Tonight we were planning on playing in Toledo, OH but we got a call mid-afternoon today saying that the show had been canceled. Seems to be the story of the tour thus far. But as usual we decided to take advantage of the situation. Jordan’s friend from college Nick lives in Ann Arbor and just happened to be throwing a house party. So it just made sense that we would stick around an extra night and play at the house party. The party started with a DJ and a lot of dancing then at about midnight we went on and played until about 2. It was a blast. Turns out law students know how to party! We even pulled out a Rage Against the Machine cover…. It’s been a while since I’ve played Rage! So after the party we have a long drive to Providence, Rhode Island so we leave Ann Arbor at 4 AM. This part of the story has been told in Jordan’s post but I suppose I will hit the big points from my point of view. Basically I set up Garmin for Providence and didn’t take the time to look at the route (or check the settings on Garmin to see if you we would go international) and well we are about an hour and a half into our drive and we see a sign that says Canada 7 miles… Awesome. So after doing some mapping it turns out we basically have to travel through Canada or go 4 hours out of our way around Lake Erie. So we get to Customs and we have to answer some questions and they look through the van briefly and we are on our way into Canada without passports… So that was easy right? Well yes getting into Canada is easy…. Getting back into the US is not easy. Crossing back into the US we basically had everything but a body cavity search. They just couldn’t believe that the Canadians let us into their country without passports. So after an hour and a half of interrogation we are back in the US… On the plus side we did get to see Niagra Falls. What a day/night…..
We’re one hour outside of Ypsilanti, MI, when I get a phone call from the booking agent.
“Yeah, so the venue doesn’t have power. I’m sorry, but its not going to get fixed. Tonight’s show is canceled.”
Unbelievable. Again? Another show messed with? And this one, where my best buddy Nick lives (10 minutes away in Ann Arbor) and might be able to bring some friends?
We took this like we take the news of all the other times this craziness occurs on the road. Just an inconvenience easily overcome with some dedication and optimism. So we hit up every bar that might consider having live music in Ann Arbor to see if they had a slot for us to play that night. An hour later, no go. We drove to Ypsilanti, and started the process again. We walk into this basement martini lounge called the Keystone Underground and I start the story…
“We had a show canceled tonight, and…”
Before I can even finish, the bartender interrupts. “Wanna play here tonight?”
Yes, actually. Thanks! Great.
We ended up playing after a jazz combo, so we started later than expected and none of Nick’s hard working law studying compatriots could come out, but we had a dang good time. We made some friends, sold CDs and sunglasses, and got more people signed up on the mailing list. The bar even paid us a little and gave us free beer. All in all, a successful night.
Another reminder that life is what we make of it. We could have been bummed and complained and just sat around without a show and with no one to play for. Instead, we knew that if we tried we could some way to make the night worthwhile. We saw an opportunity instead of a loss. It doesn’t always work out – we’ve discovered that a couple of times on this tour. Yet for every time it doesn’t work out we have two stories of times it did, and often we end up with an even better crowd and pay situation than we would have in the original.
Do you have any examples of times that seemed terrible but with the right attitude you made something good out of it? Other ways you’ve discovered that life is what we make of it? Feel free to share them here.
Friday: Toledo cancelled because of local bands backing out. Well, we always make the most of it, so we play at my best buddy Nick’s house party in Ann Arbor Michigan. It is sweet. A very fun show, with a ton of people dancing and enjoying the night. We start after the DJ at around 1AM and play until 3, when things begin to wind down. Pack up, and start the 14 hour drive to Providence RI at 4am. I know, ridiculous.
I check the route on my iPhone and it looks good. Then we plug the address into Garmin (GPS) and she shaves off an hour. Great! We’ll follow Garmin. Unfortunately, garmin doesn’t give you a macroscopic view, so I’m just following turn by turn and not thinking about where I’m going. Next thing I know I see a sign …
“Canada 7 Miles”
Canada! WTF! No way. Hooch double checks the route, and indeed it seems like Garmin is taking us into ANOTHER COUNTRY. Where is the setting which states, “no border crossings, please?”
Look at the map, and lo and behold there is an entire chain of GREAT LAKES blocking us from any other route. We’re an entire hour and a half from the other possibility which skirts south of the lakes. Backtracking at this point guarantees that we won’t make the show in time (at 7P the next day), so I tell Hooch we’ve got to try it. We don’t have passports.
Get to the border, and the Canadians are really cool about it. Yep, this is the fastest way, they tell us. Ryan, asleep in the back, has no clue what’s going on. Later he explains this is what he thought, “Man, that toll lady is really chatty!” Little did he know she was questioning our citizenship.
“Wake up Ry, time to get detained by the Canadian police.” We have to get out and go through customs while they search the car. A little delay, but relatively no prob considering its 530AM and we have no passports. I left my jacket in Ann Arbor, so I’m doing the whole ordeal wearing my halloween costume (a blue pancho-blanket with googly eyes, see the pic) to keep warm.
Our first time in Canada was relatively smooth sailing. I’m driving for three hours straight, jacked up on caffeine, energy drinks, and 5 hour energy. I think I also went through an entire bag of trail mix.
Anyway we stop for a photo shoot at Niagra Falls (badass), and then go through the US border crossing. Things are not so easy this time. For some reason an unmarked maroon van with three dirty, grungy, long haired 20 somethings wearing googly-eyed panchos and not porting passports raises suspicions.
We have to get out, hand over the keys, and are basically interrogated. They did everything short of a full body cavity search. They ripped apart the van, even going through Ryan’s boots and pouring out… yes, in the van… pouring out my oatmeal. They grill us in the interrogation room, all the while trying to intimidate us.
“I cant believe the Canadians let you through,” They repeat, over and over again. “You have all those CDs, that’s commercial merchandise you know?” Intimidation. We’ve done nothing wrong, I know, and we’re American citizens, so I’m laughing at the whole thing. They must have thought I was mocking them. It’s pretty comical, minus the hour + delay it puts on our trip.
Finally, they realize we’re not terrorists or drug runners, and they let us go. On the road again, just a little messier van. Oh Canada. Our first time on that foreign soil. Only the Americans gave us trouble.
The coup de grace is that after all of that (Exhausted from being up for at least 24 hours, I finally stopped driving and passed out in the back), we arrive at the venue in Providence about 30 minutes late.
Now we had corresponded by email, and the last one more or less said, “Get there by 7, show starts at 8, I’ll get back to you about lineup and play times.” (which they didn’t, of course).
The booking agent is waiting for us outside the club. He stops us, and delivers the final blow. “Sorry guys, you can’t play tonight. You’re here too late. Here’s some cash for your troubles.”
Gotta give them props for at least paying us. all in all it was just a fitting end to a hilarious trip.
We had a show scheduled for a bar in Park City with a modest guarantee. I even confirmed it in person when I was there with my family six weeks ago. We show up at 630P, and there is another act scheduled. Turns out the guy who booked us got fired and all his bookings got canceled, but none of them got notified. They wouldn’t budge, but they did give us a couple appetizer pizzas and a beer a piece as a consolation prize.
I actually found the guy who booked us and asked him to get us a show. He tried but couldn’t get it worked out. So we went to every bar in town, explained the story, and asked if they needed a band for the night. The all said no.
We resolved to just drive on to Denver, but on the way out I saw the very last bar on the strip, the only which we hadn’t tried yet. I said, let’s stop and try one more time.
We walked in and I could tell the place was different. The vibe was relaxed, fun, chill. The owner was there. We told him the story, and he said, fuck yea, why not. We’ll throw you some gas money, and if you really rock it, we’ll cover your bar tab.
So we played, and the show was phenomenal. The bar, Lindzee O Michael’s, loved us, and the bartenders texted all of their friends and brought out a crowd. Everyone was dancing, and one guy even tipped us $100 to join us on a song. In the end, the bar covered our tab and paid us more than we were guaranteed at the original venue. They also loved us so much that they want us to come back in the winter when the city is crazy packed with tourists, and book us shows for a whole week. There could not have been a better ending to a story that seemed so screwed.
This is actually the third time something like that has happened on this tour, and each time we’ve made it work out for the better in the end.
These are some of the great life lessons we learn on the road. Persistence and optimism pay off, even if if doesn’t seem like it until the very end.
And if you’re ever in Park City, go to Lindzee O’ Michaels, it’s the best bar in town.
Everett was a good Tuesday show (two weeks ago), but not much more can be said about it than that. The Anchor Pub was kind enough to host us on an off-night, feed and booze us, and there were a few patrons there who enjoyed our show. We sold a couple CD’s and I think maybe a T-shirt or two (go merch girl Amanda). A couple really nice guys told us that the city is pumping a ton of money into making it an artsy scene and a lot of good bands are coming up, so maybe we’ll come back on a weekend night and a crazy crowd will come out.
A funny ending to the story is that we stayed with Hooch’s cousin, who was also kind enough to host us, last minute, in his one bedroom apartment. There was almost NO open floor space. I’d step on people to get up and pee. Luckily, that didn’t happen because we had to get up and get out of there when he went to work … at 630AM. The funny thing is that none of us felt up to driving to Mt. Rainier yet, or going around the town, so we just drove around the block and decided to sleep in the van for the next four hours. We only had to get up once and move a spot forward and pay the meter again since there was a 2 hour limit.
Gather ‘round children as I tell you the story of three brave musicians and their quest to return home from yonder lands in the valley of the Mississippi. (just kidding) So after playing two really awesome shows in Louisiana, eating some really bomb Cajun food, volunteering, and groovin’ with the Rebirth Brass Band we left New Orleans and headed back to Austin. Charlie was driving again and Jordan and I were more or less napping in the back of the bus. The Ho Bus doesn’t have a gas gauge, but we estimated that we had around 150 miles left on the veggie oil tank and a full tank of diesel. Jordan told Charlie that he should switch over to diesel from veggie-oil after 150 miles. We were cruising nicely a little past Lafayette when Charlie exclaimed that the bus was slowing down. I told him to switch to diesel and fast! But, alas, it was too late, again. We had run out of gas, veggie oil this time, and this time even though we had a full tank of diesel we didn’t switch over fast enough to keep the engine running. Let me tell you how ecstatic I was! So Jordan called AAA and we waited by the side of the road, again.
This time it took about an hour and a half, but we were greeted by a familiar face…it was Richie the tow-truck driver from outside of Lafayette that had picked us up a few days earlier. I thought it was pretty fucking-funny to see him again. He just smiled at us and laughed a little at our precarious situation. He probably thought we were nuts for even taking the bus on the road. At the same time this was all happening Charlie had decided he was going to walk to the nearest gas station to wait (why I can’t really say). So after we got the bus hooked up to the back of Richie’s truck we made our way to meet him. I estimate Charlie walked about 3 miles through mosquito infested country, down the highway, over a bridge and into some backwoods neighborhood that even our tow-truck driver thought looked sketchy. Worse than that, the one gas station Charlie could find, which had a restaurant inside the store, closed about one minute before Charlie got there. He even had time to ask a clerk if there was anything near by and she told him “yes, in the next parish there was a restaurant that was open, about three miles down the road.” Charlie looked pretty defeated when we met up with him, and I can imagine his face was priceless when she told him that.
The day was far from over, though. We managed to get the bus started again at the gas station by using the regular-unleaded-soaked-rag method that we had picked up a few days before in New Orleans and got back on the road. Charlie started driving and made the observation that there was low power in the bus, like he could tell the battery was low. We made a quick stop about 40 miles later and I took over driving. It was getting dark by then and I noticed that the lights on the bus were extremely dim. Driving was about to get a whole lot more fun! We made it through Louisiana to Orange, Texas and I started to really notice how little power we had. The blinkers didn’t work, the cabin lights didn’t work, and it was dark as shit in front of me. The bus is a very wide van and just before Beaumont the lanes start getting very narrow. That coupled with the darkness and the extremely poor suspension on the bus, had me weaving in my lane. I had to concentrate on the taillights ahead of me to get any idea of how the lane was curving. I thought we would get pulled over but Jordan was insisting that we try to make it to Houston to my parent’s house for the night. Sure enough I saw the red and blue lights behind me. You have got to imagine this hulking-yellow short school bus flying down the highway in the dark, swerving in the lane to get the true picture of what this cop saw. He thought I was drunk. We are all putting our hands out the bus to indicate we are going to pull over (because duh, the blinkers don’t work!) and he finally takes off his siren. We pull over and I have to get out and talk to this hayseed sheriff from Vidor, Texas (which Charlie later informs me has won the distinction of most racist town in America (high-five!)). So as he explains to me why I can’t be on the road he is constantly spitting sunflower seeds on my feet. I was a tad irritated but after he realized that this was a new development for our bus he instructed us to park in a near-by truck stop and stay there until it was light out so that we could drive and be seen by other drivers. He didn’t give me a ticket either, for which I was thankful.
The night wasn’t over yet. We called AAA again to get a tow from Vidor to my folk’s house in Houston. They told us it would be an hour and it turned out to be two, but that wasn’t even the worst part. The guy got there and refused to tow us. He tried to convince us it was too tall to be towed on his truck, that it would surpass the legal limit of 12’6”. We tried to get this guy to understand that it was not going to be nearly that tall (Jordan can touch the top of the bus without jumping) and we even offered to measure it to prove its height would be fine. This was to no avail, and when Jordan and I were discussing what to do, the motherfucker drove off without a word. At this point I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes on the bus, as we all were, and dirty as hell from sweating all day. Jordan some how became convinced he could tape light and plastic coverings to the bus and we could get it jump started to get home that night. Charlie and I looked at him like anyone would who heard his plan—like he was a fucking crazy person. We convinced him to call his folks after he brazenly tried to tell us “I don’t even think that it’s illegal [to tape lights to your car].” His parents managed to convince him otherwise (thankfully).
Charlie and I decided to get a room at the motel attached to the truck stop and Jordan decided to sleep in the bus. I just wanted some A/C. This place was classy. Shiiiiiit. The doors didn’t even have door knobs, just a bolted in handle and key for a dead-bolt. The room was spacious, but very dirty and the cable did not work. I was so tired and frustrated though that I fell asleep fairly soon after we got into the room.
The next morning we got the bus jumped and slowly drove back to Austin. We stopped every 120 miles for gas as a precaution and we never turned off the engine so that the battery wouldn’t die again. I think everyone in the band agrees that the bus will not suffice for the next tour and maybe not even for traveling outside of Texas. I was very grateful to be back in Austin. Thank you for reading this extremely long post.
The basics of this story, our night in Lafayette:
- Get to the Artmosphere, turn around to park and the car stalls. I realize immediately that we’re out of gas
- Listen to some kick ass music from Teddy Lamson and Leo DeJesus (his first solo show, clearly an old hand on the stage though)
- Play a great show
- 1AM: Get gas, but it won’t start. Run down the battery trying to get it to start.
- Get more gas, get the manager Chantel to jump us. Still won’t start
- Call AAA to get a jump. They send Pop-A-Lock. Still won’t start.
- Call AAA to get towed from Lafayette to New Orleans. 130 mile tow (free, thank goodness for the AAA Premier + RV card).
- The Tow truck tried to jump it, still won’t start. It is now 5AM and we’ve been at this for 4 hours.
- Get towed to Metarie (Don’t tell the tow guy that Charlie was sleeping in the back of the bus cause it’s technically illegal)
- 730AM: Sleep.
- Call AAA again, they send an automotive God who knows everything about Diesels and what happens when you run out of gas. Hooks up to a commercial battery charger and does a little trick with a rag soaked in unleaded (regular gas) pressed against the air intake. Tells everyone to back off in case of an explosion.
- The trick works, we’re back in business.
- Oh the Ho Bus. This time, it was our fault. Granted we don’t have a gas gage. At least it makes for some good stories and video.
One fine evening at our great friends the Sortes, we decided to relax in a a hot tub. Out of nowhere GASP! bubbles formed before our very eyes. Within minutes there were feet of bubbles covering the surface of the tub and spilling over into the pool like a shallow soapy waterfall. Insanity ensued!
The pictures say it all. Check back for more pictures as they surface and dodge all the dodgy bubbles.
Also check back for updates on our calendar. We’re working hard to book shows in and around Austin, and will likely head out East on I-10 again in early September.
I have no idea how I lost the key – that’s the nature of something being lost isn’t it? I went to the van to get my running shoes, and then played some frisbee with Suzanne (Jane’s sister) and Michael. Innocent enough, right? Next thing I know the band and the whole Sundermann family is tearing up the house, the street and the park, looking for some scintillating grey metal.
OoooKKK. We can still make it to the show with all our equipment by borrowing two cars. The next morning if we haven’t located the missing key we’ll get Enterprise to make us a new one. Easy enough, right?
We play the show at Felix’s (which was badass, by the way). Tons of fans, almost all friends of Jane, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves, and a hazy “afterparty” in a STL basement with the booking agent, sound guy, and some of their friends. Great night, ready to rock our last show in Chicago. Call Enterprise the next morning and they send over AAA to make a new key. Simple enough, right?
This AAA guy tells me that you can’t just make a new key, despite the fact that the van doesn’t even have power locks or power windows. There’s a little chip in the key that sync’s up with the van’s computer, and it takes 30 minutes to do so. Intended to reduce theft, it apparently has just increased the number of straight up car jackings. Anyway Mr. AAA locksmith can’t get it to work. Chicago is 5 1/2 hours away and our show isn’t until 1130 so I’m not worried. Time enough, right?
After two and a half hours he tells me he can’t do it and peaces out. That’s it. No word of help, no advice. So I call Enterprise and they say no prob, tow it to a dealership and they’ll be able to make a new key. Fine. But now it’s 3 and I’m starting to realize that if it takes the alloted 75 minutes for the tow-truck, 20 minutes to get towed, and another 30 to get a key made, we’re cutting it really close. And that’s assuming everything is copacetic. As you can imagine, it wasn’t. Fortunately Joanie, Jane’s mom, had the brilliant idea of getting a loaner van from Enterprise. So I called.
which have little to do with each other and little regard for how quickly this issue gets resolved. I have nothing but gratitude towards Enterprise – they really helped us out and were very kind. The scene was just hilarious – six disparate companies.
I’m on the phone with (1) Enterprise central office, and they have to call (2) Enterprise in New Orleans to OK the van switch. Then, they call (3) Enterprise St. Louis to OK the deal. Next they call (4) AAA to get the tow truck, and AAA calls (5) a local towing company. Finally, there’s (6) the dealership we get the vehicle towed to. At one point I’m on a four way conference call with Enterprise Central, Enterprise New Orleans, and Enterprise St. Louis. Ridic.
Somehow the beauracracy is well oiled and we manage to slip through a pile of paperwork into a loaner van for the Chicago show. We end up making it with about thirty minutes to spare, and play a killer last show. Big shout out to Ryan’s friend Elissa for bringing a crowd. Plus I got to catch up with two amazing people from study abroad, Sasha and Montana, and party balls with old Rice friends Kirby and Darren. Awesome hosts. But I digress.
The next morning we drive back to St. Louis with the intention of a quick pick-up-the-van stop on our way to Arkansas. We’ve got to get back to Austin for a wedding on Saturday and it’s already Thursday at this point. I call Enterprise to find out where the van is. They don’t know.
What? So I start calling Chevy/GMC/Buick dealerships and asking around. No one knows where this van is. What the hell?
Enterprise figures it out and calls me back, so I call back the dealerships I’ve been asking and let them know I found our van. Turns out the tow company just dropped off the van without a word and the service guys at the dealership had no clue who owned the van or what to do with it.
I tell them what’s up and they say it should only take a half hour. Yeah right.
We show up at three hours later at 6 and the service guys have all gone home. No one knows what’s up with the van and they’re trying to jump it because it “won’t start.” That’s because the key doesn’t work.
OK, we’ll show up first thing in the morning. We all wanted to watch “The Hangover” anyway. We’ll just have to drive the 18 hours from STL to Austin all on Friday.
We call Friday morning and they say it should only take a half hour. Sure….
I don’t believe them, but know that we have to be ready anyway. Jane and I head down to the dealership and whaddayaknow, we wait two hours! Finally, the guy comes out and tells us that the key they’ve been trying to program for the past two days, the one made by the original AAA locksmith that couldn’t do it, doesn’t work. I know, gasp in mock surprise. All they have to do is make a new key and it will take a half hour!
This time, that’s all it takes. Three days later, we have a replacement for our lost key.