Saturday, March 24, 2007

Monday off, Tuesday Baton Rouge

posted by Majestic Ape at 12:04 AM



Its Monday and there is no show tonight. We are going to drive most of the way to Baton Rouge, the location of the Tuesday night show. We have planned to pick a cheap motel about two hours away from Baton Rouge. This will be our first motel stay of this tour and we are hoping to find a television with proper computer inputs. Jeff has been storing the movie, Borat, on his computer this whole time.

We decide to stop around 7:30 pm. We pull off the highway after passing an exit sign listing several motel choices. Little did we know at that moment, we were entering historic Natchitoches, LA. After lots of nightly rate discussion with various front desk clerks, we opt for the Comfort Inn. They offer a AAA discount and give us a room with two double beds for about 60 bucks after taxes. We don’t even have to sneak people in.

Our dreams are quickly dashed when we discover, well, you guessed it. The television has the wrong inputs. Jeff is devastated but the rest of us are not discouraged. We are not accustomed to wall sized movie screens in our basement residences. We will happily watch this movie from the laptop computer screen and we will laugh! HA HA HA!

After an elaborate dinner at the Burger King across the highway, Erick and I decide to explore this historic town. We are not ready to lay in bed for the evening. We drive about 4 miles down the main road and pass a body of water on the left. I want to stop there but its too dark to see if there is a shore side path for walking. Next we pass Northern Lousiana State University. Naturally, Erick wants to pull over there and walk around campus. I’m not interested. It looks pretty deserted. Maybe its Spring Break. We continue driving and I follow signs for the historic district. The only thing we find is a 24 hour Super Walmart. This will have to do. I’m certain that most of the local folks are probably here if they are still awake.

We separate and wander alone for a while before eventually regrouping in the hard liquor isle. We gasp at the very low prices for some very typically more expensive whiskeys. I egg Erick on and try to get him to buy a bottle. I have no intention of drinking, I just feel like bugging him. He is not interested. Apparently, he got wasted at the house parties in Denton. I had no idea.

Back at the Comfort Inn, Breck and Jeff are relaxing and having some personal computer time. They are both hunched over, tap tap tapping when we talk in. And then finally, finally, Jeff sets up for the official band viewing of “Borat”. I have already seen it in the theatre but I still laugh just as hard. When the movie is over, it’s only 1:00 am, but everyone seems like they are going to sleep. I can barely keep my eyes open. The motel bed finally does the trick and I sleep till Jeff’s watch alarm clock goes off at 9:30 am.

I know the motel has free breakfast until 10:00 am. I almost never eat normal breakfast food but I leave the room in search of free coffee. I sit down in the mini-kitchen and immediately, an elderly couple starts chatting with me about their travels. They are retired Navy people and firefighters. They have been in Texas visiting their grandchildren and are slowly meandering back to their home in Lake County, Michigan. After about 8 minutes, I am shown pictures of the daughter-in-law and grandchildren. They are all simply beautiful. Our conversational exchange dies quickly when I tell them why I’m on the road.

After we check out, we go back to the historic district in search of food and coffee. Their coffee shop is a bust but Breck wants waffle house anyway. We had seen at least 10 Waffle Houses on the highway yesterday so I figure we inevitably pass one. We drive for 2 hours with not one sign of a Waffle House. I can’t believe it. When we finally give up, Erick and I end up at a Chinese Buffet. Breck and Jeff get pizza. More leftovers to stink up the van.

We get to Baton Rouge at about 5pm. The weather continues to be absolutely perfect. We park near the university. Erick and I walk around a lake for close to 90 minutes. There are a ton of people out exercising. I am reminded that this is a normal work day for most people. When we drive over to the Spanish Moon, fellow DC band, Antelope, have already arrived. We know these guys from home and are pretty excited to play with them tonight. They are at the beginning of a 6 week tour. I am thankful we are headed home now only because I’m still scarred from 6 week tour with Liars last summer. We are warmly greeted by promoter Aaron, and sound man Jeff, who point out that this is our third stop here this year. While they anticipate this will bring a large crowd for the evening, I suspect it will not. I am right. In the dressing room, we find a large bottle of Jack Daniels with “Apes” written on it. There are many ways to ease the pain of the empty rooms.

We are having minor concerns about finding a decent shelter for the evening. Our only Baton Rouge friend, Carlee, has just moved to Austin. I offer to book a Motel 6 and pay for it myself but nobody is interested. They would rather I ask for a place to stay during our set. That night we are also playing with Akron, Ohio band “Six Part Seven”. We know many of the same people and share benevolent stories about tours past.

Antelope play first and I enjoy them quite a bit. My favorite song is called, “Wandering Ghost.” I change clothes during the middle of Six Part Seven’s set. I can barely keep my eyes open. For some dumb reason, I pound two diet cokes and a red bull. Stupid, Kleiny! Why so stupid?!

Our set goes smoothly. Afterward, Justin from Antelope, offers to share their room at the Extended Stay America. I am really grateful but we don’t want to infringe upon their space with our smells. Thankfully, we are approached my friendly band man, Fred Weaver. He suggests we stay at the house he shares with his father. I immediately think “clean shower” anytime we go to the home of a parent.

We follow Fred home. Jeff still sleeps in the van even though there are enough bedrooms and futons for everyone. I sleep on the floor of a room filled floor- to- ceiling with music books and magazines. I doze off reading an issue of Chunklet from 1999. 1999. Apes year 1. We were so young, so hopeful, so full of dreams.

The next morning we plan to meet Antelope at a local café. Fred joins us and we dine in style. After a quick pit stop at the local health food store to re-stock (Breck needs a Kombucha), we say goodbye to our friends from home.

The drive to Birmingham seems incredibly long to me. I am really quite sick of listening to the same 20 songs on my ghetto plastic MP3 player while I drive. Instead I make up stories in my head. There is more breathing to contemplate and brain journeys to take.

We are excited to arrive at the Bottletree and are warmly greeted by the staff. This is easily the nicest, most band-oriented club in the country. After we load in and order food, I get online. I need to upload some blogs. I haven’t uploaded anything since the first day. Naturally I get distracted while waiting for blogger to load. That site is hideously slow. I never do it. After we eat, we talk to our super friend and fan, Chris, who is now working the door.

I approach Chris to say hi. He tells me how excited he is for the show tonight. He also tells me that after our last show, he listened to Baba’s Mountain (our last record) for the entire month. He told me that he thought he heard the voices in the beginning of the record calling, “Chris! Chris!” He is right.

Also, we see Lee, our dedicated super-friend, who has driven four hours to be with us tonight.

The opening band, Vesper, kicks ass. I dance during their whole set. The next band was unexpectedly switched at the last minute. We were supposed to play with Two Ton Boa from Portland but their drummer was ill. 31 Knots, also from Portland, arrived just in time to take their place.

When we play our set, there is a serious amount of love and energy in the house. We feel it and do our best to put out some high energy music in return. We even do an encore and I think its our first this tour. When we are done, I ask from stage for someone to take us home with them in exchange for an early morning kitchen and bathroom cleaning. We get several sincere offers. We opt to stay with one of the club employees who lives in a nearby loft. He has secure underground parking so Vannie will be safe.

We follow him back to his building and shuffle in with our gear. Jonathan, our host, happens to be a brilliant photographer and while we settle in, we admire a bunch of his work. He asks about shooting us in the morning. I hesitate but Breck is into it.

Breck and I wake up first. Jonathan and Breck go off to the park to take pictures. I stay behind to draw a self-portrait. Jonathan is also doing a series of shots of people holding self-portraits and I have agreed to this type of picture. After the drawing is complete, I wander off alone to find coffee. I am always surprised by how friendly people are. Everyone I pass on the streets of downtown Birmingham goes out of their way to smile and say hello. I eventually arrive at Safari Coffee and I’m greeted by a lovely South African gentlemen. He describes for me, the origin of the Bundi roast I am about to consume. The coffee is great. I consider buying a pound to take home but remember Jeff’s announcement that we are losing money on this tour. There will be no payout at the end.

When I get back to the loft, everyone is there. I re-do my self portrait drawing. The first one looked frog-like but the second one is okay. We take a few photos and head out.

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