National Tour Begins!

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Six weeks on the road has begun! In the old days of the band, ten-week tours were the norm. But alas, things have changed and six weeks seems like a long time to be away from home.

Moscow, Idaho is where we kicked things off. John’s Alley has always been a great place to play, even after all these years. It wasn’t over the top crazy busy, but both Friday and Saturday brought out a lot of people. We had a practice Saturday with our new drummer Luke. He came out on tour early to catch a few shows and discuss drum stuff with Devin. So far it’s been a pretty seamless transition. It’s definitely a challenge to memorize all the various stops and starts and tempo changes so we hunkered down for a couple of days of practice in Missoula at our friend Steve’s house.

We’ve been trying to stay at friend’s places when hotels aren’t provided. Partly to save money but also to have more of a homey (not banjo player Jason) experience on the road.

Thursday evening we drove a couple hours to Big Fork, Montana. It used to be a regular stop for us but we haven’t been there for 5 or more years. Jason was under the impression that it had burnt down but when we arrived it was still there. Ryan and Colin have done a great job renovating the place and we salute them for bringing live music back to the venue. We had a fun show- Luke’s first with the band, and we all stayed up afterwards socializing for a while before hitting the floor in the apartment upstairs.

The next morning came pretty early and we were off to Missoula for a radio interview on The Trail, 103.3. I connected with DJ Tracy via Facebook and she invited us to come down to be a guest on local lunch. Technically I’m a Missoula local! (at least for the next year or so)

Tracy has a really great presence on the air. Relaxed, soothing and knowledgeable. And they play great music. Sort of a mix between older stuff (REM, Nirvana…) and new stuff- The Decemberists, The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons…They also play local music too.

Missoula has a pretty vibrant music scene for such a small place. Some of the bands and songwriters I know and like: Tom Catmull, Larry Hirshberg, Britt Arneson, Josh Farmer, Stellarondo, Richie Reinhold, Amy Martin, Russ Nasset, Cash For Junkers, Aran Buzzas, Cold Hard Cash, Butter, Love Is A Dog From Nebraska and a bunch of others that I can’t think of right now.

So, back to the radio interview. We talked for ten minutes or so and Tracy spun a couple of our songs. It was pre-recorded so we were able to listen to it on our way back to my place in the van.

Friday night was our big show in my new hometown~ Missoula! I was actually pretty excited to be playing and I took it as an opportunity to reach out to my new friends in the community and invite them to the show. It was old -school promotion the way I used to do it with various bands I played with back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Postering, handbills, and a lot of what they call “social networking” although others might call it “wasting time.” Molly Laich over at the Missoula Independent was nice enough to do a feature on the band too.

Every Friday for the past couple of years, the Top Hat has had a free family-friendly show. Normally it’s local bands that play a variety of styles. It’s super fun and we try to bring the boys down there when I am in town. At first it was a little weird for me to see toddlers saddled up at the bar sipping a juice but it starts to feel perfectly normal after a little while.

I wanted to start out our night at the Top Hat by playing a show for the kids. Partly so my little guys and girl would get a chance to see Dad play, and also so that my Missoula friends with families would get a chance to check out the Lovers without having to hire a babysitter. Tons of people showed up and it made me so happy to see mine and all the other little ones dancing in the Toddler Moshpit!” (As my friend Britt calls it)

I had asked Cash For Junkers to open up the later show and they did a bang-up job getting the night started. We hit the stage around 11 and played until the wee hours. Good times and many familiar happy Missoula faces.

The band all crashed out on my floor and we left for Helena the next day.

The event was a Halloween themed benefit for a place called Exploration Works. We rolled in about 4 and were loaded in and sound-checked in about 30 minutes. We’ve got doing our own sound down to a science and everyone plays a role in getting us set up quickly and efficiently. After all, the less time we waste at sound check allows for more time watching COPS at the hotel!

The costumes were amazing! It seems to me that one is either a “I love getting dressed up for Halloween!” kind of person or the “Putting a costume together for Halloween is a real pain!” type. My default costume has always been The Lumberjack. Tuck your pants into your socks and put a toque on. Simple. Festive. Canadianesque. No muss no fuss. So that’s what us boys wore and Robyn donned a cowboy hat and tied a stuffed horse around her waist.

The show was super fun and everyone danced and danced and danced. We kicked into The Monster Mash at some point and that was a highlight from my vantage point.  We played pretty late and hit the hotel for a little shut-eye.

The next day we headed up the highway to Billings to play at the Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company. Another benefit, this time for the Step foundation. We really love playing here.

When we first started playing Billings all those years ago the crowd was generally pretty sparse. Hasn’t been that way lately. (As he knocks on wood) Peopled showed up in droves! Well, cars actually to be more specific. OK, people showed up in droves in cars…

We’ve met so many talented and amazing people in Billings. This time we had an all female opening band called Maxie Ford featuring our friend’s daughter Katie. Excellent singing and instrumentation, and the icing on the cake was the tap dancer keeping time in the back. The crowd loved it! As I was watching them I was thinking that it sure would be nice if my little daughter Eve grows up to create something beautiful for the world.

Katie’s parents were nice enough to put us up at their place and the late night pickin’ and grinning commenced and went on into the wee hours.

A good start to the tour.

Currently driving through North Dakota on our way to Milwaukee.

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