Sunday, September 25, 2011

Summer Tour 2011 (recap)

On Friday July 29th Jeff and I hit the road for our first ever acoustic tour. We were both really excited. But also a bit nervous...due to the the age of Jeff's Neon (which has since been laid to rest) and also because we'd never tried a 2-piece tour and we weren't quite sure how it'd go over.

Before we left, we quickly recorded and duplicated a 7 song EP which we decided to call "Origins". Here's the tracklist:

1. "West Chicago" (brand new studio track 2011)
2. "Working Title"(brand new live studio track 2011)
3. "Lost" (brand new live studio track 2011)
4. "Backroads" (brand new live studio track 2011)
5. "Strange" (brand new live studio track 2011)
6. "For Real" (re-release from EP04)
7. "Lifted" (re-release from EP04)


Here's a run-down of our trip:

**10 shows in 8 days**

1.)Mike'n Molly's Champaign, IL   Friday 7/29:

At Mike 'n' Molly's we played outside in the beer garden, the sound was excellent and there was a solid crowd. It never rained, but a storm front moved in and there was strobing lightning in the distance while we played. This was our fifth show in Champaign and this one was by far the best. Definitely a confidence booster and a great show to kick off the tour.

It was great to see our good friend Christopher Todd Durnil (who has been a big supporter of Jeff and I for years). Our friends Bradley and Gretchen Bergstrand from the Palace Flophouse also came out which was a cool surprise. Later that night we stayed with some new friends named David and Isak... they were very nice and even fed us breakfast in the morning.

2).JAC(Jackson Avenue Coffeehouse) in Charleston, IL Saturday 7/30:

(To the left is our new friend Santana who bought a pair of our Facing Winter socks at the show)

(To the right are the lovely baristas of Jackson Avenue Coffeehouse)

Before the show we stopped off at a park near downtown Charleston and grilled up a feast for ourselves. Once we were good and full, we headed a few minutes down the road to the venue.

We had a great time at this one... Dan and Vicki the owners took very good care of us.  Charleston was a unique town. We met several musicians and artists outside the coffeeshop... including a guy named "Doc" who used to tour the country with his "old-time string band" in the 50's and 60's. JAC was a very artsy venue with a well-built wooden stage. There were murals and paintings all over the place. Very good vibe.

Here is one Dan Reible's paintings (he's the owner of JAC):

Later that night we camped in a nice state park. It was really hot, but luckily there was a pump nearby good for a quick cool-down.

3.Bear's Place in Bloomington, IN  Sunday 7/31:

(back on the road)

This was a pretty slow show... not many people in attendance. But there were two VIP notables... Chris Darby and William Wolfe! We played with a very talented songwriter from the area named Brian Fortner.

(William Wolfe, Jeff, Justin, and Chris Darby)

Chris was the one who helped us book the tour and Will is one of our musician friends from Chicagoland. Check out Chris Darby's music here. It was a very cool surprise to have them at the show... and very fun to hang out with them for the night.

Later that night fellow musician Nathanial Seer was kind enough to let us stay at his house.

4.Lazy Daze in Indianapolis       Monday (noon) 8/1:

(this was artwork created on a fence in downtown Indianapolis. It appeared the artist used long cloth ribbons and wound them between the links of the fence... pretty cool!)

Lazy Daze was a little coffee shop in Indianapolis where we did a noon show. The people in the neighborhood were very friendly and there were several people who stopped in to listen. We randomly ran into a guy who met us during our 2008 tour... he remembered us and our music which was really amazing. The lady who was working was very kind and personally left us a tip (how cool?!). And free coffee... yes!!

5.Birdy's in Indianapolis          Monday (night) 8/1:

(before the show we worked on some new songs by the river which flows through the downtown area)

This was an odd show... the stage was huge and in general the venue was more geared towards straight-up rock and roll as opposed to a duo playing acoustic songs. There are a lot of national indie acts that come through, so it was neat to be able to play on a well-known stage. Even though it was a slow show, I'm glad we got the opportunity to play because we met a really cool band called "Everyday Losers". They were from Southern Indiana and very talented.

6.The House Cafe in Dekalb, IL Tuesday 8/2:

Matthew (owner of the House Cafe) put together a really solid bill for this show. There was a singer/songwriter named Tyler, a band called "the Farmers", and an exceptionally talented singer/songwriter named Charles Cain.

We always love playing the House Cafe, and we can't thank Matthew enough for his continued support all these years!

7.Tip Top in Grand Rapids, MI                     Wednesday 8/3:

(To the left is Michael Riley with Jeff rockin' it after our Facing Winter set)

(To the right is Justin VanHaven with Jeff playin' some tunes later in the night)

Originally we were going to play in Lansing this night, but things didn't pan out so we decided to head to Grand Rapids and play a new venue there called "Tip Top". It was a really fun night and several of our good friends from the area came out.

Whenever we go out to Grand Rapids Nathan Kalish (of The Wildfire), Steve Thrasher, and Julio Gomez always take such good care of us. Thanks so much to all of them for being such great friends and for always making us comfortable.

(Later that night we stayed with Steve Thrasher and Nick Aghababian. Btw... We also started a new glam-rock band with Steve called "Mystic Pony")

8.Mulligan's in GR, MI Thursday 8/4:

(FW + the Plurals always = fun)

On Thursday night we played with our favorite Lansing band "the Plurals". This was by far our best Mulligan's show ever (I think this was our 4th time playing there). We also had our most solid Grand Rapids draw yet. Afterwards we all hung out until the sun came up and had a great time.

(our good friends Steve, Annie, Cassie, and Julio came out to support us. It's always GREAT to see them.)

(3 awesome drummers: Jeff with Hattie ( from the Plurals) and Lena (from the Lightning Bugs)

(Plurals rocking faces off)

(awesome artwork created and donated to us by Cassie)

9.Racine Arts Council
 in Racine, WI      Friday (afternoon) 8/5:

(Jeff and I took a romp around the rocks of lake Michigan before the show... the weather was awesome)

(settin' up the PA and merch on the street in front of Racine Arts Council)

The arts festival in Racine was a unique and interesting experience for us. There were people, art, and music everywhere... literally spilling into the streets. We set up on the sidewalk by the storefront of the Racine Arts Council's building. It was the first time we've ever really tried our hand at busking... and it seemed to go over pretty well. We sold a good amount of cds, got some generous tips, and had a lot of fun.

10.Breman Cafe in Milwaukee, WI Friday (night) 8/5:

(this guy was outside the bar on his awesome couch/bicycle... I want one!)

Breman Cafe was a really fun show...In spite of the fact that the bar was tiny and hot with little to no airflow... haha. The crowd at Breman was very receptive and we got a good response. We played with a cool local bass and drum duo called "Behemoth and Leviathian".


It was a great trip and a very productive one for the band. We couldn't be more thankful to Chris Darby and everyone who helped make the tour a success.

Like I said, this was unfortunately the Neon's final multi-state expedition (8 days, 4 states, and nearly 1,200 miles)... Although it was strong the entire way through our trip (thanks to Mike Storms), a few weeks after we returned the engine cracked and it was sent to the crusher.

Here's one last picture of the Neon at our campsite in Indiana... R.I.P. good buddy:

Thanks for reading and all the support!


for more on Facing Winter:

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thanks Drew and Dina!

Whelp. It's been a pretty crazy Summer as usual... I can't believe it's almost over. It was a great one for the band, but also pretty tough.

I'm sure a lot of you have heard by now... Drew and Dina both moved on to other projects recently and will no longer be playing with Jeff and I full time in Facing Winter. It's always difficult when things change... but we're really happy for them. They're both perusing what they love (which is what we're all meant to do right?).

Drew did a great job as our full-time bassist for well-over a year. We can't thank him enough for all his his hard work, writing, and creativity (and all the friggin' miles racked up on his car). We're definitely going to miss his instantaneous learning ability, his one-takers while recording songs, his writing style, and his consistant professional attitude. We've got a six song EP which will be completed by the end of the year... Drew played and helped write every track... I'm extremely excited for it to be finished.
Recently Drew graduated with a masters degree in project management. He'll continue to play music (of course!) but is looking to start perusing some business projects (which I hear may include an awesome new Chicago music venue and/or large scale Thunder Snow Ale production).

We were really lucky to have Dina as our guitarist and back-up vocalist for nearly a year. The parts she wrote added a whole new dynamic and depth to the music. We'll really miss the creativity and originality she brought to the band. In her time with us she did a great job on a variety of projects with us including but not limited to: saxophone on "Home", backup vocals on "290", and whistling on "October". She also did a great job helping with our mailing list, merch, and promoting shows. In addition, she recorded some cool parts on the upcoming 6 song EP.
Dina recently decided to go back to school to finish her degree and is playing full-time in a new band with Paige Dechausse.

We wish both Drew and Dina all the best in their new projects and look forward to everything that comes next!


p.s.- several new posts coming soon... I've got lots to write about and catch-up on