Friday, August 5, 2011

Little Red Wolf - Midwest Domination Tour DAY 4: WINONA

It's always strange coming back to Winona. I was born here lo those many years ago but my family moved away when I was in the third grade, so I can't say I spent any formative years here. Mostly my memories are of riding my bike everywhere, swimming in the mighty, muddy, probably horribly polluted Mississippi, and church functions. As a consequence of the former, then, my sense of direction here is well out of proportion with the amount of time I actually spent growing up here - though I haven't been back in well over a decade, I still remember exactly how to get everywhere in town.

Which is why I was able to find our venue for last evening - the Acoustic Cafe - with little trouble, along with a quick drive past my old house, elementary school (now sadly decommissioned, but hey, asbestos will do that to a building), and dad's church.

We didn't know what to expect going into the gig, being that Winona is by far the smallest stop on our tour and I only knew for sure that my brother and his wife would be coming out to see us. So we were very pleasantly surprised to end up with a really attentive crowd of people for the show - including some fans we'd made last time we played in La Crosse, and some folks who'd just looked us up on Facebook when they saw we were coming to town and decided to check it out.

The set was extra-long and much more stripped down and acoustic to fit the venue - which was a good chance to stretch some more subtle musical muscles. Honestly I think we'd all like to play more acoustic shows to balance things out a bit.

Stayed up a bit later than usual last night after the show to get drinks with my brother and his wife back in La Crosse (where we stayed) at one of my favorite bars on Earth - Yesterdays (aka "The Daze"). And now we're up and at 'em for day five, ready to head out to our final gig tonight in Des Moines where we're pretty sure we're not going to know a single soul. Should be interesting.

I'm relieved to note that the drives thus far have been uneventful - our $25 car topper is holding up well, as is our collective band friendship. The van does not yet stink, but I think that's a product of this being a band composed entirely of women. Things are getting a bit messy, though I think some amount of disarray at this point is to be expected.

We've also been fortunate to have a series of great hosts - in Minneapolis we got to stay in a lovely home with actual beds, very friendly hosts, and two grossly adorable kittens who made a point of harassing Meg while she was trying to fall asleep.

The Minneapolis gig - at the Acadia Cafe - was also really well attended and good fun. We saw some friends and made a few new ones, including the other two bands that played with us (Lingua Luna, and The Dead Flowers). And, happily, the onstage sound mix was great - it's been great every night since Chicago, actually, so there you go.

It's kind of awesome to be visiting new cities and playing music for people who've never heard of/us before. We've sold a respectable number of CDs, too. I think I could keep at this for another week or so, even, though I'm definitely missing my fella. And I'm running out of clean clothes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Little Red Wolf - Midwest Domination Tour DAY 1: CHICAGO

Madison, WI: The minivan was loaded with all of our gear and luggage, the ladies were all seated and belted, and we had Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" blasting on the stereo - and I promptly drove six inches and plowed into a large, metal Bobcat attachment that I'd forgotten was in front of the car on the street.

After some hyperventilating that I'd managed to ruin my band's first ever tour before it even got off the ground, we discovered that the only damage was a minor ding to the bumper and finally hit the road without further incident.

The first stop on our week-long mini-tour was at the Elbo Room in Chicago, a venue and city we'd never played before but had heard good things about from fellow musicians. Load-in was a straight-forward affair: Elbo Room provides most of the backline so, for the most part, bands only need to bring in their own guitars and smaller odds n' ends. There was one band playing before us--Dede--who were both very friendly and very entertaining. They rock a straight-up '60s mod thing that we all dug. Even their crowd was modded out (i.e. way fashionable).

While we waiting for our time slot we sat with a few friends who'd come to see the show and played the easiest round of music trivia ever, courtesy of two Miller Girls who were on hand to promote the brand. Being Wisconsin folk we are, of course, not Miller drinkers - but the ladies were sociable and the bar was otherwise empty so we just had fun playing the game and getting a free round of drinks out of the deal. We are not, after all, made of stone.

The show itself was...surprisingly fine. The onstage mix was pretty terrible so we couldn't really hear each others vocals at all, and for a band like ours that makes such heavy use of multi-part harmonies and the like, that's kind of death. We muddled through, though, and had a decent time of it playing for a small clutch of incredibly supportive friends (and the members of Dede, who graciously stuck around to listen to us). Even the sound guy was nice--the mix problems were more equipment related than personnel--and somehow we managed to make $21 after expecting all in all, for a Monday night, I couldn't really complain too much.

We crashed at a friend of Meg's that night and enjoyed the company of her hilarious/ridiculous/enthusiastic mutt Otis, who was really into licking Laura's face whenever she tried to lay down to sleep. There was air conditioning and RuPaul's Drag Race and our hosts gifted us with a gay pride disco ball - basically, an awesome start to the week, I think.

Tonight we're in Milwaukee at Linneman's Riverwest Inn, playing with two bands I've never heard or met before, which is usually fun. Actually, this particular gig comes to us courtesy of the Cheddarsphere -- specifically our good friend Illy T, whose musical connections in Brew City are apparently boundless.
The Lost Albatross