Sunday, March 02, 2008

Rochester, Buffalo, and part 1 of Detroit

posted by Majestic Ape at 3:52 PM

There are very few highways in Vermont and in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. We were eventually to Route 90 across NY State but we had a long drive through small towns, fields and mountains to get there. When we got about halfway to Rochester, the howling winds and snows began once again. In the van, we were treated to more of the same-- no heat, no defrosters, and no windshield wiper contact on the driver side. However, I was now used to it.

We got to the Bug Jar about 8:00 pm and went across the street for food. There is an Asian restaurant that serves Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food. Jeff elected to order the same menu item as Breck. Erick finds the act of two people ordering the same menu item completely intolerable. He will voice his displeasure with this choice and then mock the "doubler", even after the meal is served. He claims it violates good dining out rules. We already know.

We are hoping for a better show at the Bug Jar tonight, than in shows past. The local band, Tiger Cried Beef, was opening and apparently they were a local favorite. One of the members, Keith, had contacted us after reading an old blog that described how everyone left after the opening band played on our last stop in Rochester. He promised that would not happen again. He also offered to put us up for the night after reading about the bizarre accommodations we had previously. There have been some hard times in Rochester.

Company, from Brah Records, was going to play in the middle. They had played with us in Burlington. Nice folks. Very pretty music.

Tiger Cried Beef came through with their promise. There music was great. They had a good crowd. The crowd stayed. The crowd showed enthusiasm. I began to think that our prospects in Western NY State were improving.

After the show we caravaned to Keith's palatial home. Our van was barely operable. I could not get it to reverse at all. I could also only barely get it into drive after having it slip in and out of gear and not catch. These were not good signs.

We arrived at Keith's and all piled in (Company stayed there, too). Keith gave us the tour, which was extensive. The house was absolutely huge. I was also struck by the cold inside temperature. I was EXTREMELY grateful for the bed to sleep in. I was EXTREMELY grateful for the clean showers, great company, great food, and good stories. I was also just quite freezing.

That day I purchased the little chemical foot warmers that you squeeze and the chemical reaction from the two solutions mixing, produces several hours of heat. I stuck them in my socks, put my hat and coat on, and went to bed around 3 am. I think it occurred to me that if I got up to pee, I would step on the warmers, spill the chemicals and give myself burns. What happened was I woke up in two hours with my feet wet and cold. I don't know what happened.

The next Keith fed us delicious home made food and entertained us with rock 'n roll stories. We only had a one hour drive to Buffalo. It was 17 degrees outside. I started calling mechanics to get an oil change before we left town. Keith gave me a coupon for a $15.00 oil change. I made an appointment for 5pm. Jeff didn't want to wait. I thought that was ridiculous. We needed new oil. We needed our wiper fluid replenished. I was hoping they might be able to give us the slightest idea of what the hell was wrong with the van. I was overruled.

We drove through snow showers to get to Buffalo. The GPS was giving us wacky directions. Actually now that I think about, we simply didn't see the club, as it was not clearly marked from the street. It was so cold in that van that I didn't care if we lived through the evening. When we finally found the club, I was desperate to get inside. It wasn't much warmer. The dressing room was heated but that was it. I planned to isolate in that room for the evening.

We loaded in down a set of wet and slippery back stairs and had a decent sound check. The sound man and the promoter were both named Mike. I think they were two of the nicest guys were met on tour. Mike the promoter drove home before our set and brought me back a silk undershirt. That's real kindness.

We got burritos that night. Then we drove around in circles trying to find a grocery store so Jeff could get cliff bars.

Back at the club, they had turned off the heat in the dressing room. The girl who played first also worked at the club, Bev Beverly. She released a bunch of balloons throughout her set. The audience seemed to have a blast throwing them around. I pocketed that idea for future shows. I thought it looked great and gave people a great chance to interact without actually having to dance. Not everyone likes to dance. Next up was Hotel Nourishing. The self-described math rockers had quite a bit of innate musical talent. I will be interested in seeing how develop over the next few years.

I think we had a blast playing that night. A decent sound check goes a long way. Thanks, Mike! After the show, we met a lot of very cool people who had many kind words for us. We were introduced to Kyle, who would be hosting us for the evening. Kyle informed us that he was house sitting for an older gentleman who owned a massive loft space above a huge artist studio. He promised he would crank the heat. Kyle kept his word. The place was huge, clean, and warm. The space had an indoor garden, abundant musical toys to play, and ample space for us to spread out. We talked to Kyle for a while and went to bed quite late, warm and happy.

The next day Kyle had invited us to eat lunch at the coffee shop where he worked. We ate well. The soups were delicious. We had to set out for Detroit early as we had to go through NY, Ohio, and Michigan. Typically you cut across Canada but I had no ID.

The van barely started and was cutting off once we hit the highway. We HAD to find a mechanic. Using my GPS I found a place called Mohawk quick lube, about 8 miles off a nearby highway exit. It quickly became apparent that we had entered an Native American reservation. When we found the location that the GPS directed us to, there was only a little house back in an empty field. I looked closely and saw that the sign above the garage read "Mohawk Quick Lube". It did NOT look like we'd expected. We were expecting the typical urban jiffy lube.

The fellow who serviced our van was clearly Native American. He charged us $17.95, with no additional taxes, fees, or instructions to replace our rear differential. It may have been the cheapest and most interesting oil change we'd ever had. While we waited, Breck and I wandered a bit on the snowy grounds outside, taking pictures of empty fields.

Back on the road, we had a long ride to Detroit. Jeff took out the laptop and set up a movie. We watched "The King of Kong", the story of the quest for the title of World Champion of Donkey Kong. It was a great story. I highly recommend checking it out.

The snows began again about 2 hours outside of Detroit. I no longer batted an eyelash at the weather. No one else up here seemed to either. When we pulled off the highway at the GPS directed exit, I was struck that we were CLEARLY in a residential suburb. I did not have a good feeling. I knew that the venue had changed, as Scrummage University had just been unexpectedly closed down.

When we pulled into a suburban subdivision, I wasn't altogether surprised. When we found the house, there was no real driveway. There was a sheet of ice and various cars parked in odd locations in the yard. The house looked like a hansel and gretel cottage.

Outside we were greeted by a young fellow in a print hoodie wearing some kind of gold chain. This was our promoter. I had been reading some email exchanges about this show and I vaguely remember the promoter PROMISING that even though Scrummage had been shut down, he was still almost certain he could get us almost $500.oo. I was now very doubtful.

Next section-- Satanists? Anarchists? or just a very nice bunch of people

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