Wednesday, July 16, 2014

AllOnederlust tour: 6/29-7/3 Across the Border in Windsor Ontario

     The AllOnederlust tour brought me to Canada, and I'd been yearning to return since my family and I took a week long touristy trip there six years ago!  I say "The AllOnederlust Tour brought me to Canada" but really it was Jon and Jeremy, literally and figuratively.  Shortly after "The Inevitable Effort" came out, Jeremy stumbled over my music on the internet and he really enjoyed it so he reached out to me and we spoke for a while.  He ended up getting a tattoo inspired by "What's Your Problem?" that has a broken light bulb and the words "have a little perspective" which totally blew me away! Last year he and his friend and musical partner Jon came to see Alexa and I perform at Corktown Studios.  They were both really supportive of me and invited me to their hometown of Windsor, Ontario whenever I'd like and they'd work to set up shows!  I increasing liked who they were and appreciated their music over the year or so that I'd befriended them and their town was a MUST when planning this tour!  It actually ended up being the longest amount of time I stayed in one place, and it was a fun time exploring where I met many new and enthusiastic fun friends!

     Sunday 6/29
Day One In Canada
     As Jeremy and I had gone to sleep at maybe 3am, it was not surprising that I woke up earlier than him at around 9am, but I'd soon come to find he functions nocturnally!  When I woke up on the couch in the apartment it was extremely hot out as as i stepped onto the balcony to gauge the weather, the head and humidity hit me like some ethereal barometric wall!  His mom had left for work before I woke and having no one to talk to, I showered and shaved my face, even trimming my mustache.  I read O'Henry while I waited for Jeremy to wake in the afternoon, I got restless as I'm wont to do and I took one of his kitchen chairs onto the balcony to read in the fresh air.  Within minutes of doing that the clouds broke into heavy and sudden rain!
Hunter & The Horses
     When Jeremy woke up, he called his friend Hunter and she came to pick us up.  She was a really sweet girl who was funny with a kind heart and down for adventure.  She drove us out to her Grandmother's house where we escaped the heat in the basement and watched some of Bo Burnam's genius act "What." and also a ridiculous/insane Cartoon Network Adult Swim show "King Star King".  Soon after we drove out into a countryside type place to her dad's house which was easily my dream house and was connected to a farm/stable that she worked at with award winning horses. We got to go into the stable and meet the horses and take pictures with them.  One of them kept nudging me and making funny faces at me and it turned out he liked to have his gums massaged and so I did that!  Overall visiting here was such a fun time and it was quiet and it was one of my favorite parts of the trip undoubtedly.  Hunter and Jeremy and I walked around in the heat and through the woods and fields, after being sweaty and eaten up by clouds of greedy mosquitoes we gave up and decided to explore the barn a little, full of memorabilia and the smell of hay and a game that was like a table top version of shuffleboard!  I had my second Tim Horton's experience when Hunter treated us to an IceCap (essentially a coffee slush) and a birthday cake doughnut that her and Jeremy were raving about.  Sticking to the tour diet ethos, I ate it because it was offered to me and I didn't pay for it (dangerous rules by most other experience standards) and it was really tasty!

     Karaoke In Canada 

     We bid Hunter farewell and headed down town in anticipating meeting some friends later on!  I had Jeremy's skateboard in the trunk and I skated around for a while with Jeremy while he took some cool skate videos on his phone!  We had plans to meet Kayla, Jesse and some other friends for a Karaoke night at a really awesome little bar and eatery called Villains that had all sorts of funny names for foods based on puns and amazing hand drawn portraits in frames all over the walls of all sorts of villains from Cruella De Vil and Elmer Fudd to Jason Vorhees and Kahn from Star Trek!  I got to meet Billy and Estevan as well as see Kayla and Jesse again, as well as some other people. The Karaoke took forever and I ended up signing up for "The Widow" by The Mars Volta, which is about two octaves out of my range but I felt capricious and alive and unembarrassed.  Esteban ended up being a great friend and I got to know Kayla, Jeremy and Jesse more, all of them funny and awesome in different ways.  The bar was packed out and I sang the song worse than I'd hoped but not terribly and people loved it.  I never really do Karaoke but it was liberating and fun to just go for it and not care or take myself seriously!  Afterward we strolled around at 1am in the hot glowing streets and stopped at a place called Shawarma Palace and Estevan treated me, they were like Lebanese gyros and they were really tasty! I also got Guava nectar which was so fresh, walked home stickering the hell out of the town!

Monday 6/30
Writing, Skateboarding and an Open Mic!
   Monday started relatively late, a more sedate, primarily indoor day.  Again, to my surprise, it was humid and brutally hot outside!  I contributed a lot of writing to these tour diaries throughout the afternoon, read a lot and also finished writing a new story-song called "A Midnight Pursuit" for my non-fiction story-rap album I've been working on.  It is based on a story that Owen told me back when I was in Providence!  Jon came over and brought his friend Gabby over as well, we rode around on bikes and skateboards to a place called Phog for an open mic!  I got Shawarma AGAIN (definitely addicting) and Jeremy treated me to a Jones Soda, which I missed seeing and having and it brought me back to feeling like I was in my young skateboarding days when those were more available at skate parks and stores.  My bottle cap read: "Your wit will lead you to a very interesting situation" and based on the beauty of the tour thus far, I already felt that it had!  In Phog, I met Mel, Kail, Connor and Remy.  They are all artistic and creative in some way and as a group they had a funny and connected and inviting vibe that inspired me! The hosts opened as cool drum and guitar/vocals duo that I rather enjoyed.  Then Gabby and Remy performed a beautiful a capella song called "Settle Down", Gabby has an incredible voice that sounds like it should be coming out of an old vinyl record!  Jon performed an original set under his rap moniker Sader (pronounced "Say Dur" like a 90s sassy teen girl, not "sadder with a D missing" like John Bobbit) that was pretty awesome despite having a few sound troubles.
     The place was  bustling and the crowd ebbed and flowed a lot!  I performed Quality Vs. Quarantine, Work In Progress and "Build Here".  It was a loud crowd despite there being a lot of attentive people and the drummer/host was off to the side looking at me during the song and then whispering to a friend and laughing and for one of few times I felt really disrespected and as though I was being intensely critiqued because it was so close to me so I sort of stopped mid song since it was screwing me up and openly addressed that I felt like he was doing me a disservice and it sucked because I respected him.  I didn't like myself for it and it felt unprofessional but a lot of people actually sort of cheered me on.  He was baffled and later I apologized, because my point wasn't to be confrontational or egotistical but just to be honest about my discomfort.  I got another Jones soda whose cap read "Your self-confidence is warranted" which was funny to me after that on-stage mishap that occurred in Phog!  I skated for a bit afterwards outside then we went back to Jeremy's apartment.  I got the masters for the split EP from Michael Korb and they sounded really amazing, I'm very grateful to Michael Korb for his mastering abilities and patience, Ryan Stack did a great job recording and mixing it and Owen and I put a really nice collection of thoughts and sentiments together. Hearing it as a whole with the voicemail interludes was really a powerful experience.  Went to sleep feeling accomplished and loved.

Tuesday 7/1
My first International Show ON CANADA DAY!
     When I woke I was antsy and I didn't want to have another day where I didn't leave the apartment until late.  I met Jeremy's mom a few hours into the day, she was really sweet and offered me food and whatever I'd like, we watched a mellow sort of sad parade go by from the balcony.  I ended up leaving Jeremy a note and going out to find a cafe to sit and write in since I'd gotten an idea for a new song and started up on it.  Turns out everything significant closes on Canada Day, go figure!  Ended up going with Jeremy to a very cool fountain/plaza called Albert Weeks, beautiful place and I skated around.  We drove with Hunter to get there and listened to Sadistik's "Ultraviolet" in the car, which is absurdly good!

     Later on we got to the venue called Milk coffee bar where Jeremy, Jon and I were preparing for our sets.  20 or so of our friends showed up and everyone was fun and seemingly looking forward to it, the vibe there was very artsy and playful. I got a delicious coffee drink and got to know everyone a bit more.  Jon "Sader" and I traded off sets and I made everyone pulled in really close to the stage where we were playing so it felt more connected.  The night ended up being really long and fun, I performed 11 songs from every one of my previous projects and a few from unreleased projects and a poem and Jeremy played beats and Jon and I freestyled for at least 45 minutes trading off raps over all sorts of beats it was a blast and we rapped ourselves hoarse!  During the sets some people walked into the bar and made it a point to stay and watch the set and it was really amazing to see people just come in off the street hearing live music especially indie rap and just support it, as that doesn't happen too often in my American experiences!  Overall it was an amazing experience, everyone was really supportive and I sold a lot of CDs for Canadian monopoly money and lots of people wanted to be a part of the AllOne mailing list and such and there was such an amazing performance high in me, the level of connection between myself and everyone who was listening was outrageous.  The mutual respect was sincere and the energy and attentiveness was really special, this show at Milk with Sader and Signols definitely ranks in among the Onederlust favorites!  I was physically exhausted from the lack of sleep and the performing and walking and skateboarding and yet Jeremy and I stayed up for a while talking, and I ended up going to bed at 4am or so feeling so at home!

Wednesday 7/2/14  Canadian Excursions
     I woke up around 10 am, not bad considering I went to sleep as late as I did though I still get an innate annoyance at myself when I wake up any time past 7 or so no matter when I went to sleep!  Chrono-miserly I am!  Jeremy had to be out of town for the day so Mel and Jon met with me and we meandered around some beautiful parks and saw some artworks, walking beneath tunnels flooded with lots of terrible but vibrant graffiti.  We also walked along some train tracks and found huge Jurassic looking leaves!  I really got to enjoy Mel and Jon's company and I felt like I was hanging out with friends whom I've known for years that I really just clicked with on the same wavelength!  In addition to Jones soda, it also seems as though there are almost strictly all black squirrels in Canada, and we saw one with a white tail (it was not a skunk) and we saw a weird woodchuck looking thing as well by the water!  While wandering we found crab apples in the woods and ate them!  We threw away some garbage we found in an another wise rather clean environment along the water!  There was a carnival in town (maybe it's always there...I don't know) and it overlooked the water on the River, it was beautiful at night as well as during the day, and I took a few pictures of that!  We walked down a really artful alleyway and saw astounding graffiti murals and paintings all coating the surrounding buildings, Jon bumped into a friend of his so Mel and I admired and took pictures of the remarkable artwork!

We ended up at Milk where we met with Gabby again and their friend Rosalie.  Everyone seemed to generally have an awesome sense of humor in my time in Canada...poignant side note.  We ended up saying goodbye to Mel shortly after our stop at Milk, as she had to be off somewhere, and that was sad because again, in the brief time that we got to know each other, I really came to like her quite a lot, and knowing that I wouldn't see these friends for quite a long time, if ever afterwards.  I got Shawarma AGAIN!  Obviously Shawarma Palace is to the Onederlust tour as Bolton's Hot Chicken was to the little piano, BIG MOUTH tour!!  Turns out Rosalie Weeks (related to the Albert Weeks whose dedicated plaza I'd been skating recently) does a radio show in Vancouver called "The Folk'n Rap Show" and I gave her my music that she said she planned to play on the show!  The enthusiasm and helpfulness of people continues to befuddle me!       While at Milk, I didn't have the money that I thought I would have to buy the coffee I ordered because the ATM didn't accept my card and then the barista Molly ended up buying the coffee for me.  The kindness is too much for me (in a different way than the price of the coffee was)!  We walked into a few stores and talked and traveled about and later I went to sleep at Jeremy's pretty early after watching some skate videos (including his dvd of Blind's "What If") with him.  I kept finding myself looking up the towns I'd been to on the tour on youtube with the sub-search of "skateboarding" to see the locals skate all the obstacles and spots I'd been looking at!  We had an early day since Jeremy had to leave at 8am the next day so I'd planned on hanging out with Estevan most of the day!

Thursday 7/3
My Last Day In Canada (skateboarding, drum circles, and freestyling)
I hung with out with Estevan early in the morning.  We went to 711 and got breakfast at Tim Hortons as well.  He is very like me, very introspective, quick to succumb to the annals of his own byzantine mind.  He was very taken by my music and my presence and theories as a person, and he shared with me a theory that his great grandmother had "there are 7 people like you in the world"  which is rather interesting.  I'd like to think there are more than that, but I suppose I can settle for 7!  I met His grandma and his funny white cat "Cuddles".  We ended up at the mall where we got popcorn on the way out at the movie theater! During our drives in the car he showed me some rappers, the best of them being a British fella named "LowKey".  We went to this fun outdoor local skate park where I talked to some kids and played SKATE to warm up, which I actually won and it helped me relearn a bunch of tricks I didn't even think I could do!
      We went to this place called Optimist park but it was too buggy throughout the overcast day!  Eventually Estevan had to go home to get some rest and he dropped me off at a Burger King to wait for Jon to meet up with me.  In the mean time, I used the gift card Owen's mom gave me to pick up a salad, a grilled chicken sandwich and a milk shake.  Its so odd that I felt guilty and gross eating a grilled chicken sandwich and a salad when they're advertising triple cheeseburgers with bacon and onion rings on them with friends and drinks with an option for a LARGER order.  Western culture is a weird place.  Connor and Jon met met at burger king and we were going to "Sandwich Town" for a drum circle event!

     The Bloomfield House
 After a short bus ride and a walk, Connor, Jon and I arrived at this small little house/storefront in the midst of a neighborhood block.  The subtext of the Bloomfield House sign describes it self as a "Community outreach, food share, free school, music and meditation center"  It is run by a group of people, primarily a musician named T.J.  We met Mo and hung out on a back porch of the house where Connor used a djembe to drop a beat and Jon, Mo and I freestyled exchanging turns where we all shone really well because the energy was immediately inviting and encouraging and no one was flexing or critical either.  We ate ice pops and white chocolate Reeses' peanut butter cups in between the cypher being active! Mo is an incredible energy, he is unapologetic in his joviality and sincerity and we found ourselves connecting immediately excited over one another's similar rap ethics and poetic interests and freestyle abilities!  I took a short video of Mo and Jon during the freestyle which you can view below!  After that we went out front and met with 15 or so people and had an incredible drum circle for an hour or so where I sang a bit and rapped as well, and we all felt very connected and supported, and again I left that beautiful little place with a big group of friends and positive and invigorating interactions, with promises to return soon on another trip! T.J. gave us a ride back to Jeremy's house and Jon and him caught up and we all hung out.

     Jeremy got a new skateboard while he was away and was all pumped up about an amazing skate park he saw in Tecumpseh.  It was about a 25 minute drive and Estevan agreed to take us, so I rode there and back in the bed of his pick-up truck with the navy sky above me, stippled with luminescent celestial freckles.  My back smarted from the bed of the truck but I couldn't even notice it or complain because of the feeling of the cool night wind kissing my face and the real life time-lapse montage of trees and light posts that I was watching unfold in my periphery.  I thought about how I wanted to write a poem about this, and how funny and insignificant our technology and little cities were as they blurred past while the night sky.The skate park was fun and we ended up leaving around 2am, marking it Friday, officially a month since I had left home on this trip.  It really didn't feel that long, but it also seemed so comfortable like it was a lifestyle that had always happened and always should.  Estevan dropped us off and we hugged one another fiercely and said our goodbyes, glad to have met a new brother and sad to see one another go!  Jeremy said good nights and good byes to me as well, as he wouldn't be up when I left to head back into the United States, appropriately on Independence Day where after nearly 30 hours of straight travel I'd arrive in Atlanta to hang out with my friends and perform on the last weekend of the trip!
We're parts of the puzzle, the bigger picture is incomplete without us,
We are the bigger picture, and without others we are incomplete as well.

AllOnederlust Tour 6/26-6/28 Meandering Motor City

With a huge smile on my face and a warmth in my heart from all of my new friends and experiences in Chicago I boarded the bus to my next stop, Detroit, where new shows and friends experienced me!

Thursday 6/26
     My bus ride from Chicago to Detroit was longer than I'd expected! I realized that my O'Henry collection was unfortunately too hefty for me to carry onto the bus so I ended up listening to an eclectic mix of music during the drive including old and new music, local artists and national acts.
The Decemberists - Picaresqueties ep
and the "Creative Differences (A Split)" EP to be sure I was content with all of the mixing and mastering.
 We stopped at a "Loves" Truck stop with showers and all sorts of products like audio-books and chargers and foods and clothes that made me think about the life of a trucker and sort of romanticism it.  Driving around with all sorts of time to yourself to think and see distances measured in hours.  I arrived in Detroit feeling disoriented and out of place.  I stopped into a diner called "Luci and Ethel's" realizing that my impending show at The Atomic Dawg in Berkley was rather far from where I was. I'd hoped to just sit down get coffee and use wi-fi to call an Uber car but they didn't have wi-fi so I resignedly ate a chicken sandwich and called a taxi.  A heavy woman named Josephine ran the counter, everyone added to one another's conversations like a sitcom where everyone knew one another and joked with excess and sass.
      Arriving in Detroit, Poetry and Hotdogs
 To my chagrin, the taxi ride in a decrepit green mini-van cost me $40 dollars.  I arrived at this crazy hot dog place a little frazzled.  They had all sorts of hotdogs with crazy and excessive toppings and styles on them, I actually opted out for financial and gastrointestinal concerns myself!  The event was booked by international performing poet, Wayne State University professor and Detroit poet laureate M.L. Liebler, whom I met 2 1/2 years ago in a lecture series we both performed/presented at SUNY Oswego!  I had no idea what to expect and when I got the email from M.L. that I'd be featured during a poetry reading at a hot dog place I really didn't know what to expect and sort of laughed to myself excitedly.  Well, M.L. being who he is, a gregarious, talented man of many friends, had the place packed out with good people!
     Several poets performed, Nick and Dan played a country acoustic and harmonica song set.or two.   Fiction writer Brian Smith read a great short story and a hilarious and talented woman who went by Diamond Dancer shared some poems as well.  Many people purchased CDs, signed my mailing list and just gave me money "put it towards a bus ticket" they said. It was a beautiful generosity, which set the pace for the little four person family of Diamond Dancer's extremely thoughtful and generous offer to drive me the 20-30 min drive to my friends and hosts Jaye and Lisa's house so I didn't have to pay taxi fare.  
All five of us, Diamond, her sister and her two nieces and I piled into a van and drove to the apartment.  We all had each other laughing, Diamond's young niece was so smart and asked so much about why people were obsessed with television and their phones and such nonsense music.  They thought I was hilarious, and I feeling so comfortable and jovially warm with gratefulness!  They told me Detroit really isn't as bad as people say it is and that people are generally good if you give them a chance.  It was suggested that it was good that I'd only stopped in Cleveland earlier in the tour because it was such a crazy dangerous place.  We spoke about a lot of things both laugh and thought provoking!  They dropped me off and waved goodbye with potential hopes to come to my show at Corktown Studios on Saturday! I was so grateful for them and had such a great time meeting them and hanging out, feeling like a part of their family!  Lisa and Jaye of the awesome band ROGUE SATELLITES.  Again, being in their apartment was a weird feeling of nostalgia and even though I only spent three days with them a year and a half ago I felt immediately reconnected with old friends.  Jaye and Lisa are both so great, they're calm and thoughtful and they're playfully funny without sacrificing their intellect.  A great and sometimes cynically humorous couple who make awesome music and art, that's a life I could live out!  After recapping some events in both our recent lives and plans for the weekend, they had to go to bed in anticipation of work and I was rather tired so we all retired.

Friday 6/27
Wandering amid decorative ruins
    The weather was brutally hot and humid out and Jaye and Lisa were at work, so I spent much of the day writing. I wrote and submitted a new story to a publication.  I also Listened to Sadistik's new album "Ultraviolet" and really have loved it!  Go and get it, it is worth your time, surely! I finally went outside to an uncomfortably aggressive sun.  The neighborhood was oddly quiet.  Wandering around the half alive near-ruins of Detroit I'd felt initially uneasy but then remembered by conversation with Diamond's family and that what I was experiencing was a reaction to a pre-existing stigma the area had and that people are all generally good if you give them the chance.  I walked through a place called Grand River Creative Corridor, and as though to apologize for the crippled structures strewn abundantly about the neighborhoods, vibrant, beautifully painted graffiti murals swirled and corkscrewed confidently along the wounded walls, it was all very inventive and impressive! I liked that the city seemingly sanctioned an area for people to do something positive and creative and "doll up" an area that was hurting socio-economically.  It was a progressive and intelligent point of view. Make the best of what is available to you!

     I had a few people begging me for money and such, I felt bad for them but they also felt predatory somehow.  They were aggressive at times, but never harmful.  Hungry and sweaty I was craving a milkshake and so I ended up in this Motor City Grill.  Plexiglass bullet proof wall separated myself and the cashier.  The food came out on a lazy Susan made of the same materials.  Hard to believe.  The burger I got was huge but so was it's price, luckily it was really tasty.  The chocolate shake was good, and my cheeks hurt because of the narrow straw, that's a real milkshake!  I called my grandmother and spoke to her and wandered back to the apartment where I wrote some more and waited for Lisa and Jaye to come home.  They were actually going out to a Ringo Starr and The All Star Band concert but ended up missing it and arriving with more greasy burger food and milkshakes...typical for neither of us but coincidence prompted it!  I didn't have the heart to tell them I'd already eaten so I gobbled it up.  Some days are milkshake days!  Although I'd been eating strictly healthily all year, the tour motto dietary wise has been "take what you can get while it's there" within reason.   
     Since Jaye and Lisa ended up having their night open, we went to a local show at New Way Bar where I met lots of Jaye and Lisa's friends.  Encountering someone's group of friends is a decent way to judge or learn about those you are with.  For one, they have friends, that probably indicates something, and two, In Jaye and Lisa's case, the company they kept was primarily a group of talented, interesting and kind people.  We saw two bands, a touring group called Ghost Wolves from Austin, Texas who were kind of trying to do a Yeah Yeah Yeahs meets The White Stripes duo thing with a sexy high pitched female singer with a distorted guitar and a drummer who beat mercilessly on the drums, passionately if not skillfully.  They had a crazy and practiced (maybe too inauthentic at times) stage presence and they rocked out like it was an arena despite there being only 20 people in the audience at most.  They were signed by a small label it would seem, as they had a while and overstuffed merch table!  Later they brought an actual pet wolf of theirs into the bar, what  a way to be memorable. Beautiful animal!  While their music wasn't amazing, they certainly knew how to make an impression!  Next up was a big local band "Duende!" who were fun and odd, full of good people that I'd met earlier.  After the show we went to Eric, Rick and Sean's house of the psychedelic rock band "Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor".  They were great guys, goofy who meant well, very smart, shared tour stories and ridiculousness.  They didn't take themselves seriously but clearly took their music and care for it seriously, I envied their focus and connection. It made me miss original trio of AllOne & The Room how we would hang out constantly and make music together, appreciating one another and our creations strongly!  I ended up going to sleep around 3:30 am!

Saturday 6/28
The Last Day In Detroit
     Saturday was a quiet start, I woke up around 7:30 and stared at the ceiling and tried to focus and let my mind wander in my thoughts and reminisce.  This was to be the last day I was in Detroit, after the show John and Jeremy were going to take me back with them to Canada for some fun there!  For whatever reason,  I felt introspective and hypercritical and as though I wanted to cry.  Wrote a little bit... 
"My life schemes are most people's pipe dreams. You know what a mid-life crisis is?  It's that wake up call, reminding you've got life to live, you realize you could have done what you might have wished."
     We all had an early start and wore bright yellow shirts without discussing it.  That made me laugh. Simple things, easy things sometimes hit the spot!  We went to breakfast at an awesome place named after Brooklyn, and there were all sorts of artsy and musical types there and a merging of generations and such.  It's funny to see places or things named after what seems hip and mysterious and yet is so within reach to me!  There was a young beautiful waitress decked out fully in tattoos all over her neck and hands and skin and she had sub-dermal piercings and gauges in her ears and colored short hair and she was serving an elderly group of women, which was funny to see the interaction and made me nervous for both parties but they all interacted with engaged and respectful amity, which made me happy to see.  We went to Corktown Studios which had changed on the outside having added a sculpture garden of sorts.  Jaye and Lisa have a new vinyl project out and you should pick it up...HERE.  I played guitar for a while and they cleaned up the art space.  We got a late lunch/early dinner at a place called The Green Dot which was like a bar-restaurant and they had incredible sliders and fries! I got a BBQ Bacon and Buffalo chicken slider with chili cheese friends.  Nothing short of amazing!  Jaye fronted the bill again on the food in his typical gentlemanly hosting fashion that I was really grateful for and admired a lot.  They are good to people in a way that chokes me up sometimes thinking about it!

Returning to Corktown
  Corktown Studios is an artist space/gallery/performance space in Detroit that Jaye and Lisa work through.  Last year my show with Alexa there was easily my favorite of the bunch so I was really excited to return!  I practiced my songs while Jaye and Lisa worked on setting up the space for the show.  It was to be an acoustic show where we cycled out after three songs.  Jaye played solo, then Eric played and I played.  Jaye did some great acoustic originals while Eric did some more electric riff driven guitar playing.  "When in Rome..." the saying goes, so I opened my set with an acoustic song that I wrote called "Never Return".  Because the environment was so intimate, I performed a set entirely of unreleased (at the time) songs.  I also performed "Work In Progress" "Quality Vs. Quarantine" "Rush Hour '98" "Sloth" and "Riches Of Value [Her Account Of A Chase]" over the course of the night, material spanning four different forthcoming projects.  It was a small but an appreciative and attentive group that sat in (literally!).  Jon and Jeremy came in and caught the last half of the show! It was good to see them again.  Jaye and Eric were both extremely generous and forfeit what they made during the show to support me on my trip.  Beautiful people.  

A Return to Canada!
     I said my goodbyes to Lisa and Jaye, who I felt much closer to than last time I left and who I'd be seeing in NYC in September as well as Detroit later in September at their sidewalk festival.  I stocked up on delicious cookies and went along with Jon and Jeremy to head over to Canada.  It took a lot of walking to get to the Rosa Parks center.  I got to catch up with them a lot, spending the first extended amount of time with either of them that I ever did.  Jon is more abstract and enthusiastic while Jeremy is more practical and mellow, they make a good team as friends and do a cool project called "Signols".  At the border, they asked me rapid fire questions at 1am and kept trying to catch me in lies "Where are you from?" "How do you know Jon and Jeremy?" "How long will you be here?" "What are you doing?" "You're a musician? Where's your instrument?"  ?"What do you do back home?" "how do you know them again?" "Where are you from?" ect.  Finally they relented and let me through.  Once we crossed the border to Windsor, Ontario, we walked with my maddening broken-wheeled suitcase to get to Kayla and Jesses' big old house!  It turns out Jesse is a big fan of my work.  The story goes that when Jon and Jeremy asked if their rapper friends could stay at her house, she was wary about the idea.  When they mentioned "Oh it's our friend AllOne" she lit up and accepted immediately!  Upon meeting her, she exploded praise upon me and funny enough, sad "Somehow I thought you'd be chubbier" which of course I laughed at.  The fact that my music stretches this far and connects so strongly with people baffles me.  It is surreal and I feel blessed. I've always said that I want to have a relationship with the supporters of my artwork that would allow either of us to be mutually comfortable to invite one another into our homes, both in the nature of my work and the connection with my audience.  This was "international" example of that goal being accomplished in some wonderful small way and it was astonishing and inspiring!  After a few hours we decided to go to Jeremy's to sleep, the walk was brutally sweaty and the suitcase being broken was really cumbersome but eventually we got to Jeremy's little apartment and I passed out promptly, looking forward to several days in Canada!

"Make the best of your situation, 
and also allow your situation to make the best of you!"

Friday, July 11, 2014

Onederlust tour Chicago 6/23-6/25 Reacquainting with Windy City

Monday 6/23
     Performing in an inspiring Safe Haven
     My bus ride from Indianapolis to Chicago was relatively short. I read and listened to More Than Skies' EP “The Liar The Puppet The Fox”. It's a lovely acoustic album, Adam Tomlinson, whose the mastermind behind the project, is releasing a double album of similar new and old music soon so look out for that. I had a lot of time before my performance at Beauty Bar, I walked through the brutal heat of Chicago dragging my suitcase. I was nervously anticipating my performance there. The theme for the SALONATHON LEXICA event was “How We Heal” and I had decided earlier in the week to perform a piece about my Poppy, and I realized that I didn't want it to be written so as to maintain the sincerity and vulnerability of it. As I walked for about an hour to find the venue, I improvised aloud, speaking to myself about things and reminiscing about my grandfather and times we had together and the resonating pain and lessons in the loss. In doing this in broad daylight, I began to cry twice. Knowing I'd indeed tapped into something present, meaningful and real, I decided to leave the subject alone to keep myself composed and to leave the “performance” to a raw and open discussion. My choice to improvise was to share a poem or monologue about the process of hurting and healing during a real process of mourning and recovering in front of people.

     On my walk I saw a lot of really interesting stickers and street art as I wound my way through the brutally hot roads of Chicago. I realized that skateboarding is a hard thing to have grown up doing, as it shapes your world in a whole different way and later nearly everything you're to encounter reminds you of your bygone youth. Being as I had several hours before my show and I was starving and sweating and I found a little cafe nearby the Beauty Bar called “Awake Cafe”. “Awake” is a clean place with bright pastel colors and decals tattoo the walls that read a lot of great expressions. Some of the strongest of them were:
“Stop texting and start talking” 
“Now is a good time” 
“bend but do not break”
 “live local, think global” 
“It's okay to be nice” 
“everything for a reason”.
     I got a cappuccino frozen smoothie and drank it down absurdly fast out of parched necessity. I ended up hanging out there for several hours, editing a story, posting on this blog and catching up with people. I later had a salad and a fruit smoothie as well! I got an idea for a sticker/mantra/logo and I had my friend Kyle Crowell design a sticker of will see it very soon! A few hours went by and I finally met up with my friend Ariel, whom I know from Long Island back in the Cool Beanz days. She moved to Chicago and hosted Alexa and I last minute when our initial couchsurfing experience went awry! We got into the Beauty Bar, a place that is indeed a split between a salon and a Bar! The event, SALONATHON, is a multi-genre experimental art event run every Monday there by a really nice, creative and community driven guy named Joe Varisco and the charming and charismatic Jane Beachy. The event was split into two “rounds” of performances featuring all sorts of poets, dancers, artists, singers and so on. I encourage you to explore all of their work!  There was video taken of the performances but I have no idea when that will be available, so I've done my best to seek out and link to the people that were there, the talent, beauty and sincerity of these performances could really only be fully experienced in person, so I will not attempt to rob them of that by clumsily describing them at length.  Rest assured, I was rattled and impressed, as I'm sure you'd have been as well!

Round 1
Me (AllOne... yahoo!)

Round 2
     The performances were absolutely cathartic and impacting. From choreographed fights, incredible interpretive dance, singing routines to meaningful beautiful poetry/monologues regarding the issues of love, eating disorders, loss and the difficulties of life struggling with gender identification and the adversity of sexual preference the event had it all. Some more experimental performances involved crowd participation embodying strong themes like rape, near death experiences, racism and otherwise. The experience was strange and arresting. Even though I was new to the town and don't identify as homosexual I was treated like family by everyone and there was not a bad vibe in the room. It was one of the most open and supportive groups of people as well as most eclectic and consistently daring displays of performance I've ever seen. Many of them gave me chills and I was very impressed by people's honesty and heart. I was responded to very strongly and it felt amazing and humbling to be among all of these amazing artists and people. A really awesome girl named Jenna Anast approached me to assure my that she loved my performance and that it made her cry and we got to know one another a little bit, she said she wanted to have me on her Chicago college radio show “Jivin' with Jenna” and we spoke about life and art and made some plans to meet up. I had conversations with Joe and several others and ended up taking my first Uber ride back to Ariel's as she had left early!

Tuesday 6/24/14 Exploring and vandalizing the Windy City

     I woke up early and played with Ariel's funny tubby cat “Bumpkin” who was perfectly named! I continued to read O'Henry's collection and in it there were several amazing stories of con-artists, as he is known for having. I really enjoyed being in their apartment, from instruments and shelvces of great books and films to funny and awesome posters, it was good to find myself among like-minded friends!  One of Ariel's roommates Gail, left me a note and her pass into the Chicago Art Institute, I'd planned on going there, but first I had to peruse the neighborhood and put stickers EVERYWHERE! For the first time, I used a bike sharing system called Divvy, which was liberating and fun, I think the bike sharing idea is brilliant, evidently Divvy has only been around for a year, but it's a necessary and wonderful system. It was a really hot day and I was hassled by a cop via megaphone from a car for riding on the sidewalk. Shortly after reprimanding me, he closed out our interaction with “cool mustache bro”. Although it was brutally hot out I spent several hours just meandering around trading feet for wheels on and off. You are only able to ride the Divvy bikes for a half hour at a time and then you are charged extra and I would panic be unsure if I could stumble upon another bike dock so I'd just return to the original one. 

      People I'd been encountering seem generally kind and open and the streets I'd explored managed to have a good mix of interesting locally owned businesses such as comic book shops, writer's havens, cafes and such among the more well established franchises. At one point I ended up in a really neat little local organic grocery store where I ate amazing dark chocolate and drank an all natural ginseng drink while writing a story-song!  Once retiring back to Ariel's apartment, I wrote and worked on some new work while at Ariel's. Later that night, Jenna and I met one another at “Bar On Buena” and sat outside to eat and talked about our histories and heritage, music and her radio show ect. We shared a hummus plate and had clever interactions with a really cool waitress. The night was considerably cooler. Jenna was more than pleasant company, one of those people who you talk with and feel immediately like friends. She's an intelligent reader who is quick to smile, loves horror and yet HATES clowns! We made plans to meet up the next day to record for her radio show at UIC. I took a nice nighttime stroll home around midnight and am again startled by how easily it is that I/we as people can assimilate so quickly others and new places so long as we are courageously open. I fell asleep feeling contentedly connected and at home where I was despite my bewildering bike rides earlier in the day.

Wednesday 6/25/14  New friends & coincidences.  My out-of-state radio debut!

     Once starting my day meandering, I wound up going the wrong way early to UIC where Jenna's radio show was to be!  I went into a giant consignment/antique/thrift store and ended up finding Jane Eyre and Kidnapped for really cheap so i conceded to buying them both, knowing I'd end up reading them eventually.  My one vice when traveling is contributing to my endless "to-read" bookshelf whenever I find cheap books no matter how dauntingly full the shelf gets! Later I stumbled upon a nice clean coffee shop called CafeDescartes. It was decorated with portraits of well known philosophers and was empty, save for one smiling fellow working behind the counter. I ordered a coffee and sat down, began talking to this kind guy whose name turned out to be Reggie. He's a smart and soft spoken Chicago native. We spoke about books and music and he recommended Vladimir Nabokov's “Pale Fire” which is interesting because Sadistik references it in the song "1984" in his newest album ("Ultraviolet") so I'd recently had it in my head anyway! A classically trained pianist, playing since 7 years old, he teaches piano and music theory! Cafe Descartes had a brutally slow day of business, and so we had an opportunity to talk, he taught me a bit about musical theory and styles of music and informed me of some science fiction writers I should look out for. As an hour or so elapsed I ended up getting a tasty macaroni and vegetable salad, if you're ever there...try it out! We talked on psychology and some philosophy and I sampled some delicious gelato (made on-site!) from time to time. He helped me with advice on how to get to UIC for Jenna's show and we exchanged information, to keep in touch and perhaps some future musical collaboration. We both emerged from that situation with a friend, and I thanked my poor navigation for the experience!

     I couldn't figure out the bus system or the right ones weren't running but I ended up using the Uber car again, and spoke to my driver who took a roundabout way that ended up being quicker because of the traffic. We spoke about one another's entrepreneurial ambitions and on dedication to family and your future and had a really nice conversation. I got to Jenna's in time to give hugs and get right onto the show, as she'd been generous enough to wait for me to start it! On the show we spoke about the meanings and approaches behind my songs and songwriting, general feelings about ambitions, goals, and how to exchange messages through art, the Onederlust tour, my job with F.R.E.E. back home and how important it is to volunteer and help people for both the person volunteering and those that are being helped! She played “What'sYour Problem?” “The Inevitable Effort” “Grab The Horns” “Brainstorm Of The Century” “This Is For”, “Trash CanEpiphanies”, “Pennsylvanian Patriarch” and “Revealed{Practical]”! The whole time was really comfortable and she was asking great questions and I had a really fun time. Jenna is vivacious, emphatic, and inspiring and it definitely reflects in her do endeavor to tune into that! After the show we took some photos together and spoke outside til nightfall, she opted to take a bus with me to help to further direct me. Whenever I'm in town, she and Reggie are two more friends I will certainly intend to meet with that I'd got to know even further and got to know myself through their actions even further and this tour has consistently presented these gifts to me!

     Once I got back to Ariel's, her and I talked a bit, I'd met Gail and Stephanie, her room mates and we spoke for a while. Being as they all worked and I seemed to continuously have things to do at night we didn't get to speak as much as I'd like (especially considering they're my hosts!) but they weren't bothered by it and so long as I wasn't offending them I was able to live with it. Even in the hour or so that I got to speak to them, I felt I learned something. I went to bed, anticipating an early departure morning for Detroit. I fell asleep thinking it's funny this mental Rolodex I persistently add to, it's amazing how close you can get to people in such a short amount of time. Kaila and I spoke of this once when she was on her trip, about how it seems that people cut the fat of small talk and get right to being real with you due to the brevity of your intersecting in life. Another factor might also be that people are less afraid to open up to you more since you don't generally have any immediate effect on their everyday life. It may also just be a reflection of how inviting we are as people, gregarious and sincere.
There's never a reason to feel lonely in the strangest of places,
“Everyone's lonely so I know at least I'm not alone” -Micheal Eyedea Larsen,

Most people will r.s.v.p. they're just waiting for an invitation.