Saturday, December 11, 2010


We took the night train to Paris from Barcelona. I slept some, but after lugging all my stuff on the metro and getting a bit lost, by the time I arrived at my host's house I was dog tired. When I got there, Sannita and Alice were there to greet me. Sannita got me tucked into Dom's bed so that I could catch up on some rest while everyone was out or working for the day. I stayed in bed until 5 and then found myself motivated to get up. It was my first night in Paris after all!

Alice showed me on the map how to get to the Eifel tower, only a short 20 minute walk, so I set out in the cold with Steggy in tow. Walking down commerce street, I was surrounded by shops and shoppers. Christmas lights hung in the street and everyone seemed busily buzzing around in preparation for dinners, meetings, parties and other nightly activities. Still a bit groggy from my nap I seemed to slip silently through their world, taking in the buzz without really being awakened by it or the cold. As Commerce turned into Motte-Piquet and I rounded the corner, there it was. The Eifel, in all her beauty rose above me. Awake with excitement I hurried into the park to get a view of her entirety. The base, strong and beautiful, held her perfectly straight and upright in to the Paris sky. The lit monument nearly brought me to my knees. After all these years of dreaming about world travel, seeing pictures of Paris and this tower, only to have them represent dots on the map. Now here I was, standing under her circling beacon of light. I suddenly had a flashback of my mother making buiscuts when I was very little. I was sitting at the counter playing with the dough scraps and my mother was speaking to me in french. “Ma petite cherie. Ma belle enfant.” She had taken french in high school.

I smiled, staring up at it, accepting the reality that I was both much later in time and across the world from that counter, those buiscuts, and my mother. Just then it turned 6oclock and the tower began to sparkle with crazy lights, going off like a sparkler on 4th of July in the shape of the Eifel Tower. In that moment, I smiled, eyes glazed and happy, so immensely happy to be living this life.

The next 6 days in Paris are a blur of good food, fun shows, art museums, and great new friends.

Friday I met up with another couch surfer named Rafael, he showed me the main sights on Champ De Ellyse. We started at the Arch and worked our way down, seeing The Concorde, Opera, ( ) Garden, The Louvre, and finally Notre Dame. We walked around inside the cathedral. I must admit, I'm a bit partial to Guadi's Cathedral in Barcelona, but the outside architecture of Notre Dame is very beautiful and impressive. Raf and I split up and I walked on to see the Pantheon, then walked the very long walk home. Friday night Dom had a small party at the flat and I helped cook with Sannita. We all drank wine and even small shots of absinthe, passing the guitar around and singing together.

Saturday I took it a bit easier. I got started on my book report for class, and met up with Jack at his host's place for lunch. His host Macsha is really nice. She's from Germany but lives in Paris, studying.

That night was our first show held at Tania and Francis' place. They have a huge art space/living loft that really blew us away. The food spread and atmosphere was quite superb that night. We sang to a crowd of about 70 people. Fun night for sure.

Sunday was free museum day, so I got up at 8 and got out the door. I did one wing of the Louvre and all of both The Orsay Museum and The Orangerie Museum. Saw works by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Picasso, Renoir and so many more. Really packed, but awesome day. I went straight from running around museums to go play our second show. Luckily it was a laid back couch surfing crowd and a surfer named Matt's house. Everyone was really excited about the show, most of them having never had a house concert experience before. Jack and I put on a good show and I believe we both gained some new real fans.

Monday I took it very easy and finished my book report. Didn't really leave the house until Jack and I met up with Matt for dinner. He took us out to Indian as a thanks for the show. What a guy!

Tuesday was my last day in town and it was snowing very hard. I bundled up and went walking around Luxembourg Garden. That was a hoot. It was quiet and surreal in there. All the statues looked frozen and abandoned. There was one covered spot where a few old men were playing chess. Apparently snow doesn't bother them. I spent the rest of the day wandering, grabbed a takeaway lunch, then stopped at the market for that night's dinner. I was cooking for the whole flat as my thanks for their great hospitality. I made a big veggie thai curry, with carrot-zuchini salad, and garlic broccoli. They were quite happy about the meal, and so was I. Jack and Mascha joined us. We had a few drinks, passed the guitar again. Sannita and I sang some Anna Nalick at the top of our lungs. Everyone went off to bed and she and I stayed up late into the night swapping life stories. She's a great gal and I hope I've convinced her to go to Alaska. I think she'd fit in great there. She's from Latvia and has a lot of gusto.

Today I trudged through hellish weather to get to the metro and train station where Jack and I were supposed to meet. He texted me that he couldn't get to the station soon enough so I got a train ticket and he'll meet me here in Brussels tonight or in the morning. After getting a little lost, asking for a lot of help, I've found my address and was saved by two sweet french ladies in this warm and cozy African restaurant I'm waiting in. Best meal I've had yet in Europe and super cheap! Hopefully my host will be home soon and I can explain about Jack being later.

Hello Belgium!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I have to say it, I love Spain. The food, the people, the scenery, the trains, all of it impressed me. Our first night we pulled into port in Barcelona after riding the ferry from Civitiviche for 20 hours. Jack and I split up, he rode his bike to meet me after getting off the metro on Fontana street. We walked the few blocks to the apartment where we were staying. Aleix is an old friend of Jack's from their Amsterdam days. He is a choir conductor and lives in an apartment building his mother owns. Upstairs from him is his wonderful girlfriend Monica and their little baby, Sammy. I fell in love with Sammy. What a cutie! We had some time to rest that evening but later we were called down to an apartment on the first floor where Aleix's cousin Ernie lives. His flatmates are Enric and Israel. What a great bunch of people! Their friend Serena was over and we shared wine and stories, and best of all, songs. Jack and I did a few of our own and then the group showed us their version of a spanish classic, the name of which is escaping me. I posted a video of it on my youtube though (channel-emmahillband.) That was a really special night.

The next night we had a show at Monasterio which was a really cool club. There was no one there since we aren't known in Barcelona and it was a Monday night. (Apparently monday night USED to be songwriters night, but a month back that stopped being a thing.) We started playing a song to an empty room and in walked Serena, our new friend from the night before, followed shortly after by the whole gang! They had come down to our show and man did it turn the night around. We made it feel like a small party. Every now and then people would drift in and out. I think we may have entertained a guy from Germany and his girlfriend for a short bit. I had written a song called “Full Moon in Barcelona” that evening and luckily had already memorized it. It was about the night before so, as you can imagine, our new friends were very excited to hear themselves mentioned in a song. They were singing along by the end, which is always a nice feeling.

We had the next day off, which I spent resting up. I was still quite tired from lack of sleep, long ferries, and well, Italy.

On Wednesday we caught the train to Madrid. There we stayed with an even older friend of Jack's, Pablo. Pablo is one great guy! He treated us so well and it was great to see he and Jack catching up, you can tell how close they are. It was the day before Thanksgiving and because we had a show the next night, I decided to cook a big meal that night with the two of them to help me honor it. I made a vegan, gluten-free feast of candied yams, eggplant tien, pasta salad (with rice instead of pasta,) and veggie ceviche. The boys were quite pleased, and it helped me survive my first Thanksgiving away from loved ones. It was a very nice night. Jack and I sang to Pablo a few of our new duets and we drank a bit of wine.

Then next night we played at The Wurlitzer. It's a pretty hip spot, but maybe a little too rock and roll as the bathrooms were scary and there were little cockroaches randomly crawling on the bar. We had a local opener that night and between his few fans, and Pablo's little gang we had a small, but kind crowd. The bar treated us well with free drinks all night and they paid for our dinner. Pablo's friend Juan was leaving the next day to serve in Afghanistan, (he's a lawyer for the Spanish army,) so they were celebrating extra that night. I got sucked into the fun and after our set, we split off with Jack who was good and went home and went to bed. I on the other hand, stayed out all night with Pablo and friends, dancing our butts off at an awesome club playing Spanish and American hits from the 80's and 90's. Good times! I paid dearly the next morning with a killer hangover.

We got on a train that afternoon to Seville. There we walked about 30 minutes until we were in old town walking down narrow roads inside of castle like city walls. Hiding in a little nook behind the oldest church in Seville was Nick and Pilar's adorable flat. Pilar welcomed us in where it was warm and inviting out of the rain. (Apparently it never rains in Seville.) She fed us an amazing lunch of hot bean soup, fresh tomatoes and spiced olives. I was in heaven. After Jack and I both rested for a short bit, Nick got home and we started preparing the house for that night's show and party. Around 9 people started trickling in and soon the whole house was quite full and the tables were covered in yummy food. I drank only tea that night as I was still nursing my almost gone hangover. That was a really great show. Everyone sat quietly for my set and seemed very impressed with the songs. After my set we took a break to eat and socialize and then got settled back down for Jack's set. We ended the concert with our duets and everyone loved those.

In the morning Jack and I parted ways. He went on to Portugal, which I decided to skip as busses ended up being involved that were not covered my my Eurorail, and I had been invited back to Barcelona to hang more with Aleix and friends, and to really get to see the city. Boy am I glad I did. I had received an email the night before from Aleix telling me not to eat anything all day until I got back to Barcelona because he and the gang were planning a special seafood Thanksgiving lunch for me. I didn't eat a thing and it's good too, because they were not kidding around with that lunch. There were all kinds of clams and mussels is various sauces, with bread and olives. I stuffed my face having NO idea that there was an entree yet to come. Aleix had made a big seafood and potato stew which was delicious. We had tiramisu and champagne for dessert. These people are some of the most hospitable I've ever met. It's times like these that my faith in humanity is restored. Over the next couple of days I got to spend more time with each of them. One day Enric took me out walking all over the city showing me both the royal palace overlooking the city, as well as Gaudi's cathedral and the gothic quarter, all of which are breathtakingly beautiful. We had Indian for lunch which was a really nice treat for me. The restaurant he took me to was delicious.

The next day I explored some myself, went shopping in the open market. I also found a specialty shop that sold gluten-free bread and other yummy organics. Went home and made a snack and found myself invited to lunch with Aleix and Monica. They made yummy pizza and a side dish that I can't pronounce or spell, but involves asparagus and is really delicious.

After that I walked about 40 minutes across town to find a theater playing the original version of the new Harry Potter. It was very funny trying to explain to everyone why I wanted to see it, and no I wasn't claiming it was of great merit or had morals, but that it was merely entertaining. I guess I don't seem like the Harry Potter type. They have no idea, haha. That night I ended up heading down to the neighborhood pub with Ernie and Israel to watch the Barcelona/Madrid futbol match. That was fun. The place was rowdy and with good reason, everyone was excited to see Barcelona slaughter Madrid 5-0. I do have to say, that Madrid's big player, Rinaldo, I think is his name, is one sexy man.

Last night, my last night in town, I met up with Ernie at 6 to go to a nearby gallery where Israel was having an exhibition. He's a great photographer and is in a collective that works with tin-type photography. I enjoyed the art show very much and took some pictures of the work. I also plan on finding the collectives website and sharing that at a later date. Afterwards, we went to the market to get some food, as that night they were holding me a goodbye party, but I wanted to cook some things. I made stuffed mushrooms, padron peppers, and guacamole. Enric made more mussels, this time with a curry/ raisin sauce that was to DIE for. There were olives of course, which always makes my day. I think when I get home I'm going to start incorporating spiced olives into at least one meal a day. These people know what's up. I taught them how to play rummy and egyptian rat screw. The latter had us going for quite some time. I think it was a hit. I wrote a new song yesterday called “A Hundred Homes.” I played that for them and bid them farewell with one more round of “Full Moon in Barcelona.” Everyone sang along. Hugs all around and I went off to bed.

Jack and I shared one more lunch with Aleix today before we left for the station. He really is quite a character and such a fun guy to be around. I can't thank him enough for putting me up in his spare room for a total of 6 nights!

Now I'm sitting on the night train to Paris. I'm really looking forward to the city of lights. I'll be doing my first proper couchsurfing experience. Jack has a spot lined up and I'll be staying with a kind seeming fellow named Dominique from Quebec, now working in Paris. We've got two house concerts lined up, one of which already has 60 confirmed guests. Should be quite spectacular.

That's all for now. Xo

Sunday, November 21, 2010



My first day in Rome was hectic. I had started my journey from the Portland airport at 9am and after stops in Seattle and Paris, arrived in Rome at noon their time the following day. Luckily I'm not afraid to ask for assistance, because I had no idea how to find the train into Rome, or how to buy the tickets. After I got it figured out and a half hour train ride, I was at the Termini Station in the center of the city. I was to stay in a hostel that night called The Yellow and I had a few simple directions on how to reach it from the station. What I didn't know is how crazy the drivers would be, that almost no one would speak English, and the street signs are not signs at all but carved into the sides of corner buildings. With assistance from about five different people, while lugging around my stuff over cobblestone and dodging mopeds, I finally arrived at the hostel. It was super cute!

Once I checked in I got on the web to let everyone back home know that I had safely arrived in Rome. While I was in the bar doing that, I met a man named Austine Igwe from Malta. We became quick friends and decided to get dinner and see some sights before it got too late. He's very nice and easy to hang out with. We had fun walking around seeing the Republica and inside of the Santa Maria Basillica.

That night we drank wine and met about 15 people outside. I brought my guitar down and we played and sang songs, drank wine and shared stories from our travels. I will not forget that night. What a wonderful introduction to my trip!

The next day Austine and I met up in the morning, stored out things and went to see Old Rome. As you get off the metro and walk out into the air, the first thing you see is The Colosseum. It was breathtaking!! The energy that it puts out, and the way the light was shining through its columns was quite a sight to see. Of course all the surrounding arches and ruins were fantastic as well. We walked down and continued to take in the sights, piazzas and then finally Trevi Fountain. I made my wish, he made his. It was beautiful to see it and all the people gathered there.

Austine split up with me to head to the airport to catch his flight home and I headed back to the hostel to use the internet. On the way there I bumped into Lindsay. (we met the night before) She's a videoblogger from California. You can follow her Twitter @ twitter/lindzluvs She's great fun and since I realized I'd have to stay another night at the hostel, I got moved into her room and we visited at the bar and made friends with some guys visiting from Germany and had a nice chat. We got a bit of sleep than woke up the next morning and headed out to see The Vatican.

What can I say? It's overwhelmingly beautiful. I plan to post photos on my facebook.

The ceilings alone, (ALL OF THEM) were beyond anything I'd ever seen. The attention to detail in Rome is quite amazing.

After that and a bite of lunch, Lindsay and I headed back towards the hostel, we both had to head to Termini station, so she could head off for her side trip to Paris, and so I could meet up with the amazing Jack Stafford.

It's great fun traveling with Jack. His sense of humor never stops and he helps keep me confident during this new experience of hectic traveling.

That first night we played at a couchsurfers ( meetup in Rome. They fed us and we met a bunch of people. This is where I met Kisha who put me up that night so I didn't have to pay for the hostel again. She's a gal from New York living in Rome, living the dream really. She leads quite the life! She was good to me and helped with directions in the morning so I didn't get lost and miss the train.

Speaking of missing trains, Jack and I missed our first one, but luckily there was another shortly after. We made it to Reggio earlier than expected and while we waited for Giovana we did yoga in the square. Even though we got funny looks, it did us a bunch of good and it's always better to have a companion to do strange things with, then you don't mind the looks really.

Giovana came and got us in her car and we went out to her vineyard/b&b. What a beautiful piece of land! And that was in winter! I can't imagine how perfect it must be in season. We had an entire villa to ourselves. That night we sang a concert to about 25 people who all brought food, wine and great attitudes to share in the evening. They were a wonderfully attentive audience and all very nice people. I sold some albums, as did Jack.

The next day was a traveling day and it was train, train, walk, ferry.

20 hours later we landed in Barcelona. Now I lay here in a bed offered by Jack's kind friend Ilix. We will be here until Wednesday and then we will head to Madrid. We play a show tomorrow night.

Until next time,


Monday, November 15, 2010


I'm sitting here in the Portland airport. I have about 24 hours of flying ahead of me, and 6 weeks of European adventure. I'm excited and nervous. I've never been traveling alone before and although I will be meeting up with my friend Jack Stafford and tagging along with him for the majority of my time there, this is a big step for me. I love my friends and family and love spending my time with them. I also love the holidays. This will be the first Thanksgiving that I will spend without family or very close friends.

Enough of that! That's sounding way to whiny. I'm SOOOO Excited! My first week will be spent in Italy. I have three days off to roam around Rome. I'm ready to walk! I'm also ready to sing on the Spanish steps...

So I'm going to try and be faithful with my blogging and other media updates. I started a tumblr account today that is dedicated to my friend Steggy and our adventures together. You can check it out at

I love you all and will look forward to keeping in touch via the wonderful worldwide web.
xoxoemma hill

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 26 - Separate Ways

Sat, Oct 2

I flew out of Oakland early that morning to get back to Portland in time to attend a wedding. The guitarist for Scotland Barr and the Slow Drags, Zach, was getting married that day, and I couldn't miss that! It really was a great party, very informal and a lot of fun. But I did feel a twinge of jealousy that Emma was getting to stay in SF and see two more days of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

Day 25 - Hardly Strictly

Fri, Oct 1

Randomly, we were already scheduled to be in the Bay Area at the same time as the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, which is a free 3-day concert put on by a super rich guy as his present to San Francisco. Actually, someone on the All You Can Jet facebook page told us about the event, and then when we were in DC, Danny from Stripmall Ballads told us he was flying in for the show! Small world. We borrowed Emma's Aunt Becky's car to drive into the city (thanks!) and spent a while finding parking, then headed to Golden Gate Park and found Danny. The first set we watched was The Waybacks - I've never seen a guy shred on distorted acoustic guitar like this guy! Then we saw Patty Griffin with an amazing band behind her. Emmylou Harris came out and sang a song with her. Unfortunately, we had to leave early that day, missing Jenny and Johnny - but we had seen them in Portland just before leaving on tour, so it wasn't too heartbreaking. We made it out to Point Richmond for our gig, which was at a cozy little wine bar called Four2Nine. We played on the patio out back, opening the night, then relaxed and watched the other bands. Good friend John Howland closed out the night with his bassist Andrew (and the infamous Burger King shirt).

Day 22 - Green Room

Tues, Sep 28th

We managed to score a semi-last-minute gig at Marilyn's on K in Sacramento, a classy spot that is famous for breaking Jackie Greene several years ago. When we showed up, Mary Louise brought us to the Green Room, where we enjoyed free food and drinks while we set up our gear and got ready for the show. The wonderful Mike Regina Quintet (MRQ) played first, with their credo, "We're just so happy to be here tonight." A bunch of my family members and friends from the area came out to the show, so it was almost a little family reunion! We played about an hour-long set, very well received, though one could argue we had stacked the audience with shills, haha.

Day 21 - Late night burritos

Mon, Sep 27th

We flew out of Portland that morning (with JetBlue wings thanks to our friend Treasure at the ticket counter) and headed to Sacramento. After settling in at my brother-in-law Willow's house, we borrowed their truck (thanks!
) and drove to the Fox & Goose for a feature set at their open mic. There were some talented people there that night, including a guy on electric kalimba...I think his name was Steve?? Can't remember. Then we headed to our favorite late night burrito spot in Sactown.

Day 17 - Be Drinkable

Thurs, Sep 23rd

Emma took the train in to Portland, and then we headed over to Bend, Oregon, for a show at Silver Moon Brewing, one of our favorite spots. This was slotted to be a full band gig, but due to some car issues and a family emergency, we decided to play as a duo that night (everyone's OK, don't worry). The opener that night was a guy name John Shipe, a charming singer/songwriter with some seriously funny songs. He even mentioned us on his own blog after the show:
My wife (Autumn) was there for the weekend, so we finally got some time to hang out after the show. The night was fairly uneventful, but relaxing for a change.

That was a hard day of traveling! Waking up at 6, (quite hungover,) getting on the train, riding it for four hours, getting immediately into a car and driving three hours to Bend, with a show that night. WOAH! But it was a super fun show and we really enjoyed playing with John. Plus, you know how much I love Bend AND Silver Moon Brewing!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 16-Too Beautiful to Live

Wed, Sept 22nd

We woke up in Seattle. Since we had some time off for the day, we did our personalized yoga routine, drank cucumber water, felt a little bit like gods, and then reminded ourselves that we had errands to run, movies to film, and shows to play.

We went to the bank, went to American Music and bought their cheapest mic stand, then had enough time to get AMAZING indian buffet for lunch at Bengal Tiger on Roosevelt. After lunch we went for a stroll around Green lake park. It was a beautiful day, and I never realized just how nice that spot is. Bryan captured its beauty in this short clip.

While back at my brother Zach's place we did an impromptu photo/video shoot involving a dinosaur, a golf ball, an army dude and a parachute man, all items we scored in Riverside. More to come on that later.

The show that night was AWESOME. Zach had rented out the Grotto, (The basement speak-easy section of Rendezvous) which was a really nice intimate area. People started filtering in at 8 and by the time we started at 9, we had a wonderful crowd or kind listeners. John (our bassist) had driven up to join us for the set. We had really been looking forward to this show/party because it was a celebration with family and friends about the re-release of our album, Clumsy Seduction.

There were some really exciting attendees, including Luke and Vanessa of TBTL(!!) and I was surprised by Tulsa songwriter Chelsea Coleman. She had recently moved to Seattle and came out. We hadn't seen each other in several years, so that was fun.

Bryan and John drove out that night. I stayed to have as much Zach and Stephanie time as possible. I managed to drink about 8 greyhounds and we ended up doing 3am breakfast at 5 point cafe, which was delicious. I tried deep fried mac and cheese squares for the first time. Pretty alright.

xoxoemma and bryan

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 14-"I love free sh*t"

Monday, Sept 20th

I woke up in the mood for fun, so Sean and I started considering the day's options. I got to talking about theme parks and he remembered this handy coupon book his mother was coerced into buying not so long ago. Inside of it were coupons to Castle Park for FREE minigolf and Straw hat pizza.

So at 1 we went and experienced the awesomeness of Castle Park. I was actually really impressed with the course. We decided not to keep score and the three of us had a really fun time cheering each other on. Bryan got a hole-in-one at the last hole and won Sean a free game for next time. Yay!

We were all really hot, (I swear, it doesn't matter what time of year I come to Riverside, it's always the same HOT weather,) so we went in to get some waters and play Skee-ball. Bryan and I won enough tickets to get a parachute man and a little army guy, more to come on that later.
We finished up the arcade fun with a game of air-hockey, I must admit, I dominated.

Then we went to get our free pizza and headed back to the house to relax and eat lunch. We watched Youth In Revolt, and the boys passed out for a mid-afternoon nap. They woke up in time for us to hit the drive-in theater as planned, but not before a stop at Del Taco for some VEGGIE BURRITOS!! (You can tell I was excited) We watched Machete then headed home for some sleep.

I had to rest up for my 7am radio interview the next day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day 13-BBQ and Beer Pong

Sunday, Sept 19th

We drove down to Temecula to play at my brother Joe's friend John's BBQ joint called Sweet Lumpy's BBQ. We played lunch hour and there was a good amount of folks out enjoying the food. They seemed to enjoy our tunes as well. We sold some cds and made some tips. We were excited to find out that a fan of several years, Tanya, had found out about the show and come with her friend. We got some pictures!

After our set, Bryan mowed down on a half rack of ribs, done just right. Luckily they carried a veggie burger for ME! The Sauce was awesome. Sean even lucked out and got a free bottle to add to his hot sauce collection.

Don, the guy helping us out at the restaurant, was an awesome dude. A musician himself, saw that I was straining my voice a bit to be heard, and came to the rescue with an improvised PA.

The rest of the night was chill, Bryan caught up on some sleep, while I played beer pong and soaked in the jacuzzi.

Day 12-Try The Apple Pie

We woke up in Vegas after our great night out. Unfortunately, I woke up after only 3 hours of sleep. I watched a movie, wrote a song and then the boys woke up. We had just enough time to go scarf down some breakfast burritos before Brock dropped us at the airport and he ran off to hold haunted house auditions. (He's now the "scare" supervisor.)

We got into Long Beach, (which may I add has a pretty ghetto airport...think trailer classrooms at your high school,) and headed towards Riverside. [Bryan says: I wish I could put into words how weird the Enterprise car rental lady was.] Anyways, we show up to an already-gettin'-started party at Sean Foster's house. We can tell immediately that the night is going to be a fun one. As more people begin to filter in, and the opening band arrives, Sean starts setting up the band area in the music area on the back patio.

The Cat Family opened up with some jams, I was mostly affected by the guitar player's ASS hanging out in my face the whole night. The kid definitely had some spunk though.

We had a great audience and really enjoyed playing our set. Sean's cousin Mark and his girlfriend Vanessa were visiting from Ohio and it was their last night in town. They are fans and it was a treat to be able to play some of their favorite songs during the set. They are two very awesome, sweet people. [Side note: Vanessa made an AWESOME banana's foster cake that we got down on after the set. Thanks Vanessa!]

Jared and Megan, this adorable married couple, played the last set with some really sweet tunes. Nice people!

We want to thank Sean, Lori and Nik for holding such a great party. We love playing shows like this. Fun was had by all. Bryan was introduced to a drink called Apple Pie...yummm...and two people had to be carried out. Shoes were lost, naughty things MAY have happened in mustangs. (NOT BY US)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 11 - Irish Car Bomb

Fri, Sept 17

We stayed with Brock, and he managed to get a ride to work so he lent us his car for the day. What a guy! We had some time to kill, so we checked out the new Ben Affleck film, The Town. I really liked it. Then we headed over to the Pinball Hall of Fame, which had my favorite table of all time, Creature From the Black Lagoon. And...Ted Nugent pinball.

I got a pocketful of quarters and my homeboys do, too

The show that night was at The Beat Coffeehouse, a really cool new spot with a record store attached. We played a very well-received set (though the crowd was stacked with Vegas friends, so it was easy to get them going). Our friends Dreaming of Lions played next - they're always a lot of fun. The rest of the night was just a fun night in Vegas, with a little bit of barhopping, some Irish dancing, and a sleepy-eyed jam session at Brock's later.

I just want to thank Brock, Sal, and Chris Leland for taking care of us so well when we come to Vegas. We had a really fun time. I will never forget the dancing!! Brock and I made such a scene with joyous dancing that a lady in the bathroom asked if we were married...haha I said no just buddies, but glad we look cute while doing a jig! I was also very glad I got the opportunity to introduce Bryan to Irish Car Bombs.
See you next time Vegas!!

Day 10 - What happens in Vegas stays on Youtube

Thurs, Sept 16

This day was smooth rolling. We got up very early and drove back across the border to catch our flight to Las Vegas out of Buffalo. It was a longer flight, but the TV and unlimited snacks helped. Brock picked us up at the airport and we had time for showers before heading to Yayo Taco (one of my favorite places in Vegas,) for dinner and one of the first Neon Reverb shows. There food is so good and we were able to buy a bucket of iced beers for 10 bucks and carry it around with us. I wish all bars had this feature. We enjoyed the show, visited with Brock and Sal and then called it a night.

When we left JFK airport that morning (after driving in from Toronto), the ride out was pretty bumpy, bad weather. It was a pretty long flight, and the weather was playing on the little personal TV screens on the plane - we started seeing weather reports of a tornado watch in NYC. Turns out we just outran a tornado! The most affected area was Park Slope, right where we were staying when we were there. Paul & Katie's apartment had a tree fall right in front of it, and they posted some pictures of busted out windows and other damage.

Day 9 - International Superstars

Weds, Sept 15

We got up and said our goodbyes to Katie and Paul (they really are awesome), then headed to the subway to make our way to the airport. Things went fine until we got to the Howard Beach station, and then something crazy happened - we were both standing up and ready to go with our gear, but as soon as Emma got through the doors, they swished closed before I had a chance to even stick out an arm. Our eyes met through the door, and I just said "F***, I'll get the next train back!" It was a tense 15-minute ride to the next station and back, and then I got on the Airtrain and huffed through the airport as quick as I could. Emma was already at ticketing, checking us in for the flight so we didn't get bumped, and we got there just in time to get our bags on the plane and get through security. This day was packed with stuff, including a drive to Toronto, a press thing, and a show - so missing this flight would have totally screwed us over. It was stressful, but I have never been more glad to be on an airport concourse!

We got our car and drove to Toronto, stopping at a Tim Horton's for food. Verdict: meh. We got into town and headed to a public park where we were meeting some press folks to do a live performance, but we got there early, so we just napped in the car for a while. Emma woke me up to move the car when she overheard a shady drug deal going down right outside our window. We did the press thing, which was fun, and then we ate at a place called Big Fat Burrito. It did not disappoint :)

The show that night was at The Central, and Audio Blood set it up for us. It was upstairs on an outside balcony, and it was super fun - great bands and people, for sure. We played 3rd of 4, which is the best spot for an out of town band. Also on the bill were Luke Nares, Mothers of Brides, and Balconies - all really fun bands.

Emma: Bryan did a pretty great job of summing up this day. Looking back at Bryan as the subway swept him away, knowing we were already running late, almost gave me a panic attack! Luckily all came out okay, and no more baggage was lost.

The show at The Central was soooo much fun! Thanks Audio Blood and Dave for putting on such a great show. Good people, good music, good times. I'm really growing attached to Toronto. Wish we had been able to spend more than one day there.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day 8 - Coney Island and Open Mics

Tues, Sept 14

I spent the morning trying to contact JetBlue's baggage department to find my pedal steel legs - I kept getting the voicemail. Emma and I decided to go to Coney Island and check that out, since neither of us had been. It was really cool, even though the amusement park stuff was closed since it's after Labor Day. I did get a hot dog at the original Nathan's, and you know what? It was really good.

Finally I got someone on the phone from JetBlue, and it turned out they had the legs there in the office. By this time it was getting late in the day, so I had to take the subway back out to JFK airport to ensure I got the legs in time for the show. They were really nice about it and even gave me a a $30 credit since I had to come back to the airport.

Paul and Katie had some awesome Kuskokwim salmon prepared for dinner, which we wolfed down before heading back to the subway to go to our show at Googie's Lounge. The show was fun, and then we headed back over to Park Slope to check out this open mic at Bar Four. We did two songs, which went over well, and we got to hear some really good singer/songwriters, including Paul.

Coney Island was great. Walking down the boardwalk in the sun, dipping our feet in the Atlantic, gazing at the wonder wheel. I definitely skipped out on the hot dog, but we went a little later to get Indian for lunch and that had me quite pleased. I got the veggie korma, my fav.

Dealing with gear and public transportation was hectic, but I always love riding the subway and getting to appreciate its convenience. Bryan and I shared headphones and listened to TBTL on the way back from Coney Island. We even did the shoulders only dance!

I'm really glad Paul told us about the Bar 4 open mic. The energy was really great in there, and a wonderful way to end our time in New York.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 7-Caribou Spaghetti!

Mon, Sept 13

At airport security, the inspector told me I couldn’t take the bundle that contained the legs and pull rods for my pedal steel. I told him I had flown many times and always carried them on with no problems...he asked, “which airports?” To which I replied, “all of them.” I had no choice but to go back to the ticket counter and check the bundle, which they taped up and put in a garbage bag.

Of course when we got to JFK, the bundle didn’t come out on the baggage carousel. We spent almost an hour in the baggage office while they tried to track it down, to no avail. I will say that the lady who helped me was very nice, and great at customer service. She even found two All You Can Jet promo t-shirts for us...but she didn’t find my pedal steel legs. I got a claim number and a promise that they would bring them to me when they found them.

We took 3 trains and walked a half-mile to Katie and Paul’s apartment, where we stayed for the night. Katie was part of the (sadly defunct) Alaska House that we played at last summer. They fixed us a great meal of spaghetti and caribou sausage, and gave us access to their wi-fi and computer - thanks guys! Paul is in a band himself, Great Elk, which you should definitely check out. We checked out Prospect Park, then decided to head in for an early night. I called jetBlue to ask after my pedal steel legs, and they told me they ended up in West Palm Beach! I’m supposed to have them back by morning, fingers crossed.

It is such a treat to be staying with Katie and Paul. Katie and I have Alaska friends in common and she's even been to my parent's store in little ol' Sleetmute! How neat. Kuskokwim Salmon is on the horizon. I can't believe I'll be in NYC eating fish from home. Life just keeps getting cooler and cooler.

Day 6-Stripmall Ballads

Sun, Sept 12

We woke up to a home-cooked breakfast (soooo nice when you’re on the road), then we said our tearful goodbyes and headed out. Before leaving Baltimore, we stopped to check out the famous Owl Bar at the Belvedere Hotel, with its framed photos of more well-known customers (Hollywood elite and actual royalty). Then we drove over to find the gravesite of Edgar Allan Poe in this really cool old-fashioned graveyard alongside a church.

Then we got on the road to Arlington, VA, where we played at the Metamorphosis Art Exhibition. The band before us was called Stripmall Ballads, and they were fantastic - great songs, spot-on playing and singing (including harmonies from a singing drummer, I love that). The singer, Phil, played banjo as well as guitar and did this cool singing-into-a-feeding-back-banjo thing that must be seen to be believed. I told him straight up I was going to steal that trick!

Alison, who organized the show, got us both a great free meal, and then the Stripmall Ballads guys invited us to their show that night at The Velvet Lounge in DC. We were en route with drummer Danny when he got the call that the opening band had flaked - so, hey, presto, we picked up another gig! We didn’t have our instruments in the car, so I just sang backup as Emma played a borrowed guitar. Then we were treated to another set of great tunes from Stripmall Ballads...seriously, they’re so awesome live. You have to go see them if you get the chance.

We crashed out at Danny’s place, then back to Dulles for the flight out.

I want to thank Danny so much for the hospitality. That morning we had no idea whether we would be sleeping in the car or the airport, and then we ended up each having our own bed! What a treat! Seriously, check out his band Stripmall Ballads, because they are a gem!

Day 5-Leonard Cohen and Blowjobs

Sat, Sept 11

After a nice morning with Liz and crew, we flew to Dulles Airport (Washington, DC), thankfully a direct flight this time. We picked up a rental car and headed to Baltimore, where my high school chum Mike Vandercook had a show for us. He’s the creative technical director for a play called I Am the Machine Gunner, directed by David White and translated from Russian.
It’s an hour-long, one-man show (with amazing actor James Knight), and if I could describe it in one word it would be INTENSE...I don’t want to give anything away, so if you’re in Chicago or San Diego, go see the show when it comes through. We played the after party for the show, which included wine, birthday cake, and Mike’s homemade gumbo! Another high school friend, Mary Slayter, made the trip to hang out too.

Then we headed to Dave and Rebecca’s for the after-after party, which was a total blast. Hanging out with a theater crew after their show is an experience not to be missed - the G&T’s were flowing, and they’ve all got such great stories. I felt like we had found our “people,” so to speak. I talked Emma into getting our her guitar, and we did a few songs right there in the kitchen, including some of the more lyrically-oriented ones that may not have been heard so well at the raucous after party.

I do have to add a short story to explain the title of this blog. Leonard Cohen has been a big part of conversations so far on this tour. He's my fav! That night blowjobs were entered into the same convo and I just couldn't help myself. That's all. What an awesome night!

Day 4-Liquid Sunshine!

Fri, Sept 10

Liz and daughter Jessie took us on a boat ride down the New River, looking into the backyards of the rich and famous! Then Emma and I drove to Miami to play another intimate show for my old friends at Outpost Audio. It was so great to see my former boss, Steve, one of my favorite people. My ex-bassist (from Going Nowhere) Rob and his wife Kiki were there, and a former client and good friend Michel, plus a few more. We had a great time laughing, singing songs, and enacting light saber battles. It was really interesting to hear their comments on the music - when I left Miami 7 years ago, I was in a punk band and had never even seen a pedal steel guitar.

Then Emma got a message on her phone that her cousin’s friend had found us an opening slot at a bar in Ft. Lauderdale that night, so we rushed down to the club, literally loading right onto the stage and soundchecking, then going right into a half-hour set. The club was a rockabilly/punk place, attached to a tattoo shop - not necessarily an ideal venue for our type of music, but we did OK anyway! Ron and Kiki made the trek down, and we had a late dinner at a nearby diner afterward.

This was such an awesome day! It was so great to be reunited with Liz and Jessie, and to meet Liz's boyfriend Frank. I haven't seen them in seven years and Jessie sure has grown into a beautiful and smart young lady! The craziest thing was that at two different points in the day it was pouring rain while the sun was shining bright as can be. It was quite a sight to see.

Day 3-We're on a boat

Thurs, Sept 9

We flew into Fort Lauderdale (again routed through JFK in New York) and met up with Emma’s cousin Liz. We played a really fun show on their houseboat (actually a mission vessel, I belive), ate curry and cheesecake, and drank wine. It was about as intimate a show as you could get, back in their TV den. My friend Joe from college came, and we got to catch up a bit.

I must add, (this is Emma,) that the heat took some getting used to. HOT outside, FREEZING in all houses and vehicles. I still don't understand how they never seem to get air conditioning right. Bryan says when you actually live in a place like that, they get you really cold while you're inside so that it's refreshing to step outside and warm up a bit. Ha! How backwards, jackets inside? Interesting...

Day 2-Po' Boys and Jambalaya!

Weds, Sept 8

My parents picked us up in New Orleans and took us to breakfast at the Camellia Grill, a cool old-school diner. Then we went to Decatur Street so Emma could see the French Quarter. Things were jammed up a bit because they had a big stage set up for some NFL kickoff event, but we did walk around Jackson Square for a little while.
In Baton Rouge, we had lunch at Rocco's (shrimp poboys) and caught up on emails while my parents finished setting up for the house show. Around 6 people started showing up, including my sister’s family, aunts and uncles, and some friends of theirs that I hadn’t yet met. There were about 8 or so kids in attendance, and their attention waned after about 45 minutes of music - I thought that was actually pretty good! The rest of the night was chatting, eating jambalaya, and signing CDs.

Day 1-NPR and unlimited Snacks

Tues, Sept 7

We left Portland at 10 AM and flew into the Long Beach airport. When we got there, I turned my phone on and found that the NPR reporter who interviewed us (Vanessa Romo) had left a message asking us to take a picture in front of a jetBlue sign for their web buildout.

We got that sent out, then made a bunch of calls and emails trying to get stuff nailed down for DC and other places. A guy named Sam overheard us talking about the NPR story, and he came over to chat - turns out he was once interviewed on Morning Edition too (he's a horticulturist). The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful...we slept in JFK airport, took advantage of jetBlue’s unlimited snack policy, etc.