You Can Just Bring Your Toddler to the Guster Show

The last two nights have been Assigned Seat shows, which are different animals than General Admission shows — one the one hand, seated theaters sound pretty good — often they’re designed with acoustics in mind — and have fancy ceilings and little muppet show balconies for vibe.  On the other hand, at general admission shows the people who are most excited to be at the concert work their way to the front, giving you lots of energy to feed off of during your performance.

For a while, at Assigned Seat shows, the front rows were held for guest list.  Which meant that Adam’s Uncle Harris would be at the Beacon Theater in New York City, sitting down in the second row and coughing into a handkerchief.   This became a major vibe-killer and we dealt with it by moving the guest list seats back into the middle of the crowd.  But we still find at some theater shows that the first few rows will sit down while the rest of the crowd stands up.  It’s awkward.  It affects Ryan’s game.

The other night in Des Moines it was hard not to notice the 19-month old in the first row.  That’s something you don’t usually see, especially at a show that starts at 10:15pm and ends at midnight.  I expected to him to be passed out in an ergo a few songs in, or whisked away during a Red Oyster Cult Meltdown mid-show.  No.  Apparently a big fan, little “Powell” made it up past his bedtime and lasted the whole show, even making it through the aftershow meet and greet without shedding a tear. 

And, as he threatened to do early in the set, Ryan brought Powell on stage for the last song, “Hang On” — kids go through various phases of stranger anxiety in their first couple of years, but at no point in her life would my daughter have been okay in the arms of a random singer on stage.  She’d have freaked out, kicked her way back into the crowd, and then figured out how to google “Child Protective Services” to call them and find herself a more secure domestic situation. 

Little Powell was totally chill.  Here’s pictures:

3 years ago |

Melrose & Vine

So we’ve been out in LA for a few days now and this time we tried something different with our accommodations.  Rather than three nights of expensive hotel rooms that have fake-log fireplaces with a switch-on gas flame, we tried a more economical VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) that have fake-log fireplaces with a switch-on gas flame.

The place looked good from the Craig’s List photos.  Four bedrooms for four band members.  Stainless steel kitchen appliances and a fancy piano.  Bearskin rugs in the bathrooms.  The right price.  Why not. 

But there were strange things going on in this VRBO when we showed up.  To quote one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s many smash hits: “ooh ooh that smell, can you smell that smell?” — the lingering, constant aroma of old people.  Dead people?  Perhaps.  I can smell dead people. 

Who’ve been peed on by cats.

After one night at our place Adam’s backpack was full of ants, and he found some on his jacket and in his arm hairs.  This is likely because Adam had a muffin or a banana peel rotting in the bottom of his bag, but let’s just get into the spirit of this road journal and blame it on the ant-ridden VRBO.  And the televisions.  So many televisions.  Sometimes two to a room, old, new, all suspended from the ceiling in awkward crates, custom created for this house before flat screens were invented. 

The TV in my room was white, and the walls and ceilings were white and this morning I discovered a little remote attached to my awkwardly sloped bed that helped explain everything.  I’d been sleeping in a Craftmatic Adjustable Bed…. I’m not in a vacation rental, I’m in a hospital




Bonus Pet Peeve:  Airport toilets where instead of a germ-ridden flush handle, there’s a motion sensor that flushes the toilet when you stand up.  And when you lean to the side to reach for the toilet paper.  And when you grab your cell phone out of your pocket to check your email while you’re crapping.  It’s kind of a cool little spritz down there mid-game that’s refreshing if you don’t think about what you’re getting spritzed with.  I think I’d rather just flush the handle with my sneaker like I used to.

3 years ago |

Jason is sad

VERY SAD JASON

Stuck with a two hour delay at the Detroit Airport today, Jason, our tour manager, made a costly decision regarding his lunch. 

He checked out the “PB & J” shop in our terminal and balked at the $4.50 price tag. 

"Four fifty for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, no thanks" was his official statement.  Jason is a careful and frugal person when it comes to meals on the road — yesterday he passed up a chance to eat chicken fried steak at the legendary Chuck House in Oklahoma City with the members of Hanson because there was free bbq backstage at the venue we were playing.  I did the same because I’m cheap too.  The bbq was respectable and free but I kind of wish I’d gone to Chuck House.

Anyway, Jason opted for a Quizno’s Burnt Sandwich (sorry, I mean toasted sub) at the airport instead.  He probably spent 7 or 8 dollars on it, and lost critical volume on the edges where the bread was charred to the point that it flaked off with a flick of the finger.  Meanwhile, my brain was crunching the numbers on the peanut butter decision.   Sure, it’s peasant-food, but did he even see how big the sandwich was when he made his decision?  Did he look at the options?  Cashew-butter, fluff, bacon (!?)… on the bread of your choice?  This little PB&J joint was sounding less like a gimmick and more like a sensible and delicious way to fill your belly for five bucks at the airport.

Luke and I wasted little time.  I gave him two bucks and he returned minutes later with a heaping sandwich for us to split — crunchy peanut butter and blackberry jam with banana slices on 8-grain bread.  It was huge.  It was tasty as hell.  I was full after half a sandwich.  Jason watched, awash in a world of regret. 



So next time Ryan does a “Layover Lunch” on the Twitter (no takers yesterday at O’Hare) (note to self: band needs to be more popular in order to truly break tweeting ground), expect peanut butter.  Our treat.

3 years ago |

Ganging up on the sons…

Adam and Lauren made a boy and he’s cute!

Welcome Julian Sullivan Gardner, who arrived Nov 4th.  Congratulations!

3 years ago |

And the winner is…

Seems fitting to announce this one after a great homecoming-show-of-sorts at the State Theater in Portland ME.  Whereas most of Easy Wonderful is about the usual Guster lyrical topics (catastrophes, depression, drowning, loneliness, troubled relationships, armageddon, general insecurity, biblical floods), the one song we asked you to submit videos for, “Bad Bad World,” is actually hopeful and optimistic.  I don’t know what got into us (Ryan) on that one.

And that’s why we chose Nora McCormack video as the winner…

Her simple idea was moving and inspiring and brought the best out of the lyric.  We’re happy to put her work in there among our other videos, like the one where the paper mache pig with the ear that looks like it was burned off floats away with balloons, and the one where we are cartoon mimes. 

I would be a horrible person if I didn’t mention that this was a difficult decision, and the creativity in all your submissions was humbling.  Here are a few honorable mentions, with a special shout-out to the Candyman Crew, because we want your smiling, mustached protagonist on stage with us as soon as possible…

HONORABLE MENTION:

3 years ago |

Ithaca

Ithaca NY — Ryan was under the weather and didn’t have much of a voice at this show, which usually isn’t a huge problem because we can lean on our other singer to step up whenever this happens.  Except that Adam had a cold and a froggy voice too.

So we went out there and just tried our best.  We didn’t let the drummer sing, but we did resort to other tactics (Ryan “crowd-surfed” while singing a Neil Diamond song for the first time in like, five years) to make sure the crowd was entertained.  We are entertainers.  Here we are now.

And I felt like it was a great show.  It was one of the tightest Do You Love Me’s we’ve ever played, except for the fact that our vocalists sounded mid-puberty on every chorus. 

Before the show I wrote “Scooter is GORGES” on the keyboard-chalkboard, as a nod to the omnipotent green t-shirt that’s one of the most famous exports of the town we were playing in.  I thought I did a good job.  And Adam thought he did a great job adding Scooter and a can of Sunkist into the mix.

Later we realized that while we were going for something like the famous smiling Scooter in this photo….

… we came closer to recreating Little Black Sambo the famous smiling racist stereotype in this picture.  Apologies.  We are slowly improving as chalk artists.

3 years ago |

D.C.

We’d played the DAR Constitution Hall once before, opening for Mayer in 2002.  I remembered it was carpeted, seated, and generally felt like you were playing to Congress.  I remembered it was located amongst the buildings you see on the back of your paper money.

So last night I was impressed that our show felt great.  Much less sterile than the one with Mayer.  It was like a rock show in a mini C-SPAN arena.  I liked it.  We sort of disappeared into the middle of the crowd for a rough, barely audible “Jesus on the Radio” at the end of the night.  I played my shaker while standing on a seat though.  Thanks to whoever put this photo up on my Facebook page.  I’m still going to remove your tag though. 

3 years ago |

Wood Men

Omaha.

Because the venue we played was right next to Greenstreet Cycles, we got our broken bicycles fixed in exchange for guest list spots, and I got to ride my bike to McFoster’s Cafe, where I ate an eggplant sandwich and didn’t even mind the soy cheese, and along the way I noticed the Omaha skyline, which doesn’t leave much of an impression, except for the one WOODMEN building that I put on the new keyboard-chalkboard on the stage, minutes before our set started.

I didn’t really leave enough room for the “N”…

3 years ago |

TOP 5 THINGS I SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT IN THE ROAD JOURNAL OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS

It’s Saturday October 9th.  I’m stealing internet from the lobby of the Moonrise Hotel in St Louis, and I actually have a window of time to compose a road journal for the first time in a while.  The powers that be have had us on a busy promotional frenzy — lots of airports, lots of stripped-down-acoustic-performances-of-do-you-love-me, and one Whole Foods Wine Tasting.

There are so many things that ought to have been documented in a road journal but weren’t.  I will do my best to remember. 

TOP 5 THINGS THAT I SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT IN THE ROAD JOURNAL OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS

1.  Luke Shows Up For Work Covered in Poison Sumac

Or, as we like to call it, Toxicodendron vernix.  Poor Luke, all he wanted to do was take a break from learning 55 Guster songs and go for a walk in the VT woods.  Instead, he ends up showing up for rehearsals drenched in Poison Sumac, all the way down to his amaze-balls.  Apparently there’s very little you can do to minimize the itch except wait. Twelve days.  The rash is gone now and Luke absolutely tore it up on Captain last night.  Movin’ on…


2.  Ram Dass Plays the Glockenspiel

We were in Berkeley CA standing outside Alice Waters’ restaurant Chez Panisse in late September.  Our record label was paying.  Sitting on the grassy median on Shattuck Ave was a barefoot, bearded, Berkeley-looking guy on a blanket.  He approaches us because he recognizes us as Guster.  He says his name is Ram Dass Khalsa.  Naturally, we ask him if he plays keyboards.  He says yes.  Next thing we know he’s on stage rocking the glockenspiel like a gangster. 

That’s Ram Dass on the far right in the pic below.



We had a great hang with Ram Dass and his friends, and it turns out that he tours with the same New Age group that Luke recorded guitars for.  I think that’s how it went.  Either way, they were instantly spiritually bonded from that experience.  As were we from ours.  After the show we went over to some massive food court for Afghan food, and I blew the biggest bubble of my life from one gumball.  Don’t worry, it’s forthcoming as a special vanity merchandise item with the word ROSENWORCEL on it:



3.  Watch Your Back Lil Dwayne Here Comes Guster

Amazingly, our album came out on Tuesday and lived for a brief moment at #2 on the overall iTunes sales charts.  Ryan caught a screen grab:



We’ve since fallen out of the top ten, but it was nice to be in there amongst the Lil Wayne’s, Toby Keith’s, and Mr A to Z’s of the world for a moment.  Thanks for the thrill, legal digital downloaders . 


4.  The River 15th Anniversary Party in Boston

Chad Carlberg, who directed the video for “Do You Love Me,” blew in like a tornado and dressed up the stage for this show with art from our video.  And captured his daughter, Maggie Blue, in a magic pre-show photo:



You can see more cute footage of Maggie at the end of Chad’s Treatment Proposal for the video, which is an awesome explanation of how the video went down (or, was supposed to go down).

And you can see a damn cute photo of my daughter Jolene in her Halloween bumblebee suit (a hand me down from Maggie Blue) here:


5.  Security and Sportsmanship

Thursday night we played an event for WXRT in Chicago — it was at the Cubby Bear, right across from Wrigley Field, a place where we used to open up for Lynyrd Skynyrd cover bands when we first started touring (1995).  The format for the show was a slightly awkward interview-twice-on-stage-mid-show thing, which is how they do it for some CBS show that the performance is taped for.  I think.

Anyway, while dealing with some guitar issue, we launched into a spew song called “Security and Sportsmanship” that we pray sees the light of day, awkward as it might be for a high profile radio show to air a sloppy made-up-on-the-spot song for three minutes.  Okay, seven minutes.

After the show, I watched Rodd Tuffcurls & The Bench Press slay the crowd for three sets of covers, including a few that Gus(ter) used to play back when we were, umm, covering Tiffany and Madonna. 

If the Cubby Bear didn’t make their bands play for four hours a night, we could have gone over to Ian’s for mac & cheese pizza with those guys.



6.  Midnight Visit to City Museum in St Louis

Oh wait, that’s tonight…

3 years ago |

All Things Must Pass

Some parting words from Joe Pisapia…

In the age of Twitters and Facebooks I find myself conflicted, constrained and in a little pain (while typing on my I phone,) as I try to offer a condensed version of what is to be my final guest Road Journal.  Don’t worry, you’ll still see me in D.F Yonkman videos in the studio with the guys, but I will miss you in person, on the road.  Truthfully I am amazed, almost surprised, when I consider the gravity of looking back on seven and a half years (!) of playing shows with Guster.  To me it feels more like five months or a year… but I guess time flies when you’re having fun. 

So with that being said here is my 128 character (or less,) farewell to the road days:

2 all my new BFF’s —10Q and C ya L8tr LOL ;)

*For those of you who are “not into the whole brevity thing” -read on.

Sincerely, I am filled with gratitude to my brethren in Guster and to all of the fans,  that have allowed me to experience this wonderful chapter in my life.  There are far too many memories to mention here but I will attempt to list some of my favorite moments. 

-Going to the City Museum in St Louis with the guys after a show. 
-Floating down the Boise River with some people we just met, before a show.
-Hiking down to Crater Lake.
-Performing  with The Boston Pops at Symphony Hall.
-Being on tour with the Zamboni’s. (Dave Zamboni — top 3.) 
-Hiking to natural hot springs outside of Santa Fe NM.
-Performing the Violent Femmes first record at Arlene’s in NY for MTV2.
-Spending a day at Badlands Nat’l Park.
-Taking the stage via Segways in Boston.
-Every Sixthman cruise that we did, especially with BNL, some of the nicest and funniest guys on the planet.

And here are some particular things in general that I will miss:
-The fans, especially the ones I got to know and the ones that made delicious cookies etc.
-Spending the late afternoons (between soundcheck and showtime,)  playing extreme bocce with the guys.
-Getting to visit and explore towns that aren’t usual tourist destinations I.E., anywhere Iowa, Mankato MN, Billings MT, Vermillion SD etc. 
-The extended family on the road:  Gord, Seth, Josh, Anderson, Andrew, Allyson, Amy, Gerald, Roger, etc.
-Late night poker games on a cardboard box in the bus.
-Playing bass.  Especially on songs like Ruby Falls, C’mon, Hang On, and This Could All Be Yours.
-Every seemingly unexciting family dinner at Applebees or Outback when we were stuck out in strip mall hell.  (Funny how the most mundane moments have such particular reverie.)
-Mostly I will miss all the laughter that we would do on a daily/ hourly / moment-by-moment basis. 

What I won’t miss:
-Porta potties
-Wet turkey sandwiches with yellow mustard.
-Having the keyboards act weird at a show. 
-Attempting to play any sport, other than bocce, with the other Gusters.  (They’re all practically semi-pro (WTF?!))

I couldn’t be more proud of “Easy Wonderful.”  Brian, Adam, Ryan and I poured our hearts and souls into it, and I think it sounds that way.  Our creative relationship remains intact, and I look forward to having everyone back at Middletree for what will be the record after EW. 

So be nice to Luke.  He is your new friend.  His musicianship is only tantamount to his character, which is exemplary. 

And don’t be a stranger.  Be friends with my music page on facebook.  Or just put my name in the google machine from time to time.  I promise that I will finish a follow up to Daydreams in the near future.

Love to all of you!
TTYL.
Joe

3 years ago |

← Backwards | Forwards →