Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Welcome to the 7th best car/bike travel tour blog ever of 2009

We are still loving our simple life in California although our departure date at the end of August (after the Blackberry Festival) is rapidly approaching. We have been on some fun trips around California and up to Oregon in recent months, but have not been terribly inspired to blog. Partially because the editing process is not nearly as exciting on a day to day basis to write about, and because we thought that most people read our site during the tour to find out what was going on with Blind Pilot and perhaps were not as interested to now read about our new life in the woods.

Then we received an email yesterday from Tripbase.com notifying us that we had placed 7th in their 2009 blog awards in the Car/Bike travel category. We thought it was interesting that they placed cars and bike travel in the same category, but didn't really mind because we were people in cars who followed people riding bicycles, so it kind of fits for us at least. They gave us a link to a nifty badge to put on our blog and said that this award is "a sign that you are in the top echelons of the blogosphere." Cool. Max calls it an "awardvertisement" for tripbase, but has allowed it to be displayed here. Emily thinks its sweet that someone noticed us.

So thank you Tripbase for inspiring us to keep blogging. The focus might switch a bit more (as it has been in recent postings) to our life right now, as well as the film making process, instead of solely on the whereabouts and activities of Blind Pilot. Ryan said in his most recent post on their blog that he will try to be better with updates. As we begin to travel again, we will share our experiences in states we haven't driven through yet, as well as our attempts to screen the film on the road and to secure festival screenings and distribution.

Emily did go to Eugene, OR last week to see her parents who were in town, catch a few delightful concerts at the Bach Festival and watch an amazing 15-5 win by the Eugene Emeralds. She got to visit with Ryan, Sarah and his parents as well. Ryan looked good, and it is quite amazing to hear his experiences with the music industry and how many people are now helping them do all the tasks that they had to self manage on bike tour - booking, merchandise, promotion, etc. He did bicycle back to Portland for some exercise and alone time and almost made it all the way. It's good to hear that bicycling and bike touring are still on their minds.

We are appreciating the arid climate of this region in contrast to the high heat and humidity that Baltimore is famous for at this time of year, except that Emily's kitchen garden of herbs and pickling cucumbers are requiring more aggressive watering than her old garden. Luckily, our friend's mother's giant canning garden is growing like crazy and Emily has been helping with weeding and eating all of the beautiful fresh produce.

We spent Friday, July 3 at Frontier Days in nearby Willits, CA - "California's oldest continuously run rodeo" - with our friends from the Bay Area and celebrated the 4th of July up at the Black Butte River Ranch's annual shindig in the mountains. Good food and good music always ensures a fun evening will be had by all, but the overwhelming hospitality of Tom and Margie, who run the place, really put this party over the top and reminded us of the truly special community we have found here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If you are just tuning in...

Last May we traveled from our home in Baltimore, MD to Portland, OR for a long weekend. It had been a while since we had seen Ryan, one of Emily's oldest friends, but he was about to leave town to do a short tour of the Oregon coast with his band, Blind Pilot. So we tagged along and had the pleasure of meeting the rest of the band and seeing their live set three times. It was after the first of the three shows that they started talking about the bike tour they were planning to take starting that August. On a whim we asked if we could film it. For some reason they agreed.

We wanted to film Blind Pilot’s bike tour because we were moved by their music and their adventurous attitude towards life, and thought that by filming the bike tour they were planning, we could help others realize how great both of those things were. This was before they were an iTunes band of the week, before NPR fell in love with Oviedo, before anyone knew that Blind Pilot wouldn't end up being another brilliant band that no one would get to hear. By the time last July rolled around and we came out to film the bike tour, iTunes had happened, NPR had happened, even a standing ovation opening up for Aimee Mann at the Aladdin had already happened, but we decided to do it anyway.

We were also feeling a lack of excitement and spark in our own day to day lives last May, and saw this project as a way shaking up our own existence. They no longer needed the promotion or exposure so much, but we still needed the adventure, and they were gracious enough to hold up their end and let us film their bike tour. And even though we are now engulfed by the prospect of turning the 250 hours of footage captured on tour into a single film, we are really glad they did. It was inspiring to witness what happens when you stretch your comfort zone, allow yourself to be vulnerable, and let the world take care of you.

Since the tour ended, we have been in post-production in a small town in Northern California and staying with a friend of ours from college. We have continued the adventure started on tour, meeting a wonderful group of people here. We recently moved back into the tent we lived in on tour and onto the property where we are helping our friend build his cabin. We move between a nearby music studio, where the Garden Community Land Trust has generously allowed us the space to set up our computer and several hard drives and edit, to an also generously donated carport for cooking and eating and general social merriment, and back to a tepee and our tent to sleep in the so far hospitable Mendocino Interior wilderness. Buzz the traveling cat has familiarized herself with all of the structures and spends most of her day sleeping out of the sun under a pile of lumber. We both found ourselves part time jobs to support our living expenses and be more involved in the community here (Emily is a pizza chef, Max is a small-engine mechanic) and we have discovered how busy you can be when you are engaged by your environment and largely in charge of your own schedule.

Somehow we are still finding time to edit the film. We even managed to leave the valley to catch up with Blind Pilot on Monday, April 13 in San Francisco at their last show of their first van tour at Café du Nord. The show was tight and fast. Ryan contracted food poisoning right before they went on, but he pounded heroically through the entire set. We are sad to report that there was no skinny dipping after this tour ended, in fact, it seemed like the trip had been exciting but also draining for all of them. That said, the tour also seems to have been a huge success for them, and there were many highlights, including a great interview on NPR's Morning Edition, all of which they covered on their website. They will be continuing on an exciting 2009 tour through Europe and the US with the Decemberists and the Counting Crows and playing many festivals - see their tour schedule for information.

Now that spring has arrived and the days are longer, our inspiration is renewed by warmer weather and fast approaching festival deadlines. The goal of finishing the documentary is very high on our priority list (as well as taking some time to use the National Parks pass that we bought last July before it expires). We appreciate all the emails, comments and interest in this film and hope to be able to share what we think will be the happiest documentary film of 2009.

We are still self-financing this project and although we are extremely optimistic about the chances of this film being picked up, there is nothing certain in life and we still want to be able to show the film to all of you who have been so supportive of this project. We have to return back East for Max’s sister’s wedding over Labor Day weekend and are hoping to have a screenable “work in progress” cut that we can tour as we drive east in late August, and possibly raise funds. If you have any suggestions of places that would like to host a screening, contact us and let us know, we will be traveling with a projector and would love to appear for an impromptu screening on a white surface near you. Look for information about those screenings and (hopefully) festival screenings either on our blog, the film website, or our Facebook page.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Blind Pilot Live! (again) and on TV! (for the first time)

We had a great time in San Francisco this week catching Blind Pilot's show at Hotel Utah on Tuesday evening. The venue was only slightly larger than their last San Francisco show at the hole in the wall Mojo Bicycle Cafe, but their fans packed in like sardines to hear a great set played by Israel, Ryan, Luke, Kati, Ian and Kristine on violin and Joel on pedal steel.

There was a particular song, a cover, that the band played only twice on tour, and both times (one was at Mojo incidentally, the other a house party in Arcata) the venue's acoustics, lack of sound system, and a capacity crowd left us with a recording that could be charitably refered to as "in your face." Luckily, the band was gearing up to perform this particular song for Carson Daly's big time summer concert cover song extravaganza, so they had it down pat, and were down to perform it again at their show this past Tuesday and we were able to re-record it. The Hotel Utah may not have much on the Mojo in the way of space, but it fills that space with a top notch sound system, expertly tuned by their sound guy Jeff. Thank you Jeff.

We hadn't seen them play since last October, and it was exciting to see how tight their sets have become, and hear subtle differences, like a somewhat new vocal pattern for "Oviedo." We were blown away by Israel's latest song, "White Apple," which seems to be a real departure in terms of working with sound, going to different places in different ways musically and in terms of imagery (very much enhanced by Joel's haunting pedal steel at this particular performance). Yet somehow it remains so familiar in terms of where it comes from. It is worth seeing a show just for this song, and anything else the Pilot comes up with trapped in a van for the next couple of months, until it is available on their album next winter.

Due to our lack of constant access to television, we sadly missed the television debut of Blind Pilot on Carson Daly on Wednesday night (Thursday morning). But, thanks to the internet, we caught it online. And if your connection is high speedy enough, so can you!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rain, Bluegrass in Arcata, upcoming Blind Pilot shows

It's finally started raining here in Round Valley, which makes it a bit easier to buckle down and not be distracted by sunny weather. We've successfully broken up the footage into 33 smaller sections, enabling us to slowly work through all of it. We had some issues with our uploads to Vimeo last week, but all seems to work now - sorry for any inconvenience.

So we should really be buckling down, but it's not every day that three outstanding bluegrass bands play only three hours away at Humboldt Brews, in Arcata, CA (where Blind Pilot played an open mic night when we stopped through last September) like it was this past Friday. Ms. Kati Claborn (so really it can be considered research) was playing with another band of hers, The Clampitt Family, on a "Portland Invasion Tour" with Whiskey Puppy, great folks and smokin' pickers who we met in Bellingham when they played with Blind Pilot last August, and Jackstraw, the highly talented third prong of what was to be a Shermanesque march through California on their way to the Bluegrass and Americana festival underway in San Francisco. We enjoyed a fabulous night of bluegrass music and the chance to catch up with Kati, whom we sadly missed during our New Year's trip up to Portland, and sleep in a Super 8 with 8 super musicians, which we don't do nearly often enough.

Enough about us... and bluegrass - if you didn't know already, Blind Pilot will be making their television debut on Late Night with Carson Daly this week - airing at 1:30am on February 12th (that's Wednesday night). We will be at their show at the Hotel Utah in San Francisco on Tuesday night, and if you live somewhere else - here is their upcoming spring touring schedule. They are a great live show (take it from us, we saw over 40 last fall).

(from Bigshot Touring)

03/05/09. Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios

03/06/09. Spokane, WA - The Empyrean

03/07/09. Boise, ID - Neurolux

03/09/09. Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge

03/11/09. Denver, CO - Hi-Dive

03/12/09. Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room

03/13/09. Iowa City, IA - The Picador

03/14/09. Madison, WI - Orpheum Stage Door

03/16/09. Chicago, IL - Schubas Tavern

03/24/09. Nashville, TN - Mercy Lounge

03/26/09. Greensboro, NC - Studio B

03/27/09. Arlington, VA - IOTA

03/28/09. Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of Living Arts

03/30/09. Cambridge, MA - Middle East

03/31/09. New York, NY - Mercury Lounge

04/01/09. Pittsburgh, PA - Club Cafe

04/02/09. Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom

04/04/09. Minneapolis, MN - 400 Bar

04/07/09. Austin, TX - The Mohawk

04/09/09. Tucson, AZ - Plush

04/10/09. San Diego, CA - Casbah

04/11/09. Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland

04/13/09. San Francisco, CA - Cafe Du Nord

Monday, January 26, 2009

New trailer and website - we've been busy!

It took us a while to settle into the editing process. It took us a while to get used to waking up in the same town every day. And although we found the time to rock New Year's in Portland with Ryan, Israel and Sarah, and take off Inauguration Day to throw a party, for the most part we have been very busy!

We now have:

  • a working title - WE ARE THE TIDE: blind pilot's west coast bike tour,
  • a new website to get information about the film, AND
  • a brand new trailer for the film!

We are still enjoying our editing location, making sure to take walks regularly and enjoy the unseasonably warm and dry weather we have been having here in Round Valley. With over 250 hours of footage to look through, the trailer represents the tip of the iceberg. Please enjoy it as we pour over the rest and hammer out the story that lies within.

WE ARE THE TIDE: blind pilot's west coast bike tour (trailer) from IAVIDEO on Vimeo.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing Day!

It's been two months since we last posted; Thanksgiving and Christmas have come and gone and we are finally semi-settled in with our friend from college in a rustic (with hot water, internet and heat!) cabin in Northern California. Apparently, finding a free place to live and work takes a little longer than we expected.
We have been setting up an editing suite and are happy to report that all the hard drives still contain the 250+ hours of footage that we shot over two months traveling with Blind Pilot, a feat considering the many miles that the drives traveled in the car through changing weather conditions.

Emily is pleased to have a real kitchen to cook in after four months of camping and staying in other people's houses. We hosted a small Christmas eve dinner with meatballs that would have made her Swedish great-grandmother proud. Buzz has claimed a chair in the house and spends a lot of time sleeping. She deserves it after being in the car for so long. It's been snowing here, like most areas throughout the country, and we have been enjoying long walks in the mountains, getting ourselves back into pre-sitting-in-the-car-all-the-time shape. Max found a 1976 Moto Guzzi police cruiser motorcycle and finally can fully enjoy the windy roads of California.

We hope that this holiday season was merry and bright - keep an eye out for more posts and updates as we work.

And! If you haven't heard already, congratulations to Blind Pilot for being Starbucks' "Pick of the Week" for the week of January 3. Pick up a code that week for a free song download from any Starbucks locations throughout Canada and the US.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The End?

The Band traveled the final 20 miles to San Diego without much difficulty and then started on the logistics of getting everyone back up to Portland. Israel's friend Kate welcomed us into her home and everybody became very tired. Kati and Luke mustered the energy to ride to the train station and see if they could bribe a baggage handler to put his bass trailer on the train the next day. Amtrak wouldn't take it, and Luke ended up having to send his trailer via Greyhound, who had no problem taking the beautiful monstrosity back to Portland for only $32. They returned later that night and after some Big Kahuna burgers, it became clear that the band was not going to play a show on their last night of bike tour, and they began to feel like they needed a "finish line." Israel proposed (maintains he was joking) that they should either sit outside and meditate- "speak without speaking"- or ride naked to the bay and jump in. Maybe it was a reluctance to meditate, but Ryan jumped at the latter idea. So they celebrated by skinny dipping in the bay and then relaxing in Kate's apartment complex hot tub (clothed.) After only 3 hours of sleep, we all got up and headed to the train station for the 30 hour long ride back up to Portland.

Max boarded the train with the band in order to do interviews while Emily drove to the Bay Area to visit Jamie again and wait for him. The train ride, with the pacific coast on fast rewind through the windows, was a very compelling backdrop and the interviews were going really well, but the train ended up being a bit noisier and bumpier than the romantic notion we had in our heads. Despite the less than ideal shooting conditions, within the first 16 hours, Max had filled up the hard drive on his laptop with about eight hours of interview, and with only a USB1.0 portable hard drive to offload footage to very slowly (if given eight to ten hours to transfer what was already shot, it would have yielded space enough for another hour or so of footage,) he hastily disembarked in Oakland, where Emily could easily pick him up.

We are off for a little time off to relax with a friend here and then will be back up to Portland to do final interviews and figure out where we are going to edit the 250+ hours of footage that we now have stored in hard drives throughout the car. We will keep posting with updates about the film and our whereabouts over the next few months. Thank you Blind Pilot for a great ride.