Hello friends, old and new!
I’ve been quiet for a long time. And you may, along with news correspondents and pundits everywhere be wondering: Why write now? For what critically important reason is Cameron Hood choosing to break his bloggish-silence? Since I’m sure you where losing sleep over it, I will now reveal my answer:
I’m writing to congratulate myself. I’ve done it! I’ve completed the task set out before me. This was not a task assigned to me by anyone other than me. It was a harrowing path that I alone chose to walk. It’s been difficult. It’s involved a lot of traveling, a lot of shows, a lot of training, a lot of skillful finger-performance. And it’s involved a lot of Redken Rough Paste Hair Styler.
The earth-shattering subject I’m addressing is not my involvement in Ryanhood’s massively successful Spring tour, though it was the stage upon which my heroics were performed. Instead, I’m talking about something even bigger and longer: my hair.
At tour’s start, way back in January, I vowed that I would not cut my closely shorn locks until I returned home to Tucson’s beloved shores. And here, on the eve of my return, I am contemplating the utter greatness of my achievement. Just look at where I started:
In this photo you can see me trying to pretend I’m not taking a picture of myself in the bologna aisle in Texas. And now compare that with my current, Emo-Rockers-Would-Be-Proud-Of-Me-Except-For-My-Enthusiastic-Thumbs-Up stylings.
In this photo, you can see the mists of Spokane Falls rising up to applaud my fantastic achievement. “Hurray for our hero!” the splashes seem to say. Listen, can you hear them?
In all, well at least in some seriousness: today we go home to Tucson for the first time since January 9th. We’ll still be playing some shows in California and Washington throughout May, and there are some cool public and private events going throughout the summer, but today we return to the city of our birth. And there’s something exceptional about that. Even more exceptional than the amazing and stupendous achievement of my hair growth (which is hard to imagine, I know).
During our tour, we’ve been introducing Gardens and the Graves with a story about how people who grow up in Tucson generally can’t wait to graduate high-school and leave. “We gotta get out of this town.” Not that there’s anything wrong with Tucson, per se. But there’s this restlessness that grows in teenagers who grow up in a town famous for retirement communities. “What am I missing by staying here? What could my life be if I left town… if I didn’t play it safe… if I risked a little bit?”
And here at the end of four plus months of seeing the country and playing for thousands of good people and driving 13 hour days and staying in different hotels every night, we’ve begun to feel that pull, begun to say those once-foreign words: “We gotta get back to that town.”
Summer in Tucson has rain. Monsoon rain that makes Tucson’s arroyos (dry rivers, or washes) become real, live rivers. You know, like the kind they have everywhere else in the country? The kind with water in them. And there are thunderstorms, with lightning, and wind that blows the contents of your trash can all over your street. Simply delightful.
I am glad to go home. And in a few months, I will be glad to go to Wisconsin, and Michigan, and the Dakotas, and Minnesota, and Iowa, and many other places with secrets and mysteries and beautiful storms all their own. In a few months, I will be glad again to leave, to go. Where? I don’t know. And, mmhmmm, already I’ve reached my quota for self-quoted poetry. But with hair this cool, how could you help but quote yourself? I mean really. Who’s with me?
Well. I must confess that I collapsed under the pressure of keeping the blog up to date on the tour. It would be a lot easier if we had someone else to do the driving! I’m writing this one on a 13 hour drive from Ohio to Oklahoma. We have internet in the car now though, which is a treat (providing we have a cell phone tower nearby). We’ve played in 24 states on this tour. It’ll be 25 after our shows in CA later this month. But the pace has slowed considerably in these last few weeks. It’s nice to have some time to breathe again.
I just wanted to say hi, let you know we are alive and well, and give a big thanks to the people who have cheered us on along the way. Thanks for believing in us.
See you again before you know it
A very creative show flyer, no?
I though that we’d have seen it all by week 7 of the tour, but no….
This is the WORLD’S LARGEST SNOW-WOMAN!
Check out the little snowmen next to it for perspective
We’d seen this place on the map, but only dreamed of the day when we’d actually get to drive through it….
We’ve seen A LOT of hotel rooms in our day, but never before had we walked into a room to find this….
Where’s the rest of the toilet?
Oh, here it is…IN THE CORNER!
Exactly whose pants are on Cameron’s bed?
And since when do hotel rooms come with complimentary bread and beer?
Ah the fun of life on the road. Catch up with you soon!
Ok, so I just couldn’t keep up the pace of getting these things updated weekly…so for this installment we’ll have a GREATEST HITS photos of the last few weeks. YES we have been continuing to rock the country, and here are the photos to prove it…
this is me
this is cameron
this is a nature-made ice sculpture
this picture is not doctored
this is our first house concert
this is our windshield cracking
these are some tie-wearing friends from NACA
this is a pretty rockin photo from New York the other night
ok, now you’re all caught up :-)
See you soon!
Sorry for the late update (I’m aiming to get these up every Sunday, but ran a couple of days late this time around). We ate at a lot of uniquely-local restaurants on in Michigan..I think that will be this week’s thematic-link.
Show 9 – Allendale, MI (Grand Valley State University)
We were welcomed by snow as soon as we got to Michigan. But better yet we were once again welcome by students in neckties.
Special thanks to them for making us feel at home during the first of our 5 shows in Michigan.
Show 10 – Adrian, MI (Siena Heights University)
Adrian is a tiny little town, but we still managed to schedule two nights in a row there. We also found a pretty cool Mexican Restaurant called El Chapulin (the grasshopper…who knew!?)
Don’t forget dessert :-)
Oh yeah… the show…
Everyone was very kind to us, and bought lots of CDs…thank you! And just when we thought it was over, we found a ping pong table across the hall. Cameron was tired, so I crushed him :-)
Show 11 – Adrian, MI (Adrian University)
Another show in Adrian! Since we didn’t have to travel, we had the whole day to hang out in Michigan so we spent some time rehearsing in the lovely guest house the college let us stay in.
Then we headed to the movie theater with that extra CD money from the night before and saw JUNO.
Loved it. Then it was show time. We had a great opener, a duo called Katie and Pat, and they really warmed things up fantastically for us.
Show 12 – Grand Rapids, MI (Aquinas College)
We ate dinner at YESTERDOG.
Apparently this hot-dog joint inspired the one in American Pie. It was cool to eat at a local hotspot, but not actually that cool to eat two chili-cheese dogs right before a show.
When we got to the school, I was giddy to find another ping pong table. I tried to get a ping pong match going before the show, but Cameron was distracted by Galaga (and probably still recovering from his last defeat)
It was getting really snowy at this point in the week…we weren’t sure if the show was going to happen. But hot diggity the room was FULL for our late night 10:30pm show.
GREAT crowd…great show…
Plus we made a great new friend.
Show 12 – Sault Ste. Marie, MI (Lake Superior State)
I suggest looking at a map, and discovering just how far north this is. It’s not even physically connected to Michigan.
Hence the bridge.
And the road
And the parking
We sampled the local white-fish. And mostly just focused on not crashing our car.
We did play a show too :-)
We spent Superbowl Sunday with some friends in Port Heron, playing a little geetar and eating a bbq pork sandwiches.
There ya have it!
PS…RECORD UPDATE…we are done with all of our vocals and guitars for the new record. The final touches are being put on right now by our producer, which include bits of organ, percussion, etc. We are flying out to LA Feb 14 and 15 to comb it over together, and hopefully move into the mixing phase from there. Thanks for sticking with us, it’ll be worth the wait!
Week two was a good one, featuring a good mix of business and pleasure.
We’ve seen some pretty creative advertising for our shows so far, so I thought I’d start by sharing a couple of them.
This from the Wichita show (below)
And who could forget this one from Albuquerque
So back to the shows…
Show 6 – Fort Hayes, KS (Fort Hayes State University)
They have a beautiful brand new student center that we got to play in. So we were stoked when we got there and saw the great stage/lighting.
As we re-strung our guitars before the show, I saw the news about Heath Ledger’s death on TV, which tripped me out. Then I drank about half a bottle of a Naked Juice Protein drink…
…and spent the rest of the night, including the show, so dizzy I could hardly keep my eyes open. I found out from a grocery store worker the next day that this batch of drinks had just been pulled from the shelves! Doh. In spite of my absent mindedness, the show went off without a hitch, and the crowd was great.
Show 7 – Wichita, KS (Wichita State University)
We actually got to tour the city a bit, and get a feel for it, including a workout session at the local YMCA. Then of course we headed straight for the WORLD’S FIRST PIZZA HUT
It was actually started by Wichita State students in an entrepreneurship program. It doesn’t serve food anymore, but the campus food court did, so we partook. Fittingly, the show was a lunch-time show so we rocked out while people raised their Diet Cokes in praise.
We had the night off, so we headed to Kansas City, where the band LUCA, some Tucson based buddies of ours, happened to be touring that night. There’s nothing like some familiar faces when you are 1000 miles from home
We enjoyed the cold-weather reunion, and got our desert-rock on that night.
Show 8 – Marietta, OH (Marietta College)
This is Phil
He’s the man. We knew he meant business when we met him. He hooked us up with the Marietta hoodies you see us in. He runs a tight ship over at Marietta College, and we had a great show as a result. It’s a tight knit, small college where everyone lives on campus and the atmosphere and reception were fantastic.
I even decided to break out my new little friend
But the fun didn’t stop there. Cameron and I headed directly into an after-show ping pong battle. A serious battle, where both combatants were left sore when all was said and done. However, there can be only one winner. And I will let you decide who that was…
We are in Michigan all week this week. It’s cold now. There’s snow now.
But we also got a GPS today finally, so at least we won’t get lost and stranded.
I don’t believe the unit came with a Deer Avoidance feature, so we’ll try to stick to driving in the daylight hours.
Until Next Time…
Greetings from the road! I have felt compelled to document this tour, perhaps because it’s so massively long that I must dissect it into digestible portions.
We’ve got some new tricks up our sleeve this time.
Cameron’s brought his harmonica
And I’ve got my tambourine and shakers in tow:
Show 1- Albuquerque, NM (Winning Coffee Co.)
We weren’t sure what to expect, since we’d never seen the venue before, and the venue doesn’t normally host concerts, but man were we pleased with the results! The owner essentially let us convert the coffee shop into a venue, and a full house turned out to see us play! (And naysayers tried to tell us Albuquerque is dead in January!)
This was an absolutely fantastic start to the tour, and a special thanks to all those who brought friends out to see us for the first time!
Show 2 – Kansas City, MO (Main Street Café)
The venue was difficult to find, but once we found ourway inside this converted icehouse, we were amazed to find a huge, beautifully decorated, high-ceilinged performance space. We shared the night with 3 other bands, and were treated to an audience of around 100. A great venue with a great cause, we hope to return there sometime later in the tour.
Show 3 – Lawton, OK (Cameron University)
The entire programming board wore vintage neckties with show info puffy-painted onto them to spread a buzz about the show that day!
They took great care of us here, and we even got to sign our first acoustic guitar after the show!
Show 4 – Tyler, TX (UT-Tyler)
Noon-time shows are notoriously difficult to grab people’s attention at, with food being around and all. However, this was probably our best-ever lunchtime concert. The performance space was bright and sunny, and people sang and smiled with us all the way through.
Plus we got onion rings. What more could we ask for?
Show 5 – Walla Walla, WA (Whitman College)
This one took some work to get to…3 flight segments and a 3-hour drive in a rental car. However, it was more than worth it when we stepped on stage to find an enthusiastic audience of 150 people. Walla Walla, knows how to love on acoustic music. This show really meant a lot to us, and we will certainly be back. They give us big heads.
We hit the road at 5:30AM the morning after the show to catch a flight to LA to attend the NAMM music trade-show. However, at about 6:15AM, and at about 60mph, a deer ran across the road right in front of us, and we had no chance of avoiding it. We collided and spun off into a ditch. The deer flew about 25 yards in the opposite direction. Fortunately, aside from some backaches, we are okay. The rental car is probably totaled though.
I’m left remembering how the rental clerk persuaded me to upgrade the vehicle to a size larger, and how that may have very well made the difference in the outcome of the situation for us. We missed the trade show, and we’ve been forced to slow our pace down for the weekend, which feels good. We’ll pick everything back up again on Tuesday in Kansas!