9/27: I’ve been out here on the road for the last 9 days and I’ll be getting home in 3! Some really great music has been played and new friends have been made. This time around we are touring with a really great post-rock band from Tulsa called Panda Resistance. Panda reminds me of many different bands and there are hints of Grizzly Bear, Do Make Say Think, Battles, King Crimson, Mice Parade and Tortoise. They have a very rich and orchestrated sound utilizing loops and ambient effects in the guitar and bass with melodic embellishment from a full set of orchestra bells played by the drummer. Catchy melodic hooks and rhythmic twists keep the Panda Resistance sound percolating. Needless to say I like these guys and it’s been great getting to know some musicians from another part of the US.
We kicked off this tour in Kansas City at the recordbar and moved on to The Deli in Norman, Ok. The Deli is a tiny space with a very supportive local crowd and we played a really great set. We played through a mess of PA problems at our Friday show at Fassler Hall in Tulsa. It’s so great when the vocals sound distorted and indistinct to the audience. Saturday we played my favorite show of the tour (so far) in Bartlesville, OK at this little restaurant called Frank and Lola’s. Two sets of fun playing all the well oiled Love Electric tunes we’ve been ignoring this tour and the crowd was super supportive. It’s nice to have an open minded audience that is willing to engage in the experience of music making with the band. Sunday Todd played as a special guest with a fantastic Tulsa guitarist named Paul Benjaman. Paul’s got a slow and snaky groove and I highly recommend his music. Sunday’s jam is held at The Colony which is an iconic local club in Tulsa. The Colony was an important venue in establishing the ‘Tulsa Sound’ in the 70’s and is currently hosting many of the ‘New Tulsa Sound’ artists who have grown up within the shadows of Leon Russell and JJ Cale. Most of the band had fun sitting in while I was happy to just chill and listen to that groove.
Monday began with the realization that Todd had left his guitar at the Colony and this delayed our departure from Tulsa until the afternoon. Special thanks to the Panda guys for helping us get in touch with the club which didn’t open until 4pm.With a 12 hour drive to conquer to get to New Orleans for our Tuesday gig we resigned ourselves to a lovely overnight at the Best Western in Alexandria, La. Driving highlights included a trip through Paris, TX, BBQ at Big Dave’s in ??, TX and those epic bridges and swampy overpasses leading into Baton Rouge and NOLA. The most spectacular part of the drive was realizing that all the organic life down here grows year round. This creates some very dense and intricate overlap between tress, vines, flowers and grasses. It may seem obvious to some but being a Minnesotan we rarely get to see such vibrant verge.
Tuesday we arrived in New Orleans and had a short time off before rolling to WWOZ for a radio spot promoting our show at Cafe Istanbul. WWOZ is THE public radio station in New Orleans and they have a super strong following and a really generous staff. It’s the second time we’ve done a spot with them. I always have a really fun time playing these mini sets. With only enough time for three tunes it forces the band to distill the music and get down to business. Directness and clarity are paramount in music and the band played brilliantly. The Cafe Istanbul gig was musically fun but poorly attended and it put a little damper on our New Orleans joy. SO we rolled to the Maple Leaf and caught Rebirth Brass Band – and viola, faith was restored!
Wednesday night was a show in Lafayette, La at a club called Artmosphere. A very cool venue and a small but happening crowd of new fans enjoyed Panda and A.L.E. sets!
After a quick drive to Baton Rouge Thursday Adam and I went to the Bluebonnet Swamp nature preserve where we were able to see a huge cross section of Louisiana wildlife. It is a very humbling experience standing in the middle of an old growth swamp and imagining how many cycles all these trees and plants have been through untouched by human interference.
Tonight at Chelsea’s in Baton Rouge is our last show with Panda Resistance. It’s been a pleasure playing music with the Panda’s and I’m going to miss Bo, Clay and Andrew but I’m sure we’ll cross paths again.
10/2 Update: Well the tour wrapped up with a day long drive from Baton Rouge up into Missouri with a beautiful day trip into the forests of Mississippi where we saw some more deep growth forest and some beautiful landscapes along with a quick swim in a reservoir. We stayed overnight near St Louis and then made the drive up to Davenport., IA to play our final gig at the River Music Experience. This place is really quite an experience! They have a whole building which includes a cafe / performance space, a music museum celebrating great Iowa musicians and eventful concerts and a 350 seat state of the art theatre. I was able to walk around and see quite of bit of this historic downtown including the nearly 100 year old bandshell with a memorial to the great jazz musician Bix Biederbecke. Greg and I met for dinner at the Front Street Brewery and had some incredible fish tacos along with some really great beer. The gig was solid and the drive home on Sunday was uneventful except for the humor. All in all a great tour and a really great hang with my good friends Adam, Greg and Todd!