Friday, May 18, 2012 at 10:47 a.m.
We Are the Willows tour diary Vol. 21
Tour Diary archive
My name is Peter and I write and play tunes under the name We Are the Willows. What follows are some thoughts and stories about being on the road playing music. Since returning home from my three-month-long tour last summer, I've managed to get a full eight hours of sleep, eat three square meals a day, and take a shower or two. But there is just something about playing to a bartender and smelling like the Burger Kings' armpit that I missed too much! So, it was time to hit the dusty trail again.
Madison, Wisconsin, has been a hard nut for me to crack. It has taken me playing there a dozen times to finally feel like there are some folks who smell what I'm stepping in. The show at The Project Lodge was sparsely attended, but what the audience was missing in quantity, it certainly made up for in quality. Folks were super attentive and responsive and there is almost nothing better than that. Peter, the guy who was running the show that night waived the room rental fee so that I could actually get some dough! What a saint! Dietrich Gosser and Ugly Brothers sounded radical as well.
Early on in my trip, the ol' family van had caught some sort of vehicular fever. It was runnin' real rough!
Money was tight though, so the ol' van and I had no choice but to carry on and hope for the best. Speaking of the best, the folks in Dekalb, Illinois, are incredible and deserve a medal. I had been in conversation with Camille about playing in Dekalb for over a year and the stars finally aligned. The event I was to play was an awareness-raising event centered around reusing and recycling. I was also invited to join in on Dekalb's Critical Mass, which they renamed "Courteous Mass" and since I bring my bike along on tour, I joined em'!
I played at The House Cafe and it was great! There were lots of folks there and they didn't seem to mind listening to some dude with an acoustic guitar at 11 p.m. on a Friday night. I played right after the NIU's all-male a cappella group "Huskie Hunks."
I made a joke about being able to braid hair and this gal made me prove that I could.
That night I had a killer time hangin' out with great folks and ended up crashing in a Spongebob Squarepants bunk.
If you've read any of my tour diaries, you may know that I have a deep and undying love for Peoria, Illinois. The folks in that town have come to occupy a very special part of my blood pumper. Steve has set up house shows for me every time I come through town and I can always count on them being really special. The show this time around was no exception.
The Bartman's; Jared, Stephanie, and their infant Henry, played a great set and Henry was nice enough to stick around for my set.
The blurry picture does not do his cuteness justice.
After playing in Peoria, I drove to Chicago. I was set to play a couple songs for a Chicago based video group called Rooftop Sessions. We were going to film on the beach but some powerful fog had moved in. So, we did some brainstorming, a couple illegal U-turns, and found ourselves in Millennium Park. Dan, Joel, and Mikel were super thoughtful and enthusiastic. I had a killer time. You can check out the video they made here
I then headed over to The Red Line Tap where I was to play later that evening. I loaded my gear into the venue, took an hour or so to find a parking spot, and made some supper in the van. The bar wasn't very populated and I didn't make much dough, but I met some excellent folks and had a good time. Plus, anytime I get an excuse to eat Chicago Style Deep dish pizza in Chicago I take full advantage of it.
My last date was in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I was real nervous about the van surviving, but powered by left-over deep dish pizza and the magic of unbridled optimism, she made it. It was a Monday night at the Root Note Coffee Shop. Generally Monday nights are pretty awful nights to be on tour, but I was pleasantly surprised by the folks that showed up and by the fact that I saw some familiar faces. Dan Collins played an awesome Radiohead cover and I tried to to do the splits on stage. I mean, I wish I tried to do the splits.
I don't know that folks are meant to be or do anything in particular, but when I'm playing tunes on the road, I feel like I've found the thing that really makes me feel like myself. This week-long trip through the Midwest reminded me that life is short and I better get busy doing what I really want to do. More travel stories to come ....