Hello, citizens of the Republic of Rock And Roll! Nato here, your loyal public servant, checking in from City Mouse HQ aka Miski and Mono's apartment in Riverside, CA. Me, Kyle, Sam, Braden, and Matt are having a great time! It's been fantastic out on the road this summer. Most of the shows have been top-notch. So many kind people, friends old and new, have helped us out! And noteworthy also is that Promises To Deliver has been flying off the merch table - sometimes literally (no, that was a Used Kids LP in Portland actually). Luckily, Mike from Dead Broke can re-up us in San Diego tomorrow for AWESOME FEST... Awesome Fest 7, of course, is why we're on this crazy long roadtrip in the first place!
So let me try and recap what has happened so far. On Monday August 5th, we woke up and drove all day and into the night from Minneapolis to Russellville, Arkansas. That's where we met Braden Franklin, our drummer for this tour (Mike Cranberry couldn't do this one 'cause of work issues, but he's still our number one home drumdude in case anyone was wondering - and he will be at AF7). Here's a scene from our first show a couple days later. You can almost see his entire head in this shot! Whatta scoop.
Then it was time to roll out! We headed over through Chattanooga, had a late-night Jack Palance Band dance party loud enough to wake folks from there to Dalton GA, and went on down to Florida. Braden was drumming GREAT. Every show in Florida was awesome in its own way. I've really been digging the "Dale And The Careeners" album, so it was great to see the metamorphosized Grabass Charlestons turn into The Careeners and rock it! We had wanted to hit the southeast this summer in case we were pressed for time around Gainesville Fest later this year, so to those of you who came to see us in Gainesville, Tampa, St. Augustine, Atlanta, Athens (Happy Birthday, Derek!), and Asheville: thank you so much, and hopefully we can do this again in late October/early November, but if we can't - you made the right decision! And we will be back in the southeast as soon as we can. Here's a picture of the tattoo Sam Beer got in exchange for a gift certificate with which someone purchased a copy of Promises To Deliver.
Yes, that's Princess Leia done Sailor Jerry style, or thereabouts. He got that in Gainesville. Meanwhile, in St. Augustine a couple days later, we met friends at a Mexican restaurant called Playa Chac Mool, and I ended up jamming on guitar with the owner, Javier! We did "Here Comes The Sun" and then a 12-bar blues. Maybe my favorite set of tour?
We played Chicago's Township Bar, and then drove all night to have a full day in Minneapolis! It was nice to chill out for a moment. And then it was time for Dave Strait Fest, also known as Fuck Dave Strait Fest. We were only there for our Saturday show at the Triple Rock, but a ton of bands played, including the Future Virgins! I love that band. It was a fantastic party all-around. Here's a picture of us, playing Dave Strait Fest! Look at Braden, he's pretty damn good...
Onward to Sam's old home: Grand Forks, North Dakota, where we played possibly the coolest dive bar in America - The Hub. Minot was next, and trust me, if you're ever passing through Minot, make sure you check out the Souris River Brewpub - great pizza and craft beer! We have so many friends in Minot, that night was a true highlight of tour. Braden made this happen:
Then came Montana, perhaps the most beautiful state in the union. Billings, then Missoula. Missoula! We had such a great time, at the show (maybe the best show I ever played in Missoula in any band I've ever been in), and then Marty's house for an afterparty hootenanny. Townes Van Zandt definitely was rolling in his grave that night.
The Pacific Northwest welcomed us with open arms - our buddy, CJ Frederick, put on not one but TWO spectacular shows in Seattle for us, plus we got to reunite with old buddies Big Eyes (played with 'em) and some of the Trashies (did not play, just hung out). Seattle in the summertime is probably the best place to be, weather-wise, on the entire planet! Bellingham, WA was a fun time too, and it was nice to get back to a town I'd not been to since the Modern Machines days. Here's some jerk blowin' harmonica onstage at The Kraken in Seattle.
Down in Portland Oregon, we played with Divers, who are one of the best
bands around right now. No exaggeration. Highest recommendation. Club
21, the place we played, looked like a bar in the north woods of
Wisconsin! And Jon Hanson, that old dingus, was seen live and in person! After that was Chico, where we stretched our set out and worked up a couple new ideas and songs (including "I Miss My Records", which we were getting requests for and were up to that point not sure we knew. Braden knew it without a practice. Whoa.). And then the Bay Area...
We drove to San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge, and went straight to the beach (it was cold!), where we celebrated our arrival by donning jackets against the "cold summer night" breeze and blazing one in a small cove accessible only through a dark tunnel and treacherous climb. The Knockout treated us wonderfully, as did the Mission District burritos. The next day, we walked around the Mission, then went to the Muir Woods and marvelled at it all. Redwoods are impressive, folks. Oakland was fantastic, Max "Jesse Cody Trashie" Nordile made a great flyer!
Yes, like the flyer says, we played with Courtney & the Crushers, and the Chuckleberries. And Russell Quon, their drummer as well as iconic icon of punk rock, had this to say to us:
"You are a breath of fresh air."
Wow. Also, Danielle Bailey took this picture.
The next night was Awesome Fest Pre-Fest in Pomona, CA. Vince Lombardi High School never lets us down! We played an all-star lineup with Shellshag, Lipstick Homicide, Upset, and Crow Bait. Marty Ploy is THE MAN. What a rad night! And we stayed in Riverside, and we woke up, and I wrote this, and now you have just read it! Who can say what awesomeness awaits in San Diego? Stay tuned to find out! See you down the road...
-Nato Coles & the Blue Diamond Band