay Jr. called it home. As well, the great Seabiscuit defeated his stablemate Ligaroti in a match race at Del Mar.
From December 1941 to July 1945, World War II forced the shutdown of racing in California, which made for a convenient point for dividing the first two eras of Del Mar. The post-war period was when Del Mar truly flourished as the place to see and be seen in the racing world.
Even if you're not a betting person, the incredible feeling can not be denied of watching the genetically endowed horses straining to keep their speed around the turn, and you are sensing the almost surreal swell of excitement and swarm of volume coming from the cheering spectators in the grandstands as the horses are coming into sight towards the straightaway.
In the van on the way back to the hotel, we rehashed all the jokes we had learned over the last couple of years. Chris Bailey, our tour manager, is a master joke teller, with a delivery as good as the punchline itself. In more serious matters, Chris recommends the great Science Fiction novel Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
The view from the plane on the way up to Anchorage is excellent. It's easy to forget there are so many islands off the west coast of Canada that are actually Alaskan. This region is known as the Inside Passage. The greenness of this view gradually changes to steep coastal cliffs and glacier-filled valleys flowing into the Gulf of Alaska. Mountain peaks dramatically jut through the thick layer of clouds. As the plane approaches the airport, we see that we lucked out with a rare sunny day in Anchorage. Flying into the airport, the mountains around the city appear similar to a lush Polynesian landscape. In the airport terminal the visitor is greeted with a mini natural history museum of taxidermy: polar bears, geese, linx, wolves, brown bears, owl, trumpeter swan, and mountain goat. Other celebrated animals of Alaska are the bald eagle, sea and river otters, puffin, moose, caribou, salmon, the humpback whale, and the prehistoric musk ox. The day after we arrived, Dan Fiacco, owner of The Moose's Tooth (where we'll have our concert), set us up with a great tourism experience, to take a helicopter ride up to a glacier where we would do some dogsled mushing. No amount of reluctance would have kept us from this opportunity for adventure. Even the newspaper clipping from just two weeks ago about a sightseeing plane crashing in mountainous terrain and killing everyone aboard was not the slightest deterrent. The flight was brief, just up and out of the lower valley, through a mountain pass, and down onto the glacier which was 100 feet of snow on top of 1000 feet of ice. It's important to mention that the helicopter pilot mentioned that these glaciers are in "catastrophic decline. The focus of the excursion was really the sled dogs, with the chopper ride as a short commute to this Iditerod training camp for a man named Dario Martinez and his crew. Dario is Italian born, German raised, and a true Alaskan for 20 years ever since he first arrived on vacation here. He lives night and day on the glacier with the dogs for 3 and 1/2 months of the year. Although the chopper flight is available, Dario says he sometimes takes the five and a half hours to hike down, which includes a considerable glacier ledge that requires crampons to descend. At night, the dogs are let off their chains, and they chase a snowmobile around the glacier. There were about 60 mixed breed huskies at the camp, and we had a turn to ride about a mile loop under dog power, helping Dario with the brakes on the downhill sections. The dogs love to run, and as the dogs could overheat in the summer weather, slowing them down is more of the emphasis than speeding them up. While we were visiting, the dogs that were not in harnesses for the sled all were chained to poles at their dogloos. Instead of pulling at the chain, some of the dogs run in circles, creating a well-banked perfectly circular racing track over time. During times of heavy running, these slender dogs will consume 12,000 calories in one day of commercial dog food, beef, lamb, and salmon, while very willingly running up to 125 miles. Agile and slim they are bred to be more like marathoners as opposed to the bulkier dogs used for shorter distances and heavier loads. The huskies are bred with Greyhounds, Border Collies, and some other breed choices that are surprising but make sense after meeting the dogs. The annual Iditerod race keeps alive the great tradition of dog-powered transport. Iditerod means distant place in Athabaskan, a native language of Alaska. Iditerod was a mining district in the Alaskan interior. If you were travelling there, you'd call your route the Iditerod. While we were waiting for the first half of our group to take their turn being pulled behind the dogs, some of us took a snowmobile ride up the glacier to an even more picturesque view of the mountain range, blue jagged glaciers, and the valley below. If it looked a little like Maui flying in on the sunny day to Anchorage, up here it looks like the landscapes from the Lord of the Rings films. The show at Moose's Tooth was a great time, and we'll never forget the reception we received. Thank-you people of Anchorage, Dan, Dario, and Ken the Shaman. The security backstage was excellent in its respectfulness and organization.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Sean Penn directed Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild" outside of Fairbanks recently. It's the story of Christopher Mc Candless, a fun-loving and virtuous young man who ventured to Alaska to live off the land, perishing in the process. Adam Wool, owner of the Blue Loon where we will be performing, says they might be considering having the world premier at his establishment, as The Blue Loon has a substantial screen and regularly shows current feature films.
In 2003, the parking lot of the hotel we stayed was the starting line for the Iditerod 1,049 mile dog race. Pike's is an easy and satisfying place for all types of tourists, and it is obvious right away that this is the place of choice for many of the big tour companies. Overheard this snippet of conversation from a senior citizen New Yorker woman: "And you can enjoy your bagels and lox here, real lox, fresh Alaskan lox."
Pike's also features an ice bridge crossing here. It is a boat ramp in the summer, and in winter, when the temperatures in Fairbanks can regularly and easily range to -50F degrees below zero, cars and trucks use the frozen hard and thick river as an extensive crossing. At least once a year, someone attempts the crossing too late in the winter, and their car becomes stuck in broken ice.
At 11:22 p.m. ...still light outside. 11:52p.m., ...still light.
The Blue Loon is along the main highway to Anchorage, but seemed it was in the boonies along a dirt road. This illusion of reclusivity is because the highway is undergoing complete reconstruction by the department of transportation.
Back in the day, Fairbanks didn't have enough pull to get many nationally known musical groups. Some big concerts to come through were Kool & The Gang and, separately, Quarterflash. The Howling Dog Saloon was one of the few places to go for a good time. The Howling Dog boasts possession of "The Holy Carpet." In the 1980's Ronald Reagan had his one and only meeting with Pope John Paul. It took place in the rain on the tarmac of the Fairbanks airport, and was the biggest thing since... Kool & The Gang. Somehow the Howling Dog got the red carpet they were standing on. Now it is tacked up on the wall behind the stage.
The show at The Blue Loon in Fairbanks was as about as unique as any we will ever play. The stage was outside at one end of their large quonset hut, with a view beyond the audience of a rustic tree branch fence holding back the woods. The crowd was one of the most honestly happy and enthusiastic that we've seen. They made us glad that we finally made it to this amazing place.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
The lines are long and bulky today at the Stansted airport, and they really don't seem to be moving at all.
We are due to arrive in Istanbul at 8:15pm after a three hour flight and a two hour time difference. We are surprised to experience a separate security examination, immediately after the initial examination, just for shoes. We'll get you Richard Reid!
The last two times we were here to perform, we stayed closer to the center of town where the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque are situated near the banks of the mighty Bosphorus river. Since we were situated with greater proximity to the Masstival Festival this time, we were worried that we would be robbed of a true experience of Istanbul. However, arriving in Istanbul we were relieved to meet Nazli, our guide, who informed us that the hotel was not in the middle of nowhere, but near restaurants and a neighborhood.
We drove into the city past many eye-catching minarets, the towers surrounding the mosques. The sunlight was fading, and an orange sky reminiscent of dusk in Los Angeles hung over the city. It seemed odd to be zooming through town on the expressway, because the memory from last time is entering on worn roads winding around low hills.
We are staying at a Movenpick Hotel, which is Swiss, but they have new hotels all over the world in places like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Cairo. The lobby has an interesting sculpture: a two story column made of roughly hewn clay, with a gigantic orange crescent balancing on top. In the fountain at its base are giant stone tablets giving the impression that they might contain an ancient wisdom or code of laws. Nazli informed us that the sculpture was a Greek motif that comes from Anatolia, the largest geographical area of Turkey where the world famous ceramics and rugs come from. It's amazing to think that the first bridge between Europe(the Istanbul side) and Asia (the Anatolian side) was opened as recently as 1973.
Outside the hotel, as we head into the warm evening, we see an engaging sight of seagulls soaring slowly around the heavily lighted sky above a skyscraper. There are also many Turkish national flags near the mosque next to the hotel. One would think It must be some sort of holiday, because in the distance across the city, fireworks could also be seen. Actually, Nazli informed us the fireworks are probably from a wedding or soccer match, and the flags are in relation to the upcoming elections.
July 22nd will be the election, thus there are many campaign billboards and posters, in addition to rows of many small Turkish national flags along the roadway. These flags say "Saadet Partisi" on them, which means Saadet party, a party associated with religious fundamentalism. Some citizens feel the secular values that the republic was founded on are in jeopardy. You can read about the election results here. The politics of Turkey are complex and intertwined with their turbulent history.
On our first evening, some of us went immediately to a satisfying meal of Turkish food, while some made their way to Masstival to see the incomparable Sinead O'Connor.
The next day, performing at the festival was great. We played well together.
We look forward to returning to this unique and important country soon.
Friday, July 13, 2007
We travelled northeast from London to Suffolk County. On the Henham Park Estate, the Latitude Festival celebrated its second year on a little slice of heaven in Southwold.
Where usually a small flock of sheep would be grazing among the giant sycamores and where in mid-July the meadows have brilliant green grass like early Spring in California, there were cabaret shows, poetry, literature readings, all day stand-up comedy in a large tent with a giant chandelier, a film and music tent that when it wasn't showing a variety of music documentaries was presenting a bizarre mix of both Willy Wonka films edited in with scenes of a determined and sweaty Sigourney Weaver with a flame thrower fighting space aliens while a live improvisational ensemble played along, a special children's area, tarot readings, a speed dating service, and a sculpture tent where one could realize their idealized self-portrait from clay. There was also a circus side show featuring an Elephant man Elvis impersonator and a 365 pound lady.
The multiple music stages and camping areas take up the remaining space, therefore, the resident sheep have been given a reasonable boundary near the lake, their wool dyed yellow, blue, and red in accord with their festive circumstance.
Some say this festival is like its more famous neighbor, Glastonbury, but more compact and much less people. Whatever the case, this festival is top notch.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The IndigO2 theater, where our concert was held, is an almost brand new venue in Greenwich, east of downtown London. Although it is far from the city center, it's possible to get there by underground or ferry. It is a part of the millineum dome project. The review of this show is posted at the top of the band page at cakemusic.com.
On the bus ride out of town the next morning, we noticed a plaque marker affixed to a typical flat type dwelling. The historic marker said Benedict Arnold had lived there until his death. Everyone in the United States is always referring to Benedict Arnold as the infamous traitor during the Revolutionary War, so it seems worthwhile to know the whole story. Without General Arnold's earllier contributions to the American cause, the revolution may well have been lost, so why would this pharmacist and book-seller from New Haven, Connecticut sell the Continental Army down the river to the British forces? Here is his story.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
We had some time off in Utrecht and saw some things before show day.
A museum here shares with visitors the world's oldest reprogrammable automated instrument. It is a carillon, a series of bells that are struck with hammers, from the year 1480. The progress of automated instruments that followed is represented here all the way up to the era of the Orchestrion (also known as Draaiorgels), decorated pipe organs that read by punch cards and include percussion instruments. These camper trailer sized party machines with colorful and thematic carved wood facades were enjoyed at fairgrounds and dance halls, with even larger versions placed in concert halls.
Another notable item, aside from the player piano with an actual automated violin trio built in, is a plush purple carriage for children that was commissioned for a princess. The music is programmed through grooves carved into a long wooden alley that the wheels of the carriage follow. The two sets of bicycle pedals between the facing sofa seats propel the carriage down the lane, causing the levers to activate a xylophone, cowbell, woodblock, and cymbal on a table between the seats.
Just outside of Bunnick, up the canal from Utrecht, is Fort bij Rijnauwen. The Dutch army regularly used the waterways around Holland to defend themselves against French and German forces, and this fort was the next line of defense. Pentagon shaped, with roughly the same diameter as the Pentagon building in Washington D.C., this is an obsolete structure that has become a nature conservation area. Owls, foxes, bats, wild birds, a wide moat with otter, fish, and a variety of insect life, are all protected here. The fort itself is brick and completely covered by tall trees. The last time the government used it for the military was 1885.
During World War II, the German army used the moth-balled fort as an armory. The Nazi army left behind stockpiled explosives as the Canadian Allied Forces came into command. Young Canadian troops who were guarding the cache became bored as their detail dragged on. They alleviated their boredom by detonating some of these explosives in the walls, thereby carving out the only damage done. This recreational destruction was the beginning of the wildlife preserve, as the cracks in the walls became an ideal place for kingfishers and bats to nest.
Returning to the center of town where the clock tower is, we were surprised by what sounded like a combination of noisy rooftop birds, coffee-shop reggae, and bells from the tower. The reality was discerned only after several minutes of observation had passed. It was actually an official performance by a man improvising on the carillon bells of the clock tower to the sounds of his own recorded music which had been amplified through hidden speakers within the tower. People were quietly standing still, listening, and looking up towards the sound, which included many samples of jungle birds squawking and screeching.
This same distinguished clock and bell tower was originally connected to the main cathedral 30 meters away, but a very strong tornado had cut right through and separated them. Now the city governs the tower, and the church the austere but spectacular cathedral.
Regarding local television programming, the comedy central show Reno 911 is popular here. It's amusing to think this hilarious parody is inspired by a town right up the road from our Sacramento base of operations. Just wondering... is there anywhere else in the world that features the Theme from Hawaii 5-0 in a dishwashing detergent commercial?
The show at Tivoli revealed to us even further how gracious the people of this country are. We were hit by a wave of sound as we took the stage, and the energy continued throughout the set.
We hit the road the next day for London, accompanied by a giant papier-mâché head of Satan that a German woman had travelled with by train all the way to the show.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
We rolled into Weert early in the morning, and had a few hours before pick-up for an unusually early show (1:30). It was quiet and empty around town. Every once in a while a dog would bark, pigeons would scuffle, or automobile wheels on gravelly cobblestone would break the silence.
There is a curious sculpture of a long-nosed clown with a crown in the main square. Rogstaekers Monement it says. Aangeboeeje Doeer De Optochtdaelnemers 5-1-86. Explanation anyone? Believe it or not, making the monument more of a mystery, there is a bronze manta-ray incorporated in the memorial's design.
The festival is called Bospop, and is at the Sportpark Boshoven. Just as yesterday in Evreux, the concert site is a large grassy field, which practically always is an interesting place to perform music. There's just something captivating about being amongst the elements.
We arrived early, had koffie with melk and suikersticks, and prepared to perform. It was sunny and warm today, really the first time we'd seen this type of weather so far on this trip.
The crowd was large, and typically very stoic at first. It was the beginning of the day after all, or maybe it was just an honest reaction to us. They warmed up considerably after our first song, and for the remainder of our time we enjoyed winning over a crowd consisting of some who probably did not know the majority of our music before the concert. It was quite a decent show, and during our last song today, Short Skirt, Long Jacket, John managed to get opposite sides of the crowd singing along in competition with one another.
Walking around one realized, man, there were a lot of aging Dutch hard rock fans there. So many people over 50 in one place looking like aging rockers. Surely there are myriad places where you can hang with this demographic back home in the States, but for us it means going to Europe to do it. A lot of black leather and long grey hair. Faded tattoos. The sun beat down hard, and a German metal band was loading up their cliched set with every rock convention in the book. Just when you thought they were going to bust into a Scorpions or AC/DC song, it turned out to be one of their originals. They were super tight with strong vocals, and judging from the crowd's reaction, this band has had some major hits in Europe.
After a couple hours of soaking up the Weertness, we got on the bus. Elmar, our German bus driver drove us to Utrecht.
Saturday, July 7, 2007
In 1972 there was an event called Wattstax at the Los Angeles Coliseum. 112,000 people attended for seven hours of music by nearly every artist signed to Stax Records at the time. It was known as the Black Woodstock. Isaac Hayes, The Staple Singers, The Bar-Kays, Carla Thomas, and Richard Pryor were among those performing. And in the year 2007, one could step into the library in Evreux, France to hear almost that entire day of Memphis soul.
The clock and bell tower is the most eye catching feature of this village. It's as if the steeple were taken right off the top of a giant cathedral and set down on the ground. Striking. There are two Juliet balconies on the opposite side of the clock jutting out from the spiral stairwell.
At 12:00 noon the bells in the tower rang. What followed was an alarming surprise. At top volume, the air raid siren wailed from the peak of historic Hotel de Ville across the courtyard. Surely, you could have heard it for kilometers around. The sound was deep and loud. Every Wednesday and Saturday this happens.
Evreux is close to Giverny where Monet drew inspiration for his impressionist paintings. The village has one of the most elegant waterways we've ever seen. Walking paths above low stone walls are on both sides of a clear and steady stream that passes over varied hues of fully submersed and voluminous water-plants that wave in the current. It appears the designers threw fragments of broken dinner plates among the riverbed for effect also, as well as adding geranium covered bridges. They are gardeners here. On our way out to the concert site we noticed several large plots that obviously required careful thought and attention.
There was a jet meeting (as a Frenchwoman translated to us) in the sky today. We're sure this meant air-show.
We were sort of evicted from our hotel rooms due to a misunderstanding of check-out time. As we waited in the lobby with our luggage we could see the television on the other side of the room. There was something on with French teen-agers doing gymnastics from bun-gees plus other stunts within the walls of a medieval fort in a reality based contest show. The music accompaniment was very tense. As we were leaving, the contestants were turning over fortune telling cards in a dungeon setting.
Friday, July 6, 2007
Brugge, Belgium/Cactus Festival
Guten dag. We begin this European tour in a city with windmills, fortified stone gates, canals, bell towers, clip-clopping horse drawn carriages on cobblestone streets, accordion buskers, and scores of bicycles, not to mention chocolate, wafels, frites, and moules. We are in the medievally designed city of Brugge. This city is likely what the novice European traveller looking for old world charm might hope to encounter on this continent.
The wind is swift today, and different strata of clouds are crisscrossing in patterns never seen in California's central valley. The air temperature is nowhere near the 110 degrees that bears down back home in Sacramento.
Inside the windmills, the power of the giant blades rocks the entire housing back and forth. The wooden axle and gears, which together are roughly the size of a large automobile, were used for grinding grain into flour. Built on demand from the local bakers, there used to be one windmill for every thousand Belgians. Today, they are mini-museums, and unintentional thrill rides at 30 rickety feet up.
The Cactus Festival is set up at Minnewater Park, a place close to the canal and one of the fortified city gates. This music festival is in its 15th year, and started out as a small free concert for locals at another green space nearby.
The wind continued to blow hard all day, and by the time we went on at 10:00 p.m. there was still daylight. The audience seemed older than we are used to seeing. This might be an accurate observation, but it's possible that objectivity had been effected by random factors such as their eye-wear, emotional composure, and lack of ironic fashion statements. The Belgians are reserved as an audience, but respectful. They were perhaps also more unfamiliar with us than we've become accustomed to lately, and we welcomed the challenge of winning them over. After the show, one of the festival staff said, No, come again?.... No after show? We quickly realized she was referring to the convention of the encore. We had actually played our allotted time, and did right by the stage crew and the next band, The Waterboys, by getting the hell off the stage.
The festival staff couldn't have been more hospitable at this well-run event, and we thank them.
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Palmetto, pecans, and pirates. We are stuck with the second hotel in a row that is out in the middle of nowhere. Sure, we are close to the airport, but far away from the charms of historic downtown Charleston. The first image to jog our memories of Charleston as we arrived from Atlanta was that of the Palmetto tree. In South Carolina this tree is strong as an artistic motif almost everywhere. The Palmetto is the state tree, and their flag bears its image as well.
The sidewalk along the airport roundabout is embedded with oyster shells, an iridescent reminder that Charleston was once a walled city. The builders used oyster shells as a primary material for the fortification.
The wind keeps on kicking up on this cloudy day. It's left over from tropical storm Barry, our driver tells us. We are playing at the Plex in North Charleston, where they feature boxing on the last Thursday of every month. Seriously, it is a relief to get back into a regular rock club. It seems that we've played so many different types of venues lately, and this type probably feels the most comfortable.
Today is Xan's birthday. We are hoping to surprise him with the presentation of a cake on-stage. Although he is on the road for his birthday, this might be a memorable moment. The candles are going to be lit in the design of the letter X, and hopefully they will all stay lit as they travel across the stage. It turns out that all the candles except one kept their fire, and Xan made short order of blowing them out after the audience regaled him with a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday to You". After the show, the Spiderman themed cake was sliced and Xan personally walked into what was left of the crowd to share the gooey bites.
Later on, pulling band members away from the action around the club's
mechanical bull, we are on our way back to the hotel.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Our apologies to the people of Dorothy Lynch Home Style in Duncan, Nebraska. The journal entry from Council Bluffs mistakenly referred to their salad dressing as Jennie Lynch. We have been informed that the original recipe was born at the local Legion Club in St. Paul, Nebraska, where Dorothy and her husband ran the restaurant in the late 1940's. As Legion Club members were introduced to the recipe the dressing fast became a "must-have" favorite. There you have it.
We are here today in Atlanta for the 99X Big Day Out. The influential radio station, 99X, has been putting on this show for several successful years. This is our third time being a part of it. The most memorable moment from all three was probably seeing The Ramones perform while we were here several years ago. One of their stage strategies was setting up flight cases to use as a block of steps to walk up every once in a while. A very simple device equalling great rock spectacle.
The weather is overcast and warm today, comfortable weather for performing and attending. The crowds in Atlanta always bring it, and today was no exception. It is always a thrill to play here. Atlanta is a music loving city.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Being at John Ascuaga's Nugget has posed the question, What exactly is this nugget of John Ascuaga's?
The nugget must be a reference to a gold nugget, because there is a huge outcropping on one side of the building which serves as the form for a brightly painted sculpture of a gold prospector. We were properly introduced to owner Steve Ascuaga after the concert, and we give our best regards to his grandfather, John Ascuaga. We didn't embarrass ourselves by asking Steve about the nugget, but one of us did immediately ask for a twelve pack of beer. Maybe that was not off-base since they are indeed in the hospitality business after all. Oh, the humanity!
There was tension during sound-check. Our beloved Mt. Shasta backdrop's overall glory was being compromised because the bottom hung too low below the stage line. The reason for this was the combination of a drop ceiling, stage lights, and fabric lengths that disallowed for the top of the Shasta portrait to be lifted to the logical place for a proper composition. We found a simple solution, however, and implemented it. Everything had to be just right for this evening!
Sound check was delayed for a spell because of a BINGO tournament next door, but once we had the green light, we were on our way. The acoustics were great, and we were looking forward to what was practically a hometown show.
After a fine concert with a superb audience, we relaxed at Trader Dick's and reminisced of the old days in Sacramento. Distant memories were recalled, such as the time we played the Cattle Club with Deftones and Korn. Generalized social concepts were conjured too.
Agent Ribbons opened the show and revealed to everyone that this duo from Sacramento is the real deal.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Chicago is the first city to be revisited since this road journal began thirteen months ago.
It is raining as we leave the airport in Omaha. When we arrive in Chicago, we see that it's raining there too, so the show at Northwestern will be moved inside. Their Mayfest is usually on a large field by the lake. Now the show will be inside a gymnasium. To add insult to injury, the student committee are all sunburned from setting up yesterday at what was supposed to be the beautiful outdoor concert site.
The new venue is a stately limestone building with ivy growing on the outside walls. The facility inside seems suitable for the show, but is a far cry from the open field on the lake that the students were looking forward to. An interesting feature of this building's interior is the basketball marks on the orange ceiling. The marks are of different sizes due to the greater or lesser impact of what must have been intentional throws, and the overall effect is of a surreal celestial landscape.
It rained during most of the afternoon, so the meteorological forecast was certainly accurate. Moving the show indoors would have felt very sour if the day turned out to be sunny, but the move was justified after all.
The act before us came off the stage drenched in sweat, saying it was hotter than Coachella where they had just been. When we hit the stage it was certainly hot and muggy, but the enthusiastic crowd had endured more than us for sure. They were great. Enjoy life in Evanston, Wildcats!
Friday, May 25, 2007
Council Bluffs, IA
Council Bluffs was named for the 1804 meeting of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with the Otoe tribe that took place nearby. This might seem long ago, but when you are here you can see the layers of history from 200 years ago to the present if you use some imagination.
The time from the Louisiana Purchase, to westward expansion, to transcontinental railroads, to the interstate freeway system, boom, boom, boom, it's really just a blip of time. Wagon trails are still visible across some parts of the western states.
The present city of Council Bluffs was first settled by the Pottawatomi during the1830s after they were removed from what became Chicago. By 1848 the town had become Kanesville (named after Mormon leader Thomas L. Kane), and was the main outfitting point for the Mormon Exodus. The Mormon Battalion began their march to California during the Mexican-American War from here. It was also here that plural marriage was first openly practiced.
Later, the town was renamed Council Bluffs and remained a major outfitting point on the Missouri River for the Emigrant Trail with a lively steamboat trade. A little later still, Council Bluffs became a major railroad center. The railroads also made Council Bluffs a center for grain storage. Several grain elevators continue to dot the city's skyline.
The late 20th century brought economic stagnation and a declining population. How do you ignite urban renewal in a jiffy? Gambling! The liberalization of Iowa's gambling laws was followed by the opening of The Bluff's Run Greyhound Park in 1986. Yes, Greyhound racing, as in dog racing. We saw some races on closed circuit television. Those dogs are fast! By 2005 Council Bluffs was the 19th largest casino market in the U.S..
The casinos are on large open fields near the Missouri River. In between the casinos there are bike paths that pass through areas with foxes, deer, vultures, jackrabbits.....and an anti-freeze manufacturing plant.
Why is what we've known as "French" salad dressing in California called Jennie Lynch here?
Saturday, May 12, 2007
We've played several times by now on this stage that is placed on a barge docked along the Cumberland River at the waterfront in Nashville. One unforgettable evening a few years back, the city incinerator just adjacent to the waterfront park was furiously burning in what looked to be a catastrophic incident. There were no official demands for an evacuation because the wind was blowing the smoke out across the river and away from the concert site. It was an eerie but beautiful scene to see that inferno in the mild Nashville evening as we continued to play for a festive and appreciative audience.
Tonight we were part of the the Crawfish Boil Festival that included bands the Bodeans, Son Volt, Cowboy Mouth, and. Sister Hazel. The highlight of the evening was playing two songs during our set with Charlie Louvin. For those of you who don't know, Charlie and his brother Ira were together the Louvin Brothers, the most influential harmony duet in country music history. On other occasions, Charlie has joined us on the Unlimited Sunshine Tour dates, and once in Nashville he brought us out to the Grand Ole Opry where he was singing that night. Be sure to visit The Louvin Brothers Museum across the highway from Opryland next time you are in Music Town, U.S.A.. It was most certainly a great honor to perform with him again and to be around his classic friendliness and humor.
There is so much to say about Nashville that instead of attempting to
say it all, we encourage you to check out these sites:
Robert's Western World
Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame
Friday, May 11, 2007
Question: Where did a battle in 1814 against the British take place at which Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem In Defense of Fort McHenry, which eventually became the national anthem of the United States?
A few more notable facts about this city:
It was in Baltimore that Edgar Alan Poe wrote poetry, and has a well-known gravesite. (The local NFL team is called the Ravens, get it?) The king of camp, film director John Waters, and Diner director Barry Levinson both derived inspiration for their screen characters from Baltimore and are from this city themselves. Oprah Winfrey made her start on television here. The HBO series, The Wire is set and filmed in Baltimore. There are historic ships here from as far back as the Civil War to World War II, so as the city tourism board encourages you to, Get In On It!
Our stage manager and sound engineer, Bobby Mac, hit his head pretty hard on a door latch attached to the top of the entryway of the van we were taking to the airport. He was seeing stars and bleeding an alarming amount. Gabe ran to get some ice, Bobby stopped the bleeding, and we were off to the airport. Touring is not for wussies!
We've had a windfall of Spinal Tap moments recently. The first one was John's guitar cord getting snagged on his guitar stand a few shows ago. It happened right before the moment that we end the song Sheep Go To Heaven. John has been quite a showman in regularly making a crowd pleasing leap on the last note of this song. In this case, he was anchored firmly to his snagged instrument and could only get off a quick upward thrust of his guitar neck in order to accentuate the final note. It was reminiscent of the moment Tap bassist Derek Smalls finally escapes from his plexiglas space pod just in time to rock the last note of Rock 'N Roll Creation.
In the latest incident, tonight, Paulo did a disappearing act before we were to return to the stage for the encore songs. We were just about to kick into "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" when we realized Paulo was not at his kit. He is always ready to go and on-time when it comes to being on stage and other matters as well, so it was a very curious situation. Then it dawned on us. We had problems all night getting out of the bathroom due to a faulty door handle, so it really didn't take long to deduce his precise location and predicament. Just before one last desperate back-kick from Paulo would have probably freed him from the now severely damaged metal door, Gabe opened it up. The crowd roared their appreciation in tribute to the drummer's triumphant return to the skins.
Thank-you very much good people and fantastic audience at the excellent Pier 6 venue in Baltimore!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
It's a novelty for someone outside this area to see prairie dogs standing upright and rooting around in the median strip of the freeway between the airport and Boulder. As cute, social, and helpful as they are to other animals like rabbits, salamanders, snakes, and burrowing owls (to name just a few who use their burrows), they are killed by gun enthusiasts for sport. There is an informed campaign that hopes to save them from this senseless violence.
In Boulder, they say the beef-jerky Old West meets the tofu-burger New Age. Basically, it's the good life here. From the surface, just from a brief visit, New Age equals excellent dining choices, an abundance of gift shops with Tibetan chotchkies, comfortable clothing and foot wear, and a love of the outdoors.
There is actually historic precedent for Boulder being a great place for rejuvenation of mind, body, and spirit. To serve the purpose of health-seeking visitors to Boulder, the Boulder-Colorado Sanitarium was founded in 1896 by cereal-advocate and purveyor of his own special brand of morality in matters of sexual economy, John Harvey Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan. The sanitarium was labeled as a resort that combined the features of a hospital, religious retreat, country club, and spa with an atmosphere of reform and asceticism. Doctors prescribed their own health foods, which included wheat flakes, cereal coffee, and zwieback.
To their credit, in 1967 Boulder became the first city in the United States to tax itself for funds to be used specifically for the acquisition, management, and maintenance of open space. And 1997 saw the launching of the Green Bikes program, in which more than 150 bright green loaner bikes are left around town for people to use for free. Cyclists simply leave them at their destination for the next person to ride. One person we asked had never seen these bicycles, while another claimed to see them at the Environmental Center in addition to some communal yellow and black bikes on the college campus. This is a determinedly bike friendly community, although there are plenty of cars, some with California license plates carrying college girls who are still adapting to alcohol use at high altitudes. Maybe that's why there really weren't that many bicyclists visible during our visit.
The city has a lot of faith in the general public's and the visitor's aptitude for geology. An information plate attached to a gigantic boulder resting on the main pedestrian mall at historic Pearl Street reads:
This metamorphic rock is a migmatitic gneiss formed in the Proterozoic era about 1.7 to 1.8 billion years ago. This type of rock forms much of the deep crystalline basement of Colorado. It is composed of several minerals: biotite and muscovite mica, quartz and plagioclase and alkali feldspar, the latter providing the distinctive pink color. Weighing 25 tons, this rock was cut from a 55 ton boulder found outside of Fairplay, Colorado.
It's not called Boulder for nothing!
Thank-you to the student body of University of Colorado and the city of Boulder.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
We were the headliner of "Pinestock" at Saint John's College in Collegeville, Minnesota.
Towards the end of our set, a young man jumped the crowd control barricade and quickly scaled the main scaffolding support on stage right. He shot straight up it, as an experienced lighting person in a hurry would. He grabbed the top bar as if it were playground equipment, and propelled himself across the length of it with the dexterity of a white handed gibbons monkey.
As he swung back and forth at center stage, it appeared he was going to attempt a backflip 18 feet down into the waiting, but in reality, woefully unprepared crowd below. He had made many ambiguous hand gestures from up there, trying to communicate to friends in the pit instructions on how they should be prepared to catch him. When a swing from the bar at center stage seemed out of the question, he swung back hand over hand to the side in order to begin his descent from the stage frame. It was a relief to see that. He came so very close to making the step from the scaffolding ladder over to the top of the barricade and back into the crowd. Freedom! But alas, an ambitious and probably personally insulted police officer grabbed him hard by the ankle and pulled him down roughly to his feet.
When the musclebound officer aggressively pulled the leg of the fatigued climber, ironically, that is when he really could have hurt himself by uncontrollably hitting his head or face against the scaffolding or barricade. That would have been a shame after all the suspense of his weight hanging up there for so long. A group of overzealous law officers, not wanting to look like they were slacking on the job, and proving that they deserved a whole days pay for doing nothing, aggressively whisked the surrendering daredevil away. From all the clampdown, you might imagine that the security detail had visions of the Altamont Free Concert or Woodstock 1999 in their heads.
We don't condone the climbing of scaffolding at our shows, but the way the officials dealt with it was kind of tough to see, especially after such a display of graceful strength and agility. To be fair, he surely could have hurt himself or someone else in the crowd if he fell or swung down in the wrong place. Later, we saw him taken away in a law enforcement vehicle. It is true that the band has nothing to do with these matters. We leave these issues to the good judgement of the local citizens and authorities, however since hostility against authority has always been an American tradition, this cathartic commentary feels appropriate.
Friday, April 27, 2007
They call this event Volapalooza, and hope to someday expand into a larger festival with several bands.
The state of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville owe the nickname of volunteers to their involvement in the wars of the early 19th century. In 1814, General Andrew Jackson mustered large armies from his home state to fight the Creeks and later the British at the Battle of New Orleans. The nickname became even more prominent in the Mexican War when Governor Aaron V. Brown issued a call for 2,800 men to battle Santa Ana. The people of Tennessee heard the request and an astounding 30,000 volunteered.
The mascot at the University is a beloved blue tick hound named "Smokey." An actual dog exists, but often a costumed mascot is present at athletic contests.
The airport in Knoxville is a very decent place, with a row of rocking chairs facing a large window, an area with very comfortable reclining sofa chairs, and a staged living room area. This was good for us because we were recovering from being stuck at Chicago's O'Hare Airport due to bad weather. We were relieved to be reunited with our baggage and stage gear, and happy to be back on track.
This was our second show sharing the bill with a very good group from Chapel Hill, N.C. called The Old Ceremony.
Thank-you Vols, for your great hospitality and the help at the airport during our travel fiasco.
Friday, April 20, 2007
We held a concert in Winona (previously spelled Wenonah), Minnesota at Winona State University. How many lakes are in Minnesota?...10,000! This is the oldest teacher's college west of the Mississippi. Next year is their sesquicentennial. 150 years! It would make sense also, because of proximity, that many of the Ramblers from near-by Cotter High School must attend. Our front-of-house soundman, Will Cotter, was given a very nice sweatshirt for the relation of nomenclature.
Winona has a Polish Museum in its downtown, where if you visit on a quiet Friday afternoon, you might have the luck to find local Polish elders in the midst of a friendly rant and rave session that booms across the building in an exciting way. These were surely war heroes. Although we missed the October kielbasa competition by a long shot, there was still a good display of many of the crafts and social contributions of the Polish in Europe and in the United States.
Historically, the lumber and ice industries were in big play here due to circumstances of geography. The Mississippi river provided excellent transport for both. The abundant natural resource of trees and the growth of America's frontier dictated that Winona's earliest industry be lumbering. In the decade 1878-1888 Winona was known as
Lumbertown USA. During this ten year period seven sawmills turned out 1,150,000,000 feet of lumber and employed 2000 men, approximately 1,500 of whom were of Polish heritage.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that the J. R. Watkins Medical Company has its origins and modern day headquarters in Winona. Since 1868, the Watkins company has offered many remedies (liniments, extracts, and toilet articles) to aid in health and wellness. In1935, Watkins reportedly had the world's largest selling vanilla flavoring, and their wide distribution of herbs, spices, and cleaning agents made Watkins a household name in the 1940's kitchen. The number and variety of items they have sold over the years is amazing: Watkin's Little Pills for constipation, jaundice, headache, and promoting appetite, Oriental gall cure for horses and cattle, pine tar cough balsam, cream of camphor for man or beast, fly spray, hog mineral compound, multi-vitamins, and poultry tonic to name just a few. J.R. Watkins set up shop here in 1868 selling homemade remedies from a horse drawn wagon, not pedaling snake oil, but promoting common sense health and wellness. Their 70's ad campaign featured the friendly Watkins Man, in the same spirit as the Avon lady or the Fuller brush man. Currently, a star pitcher on the Minnesota Twins uses Watkin's liniment on his throwing arm.
Winona has a unique manmade geological structure of visual distinction. It is currently known as Sugarloaf. It used to be called Wapasha's cap, and was a rounded limestone hill, however it became a quarry and what is left of that original cap is a mesa and a prominent sturdy spire of red limestone.
Tip of the hat to the students at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. They participated in a very good debate that was televised on C-Span. The student speakers were given an audience to voice their opinion regarding how the sitting U.S. President should be received and whether or not he should still be welcome to speak at their 2007 commencement.
Thank-you Spartans of Winona State University.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
We made the trip from Winona to Moorhead overnight, in a rented bunk truck, or digger (short for the bus company's name, Gravedigger International). This particular vehicle was nicknamed The Ghost and featured non-existent shock absorption. Because of the rattled and sleepless ride, a trip to neighboring Fargo seemed out of the question. Fargo is, of course, the city that part of the 1996 Coen Brothers' movie Fargo is set. Frances McDormand won an Academy Award for her portrayal of pregnant police chief, Marge Gunderson, of Brainerd, Minnesota. Other memorable characters from that movie are Jerry Lundegaard, the Oldsmobile car salesman from Minneapolis, "funny looking" Carl Showalter, and the laconic Gaear Grimsrud as the two bungling hit-men. The city of Fargo has been projecting the movie against the outside wall of the Raddison hotel on an annual evening in Spring. You can tune in on your car radio just like the drive-in theaters. This has actually turned into a fim festival with directors making submissions.
They are called the "Cobbers" at this college here in Moorhead, Minnesota, and their school mascot is a corn cob. Can you beat that? The campus initially sprung up on the site of a corn field. There are a lot of wide open spaces here and skywalks for cold winter pedestrian commutes from the dorms to campus. The river that separates Fargo ND from Moorhead MN is the Red River. It is one of only two rivers in the U.S. that heads north. Unfortunately, the river water in the northern part of the state freezes and tends to dam the river, causing flooding.
There was, in fact, a spectacular lightning and thunder storm during the evening after the show. On television and in the morning paper, officials warned that heavy weekend rain on already saturated ground could result in major flooding in Fargo and surrounding areas over the weekend. The rain had finally had enough though, and mercifully backed off.
There is a local myth here that the first lightning strikes of spring are what cause the lawns to green up. Although the greening is mostly the plant bacteria reacting to warmer soils, it is true that lightning can help turn nitrogen in the air into nitrogen compounds used (in trace amounts) by growing plants.
North Dakota is home to soy and canola BIODIESEL which is envionmentally friendly and is great for North Dakota's economy. It is clean burning and, of course, decreases foreign oil dependence. Home grown and renewable. Grown and manufactured in North Dakota.
After the concert at Concordia, a member of campus security introduced us to her son and his friends, The Invisible Ninjas, who gave us an impressive explanation and demonstration of the Bossa Nova and Samba beats for us right after the show as they were given a pop quiz by guitarist Xan Mc Curdy.
Many thanks to the Concordia College Cobbers for a very memorable show.
They were incredibly dilligent at the security screening in Fargo's airport, but the inspection was somehow pleasurable as it could be imagined that the scrutinous personnel was in fact police chief, Marge Gunderson, displaying a combination of Minnesota nice and a clear aptitude for police work.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
San Francisco, CA
Occasionally, CAKE has the privilege of working in venues of unique historical significance: The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville (home of the original Grand Ole Opry), Roseland Ballroom in New York City, Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa, The Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, and The Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles are some that come to mind. On the first Sunday night of March, 2007, in San Francisco's one-of-a-kind neighborhood of North Beach, we had the honor of being a part of the 15th annual Noise Pop Festival. Our show was held at Bimbo's 365 club, the top nightspot on the West coast during the 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's.
Bimbo's 365 club was originally opened in 1931 at 365 Market Street. It moved to its current location on Columbus Ave in 1951. Agostino Giuntoli, the man behind the club, was given the nickname, Bimbo, by his mother. Bimbo is the Italian nickname for "boy", as Agostino was the only boy in his family, surrounded by four sisters.
Bimbo's 365 Club opened during the Great Depression, when Prohibition was still the law of the land. Mr. Giuntoli claims to have had the largest collection of Prohibition liquor, some 300 pints purchased from 1931 for "medicinal purposes". He had a one-way mirror at the front door to check out the patrons before they were admitted into the club. One night the police showed up. While they punched the doorbell, Bimbo scooped up all the liquor bottles and hid them away. By the time he got back to the door, the cops were starting to smash it open with an axe. Very slowly and calmly, he opened the door and told them, "If you want to come in, why don't you just ring the doorbell?"
There was a strict dress code at the club..."No tie, no entry, and no exception either." Once when the late Howard Hughes showed up without a coat or tie, in a state of disarray, Bimbo wouldn't let him in. Bimbo recalled that eventually Hughes got even. "Some years later my wife Emelia and I, along with some friends, reserved a suite on the top floor of the Desert Inn in Las Vegas.Two days later Hughes bought the hotel and we were evicted."
His chorus lines always featured the prettiest, leggiest dancers on the West Coast. His fast paced revues headlined top show business names like Rita Hayworth (billed as Rita Cansino, her real name), who was the lead dancer in the chorus line.
It was the Nevada scene that eventually brought Bimbo's 365 Club activity as a nightclub to a grinding halt. The famous fishbowl girl (a gorgeous live mermaid in a giant tank), the flashy chorus line and other entertainment simply could not compete with the topless, bottomless routines and the six figure salaries paid to top entertainers by the Reno and Vegas clubs.
Bimbo bowed out as a nightclub entrepreneur when the final curtain fell on New Year's Eve, 1969, with his favorite vocalist, Al Martino, leading the strains of "Auld Lang Syne." Only two days later, Bimbo was busier than ever, booking conventions, wedding receptions, and shows into his plush 365 Club.
These days, Bimbo's grandson, Michael Cerchiai, runs the club. CAKE appreciates his hospitality.
**Thank-you to the "Lamplighter," Bob Tuttle, for his May 25th, 1979 San Francisco Progress article.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Great to be playing in Berkeley, California. Some of the band grew up very near to the campus actually. Whenever anyone thinks of Berkeley, the Free Speech movement of the 60s is an immediate association. For a very good account of this time at the University, follow this link.
Aside from the bacteria spores from dinosaur times that were re-activated on campus after an archeological dig in a radioactive Arizona desert, the student activism in the 60s is the real story here.
Honeycut opened the show and was great.
Sunday, December 31, 2006
On a Saturday, the day before New Year's Eve, we made our way towards Milwaukee. This city stands on the west shore of Lake Michigan, just about 70 miles north from Chicago. There are very few cities in the U.S. that can match the reflection of their European roots as well as Milwaukee does. The brick brewery buildings, Pabst being the most famous, and numerous gothic-style church steeples match the charm of older cities in the country of Germany. The downtown area is also peppered with civic structures that feature a 19th century German revivalist style. Places such as the prominent Usinger's sausage factory, and the long-standing Mader's restaurant also strongly reflect the city's German heritage. Present day Milwaukee is, of course, the typical American mix of various cultures.
As we passed by television screens in the airports on our way to Wisconsin, we saw many images of death. Saddam Hussein had been executed on this day. Images of him on the gallows were frequently run on CNN. The legendary and incomparable James Brown had died. Lying peacefully in a casket at the foot of a stage in an arena named for him, his friends and family celebrated his life with a lively concert featuring Mr. Brown's greatest hits. And at 93, President Ford had died, tying the record with President Reagan for the longest living U.S. president.
We arrived in Milwaukee alive, and early enough to get out into the city a little. It might be possible, and this is only a theoretical guess through observation, that the Milwaukeeans hold less puritanically rigid views of sex than the rest of the country. Here are some shreds of evidence from our limited scope of experience there: The modern art museum (a spectacular building by the way, designed by the same architect that did the Sydney Opera House) has a "naughty bits" tour of its permanent collection. Certain works of art are singled out for revealing the sexual nature of life, or simple nudity. You can take your own walking tour of these pieces. Also, a Green Bay Packers groupie with a spicy memoir joined the race for secretary of state in the last election. Her naughty, self-published, tell-all book of her bed-hopping exploits was released while she campainined against the 28-year incumbent, a member of one of Wisconsin's most distinguished political families. Then there is the former red-light district that had survived for many years in a prominent area of downtown, just adjacent to City Hall. Kudos to this magnificent city for marching to the beat of its own drummer, although these observations leave no basis for a credible opinion on this particular matter, and one could conclude that we actually know very little about this aspect of life in Milwaukee.
The concert was a special show for us because we hadn't played New Years Eve in over ten years. Together with the concert promoter we helped to create an evening of varied entertainment throughout the venue.
At midnight we led the crowd in a sing-along of the holiday favorite, Auld Lang Syne. (SEE VIDEO HERE!) The second verse of the song suggests a fitting gesture for the uniquely sentimental moment of a new year: "Here's a hand my trusty friend, and give a hand of thine. We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne." This song was popularized in North America by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians as it was broadcast on radio from the 1920's to the 1960's from New York City. It is a 400 year-old Scottish Air known around the world.
Especially memorable to us on this evening, was the performance of extreme juggler, Marcus Monroe. Watching from backstage while the curtain was still closed, we saw him prepare for his act. He climbed a 12-rung ladder in order to mount his 10' tall unicycle. With five knives lit like torches ("knorches" actually), the curtains opened. Marcus juggled the knorches atop the unicycle as fireworks spewed from his safety helmet. The stage filled with smoke and the crowd. went wild.
Thanks for a great last meal of 2006, Donna Maria! The caterer at The Riverside Theater is a fabulous cook, and has served many rock luminaries through the years. Among her many honors, she had served Stevie Ray Vaughn his last meal before his tragic crash, and she once facilitated for Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin the privilege of cooking in her kitchen. Ooolala!
Did anyone know Guy Lombardo, was a champion of hydro-plane racing as well?
Happy New Year Everyone!
"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."
- Oprah Winfrey
Saturday, September 30, 2006
St. Paul, MN
We are in Saint Paul, Minnesota. You really have to love a city that has a bronze sculpture of brother and sister Linus and Lucy Van Pelt gazing onto the scene in the city center. Jazz Age novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald as well as the long running radio show "A Prairie Home Companion" also hail from Saint Paul.
Absolutely none of us used our spare time in the afternoon to see the exhibit "Bodyworlds" at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Doesn't anybody in the band care enough about the possibility of inspiring a new kinesthetic sense of themselves? The exhibit is an excellent anatomy lesson and consists of many plasticized cadavers manipulated into action poses. Who are these bodies? They sure are good sports to be eternally stuck in, for instance, a flying karate kick position. Better yet, check out the man riding a wild horse as his optical nerve system is shellacked into an erect spectacle between the two halves of his separated skull as he triumphantly holds aloft an extracted brain from his filleted body. Perhaps the exploitative act that was plasticizing these individuals is paying off in helping to improve our understanding of ourselves as individuals and in the general scheme of nature. One of the concert attendees that had been to the exhibit said it will, "Make you feel like eating beef jerky." In retrospect, it makes sense now that the exhibit is underwritten by Slim Jim.
It should also be mentioned that the Museum of Science has a stairwell that plays like a xylophone when ascended or descended.
Although winters are harsh, the city planners have done some things to make the cold bearable. Downtown Minneapolis has miles of indoor sidewalks, and District Energy in Saint Paul has connected buildings to a sidewalk warming system. Water is warmed to 95 degrees and then circulated from the power plant to the sidewalks of buildings who have joined the service. The water goes back again to the power plant to be reheated. Shovel-free winters! Good living here!
Ian and Margery Punnett from radio station FM107 interviewed us from their home studio during the week prior to the show. The last time we were guests on their show, we were allowed to conduct the interview for their next guest that morning, who happened to be none other than Jerry Springer. During that interview we praised Jerry for being a great social scientist, and commended him for exposing the slimy underbelly of what the American experience has become for many. For us, Jerry's show is a big red flag that alerts us to the Great Decline. That day, and on many occasions since, Springer has insisted that his show is simply entertainment with no deliberate subtext. Sure.
World renowned musician Richard Thompson played on the stage at Harriet Island earlier in the evening. He has been called the best guitar player in the world by some. He has great songs plus the ability to play excellent rhythm AND lead guitar simultaneously.
The twin-cities marathon was run on the morning we flew out. It is known as "America's most beautiful" urban marathon. Mayor Chris Coleman invited us to see the finish from the grandstand.
At mile 26, as the runners took the slight down-hill incline from the Cathedral towards the finish, a public address system rocked "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night. Beautiful morning for an event like this.
Thank-you to the great city and people of Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Del Mar, CA
We performed in Del Mar, California, not far from the city of San Diego. This would be our third concert on the infield of the racetrack there. Racing season is over, so all the horses were somewhere else this time.
At the airport in San Diego we had to wait for two more flights to come in from our point of origin in order to finally collect all of our gear from the baggage claim. At first, when it seemed our gear might appear soon, we circled the airport terminal in the rental car hoping to make a pick-up. When news was bad, we left the Grand Prix action to go up the hill from the airport to Balboa Park, the nation's largest urban cultural park and home to 15 major museums. Although our visit was limited to a drive-by, we noticed that the center of the park had surprisingly remarkable architecture.
Every time we travel seems like a good time to discuss the general airline issues we experience. We'd like to see more focused and succinct interrogation of us passengers at the security gates rather than see some of our obviously innocent senior citizen passengers put through the ringer of search and inspection.
Today, the Clinton Global Summit is on television. The subtext of the CNN special was understanding and reconciliation, but the Prime Minister of Israel, Shimon Peres, was not agreeing with some of the ideas of pacifism he was hearing there. He was the recipient of a 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, but being the leader of a nation that has been under attack doesn't really leave any room to appear soft. Token gestures of peace and tolerance are not appropriate expressions for someone who is responsible for the security of his country. Much thanks to President Clinton for a momentus meeting of important world leaders, some of whom are at serious odds with one another.
Saturday, August 26 , 2006
We performed at The Pavilion in Salem, Oregon. The crowd was fantastic. Thank-you Oregonians! Other bands performing with us were the Violent Femmes and The Decemberists.
On the drive to Salem from southern to northern Oregon, we happened upon a destruction derby driver filling up his derby car at a gas station on I-99. He graciously explained some of the rules of his sport to us. For instance, any type of crashing into another vehicle is permitted except the driver's side door. He also gave us the tip that you should keep the gas floored when you're ramming into someone in order to lessen the impact on yourself. Thanks for the advice friendly derby guy, and good luck!
While in Salem, a very strange man brought our attention to what might be a new scary thing to look out for in the grazing land of the Northwest... What is known as the Chupacabra. The past 25 years have seen a resurgence of this ancient animal mystery.
The "chupa" (literally goat sucker), is so named because of the small puncture wounds it leaves on its prey after sucking out the blood. In the 1970's farmers and ranchers in South America began reporting their animals killed by a mysterious creature. Eyewitnesses report an animal that has glowing eyes and capable of quickly killing its prey.
Was this long-haired clawed creature the Chupacabra? It is about the size of a large possum or racoon, but has the teeth of a brown bear and turkey-size claws on all four feet. The face is startlingly human-like.
So far, the Chupacabra hasn't threatened the excellent quality of Oregon's livestock.
Best Regards to the great state of Oregon.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Our plane landed in Medford, Oregon: the gateway to Crater Lake and site of Oregon's first airfield. We performed in Jacksonville, an 1850's gold rush town. The first set was played by Los Abandoned, an excellent rock band from Los Angeles. LosAbandoned@myspace.com. A hearty thank-you to everyone in attendance.
The concert amphitheater was on a site that was once the home of a very prominent Oregonian, Peter Britt. Britt was a Swiss immigrant, best known as a pioneer photographer. However, he also tried his hand at gold prospecting, mule packing, horticulture, wine making, beekeeping, and meteorology. He eventually became a rancher, orchardist, financier, and family man. A giant sequoia redwood in the adjacent gardens was planted by him and still survives. It is thought to be the oldest giant sequoia in Oregon.
Speaking of individuals with multiple talents, we would like to conclude these "road notes" with an open letter to Mr. Rigel William Valentine in recognition of his achievements in accordance with his September 17, 2006 induction as an Eagle Scout.
To the honorable and respectable Rigel William Valentine:
Those of us at CAKE would like to extend to you our hearty congratulations and express our utmost appreciation towards your admirable achievements.
Your community service project is a superb finale to an overall very impressive accomplishment. You have shown a high level of personal commitment and focus.
The project you chose to complete for the Evanston Ecology Center incorporated the need to display many valued abilities: Leadership, craftsmanship, perseverence, diligence, and a respect for the history of design.
The fact that you earned this honor of Eagle Scout proves that you are an individual with superior qualities.
Good luck with all your future endeavors.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Centuries before the Algonquin word for an abundant riverside wild onion was chosen as a name for this "can do" city, monks in Ireland were tenaciously creating beautiful manuscripts that preserved much of the European history and knowledge that we know of from before the Dark Ages. After the fall of the Roman Empire, these dedicated individuals were almost solely responsible for keeping knowledge alive and protecting it from marauding Viking warriors.
Old St. Patrick's Church, Chicago's oldest public building and the host of "The World's Largest Block Party", is symbolically connected to this ancient Irish history. The magnificent Celtic art integrated throughout the interior is based on the texts of the 8th century Book of Kells. The primary artist, Thomas O'Shaughnessy, was in Dublin at the turn of the century, and studied the medieval Irish transcripts at Trinity College.
Also of historical note, this building survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire came within just two blocks. And in 1852, as work on the current church was started, the pastor, Fr. Patrick Mc Laughlin died in a major cholera outbreak that killed thousands (an epidemic which incidentally provided the motivation for the city to manually reverse the course of the Chicago River in order to discontinue stagnation).
Whether it is the Thomas O' Shaunnessy stained glass windows and alcoves, the knowledge that was heroically preserved by medieval Irish monks for the eventual Age of Enlightenment, or the heads of the block-partiers that were juiced up on fermented grain beverages, this church is definitely into Illumination.
Of interest also, is that it is said many a marriage has been spawned from this event. The drink tickets are built in to the price of admission, so you know the crowd was having a good time.
It was a superbly clear summer evening after a spell of hard rain in the afternoon.
Happy 150th Birthday to Old St. Patrick's Church!
Sunday, June 11, 2006
San Francisco, CA - Golden Gate Park
CAKE had the pleasure of performing a free concert in "Speedway Meadow" of beautiful Golden Gate Park. The radio station Alice 97.3 organized the concert as a favor to their listeners and the community.
Why was this pastoral location named "Speedway Meadow?" Was this to be the spot for the racetrack that the "Big Four" millionaires, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington, and Charles Crocker had favored when planning for the park was in its infancy in 1876? No, the story actually has to do with one of the many changes the park has undergone as it has kept pace with functional demand.
The explanation is that "Speed Road" was begun in 1888 and completed in 1894. It had a life of 13 years before it was removed. "Speedway Meadow" was then created in its stead in 1907. It is surrounded by tall Blue Gum Eucalyptus. A very nice place.
They said the creation of Golden Gate Park couldn't be done. It was almost all sand dunes before being shaped into what it is today. The ocean dunes were stabilized with 155,000 tree plantings!
CAKE would like to thank the good people at Alice, all those in attendance, and the visionaries who created the terrific Golden Gate Park.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Santa Rosa, CA - Harmony Festival
Even though our hospitality rider doesn't require that a drapery complemented painting of a mythological goddess grace the dressing room wall, nevertheless that's what we were treated to at this year's 28th annual Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, California.
This painting, and many others, were created especially for the festival. Fantastic art direction and costumed parading turns the Sonoma County Fairgrounds into a place where concert-goers can feel the harmony of living within our civilized society on Earth.
An overall philosophy of the importance of music, arts, ecology, and healthful living assists the heroic journey of the harmonic being through a possible three days of camping, entertainment, and education.
CAKE would like to thank and congratulate the Executive Director of the Harmony Festival, Scott McKeown, for maintaining this "Party with a Purpose". It is truly one of a kind.
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Memphis, TN - Beale Street Festival
Memphis never fails to make a strong impression. Some of the most well-known features of this city on the Mississippi are the swarm of pedestrians covering Beale Street on festival weekends, the presence of legendary Sun Studios, Elvis Presley's Graceland home, and the distinct feeling that this is an historic southern city.
The "South Main" district of downtown, once bustling in the 20s 30s and 40s, is recovering after experiencing the slow down of central commerce and train travel during the second half of the 20th century. The Lorraine Motel is here, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April of 1968. The motel itself is now the front half of the National Civil Rights Museum building.
An interesting and tenacious woman has been protesting outside the museum for 18 years and 115 days (as of May 6th). Her bone to pick is that the construction is a $10 million monument to injustice, and it desecrates the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She urges a boycott of the museum. She believes it is a tourist trap and part of the gentrification of South Main street. She asserts that the museum is a fake, and its construction was not based on what Reverend King stood for, which is helping the poor.
The good people working at this informative and well-planned museum know Jackie, and seem to think she is a very sound and intelligent person just doing her thing. Whether they agree with her or not, they respect that she is getting her message out.
Speaking of getting the message out, the festival gates were occupied by a new generation of concerned individuals trying to prevent the degeneration of the human soul due to the effects of rock and roll music. It has been 50 years since the first alarms went off regarding rock and roll in this country. Now that almost two generations have past, one would think we could have an objective look at the effect rock and roll music has had on us. Did the original individuals who were fundamentally against rock and roll music have a relevant point, or were their efforts misguided? In current day Memphis, the question of whether rock is harmful to our souls or not is overshadowed by one incidental by-product of the protesters' shouts: their warnings provoke in us the feeling that what we are participating in is a little dangerous and exciting, an initiation out of innocence. This reminder of the concert-goer's mission augments the fun.
One thing is for sure. Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, originators of rock and roll and performers at this year's festival, still look and sound top-notch.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Hampton Beach, NH
We played at a venue here that is 100 years old. One of the proprietors of the venue said his grandfather had seen Billie Holliday there, and his sister had seen Jimmy Hendrix. It was a great building and well run with a very professional staff.
Unfortunately, there was a mysterious odor of raw sewage in the room. On a positive note, perhaps that acrid rotten egg smell facilitated the antagonism between the two sides of the room. Pitting the audience against itself was encouraged from the stage as is frequently the case at our shows. There were sky-boxes in the back of the room, and the audience members who inhabited these spaces should feel fortunate that they were not brought into the fray.
We are looking forward to next week's Beale Street Festival in Memphis, Tennessee. Thank-you Hampton Beach audience!
Friday, April 28, 2006
Always good to be in Boston, a proud and historic city. We performed at M. I. T., which is across the Charles River from downtown Boston, in Cambridge. The school is rife with students who either want to make a big difference in the world, make a whole lot of money, or both.
Learned something new about the North End of Boston. In 1919, The Great Molasses Flood occurred. On top of Copp Hill the United States Industrial Alcohol Company was storing 2.5 million gallons of molasses imported from the Caribbean to be used in the manufacture of rum. The metal storage tank was inadequate and prone to leaks. It finally burst from the gas pressure caused from fermentation. The 30 foot wave killed 21 people and injured 150.