Mid-Winter Mid-West Mini-Tour w/ The Winston Jazz Routine

    Akron, OH @ The Lime Spider
    New Philadelphia, OH @ State Bird's nest, garage and recording studio
    Columbus, OH @ Milo Electric
    Kansas City, MO @ The Brick
    Kansac City, MO @ The Record Bar
    Fayettesville, AR @ Blu Martini Lounge
    Memphis, TN @ Newby's
    Kokomo, IN @ some people's basement

    In all honesty, it was a relatively short and undramatic trip. Those are hardly negative characteristics, though, and I couldn't think of a better way to spend a week and a half away from school. what follows are some brief notes, summaries, excerpts, etc.:

    1) playing music and travelling with 3 of my good friends--they were wonderful company in spite of illness, sleep deprivation, and hours together in a cramped and stinky van. it's nice to find other humans--or to realize there are connections between people--that distance, time, and changing lives cannot touch. it provides a sense of security. it makes life more meaningful. the universe seems to make just a little more sense when you can sit down and converse with an old friend as if you didn't live hundreds of miles apart and see each other infrequently at best.

    2) heading south to escape (or so we thought) the harsh winter--what really occurred was maybe one or two days that were noticeably warmer than a Michigan winter. In fact, as I stood on a front portch in the frigid, gusty wind on New Year's Eve, I heard of unseasonably warm and pleasant weather descending upon my friends in Grand Rapids.

    3) seeing places I've never seen--learning that towns in southern Indiana and Illinois have some of the most startling, interesting, and weird names I've ever seen (St. Elmo, Glen Carbon, Paris, Lebanon, Brazil, Teutonville, and my personal favorite, Spiceland); driving across the Mississippi River, sleepless at 7AM with the sun glaring in the rearview mirror; watching a scenic valley in Arkansas turn from soggy, foggy dusk to glowing, gorgeous utopia after a long and sleepless night of internal wretching; finding a disgusting urinal, the size of a bathtub-turned-sideways and filled with broken beer bottles and soggy cigarette butts, and soon discovering that the commercial establishments surrounding Newby's in Memphis, TN, have some of the most horrible bathrooms I've ever set foot in; witnessing several acts of near-domestic violence just by walking a few blocks in search of a decent toilet; and finally, revisiting the dismal land of Kokomo where I lived for three months at age five.

    4) meeting new friends--I can officially announce that, after witnessing the relentless and remarkable, almost miraculous, generosity we encountered on this trip (notably Nathan Reusch, Aaron Clark and the people at Main Street Cafe in KC; the brilliant and astonishingly friendly Minus Story; Ann and the guy who got our van working in Indiana)--yes indeed, there is some hope left for humanity. We also had the opportunity to learn from and hopefully also to challenge a group of street preachers in Fayettesville who thought it was a good idea to hold up signs like "He Who Committeth Sin Is Of The Devil" or "Whoever Sleeps With A Divorced Woman Committeth Adultery" outside of the bars along Dickson Avenue.

    5) seeing old friends--all sorts of friends and family in Ohio (good ol' John Frankenfield and Steev Richter and Jonathon Hape and Nick and Megan and Angie and Joanna and Natalie and the Adam Glass), the talented and hospitable New Philadelphians... Philadolphins, Nathan and Mike and all sorts of others in KC, etc. etc.

    6) encountering new music and art--music via Minus Story, Olympic Size and Comrade; Danny Gibson's intelligent and unconventional posters and prints and who-knows-what-else; and bang-a-rang Thomas Park's photography

    7) eating good food--the Broadway coffee shop for espresso and the Korma Sutra for Indian food in KC, Mrs. Phillips homemade carry-out for on the road, loads of spaghetti at Aaron's house and nearly every other stop, extra-fluffy pancakes by Aaron's mom and our kind host in the Middle of Nowhere, Arkansas, and last but not least, some of the best cookies I've ever had at Ann's in Indianapolis.

    All the above, along with countless details and thoughts and exchanges, coalesced into a vivid and sustaining exploit. In hindsight, I see that it's mostly the small details that were most meaningful. An unexpected but exciting note in the middle of a song you were nearly bored with, someone's kind remark after playing, a light-hearted conversation over spaghetti or a serious talk on the verge of sleep, finding bright moss on a rock and a small waterfall in the woods--these are the things I'll remember for years to come. Sleeping uncomfortably in the back of a van or sitting around to read for hours because there's nothing else to do is hardly the stuff of movies or memoirs, but it's the stuff of real life being pursued down new and exciting roads. I'm glad to have taken the trip. I wouldn't trade that week and a half for anything.

    compliments to the wonderful Thomas Park for making us look nearly attractive in these photographs:

    fun in the photobooth:

    polaroids I haphazardly captured:

    the State Bird Basement | Coby after a rude awakening

    visitors from afar (Columbus) | relaxing at the Main Street Cafe (KC)

    a wonderul place to spend an afternoon | after playing at The Brick (KC)

    where Minus Story is recording their new album (KC) | the nicest venue we played at (KC)

    Derek on bass for "The Sower" | Caleb is a wonderful drummer

    intro to The Sower

    in conclusion, some digital fragments of a beautiful poster (the handiwork of genius Danny Gibson):