Sunday, July 11, 2010

Upalooza, Volume 5: Off He Goes

And we're back!  Coming to you live from New York City, via Buffalo, via the highway, via the long and lonesome trek across The State Proper, en route to that glittering mad mess, Manhattan.

Coming to Buffalo, I expected a hard-scrabble place with plenty of nice people, Rust Belt growing pains, hot wings, and cold beer.  One concert, one food festival, one driving tour, one walking tour, one Frank Lloyd Wright house, and a few nights laterhere's what I found:

Buffalo Favorite Moment:
How about the homeless fellow who speaks exclusively in Mark Twain quotes?  How about the "Edgehill Bubble Man" (exactly what it sounds like--a guy who blows bubbles out his apartment window all day)?  How about the wings, my God, the wings?!?

Instead, I'll go with this:getting to catch up with an old friend for a few days.  This tour has also doubled as a series of reunions for me--I've gotten to see some of my favorite people in the past week.  I only wish I had more time with them...

Buffalo Least Favorite Moment: 
I forgot to recharge my Flip camera, so there might not be any video from Buffalo.  Lame, Me.

The Upshot:
Some of you have already written to say you like the new song, "From So Far Away" that I debuted in STL.  Thanks so much!  I expect to play some more new songs in this upcoming shows, so stay on the lookout.

I have to say, I fully expected to play Up-heavy sets, with a few covers and old standbys mixed in.  But y'all have been so generous and engaged, I've felt comfortable enough to experiment with some brand new material.  That's not something I usually do, and I totally owe it to how great the crowds have been so far.  So, thank you!

Canadian Road Weirdness:
To get from Grand Rapids to Buffalo, I drove through Canada.  I sidled up to the Michigan/Canadian border with:
--Arkansas plates
--A Tennessee drivers license
--A car that's not registered to me
--A permanent residence in New York
--A route from Grand Rapids to Buffalo

Let's just say the border official treated me with equal parts "real suspicion" and "mild amusement."  When I explained that I'm a musician on tour, she asked, "what's in your trunk--groupies?" 

Oh, Canada!

More Canadian Road Weirdness:
Canada's highway signs are hilarious and friendly.  They seem to say, "be cool, man..I don't want to give you a me help you."  To wit:

"Fatigue kills.  Take a break."  Naptime, Canada!
"Tailgating kills.  Leave some space."  I'll remember this at future tailgates.
And my favorite is the sign that breaks down fines by speeding.  Wondering what your reckless driving will cost you?  Just refer to the chart.  Twenty kilometers over?  $95.  Easy--thanks, Canada!

Thankfully, those signs reminded me that I'm driving in km/hour.  For the first fifteen minutes in Canada--wow, was I speeding.

Road Funsies:
That drive through Canada is beautiful.  It's picturesque farmland: red barns, white silos, deep greens, huge blue skies, rolling hills of rowed crops, perfectly straight and growing tall. 

And I only hit three moose!

In the Rearview:
The Midwest, and all of its infinite friendliness.

 Full Of It:
I'll say this: Buffalo eats well.  Not "breakfast bowls of chicken wings" well, although there is that option.  I caught the Taste of Buffalo food festival downtown, where had a little of everything.  Then I went to a fund raiser hosted by my friend and my friends' friends (here's the organization's site--Buffalo ReUse).  They built their own clay oven, where they bake their own bread, where they make their own pizzas, where they roast their own veggies, and where I had a little of everything.  I left full of tasty goodness, and many thanks. 

On the Horizon: 
A stay in NYC, and a concert in Brooklyn to benefit Nashville.  Got that?

In the Stereo:
Drive By Truckers, Southern Rock Opera.  When summer weather's this good, only "bitchin" music will do.

The Downside:
As fun as it is seeing each city, revisit old friends, and meet everyone at the shows, I'm always moving.  It seems like yesterday I was in Arkansas, but a month since I was in St. Louis.  I'm losing track of the days, and have lost all sense of time.  I woke up this morning and had no clue where I was.  It's a weird feeling every day: I'm sad to say bye to friends, but excited for the next stop.  I always feel a little guilty stopping just long enough to say hello, then goodbye. 

So, thanks again to everyone along the way. 

Parting Shot: 
It's been a month since I left NYC, but it feels like a year.  Looking forward to seeing y'all--and staying a while.

In the strongest wind,

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