Monday, November 28, 2011

Life is great.

As the title suggests, Life is incredible. Couldn't be happier right now. 2012 is going to be the end-all adventure of a lifetime for me and many others. Here's to success and opportunity in an uncertain world!

Friday, September 23, 2011

End of tour, concluding summer, and speeding through it all

Conclusion of Tour:
It's been a while since I last posted, about a week out from finishing tour. Well, it was finished, of course, and with flying colors. Aside from the van breaking down in Salinas, Kansas, nothing else re-arranged our intense tour schedule. And even that breakdown was in favor of Oddwood, since we spent the night in Lindsborg, a quaint little Swedish town in the frickin' middle of America. Almost exactly the middle, in fact!

The rest of tour went as follows. We had a killer show in Wichita, where I met a female paleontologist and revelled in great conversation about all things Earth-related. The bar owner was interested in building me a cannon to use for shows, but I have yet to follow up on that. We drove through Colorado and had a great time partying with the mayor of Green Mountain Falls. We had a blast rocking out in Tuscon, which is really like the landlocked, counter-culture "Ocean Beach" of Arizona. Our final show in San Diego was a great conclusion to a month of testosterone-filled camraderie. At least half of us were not ready to return to stationary life. And we lost one band member due to moping to death. It was partially contagious on tour, but thankfully rum triumphed as a vaccine against mopery.

(Oh yeah! And I've updated a couple of my blogs from this tour (anything posted July 2011) with photos. Do peruse after you finish this post.)

Mexican Food Hankerings:
Never in my life had I craved Mexican food as much as when we got back from tour. I gorged myself on a California burrito con cabeza (beef cheek, not brains) and un taco de buche (juicy pork stomach). I washed that down with un licuado de fresa, banana, y papaya (basically a fresh fruit milkshake).  Oh, the glory! San Diego is all about good Mexican food, being right next to the border and all. And what I love is it's relative simplicity. The meals are filling enough to last me a good 5 hours with solid energy. It's flavorful due to marination, spices, and liberal use of lard (I think), and it's usually made with fresh ingredients that cover most of the food groups. The salsas are nice and spicy and full of flavor, and they stick to your throat for an hour afterward. So many kinds, it's like eating Starburst, in that each type is a different savory flavor. But that's where their similarity ends and my written admiration for comida Mexicana ceases.

Travels in Gastronomics:
Photo by: Jorge Miguel
I must say the food on tour was occasionally noteworthy. One month of burgers was at times great, and at times terrible. But I suppose I shouldn't have toured America in hopes of eating healthily, what with the rigorous driving schedule and  friends whose eating habits I differ greatly from. Despite my quality-centered complaints on some of our restaurant/fast food choices, Lindsborg, Kansas gave me one of my juciest, bestest beef burgers to date, with cheddar cheese, ham AND bacon, and fried onion "petals" collectively smothered in barbecue sauce. Good doG man. The Brick House Grill has it right.

Another great burger was had in Tuscon, at the Surly Wench Pub. It was the "Red Rooster", a burger drenched in chili and hot sauce with cheddar and grilled onion. I missed spicy food, and this was the first kick in the ass back to Southwest spicy eating. Other incredible meals included:
  • everything we ordered at Miller's Restaurant in Portland
  • breakfast catering by Apulent, a first-class Seattle catering/venue company
  • my aunt Sally's home-made French toast w/ mixed berries in Bellevue
  • Creole food at Joey K.'s in New Orleans 
  • the most amazing blueberry waffles EVER at all Waffle House locations (if only they had these in CA)
  • "Greek Burgers" at a restaurant (whose name escapes me) in Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • Francis' grilled cheese curd sandwiches--cheese curds are quite tasty
  • Fat Tire 1554 on draught - it's a dark, delectable meal indeed

August through now:
August was my "tour recovery period", which wasn't so much a recovery as a "wait, we're not driving 10 hours tomorrow to the next place? Why don't we have more tour shows lined up?" kind of feeling. August was spent getting back into the swing of summer in beautiful San Diego. July whirled by incredibly fast, but none of those cities were my home town. I missed this place. The cool ocean breezes, the sunsets, the local familiarity, and everything that I am working towards in my career.

A few months ago I decided to get back into the school world to learn evermore. But the classes themselves remind me of how many people are apathetic and generally unmotivated. It doesn't require much to enter into college, and it's easy to succeed at if you care about what you're learning and pay attention to the lessons! It is partially about obedience as well, since you have to do exactly as the teachers say to keep your scores high. This view is different from any I've ever felt towards school. Or maybe it hasn't dawned on me until now. Nonetheless, I am incredibly happy sponging up so much good stuff to work with.

My DJ business is picking up, and keeping me busy with the development aspect, which is spectacular. Wait, you didn't know I DJ? Please tell your friends and family. I donate a significant amount of my earnings to various music and education programs throughout San Diego, since our music education system is so disastrous and appallingly under-funded.

Oddwood is still playing shows and preparing to undertake album #3 for release next Spring. We just rocked a fun private party chock full of live parrots, a keg of Blue Moon, and an entire roast pig. I enjoyed all three of those things, the lattermost treating me to not only the oinklicious body meat, but skin chips and delicate cheek and neck sections too. And amazing coleslaw to boot! Boy, there's a lot of food in this post...

Bolivia's still in sight, set for February and March of next year.

In conclusion, I leave you with this (Our first music video):

Photo by Duc Duong

All for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The last week or so

I left off last in Boston, and now am updating on the past adventures of heading down to the South. But before I do, I should note that the first map that I posted on my blog of the tour is incorrect. Or rather, not the route that we ended up taking. This means that we may have, in fact, driven over 11,000 miles on tour instead of my original calculation of 10,100.

Our third leg of the tour after rocking out in Kenosha for the weekend began with a drive into Chicago, taking a brief unplanned tour around the antiquated downtown district, and heading for Cincinnati, Ohio, where we bunked. Nothing worth noting happened in that city, so I'll continue on. Our next night was in Nashville, Tennessee, the current heart of country music, and one of the largest music-producing cities in the U.S. This was a much greater night than the previous, for a few reasons. First, we had arrived early enough into Nashville (passing through Kentucky) that I actually got to go for a dip in our Motel 6 pool, which was way too heavily chlorinated. Upon nightfall, we suited up into pirate garb and strode downtown to busk on a busy street corner. Every single bar was packed and plugged in with live shows of country and blues, which is interesting on a Tuesday night. Alas, we had a great time playing, albeit an exhausting and incredibly sweaty one, and ended up sleeping great that night.

We woke up fresh and rearing to go, or at least I felt that way, since our next stop was New Orleans, Louisiana! I headed the 9-hr. drive, only stopping as we always have been for breakfast and gas. I must say, the chain restaurant Waffle House is the best breakfast chain I've ever eaten at. The prices are cheap,  a lot of the food is somewhat mediocre and greasy, but the waffles, especially of the blueberry sort, are unbeatable. Unless I learn to make them.

We drove through the rest of Tennessee, which has interesting grey sedimentary rock jutting out from the hillsides that reveals that area's former landscape-- a shallow sea. We drove the length of Alabama, in which two things are of note. One, Birmingham had twister damage, including a few tall light poles bent in half and also flattened, and a whole bunch of forest uprooted. And two, that the drive down the 59/20 Freeway has huge forests, with 60ft.-tall trees on either side of you as you drive over the rolling hills.  As soon as we got into Mississippi, we were hit with a sheeting downpour, overhead lightning, and difficult visibility, which cleared up only a short time later and left us with clear blue skies. As you drive further South, the trees open up their space a bit and become more sparse. We got into Louisiana, and were pretty soon hit with a different kind of landscape; more swampy, bayou-feeling.

Oddwood busking in Nashville. (Photo by Jorge Miguel)

Our time in New Orleans was great; we ate gumbo and more at a well-known eatery on Magazine St. called Joey K.'s, hung out and played a show to literally no-one at Cafe Pyrtania (due to it being a college area and no college students in the summer), and drank what amounts to weasel piss to get drunk and loose. After our show, we headed to the French Quarter, specifically Bourbon St. to wander and hopefully see a few key bars. Lafitte's, which is the oldest bar in America, built in the 1770's, and Frenchman's, a place of great atmosphere and live music of sorts. Well, we were given the runaround for correct directions, and everyone else in the band decided it not worth the trouble to further explore. I was drunk, and having a great time conversing with random locals and a few foreigners; not unlike my time spent in South America. It honestly felt that way to me, so I got pretty pissed when I found out everyone wanted to go back to the motel. Oh well, I know I will come back to this city again and I suppose I'm generally more outgoing in the travelling sense than the rest of Oddwood.

The next day we left the city a different way, crossing vast expanses of water on seemingly endless bridges, and this is when I saw all the still-present damage and destruction from Hurricane Katrina. Houses had visible water damage, fences were broken or bent far out of shape, some hotels and various shop buildings were closed, with grass and plants trying hard to break through and reclaim their land.

I must say that New Orleans has such a charm to it, and a weighty feeling to the vibe, that it is nominated as my favorite city we've seen thus far on tour. The houses all look old and tired, the people are super Bohemian (carefree) and friendly, and the food is exceptionally different than what I would normally ever eat in Southern California.

Playing "Pitter's Pirate Pub" in Cape Girardeau. (Photo by Jorge Miguel)

Our next stop was on the way back up to Kenosha, and that is in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. We played a great show for a bunch of cool townsfolk, and to a much bigger crowd than we had expected. All in all, it was a fun city, and hopefully we'll have an excuse to stop there again as Oddwood. Another tour, perhaps? Well, we'll see.

We're heading to a bunch of fun cities this week; Wichita, Kansas, where if you may remember from our tour last year we blew the pub out of the water and out of ever wanting to have live music there again; Colorado Springs and Green Mountain Falls, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico for the second time, and Tuscon, Arizona, where we played back in 2009 (view that blog posting here); then finally back home to San Diego! I cannot wait to sink my face into an amazing burrito when we return. That, and I'm looking forward to the beach and my lovely Pacific Ocean. And to living with a good friend.

So that's all for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Boston and loving it!

I arrived into Boston after the surprisingly short drive across the bulk of Massachusetts. Encountered some heavy rains on the way in, but luckily they cleared up upon our arrival. I love this city. Boston is an old East Coast city, with volumes of history within its grounds. Brick buildings, large cathedrals, and a small walking commute to pretty much everywhere this side of the Charles River makes it a very agreeable city to me.

Boston. (Photo by Jorge Miguel)

This place is a tad reminiscent of my time in Buenos Aires, with constant honking and endless traffic, and a slew of pedestrians. Also, the number of beautiful women constantly strolling by along the sidewalks and walkways is not a bad bonus. We took a jaunt all around the city with our former bass player, who schools and lives in Boston.

Bristol Faire, back in Kenosha, was quite humid, and hot, and muggy, but luckily the mosquitoes seemed to pass over me and go for everyone else in the band instead. From there we went on to Amhurst, Ohio (outside Cleveland) to stay the night, and then yesterday we set foot in Ithaca, NY.

I felt the drive along upstate NY was pretty boring to me, just a bunch of deciduous trees and literally not much else. We only saw a couple small towns along the way, and even less people. Ithaca was cool, with the Erie Canal just upstream from one of its runoff branches where we played a show. It's tucked away amongst wooded hills and farms. We took a stroll around parts of the town, saw an incredibly mixed crowd - college girls next to hicks in dirty overalls and pick-up trucks, with a couple meth-heads on stoops. Despite the terribly un-reactive audience, we played a tight show with spectacular sound.

On the way out of Ithaca, we passed a deer on the side of the road that was far too close for comfort. It stood alongside the left lane, but in profile to our van. I took initiative on researching how to properly strike a deer. There's hardly any time to avoid the hit, but it's best to not try and swerve around it. We stayed in Binghamton, about an hour outside of Ithaca, at the cheapest Motel 6 we could find on our route.

Tomorrow we have an 19-hr. drive back to Kenosha via Pittsburgh, PA. So 11 hrs. tomorrow, and a 9 hr. drive the next day, only to arrive at our somewhat decrepit mobile office building that doubles as our weekend lodge.

All for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

In the heart of America, and only just beginning...

I am writing from a Motel 6 in Minneapolis, MN, about 1,500 miles away from sunny San Diego. Oddwood has been on the road almost a week, and what a week it has been thus far!

We kicked off the tour in Santa Monica, making our way to Frisco (yes, I use that abbreviation), where we blasted folks at Fisherman's Wharf, and celebrated with clam chowder in a bread bowl from a seafood stand. The following day we undertook an 11-hour drive from Frisco to Portland, where we played a very fun show at The Mississippi.

We arrived in Seattle on July 4th, and celebrated the American way after busking at Gas Works Park with dinner and a party at a nearby friend of a friend's house. We proceeded to our after-party of just Oddwood people back in Ballard, where we took over basically an entire museum to drink in and enjoy life. We enjoyed the following morning's breakfast right on a beautiful lake, with a fully-catered meal prepared by one of our bandmate's fathers. As if the lap of luxury were not quite comfortable enough for us, we had our Second Breakfast (*hint: LotR) of homemade french toast and berries at my aunt's house in Bellevue, an upscale and thoroughly Natur-tastic suburb in Seattle. We left the city fully pampered, enjoying cool company, fantastic food, and vast views of evergreen flora.

Our drive East through Washington was a pleasant, unhurried one, allowing us the opportunity to play in a few remaining hills of snow amidst sheer mountain peaks and pine forests. Eastern Washington was nothing to write home about, owing its flat, farm-like appearance to more midwestern states as Iowa, Kansas, or Texas. Montana was a spectacular landscape to pass through, with buttes and mesas and sparse trees and large acreage of farms every which way.

 It was an incredulous 12-hour drive from Missoula, MT to Bismarck, ND, of which eight hours were tackled by my hands at the wheel. We were warned to watch for deer, and luckily saw none but a few carcasses passed. We also stopped for star-watching when we had the best chance at no human/industrial light pollution. The creamy band of the Milky Way ran North to South, and we spotted a few shooting stars and satellites as well. I should note that we arrived in Bismarck at the crack of three a.m.--the time zones adding 2-hours--only to find our hotel didn't reserve correctly after all. We scrambled and, after checking many, found one open room. For some unexplainable reason, people flood into Bismarck and fill every room throughout summer?! What a theoretically uninteresting place to stay/pass through...

We're almost out to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where we'll spend FridaySunday playing the Bristol Renaissance Faire, then onto our eastern tour leg through Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, and more. Bristol sits in an old oak forest, with permanent buildings covered in moss, an actual bog, and large humidity and swarms of mosquitos. 

Anyway, I'll update as the chance presents itself.

All for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

America, here we come!

This is the epic journey I am undertaking tomorrow, with The Dread Crew of Oddwood. 10,100 miles (roughly 16,000 km) will be covered. The Earth has an equatorial circumference of 24,900 mi. (40,000 km), so our second national tour puts us 40% "around the world". We're heading North to Seattle, then East to Boston, then South to New Orleans, and Southwest back to San Diego, with stops in 23 cities. A lot of driving for only 31 days. Thankfully the longest drive will be early on in the tour, from San Francisco to Portland--a whopping 11 hours on the road! You can see a list of venues on the Facebook event page.

I'm bringing along an analog journal and a high-definition video camera to document the whole experience. When I have the opportunity, which should be many times along the way, I will post an update here on how things are going.

All for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Back to the real me.

I'm back as my true self again. My mind is back on the multiple shifting tracks which pull my focus and energy and time every which way, and I'm ready for anything. Soon enough I will be enjoying a month-long tour with Oddwood, in all its glory. July will be a hell of a fun time. For now, couch-surfing has me spending moments with those I don't often spend it with, which is exciting.

There is something indescribably liberating in not having any permanent establishment. The burden of living "normally" is eased up. Books become much easier to read, and I have gotten through several recently. It also helps not having a computer with which to distract myself, but that will soon change (for the better, hopefully). My creative juices are flowing strong, which has inspired new undertakings. Sailing and the ocean are calling for me lately, with the infantile, raw idea of a huge journey by small boat prominently in my thoughts.

Two major travels for me this year:
1. Coast-to-coast national tour through the U.S. - 20 states and over 10,000 miles
2. Flight to Bolivia - two months through jungles and potentially heavy rains - other countries possible in the itinerary

Back to school in the Fall, planning my double-major. Sorry if this posting is in Hemingway-esque prose, but I've been inspired to be concise.

All for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Two months of crashing down, and where to go next?

Where to begin. These last few months, I’ve had some daunting challenges thrown in my path. 2011 came in heavy, but we are still early on in the year. I’ve currently no job and no relationship, thus freeing my ties but also ending a progressively roughening chapter of Life.
I have earned wisdom from this. Lessons for me to note:
  • Spend time developing and finding yourself, and don't settle down until you are absolutely ready.
  • Love and care for your friends and family. 
  • Appreciate everything you already have. Life can always be worse by multitudes.
  • Music can be truly moving. If you're down, and you listen to music with a nostalgic bite or that is oft associated with happy times, it's pretty much guaranteed to tug on the heart strings a bit.
 I’m starting a whole new chapter now, going in many ways back to the basics. This is a very do-it-yourself, go with the flow type year for me. A lot of change is underway personally and professionally.
To start with, I’ll be moving out of my one-bedroom habitat and fully furnishing my storage unit. Not to live in, of course; just to escape rent. I’ve concluded that, with one month’s rent I could pay here, I could easily last a month overseas traveling, or if staying in more or less one area and/or with friends overseas, perhaps 2 or 3 months that would surely stretch my dollar thin but manageable. Yet I digress; the point is I may or may not be officially houseless between April and July, and am figuring out arrangements for the time being.
In other news, The Dread Crew of Oddwood is going through its third year of Pleasure Faire in San Bernardino, which means another seven weekends of debauchery, headbanging, extreme social interaction, and some ego boosting. The dates are April 9th thru May 22nd. I highly recommend going if a.) you’ve never been to a renaissance faire and b.) you want to have a fun day with memorable experiences. There are hundreds of vendors selling such things as swords, drinking steins, leatherwork, woodwork, costumes, mock battles, fun games, musical shows and comedy acts.
Photo courtesy of Duc Duong: website
We’ve also recently completed filming of our first ever music video! It was shot over two weekends in late January in Laguna Beach, Dana Point, and Chapman Studios. We tirelessly collected various scenes with some great results, and an unbelievable 360/1 shooting ratio. What that means is we shot over 300 times the amount of footage we needed. That is about 9x the typical Hollywood-budgeted film, or 2x the amount shot for The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I can’t delve too far into the details of the video, but do understand it very much has the potential to go viral online, and will easily take the cake as the best pirate-themed video on YouTube, or dare I say EVER made. 
Photo courtesy of Duc Duong: website
We’re coupling the release of the video with our second, but hopefully not last, national tour! It’ll take place through July, and has dates in many major cities: San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Boston, Houston, New Orleans, and many more. Our thoughts are to buy a 15-passenger van this time around that we can simply load all our gear and collective souls into.
 I am planning my next transcontinental journey for August. To Bolivia. Not Ecuador or Argentina, like my thoughts last year led me to believe. Bolivia is located in the heart of South America, and is not only incredibly biodiverse, but culturally striking and affordable as well. The country is pretty much split into the high mountain Altiplano, an area of extremely unpredictable weather and otherworldly landscapes, and the eastern lowlands, which are very much just the Amazon and some towns. You may remember my trip in Argentina’s altiplano, both when I crossed over to Chile and when I spent time on its outskirts in Barreal. Bolivian sights include the immensely white/vast Salar de Uyuni, a blinding salt flat that holds the largest concentration of lithium in the world, Mercado de las Brujas (of the witches), home to llama fetuses, potions, and more, other large outdoor markets, colonial-aged architecture, the highest indigenous population in Americasur, the deadliest mountain highway in the world, jungle treks and guinea pigs for eating. What more could I ask for? 
Salar de Uyuni during the winter season. Stock photo.
Bolivia also allows me some strategic options, in the event I want to cross its border to northwest Argentina again and revisit some friends and sights, or dipping into Peru or Chile, Bolivia’s other immediate neighbors. I have this inkling to return to Valparaiso, after the devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake in February of last year—two months after I left. Just for analogy, the Chilean quake was 500 times more powerful than the quake in Haiti the month prior, which was still an impressive 7.0 magnitude. Alas, more pictures of Bolivia!
Las Yungas - world's most dangerous road. Stock photo.
La Paz, the antiquated capital of Bolivia. Stock photo.

Lago Titicaca, near La Paz. Stock photo.
I’m hoping to find sporadic work here and there until my income is good enough to get me back on my feet.
 Anyway, all for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The first day of 2011

It's been quite awhile since my last post, and of course, knowing me, a lot can and definitely did happen between now and then. So where to start....

News of my band:
September was the last Oddwood show of our rigorous performing season, a wedding of two of our huge fans, Lisa and Abel. With that wedding came our guitarist Nick's last show before moving on to other things. I'm sure the tension between him and I helped in his justification for quitting, that in itself being a bit of a disappointment for me. But life goes on. Tensions were high ever since our national tour. And immediately following that, Oddwood played five hellish weekends at the L.A. County Fair, which showcased us more as a laughing stock than a musical act. I mean, people dressing as pirates and headbanging to awesome seafaring tunes is one thing - but playing 5 "shows" a day to anyone who is basically just passing by left us entertaining ourselves more than anything, to spare our sanity.

We were basically on a few months hiatus up until December time, now undertaking new material for a future album. Unlike our first two albums, however, I feel that we'll already have most/all of the songs written and performed live numerous times to weed out the more mediocre ones, prior to committing them to a plastic recording. And with this hiatus, we've teamed up with a group of very talented post-Chapman students to commence our biggest challenge/creation yet--our first music video! It will be shot in January, so definitely keep an eye out for updates regarding IT. I can already tell you there will be blood and violence galore, a great storyline, and hilarity throughout.

 Update on my life:
     I recently moved out of my apartment in favor of living on my own, which I've now been doing since November. So very pleasant it is to handle everything on my own schedule and done my way. It's a cozy  abode, and nothing like a college student's place, save for the occasional Jurassic Park poster and such. The place is very vintage 1950's, being the time when it was built. Hardwood floors, black- and white-tiled kitchen and bathroom, and plenty of storage space for all of my odds and ends. More odds than ends.
     Work has been keeping me quite busy and on the phone all day, since the holidays are a great time to give the gift of music lessons to a loved one, whether it be yourself or someone else. Everyone I work with is awesome, and TakeLessons threw a holiday party in a 7th floor suite overlooking Petco Park. I definitely had an ugly and creepy holiday outfit donned, but unlike the Billy Mays mockup I did on Halloween, this costume was outshined by even uglier sweaters!

I went to beautiful, secluded Solvang over a recent weekend, spending time exploring the nifty boutiques and craft shops. It's a bit Northeast of Santa Barbara, tucked away in lush mountains and farmland. Pretty awesome.

Current sentiments for the very tentative future:
Travel plans. I have them in the works right now, since I have to make sure I have the finances all squared away. Because one of my numerous goals in life is to travel abroad at least once every birthyear (not calendar year, per se), I've set my current sights on heading down to another South American country. That country is Ecuador. I'll probably only go for two weeks, and it is only the size of Southern California. Within its borders are several active and looming volcanoes, Amazonian rain and cloud forests, an amazingly indigenous culture, and great food experiences. Sure, I cannot drink the tap water, but I think heavy excursions into virgin jungles and perusing one of that continent's largest open-air markets certainly make up for it.

As far as other travels, the only other (and at this point still very tentative) trip I will partake in may be Oddwood's second, and this time FULLY national tour, including stops along the East Coast and the South. 

Anyway, I'm done braining for now. 
Until then, this is Drew Peters.