Saturday, January 31, 2009

what is a moine?

does anyone know what a moine is? and does des moines mean 2 moines? please help us settle this debate.

in other news, we're heading back east today - with luck we'll make it to pittsburgh tonight and be back in nyc by the time the eagles win the superbowl. that's right...the eagles.

so the elephant in the room here needs to be addressed. yes, we spent the last two nights opening for kevin costner and modern west. yes, he told an amazing story about filming 'JFK'. yes, we all got to shake his hand and to be honest he wasn't any taller than we thought he'd be. all in all it was a great and very memorable experience - his band was super badass and we had a blast playing for packed houses at 'slowdown' in omaha and 'people's court' in des moines. also, his audiences were very enthusiastic and generous and liked buying us drinks. so that was fun too...

did i already mention it's cold here?

so we've got roughly 12 hours and 5 states to go through before our tour-weary bodies will rest this evening. any road game suggestions?

go eagles!
the lead sled

Thursday, January 29, 2009

somewhere in the middle of america...

'august and everything after' anyone? yeeeeah. omaha baby, omaha!

how have we been? well, to put it plainly, we're honestly quite relieved to have made it through the week unscathed. perhaps i'm overdramatizing - sorry mom! i guess it wasn't really so bad. we had a few days of treacherous driving through arkansas, missouri and illinois - crazy stuff. there were ridiculous ice storms throughout the midwest and we found ourselves smack in the middle of the action more than a few times. need some proof? how's this....

when's the last time you saw FROZEN GRASS? pretty neat, huh. it also sounded cool when we walked on it. i liked it.

so we went through about 4 gallons of windshield wiper fluid and there were some whiteknuckled moments, but all in all i'd say this was the most frightening moment of the whole trip:


we played in chicago last night at a really cool venue called 'schubas'. also on the bill were two nashville acts, both ridiculously awesome - pico vs. island trees kicked off the night with some tight rock 'em sock 'em grooves and katie herzig closed out the evening with her gorgeously woven melodies and honest-to-goodness storytelling. the surprise of the night was a delightful reunion with some new friends from the rock boat, ryan and pete of gaelic storm (our favorite), who came out to show some post-boat support. it was a special night - the kind that can almost make you forget the fact that you can't feel your feet or your face. almost.

we stayed with friends last night and feasted on cookies that were delivered to us by heather's aunt. the cookies are becoming a chicago tradition - we're super into it.

today we're driving west and crossing into iowa.....NOW. seriously, we just did! all the way across iowa and into nebraska and bam - we'll find ourselves in omaha. tonight is the first of two opening slots we're playing with kevin costner and modern west. COSTNER! we're playing at a venue called slowdown, owned by conor oberst (bright eyes). should be a fun one...that is, if james and james are able to calm their nerves and quiet their inner 11-year-olds that keep telling them we're opening for the prince of thieves. let's hope for the best!

never forget - it's the heart that matters more,
the lead sled

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dearest friends,

did anyone read the family circus this morning?
oh silly family circus.

Last night we played a venue called The Rev room in Little Rock Arkansas... and what a room of rev 'twas. It had the look of a large rock room, the feel of a casual living room and a sound system of the gods.

The show went swimmingly, the sound was great and we had a supportive audience of rockers. But let us tell you the main thing we discovered about Little Rock Arkansas. There is a group of people that have a distinct kindness in their hearts much like pooh bear's.

With no place to stay, we were planning on spending $32347486242.00 on a hotel room for the night. But lo and behold, the band that headlined the evening, "Free Micah," lived 10 minutes away and offered us a roof over our heads for the evening.

Little did we know what was in store for us...a night of generosity, kindness, musical and philosophical jamming and unbelievably comfortable beds. We stayed up until all hours of the morning listening to and playing music. Once that was over and it was time for bed, the hosts of the shindig (Jay, Matt and Eli) gave up their own beds to the weak and feeble Spring Standards, insisting that they'd be fine on the living room floor and couch. Wow. No words.

Tonight we're sleeping in a hotel in Neosho, Missouri - our plans to drive all the way to Kansas City today were thwarted by unrelenting freezing rain. A night of pizza, Minority Report, Life Aquatic and complimentary exercise rooms...not too bad.

See you at the continental breakfast (don't really be there, that'd be creepy),
The Lead Sled

Saturday, January 24, 2009

it's done!

today we are driving a million miles north to memphis. only one cool thing has happened - heather finished sewing her felt map to the ceiling of the lead sled:
in other news, it's getting colder. we don't like it.

see you tomorrow night in little rock! president clinton boulevard y'all!
the lead sled

Friday, January 23, 2009

tracy morgan is funny.

we're sorry it's been so long since our last post. our excuse is that we were on an enormous ship in the middle of the ocean, internet was crazy expensive and we were distracted by things like shuffle board and buffets. that's right folks: we've just returned from the one and only ROCK BOAT.

in some ways, it feels like we spent a year on the rock boat. in other ways, it already feels like a dream, the finer details blurring and twisting into something unrecognizable. one thing is certain though: it was an experience for the history books.

i don't know quite where to begin - we spent most of our first day on the brink of passing out from our precautionary dramamine intake. that stuff's no joke. the second day had a stop on nassau, where we got the chance to scope out some of the finest legs the bahamas have to offer! check it out:

we also got the opportunity to interact with some genuine carribbean wildlife. and while it didn't quite compare to the 'shallow seas' episode of bbc's planet earth (which we watched the night before departure to prepare us for the possibility of a great white shark attack), it was still a special glimpse into another world. here's james cleare watching a needlefish spear a minnow:

he said it was pretty much as awesome as watching a seal eat a penguin.

that night we saw hanson play mmmbop. it was pretty much as awesome as watching a stingray devour a sand dollar.

we played the first of our two shows on the third day of the trip. we were on the 'lido deck' stage, which is where all the wind goes to hang out (see video above). but it was a blast, and the audience was great and the technical genius dudes who helped us sound like ourselves in the middle of the ocean were absolutely amazing.

one of the coolest things about the rock boat is that you get a chance to see a ton of different performers do their thing in front of audiences from all over the country (and the world). we got to see artists we grew up hearing on the radio (sister hazel, tonic, cowboy mouth), artists we'd heard OF but never gotten a chance to listen to (gaelic storm, aslyn, david ryan harris), friends we've made on the road over the past year (stephen kellogg and the sixers, the alternate routes) and bands we knew nothing about but came to love (the kin, garrison starr, the benjy davis project). also, there was a tangible feeling of community among all the performers, which was neat because the music business can feel quite competitive sometimes. i was so inspired by the feeling of comraderie that i created this scene out of oragami:

in case you can't tell, it's a green penguin playing the piano with an orange penguin singing its little penguin heart out. the green penguin isn't using the piano bench, but it's there for when he/she gets tired or decides to play a heartfelt ballad.

other highlights from the boat include a game of minigolf that got winded out (like rained out, but with wind) and some incredible slot machine victories... adventure down the super-duper twisty slide, trips to the ice cream machine and, my absolute favorite, an amazing sing-along at the end of our second set with members of SK6ers, the alternate routes and our new friend brian. super good times. super.

since returning to miami yesterday i've been seeing stars, rocking back and forth inside my skin and occassionally lurching in nonsensical directions for no reason. but it's good to be back on the ground - and even better to be back in the lead sled.

next stop: gainesville!
with tropical love,
the lead sled

Friday, January 16, 2009

farewell jeff taylor

ladies and gentleman,

today we bid farewell to a fine road warrior. a man of stature and grace; a man who loves alexander hamilton; a man who will share his grapefruit and give you his animal crackers, who will take the middle seat without being asked and will think twice before rooting through a lady's purse.

that man is jeff taylor.

we will remember his impeccable british accent.
we will remember his singing toasts.
we will remember his enthusiasm for philadelphia's historic district.
we will remember his leadership in the hotel bed bounce expo 2009.

who but such a man could order a pizza to be delivered to the van? who but such a man could run a mile inside a house in jacksonville, florida?

the sweet sound of his whistling will echo forever in the lead sled.
in loving memory,
the lead sled

ps...he's not dead. we just miss him.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In the Teekie teekie teekie teekie room.

Tampa 200 miles away...

Jacksonville 100 miles away...

Disney World 0 miles away... all we needst do is dream.

(What I'm saying is Minnie better remember me after all I went through for her.)

Last night was Smiths Olde Bar.

Followed by a light show photo shoot with our friend and hostess Kathleen.

Now we're on our way to Jacksonville for the night before we head to Orlando for a sweet show at The Backbooth.

But until then we have big plans see. BIG plans. Including reading in the van, writing this blog and contemplating the difference between Dr. Pepper and Mr. Pibb. (Other than the obvious academic ones.)

This is all friends.

...and, by the way...

you look great.
Do something bold tomorrow and know that whatever you do, we got your back.

The Lead Sled

Sunday, January 11, 2009

back in the siznaddle

so. it's been a while. and feels like only yesterday we were eating pistachios and watching 'wet hot american summer' while driving through kentucky. did i say yesterday? i meant today. that's what we're doing RIGHT NOW. they're great pistachios.

so we kicked off our tour with jeff taylor ( on friday night with a killer show at philadelphia's own 'tin angel.' this is what jeff taylor looks like:

it was freezing cold in the venue and the stairs were just as steep as they were last time (and the time before that), but we had a blast - it was the perfect way to start our 'divine 09' tour. that's just a name we're toying around with. anyway, after the show we hit up a delaware favorite called 'the charcoal pit' for some ridiculously delicious milkshakes and funtimes with our friend joyce, who's been there for over 30 years. this is what joyce looks like:
fun fact: it's joe biden's favorite restaurant! (but don't tell that to the other half dozen in DE that make the same claim...)

the next morning we hit the road earlyish for the 6 hour trek to thomas, west virginia, home of the illustrious 'purple fiddle.' we hit some nasty freezing rain in the hills/mountains, but somehow we made it there in one piece. more on that later...

the town of thomas, west virginia has a population of 500 people, all of whom are super nice and ridiculously friendly and helpful - at least, that's what our experience suggests. the show turned into a dance party which continued into the night at the pub down the road. we played a game called 'cornhole' with some locals, drank some delicious IPA (brewed on location!) and saw some of the best taxidermy EVER. we ended the night with some bunkbed acrobatics:
now that's a great night.

our plan was to get up this morning and be on the road by 6am, but when we tried to drive up one of the many hills in town, we kinda sorta (well, totally) slid back down and almost had a not-so-romantic rendezvous with a stop sign. remember that freezing rain from our drive into WV? yeah, it had its revenge. luckily, james cleare is a ninja behind the wheel so he regained control in the nick of time. also luckily, we're all ridiculously jacked and agile so we were able to manuever ourselves out of harm's way. after the ordeal, we decided to wait until dawn when the ice would (hopefully) thaw and we could make it out of town. we passed the time in a local 'breakfast and lunchery' called the flying pigs, geeking out over a huge planet-earth-style book and the delicious grub. we ended up on the road 3 hours behind schedule once the ice had melted, but safety first! SAFETY FIRST MOM! always.

so that brings us to our present situation (pistachios, 'wet hot...'), with 212 miles left before we get to nashville where we're playing tonight with jeff and the incredibly talented ben sollee. should be another great one. hopefully this time the city will have gas... (see previous posts for details)

smashville or bust!