Monday, July 24, 2006

Circles Have No Ends

"The sun's come up now / and the crowd's gone home / and I'm just hanging on by a string." Nat penned these words last year after we disembarked from the Bluebird. One cannot help but feel now the same sadness and desparation to return to the road. It was a long journey -covering about the same 3,500 mile distance that lies between New York and London- that took a lot of diesel and a lot of human fuel but could not have been more worth it. The ensemble of the highway and of the stage could not have been comprised of a better combination of individuals (although a little more of Big Dog "Sexymaphone" Gould could have been a sweetener). Our music got better and tighter each night and seemed to breathe in the spirit of the places we played. We carried the spirit of the lonesome bleary eyed trucker, the sweating greasy Waffle House Grillmaster, the generous friends and family who harbored us, the coffee and the dust and the deafening heat, the supportive fans and media folks, and the glinting angel of a mechanic who gave the Bluebird some love in Philadelphia. We carried them in the grain of the wood of our guitars and in our hearts and in our songs. And hopefully, last night at the Towne Crier, we were able to bring some of that home and resonate it back out to the good people who came to see us on a Sunday. Thamk you David Bravo for loaning us the USS Bluebird, thank you all who put us up and all who put up with us (namely loved ones back home). It is good to be home. There are overgrown gardens to be tended to and ripe tomatoes to be picked. Until the next time amigos. "I was singing with my family / I was singing with my friends / Now we all shall sing together / 'Cuz the circle, it never ends / Will the circle be unbroken..."
Jeremy with the only babe he actually got on the bus the whole tour:

Lucy the Navigator:
Pawling residents come home to roost:

One final rock out on the banjer:

Bluebird, won't you fly?:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Homeward Bound

On I-84 West right now just past Hartford and bearing down on Pawling. Despite some minor sound issues, last night's show was a real blast. The audience, comprised in large part of lifetime friends of the Zilkha's, was welcoming and seemed to dig pretty good on the tunes. Scarborough, the tiny fist of Maine coastline where we played and stayed, is a beautiful and dramatic piece of land. When looking out across the rocks, foggy surf and fingers of land reaching across bays and coves, Winslow Homer's scenes come to mind. Naturally so, as his studio was actually on the same penninsula. The only downside of the place was the mosquitos. Lots of mosquitos. Fueled by an unusually wet and rainy reason they seemed to be on constant swarm attack. Screens and repellent barely dented their bloodthirsty resolve. It is a strange feeling to be on the verge of the last show of the tour. In some ways a relief as the finish line can be sweet mercy to a runner. In some ways a enthusiastically placed period punctuating the end of a well wrought sentence. In most ways though, a bittersweet goodbye to daily immersion in music, in the landscape, in motion, and in each other's presence. Well, anyway, we will do our darndest to make this last one count....
Encore in Maine:

Truckin' home:

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Precipitation Nation

Rain. Rain. Rain. The skies opened as we approached Boston and it has probably dropped 3 inches since then. The show at the All Asia Bar went well and it was good to see Boston friends. The $19 4-person scorpion bowl is highly recommended if you ever visit this fine establishment (unless you have to play a 45-minute set of music right after downing one almost single-handedly and you would like to retain the grip on your pick as well as the respect of your bandmates). After the show we drove, well, Jeremy drove, to Maine. We were greeted by the supreme hospitality of the Zilkha clan who have always been so supportive and welcoming to the band and accompanying folks (THANK YOU ZILKHAS!!). The equipment is all set up, the burgers and fresh Maine lobbies are getting acclimated to stomache life, and we are excited to play our second to last show tonight before our final homecoming show tomorrow in Pawling. Adios, blogmates....
Yeah, right:

Rain in Boston causing flash floods:

Charlotte manhandles Jeremy's cylinder:

Friday, July 21, 2006

En Why See

The hum and velocity of New York City spins us around once again. After two days of coffee shop shows we find ourselves planted in a rock and roll hole (R & R) in which one can feel the bass drum in their chest. R & R (formerly a club called The Cooler) is underground in NYC's meatpacking district and was an actual large meat locker at some point. The cooler doors are still up as are the tracks attached to the ceiling on which one can imagine a train of meat hooks with carcasses making their way around. Rock and roll. We crushed it. Pummeled it. Pounded it and spit it back out. Big Dave was back on the sax and he tore the hole out of a few tunes. Sneaky Pete Nilsson was back on keys for a few and of course, the regular rockin' Wondermore Tour Review. The crowd was fantastic and the energy in the room was ebullient. Perhaps a few lingering bovine souls contributed to the frisson. Ay any rate, it felt great to be welcomed back by friends and family and really show them what we have been up to. Tonight we are on to Boston, then Maine and then for our final homecoming show on Sunday in Pawling, NY at the Towne Crier. Thanks for tuning in....
Nat shredding:

Dave mid solo:

Pick a banjo now:

Some of the enthusiasts:

Band aid/Rooster booster Dana relaxes backstage after selling the sh$% out of some CD's:

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Calm Before The Storm

The last two days have been a welcome respite from the long hauls we had been pulling. It is the calm before the proverbial storm of our finale shows of the tour. We did a couple great radio shows where we played live (we should have the audio posted soon) and then two coffee shop shows back to back. It is liberating sometimes to the song and the performer to play solo or with minimal accompaniment and the audiences at these mud-slinging joints are always super attentive. Looking forward to a rip-roaring show in NYC tommorrow night, then back on the bus to Boston, Maine and Pawling, NY. Hope to see you there! (click here for show details)
A Mocha Double Char-latte:

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Williamsport, PA. The birthplace of Little League and site of the Little League World Series. Williamsport is a lumber town in Western PA that is surrounded by some beautiful fields and mountains and seems in the midst of a massive revitalization. The folks at the Bullfrog Brewery were real hospitable and the owner, Steve, was even singing along with some of the songs with his cute-as-a-button daughter on his shoulders. Delicious beers including a unique and tasty barley wine. We hope to return. Tonight we are at the Las Vetas Lounge in Fairfield, CT after a radio show on WXCI at 6 in Danbury, CT. Should be fun to hang out on the airwaves for a spell. Keep it tight, blogites...
Dan and Charlotte reflected in a brewin' vat:


Sunday, July 16, 2006


On the road from Columbus, Ohio to New York now on a hot, sunny July day. The show last night at Oldfield's was a lot of fun. $7 all you can drink draft beer (that might get you one beer in New York City) helped fuel the boisterous crowd. Andy Green did a fine job on bass and never even picked up his banjo. Jay decided it would be a good idea to play electric guitar on Andy Laird's set while Nat watched on with a mix of fear and amusement. Played a lot of blues numbers and Charlotte and Andy Laird had the Rooster Rhythm All Stars (Jeremy and Andy Green) back them up. A fun and collaborative end to this leg of the tour. We are all excited to get back to New York and fill up on that homespun goodness before setting out on the second loop of the tour. 3,000 miles, lots of sweat and diesel and motor oil, a few broken strings, lots of greasy food, and a whole lot of fun in the past 10 days. Looking forward to the Northeast swing. Quote of the day yesterday: "I'm losing my shit." -Nat Zilkha. In case you want to tune in, Andy Laird will be on air with DJ Brian Mulvey on WXCI in Danbury Monday morning around 8, Red Rooster will be on the same station Tuesday at 6pm and Charlotte Kendrick and Dan Rowe will on the show Thursday morning. We will also be on WPKN in Bridgeport Wednesday at 6pm. Tune in or stream it on your 'puter. See you laters, blogulators...
The luck of the Irish:

Jay attempts to plug in:

Oldfield regulars and Ohio superfans:

6 people cramming into a motel room after pizza and cheesesteaks. hmmmm...:

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Comfort Zone

What a fantastic show last night in Birmingham. Attentive, full crowd, great sound and, above all, the kindness and generosity of the owner, Keith. Unfortunately the word is that the Moonlight Music Cafe is closing down in October which is a great shame as Keith has created a unique and warm space dedicated to music and treats the performers well (clean, comfy dressing room stocked with water, etc - even a box of extra picks!!). Unfortunately the support for live music in Birmingham has been a bit thin. He promises to pop up somewhere with a new venue and we would be honored to play at his place again, wherever that may be.
The quiet before the storm:
Charlotte takes the stage solo in Birmingham:
Rooster crows in Bama:
After the show we drove all night (Jeremy and Andy Laird rocked the Bluebird helm to the break of dawn) and made it to Columbus nice and early. We splurged on a room at the Comfort Suites which feels luxurious with its plumbing, AC, TV, WiFi, and pool and fitness area. We have been taking full advantage. And the $90 it cost us for the room we would have burned through in generator gas trying to stay cool on the bus. Tonight we play at Oldfield's Bar & Grill which promises to be interesting. Initial drive-by assessment leaves venue analysts thinking "local dive cum college bar with a hint of late night hang." In the meantime we are getting comfortable at the Comfort Suites. Hasta manyana, blogadors...
Kickin' it at the Comfort Suites:
Can opener comin!!!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Turning Point

We are in Birmingham right now at the Moonlight Music Cafe, a fantastic venue that is a true listening room. Andy Laird is on now, with a real piano, making real music. There is something so pure about one person and an instrument and nothing else on stage. There song is laid bare as is the singer. Andy did a little bit of that last night (see below) in Nashville but in a different way. Another honky tonk, another late night show last night. We left the generosity of Andy's buddy, Chris Johnson, and ventured out in the Bluebird midday in the 100-degree Southern heat and Dan hopped an early plane up north for a wedding. It is damn hot down here. AC is not a luxury but a necessity. In Birmingham we find ourselves at the southernmost point on the trip, the turning point. We are coming home now (with 600 miles to crank out after the show tonight to get to Ohio). As Jeremy remarked today that it will feel so good to trade the couch or floor of a friendly stranger for the familiar bed and turn in the seething embrace of the blacktop for the arms those who welcome us home. And then the tour moves further up North (at least it will be a tad cooler). Until tomorrow blogtites and blogmites...
Andy gets shirtless with some Roosters:

Charlotte Kendrick and Dan Rowe rockin' the Pond:

Jeremy gives the generator some fossil love:

Riding shotgun on the Bluebird:

Thursday, July 13, 2006

On the Road to Mecca

Last night brought an enthusiastic and pretty large crowd at the Cosmopolitan Lounge. A fun, raucous, roaring show and our first ever in Atlanta -it seems that the town has a pretty vibrant music scene. Special thanks to the sound man, Gary Pfaff, who also helped book the show. And a big thanks also to Patrick Kerney who put us up and tolerated the famous Wondermore power shower relay.
A couple pics from the show:

On the road now to Nashville. It feels like a pilgrimage. We have been watching DVD's of bluegrass festivals and shows all the way up. Had a greasy stop at sacred Waffle House en route (smothered and covered). We are all getting used to the road life a bit, slipping into it like a ratty old coat that is pulled out on the first cool night of Fall. You can get used to the fatigue, the lack of food with any nutritional value, and the random and evolving schedule but the part that just gets harded and harder is missing loved ones at home (be they spouse, chillun, girlfriend, family, dog, or DVR). News comes into the bubble of the tour in bursts. "Israel invades Lebanon." "Trains bombed." "Train derails." Feels like the world is going downhill but the media machine seems to always paint it that way. You meet a lot of helpful people on the road and the news from the frontlines of America is that people help people every day and are certainly supportive of roaming bands of pickers and players.
In case we get bored we could always set off some Roman candles:

Pilgrims on the way to Nashville:

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hotlanta Bound

The Purple Fiddle is truly an musical and cultural oasis - thanks to John and Kate (the owners) for creating this unique and friendly place and for having us.
Everyone on stage at the Fiddle:

Directlty after the show we packed our gear and headed for a midnight run to Atlanta (600 miles). The Bluebird chugged along and Jeremy was a valiant pilot in the face of dark hairpin turns and fog that seemed to appear and disappear with no discernable pattern. Cat napping through the roar of the engine and the sassy sway of the bus. The dawn shift found Jay and Andy Laird on a 4-hour sunrise run through southern West Virginia. Outlines of mountains bathed in mist slowly emerging, taking shape. No one on the road but truckers and a few road-weary musicians, most of them trying to catch a few winks. 7am brought a fatigue that almost had Jay tagging out (even after 40 ounces of coffee) before Andy and Jay began to talk in that way that only happens at the time, on the road, spinning ideas and tales and global thought, sweeping amateur philosophy, outside of time -always an intensely intimate moment. If this journey is about nothing else it is about getting to know each other in a way that only comes from busular cohabitation, sunrise runs, and sharing our music, our passion every day, together. Then a greasy spoon and back on the road. We are pulling into Atlanta now (HOTlanta baby!) with Jeremy at the helm, hungry for another crowd, another set. Nat (guitar) returns to the tour today, Dave (sax) is back home until next week and we have missed them both. Though the banjo fit right in, it might have been a violation of a county statute to play the sax in the town we were played in last night. Hotlanta, now that is another story. Until tomorrow bloggers and bloggettes....
On the way to Atlanta:

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fiddlin' and Purplin'

Left the Shenandoah Valley and Charlottesville behind this morning. But not before Andrew and Robbie valiantly rescued a bag of new Rooster t-shirs from a dumpster where they had been inadvertently tossed (should probably wash those things). The air cooled and we settled in for the trip as we entered the calm and verdant Washington National Forest. The the Bluebird panting, engine screaming, 10 cars patiently following our 20 mph bus-imposed speed limit as we struggled up another pass, switchbacks, 9% grade. And whoosh, back down the other side. Thank God for air brakes! This happened a few times but 4 hours and 161 miles later we find ourselves in Thomas, WV at the Purple Fiddle. This place is cool. Mountain arts cool. And the lemonade/iced tea is to die for! Unfortunately we cannot take part too much in the excellent beer selection ("Dead Man's Ale, "Chipotle Brew") as we intend to take off after the show tonight and push through to Atlanta for tomorrow's musical escapade (14 hour drive, more mountains).

Andy testing out the upright pianny:

We are intensely looking forward to playing tonight and, though we do not have a fiddle, we intend to bring some Purple. Thanks for checking in blogmonauts...

Monday, July 10, 2006

Farm Life

A field, a full moon, a chorus of syncopated fireflies, horses roaming in the fields in the background, music, friends - this is the stuff of summer. The supremely generous Robbie Collins organized the second Great July Git Down on Fax Haven Farm - an oasis surrounded by the sprawl of fast-growing Charlottesville. Robbie played a set, then Andy Laird, Charlotte Kendrick and then the Rooster. It is truly a pleasure to be playing outside surrounded by natural beauty. See Dan and Charlotte and the scene behind:

Then the night went on complete with a very dangerous jam where we all switched instruments (CK on drums!). The night waned, some retired (to the bus, to tents, to the cabin floor) while some circled up in chairs and played some old-time banjo-driven music to the wee hours. The day began with another hazy Virginia morning and a mission to procure bacon, coffee and water. Robbie brought us to a great lil' ol diner where we snapped up a dozen bacon egg and cheeses on a biscuit and brought them back to the farm with a box of coffee (it seems a rule that anything possible must be inserted into a biscuit in the South. Not a bad thing at all. We also pondered the phenomenon that bacon seems to have magical properties). The morning after:

Catching up on emails now and getting ready to BBQ at the home of some very generous friends (Nora and Charles- thank you) and just hang out as we have the night off. Maybe catch a flick. "Scanner Darkly" has been mentioned. To West Virginia tomorrow (luckily only 160 miles away). Adieu, blogospheric comrades, adieu for now.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

In Charlottesville, VA now after a couple days of southward drift. It’s hot. And humid. A tad bit steamy one might say. Had a great show in Washington, DC on Friday at the Grog and Tankard (speaking of Washington, check this out – we were all getting a good laugh out of it the other night). Had some folks with enough cocktails in them to get into some serious dancing in front of the stage. The Grog is always a rockin’ show –cigarette smoke and a soft undertone of spilt beer. Ended up with our country version of Purple Rain which is always a fun one by that point in the night. People are like "Is that? Wait – no. Are they really..? That just isn’t right." This afternoon we play at the Great July Git Down here in Charlottesville which promises to be some good BBQ and keg-fueled picking out in the fields. As we slide further South it seems as if our music and the Bluebird come more into their own, a little taste of dust to slake a thirst for things open and green and America.

The crew before leaving for DC:

Apparently when you fill up with diesel at a truck stop you are on a "pimp" pad. It felt a little exciting:

Charlotte Kendrick and Hot Lips Howe:

Red Rooster takes the stage in DC:

You do not want to going the "wrong way" with Big Dog:

Friday, July 07, 2006

On the Road

I-95. Leaving New York through the gauntlet of the New Jersey chemical and petroleum corridor – traffic on the Turnpike – the glo plugs on the Bluebird’s Caterpillar engine just warming up as we hit the Pennsylvania Turnpike – finally make it to Grape Street just in time for the show. The venue was cool, loungy, great sound. The crowd, while not enormous, was engaged and we had a blast playing and getting our sound out.. We have exited the gravitational pull of ol’ New York City and are moving now. Jon ("hot lips") and Jeni Howe put us up and were able to fashion beds for us all (THANK YOU!!!). Hot Lips is coming to the show in DC tonight to toot on his harmonica and push us further into the blues corner we so love. Some important photos below (note the ticket our outlaw ship has already garnered). Quote of the Day: "When I'm alone I get really fucking weird" - Dave Gould

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ready 2 Go

The bus is quiet, the road is washing clean quietly in the rain, instruments are restrung, loose ends are tied, cellphone batteries charged, iPods crammed full. We are ready. We are coming. The Wondermore Summer Tour 2006 is coming.... begins tomorrow.