We Are the Willows tour diary, Vol. 14


Chicago deep dish pizza!!!!!!  That's basically all my brain had been able to think about for about two weeks before I played in Chicago.  I got into town, and immediately found a place to get some.  I ate three pieces and then I almost exploded.

[jump] The show in Chicago was at a place called, Uncommon Ground.  Guess what?  It's not a coffee shop!  whoa!  It's a swanky restaurant that has a "listening room".  I played with a great group called the Arrowsics.  It was a pretty fun night.  Some friends of mine came out, even some new friends from Peoria that I met in the first part of my tour came out.

After Chicago, my last week of shows would all be in Wisconsin.  I've been to Sheboygan so many times that it almost feels like coming home when I play there.  I played two shows that night, one at Paradigm coffee house and one at the Green Room Pub.  There were a lot of folks at Paradigm which was a really nice change of pace.

A group from Nebraska called Midwest Dilemma played both shows.  They were great.  And by the time they finished their set at the green room, they had played three shows that day.  Wowza!  They were gettin' shit did!

The next night in Milwaukee was a night that I was a bit worried about.  First, it was snowing like nobody's business and I had to drive through it (and so would anyone coming to the show).  Secondly, the show I had set up was kinda last minute.  Thirdly, it was a Sunday night.  These things together lead me to believe that I would be playing to a bartender.  But the two dudes I played with, Ricky and John, brought some folks out and, to my amazement, they and the folks they brought, stayed!  Even after their friend had played!  What!?!?!? (often times folks just leave after their friends play. Which makes sense...but sucks...)

I had two days in Madison ahead of me and I was, at first, pretty uncertain about what those days would look like.  I had one show set up and was uncertain what I'd end up doing with my day off.  I played at a small joint called, Indie Coffee.  The folks were super nice, they even fed me, but basically, I was playing to a few college students who were studying.  It was a good opportunity to work on my re-imagining of Leonard Nemoy's Bilbo Baggins song.


I was really excited to go check out the state capital.  I had been hearing a lot about the protesting, but didn't know too much about  what was going on, so I hopped on the interweb and informed myself, then went to the capital.  It was awesome to see so many people in one place.

I had been in touch with a Madison musician named Jeremiah Nelson.  He hosts a singer/songwriter night at an awesome bar called Mickey's.  At the last minute he was able to host me for the evening that I didn't have filled.  What a hero!  It was super encouraging to have something like that happen after all the the debacles I had been through.  Jeremiah Nelson.  What a guy.  Also, his jams rule.

The next afternoon I made my way to La Crosse, WI.  

La Crosse has been and awesome place to play.  I had played there twice before and felt like I was starting to get some traction.  This time, my publicist, who by the way, rules like crazy, had gotten me articles in the college paper and the La Crosse Arts and Entertainment publication.  I played with a local band that is real good called, Elliot Arms.  I had reason to believe the show was going to be good.  And it was.  Booyah!

I have really fond memories of Menomonie.  When I was a youngster I grew up about 15 minutes from there and would come into town to see high school football games.  I don't know why, but at every game, all the youngster boys would congregate behind the bleachers and have gigantic brawls.  It was the best.  Then when we got older we graduated to following girls around and throwing their mittens into porta-potties.  

Anywho, the show in Menomonie was quaint and really fun.  Some friends were there and that made my heart warm.  I played with a band called Daniel and the Lion, who are very nice and hard working dudes.

By the time I got to Eau Claire, I felt like all the weight from all the disappointments on the road had settled on my brain-mind.  I was really worn out and was hoping for a killer show to finish up the trip.  When I booked the show in Eau Claire I was ignorant of a huge showcase happening the next night with all the kick ass bands from Eau Claire.  So, I was pretty sure, that there would not be a huge turnout.  And there wasn't.  I was pretty bummed out, but after I got over myself I was super happy that an awesome band called, Wisconsin Bulit had played, some of my friends came, and my roommates surprised me by showing up with my dog!  

The next day, I decided to stick around town and go to the showcase to see my friends play.  There were six bands on the bill.  zoinx!  I prepared myself by going to the Volume One (Eau Claire's arts and entertainment rules!) Local Store.  They sell all things local; books, music, t-shirts, etc.  Its awesome in there.

The showcase was awesome.  There was so much great music; Wisconsin Built, The Heart Pills, Small Cities (booyah Minnesota!), Meridene, Laarks, and The Daredevil Christopher Wright.  Everyone sounded great.

Here's Meridene in a cloud of mystery.

Right after the show I drove home.  I couldn't wait to get home.  

My first order of business the next day was to get a black bean burrito from the May Day Cafe.  Mmmmmmmmm.  I'm addicted.

(Cheesy life lesson conclusion.)

Touring by oneself for long periods of time is hard.  Mostly because being a songwriter is one of the more self-involved things one can do.  There is a really intimate connection between one's songs and one's self.  When one plays show after show after show where one's songs aren't appreciated, it feels like one's self isn't appreciated...and that doesn't feel good.  I've learned that I don't have to understand it like that.  I like playin' songs and I like traveling and playin' songs for folks, and I think that's all I should worry about.  Maybe.  At least to keep from losin' my mind.

Anywho, more traveling stories to come,