HFAGS Spring (de)Tour 2008 (shows 1-8)
Hope For Agoldensummer has spent the last 2 weeks hitting the road with a vengeance. So forceful were we in our travels that our beloved touring van, Betty Bang, now sits in a wrecker lot somewhere in Ohio awaiting her final voyage... to the scrapyard. It is an amazing sight to see your wheel fly past your van at 5am, a glowing red orb sailing down a dark highway, whilst you struggle to stop a vehicle that has lost its ability to brake. Luckily, we were the only ones on the highway and were flanked on both sides by pastureland. We rolled to a stop, and after several attempts, extinguished the flames shooting out from the wheel hub. While the sun rose we searched the ditches for our wayward, molten wheel. We were towed back to Dayton and sold Betty for a crisp one hundred dollar bill. A shame to see her go for just one benjamin, but the damage was considerable. We rented a tiny car and were able to pack everything except a tom drum, 3 pillows, and an accordion case. We never found the wheel.
So fraught with peril was this tour, that we thought you might like to see what a tour can potentially cost. Or even going on vacation, for that matter. In 17 days on the road we spent over $1000 on gasoline. We decided to make this an open-book tour, so you can see exactly what we earned and spent. You can see it all on this nerdy accounting chart I made: http://www.hopeforagoldensummer.com/hopepandl2008.pdf
I'd like to say we've seen it all, but I know there is more to come. The important part is that we lived to tell the entire touring tale, in much greater detail, with bitterness & humor & tired eyes.
...So, let us begin at the beginning as most stories do...
4/18/08 NUCI’S SPACE (Athens, GA)
…In which the protagonists drink evil spirits & are forced to remember the benefit of practice…
We kicked off our tour by playing a benefit show in our hometown. Nuci’s Space (www.nuci.org) is the beneficiary, but they then bestow these earnings onto the broke-ass musical population of Athens, GA. They provide us with low cost counseling and medical exams. Plus, they have REALLY clean practice rooms. In one of those rooms they had supplied all the evening’s performers with mounds of yummy food. So I fluctuated between listening to the UGA talent in the concert room and grazing on snacks in the practice room. Page brought a teeny tiny bottle of Jim Beam BLACK. We passed it around, and I just want to write and tell you not to bother. That beverage conclusively tastes like some kind of automotive fuel. It burned me bad. Real bad. I ate a cookie about it and then we took to the stage.We played okay, but not great. In fact, it made me nervous how loose the show was since we were leaving on tour the next day and we should maybe be playing a bit tighter before we take this thing on the road.
4/19/08 CRIMINAL RECORDS (Atlanta, GA)
…. In which the author does not get what she wants, but does receive aural massage…
Criminal is a killer record store that has always supported HFags. They were a big part of organizing National Record Store Day. I roamed around L5P and found a dress that WILL be mine one day. It is a lil’ piece from the 50s. Fits me like a condom but has stains and needs a bit of repair. Stefan’s was asking $65. I asked the clerk to knock it down. He said, “I’ll give you $8 off”. I say, “I was thinking more like HALF off.” And with a swish of his hips and dreadlocks he said, “No. Have a good day” and then he swiped up MY dress and walked away. No further negotiations whatsoever. If he’d let me explain he could have learned the facts, which is that no one else can fit into that dress but me. Only so many people are built as scrawnily as I. Many will try to fit that dress, but none shall succeed. And so it will just hand their on the rack like I’m sure it has hung for many months or years, And everytime I am in Atlanta I am going to go try it on and attempt to renegotiate until one day I slowly break that clerk down to half price. It is blue and white striped, with a mesh bodice, and bows with white pom-poms. That dress and I are meant to be together.
We went on around 7pm in the back of the store. The initial screeching PA feedback made my fillings hurt and loosened my bowels. The soundman also seemed rather shocked and let it continue at ear-shattering volume for a bit before he returned to his senses and twisted some knobs. I find it is best when a sound person doesn’t seize up into a statue. That is just my personal preference. Later I got to see The Coathangers rock and also our friend Anna Kramer tore it up. We played better than the night before and some fair lady has posted our cover of an Aliyah & Timbaland song on youtube…
4/20/08 R3V3RB (Greensville, SC)
… In which the protagonists hear grotesque tales from a neighborhood just like their own…
This is when things got weird. When we arrived at the venue, there was a single young lad, Brantley. He was manning the joint since the owner was busy moving out of her house as just several days before she’d been very startled to find in her front yard the severed hands and feet of a woman. HUH?!?!? That is macabre.There was a general freaky buzz about the town and everyone was talking about hands & feet. And this bouncer guy, Brantley, was listening to hardcore rap really loud. He was sweet. He helped us load-in and told us not to catch his cold when we shook his hands. He was very sick. But he stayed all night.
This show had only been booked 2 weeks prior so there wasn’t much time for publicity. 10 people were there, including the cute-as-hell opening act, Noel Thrasher.
About halfway through our set I heard a bunch of stuff hit the floor, and I opened my eyes and saw bouncer Brantley stand and get all puffed up ready to fight because someone had thrown a bunch of rocks into the club and he got hit in the head. Brantley rushed outside but couldn’t find the culprit so we continued our set unfazed. Those 10 people were real sweet and bought lots of merch and then we drove off and found a motel halfway between there and Arlington, VA.
4/21/08 GALAXY HUT (Arlington, VA)
…In which the Campbell sisters meet with a generous & talented cousin after rocking the house …
Well, we woke up early to do band yoga. Deb and I on mats, and Page just on a hotel towel, sort of all interspersed between the beds and walls and other tiny hotel furniture in our $49 American Motel room in whatever town we were in. Just as Deb had led us to our 7th Chakra, there was a loud knock on the door smacked my dear little sister square in her head as she was laid out next to the door. And a small Indian man leaned in to tell us we had 10 minutes to get the hell out. So we did.
We drove awhile and arrived in Arlington several hours before soundcheck. We roamed and grazed and window-shopped. Page and Deb went for a jog. When we showed up the place was getting pretty full and I was reminded of several things that I’d forgotten since our last trip to the Hut: The bartender not only tends bar but also runs the PA from a small mixing board beneath the bar. This place is really tiny. Anyhow, my cousin from Great Falls, VA showed up, and brought his cute friends and also my new cousin-in-law (also cute). Lars, who used to DJ for our hometown radio station, was there with friends, and he now works for the music dep’t at THE NPR, like, the main one in DC. And then there were many new faces and a few familiars. A 3-piece instrumental performed first. Sansyou. Very heavy at times, and with a killer cellist. The drummer had a std kit, plus something like 7 different pairs of congas ranging from med size down to the teeniest I’d ever seen.
We performed next and the crowd was real respectful. We usually take requests for old stuff and somebody yelled out “Malt Liquor” so we meekly attempted and mostly pulled-off a very stripped down version of ML. A lot of the songs from the 1st album haven’t really been reworked since the boys split. They sound sparse to my ears, but that could just be my perception.
Our inebriated cousin directed us home. He and his family live in a gorgeous place out in the country surrounded by big dogs and horses. They’d blown up an air mattress for P&D and I slept on the couch. Their ornery kitties tried to wake me up, but I wasn’t havin’ it.
4/22/08 TWISTED BRANCH TEA BAZAAR (Charlottesville, VA)
…Wherein the author takes tea with a wayward epileptic…
P&D did band yoga in the driveway of cousin’s house and then we split for C-ville early to play a radio show. We got to WTJU in time to use their fabled coffee contraption. You take a small plastic pod filled with tea or coffee, lift up the lever of this machine and pace the pod under it. Then you crank the lever down onto it and hot water is forced thru making you the strongest cup of coffee in public radio history. Jeff and Chuck were our hosts. We played a bunch of songs in the studio in-between Jeff asking us questions. We were o our best behavior, so no cussing, sex or drugs took place therein. Jeff let me read a public announcement and then they let us loose in their record vault which is an amazing library of 12” and CDs. They have the best radio library I’ve ever seen. Very well taken care of. They made a copy of our show, so hopefully I can post some of it here soon. It is kinda silly cuz we were geeked out on coffee. Of, and Chuck thought we were so silly that he took us into a side studio to record a station identification bit for them to reuse. And then we departed for downtown Charlottesville.
We went first to the venue and ate yummy food. Then wandered aimlessly on the mall for hours. Page and Deb went jogging while I chatted and held hands with a perpetually homeless & epileptic Tarot reader named Ed.
Again, another small crowd. People, the fact is, is that you can get a write up in the paper, and do radio shows, but none of those things really bring out the masses.They just alert people that’ve already heard of you that you’re coming to town. What really brings people to shows is word-of-mouth.
We played for about 40 minutes and then took a 15 minute break… which turned into a never-ending break because Page started talked with a former Athenian, Carrie, about this other former Athenian who’d had it bad for both of them and used the same tactics to woo them, and as it turns out, basically uses the same game to woo all of his love interests, which is not a smart thing to do in a small town because, as I stated earlier, there is this thing called word-of-mouth and soon enough you’ll be hightailing it out of town with your bad reputation close on your heels, Which is just what this dude has had to do.
While Page and Carrie gossiped, Deb and I turned the tables on DJ Jeff and started grilling him about his major, Astronomy. He studies galaxies. Apparently there are a lot of them. Didn’t you know?
And I also got into a long conversation with two students planning to go on a trip to Peru. I extolled the virtues of the Takilli islands and coca leaves and cheap taxis. And by this time I was tipsy on raw, unfiltered saki. Page was, too, so we called it a night.
We slept in the tea bazaar on hard couches covered in Indian fabrics. Before we went to bed we watched a finished copy of our new music video, made by Jorge Torres. It is totally psychadelic.
We have another music video coming soon, too. It is totally amazing and epic and took many days of shooting in many locations. Very beautiful footage by Jason x 2 & Ethan at www.eikonic.com. However, I don’t think this one will be made publicly available until after the SPROCKETS FILM FEST… and oh my god what the hell is that sound our van keeps making. I am writing this on my laptop in our van, Betty Bang, and she keeps making this clanging noise underfoot.
Did you know that the USA is gorgeous? I have never spent as much time in Virginia as I am on this tour. That state’s beauty is practically boundless. They even have hedgehogs at their truck stops. And folks live in the tiniest towns you’ve never heard of and launch their boats into unfamiliar bodies of water or mow their giant bright green pastures and tend to their stock of donkeys and cattle. The barns in Greene, PA are made of bricks and have domes on top.
4/23/08 THE CAMEL (Richmond, VA)
…In which our sleep deprived heroes travel underground in search of the worlds largest natural instrument…
The three of us didn’t get any damn sleep. My heart kept waking me up with anxious beats. I think my nervous system couldn’t relax because… STOP THE VAN… DONUTS…. WHY WON’T PAGE STOP THE VAN WHEN I YELL OUT “DONUTS”. …. THERE WAS A TIME IN THIS WORLD WHEN A WOMAN COULD YELL OUT “DONUTS” AND ANOTHER WOMAN WOULD HEAR HER CRY AND STOP THE DAMN VAN ONE TIME!.... anyway, I couldn’t get to sleep because these couches we were on at the Tea Bazaar were located mere feet from big commercial kitchen appliances that have their own nervous systems and and they are always powering up and down and right and left and in and out and just when I am almost asleep the fridge begins to rumble like hungry fat man, and then I have to start all over again. This happened to all of us. Since the Tea Bazaar wasn’t going to reopen until noon, we made ourselves big pots of tea and ate dolmas and cashews. Page pronounced herself officially sick so we all did restorative yoga on the stage and then loaded out and hit the road for Richmond with a detour to Luray Caverns for to finally see, after many years of my super-peaked interest, the spectacular STALACTITE ORGAN. I will admit that Luray is a tourist trap, but if you pay that $19, you will see some amazing examples of rock columns and gorgeous stark white stalagmites. The tour underground lasts about 1.5 hours. Page stayed in the van to sleep off her sickness. Deb and I toured underground and dripped on by the cave, and lectured by the guide, and then finally got to hear the Stalactite Organ. Here’s the story: Many decades ago this electrician got permission to take an electric church organ down into the cave. He spent 2 years finding a stalactite for each piano key, that, when struck would produce the exact note of that key on the organ. Then he ran wires from each organ key to its corresponding stalactite, and when a key is hit on the organ, a signal travels down the wires and a tiny felted hammer strikes the stalactite. It sounds heavenly, Like a cross between a vibraphone and a, um, cave.
I bought a CD of a famous pianist who went down there once and played a bunch of famous piano songs. It is great. The songs are very raw and you can hear the sound of water dripping throughout the cave. I plan to schmooze them up and ask if they’ll let me record my Hallelujah song down there.
Oh, okay, so on to Richmond. We arrived at The Camel and unloaded thru the back door with gracious help from Jonathan Vassar and crewmates. After all our gear was in, one of us HFags proceeded to back the van into the spoiler of a nice new silver car while attempting to parallel-park. This was the beginning of our automotive malfunctions. The driver of the silver car got our note and found us at The Camel. We put her on the phone with our insurance agency and so on and so on.
Anyhow, after much pizza, we performed to a packed house of music-lovers and members of a ladies choir. I think they liked us, although we got a few scandalized looks from the ladies choir when I mentioned that we had brought free subversive literature on the topic of male circumcision. I guess some people think the topic is private, but we are on a mission to educate folks about it, as well as many other socio-political topics. Why on earth would you cut something off of a newly born infant? No really. Not only will the kid’s penis be smaller than it should have been, but it will be less sensitive. And when he realizes this as an adult he is gonna be pissed-as-hell! Some men spend years undergoing painful stretching using small barbells and weights, so as to “re-grow” their foreskin. Ain’t that a bitch.I have had to watch some scary videos and look at some gorey pictures of circumcisions as part of my doula/midwifery studies. I have learned so many things. For instance, did you know that it is NOT necessary to cut the umbilical cord? Nope. You can leave it (with the placenta) attached to the baby and it’ll fall away in 4 days. Did you know that you were once inside your grandmother? Since most female babies are born with all the eggs they’ll ever have, that means that YOU, as an egg, were once inside your mother, inside your grandmother.
After we played, Jonathan Vassar & crew performed a really great set and then took us back to their log cabin where we slept aside an old black piano, next to an open window, our noses full of country air and the smell of old, wet wood.
4/24/08 THE VELVET LOUNGE (Washington, DC)
.... In which the future is revealed by a puddle of differential fluid, and the author does not take heed…
We woke up in the country. Drank strong, flowery green tea, watched a family of 6 chipmunks in their tree stump house, and petted a kind, happy chicken.Jonathan Vassar has got it made out there. His wife, Antonia, led us to a swell breakfast joint, and then we thrifted for awhile and hit the road.
So….The Velvet Lounge in DC is neither loungy or velvety. It was, in fact, a tiny place with a tiny bar. And an upstairs with a stage and a floor covered in sawdust from recent renovations. We loaded in flanked by an eager pitbull. The soundman, Sam, was rather a newbie, but did well given his accommodations. There were 3 other acts on the bill, and after much shuffling we were moved from last to 3rd. We were hoping this would happen because, unfortunately, Betty Bang, our van, had sprung some kind of MAJOR leak and was sitting in a giant puddle of her own oil. So much oil, that we were fairly ertain we’d need to be towed away from the club or risk derailing in downtown DC. During our set to about 10 people, we asked for assistance and advice about our predicament. Several folks offered their apartments and gave recs for mechanics. We ended up staying with three cute lasses mere blocks from the club. We were able to drive BB without any trouble. We ate lavender-chocolate cake. Then to bed.
The other acts of that night were all very avante garde, mostly instrumental, pretty wild and beautiful stuff.
4/25/08 PETE’S CANDY STORE (Brooklyn, NY)
… In which the author drives 15 hours in one day, without the aid of chemicals…
This morning we woke up at 8 am. Well, I hit snooze 3 times, and then we really woke up, forgoing our morning yoga, and roamed DC looking for a repair shop.You see, our van, Betty Bang, hit puberty and started menstruating the moment we parked out in front of The Velvet Lounge on Thursday. She began bleeding lube and didn’t stop. She just sat there on the curb in a puddle of her own axle grease.
We found a repair shop. The clerk sent us to drink coffee while they looked it over. When we got back to the shop I could see two legs sticking out from under Betty. I walked up and hollered, “How does it look down there?” A small, wirey man, with eyes wide, rolled out from under the van and said, “It looks bad… real bad. I gotta check and see if you burnt up the whole rear end.” And then he rolled back under.
They estimated the repair costs to be NINE HUNDRED DOLLARS and said it wouldn’t be ready until tomorrow! That cracked us up, because, as you may have heard, we are already many thousands of dollars in credit card debt due to self-releasing our frickin’ awesome new album. Ah, credit card debt. Ain’t that the American way? Anyhow, I called my hometown Athens, GA mechanic, Mr. Eddie Cradock down by Weaver D’s, and he said, indeed, that a repair of that nature was very laborious and would run around a grand. Damn. I was hoping he would say we were getting ripped off and then he would put on his super mechanic cape and fly to DC and fix Betty. Nope…. So AYT needed all day to fix her. They called Enterprise who brought us a sweet maroon SUV that gets twice the mileage and zips around like a roller girl. And then we sweet-talked Lea and Julia into letting us leave our extra gear at their house, and we fit as much as we could into the SUV
Tons of toll money, but good gas mileage because we were in a tiny vehicle instead of our gas guzzler. I had to drive the whole time as I was the only one insured to do so. I almost wrecked the rental numerous times having daydreams about one of my crushes back home. Man, it is like, as soon as my brain/body realize we are single again, then the floodwaters of sexual imagination reopen and suddenly I cannot drive straight for thinking of all the ways I could do IT with Mister SoAndSo.
We got to Brooklyn with about an hour to spare. Daniel Clay opened with a perfect set. That man is so foxy and such a good songwriter. Then the room got tightly packed with folks. Many familiar faces like Jorge Torres, Brian Petway & Ariel. Plus lots of new folks. We played a good set and that crowd filled up the tip bucket and bought lotsa merch, which is good because we had started to dread the mounting cost of van repairs plus renting a vehicle. I asked for two things: Aderol (for the drive back) and a scalpel (to get this giant splinter out of my ass cheek). But nobody had these things. I thought all New Yorkers traveled with pharmaceuticals and surgical tools.
Chelsea Lynn LaBate closed the show with a killer set. I highly recommend you find her music. Seek, find and be rewarded.
After the show, we immediately loaded out and began driving back to DC to get our van from the repair shop. Crazy, I know. But a bands gotta do what a bands gotta do. I drove 13 hours in less than a day, no drugs except green tea and rock n’ roll. Yea ME!
And about this splinter I have. It has been there for over a month and it hurts. It is in a bad spot that I can’t see without a mirror and putting both legs in the air.Very unladylike. And it WON’T come out. I have slept the last 4 months on an old piece of stage (complete with a trap-door), and every morning I would slide down off of it onto the floor, and one day a sliver of wood lodged deep within my ass cheek and there it remains, Can someone please volunteer to perform this minor surgery?
By the way, map quest says the trip from DC to NY is 5 hours. That is a damn lie, mostly. That shit took 8 hours during the day. But driving back in the middle of the night only took 5 hours. And what is with an entire audience devoid of Aderol. Whatevs. I drove it fine on nothing but green tea and salted cashews. But half a pill would’ve made me a safer driver is all I’m sayin.