Thursday, April 27, 2006

Waco, baby!

Common Grounds, Waco,TX

We bid goodbye to Dallas and make the hour and a half drive south to Waco, the home of Baylor University and Common Grounds, a cool, artsy coffeehouse right off campus. Halfway there, the bottom drops out of some monster storm cloud, and Jon and I can hardly hear each other yelling over the hail beating down on the van. I guess that's why you're supposed to pick up the insurance on those things. My mind instantly flashes to all the warnings I'm constantly receiving from my family about watching for tornadoes and stuff, and for a good twelve minutes I'm fairly convinced I'm going to die. Over-dramatic? Probably. But for crying out loud, it's raining buckets of ice on this stupid van, and that's just not normal. The hail stops, I unfold from the fetal position, and we continue on, more determined than ever now to reach our destination. And rock it acoustically.

Arriving at Common Grounds, I realize that if I've been given any innate gift or superpower, I think that it might be bad timing. I'm beginning to think that I couldn't plan my way out of wet paper sack, and that only becomes clearer when we realize it's final exam time at Baylor. Sure, there's a house full of folks, but most of them have their ear buds in and are completely engrossed in writing those last minute papers I remember so well. So oh well...

It's like the opposite of White Rock - instead of having a handful of people who were completely into what we were doing, tonight we'll play to a house full of folks who are completely tuned out. These are definitely the times when I feel like playing music is the equivalent of talking to someone's ear off on a plane flight, when all they want is to read their book or enjoy the silence or order something from the Skymall catalog. I can't blame them - they came to the shop not to here music but to study or whatever. I hate it when I'm on their end, trying to finish whatever it is I need to do, and I keep getting interrupted, so it's always weird. I don't really feel that everyone in the world has to care about my music, and I don't really like smacking people over the head with it.

But hey, this is what I do, and these folks are free to leave and go study at an actual library or something, so here we go. Christie, a friend of mine, came out to do some classwork and here me play for a while. It's great to see a familiar face, and as always, I try to remember to make it worth that one person's while. It's a good show, and we sell some CDs, make a few bucks from the house, find a few new friends, and down some free coffee before we head towards Houston. I really like Common Grounds - it's nice to play those rare coffeehouses that actually work as acoustic venues. Thanks, folks!

We've got a driving day ahead on our way to Florida, and we decide to get a head start on the drive. Houston's only a few hours away, and we're going to be sleeping in the van anyway, so why not? Not long into the drive, we catch up to that big storm, and the lightning was such that it almost looked like a strobe light going off in the sky. It was literally hard to see where we were going. Our progress slows to a crawl, because as always, we strive to put safety first. We'll arrive alive, dang it! At about four a.m. we reach a rest stop right outside Beaumont on the Louisiana border, and I carve out enough space between our gear in the back to put my sleeping bag down for a few hours. Tomorrow is all about driving; tonight is all about the sound of rain on the van's roof.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Jason does Dallas, Part Two

After a day of freeloading on Tony's couches and destroying Tennessee in the SEC Championship game (my quarterback won the Heisman afterwards), Jon and I once again load the van for the short drive down US 75 to White Rock Coffee, this evening's venue. We're not expecting a big turnout - heck, it's Monday - but we're not really out anything, either. I like to think this is really a win-win. Right.

It's been good to have a day to catch up and do nothing. After the midnight drive to Garden City and the long haul to Dallas the next day, we were pretty van-weary. And seeing as we've got a Texas to Florida drive ahead, we're doing our best to enjoy the luxury of sleeping on a couch.

But tonight we will enjoy some coffee while rocking it as much two songwriters can, dang it. We arrive at White Rock and set up our gear, check our email again on the free wi-fi, and pray for anyone to show up. Tony and Harvey come in from class, and another couple wanders in as I'm into my second song of the set. Yep, this one's not exactly going to be a "capacity" crowd. But it's really who you are when there's three people in the crowd that can really say the most about you as an artist . I mean, everyone's a rock star when there's a crowd of people who came to see you play - there's tons of energy to feed from. But what do you do long before you reach that - will you consistently give it like those three people are the most important people in your career? Now, of course I'd rather have the former, but I'm still earning that. So tonight it's all about the latter.

I come to find out that the couple who came in actually came to see me. This is always a surprise - I tend to feel that I actually know most of my "fans" (heck, I'm related to half of them) - so it's a pleasant surprise to hear them request a song. The good fellow Dustin is from California, and apparently he heard some of my stuff on XM radio while he was living out there. He said he had been checking my website to see when I would be coming through the area. Now THAT'S a first for me.

It would have been easy to dismiss the show, and it's incredibly hard to do your best when you feel like no one cares. I'm glad that on this night, I won the battle - to find out those couple of people actually came to see me play... I'm glad I didn't waste their time. Dustin and Erin (apologies if I spelled it wrong), it was great to meet you both - I hope things continue to go well for you in Dallas.

Later on, Tony and I talked about how we define success, and how our versions of success can differ. I'd say the show was successful; I sold CDs to just about everyone in attendance, I sounded decent, and I had a good time. Of course, I could just as easily chalk it up to being a failure - I played to six people in a coffeehouse on a Monday night and have only $25 to show for it. Maybe it's like that old "glass half full/half empty" trick of perception. Sometimes it's hard to tell. My deal-breaker is always whether I feel that the time I spent actually mattered. Tonight, I'd say it did - I didn't change anyone's world (I've never done that) - but I feel like I contributed at least a little something. On a random Monday. In a coffeeshop in Dallas.

We've got one more night of freeloading at Tony's before we hit the road for Waco and turn the van towards home. It's been time well spent here in Dallas; I'll be honest though - I wouldn't mind seeing a little of that financial success for the next few shows...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Jason does Dallas, Part One

The Door, Dallas, TX

Google Maps says it will take us 10 hours to get to Dallas from Garden City. We find this helpful. We plan accordingly, and leave Garden City well before the sun hits the horizon. Google Maps must be designed for people who are allergic to the speed limit, and in only eight hours we cruise into the Big D. I promise we didn't speed. Our destination? The Door, a rock club down in the Deep Ellum arts district downtown. This is my first trip to the actual city of Dallas (excluding the airport), and was pleasantly surprised to see the "Little Five Points - like" district there. Since we've still got a few hours until load-in, we track down some free wi-fi at Panera.

One can only check one's email so many times before staring at your computer screen is just stupid. So I leave Jon in Panera and trek out to the van to see if the Vaughn College Future Farmers could beat up on Arizona State. I thank God for the invention of the Playstation - there is no better way to waste time. What's that? You have fourteen hours to kill? Yeah, no problem. This game is being played in the snow, so the score is limited to 63-0, but hey, a win's a win, you know?

With time sufficiently killed, we head over to The Door to load in and soundcheck. There's a couple of other shows going on at the venue that night, and it's not hard to feel a little out of place there, especially having come from Garden City. It's tempting to go ahead and make your mind up that this show is probably going to suck, but I'm holding of on that just yet. You never know, right?

Being the first time we've played Dallas, we're not expecting a tremendous turnout. Sure, we invited everyone in our friends list on Myspace, but seeing as those folks are only somewhat kind of my friends, I don't really expect to see them. Don't get me wrong, I just think there's no real attachment. I mean, how hard is it to click a few links on a website? There's no real personal involvement needed, and as such, there's really no emotional investment. But we still hope that maybe some will be curious enough to come out and hear some music.

Jon and I are in the middle two slots, and the girl who's before me shows up late. This will be a theme. She then proceeds to play thirteen minutes into my set, at which point I actually walk up to the stage and begin getting my guitar out and tuning up. She looks over and asks me in a very "it's cute to be stupid" tone, "How much longer can I play?", to which I responded, "Yeah, you're already thirteen minutes into my set". To which she replies, "Can I play one more?" to which I feel obligated to say,"Okay". Being a jerk is not easy for me, so of course I let her play one more of her really bad songs. The "cute-to-be-stupid" schtick is also really annoying, but we've all got our things. I just couldn't believe how blatant she was about just waiting for someone to tell her to stop playing - I'm pretty sure if I hadn't said anything we'd still be there right now. Being musicians, there can be a tendency to really to want to look at other musicians as competitors; I think that's a lame way to do it. That's not the way to go through life, always looking over your shoulder, comparing yourself to others, picking them apart to make yourself feel better - it's just no good. I usually don't get mad - she really pissed me off, though, I'll admit. Nothing about her seemed like she genuinely was not aware of how long she played. But now it was my turn to play, and I'd driven a long way to do that, and I was going to play to whoever showed up. You just have to let stuff go, I think.

I noticed a couple of folks who really seemed to like the show. Later, I met them, and they actually found my music on Myspace. So there you go - my theory is flawed. Amanda and Alex - thanks so much for hanging out and listening - I hope you're enjoying the CDs. You guys made my night. Despite the short set, I had a blast playing some songs, and I felt that I played them pretty well. The crowd seemed to be with me, and I sold enough product to make it to cover the gas it took us to get there. I feel like we made some new friends, so all in all - a good show. We're hanging out in Dallas for a couple of days before driving for Florida - it's been a long day, so I'm looking forward to crashing on Tony's couch for the night.

Garden City, Part 2

Arriving in Garden City, I was terribly disappointed to see that the streets were not paved of gold, but they were nicely bricked in some places, and that seemed a good compromise. Yep, Garden City suited me just fine. Jon and I had essentially booked a tour last September so we could play our way out there. After all, no one had ever complimented my music like Mary had, and it seemed the least I could do. Plus, driving 19 hours to play a free show at a public radio station seemed incredibly ridiculous and therefore mandatory. It was a good trip, and Mary said we could come backw when Jon's album was done.

Which leads us to the reason why I'm pummeling Auburn in the back seat of the van at 4:32 in the morning. The score has now rocketed to 102-0, and now that I've reached the century mark, I can begin to relax, safe in the knowledge that the game is well in hand. We've still got a while to go yet, and soon enough it's my turn to drive. We pull into the station at about 5:30 am and catch a nap in the van.

I'm awakened to find workers looking at me through the van window, and after that shock runs through my body, I'm not going back to sleep. It's finally daylight, and I figure someone's probably up and at 'em at the station, so I stick my head in the door to see what's going on. Pam has just made a fresh pot of coffee. She apologizes for making it too strong. I hug her. We've never met.

Pouring my coffee, I run into Mary and she gives me a great hug. We chat in the studio during the song breaks, and after catching up for a bit, I go wake Jon up from his coma in the van so that we can perform on "High Plains Morning". We do a half-asleep interview, stumble through some songs, and somehow find our way to the Holiday Inn Express. I'm excited about that because those people in the commercials always seem to do extraordinary things when they stay at one of those places. We think the interview went well, but neither one of us can remember.

At 3pm, Mary gives us a call, and not long after, Jon and I are touring the local zoo with Mary and her two children. That's right, there's a free zoo. With a rhino, some giraffes, elephants, lions, tiger, bears... oh my. Not to mention the monkeys, otters, and snow leopards. Apparently they used to have a couple of polar bears (I'm not sure what happened there, but Mary mentioned that as a senior prank, the graduates managed to dye them purple).

A little Chinese buffet and conversation later, Jon and I performed at the HPPR studios as part of their running "Living Room Concert Series". Whereas Columbia felt like a fight to be heard by anyone at all, the Living Room series is more like, well, a living room. Comfortable. Unassuming. Disarming. I personally have no real care for all the "show" in music. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for going for it with a performance - but it seems that most of what constitutes "rocking" these days really comes down to some stupid choreographed jumps, poses, and those cute little moves where the guitar player slings his guitar all the way his body and then catches it... all the while continuing to rock. Yeah, I think that's all crap, but that's purely my opinion. Feel free to disagree. At any rate, personally, I don't hold myself up as an artist to be any different than anyone else, and I've always had a hard time dealing with "the stage" - that marked separation between the artist and the audience. It seems like the music that really forms our American pedigree was born more on friends' back porches and basements - the blues, jazz (and everything that came from there... so pretty much everything) - these are art forms built on an authentic connection between the audience and the artist. That's what I dig about music - it still can be that. It doesn't all have to be an advertisement for some kind of lifestyle or cell phone company. To play for even just a few people who have no idea who you are - but who have a genuine interest in the music you have to offer - that's something to hold on to.

Plus, they had snacks, including some fancy strawberry shortcake and vanilla nut coffee. All in all, it's a good time, and Mary bids us goodbye after a hug and some kind words. We head back to the hotel for a few hours worth of sleep before we get up and make the big drive to Dallas the next morning. Tomorrow we'll make the turn east and begin our trek home. Jon and I do Dallas, baby, yeah!!

Garden City, Part 1

Garden City, KS - High Plains Public Radio

Rejuvenated by our show in Lawrence, Jon and I celebrate by getting back in the van and driving through the night to get to Garden City. I'm honestly pretty excited about it. At this point, Jon is less excited than I am because he's the one driving. I'm the one in the back seat of the van whooping the snot out of the Auburn Tigers on my Playstation. Maybe I created my own school on NCAA 05. Maybe I made the players all Romanowski-style steroid freaks who seek to permanently embarrass their opponents. Maybe my team is undefeated for third season in a row and aiming for yet another National Championship. Maybe I don't feel bad for ruining these players lives because they're not real people. Right now, maybe I'm winning 84-0.

Pummeling Auburn is a good thing to do at four in the morning in the back of a van in the middle of the dark abyss that is nighttime rural Kansas. Actually, pummeling Auburn anytime is fun to do, but that's neither here nor there. Garden City is located in the southwest corner of the State, not terribly far from Oklahoma, Texas, or Colorado but a heck of a long way from Athens.

For most people, Garden City may not be a prime vacation destination. There are no major highways to speak of that will quickly carry you to or from there, no big theme parks, and no one (at least no one I saw) wearing a club La Villa shirt. Most people probably don't ever make it to Garden City, and frankly that makes me sad, for Garden City, Kansas is a neat little town. I'll admit, I'm a little biased because Garden City is the home of High Plains Public Radio and Mary Palmer, the Program Director/morning show host who first invited me out to perform at her station.

It's a long, boring story, so I'll refrain from telling it, but over the course of the last few years, I recorded an album which won an international songwriting competition which won me a music promotion package which included sending my album to 150 stations across the country, one of which was HPPR which was received by one Mary Palmer.

I submitted those 150 CDs to the promoter with a great bit of trepidation, knowing in my heart that most of them would end up in the garbage, some dusty forgotten bin, or worse - as coasters or frisbees. It's ridiculous, but that's my work, and though I don't care if people don't find is nearly as fascinating as I do, I don't want to think that someone just discards a copy like a used Kleenex. So you can understand that when I received an email out of the blue from Mary - one in which she complimented not only the music but the packaging and liner notes, no less - I was pretty excited. She handed me out an invitation to play in studio if I was ever in town, so I quickly got out my Atlas to see how I could fit it in to a routing. It was then that I discovered the horrible truth that Garden City was not close to anything except Dodge City, and all I knew of it was that people were always trying to "get the hell out of there". That's not exactly a "tourist friendly" slogan, you know.

But as I thought about it, maybe people were always leaving Dodge because Garden City was so great. Maybe Garden City was the "Jewel of the Breadbasket" or El Dorado or something. Maybe it was so great that the no one wanted the word to get out, you know, so it could be exclusive. In a way, Mary's invitation was like getting to go behind the velvet rope at the 40/40 Club. I was getting called up, going to the big show. This was incredible. I was going to Garden City.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lawrence of Mid-America

Lawrence, KS - April 20th, 2006

After last night's "show" in Columbia, we press westwardly on towards the very Athens-like Lawrence, KS. I dig Lawrence, and it's always been good to us. Plus, if you find yourself in Middle America, it's good to stop in a place that feels a lot like home, only flatter.

Rolling into town a little early to get some work done, we find some free internet at that night's venue, Signs of Life, a really vibey art gallery/performance space and bookstore. All in all, we're feeling pretty good - it's a new day, Columbia disappeared in the rearview, and heck, even the sun is out. All I need now is some Dunkin' Donuts coffee (I'm convinced they put crack in their sugar/cream mix) to take the day to 11, and I'm set. And despite their "storefinder" on their website saying there was one on W. 23rd, we couldn't find it. I think that maybe it's one of those "ultra-secret" Dunkin' Donuts speakeasies that I've been hearing so much about; you know, the kind where you have to know someone who knows someone who might be able to get you in. I'm cool with this; coffee this good ought to be exclusive.

But a day that good would just be too much for this skinny white soul to handle, and so it goes that I'm content to chill at Signs of Life and check my email. Jon and I browse through their selection of books, and there's definitely some stuff I'd like to take home with me, but I figure it's probably better to save money than spend it at this point, so looking is all I'll do this day. As we're wandering through the shelves upon shelves of books, one of the employees kindly asks us if we need some help. "No thanks," we say, "we're just browsing", and he replies with, "Sure, no problem. What are you guys up to?". Jon tells him that we're musicians from out of town and that we're actually playing there later on in that night. As the words are coming out of Jon's mouth, I can see that the kind employee is beginning to squint his eyes a bit, a clear indication that he is searching through his mind's internal Daytimer, trying to remember this "show" we keep talking about. His hard drive search returns nothing. He asks us if we're with the Renaissance folks. Jon and I look at each other, wondering what in the heck this guy is talking about. Sensing our confusion, Kind Employee tells us about a Kansas University music professor and the Renaissance music and lecture that he's conducting later on. He says we must be playing somewhere else. We kind of nod in a confused agreement, and we bid him good day.

I can feel the panic beginning to grow within like one of those rubber crocodile things you used to put in a glass of water when you were little. The ones that would quadruple in size. The ones that looked like some weird science experiment or prop from Dr. Who. Those things were always a little creepy to me, and I'm feeling the same way now as I stand in the Local Author section of this place in which I may or may not be playing later. I mean, seriously, what is the deal? This is most definitely not the right way to tour - to show up every day and hope you actually have a show.

After making a few phone calls, the confusion is cleared up - we're good to go, right after the Renaissance concert and lecture. I would later attend the lecture - it was nice.

Playing in bookstores is always fun to me for some reason. Maybe it's because I think it's funny to play a set while people are shopping. Or the joy of the "shout-outs" to the people in the Self Help section. Whatever it is, I always feel a little looser, a little free. The show was good - some folks came out, we sold some product, and in the light of last night's show in Columbia, it looked even better. Some Dunkin' Donuts coffee would have made it slightly better, but like I said, that would be too much goodness to handle.

It's no Athens, but I'll take Lawrence just fine. We've got to be in Garden City early tomorrow morning on HPPR, an NPR station that affiliates to 19 stations in 4 states, so we load the van and get a start on that 7 hr. drive. Thanks to everyone who came out to the show - especially you, Casey, for making us feel at home a long way from GA.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Show in the "Show-Me" State?

We've reached the end of Day Two for Jon Black and myself as we attempt to break even while playing our way through Missouri, Kansas, Texas, and Florida before heading back home to my beloved home of Athens. Tonight's stop was in Columbia, MO, the home of the university commonly known as "Mizzou" and The Blue Fugue, a bar that welcomed us this evening.

Now when I say "welcomed", I mean we basically had to show up at the venue to make sure we even had a slot on the bill. I like to think I'm one who will generally give folks the benefit of the doubt, so in the two weeks of "nill-communication" prior to our little pop-in, I preferred to think that maybe the phone lines were down... as were all available internet connections, email servers, etc. Since our last transmission, we only knew that we had responded to them with a positive "yes, Jon and I can split a set" and had received only a "Yeah, that sounds good... remind me who you are and what night you were looking for before that slot gets booked." There was an emoticon at the end of that last email, but in all honesty, I've never really had the desire to learn cute ways to spell stuff with my computer keys. Well, other than words, that is. Perhaps it has to do with my strict upbringing and the deep-seeded guilt I still feel the first time I spelled "hell" on my calculator in seventh grade. But I digress...

More to the matter at hand, Jon and I decided to stop in on the hopes that we would have a stage that night, at least for a few songs. I'm certainly no professional at this touring thing, but I've been doing this long enough to know that if something's not officially "confirmed", then odds are your skinny white self ain't playing. It is a strange catch-22, and I pondered the mysteries of the universe as I drove west on I-70 through St. Louis, realizing, of course, that I was doomed.

If we showed up, I imagined that we would walk in and the guy would laugh in our faces, blow his hot breath on me in particular, and tell us something about the music business, the importance of confirming things, and the fragility of modern communication apparatus like email servers. For some reason, when I imagined him, he was wearing a Heart t-shirt. Not a heart shape - the band Heart. And as his thug friend Tone (pronounced "Tony") threw us out, he took a gulp of his draft beer and yelled, "Awww...Barracuda!"

Of course, if we didn't show up, I knew that he would somehow find a way to fix his ailing communication problems, at least enough to send me an angry email for not showing up. He would then lecture me via the internet concerning the music business, the importance of confirming things, and the fragility of "ever playing this town again".

Either way, I felt we were screwed.

Nevertheless, we showed up, and after a brief moment of awkward conversation (the likes of which I'd rather not try to transcribe), we walked out in the knowledge that we were one of eight acts on the bill that night. Yep, the chances of making some money that night were looking pretty dim. But you know, in dim places I've found it's best to shine your little light, and so Jon and I made a vow right then and there that we would play the best six songs of our lives. And we tried.

And it was okay. Not great by any means, but serviceable, and as we ended our set, we exited the stage, found a seat in the back of the club, and began to wait for the end of the night when we see what kind of split of the door we'd get. We hoped for at least enough to put gas in the van (and after "that guy" showed up to request "some Skynyrd!!!" we felt we'd earned it) so we could avoid selling our bodies for cash somewhere along the three-hour drive between Columbia and Lawrence, KS. Nobody wanted that.

By now, the next band had mounted the stage, with the lead singer proudly proclaiming to the growing crowd, "Yeeaaahh!!! Now we got some f'in drums up here!!!" Clearly, this guy came to rock. Unfortunately, the rest of the band was not yet ready for the rocking, and for the next ten minutes or so, they soundchecked, slowly working their way into rock-readiness.

They were an interesting band. Panning from right to left, they were a fearsome foursome; the bass player was adjusting his stance, finding the optimal body position to "rock steady". Later, he would do just that. Next to him was the drummer, clad in a wife-beater and jeans and close-cut hair. Inexplicably, he had let someone draw "tattoos" on his arms with a Sharpie, and just as inexplicably, someone had given him a vocal mic. Later, this would become a problem. Continuing on, the guy next to him was not a guy at all but a music stand raised to its highest height. A funny face had been drawn with a Sharpie (the same one, I suspect) on wife-beater #2, which had then been stretched over the stand to make a face. I'm not sure what that was about.

Clad in a black button-down and white tie, the lead guitar player must have come from a Hives tribute band audition. Or maybe not. But he definitely had eye makeup on, a decision which prompted one of those "Maybe it's Maybelline" commercials to play in my mind every time he said something stupid. This would happen many times in the next hour. Rounding out the band, we're convinced, was Nathan Lane. Soon, we would find out he was not, in fact, Nathan Lane, but Nathan Lane "turned to 11". Did you just picture him with a Steve Vail model Ibanez? You should have.

With the soundcheck over, the band launches into its set. The guys were young, and they had drawn a great crowd of classmates and friends, the kind of friends who'll support you for anything. The kind who won't tell you how much you suck. I'm definitely glad I had those friends, and because I thought in my mind I was okay, I continued to play and learn, to the point where I don't usually embarrass myself on stage. Generally speaking, of course. The guys were pretty good at their brand of riff-rock, at least musically, and I'm sure that if they continue working they'll get better. Maybe then Maybelline won't feel the need to fish for street cred by dropping the F-bomb two or three times between each set.

They're covering "Wonderwall" now, and the crowd's definitely put their "beer-phones" on. I mean, it might as well be Liam up there not believing that anyone feels the way he does about you now. It's a good time for it - they had rocked us all for two or three songs straight, and I for one needed a breather. And after all, he's my wonderwall. By now, they should have somehow realized what they're not to do, but it becomes clear that the rock has clouded their vision. Slightly confused in the aftermath of the overwhelming response to their rockilicious cover, a leader is needed to steer the ship into uncharted rockdoms afar. Fortunately, Nathan Lane steps up to the mic and plays what can only be described as Primus' "Wynonna's Big Brown Beaver" played on a 331/2 at 45 speed. He keeps saying something about "licking his crack muthaf---r!", and the crowd begins to feel sick. Luckily, the lead singer springs out of his rock coma and rights the ship with another cover. Well played, sir. Just like James said, "gotta give 'em what they want - uhhh! - gotta give 'em what they need!", and they love some other folks' music. This time it's "Creep" by Radiohead, and Maybelline takes the mic off the stand and with his other hand makes singing gestures. Suddenly, Jon, my friend Rachel, and I become Simon, Randy, and Paula at those early-season American Idol auditions. Maybelline is officially crooning. In falsetto.

At this point, the set is almost over. The drummer continues to say dumb things on his mic between songs, and the rest of the band continues to cringe each time. Except Nathan Lane, of course - he likes it awkward. And what could it be for the big finish? A song about the lead singer's room. Not some allegory or thinly-disguised song of innuendo - no - this was a song about his room. His television, his Lord of the Rings poster, his Dalmations picture, and his dreamcatcher. And... scene!

The band then drank like tomorrow would never come through the next four bands' sets, and they earned it. I kid because it was pretty unterrific, but hey, they played to a crowd and I didn't. So the last laugh is always their's. And more power to them. Music is a funny business, and it's important not to take yourself seriously, though it's not always easy to laugh at 2 in the morning, having finally left the bar with $40 in your pocket to get you to the next show. Such was our adventure through Columbia, where we thought we wouldn't have a show but did, at the last minute. We crashed at Rachel's place, hoping that our next show would be much better.