Monday, September 29, 2008

If you're going to San Francisco...

We spent three days in the Bay Area, which was a blast - and busy, which is why we are posting from our campsite in Santa Cruz.

Their only show in San Francisco was at the Mojo Bicycle Cafe, a wonderfully accommodating venue, although very, very small. You never know how packed a Blind Pilot show is going to be. San Francisco turned out to be a city where they have quite a fan base. Andrew, the manager at Mojo, said that people had been calling all day asking about the show, and the turnout was amazing. People were overflowing out of the small cafe into the street, as the band played tucked away in the small area leading into the bike shop area of the cafe.

Kati and Ryan's friend Sarah drove down to the show and picked Ian up in Fort Bragg, where the rest seemed to have done him a lot of good. He had been riding everyday and the head cold seemed to be clearing up. Unfortunately, they ran out of gas along Highway 1 south of Mendocino, and showed up about an hour late. That didn't discourage the crowd, though, who hung out and actually seemed to get larger as we waited for the van to show up. Also, all of the biking buddies that we had met along the route since Brookings, OR, came out to see the band. The sidewalk bench was host to a little reunion, with bikers sharing stories about the past couple of weeks and lamenting that they had to return to their own lives and jobs so soon.

The band was unable to book any other shows in San Francisco, but they were able to jump on Point Juncture WA's bill (featuring Skylar Norwood of Team Evil, and the producer of Blind Pilot's album) at Sofia's Thai Kitchen in Davis, CA and play a few songs on KDVS before the show. They broke from the bike tour a bit and took the van up to Davis, which seemed ironic, considering that Davis and the UC campus there have some of the most bike-friendly streets in the country. The time in the studio was fun. They played a few songs and answered a few questions, and the Micheal, the DJ there and the booking agent for Sofia's, promoted their concert that night.

The band ended up staying in Davis on Saturday for a lot longer than they expected, and arrived back in San Francisco at 5pm. A stop at Mojo for a new tire for Luke's trailer and then over to where their gear was stashed whiled away another hour and a half. They decided to try to ride at least a little bit in order to break up the mileage, but weren't counting on the sun setting at 7:30 (yup, it is Fall now) and an intense, thick fog to roll in as they reached Daly City, about 10 miles south of San Francisco. Ryan decided that the best option was to get a cheap motel room and cram all eight of us in (Buzz was able to come in too). This threw them off of their course a bit the next day, adding an extra 10 miles to their route back to Highway 1. Ian decided to catch a ride with Kati and Sarah after reaching Half Moon Bay (and Olaf and Fen, who we picked up in San Francisco) as Israel, Ryan and Luke made an incredible 50 mile push down to Santa Cruz. Ian is not riding today, and he's not quite sure what he's going to do after their show at Monterey Live tonight, and Kati, Sarah, Olaf and Fen head back up to Oregon tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Recipes from the Road

Emily has been creating some yummy meals around our campsite, using her Sigg camp pots, a miniature cast iron pan and one tiny camping stove. Here are two recipes that have worked pretty well, don't cost too much and are easy to make. They also don't require much prep, or access to a real kitchen. We also like acronyms, if you can't tell.

Campstove recipes by Emily.

STP (Sausage, Tomatoes and Potatoes) for two.

Buy two tomatoes and two potatoes from a farm stand, or a local market. Pick up two links or more of sausage - whatever kind you like. We've made STP from Italian sausage, Feta and Spinach Sausage and "Brown and Serve" frozen precooked sausage patties. They each add a different flavor, but still taste good.
  1. Boil salted water in a pot and cook the potatoes until almost done.
  2. Chop up the tomatoes into wedges, salt and pepper and place to the side.
  3. Drain and remove potatoes and keep to the side in the lid.
  4. Brown sausage in oil or butter.
  5. Add potatoes and salted/peppered tomatoes to browned sausage.
  6. Stir and let simmer covered for about 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
  7. Remove cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
  8. Serve in bowls with some bread and enjoy!
Variation - you can also precook some rice and add to the mixture for a heartier meal.

Soviet Simmer - CCCP (Chicken, Corn, Couscous and Peppers) for two.

Note: This meal was simplified by purchasing smoked chicken (from Roundman's Smokehouse in Fort Bragg, CA), which added a nice smokey flavor and eliminated the need to keep and cook raw meat, a plus when your cooler is not always guaranteed to be food-safe cold.

  • 1 small can of corn
  • 3/4 cup Israeli Couscous
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 lb. smoked chicken, cut into strips
  • (I also added 6 chopped mushrooms and 2 cloves of garlic, but adding those letters in would make a really long acronym, and not be as clever)
  1. Bring 3/4 cup water to boil and add couscous. Stir and remove from heat.
  2. In a second pot, saute garlic, mushrooms, corn and pepper in oil or butter for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, cover and finish cooking the couscous.
  4. Return the vegetable mixture to the stove, add couscous and chicken.
  5. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, then serve.
  6. Add pepper to taste.
Feel free to share recipes with friends, hopefully there will be more to come!

Next stop - San Francisco (pausing in Gualala and Bodega Dunes)

Ryan and Israel rode all the way to San Francisco on their last bike tour two years ago, so it is understandable that they have been trying a bit to recreate some of their last adventure, but it hasn't been easy to do. The Peg House show the last tour was packed, and although the venue had built a new outdoor stage, the crowd was much smaller. In Gualala on the last tour, they weren't planning on playing a show, just getting groceries, when the cashier asked them if they were playing at the hotel across the street. They went over and ended up with free rooms (for them and the two German bike tourers they had befriended) in exchange for a set at the Gualala Hotel. Things have changed in Gualala, CA and the manager wasn't too keen on giving them too much in exchange for playing to a very small Monday night crowd.

Not discouraged, the band went across the street to Bone's Roadhouse restaurant to try to rustle up a crowd to come to their show. Ryan had contacted the owner of Bone's Roadhouse before the trip to try to set up a show, but it was never confirmed, so when they walked in they suggested they just play there for the late dinner crowd. They were all miked up, which was great for Israel, as he was on the verge of losing his voice after straining it a bit in Mendocino.

We camped that night amongst beautifully smelling eucalyptus trees and some very aggressive raccoons. They luckily left us alone and Buzz is slowly regaining her feeling of well being while in the tent.

The next day's ride was beautiful. Highway 1 hugs the rugged coastine, offering breathtaking views of the ocean. We spent some time along a turnout feeling like we were on top of the world. We ended the day in Bodega Dunes and for the first time it was obvious that we have left the more renegade counties in Northern California and had reached the weekend hangouts for rich Bay Area folk. Campsites at the state park were $25 a night, the priciest so far, but we were treated to a walk by visit by a badger. Ah, wildlife.

The band today made the 65-mile push into San Francisco look like a walk in the park. They did the first 30 miles without stopping, passing the other touring bicyclers that we have met along the way.

Yesterday was the first day of fall, and our two month anniversary of being on the road. Hopefully we'll be able to enjoy some down time/alone time in the Bay Area to go out to dinner and celebrate and reflect on what a wild ride it's been.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Beautiful days in Mendocino, CA

Saturday morning the band biked into Fort Bragg to look for a show and use the library's wifi. The two miles into town made Ian dizzy. It was about time he listened to his body, and when the band couldn't get a show in Fort Bragg, and decided to go 13 more miles to Mendocino, Ian checked into a motel for some much needed bed rest and healing time. They did find a last minute show at Patterson's Pub in Mendocino. It was a great time - an intimate set by the three-piece to a very friendly crowd, all done under a stuffed moose head. Mendocino is beautiful, and Emily has spent time here in the past visiting her friend Imil from college, so it was nice to be able to be in a semi-familiar place for a while.

It was so beautiful, and sunny for the first time in a while, that the band decided to take a rest day and explore the headlands and sit on sunny rocks looking at the ocean. They also had a brilliant idea to play on the sidewalk for the visiting tourists until they had enough money to get a sauna and soak in a hot tub. Not surprisingly, they did pretty well fairly quickly and took the time for some luxury. We decided to visit Ian and see how he was doing and talk to him on camera about the trip so far. We found him at the Colombi Motel in Fort Bragg, looking better, but still feeling pretty rough. He ended up getting a fever the night before, which had broke by the time we arrived, and was trying to rehydrate and recouperate. Still determined, he decided to wait in Fort Bragg at the campsite and warm up his muscles again until Kati and Ryan's friend Sarah drive down to San Francisco on Thursday and pick him up on the way.

We drove quickly back to Mendocino to catch the band's second impromptu show at Dick's Place, a great divey bar right next to the headlands. It was a smaller, more local crowd than the night before, and the band was pretty relaxed from their saunas. It was one of the more mellow shows on the tour. The band does have a quartet of bikers traveling with them now - Olaf, Luke's brother, his friend Fen and two lovely girls they met up with on the road in Oregon, Brooke and Amber. You can get their perspective on the trip at their blog as well. They have been coming to every show for the past week and do add liveliness to even mellow shows. Brooke showed off some of her dance moves at the show at Dick's Place.

We returned to our campsite after the show at Van Damme State Park, where the friendly ranger there set us up with a site right across from the hiker/biker site and let the other bikers stay in our site and gave them their payment back. The band met some nice women at the show at Dick's Place and offered them a place to say indoors, which they readily accepted.It's been nice that although we aren't on bikes, we've met a lot of touring bicyclists through our affiliation with the band. There is such a variety of people who are tackling the coast and it's fun to have the camradarie around the campsite that you don't find in the car/RV areas.

We are heading out of Mendocino today (Monday) and aren't quite sure where everyone will end up tonight - probably somewhere between Gualala and Jenner, CA. The next few days are up in the air, they may try to play a show in Santa Rosa, and have to end up in San Francisco for a show at Mojo Bicycle Cafe on Thursday night. Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Avenue of the Giants and Confusion Hill, from Humboldt to Mendocino

Once again, we are recapping the week for our fine readers at home. We are relaxing this afternoon in the lovely Fort Bragg library, and enjoying some free wifi.

Tuesday night's house party in Arcata, CA was quite a blow-out. It was the last show that Kati played with the group before she had to head back up to Portland to be a part of a wedding. She promises to be back by the time they reach San Francisco, though. The young crowd dug the group and declared that the band keep playing until the cops showed up. And the cops did show up. After they left, they told the band to keep on playing and so they did. Once the cops came back a second time to quiet down the party, the band ended their two hour set and called it a night.

Wednesday morning, Kati headed back up to Portland, catching a ride with Ian's dad who had driven him down two days before. There were lots of hugs goodbye, and Kati wondered what she was going to do all day if she weren't biking 50 miles. The band got off to a very early start to make it out to Ferndale, CA, where they were interviewed and played a set for KSLG and KHUM, very cool independent radio stations in Humboldt county. After the first 25 miles of the day, they pushed on to make it to their campsite in the redwoods that evening. Ian plowed through the difficult day of riding, and although he was a bit slower than the rest of the group, still made it the whole ride. We stayed with the group most of the first day, arriving much after dark to a beautiful campsite nestled in the redwoods off of the Avenue of the Giants. It was quite magical and very quiet. Buzz the traveling cat frolicked for awhile amongst them.

Thursday's ride began fairly early as well, as they were on their way to The Peg House, across the street from the Standish-Hickey Campground, for a show that evening. It was a long, hilly ride with lots of small shoulders. We hung out with Ian for a while in Garberville as he had arrived after the others had already come, had lunch and left again. The second day with all the hills was really wearing on him, but he was determined to finish the ride. We decided to drive ahead to the campground and see how the rest of the group was fairing up ahead. Toward the end of the ride, we rode over Confusion Hill - one of only 8 vortexes in the world, we learned when we stopped to check it out and use the restroom. Apparently, the "vortex" refers to strange magnetic fields that affect gravity, and our hard drives. As we drove over the hill, the external drive that Max had been offloading to was mysterously disconnected and then disappeared from his finder. Although scary, it soon came back after we left the Hill. We are now believers. Max dropped Emily off at the campsite to set up and cook some pasta while he went back to find Ian along the road and tell him to find a place to stay as the road was far too dangerous to ride at night. As Max pulled out of the campsite, the ancient G4 laptop that he uses to offload footage from the camera fell off the handmade passenger seat table, onto the camera, and broke the internal hard drive. We had just enough time on the card to catch Ian arriving by pick up truck (the rest of the band had sent a kind stranger to rescue him) and play a small, but cool show at the very friendly Peg House. We sat out under the stars with Gary, the owner, and saw a few falling from the sky. We headed to bed early to be able to make it out to Santa Rosa, 130 miles south, the next day to find a place to repair the hard drive so we could continue this project.

The next day we woke up and packed up camp before it started to pour and made it to Santa Rosa and Mac Advantage (a great Apple repair store, friendly and helpful) by noon. They replaced the hard drive and disc drive and we killed five hours by hanging out at coffee shops and Costco, where we ate lots of free samples and got massages from display massage chairs, while the band tackled some of the largest hills (including the infamous Leggett Hill) so far on this journey. We found them at a campsite north of Fort Bragg and caught them playing for a group of girls from a seventh day adventist boarding school on a field trip. Ian made it through the day again, showing up after dark, more tired and sore than the day before and developing a head cold.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Coasting on the coast and when animals attack... us

Once again, although Verizon has the best coverage out west, it doesn't cover all the places we go, which makes it more difficult to post everyday.

We left Coos Bay on Thursday morning heading for Port Orford. Lia from the Broadway Theater in Coos Bay helped to arrange a show at Paula's Bistro in Port Orford that evening. It was a beautiful ride, and we took a side trip to the pose with Buzz the traveling cat in front of the westernmost point in the US at Cape Blanco lighthouse. Unfortunately it was very very foggy, and we could not see the lighthouse that afternoon, but we were told it is quite lovely. We also partook in a famous Langois Hot Dog at the Langois Market, which was so delicious Emily bought some of the homemade mustard to make sandwiches with. They played to a friendly dinner crowd at Paula's that night, and joined us at our foggy spot at the nearby Evergreen RV park for the night.

Friday morning, we explored around Port Orford, which is a great small town that seems to still have a healthy fishing industry. We ate some of the most delicious fish and chips we've ever had at the Crazy Norweigans restaurant and then Emily posed with a boat appropriately named "Miss Emily." We had also learned the day before that all the towns along the coast were settled 25 miles apart because that was as far as a horse and buggy could travel. Fun facts. On the way down to our last destination in Oregon, we visited Prehistoric Gardens, an awesome garden built in the 1950's with full size statues of dinosaurs amidst Oregon's rain forest setting. Kati and Luke spent most of their money that day on fun things from the gift shop.

We arrived at Harris Beach State Park almost at dark, as Israel had biked a bit further ahead of the rest of the band without them realizing it. They spent a few hours waiting for him, and then had to pedal fast to make it to the hiker-biker site at the park before Highway 101 became too dangerous. We, sadly, were not allowed to camp with them at the hiker-biker site and proceeded to have two pretty awful nights camping at the overpopulated park. The first night we were somehow unaware that Highway 101 was right next to our campsite until we tried to fall asleep and felt like the cars were actually driving through our tent. The second night, we are pretty sure that a raccoon that must have looked like the one in the picture to the right, circled our tent three times throughout the night. This caused Buzz to growl, hiss and then throw herself at the tent. The tent would then strike back. This was terrifying and made for a very poor night of sleep. Max thought it was a cougar, but the woman at the Forest Service seemed to think that the behavior fit a raccoon better.
On Saturday, Blind Pilot played an outdoor concert with Cameron McVay at Azalea Park in Brookings as part of the American Music Festival. Emily was reminded of her old job working with the parks department and putting on concerts in a park. It was a bit cold and foggy, so the crowd was not as large as one would hope, but they received a warm reception.

After two nights in Brookings, we crossed the border into California and drove through some absolutely beautiful, fog-filled redwood stands and ended up at Elk Prairie campground. Emily had found another campsite, Gold Bluffs Beach, right on the ocean from a map that she picked up at the National Park Service in Crescent City. We drove down a dark and winding dirt road for six miles until we reached a gorgeous, semi empty campground and realized we wouldn't be able to make it back up to the camp where the band would be that night. We made a yummy supper of STP (sausage, tomatoes and potatoes) and a beautiful fire, fell asleep listening to the waves crashing and remembered that we did like camping after all.

The next day the band set their sights on Arcata, where Ian was to meet up with them and start bike touring. What they thought would be an easy flat forty miles turned out to be an exhausting push. The fog is weighing heavily on all of us. Upon arriving, thoroughly fatigued and with no show planned until the next day, the band found a bar with an open mic and signed up for a twenty minute slot at 10:30. Ian arrived at 10:25 and was able to play his first show on the bike tour immediately. Somehow they all found the energy to play a great, but short set, culminating in an especially raucous version of "We are the Tide" that belied their weary state.

We are still in Arcata, CA waiting with the band to head over to a house party where they are scheduled to play. We are writing from a house where Derek, a local bike mechanic, and his roommates, Chris and Ted, live and generously offered to put the band up in last night. So far the people in California have been very friendly, and we are looking forward to meeting more travelers and locals along the way.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Smith River Road is a must and Coos Bay is amazing

We are writing from beautiful Coos Bay, back in the verizon coverage area and ready to lay down a long post. We left Eugene Monday afternoon, after a long morning of packing and eating carrot cake that Emily's dad bought. The band pushed even their standards of a late start, leaving Ryan's parents house in Springfield to hit Trader Joe's and an REI on the way out of town at around 2:30. While we prepared to meet up with them at Trader Joe's, Max got a call from Ian, who plays vibes with Blind Pilot (and Team Evil) in Portland. It seems he got laid off from his job and was planning on making a trailer for the vibes- an instrument that weighs about as much as a person- and joining the bike tour in a week or so.

We left the house to bring the news to the band at Trader Joe's. Once there, we spotted the band and Max jumped out with the camera to film their reaction to the news. Emily parked the car, cracked the windows, and went in to stock up on cheap organic foodstuffs for our night in the Oregon wilderness.

Twenty minutes later the band had called Ian to make sure Max was not playing a joke on them, reacted to the news and gone on their way. When we returned to the car, the cat was not there. One of Emily's biggest fears is that some 'good samaritan' will see Buzz in the car on a hot day and decide to liberate her. With that fear in mind Max found the number for the nearest humane society and gave a description in case anyone managed to wrangle her away. Apparently the Buzzer managed to squeeze through the 4" openings in the windows and walk across a very busy parking lot to take a nap behind the Bed, Bath and Beyond's shopping cart area. We spent about an hour searching, Emily cried, and Max called every animal hospital in town before Randy, the really nice security guard, found her there. It was pretty terrifying and we didn't hit the road to start following them until about 5pm.

Ryan and Israel had taken a route to Reedsport on their last bike tour that we found again, not using Google maps as we usually do, but instead on a 1973 map of Oregon parks that Emily had bought in a Clatskanie, OR antique shop (to which Max jeered "did you also get a flux capacitor," and hadn't really stopped making fun of Emily for until that day when it proved its timelessness.) A Bureau of Land Management map that Emily's dad tracked down at the Eugene headquarters helped give a name to the road and it's context. The road was amazing. Connecting Eugene and Reedsport, it is a deserted stretch of county road and BLM road referred to as Wolf Creek Road and Smith River Road respectively. They follow their namesakes' twists and turns through beautiful forests and stream valleys and over some serious hills, while carrying almost no traffic. Max missed his motorcycle deeply.

As night began to fall we passed the Lane county Inmate Forest Work Camp, and with visions of Johnny Cash, the band decided to double back and see if they could play there. Unfortunately, the camp had closed down, but the one guy who was there was very friendly. The luckiest band ever pushed on and we soon arrived at the edge of the BLM land and found a great area to dispersed camp, made dinner, and then enjoyed a Blind Pilot practice session in the woods. In the morning, we (us and Luke and Kati) discovered that apparently the area is popular with hunters, and used the empty shotgun shells and bullet casings to create a beautiful display of found object art on top of our car.

The road continued to be beautiful, as we made our way to Reedsport and onto Umpqua Lighthouse State Park where we were to stay the night. Although the road was windy and pretty narrow, we had it pretty much all to ourselves, which made stopping to get shots of the band so much easier than on busy highways. Although they had a another leisurely start, they were able to make it to the campsite just after dark and prepare for the short ride to Coos Bay the next day.

As the title of this post declares: Coos Bay is amazing. It's a pretty town, on the Bay, with lots of logging trucks and a great downtown area that feels like it is quickly becoming an arts area. But, it's the people that really blew us away. We and the band were welcomed with open arms from the start. Brian and Lia, the owners of the Broadway Theater (and the rest of the building, including Waxers Surf & Skate Shop and Shark Bites restaurant) had worked hard to get publicity for the show prior to their arrival, offered us dinner and along with Sam, the manager, a place to stay upstairs. The travel and tourism bureau had the welcome to Coos Bay sign flash "Welcome Blind Pilots" and then footed the bill for a room at the Red Lion up the street for the band to stay in after the show. The audience, while smaller than the shows in Portland, warmed up to the band immediately, especially when the band decided to go acoustic and come down to the main area. We met a lovely couple from Reedsport that has been following the tour and came down to watch the band because they love the music and the idea of the tour.

All in all, it felt like the shows that we first saw when we visited in May- an intimate setting with a small crowd feeding off and returning the energy of the band's songs. Watching this band share their love of music with others who respond like this is the immersive feeling we hoped to convey with a documentary. Their music moves people - almost regardless of what genre or style they call their own and not because of anything but the sounds and energy that fill the room. It remains elusive, but we have to believe that the more shows like this there are the closer we will be to getting that feeling on film.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Music Fest Northwest Recap

We are packing up out of Luke's garage, preparing to set out on the road again. We had an interesting, and also fun, weekend here in Portland for Music Fest Northwest.

We began the musical weekend back at the Doug Fir Lounge on Friday morning at 11am to film Seattle radio KEXP's live broadcast of Blind Pilot's set. Bryan, the manager who gave us permission to film their show on August 30, was extremely helpful with giving us a location release again and introducing us to the staff of KEXP and getting their ok - with the condition that we stay out of the way and share footage. Jim and Kyle from KEXP was great to work with and gave us free reign of the area and Jim, the audio engineer even hooked us up with a cd of the broadcast. We also realized that morning that we had forgotten to complete another logistical aspect - getting permission from the festival to shoot Blind Pilot's set on Saturday at the Fez Ballroom, and anywhere else that the band might go. Jim had introduced us to Dave Allen, previously, and until recently, of Gang of Four, and now blogging at Pampelmoose music blog, and after Emily fretted for a bit about our lack of access to the festival, she decided to ask Dave (not really knowing who he was) how he got a press pass. He gave her a number and Max called up, explained who we were, sent her an email when we got back and the day before the show we were in possession of press passes for both of us. I guess luck is back to smiling on us.

After receiving our passes, we started looking at who the other acts were at this fest and realized we didn't now any of them. We knew that Blind Pilot was playing before Sir Mix-a-Lot, but beyond that we hadn't really paid much attention to who else would be playing. In general, we are not up on new music. Most of our music collection in Baltimore consisted of 30 year old records, and Max was fairly active in the NJ/NY hardcore scene in the late 1990s. Deciding to document Blind Pilot's tour is the most cutting edge decision we have made in a long time.

After the band loaded in their equipment, and we got our forms signed, at the Fez, we went to the Roseland Ballroom and saw the first part of Bouncing Souls' set. Max wanted to express his Jersey pride, and see how the intervening twelve years had treated them. It was cool to see that three out of four 'Souls were still the same, but they were definately much older than when Max last saw them. Although they did still have a lot of energy and the 16 year-olds there were moshing in the front, singing along. We left and went back to the Fez Ballroom to set up for Blind Pilot's show. There were a lot of the bands on the lineup, and they did a quick sound check before they went on, which is difficult when there are nine musicians to mix. The result was that the vocals were too soft, and the feedback from their monitors was awful. After seeing them at so many venues, we have gotten fairly used to what it sounds like when well mixed and well delivered. They played through the feedback, and not being able to hear themselves play and the audience stayed enthusiastic - another testament to their ability to engage a crowd.

After the show, we figured we'd check out Helio Sequence at the Crystal Ballroom, a Portland-based band that people at the festival had been buzzing about. We caught the last part of the show and their final song when they were joined by Menomena, one of the Luke's favorite bands. It was great music that made us pretty happy. In addition, Isreal met Helio Sequence after the show, gave them a CD and was told that they already had the album and had listened to it (all the way through and more than once)and really liked it. Israel was visibly honored- glowing even.

We met up with some of the band outside the Crystal ballroom afterward, and all headed over to see if we could catch Sir Mix-a-Lot, and for the first time that weekend, the press passes could not get us into the show. We did manage to send a camera up with Israel to get this photo, as the band said they had to go get their instruments from backstage. We also hung out with some fans who couldn't get in, and then watched them get escorted off the premesis after they posed for a photo of them begging to get in.

After getting our camera back, we saw the last two songs of Flipper, the legendary San Francisco-based band that now features Krist Novaselic on bass - which was funny after our time in Elma, WA where he was referenced a lot and Blind Pilot was compared to Nirvana. Bruce was spot on, pitcher of beer in hand. They were loud, awesome and a great way to end the evening. We headed back to Luke's garage, making one last pit stop at Potato Champion, before we head out of Portland- and this time we won't be coming back any time soon.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Our week in the Willamette Valley

As mentioned, we are back in Portland for Music Fest NW, trying to catch up on work and preparing for the big push south starting on Monday. We had a nice week traveling south with Blind Pilot, stopping for shows in Corvallis and Eugene. The ride started at Tiny's, a coffee shop near our favorite fry stand, Potato Champion, where we met up with Ryan's friends Sarah and Erin, who wanted to ride along for a couple of hours but soldiered on for the entire first day, Kristine, one of two violinists who play with the band in Portland, and Ezra, a friend and reporter for the Portland Mercury who planned to embed himself with the band. Ezra and Kristine planned to ride along until their show in Eugene on Wednesday. Neither of them are avid bikers, but managed to keep up with the group and get into the daily groove after the first day.

The band had two days to make it to a scheduled gig in Corvallis at FireWorks Lounge. The roads where fast and the flat tires were minimal, so they made it to their planned midway point Monday night. That point was McMinnville, chosen simply for its midwayness between Portland and Corvallis. There are no places to camp anywhere near McMinnville, and for the first time, the band could not convince any of the establishments there to let them play.

In Corvallis, they played FireWorks, which had by the far the most interesting acoustics yet. They played in the corner of the outside patio, which featured glass walls, a sloping wooden roof and a large brick pizza oven. *(see corrections below, 2/14/09) We determined that the best sound would probably be found right on the edge of the oven, but didn't want to risk melting our plastic coated wires. We were generously hosted by Nate and Lillian, Luke's friends from Astoria, although it was a bit cramped to have all eight of us in their apartment.

The next stop was in Eugene, where Israel and Ryan met at the University of Oregon. They played Sam Bond's Garage, a great venue with extremely helpful people. After getting lots of up close shots, Max hung back a bit to see if he could get a long shot over the crowd. Todd, one of the owners, tapped him on the shoulder and led up to the supply attic, where he was able to get a free crane shot of the entire venue for the last three songs. Very cool.

One of the nicest parts of this trip was that Emily's parents flew in to visit and to help celebrate her birthday. The visit felt far too short, as we were busy working and only in town for a few days, but it was wonderful to see them.

The band headed back to Portland via van on Thursday, and we headed to Silver Falls State Park for the evening. We have been on the road for about six weeks now and have been so appreciative of all the people who have generously put us up along the way. We have found though, that campsites are now what really feel like home, as it is technically "ours" for the evening. Max made some yummy corn chili for Emily's birthday dinner and we befriended our campsite neighbors, Johnney and Kate, who travel to festivals selling really beautiful water bottles. They brought over Fizzgig, the cutest Pomeranian puppy ever, for us to play with (Buzz stayed in the car) and Emily had a great birthday.

* Update 2/14/09. Thanks to Ocean Liff-Anderson, Proprietor, FireWorks Venue in Corvallis who recently commented and gave us the accurate building materials in the courtyard. The courtyard walls are "cob", a free-form version of adobe earthen construction, not glass and the oven is also made of earth, not brick. Very cool. He also sent us a picture of a wood fired apple gorgonzola pizza fresh from the oven. Yum.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Please Stand By: Technical Difficulties

Keeping in sync with the band, shooting, logging, editing, and trying to maintain this blog is only possible when we are lucky, and over the past week we have not been lucky enough to keep everything up to date. From time to time we will run up against situations that are downright luckless and that makes us cranky and frustrated. Then we have to try and get over that so that luck may smile on us again.

As soon as those lazy days in SE Portland came to a close and we hit the road again, Buzz the traveling cat had a bad couple of days. She stopped eating and became listless. This led us to think about taking her to the vet, but first we went to the interVet. We learned that diabetic cats need a grain free, protein rich food, and were astonished to find that the food our vet back home prescribed is really neither of these things. It seems the veterinary industry runs much like the human health care industry. Companies donate money to the Veterinary Association and in turn veterinarians prescribe their product. We are mad that it took us this long (she was diagnosed diabetic more than two years ago) to realize we were not doing the best thing for her condition, but never thought to verify the advice of a trained health care professional. Luckily we were on our way to Corvallis when we discovered this, and found the friendliest, most well stocked pet store imaginable called Animal Crackers. The staff helped us find a food that was good for her and offered to let us return it if she didn't start eating again. She did, and is looking and feeling much better (as shown in photo)

Then the hard drive with all of our footage pretended to crash. Yes, we should back that up, but haven't had the extra hours to do so. This scare led us to take the time to do so, but we became a little out of sync with the bike touring as a result. But there's no point in risking all the footage we have in order to keep getting all the footage we can. We keep having to remind ourselves that we will make the film out of what we were able to get and must let go of the rest.

Luckily Blind Pilot covered that week pretty well on their blog, so those who need to know how it went can look there, but please stand by for our take on it, which should be here soon. Right now we are back in Portland for the band's set at Music Fest Northwest, back in Luke's garage, and this time have no intention of getting comfortable, just getting back up to speed.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What's a Doug Fir?

The show at Doug Fir Lounge, the reason for our return to the band's home base, was on Saturday, August 30. They played a perfect set with the non-bike-touring members of the band, Dave (Trumpet, Keys,) Joel (pedal steel,) Ian (vibraphone,) Shawn and Kristine (violins,) although sans Kati, as she was in a wedding that weekend in Bellingham, to a sold out and captivated crowd. To do so at a place that was very recently too high profile to return their calls was an amazing thing to witness. Israel and Luke encored with " Rock Salt and Nails", a beautiful old song by Bruce "Utah" Phillips that Kati had taught them while in Gearhart. It was the perfect compliment to the high energy set of the full band and a reminder that Kati was with them in spirit.

It felt odd to be back in PDX so soon, and for so long, but we got to stay with Luke and his wonderfully welcoming housemates, Melissa, Adan, and Max, in SE Portland. The neighborhood was as different as you could find from the Pearl District in which Ryan's gallery, where we stayed with Ryan before the tour, sits fishbowl-like. The house was lovely, with a big porch, a yard, and lots of really nice people to sit, drink coffee, and talk with. The downtime was a welcome distraction, but always felt undeserved so early in the tour. The band felt restless, itching to get back on the road, but needed the time to tie up yet more loose ends. In the greenroom of the Doug Fir, Luke remarked that they where excited to be playing for such a large group of people, and with such good sound, but the consensus was that they all wanted to be back on the road. "Back in that tent. I miss the smell of all of us after a day of biking," Ryan quipped. To which Israel reflected, "I miss the smell too. It's the smell of freedom."