October 26, 2011

The Road To Somerville: The Hush Now Memos Tour Diary Dispatch 6 (From Lexington, KY to Boston, MA)

The End Of The Tour, The Hush Now Lives
[You didn't think they were going to leave you hanging, did you? That's not The Hush Now's style. In this episode of the band's Memos Tour Diary, bassist Pat MacDonald recounts the whirlwind of the tour's final days en route to the quintet's triumphant homecoming set at Precinct in Somerville, Mass. last weekend. Billmates Soccer Mom and Chandeliers also turned in jaw-dropping sets, as a result of which we were smiling all night. In case you are just tuning in, we reviewed The Hush Now's new record Memos right here. -- Ed.]

Oh, my old Kentucky home, and the bloody ground... Birthplace of Hunter S. Thompson, the man whose logo is permanently inked into my forearm. I think this is a great metaphor for this tour, something that will be permanently stamped on me until the day I die.

After a fantastic night with old and cherished friends in Nashville, we wake up and head to Lexington, KY and Cosmic Charlie's. It's a really groovy venue which was once called Lynagh's Music Hall, and was quite the place to play. Again the list of bands that have tread the boards at this hallowed institution is daunting. Every one from Del McCoury, The Bottle Rockets, Blue Mountain, Steve Forbert, NRBQ -- fantastic musicians one and all... so cool. Our gig was alright, not one of the best but quite a lot of fun. Joe the bartender at Cosmic Charlie's was a fun cat and Kate next door at the Lynagh's Pub made the whole night enjoyable. They were very nice, full of fun facts about the area, poured a mean drink and showed some fine southern hospitality.

Good morning Bluegrass State! So we got up, showered and shook off the cobwebs. Then it's on to Columbus, OH and Skully's, but first a quick stop at the Kentucky Horse Park which is 1,032 acres of equestrian love. If you are into horses/horse racing -- which some my closest and dearest friends are -- this is four-legged nirvana. Some of us have to deal with stuff back home, so the rest of us head for the paddocks, while still others head for the gift shop. We all walk away with a sack of swag after laying a big kiss on some horse nose. Back on the road. Now let me tell ya’ll, I did not know what to expect when I got to Columbus, but I was really surprised. What a cool burg. Very young, great record store right next to the venue (more on that later), cool bars and chow halls. The folks in the club were top notch, but in this case the old adage "hurry up and wait" was put to the test (at least 5 hours till show time), so we did just that. After some walking around the 'hood, hunting for a pack of smokes, wanting to get back to Boston and throttle my bank manager, and some food: It's show time! Seeing how this was Joel’s birthday, we shall use one of his favorite terms "do the dew" and some dew was done. Happy birthday you handsome man! Now, not to sound like a bitch, but as things were going so well I should have figured our kid Murphy and his damn law would get in on the act and oh my stars did he. Our kid Barry went to see the door man a bit after the set to be told that it was a pay to play gig. Pay to play ? Is this 1987? Now, thanks to the genius of our booker we are down 65 dollars ... WTF!! By the way, next time you are in Columbus and considering yourself a music geek, I implore you to check out Magnolia Thunderpussy, a balls-to-the-wall record store. So, even with it being Joel's birthday things did not get to the STP (Stones Touring Party) level of madness -- actually, not even the NKOTB level (what a bunch of wimps), but fun was had. Wake up, rinse and repeat! Things after this many days and miles are becoming almost second nature. Time to roll to Pittsburgh.

Now after all these days, I would love to give ya’ll the real poop on what happens in the van, but I think the word "boring" suffices. So we end up in Pittsburgh after a fine ride through the mountains; we find the venue the famous Arsenal Lanes (a bowling alley); and then more of the same: hurry up and wait. Jon and I found a fantastic art store with great homemade cards, handmade t-shirts, handmade pins made right in-house, all kinds of ephemera. So Jon and I get to talking to the owners and ask about some good places to eat and whatnot. I must say they were a wonderful road map to Pittsburgh. So me in my wisdom ask "So, where do we play at the lanes?" "LANE 13?!" (like I knew) was the answer... so what could I say other than "thanks" and off to the bar we went. Good meal with Jon, Barry and Noel. Soon to be showtime. There is nothing more surreal than to play a set while some one tries to break that split they are looking at... enough said. We all got to meet some more Marino family members, and kicked the Murphy guy in the jimmy. We got PAID 60 bucks. On to Philly, kids!

Philadelphia! Cheese steaks, soul music, Gamble and Huff, Freedom (thanks Elton), broken bells, liberty city. So after killing a few hours on the road post-gig, and a good night's sleep, we head off to The City of Brotherly Love. We find the club which is called The Raven Lounge, nice place, two floors, really cool owners. But what's this? We head upstairs to find the stage to be the size of a really small cat walk tilted sideways and the cherry on top of this I Scream Soda is right there in the middle... wait for it. A stripper pole? I have seen some strange things in my years but this has to be my favorite. A stripper pole? We gather the troops, have a quick brainstorming session, and decide to do a semi-acoustic set (time for Hanna to earn her keep). So Adam and I play thru our amps, Barry went for the Stray Cats set up (snare drum and one cymbal), Jon went with one keyboard and a stand sitting in front of the stage on the floor and Noel used trusty Hannah.

I have to say it was one of my favorite gigs of the tour. It was great to hear the songs stripped down (no pun intended), we ran through the set we'd be playing the next night at CMJ, and it felt really good. Smiles all around at the end of the set. Had a chance to hang with Adam's folks and their friends. It was now time to find some food/drink and get ready to go take NY by storm. I can’t let Philly go with out geeking on the music side of things that came from this fantastic city. As I mentioned above the word “Soul” is synonymous with this city. I mentioned Gamble and Huff, the architects of the Philly soul sound. Also, let's not forget one of my favorites from this wonderful city, The Nazz, Todd Rundgren's '60s psych/garage band. Not to mention one of Barry's favorites, the mighty Hall and Oates.

New York, New York, big city of dreams. Tonight's the night, in the words of Neil Young. So here we are, day 16 of the tour. The CMJ music marathon is one of the best music industry events in the US next to SXSW, it is only 7 years older that its southern cousin (it was started in 1980). We are all pumped for the Big Picture Media showcase we're playing at Sullivan Hall. But first things first: we have six very hungry men here, so some form of sustenance is on the menu. We head over to the Red Lion Pub and within minutes the owner has us in stitches, what a fantastic pub. I counted at least four different Stones pictures around the bar as well as Zeppelin, U2, Beatles and many more. After tucking into a great plate of fish and chips, with plenty of HP sauce and malt vinegar, we all decide to split up and just wander for a few hours before load-in. Noel and I end up walking down to Arlene's Grocery (once upon a time it was a bodega) to check out the Ryan’s Smashing Life showcase. We bump into Ryan almost immediately, got a chance to meet his bud Adam from Counting Crows (nice fella) and watched a fantastic set from Charleston, South Carolina's Slow Runner. These guys were amazing! Pure pop heaven. The band was spot-on musically, and the singer/piano/casio player had such a crystal voice, I walked away from their set with the biggest smile on my face. Back to the club for load-in. After a bunch of interviews/back-slapping/ glad-handing it was time for some rock. I would love to go into detail about every one of the five bands we played with but that would be a full-on article by itself (check out my Facebook blog for the full report). Let's just say you need to Google these bands: Grygiel, Mercies, Destry, States and Lily And The Parlour Tricks. We played a pretty smoking 25-minute set with a great version of "The Glow." Now the real fun: get in a car with Joel, his missus and Jon and drive five hours back to Boston! There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home. Arrive back at my apartment in Somerville at about 5 in the morning. Sleep!

A full day of rest. No van, no Shoney's breakfast, no Love's truck stops, no feeling like you are traveling in a spacecraft, no smelly feet, no wondering where my winter hat went (find that in the spring), just quiet. I meet the band at Precinct for the Clicky Clicky and Ash Gray Proclamation homecoming show with Chandeliers, Soccer Mom and Cooling Towers. This was a brilliant show, we were on fire (17 days on the road helps), packed club, so many friendly faces. We knew had the crowd with us, so we started with "Sitting On A Slow Clock," lead them in gently... then BAM! "Cameraphone" into "Clouds," "Arkansas," "Thorns," "Memos," "Things Fall Down," "For What It's Worth" and "The Glow."

A few things before I put this to bed. I and the rest of the band would like to thank all the great folks we met on this tour, to all the people that came out on this last night, Jay and Bryan for putting together this bill. Also the one takeaway -- for me at least -- is this: even with some of the set-backs on this tour, the one thing we as a band did was play our asses off every night no matter what. We worked has a team always, a bunch of pirates one and all... Classy pirates, that is! It was a blast and I can not wait to get back out there once again and bring our music to a new batch of humans. Thank you, Jay, for allowing us to ramble on your site for the past few weeks. Cheers! -- Patrick MacDonald

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Memos Tour
10.06 -- Rochester, NY -- The Bug Jar
10.07 -- Cleveland, OH -- Roc Bar
10.08 -- Chicago, IL -- Miskas
10.09 -- Minneapolis, MN -- Acadia Café
10.10 -- Northfield, MN -- The Contented Cow
10.11 -- Milwaukee, WI -- Frank's Powerplant
10.12 -- Indianapolis, IN -- Melody Inn
10.13 -- Knoxville, TN -- Preservation Pub
10.14 -- Asheville, NC -- Fred's Speakeasy CANCELLED
10.16 -- Greenville, NC -- Tipsy Teapot
10.16 -- Nashville, TN -- The Muse
10.17 -- Lexington, KY -- Cosmic Charlie's
10.18 -- Columbus, OH -- Skully's
10.19 -- Pittsburgh, PA -- Arsenal Lanes
10.20 -- Philadelphia, PA -- The Raven Lounge
10.21 -- New York, NY -- Sullivan Hall
10.22 -- Somerville, MA -- Precinct

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