There’s a starchy smell to the blankets in the hotel we’re in, and there’s a car alarm that sounds off every half hour outside; aside from that, we are glad to be out of the arid Reno, NV sun.  We’ve landed here after another free day of driving, and we’re excited to play our next show in San Francisco tomorrow.  I’m once again reminded of how depressing Nevada can be.  In every gas station, there’s a solitary person staring at the slots and winning only half of the money that they put in.  Then you step out into the dry and beating sun and wonder how anything grows out here.   Only the grizzled plants grow through the brittle ground here.  We ate at a diner in Battle Mountain.  The diner was connected to a casino where I would eat my club sandwich to the symphony of glitches and beeps in the room next door.  When I walked through, frayed hair and spilled beer erupted into vision and I was caught off guard when someone slammed their fist on a slot machine screen.  A high point of the walk through was seeing a slot called “Wolf Attack”.  We drove on.  We’re now three hours away from the San Francisco: The east coast city on the west coast.

Last night we stayed with our friend Melissa who recently moved to Salt Lake City from Portland to attend violin making school.  We talked about metal and our love for it.  She presented her record collected of so much amazing metal that it would make many a doe cry.  We ate where she worked, at what ended up being the best vegan diner I’ve ever been to (The Vertical Diner).  We ate vegan comfort food and I’m now a believer in the prowess of the unmeat.  We woke to a bright blue day and confusing directions on how to get out of town.  Now we’re here…In Reno, NV…Listening to the car alarm going off…again.

 
I'm writing this in yet another coffee shop in Salt Lake City, UT.  These beacons of coffee establishments seem to be landmarks and milemarkers on our travels.  When we're at a coffee shop, it usually means we have some time to breathe for a second and catch up with the rest of our lives and let people back home know that we still exist.  This coffee shop is unique to the others that we've been to since it is one of the few coffee shops that you can go to in this city, let alone Utah in general.  I'm here to get my fix for my cursed addiction to the black and brewed bean.  I've been here a couple of times in passing, and once went to the Gilgal Gardens enamored with how strange it was.  Now we're here again on a whim during our free day.  Now I will catch you up the past couple of shows...
Picture
Pueblo, CO served to be an exciting treat for us.  I had never been there before.  Growing up in Colorado, I realized that I never really went south of Denver (except for that time I lived in Durango, CO for five awkward middle and high school years, ahem).  We played with our friends in the Ghost of Mike Clark again, which has members of the wonderful group The Haunted Windchimes.  We spent most of the day hanging out with the extremely gracious and hospitable people in the band at their house and swimming in the nearby river.  We finally got used to the heat that hung in the air during the time we were in Colorado.  We ate homemade tostadas with guacamole and salsa - can't beat that!  (Sorry Portland, but your Mexican food sucks).  We were expecting a quiet night on a Monday night in Pueblo, but we were met with much more than that.  We were greeted by a room full of excited and engaged audience.  Each band played even better than the night before and the crowd was foot stomping and spinning along.  It was definitely not your typical Monday night crowd, but was an amazing surprise for us.  We made some new friends this trip, but some of the most accommodating people were in Pueblo, I highly recommend for others to play there sometime. 

We drove to Provo, UT the next day and played at Muse Music in downtown Provo.  It's a really cool all-ages venue that has a coffee shop in front and spacious venue in the back.  This was our third time in six month playing there and it's always a treat to play there.  The town rests in the mountain range and on each side of University Street (a main drag), there's luminous and over-arching mountain views that are awe-inspiring.  We have a tradition (much like stopping at Little America in Wyoming) where we eat at Gandolfo's Subs - it's incredible there!  We watched A Few Good Men and were entranced by Tom Cruise's performance and realizing he was creepy even in the beginning of his career.  The show went well with eager attendants and friendly banter.  We stayed with our friends in The Moth & The Flame who have become my new favorite band.  There's a ton of talent in Provo and it's equaled by it's creativity and charm.  We just drove up to Salt Lake City and it's nice to be surrounded by mountains for a bit.  I love being on the road, but it's also comforting to know that we're on our return trip back home.
Picture
Our next show is in one of my favorite cities in the world: SAN FRANCISCO!  We're playing at The Amnesia, a place that I've heard is a real hoot!  We'll be playing on Friday, the 29th.  We'll be playing with some great bands and it should call for a lively evening.  See you there and keep sending those emails!
Love,
Stirling.

 
It's always hard to begin and fill this blank canvas, especially with the flurry that occurred between the last entry and this one.  I'll start with the fact that I'm writing this in Colorado Springs, CO at Pike's Perk Coffee.  Bob Dylan is playing overhead and his lyrics don't make ANY sense.  We're hiding from the 90 - 100 degree weather that has made it's presence known since we've arrived in this state.  I can't complain too much since it's nice to feel some warmth on my vampiric skin.  We played a good show last night with Mike Clark, who is becoming a friend of ours on the road.  I thought I would never say this, but Colorado Springs isn't half bad -  just look past the hundreds of evangelical signs and the megachurches and you'll see some beautiful terrain.  We might head to the Garden of the Gods pretty soon, but the AC is feeling pretty good.

To catch up with everyone, I'll begin by saying that the Fort Collins show went extremely well.  It was the first show of tour and the first show playing with Paul who had just flown in.  We hit the ground running once he got into town.  We rehearsed, then went to soundcheck.  There's something humbling with traveling a great deal and presenting your art to a room full of strangers.  By the end of the first song, I felt welcomed.  The room was spacious and felt intimate at the same time.  Victor and Penny were great in their vein of 30's era crooning, even down to the fancy guitar that gave me the imagery of "happy 30's metal", I told the guitarist this, and I couldn't tell if I offended him or not.  Danielle Anderson was great in her confident songwriting.  She played a good set with odes and vignettes.  She even included a Avril Levigne cover which might have been serious with no irony to be seen.  We left with a celebratory drink on the cobblestone streets of downtown.

Picture
We hit Denver, CO the next day (Friday) after spending some time in Boulder seeing family and friends.  I need to add that Paul and I saw one of the worst buskers I've ever seen.  He tried the "I'm a really bad magician, but funny" schtick, but take out the funny aspect and he was left with silence and wincing toddlers.  In Denver, we played our first of two showcase shows in the UMS Festival at the Hi-Dive (one of my favorite places to play!).  The set went really well, the audience that was there at 6:00 in the afternoon was a great one - really engaged.  The picture to the left was taken after the show and after I just witnessed a man combing through the sidewalk dirt looking for gold.    He told me that he was the second coming of Ezekiel and that he was looking for the gold that he once paved the streets with, I imagine that he'll find it some day.  The streets were packed and alive when the evening rolled around.  We walked and paced ourselves with conversation and music echoing from doorways, stages, and storefronts.  It's been a while since I've felt connected to the Denver as a whole in a while, and it felt like a 100-degree blanket.  

Picture
The next day, we had a great photo session with our good friend and very talented Gary Isaacs.  We played at the Illiterate Gallery around 7:30 with the streets humming with life outside and spilling into view.  We played in a packed and sweating room with an audience of family, friends and great deal of people I've never seen before.  This was one of the best sets I have ever played, there was something about the energy of the viewers and players all being presenters feeding off each other (sorry, it's my Naropa language coming out, but there's no other way I can explain it).  The picture is a link to a review of the show.  The rest of the evening was spent imbibing drink and conversation.  The evening ended with a late night set from a local Denver Stoner-Rock set from the band Houses who were awesome and complimented the hazy vision and late night shouting.  There were so many talented artists and performers alike and I was flattered and humbled with the response from people that we met and the inspiring art that they create.

Picture
We were joined by this unwilling travel companion on our way down to Colorado Springs, CO.  Jessie took pictures of it while I was shying far away from it.  We were welcomed with enthusiasm and collaboration.  We played with The Ghost of Mike Clark, who plays music to travel with through the desert with no water.  We played an impromptu collaboration with his band and I shouted gibberish along to their lyrics hoping not mess anything up.  We playing another show with them tonight in Pueblo, CO and I will definitely have the lyrics ready to go this time around!  We stayed at our friend Cole's house and we spent the late evening drinking bad wine around a barrel fire and walking through ditches and looking at graffiti.  This morning, we ate green chili with great Mexican food and stories from our host.  There are cracks and crevasses to our experience that are skipping my mind at this point, but we are feeling great in our travels.

Picture
If you live in the Pueblo area, come to this show that we're playing with The Ghost of Mike Clark at The Downtown Bar tonight!  We've never been to Pueblo before, and we're looking forward to seeing all who come!  Please keep emailing us with thoughts and confusion!
Love, Stirling.
P.S. We love our moms!

 
We're at the Bean Cycle Coffee Shop at one of our homes away from homes on tour in Fort Collins, CO.  We're reeling after another long stretch through the wispy landscape of Utah and Wyoming, and it's nice to be grounded.  One of the best parts of tour is sitting in stillness while in motion (at least that's how it goes for the passenger).  There's something about the big skies of the midwest that lend time for reflection that there's rarely a space for in our daily routines.  Wyoming always holds that space for stillness.  There's not much to hold as landmarks in such open states, so in some ways, you create your own along the way.
Picture
We got into Fort Collins around 8:00 in the evening and are now staying at a large house by open space with horses grazing evoking postcard imagery.  Paul Seely is heading here as we speak from Denver after flying in. We're really excited to share this stretch of the road with Paul.  There's something great about meeting up with people in different contexts and physical spaces, it helps make people more dynamic and rounded.  Today, we are going to explore more of Fort Collins and try some of the local beers that this fair town has to offer.  Then back to practicing.  We're playing our first show of tour here tonight at Everyday Joe's (if you live in the area, click HERE for tickets) with the talented Danielle Anderson of Danielle Ate the Sandwich and Victor & Penny.  It should be a good time.  We always like playing in Fort Collins, it has this mountain town pleasantry and relaxed quality.  It's a small college town, where everyone will tell you about the most recent TV on the Radio album and in the same breath, tell you about the newest climbing harness.  These Colorado towns make me miss elements of growing up in this state, but it's really nice to just pass through sometimes. Not much more to take note of - Cat Power is playing overhead and I think I'll continue the rest of the day.  I hope to see some of you at the show tonight!
Love, 
Stirling.

 
So this is our third time out and I have been absolutely terrible at keeping a blog of our travels.   I'm writing this from (the fabulous) Trementon, UT in the apparently the only hotel room vacant for miles.  I asked the woman at the counter why there were so many people in this area and she had no idea, she said  "People come and go with the breeze, I dunno".  We had to sleep in a smoking room, and maybe it's the yellow-tinted curtains that have peaked and interested to start writing.  We're on our way to Fort Collins, CO to play our first show of our quick jaunt through the west (and technically the midwest, although most Denverites hate to admit that they're in the midwest).  It's just Jessie and I heading out for this tour.  This is a familiar route and road, but there's always something different to see out the window each time.  The tree farm on I-84 is a landmark, where you can see hallways through the perfect rows.  The trees jab into view in the high desert of eastern Oregon and we see that the ones that were planted months ago have grown into teenagers.  The diners are usually the same, but the local families eating at them are different.  We observed a birthday at the Trucker's Diner in Wembley, ID.  Everyone toasted over cake and a stale salad bar.  One thing about heading east, is that the sky is immediately bigger and the clouds have gotten bored of hovering and blue  skies take their place.  [The cleaning lady just barged into the room, apologized]. 

We've been listening to Blood Meridian by Cormac Mccarthy.  If any  of you know of his other works, this one is no exception.  It's beautifully desolate, and the writing punches you in the stomach and delicately explains why.  It's an amazing soundtrack to the plains and the high desert, blaring and indelible.  We have another full driving day and then we're in Colorado.  We're extremely excited about this tour since we'll be playing a couple of festival shows and retracing some of our favorite places that we've played, and seeing friends we don't get to see very often.
Picture
Our first one on the list: Everyday Joe's (click on the poster for their website) this Thursday.   We'll be playing with the talented Danielle Anderson of Danielle Ate The Sandwich.  It's in a really cool spacious and nonprofit space.  We are also delighted to have our good friend Paul Seely playing drums with us for our Colorado shows, he's flying in and out like a soaring eagle gracing us with his skills.  [The cleaning lady just barged into the room again, apologized].  Even though it's before 10:00, I'm taking subtle hints that we need to head out.   

We would love to see you at these shows and please send us friendly/spiteful/ennui-ridden/loving words to alamedaportland@gmail.com or say them in person at any of the shows. 

Love,
Stirling