Monday, June 30, 2014

Onederlust Tour 6/22: Indianapolis, Short and sweet

Indianapolis, short and sweet, less is more!

   I had a brief but short time staying with my dear Indianapolis friends!  My bus ride was much longer than I'd expected, 8 hours, having been stuck in traffic!  At that point, Megabus decided it would no longer allow my blogging page on their wi-fi network and so I wrote 9 pages of memoir for the blog of the week prior without anywhere to put it.  In the mean-time I also listened to a ton of music, all of which I recommend:

At last, in the afternoon, I arrived in Indianapolis!  The sunlight and warmth was a much preferred contrast to the snowy mid-February Indy that Alexa and I had bundled and trudged through last year.  My friend Aaron picked me up within minutes of my phone call, thankfully! He'd hosted Alexa and I along with some other friends I'd have the pleasure of seeing, namely Rachel.   It was a sweltering afternoon and the cool air conditioning of Aaron's car on the sidewalk was a welcome experience.  Aaron is a sweet and mellow guy, with a good, harmless sense of humor, a ready smile and eager to help at a moment's notice.  He asked if I was hungry and the minute I expressed interest in something cold to quench my thirst, perhaps a milkshake, he rattled off ideas and was immediately about where to achieve that goal.  We ended up at a really interesting ice cream place called Sub Zero, ice cream selections that are made in front of you, with the cream, and milk bases and flavors mixed in and then frozen made to order utilizing liquid nitrogen!  I got an almond milk based with chocolate and malt flavors (which combines to make the ice cream) and then almond topping and it was delicious.  The consistency was a bit more like a sorbet because the almond milk doesn't freeze the way that creams and yogurts do, so it offered an added new experience!

    We went to Aaron and his roommate's new house, which was a duplex in a beautiful old place with lots of wood floors and creaky stairs and old interesting furniture.  Kerri and Amanda were no longer living in Indianapolis, and Rachel didn't live with Aaron anymore, but I met Aaron's new roommate and friend Alex.  We all got along famously, as I entered the backyard, I saw a chicken pen, a fire pit, an awesome old bike with a delicious mint plant growing in it, and Alex playing ukulele.  This whole house was my kind of vibe!  It's houses and environments like these that make me wonder what it'd be like to live outside of Long Island, given that the affordability back home is nil.  Alex and Aaron and I were laughing and sharing jokes and stories and building a fire, Rachel and her boyfriend Christian came over and we caught up as well.  Aaron pointed out that there was a boysenberry tree (initially mistaken as a mulberry tree, which, I joked, was in fact the the famous bush around which the monkey chased the weasel) so we climbed it and harvested some juicy and subtle boysenberries in a bowl.  I went inside to take a shower and wash the travel muck off of me, then met up with everyone around the beautiful blazing bonfire.  Among this small and beautiful family of friends I shared some new poems and stories, around the campfire.  We soon moved from the a capella display around the campfire to the deck where we plugged in some music and I performed songs from all over my catalog until the bugs became too much and it grew late, the fire dying down as well as our energies.  After some more conversation, Rachel and Christian went home, saying our goodbyes and exchanging hugs and best wishes!  Aaron and Alex and I spoke some more about music and silly things and so on, and we all retired for the night, saying our goodbyes as we mightn't cross paths in the morning!

     It is so incredible to me that after only meeting several people for a few hours, and then seeing them a year later for another meager amount of time, we can connect so sincerely, warmly and like family.  I loved them all the more for it, and retired for the night with a smile on my face, my lids shut heavily and good dreams.  I woke customarily early and made myself an egg sandwich with fresh chicken eggs and ham and cheese and ate outside on the deck listening to the chickens cluck and bird sing.  There was that lingering smokey reminder of the fire the night before, and I smiled while watching the squirrels chase each other playfully in spirals down the trees.  As I sampling the remainders of the berries Aaron and I had plucked, I felt at home, and carried an inspired heart with me several blocks to my bus stop, where I waited for a bus at 10 am that departed for Chicago, less than 24 hours after arriving in beautiful friendly little Indianapolis!  Feeling so much stronger and human for the experience.  If less is more, then my regrettably brief visit to Indianapolis is an excellent example of that. 
It's not the duration of time you have but how you spend it.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Onederlust Tour: 6/21 Noa Noa and The Nashville I never knew

    An Early departure in Atlanta

Bright and early Max was generous enough to drive me to the bus stop in Atlanta at 6am!  Unbelievable friendship, we said our goodbyes and I waited among the dozens upon dozens of people on the humid sidewalk!  I boarded the bus, where I wrote and read for several hours until I arrived in Nashville at 9:30 am.

Recollections and wretched breakfasts 
 My comedic and talented friend Steve took time out of his morning to pick me up from the bus stop.  You might remember him from the "little piano, BIG MOUTH tour".  Alexa and I stayed with him a year and a half ago, he is in several bands, and he would be playing with his solo project Regdar and The Fighters later in the evening at a show he'd set up for me.  I'd be staying with him again for the day and performing that show.  We drove back to his apartment, a drive during which we caught up and again I was shocked to feel as if very little time had passed and I was grateful for the inspiring feeling of being among a person who I could feel was such a close friend and yet had known for so brief a time.  It is a testament both to Steve's kindness and easy-going nature as well as to the general nature of people and social interactions that we do not realize that are there, we can connect very strongly and meaningfully with people if there is a mutual allowance!  I met Steve's awesome roommate Greg, an emphatic hair-metal enthusiast and front man/ mastermind of the Nashville based rock band Lipstick. Greg is an excitable encyclopedia of rock knowledge and will rattle off the musicians, producers and six degrees of separation of any song the moment it comes on.  He also looks like an epic thunder god.  If you enjoy rock and roll music and a bad ass time, Lipstick is the group to do it for you, catch a show if you're in town!  

    We decided it was too early to succumb to the ravenous calling I heard from the notoriously addictive Bolton's chicken, and so we went to have my first Waffle House experience!  The food was cheap and greasy but it did the job, I got a burger and coffee.  Greg and Steve ordered an invention of theirs they call affectionately and respectfully dubbed "The Bear Trap" (because it would put a bear to sleep, it is so much food).  They get the All Star Special (Two eggs, waffles, bacon and toast) and then order ANOTHER giant waffle and make a sandwich out of putting all of those ingredients in between the two waffles. It is gluttony in the extreme and it was like an episode of Epic Meal Time watching the guys go at it eating things thing while nearly the whole restaurant marveled at it.  Despite Greg being a pretty little guy he not only ate the ENTIRE Bear trap, but also a half pound burger as well.  It defies physics, I told you he was a god of some sort!  Unfortunately, Greg couldn't come to Steve and my show because he had one of his own to play with Lipstick, but we endeavored to hang out as much as we could!  Steve and I came back and went to wander about the town posting up flyers for the show he had in a few weeks!

Seeing Nashville's Creative Side
 Steve and I headed to the copy place to pick up the flyers, only to discover the folly that it was closed on Saturdays!  Since it was nice out (okay, it was actually extremely hot out) Steve and I, though chagrined, decided to wander about and see some cool things in his neighborhood.  We went to a really cool little record store called The Groove that sold local CD's, independent records and used CD's, I found a radio promo copy of Sadistik's amazing CD "Flowers For My Father" For 3 dollars and bought it to just give to someone because it is actually that amazing.  *Side Note: Sadistik has a breathtaking new album out called "Ultraviolet" that you should look out for and listen to ASAP!**  We also went to a cool refurbished instrument store called Fanny's House Of Music and played around on their upright bass and a few fun little gutiars and beautiful instruments.  It's a good thing I wasn't driving and didn't have money, I might have picked up so many cool little toys!  
     We also passed by a fun little craft fair and music stage that featured about 7 or 8 local vendors under canvas tents.  There were vendors selling homemade journals and diaries, axes made of recycled material, furniture and all sorts of things!  I don't know if it was because Alexa and I only went down the main commercial strip of Nashville or because we were traveling in February but the creative and local and intriguing side of Nashville I was seeing was new to me and entirely welcome!  Steve and I looked around for flyers that he'd posted up and it seemed there weren't many left, which made me consider how in twenty years or so the music scene and the way it is appreciated and/or promoted is entirely different.  We peered around into some more fun quirky little places and  got Mountain Dews from a dollar store and headed home.  We all prepared back at the apartment for our impending shows.  I was inspired and surprised by Greg's dedication to the Lipstick shows, how he considers whether there should be air conditioning in the practice room, the color and shape of the outfits they wear and practicing motivating fun mantra-monologues.  Steve and I made a makeshift tasty meal out of some vegetables he had lying around and the soup that Mike Beshures had given me for the road the week before in Rochester.  We ate as a little power trio and wished one another a good show, and Steven and I were on our way to the show at Noa Noa.

Noa Noa, One of the tour's best shows!

     Noa Noa is a house venue dedicated to experimental and alternative artists promoted by Tony Youngblood.  The space exists in this modest Nasvhille home presumably due to the monopoly that the homogeneous unimaginative generic pop country scene of Nashville has on the performance venues of the city.  Alexa, Steve and I experienced this last time and all of us felt out of place for making odd and original music.  Luckily, the immensely humble music and art enthusiast Tony has been providing a space.  What I didn't realize until the day of the show was that our show was to be the last one before an indefinite hiatus, due to personal creative reasons for Tony and his housemates.  This incredible article here in NASHVILLE CREAM informed me of the history and importance of the venue, Tony as a promoter, and the significance of the performance I was about to put on, and admittedly, it made me a little nervous.  

  Once loading into the basement where the performers were going to start we met Ray who does Genesis covers under the moniker Mr. Collin's Bollocks.  He is also a photographer and took some sweet photos.  His performance was a humble but good one as he expressed his enjoyment of Genesis and Pink Floyd as well.
  Cher Von was next, she was the other touring artist of the night besides myself.  She did a really experimental, odd and beautiful series of vocal and guitar loops.  I didn't actually get to take photos of her, as my ipod was behind her during the performance and anyway, it would not have given you much of an idea of what she does, although maybe capturing a photo of her obvious enveloped nature during performance was convey some sense of the passion going on here.  She held a mic and zoned out, seemingly possessed by her performance, as all true and real artists are, while she fiddled with knobs and made all sorts of ambient tribal and chanting sounds and environments through series of clicks, howls, multi-layered vocal harmonies, moans and screeches both haunting and enchanting.  Her act is one that can only truly be understood or experienced through actually being there for it, and she and I exchanged information as hearty fans of one another's work and made a promise to perform together again in some sense.  Hers was an intimidating and incredible different act to follow.  

   I did my best to follow Cher Von's act by doing a series of songs with no audience participation or anything, just inspired by the intimate yet attentive and impassioned audience to do as well a job as I could to share my writing and perform it in an inspiring way.  I was enraptured by my work and yet had a sort of clarity and lucidity throughout it all, I felt incredible on point and didn't miss a beat.  I don't entirely remember the whole set but I do remember doing Needle Kiss, Pennsylvanian Patriarch and Revealed [Practical] because Steve requested them.  I also was sure to perform "Building After Buildings" I had a great time and people responded very generously and encouragingly to my performance!

  Speaking of Steve, Regdar and The Fighters was next!  Steve makes parody pop punk experimental songs talking about all sort of sci-fi nerdy stuff (I had the pleasure of nerding out about H.P. Lovecraft  earlier that day) and novels like "Dune" "Isaac Asimov's "Foundation series" and H.P. Lovecraft.  Regdar is the name of his computer, which he wrote a program into to randomize drum patterns (so there are different electronic drums and samples every time he plays a song) which he controls from a modified Dance Dance Revolution pad.  He wore a homemade Megaman helmet beanie and wild pants and danced and sang funny songs about time traveling teenage girlfriends and such.  The whole thing is insanely geeky and smart and incredibly fun and entertaining.  It was Steve and my first time seeing one another do our thing and we were both mutually impressed.  He has a song "Call Of Cthulhu" where he talks about the absurdity of a Lovecraft story from his album "Spoiler Alert" that I was singing all day so he let me jump in to perform a freestyle verse on the song which was a blast!  I've inserted a video below of this performance, so check it out!

Post Show Merriment at Cafe Coco
   All in all we had a really fun time, Tony was really supportive and made sure that we were all financially helped out by the show.  After we said goodbye to Tony and his lady Erica, most of the show attendees, Cher Von and some friends as well as Steve and I agreed to go meet Greg at Cafe Coco!  It was funny to be in a venue like that again after so much time had gone by.  There is always a funny feeling after a show that feels very important, about how while time seemed to stop long enough for you to both love it blindly and to pick it apart and analyze its beauty in the ultimate clarity, the rest of the world churned on ignorant of your revelations and rapture!  We met Greg who was sweating the remains of his stage make up on (I told you, the guy is a dedicated god!!) and we went inside.  Steve and I split a cheesecake and Greg, Steve, and some new friends Amber and Danielle and I shared conversation and laughed a lot and enjoyed one another's stories and company.  I ended up falling asleep around 3am with a head full of memories a face full of smile wrinkles, and a heart full of anticipation to return to Indianapolis the next day!

     I titled this entry "The Nashville I Never Knew" because I was shown new underground and creative facets to this town that I walked away generally disheartened from last year.  After the "little piano BIG MOUTH" tour, when people asked me last year what city I probably would be least likely to return to based on my experience of feeling out of place (aside from Stephen and a few choice people's hospitality...oh and Bolton's chicken of course) I replied Nashville.  Ironically the Nashville Noa Noa show was the first one I ended up booking for this show through Stephen, because he said it would be different, it'd be inspiring and unique and it was Nashvilles underground underbellies for the under dogs and it would be any thing but underwhelming.  To my great joy, he was absolutely right! Thank you Tony, Noa Noa, Steven, Greg, Chervon, Ray, Nashville and so many others for showing me a new side to an old place and providing me an enlightening and enjoyable time!  While first impressions are important, second chances are key!

If you don't feel at home somewhere
be sure you've tried all the rooms before you move!

Onederlust Tour: 6/18-6/20 Serendipitous Adventures in Atlanta

Wednesday 6/18 20 Hour Bus to Atlanta

         As usual, I woke earlier than I should have, I hugged goodbyes and said my thanks to Ian and Sarah as they were on their way out the door for work. I gulped down coffee and Tony drove me to the bus station at 10:45am. Due to the length of the ride going through the night, it would be the first night in 9 days that I hadn't performed! The 20 hours bus ride was empty and began relatively fine, it was frustrating to find none of the promised amenities the bus offers such as outlets or wi-fi on the bus itself.We stopped at a Burger King very early on and I bought another coffee with the gift card Libby Lefebvre gave me. The air conditioning was constantly on and made for a brutally cold environment. I finished reading “One” by Richard Bach. The book was gorgeous and incredibly wise, as I've come to expect from Bach and he always delivers. It was very concerned with philosophy, metaphysics, spirituality, He and his wife discuss ideas that everything is happening simultaneously and always has and always will, that everyone around us is a permutation of ourselves. It was a very Buddhist sort of feel and a lot of the concepts behind the “AllOne” movement, hence the name of the novel I suppose! Another great quote I read was “We always KNOW, it's whether we choose to accept or REMEMBER.” Despite not having wi-fi I worked on writing aspects of this tour journal until my computer started to die. About four hours into the trip my phone died so I was fretting about that a little bit. I could not sleep a wink on the ride whether day or night time. We stopped in several cities going through Ohio, which I initially considered stopping in when planning this trip but being as I had no connections into those towns and couldn't find many events I opted to skip it for this trip, sorry Ohio! At some point, a passenger came on and I felt compelled to write a story so I quickly scrawled the tale in longhand in burst of inspiration. There was a 45 minute transfer in Cincinatti where a group of people and I sat on the sidewalk beside a parking lot sweating waiting for the bus, which luckily came an hour sooner than expected. During that time I did some writing and an ice cream man came and delighted the children and perspiring parents alike. Throughout the trip I listened to a bunch of music while I could, which is usually my last option if I can help it on the bus but I amassed this pretty hefty and enjoyable soundtrack for the drive, which was comprised of primarily hip-hop or hip-hop influenced works, all of which I recommend...

Thursday 6/19 Arrival in Atlanta, the familiarity
Finally now with my phone, Ipod and computer dead, eyes bloodshot and skin riddled with goosebumps we pull into Atlanta at 6am Thursday morning. I got out into the jarringly humid city of Atlanta. I paced the sidewalk dodging the lines of people waiting for buses and averting my eyes as the homeless begged at me. While frantically seeking an outlet thinking Max would never know to pick me up, suddenly I hear “Mr. Pandolfoooooo” in a British accent and see a car pull up, as Max steps out bright eyed and bushy tailed full of hugs. It was as though no time had elapsed from last February when Alexa and I had stayed with him! “I texted you at 11pm last night and when you didn't respond I figured your phone died and just stuck with the plan of picking you up, I mean, you're on a bus for twenty hours its not like you were going anywhere”! He had school and work so he was up studying and we headed back to his apartment. Again, it was a strange and comfortable feeling of familiarity being in his Georgia Tech student apartment. He set up a bed for me and encouraged I sleep, invited me to anything I want to eat, left his apartment key with me and towels out for the shower. Time and again the charitably and thoughtfulness of friends and strangers no matter how close or distance warms and shelters me! Somehow despite my fatigue, as is typical for me my body only volunteers to sleep for four hours and so I got up to shower. For several hours I wrote, working on this journal and started reading my massive Unabridged O'Henry collection I'd brought with me and snacked on the last of the treats Mike sent me off with!
   Come mid-afternoon, Max came back and I met his friend Cassidy, a sweet sort of spacey artist who does really interesting patterns designs beautifully with marker, very intricate and mesmerizing. Check out Cassidy Odell's artwork!!  I also met their funny friend Jack, an aspiring comedian who climbed a tree nearby while we were all hangout.  Our friend Katie whose birthday it was so we intended on celebrating that! We spent the evening hanging out side in the shade and getting to know one another, laughing and telling stories.  We went to a fancy grocery store called Publix and I got a whole bunch of trail mix bags for the road.  Tour food de force!  Later intending to go out, Emily came around and I saw my old friends, Max's other housemates Mala, Eric and caught up with them as well. I also met their friend Marco and Max's boyfriend Vincent, both funny guys on entirely opposite ends of the energy spectrum. Some pregame drinking having been accomplished and we headed out to this particularly notorious part of the city called Buckhead. To get there, we used a really cool service called “Uber” that is essentially an app for private driving services, cheaper than Taxis and circumventing the middleman of the taxi company, and doing the payment through the phone app automatically. You can even track when your driver is coming near to you and how close any available drivers are! There is a comparable service to this called “Lift” as well, I recommend it if you find yourself in a foreign area and need an affordable and safe ride somewhere! We went to a bar called Hole In The Wall that was like a big saloon/club with multiple rooms with themes and did some Karaoke, everyone was getting pretty drunk, we wandered in and out of a few places. I had the surprise of meeting a new friend in a bouncer at a Pool Hall that we went to. Upon seeing my license, it turned out that he was from Long Island and I explained to him that I was a touring musician doing a brand of conscious hip hop and poetry, he smiled and offered a high five marveling at how weird it is that he was a producer and was doing something similar and that we should run into one another in Atlanta of all places when we are both from Long Island! After some time of everyone being pretty exhausted and intoxicated (save for myself of course) we took an Uber car back to the apartment.

Friday 6/20 The Final full day in Atlanta

     We started the hot day hiding from the heat, languidly in the dim lit apartment. I relished in reading O'Henry and making some progress on the edits of my new song. For lunch Max, Cassidy and I ended up going to this excellent southern BBQ place called Fat Matt's Rib Shack suggested by Doug Widick! The place had a small family vibe, there were murals on the walls and a kitchen you could see into, I got chicken and ribs and rum baked beans it was absolutely delicious, the sauce was so good and they had this lemonade that was impossibly sweet and cold. There was such a blues/soul vibe to the place and there was a small stage that our table was practically on top of and we all wished that there were people performing on it! Back at the apartment we watched a really cool documentary about a movement going around called “Mortified Nation” about a series of performances that go on around the country where people read their journals and diaries from when they were kids, in order to poke fun at and glean lessons from the triviality of their most mortifying childhood secrets, and to celebrate the survival of these perceived horrors. It is on Netflix and I support it heavily. It is side splitting, eye opening and eye watering. You should definitely watch it as soon as you can, careful, its often vulgar and graphic!

     Shortly after that, self conscious about our sedentary day, Max and I made plans to go to Piedmont park and enjoy the day outside. I met Patricia, who is the charming young wife of Jason, Max's Greek friend who greeted Alexa and I last year! She and Max had to bring their bikes to a shop by Piedmont park. We made plans to meet Alexa's sister Liz at the park! Pouring sweat, we ended up going into a place called Smoothie King and it happened to be five dollar medium Fridays so for five dollars we all got like 32 ounce fresh fruit smoothies! You should certainly go there, I got a blueberry green tea flavor that was phenomenal and the smoothies never ended!  We got to know each other, discussed out pasts and plans for the future as well.  We joked as we laid out on a blanket on a hill overlooking the expanse of Piedmont park with the sun bearing down on us with the metallic city skyline posing boastfully in the near distance. Finally Liz found her way and we all exchanged hugs and caught up, she really seems to enjoy where she is in life geographically and career wise and it is always nice to see people taking the more conventional route in life actually enjoying it, because that is something I found impossible for myself! While the sun fell and we scrambled for something interesting to do, Patricia left.  Max and I opted to go to Liz' apartment at Emory, which was like a gigantic hotel! We got beers and went to hang out in his poolside courtyard in here area and met some of Liz's friends. One of them, Marcy, from California had an uncle who lives in the same town as my father in Long Island and would be there in august so we agreed to meet up! After a few surprising unwatched hours of all sorts of personal, comedic and intellectual talks, around 230am Liz drove Max and I home, waving goodbye, anticipating a short nights sleep before taking my 6am Nashville bus!

The world seems smaller when you are 
willing enough to bridge the gaps.
Everyone is a friend you've yet to meet!
Find the most likable people in the unlikeliest places.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Onederlust Tour 6/16-6/17 Buffalo "The city of good neighbors"

To my wonderful, constant readers and friends and AllOne Family-members, I apologize for being a week behind on these travel journal posts, I am actually all caught up with accounts of the spectacular and peculiar events that have been occurring but the internet access has been spotty, and when Megabus does have wi-fi I've discovered they've banned my blogging website from their access, so I'm unable to make use of the time posting while on these lengthy trips.  Ah, so it goes.  I appreciate your patience and even remote amount of consideration and concern for my whereabouts and well-being!  As I write this preface, it is Monday June, 23rd and I'm currently in "Awake cafe" in Chicago awaiting my impending performance at a nearby venue and am finally able to update these mobile memoirs!  Lets get into it shall we... Where were we? Ah yes, Buffalo New York....

Getting Lost, Getting Help,
   Monday afternoon I arrived in Buffalo, which turns out to be a pretty big city! Weirdly, several people I'd intended to meet up with including some work friends from back home and my cousin Erica, just happened to be out of town when I arrived. I meandered in circles trying to find my way to Nietzche's open mic, having no GPS and trying to find Wi-fi was no good in the sweltering heat dragging my suitcase, briefcase and backpack around. Luckily my cousin Erica sent me a photo of the walking directions to the venue. While I was walking around I had the luck to have my friend Tony Iannone agreed to let me stay at his house with his roommates during the show. I know Tony from Oswego, a composer and musician, who actually recorded and mixed my vocals for “Nightmares and Dreamscapes”! It stuck me that aside from being a larger city than I'd anticipated, Buffalo was unique with it's active trolley cars and it's seeming consideration for nature and a similar concern to Rochester's as far as art. While looking for the venue I encountered a character named “Chief” who was tall with a gruff voice, a wrinkle, pockmarked, with long sweaty hair and a smile like Indian corn. He opened up our interaction complimenting my bags which made me uneasy but we walked and he helped me find my way to the venue. It turned out he just wanted money from me which I was unwilling to give him, especially as he asked saying “I'm an alcoholic and I'm on E, can ya help me buy a beer?” but I appreciated his honesty and he didn't have any ornery comments once I couldn't help him.

                                                                    Nietzsche's Buffalo
      Nietzche's is a quirky building in a decoratively artful part of town. People in groups on the sidewalk were greeting me despite not knowing me, they were smiling and inviting and I felt very comfortable. There were maybe two dozen people lining the length of the L shaped bar. The place was dim lit and all sorts of trinkets, it boasts 7 nights of music a week. The open mic feature was Erica, a piano player and beautiful singer. The room was tattooed with stickers, clothed with flyers blemished with stains. The ceiling covered in signatures from musicians and listeners alike, lit by strands of Christmas lights posted up among dozens of trinkets and music and art memorabilia. The windows looked out onto the street like cataracts with yellow filth like the glass of unkempt fish tanks in city apartments. Still, there was community there, talent, heart and warmth. I sat alone and wrote and listened to music. Aside from Erica's impressive feature performance with her Alexa Dexa reminiscent operatic voice and personal lyrics over intriguing piano playing, one other stand-out performance was a great singer-songwriter named Tom. I went up and performed “Quality Vs. Quarantine”, “Needle Kiss” and “What's Your Problem?” to the approval of the room. Tom approached me afterwards to congratulate me on my performance and we got to talking and exchanged histories and compliments.
      Two other friends that sat at the bar directly in front of me ended up joining me at the table and introducing themselves as Kervin and Ryan. They were newly locals from a nearby church, loved my performance and bought a CD, we spoke and got to know one another. They run another open mic on Wednesday nights, which I wouldn't be around for but they let me know about a Tuesday night open mic at a places called Milkies. which we agreed to meet one another at the following day! I was dismayed to find that Tony's house where I'd be staying was not within walking distance, but Kervin offered to drive me, I couldn't have thanked him more. We spoke about a lot of great topics and agreed aloud about a lot of things as we ruminated on various philosophical, social, financial and other considerations and it was great company.
Twenty minutes later we arrived at Tony and his roommates house, said our goodbyes and thank yous. Tony wasn't there and my phone was dead but Ian and his girlfriend Sarah let me into their home with smiles. Their gregarious portly white and black cat, Max, greeted me by massaging my ankles in figure eights. Ian and Sarah are both great people, their home is filled with art that Ian made, vinyls he's collected, full bookshelves and a friendly home-like aura. Ian raps in a group named Natural Ingredients. He got an email when I arrived of a first draft of a music video for a fun and sarcastic song called “Pink and Green” that was well shot and it was somehow comforting to see my host triumph as the emcee to shine in the song in his writing and performance. Natural Ingredients is working on an album, so look out for that! He and Sarah spoke with me and told me where all the facilities were in the house, offered me lemon squares and set their couch up for me to sleep.

Tuesday 6/17 “The City Of Good Neighbors” with Tony

     I woke up and read “One”. A quote that stood out to me enough to write in my notebook was:
“The truth lies waiting for those who wish to find it”, which I agree with thoroughly!  After some reading, I had a few story ideas in my head. I ate a breakfast from the miscellaneous bag of goodies that Mike had sent me to Buffalo with. Eventually around midday Tony descended from the stairs, it was good to see him after several years apart! We caught up for a while out on his back porch in the too-generous sunlight, its always good to know friends are doing well for themselves however distance your lives become. He's a producer in a studio with the second singer from the Goo Goo Dolls, whom I learned are Buffalo natives! 

      He showed me his own excellent home studio in their basement as well. I learned a few things about the area as we decided to go enjoy the day before he had work at four. I could have guessed it based on my experience the day before with all of the helpfulness but Buffalo is considered “The city of good neighbors”, and Rick James hails from there! We went to an immense old beautiful cemetery called Forest Lawn, where even a pin drop could be heard. We examined the graves and ornate mausoleums and commemorative statues and played a little Frisbee, despite feeling sort of disrespectful whenever people visiting relatives would walk by. We then ate Puerto Rican food at Niagara Cafe, fried chicken and plantains that were excellent. I had the Milkies' open mic in town at 8 and Tony had work so he dropped me off nearby early. I wandered around until I found a nice clean little cafe that felt a bit like a chain called “Coffee Culture”. While waiting for the open mic to start, I hung out at Coffee Culture, bought a drink and got some work done utilizing the wi-fi. I read a few chapters of “One” and also finished a first draft of my new song. I spoke to my Dad on the phone and also got an email confirmation of an event that I'd be performing in a week at Beauty Bar in Chicago!

                                      Milkies' Open Mic
     Seven eventually rolled around, and I left Coffee Culture, not without pocketing several honey packets from their Coffee decorating station for the road! Milkies has a sort of 70's lounge vibe with mirrors on the walls and carpet on the floor. I ended up being remarkably early to the event and soaked in a place and wrote a poem while I sat there called “Cultivating”, feeling particularly dour about myself and a perceived path of romantic wreckage that lay in my heart's wake for some reason. The open mic is Jam oriented and run by an artist named Eddie. The open mic ended up being pretty barren, with about fifteen people in the bar altogether. I performed “Work In Progress” “Pennsylvanian Patriarch” and “Needle Kiss” and a lot of people had nice things to say and eagerly took some information from me and signed my mailing list. A handful of singer songwriters performed, One young kid Kevin Allan was visiting his cousins from Michigan was particularly heartfelt and talented in his performance and we got to speaking for a while. Several of the guitar players jumped up for a Jam once the thin open mic had exhausted itself, Eddie a self-professed drum novice adequately provided a beat for a blues jam that I ended up singing improvised lyrics. It was a fun time, in between songs, I got a text from Tony saying he was outside being that he was kind enough to pick me up! I waved farewell to my new friends and musical mates and hopped in the car with Tony. We chatted about music and listened to soul and R&B on his little radio. We watched a few episodes of The Office until I passed out on the couch, anticipating the 20 hour drive that would take me to Atlanta.

We travel to seek new experiences, and find so much comforting familiarity along the way,
It strikes me that the more new places I see, the more I feel cozily at home in the world.


Onederlust Tour 6/15-6/16 Rochester: Barbecuing, Boarding, Beshures

Father's Day, Goodbye to my Syracuse family
     I started celebrating Fathers day as best I could, with a call to my Dad. I have a lot to be grateful for especially in regards to him and because of him. He stuck by me and did everything he could to make sure I was happy and taken care of. He is a talented musician and is really supportive of all of my musical endeavors and always wishes the best for me. After doing so, celebrating aloud his successes as a father and my gratefulness for him, I spent some time writing. Kyle, Helena and I wished Mr. Crowell a Happy Father's Day as well and after some talking and well wishing we got ready to drop me off at the bus to take me to Rochester. The Crowells are kind and dear people, being sure to remind me that I always have a place to stay in the area “Never pay for lodging when you're in town” they assured “Even if Kyle isn't here, you are always welcome to stay with us”. It is this kind of eye-watering hospitality and sense of community that baffles me time and again and motivates me to believe in the goodness of people and attempt to further pay that forward! After some delicious breakfast Kyle and Helena dropped me off at the bus station with best wishes and love, and I was sad to see my friends go.

The Magnetic Warmth of Rochester

     The ride to Rochester was brief and I arrived in the afternoon. As I was driving in I saw the modest little cluster of buildings and all of the rural/suburban aspects of town and felt good about it. There were lots of quirky and artful independent storefronts, art studios, pet shops, skateboard shops and so on. There were murals and paintings on electrical boxes in an attempt to offset the industrial ugliness and people were outside with generally warm countenances absorbing the beautiful weather. Having never been in Rochester I was surprised to feel a natural sense of magnetism to the charming little area. Something about the place made me feel at home, the “metropolis” area wasn't overwhelmingly large, but offered a contrast to it's woodsy outskirts and modest suburban neighborhoods. Even from afar, the natives were a people of alacrity. My friend Rob Beshures, whom I know from my year at SUNY Oswego, picked me up with a big smile (proportionate to his towering stature) and drove me to South Wedge Boards, the spot we'd be performing later that day. Rob is a talented aggressive inline skater, health and fitness nut and a musician. H and his younger brother Mike befriended me while at school and I've always known them both for being gregarious and inviting. When I was booking the tour, they asked me to stay with them and assured they'd arrange an event for me to perform, and arrange they did in what I'd come to experience as typical Rochester hospitable fashion. I was thrilled to do my first performance at a long board shop.

 South Wedge Boards is an independently owned custom/handcrafted long board shop owned by a grizzly and friendly guy Nick. The storefront is almost incognito, blending in amid houses on a hilly block that several people were skateboarding outside of. We parked in the back of a dirt lot and offered introductions as I stepped into a store and workshop in the making, with quarter pipes and racks of boards, couches near a big full bay window that overlooked the street a segment in which Golden Rd. Clothing (a clothing company that shares the space with Nick's workshop) had their gear set up around couches and television hooked up to an old Sega Genesis. There was a home-made coffee table on wheels made out of a warehouse pallet with a hole in the middle filled with candies. There were photos and paintings decorating the walls. Everyone was immediately like family and it felt like I was already part of the community. Nick was setting up a barbecue that he would man all day while the skaters cruised along the road dodging cars and skating homemade obstacles. I met the bearded punk rock looking fellow, Kasey, who was one of the performers, who lent me his skateboard to cruise around on the obstacles, an opportunity I could not miss. Kasey has a great sense of life and humor he raps and produces well and enthusiastically under the name “Dreadful Operator” and this show was the release party of his project “Mental Projectiles”. While Rob went to pick up some gear to set up the music inside the small living room area indoors, I cruised around and befriended, stretching physically and socially, happy to be back on a skateboard and in the sunlight after the overcast few days prior. Over the course of the afternoon dozens of people gravitated towards the shop, skateboarders and musicians and friends of both. I met the Beshures family, Mom, Dad and their youngest, Claire, who were to be my generous hosts that night. I was impressed and delighted that despite Father's Day, committed to seeing their sons play (Rob to open the show, Mike to finish it) and support the show. Old and new friends and artists congregated, sweat accumulated on the skaters, burgers and dogs were passed around. Inevitably, six o'clock came about and Rob started playing inside among the artful long boards and Sega Genesis playing.

Guitars, Pianos, Mics, Words HEARTS

     Rob Beshures performed an acoustic set to warm up the night complete with sweet and lighthearted original songs and a unique cover of “Floater” by“Every Time I Die”. There was such sincerity and passion in his set and people were really respectful of him.

     The vibe was very much like that of an intimate house concert and when Miles aka “Cu-Cu” went up, with his experimental electronic music, the crowd ebbed and flowed with the juxtaposed energy of his set. Some songs were fun and silly, others serious. We talked for quite awhile before his set and it was obvious from his back story, years of performing on his own in his room and writing songs and being in and out of bands in high school and college he loves music. He is an artist in the purest sense, constantly experimenting and learning for the simple love it it. From my layman's point of view, his ambient, thoughtful piano and vocals are reminiscent of Ben Folds, and while he admits to getting that a lot he doesn't see the comparison entirely himself. With introspective and thoughtful lyrics and interesting effects and beats and piano riffs to accompany them, his set was an enveloping one.

     Up next came emcee and poet S.A.I., who has an initially intimidating appearance I likened to Immortal Technique. He turned out to be a personable and vulnerable guy whose socially and politically informed lyricism made my comparison relatively accurate. He performed a short set of heartfelt bilingual works that transitioned the attentive crowd into the poetic and hip hop styles of the next four performers.

     Then came an excellent and seasons traveling spoken word artist Louis “AgelessPoet”. He got involved in the show when Kasey met him performing on a subway. The anecdote Kasey shared in his introduction was that Ageless Poet got up on the subway, performed and then sat back down with no monetary request, clearly for the love it. He re-appropriated the “swag” trend as an acronym “Spoken Word Affecting Generations” and shared that dedication and ethos with us. He energetically and effectively shared a handful of polished sincerely beautiful poems that celebrated everything from creativity to the importance of his mother (who raised him and gets happy mothers and happy fathers day cards). He was confident yet humble.

     Ageless Poet set a nice pace for my performance, between the emotion, energy, style and consciousness. I performed a nice long set that people responded heavily to. Continuing the spoken word trend that had begun, I opened with “anti-social-net-work-ethic” and in honor of Father's Day performed “Pennsylvanian Patriarch” and went on to do a set that encapsulated my entire catalog, released and unreleased and finished on “Desert Diaries”. The people of the crowded room gave so much energy be it respectful and watchful quiet or energetic participation when it was asked for. This was easily my favorite performance of the tour and the rest of the trip is going to have a hard time topping it!

     After I went up, Kasey a.k.a. Dreadful Operator went up, performing an a capella piece and then a bunch of fun hip-hop songs from his new album “Mental Projectiles”. I relate to him for seeming like the unlikeliest candidate for rap talent based on face value and then coming in and dropping jaws. He produced all the beats, save one, on his project and had a huge excited aura and energy about him. You could tell through his presentation and lyricism that first and foremost he is in love with hip hop In a traditional sense. From line to line he'd have fun wordplay and drop a poignant idea on you and then rap about something silly like eating pizza in a sort of unbridled, open stream of consciousness.

     My dear friend Mike Beshures closed the show out with a beautiful set of organic and spirit expanding songs It was nearly 11 o'clock and his set was just a transcendental experience of sincerity. He played original songs on ukelele, banjo and classical guitar singing about love and life and nature in pure rhapsody free of embarrassment. He is a whimsical, energetic and sincere person in his everyday life and when he is given an instrument that childlike demeanor transforms to a desire to somberly and openly ventilate a philosophical and emotional fascination with life. It was inspiring and exhilarating, complete singalongs from Rob and Claire and others in the room.

     After the show many people generously introduced themselves to me and complimented me on my set and purchased albums of mine and supported me. Everyone that performed exchanged CD's if they had them and there was such a wonderful sense of community and eagerness to assist one another. Many of us exchanged numbers and best wishes for travels and lives and it was a genuine collective of people who were sharing love and thoughts and ideas and hope to see one another grow and evolve and prosper!

The Beshures' Home
   Afterward, Mike drove me back to his house, in a suburban sort of area with a nice rural small town vibe. They showed me to my guest room, inviting me to shower and once I had, I came downstairs to join Mike, Rob and Claire watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit. We reflected on the film and ate raviolis and caught up with one another. Rob went home and we said our goodbyes, gradually, I fell asleep.
      The next morning I was admittedly slow to wake, comfortable in my guest bed. Mike made french toast, sausages and potatoes and he, his girlfriend Shawna, Claire and I ate. The Beshures are a very creative, open and connected family. They all are musicians and singers, there are organs and pianos in various rooms, the walls decorated with all sorts of instruments. Mike showed me around his property, it struck me as interesting and beautiful that there were no fences between the yards.
After watching some Wayne's World and hanging out being a little lazy we felt stir crazy.  Eventually come the afternoon, this languid behavior became intolerable and we sought out a place to enjoy the weather, however sweltering it might have been. We ended up doing a hike in these beautiful redolent woods of Abraham Lincoln Park.
Finally, a "Lincoln park" I could enjoy! The woods and trails and trees had such deep rich colors and smells of warm soil and compost and the air felt so fresh and alive and happy to be breathed. We hiked along, I climbed some felled trees and we saw a bay hosting some meandering boats in the distance. Finding ourselves sweaty and fulfilled, we returned home. Mike and I talked on the porch a bit, I packed my things and said goodbye to Claire and Shawna. Mike made me an eclectic bag of foods that sustained me for a week and brought me to the bus station to head to Buffalo that afternoon with hugs and best wishes and plans to return and perform together more. If you are ever near Rochester, I highly recommend you go, it is a friendly and beautiful little place and I am a better person for having the experiences I did there! Off to Buffalo!

Gravity doesn't tell us we can't fly,
it asks us how much we want to.