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.