Where to begin.... I apologize for being off the map for a bit but I have a good excuse. When we left Seattle we headed east for the biggest drive of the tour. Seattle, WA to Minneapolis, MN is a 26 hour drive (in a car) plus a 2 hour loss with the timezone change; add in the fact we're driving a 27ft vehicle and stopping for gas every 4 hours we're looking at a 30 hour drive minimum.
About 10 hours into our drive we hit the one thing we were desperatly trying to avoid the whole tour: SNOW. After being in the Pacific Ocean 1 week earlier in sunny San Diego this was a wakeup call to how far we've actually been traveling. We found ourselves in the mountains of Montana traveling 10-25 mph through a snow storm for 8 hours. Needless to say this wasn't helping our arrival time in Minnesota. There was a healthy balance between fearing for our lives as we watched countless cars/trucks, which were much more equipped to travel in the snow & ice, swerve off the road into ditches and guardrails, and the sheer humor of the locals' collective facial expression of "are you seriously driving a 27 ft rv through Montana in a snow storm? What the hell are you thinking?"
After Keith successfully took us through the snow storm (with Brent navigating) and we made our way out of the mountains, Will and I took over the driving & navigating duties respectively. It was now 4am and the roads were free of snow and the weather had warmed up from about 10 degrees to a balmy 29 degrees. This is another crucial point as we are driving a house on wheels; complete with pipes that can burst in the cold. Did I mention we like a challenge? At this point we're feeling good though. We're back to traveling 55 mph and the GPS ETA is no longer moving in reverse. Brent and Keith were catching up on some much needed sleep and feeling a little better about doing so now that we were out of the treacherous elements.
Things were going a little too good for us. No sooner than I could say "I'm just glad we haven't encountered any animals on the highway" Will jacks on the breaks screeching the tires and popping Brent and Keith out of bed as if they were fired out of a dynamite powered toaster. Trapped in the headlights were 2 deer standing in the middle of the road blocking both lanes. We slowed down enough to squeeze in between them as if you were making your way to a bathroom at a crowded club. After Brent and Keith wiped the "I can't believe we're going to die on a tour bus" look off their face we were back to cruising speed.
Fast forward 14 hours later we were in Minneapolis at 6pm Friday night; just like that. Oh yeah, getting back to my point as to way we've been off the grid. For that 36 hour period we were in absolute nothingness. No cell phone reception, no people, just nothingness on the Montana/North Dakota highways. Needless to say we were pumped to not only see human life but to be performing.
We were playing at The Nomad World Pub; an awesome venue complete with a bocce court outside. If it was a little warmer (and not raining) Keith and I would have busted out our Italian-cookout bocce skills, but we opted to just relax in the green room instead. Everyone in the bar (and city for that matter) was extremely friendly. The night was extra special because Keith's brother (my cousin) had flown out that day to visit family and spend a couple days on the road with us.
For all intents and purposes the show was great. However we had some technical difficulties. An hour before the show, Will's computer crashed, which we use for the sequenced tracks during our peformance. Of course we came prepared for this. Everything is backed up and a complete replica is stored on my computer as well. Not having time to restore Will's computer before the show we switched to my computer, tested the setup and everything was working with time to spare. Of course this would have been too easy. Within 2 minutes of the first song my computer starts having hardware issues and crashes. We ended up rearranging our set on the spot and played without the sequencer.
For the audience this is a very subtle touch as the backing tracks are meant to compliment our arrangement with a small string or horn part present from time to time. Most people don't even notice it's there. For us it's more of a mental hurdle; trying to break out of a routine built around 100+ gigs, is a bit uneasy feeling. Nonetheless we played the gig, had a great time and from chatting with some people in the audience, they couldn't even notice we had the technical difficulties.
Up next, Wilco-town, Chicago, IL.