Saturday, October 15, 2011


Trying to get up to date... here's a little something I did backstage in Fairfield:

The East Coast (and therefore lovely short drive) portion of our tour continued to Northampton, Massachusetts, where we feared we wouldn't be able to fit on the Iron Horse's microscopic stage.

Whew, we did it! I celebrated by talking a walk around the block:

And then I returned to the dressing room to catch the rumbling thunder below the stage as Stickmen played.

Hey look - I recognize that from our 2008 "Lucky to be Alive" tour:

The next day we drove up to Montreal, and stopped at a really nice little place called the Putney Diner in Vermont - definitely was the best breakfast of the tour!

And then there was soundcheck and backstage hang:

And the show:

Afterwards it was rather difficult to navigate the uniquely... um... cozy parking lot:

But we made it, and the next day I found a neat (also cozy) greasy spoon called "Cosmos." The inch of oil on the TV set said it all. 

I definitely skipped lunch that day:

We were totally stuffed on the drive to Toronto, and holy cow... we had an actual night off! I found an Indian place near our hotel, since we can't eat heavy curries before going on stage... well, I make an exception for Maharaja in Milwaukee, it's too darn good to pass up when we're in town. The shows at Shank Hall are always riddled with masala burps (unbeknownst to the unassuming audience members, of course... well, I hope).

Anyway, the food at The Host was very unique and tasty - I just couldn't get over how light it all was. The vegetables weren't over-cooked to unrecognizable mush and enrobed with ghee and cream (which, don't get me wrong, still makes for tasty eats).  I could've actually eaten at this place on a show day!

When I got back to the room I thought I'd pass out right away (at 8PM - egad!). Yeah right... I stayed up and played variations of Scrabble until 1 in the morning... oops!

The next day, I woke up and trekked to the Apple Store downtown to replace my computer's power supply, which stopped working in New York.  Not a good thing to have happen on the road... luckily, it was a gorgeous day (finally one without rain!).

I got back to the hotel and met with Tobias so we could head over to the Mod Club early, my heart set on making some soup for dinner.

Forgive me, it's been over a week so I don't remember the recipe exactly... I know it had red onions, carrots, garlic, ginger, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, cilantro, cumin, hot smoked paprika... it was darn good.

The cool thing about the Mod Club is that you can spy on the stage from the dressing room:

Or from the side of the stage:

The next morning we returned to a spot we found on our 2009 tour, Aunties and Uncles. I have to admit we also like dining there because the server we've always had there is a Prog Rock DJ.  He keeps missing our shows, though!

Next up: back to Amerrrca.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

SEPTEMBER 28-SEPTEMBER 30: NYC + FAIRFIELD - How many more pies?

Oy... as I write this, I am sitting on a bed in a hotel in Kentucky, wounded. Such things like falling up stairs tend to happen before I have my coffee... I figured that finishing my blog post would take my mind off of the seething pain in my ankle and knee. It's as if the universe is reminding me that there is still such a thing as complete equilibrium, and therefore karmic balance. You'll see what I mean below.

Anyway (lalalalala), the story opens in Boston... upon leaving town, I visited my first ever Cracker Barrell (shocking, I know).

The experience was as mediocre as I expected, complete with undercooked hash browns and forgotten hot sauce. Still, I doubt that this will be my only visit to such a fine establishment. There are lesser evils out there in the U.S., such as Denny's and Waffle House, but hunger knows no boundaries. Oh, how I long for European breakfasts and rest stops...

We traveled onward to the great Gotham City, where we would play 2 nights at Les Paul's stomping ground, a teeny joint called the Iridium. We managed yet again to pack ourselves onto the stage, and the concert exuded joy from the reciprocal positive energy between the audience and the band.

There was also an ample air of whimsy that night, because it was Tobias' night to play in his hometown, and it was his birthday the day before. I had mentioned to Ade that we should try and recreate the scene from the Mexican restaurant on stage, but we didn't have time to do get the necessary supplies in Boston. I pretty much forgot about it, but Adrian was set on completing the mission, and set it into motion just before Stick Men took the stage.

See Tony's road diary to see the shots of the pie-ing that took place just before "e." I only managed to snap some after our set.

So that's why I think I fell up the stairs... well, I also admit that I am a total klutz. Adrian managed to get a spider bite the next day... so there's your proof that no deed goes unpunished.

Another great addition to the evening was that Eric came up with my Mom to see the show. It was just so great to hang out as a group again. The two drummers even battled head-to-head in an Arnold Schwarzenegger imitation showdown.

The next day, I ran into Ade at the elevator, and we decided to grab some lunch. We walked around for a while until we settled on a little French place a few blocks from our Upper West Side hotel.

The menu warned that the food would take a while, but it was okay, since we were fortunate enough to be able to leave our gear set up and were forgoing soundcheck. Thirty minutes went by, and our tummies were really starting to rumble. Adrian kept looking up anxiously at the counter to see if our food was ever going to arrive. Suddenly he realized someone familiar had just walked through the door. "Oh my gosh!" he exclaimed, "There's Matt Damon!" I glanced up shyly and saw a guy wearing a cap. I didn't want to stare so I quickly shot my eyes back to my dining buddy. "Are you sure it's him?" Adrian stared unabashedly, "Oh yeah, that's him alright."

Our server then briskly walked over (without food - wanh!) and asked us if we minded moving to the now unoccupied table to our right, so they could make room for a larger party. I looked across the table wide-eyed - holy moly, I thought, "He's going to seat Matt and his family next to us!"

And sure enough, he did. Our food finally arrived (mmm... open face omelet with roasted sweet potato home fries), and I had to quietly scold Ade to stop ogling. "But he's my favorite actor. I just can't help myself!" On our way out, he worked up the nerve to say something. "Hey Matt, I just wanted to say that you're my favorite." The actor looked up from under his brim and smiled that famous pearly grin, "Thanks, man. I really appreciate that." Being ever respectful, I didn't get a shot of them together until we hit up a rest stop a few days later...

That night we played another great one, and my good friend Tim Motzer even drove up from Philly to catch the show again.

***We interupt this broadcast for a public service announcement - do check out the 2 hour concert Eric and I did with Tim back in August. It is pretty darn essential!***

And just like that, it was like we were never there...

The next day we made the über long track to Fairfield, Conn. With all of the extra time, Tobias and I decided to walk the mile to the venue for little exercise. Halfway along the way, we found a way to put those calories right back in (and practice our kid smiles).

Pumpkin and maple walnut ice cream? Um, yes please!

I joked with Tobias that he better watch out...

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Okay, okay, okay I've got to start posting about this amazing tour... we're already just about two weeks into the fantastically fun and amazing Two of a Perfect Trio Tour (and man, it feels like we've been out for two months - I love it).

So the touring for me actually started on the 15th... I had gigs with Drgn King in New York and Philly, which were a blast (as usual), and slight a taste of the adventure on which I was about to embark. The 17th came, I wearily packed up and flew down to Nashville - I even got upgraded to first class - a good sign that things would be going well. I found Adrian and Tobias in the pickup zone waving to me enthusiastically from the white van (aka our new home, as shown above). As expected, Adrian drove us right to Cinco de Mayo, his favorite local Mexican restaurant, for a nice pre-tour meal.

At dinner, we eagerly discussed the upcoming Two of a Perfect Trio tour (ABPT + StickMen + Crimmy encore), and Tobias informed us that he'd be celebrating his birthday on the 27th. I immediately realized what I had to do. See, I'm not sure if you recall the joke that we played on Adrian a few years back (pertaining to the manner in which the crew celebrates birthdays at Cinco de Mayo) - but you can read about that here. Adrian even started to tell the story, but I cut him off, "Geez, Ade that's not the kind of stuff we should be talking about over dinner!" He shot me a confused look, but I silently let him in on my plan with a Larry David-esque stare-down.

After the meal, I excused myself to "use the restroom" and made my way to the wait station, where I informed our teenaged waiter that it was Tobias' birthday. He even joked with me, "Oh, we don't do that anymore... but I will do it for you" As I walked past the other young servers, I could tell they were giddy to have some fun during an otherwise boring shift.

Five minutes went by, and I honestly think Adrian forgot about my plan, because he jumped about a foot in the air when the screeching started. The sombrero was placed on poor sweet Tobias' head, and our server presented the pie, offering him a taste. "Eat the cream! Eat the cream! C'mon... eat the cream!" As the not-quite-birthday boy leaned in for the taste, BAM! the pie was perfectly planted onto his face. Adrian exclaimed between fits of uncontrollable laughter, "Oh, I just love it! That even scared me! The tour has officially begun!"

Tobias tried to prepare for future messy practical jokes:

The next day we drove down to Atlanta to perform the first show of the tour, at the Variety Theater, a place I had never been to before. It's certainly a lot bigger than Smith's Olde Bar, but I was hopeful we'd have a good attendance.

After everything was set up, we practiced as a 6-piece (the first time ever with Mr Markus). I think we were all a little nervous about being under-rehearsed, but were quickly relieved as we ran through the songs - dang, they sounded good... and HUGE!

After soundcheck, Tobias, John and I ran out for dinner, and settled on a strange little pizza spot in Five Points, where they make slices to order... took about 20 minutes... not acceptable on the fast paced East Coast. We then stopped next door and downed some coffee with Tony and Markus (I know, shocking). With the caffeine pumping through our veins, we anxiously awaited showtime.

Soon enough, the night of music began, and Stick Men's roaring rumble of a sound engulfed the theater. After forty-five minutes of heavily rhythmic, proggy, neoclassical rock, it was our turn to take the stage. It was definitely a well-attended show, and the crowd was so exuberant, especially considering the fact that they were seated. After our turn was up, Tobias and I left the stage, and Tony and Pat returned for "Three of a Perfect Pair", "Elephant Talk", and "Sleepless." Then the real mayhem began - the debut of the double trio. I won't give away our set list... you can find it elsewhere, but all I can say is wow... this is a fun, unique show not to be missed.

Next up was Carrboro, where we had another great audience - they gave us standing ovations after every song:

And the trained rolled on to Knoxville:

... and to Annapolis:

... and to Phoenixville (our Philly area date - yay!):

(see Tony's road diary for the photo he's taking in this shot):

It was an excellent home-coming show, about 500 people in attendance in the Colonial Theater (where they filmed some of the scenes from "The Blob"). You could tell it was ancient, because bits of the ceiling were coming down from all of the low-end coming off stage. Oops...

Also funny, we ran out of set lists, so we decided to write them on paper plates backstage. Not a totally original idea (Tony even mentioned doing it before)... but still fun nonetheless. I made mine into a breakfast plate. If only I could still eat toast... don't miss the bacon and sausage links much.

After the show, we met up with some friends at Iron Hill Brewery with the hopes that Adrian could get something

So I enjoyed the rare night at home, but it was over all too soon, as Papa Slick came over at the luxurious hour of 11AM to drive me to the next gig in Vienna, VA. Before we left town, we stopped at my favorite brunch cart, La Copine, which is run by two new great friends Claire and Nikki. Root vegetable hash with poblanos, mushrooms, cheddar and an over easy egg? And it's all local? Um, yes please. Eric surprised us as we dug into our meals, and just as we were paying, we even ran into some of the other guys from Dr Dog, too. A fun start to a great day!

Jammin' Java was great as usual, complete with hoofless veggie chili. "Thrak" in particular was excellent - our improvisations as a double trio are always morphing and growing in interesting ways. D'oh - I promised I wouldn't give away too much of the 6-piece set... sorry!

The next morning we ate at one of our favorite breakfast joints, The Amphora Diner... I realize this is taking a food-centric slant, but hey, this is a food blog too!

So we'll fast forward past my night at home (and lovely seafood feast at Dimitri's), and continue on to the next gig in Boston.

Back in Annapolis, Tony asked me when I'd be cooking on the road. I warned him not to put ideas into my head...

My Dad went out and found a hot plate in Vienna, so when I was home I packed up my pressure cooker, my favorite pan, and other essential kitchen and pantry items.

Mushroom risotto, anyone?

(for pressure cooker)

serves two double trios and a three-man crew

2oz dried porcini mushrooms
8 cups hot water
4 tablespoons olive oil
16oz mushrooms (I would have preferred to use wild, but the buttons were already sliced)
4 shallots
1 tsp (or more) salt
fresh cracked pepper
2 cloves garlic (I omitted this in the batch because I feared our breaths may get too smelly)
3 cups arborio rice
1 Heineken (or 1-1/2 cups wine... I used what I had)
1 lb asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 vegetable bouillion cubes
tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp fresh thyme
3-4 tablespoons butter
~6oz cheese (I'd normally go for parm or grana, but had to settle with the provided pepperjack and mozzarella, so i added a little extra salt at the end)

Place dried mushrooms and 1 cup hot water in a cup and let sit ~30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat, add enough mushrooms to coat the bottom of the pan and cook until brown. Set aside in a large bowl. Repeat with remaining funghi.
Add the shallots, salt, and pepper sauté for a few minutes, until translucent.
Add the garlic, rice, and some thyme. Stir to ensure each grain gets coated with oil.
Listen for snap crackle popping, then add the beer/wine, stirring to ensure any brown bits are removed from the bottom of the cooker.
Remove porcinis from the hot water bath (keeping the mushroom broth). Rinse and chop.
When almost completely evaporated, add the rest of the water, most of the mushroom broth (leave a little in the cup because there will be some grit), asparagus, bouillion cubes, and reserved mushrooms.
Put the lid on the cooker and seal according to the manufacturer's instructions. Bring the heat to low and cook for about 5 minutes (for my Presto pressure cooker, the gauge rocks slowly).
Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Release the pressure, stir in mustard, the rest of the thyme, butter, and cheese.
Taste for seasoning, serve, and rock!

Despite the compromises, I thought it turned out pretty delicious... I came upstairs to the green room after the encore and it was essentially all gone! Next dish: Soup-er Collider.