Rogue Valley tour diary, Vol. 1

Rogue Valley is a Minneapolis-based theatrical folk-pop band who are currently on tour. On the road are drummer Luke Anderson, bassist Paul Engles, keyboardist Joey Kantor, guitar/vocalist Chris Koza and guitarist Peter Sieve. Their tour diaries are written by Koza and edited by Sieve.

The road is neither glitz nor glamour, it is however plenty of grit, or if you're in the south, grits. But we are starting this West Coast tour in the vast Midwest, affectionally referred to by those in the van as "the crease" of the country. We eat oats here.

My band Rogue Valley left for tour on October 7th and did our first show in Lincoln, NE. From there we did a show in Denver, drove 12 hours and spent 12 more in Las Vegas, roaming the strip and checking out casino lobbies. We crashed seven deep at the MGM Grand (in a room built for four) before settling down for a couple days in Los Angeles. We did a show in LA at a great singer-songwriter venue called Hotel Cafe, performing with an exceptional band I hadn't heard of before called Red Yellow Sparks. One of the things that becomes apparent on tour is the sheer number of bands are there playing shows that you've never heard about.

In Los Angeles we met up with some people who place music on TV shows - they were responsible for putting one of our songs ("The Warming Moon") on Jersey Shore last year. It felt fancy to "do lunch" the way it's done in L.A. Meeting with them gave me a better sense of how challenging their job is. To get all Ricky Nelson about it: If you can't please everyone, you got to (but can't always) please yourself.

We spent another day in Los Angeles, where Pete and I met up with an old friend who is now a YouTube celebrity. His handle is "Hi I'm Rawn," and he's been crafting some genius stuff for the past several years. We walked through the canals of Venice beach and passed around a flask of Maker's as he described his process of creating content and cultivating an audience. Earlier that day, he had been recognized on the promenade by a band from Brooklyn called Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds who just happened to be there on the beach, taking in a little sand and sun, and enjoying a break from the van.

While in L.A., we met up with a couple of other midwestern singer-songwriters who have followed their muse to the pacific coast. Ari Herstand and Will Hutchinson told us all about the scene, and specifically the busking culture in Santa Monica; that some people sell a hundred or more CDs out there a day to tourists and passersby. It made me think about the lack of a busking culture in Minneapolis, and how there really is no place other than perhaps Nicollet Mall to set out an open guitar case and play music for whomever might be listening.

For now, we'll leave you with a video we created in Lincoln, NE featuring our song "Mountain Laurels" from the album "Geese in the Flyway." We shot it in an incredibly tiny house that Pete and I spent the night in -- barely room enough on each floor for us to stretch out on our sleeping bags, and not much else. In the morning, it seemed only right to play a song in it and put it online for all to see. A welcomingly odd way to spend the first night of our tour.

More to come from LA, San Francisco, and Portland.

Rogue Valley in a tiny house - Lincoln, Nebraska from Rogue Valley on Vimeo.

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