Benchmarks – American Night – 2015

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It starts out with distortion, guitar, and a voice. The voice is one you’ve heard before, been hearing for years. The always-ethereal vocal tones of Kelly Smith (nee Kneiser) of Glossary. Then a new voice, one you may have heard before but certainly not like this. The Dirty Birds have come home to roost, or maybe they’ve flown the coop. The members are the same, but the name and dedication are both newly minted. In Todd Farrell’s words: ” …[W]e are a BAND and not just me and some guys.” This EP, the first under the name Benchmarks, is their attempt to do things the right way.

Part of the genesis of the band (though they’ve been playing together long enough for it to perhaps be the Deuteronomy of the band) is undoubtedly Farrell’s semi-official status as Two Cow Garage’s lead guitar. There must be an undeniable hunger for life on the road once you’ve put in two tours with the greatest rock and roll band in America.

Farrell has drawn on the connections he’s made over the years, and the heft they bring to the EP is considerable. Smith’s harmonies bring the same heartbreaking sweetness to “April Fire” as they did to “Your Heart To Haunt”; the song explores a past that seems somehow more distant and closer with each passing day, and does so with impressive depth and driving instrumentation. The drummer, Jack Whitis, provides keys that give a melodic counterpoint to the complex guitar work. This band is too good to be named The Dirty Birds.

Micah Schnabel, of Two Cow Garage if the name isn’t familiar to you already, contributes a verse to the title track, “American Night”, and his almost-manic vulnerability brings clarity to Farrell’s songwriting, their duet more Butch and Sundance than Frankie and Dino. It wouldn’t be a Farrell record without another shot at a previously-released song. The melancholy “Liner Notes” of All Our Heroes Live In Vans is supplanted by a new version, chock full of crashing symbols and heavy metal guitar riffs. Whereas the acoustic arrangement of the song seemed to be asking a question, the full-band version makes a definite statement.

“Just Fine” seems to be wrapping up loose ends from older albums, and feels like the true end of the record. The book is being closed on old flames and old grudges and it’s time for new beginnings. Of course, it wouldn’t be Farrell without a sobering look at what the future could bring…or the desire to stride towards that future, regardless. The coda is “Paper Napkins”, a somber reflection on non-traditional adulthood and how taxing constant motion can be.

Though I seem to be paying special attention to Farrell’s songwriting, both musically and technically this is the band’s most impressive work to date. You can tell that the pieces were arranged, were collaborations, and not just several musicians trying to follow the instructions of a peer. Each of these men are skilled musicians and, at this point, Nashville old hands. Eli Rhodes (an impressive songsmith in his own right) mastered the album, Farrell and Whitis produced and engineered it. ‘Goose’ Rewinski, in addition to energetic bass playing, undoubtedly provided apt sports metaphors throughout the recording process (you can find some of his talented sportswriting here).

When four guys sit down and talk about starting a band, it’s guys like this who have the best odds. They’ve been around the block, played for pay and played for love, and they are certainly no longer any spring chickens. But that’s alright; summer’s just around the corner. This truly is a debut effort, and it’s Essential Listening.

Pick up a physical or digital copy of “American Night” by Benchmarks over at Bandcamp, but if you insist on using iTunes or Amazon that’s your right as a citizen of rock and roll.

Links Around the Web – 06/19/15

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Here I am, the much-maligned but never-convicted Wolf, serving up the hottest hotlinks for your lazy Friday web browsing.


Cory Branan, knbranan-resizedown wastrel, has a couple of cool things up on Spotify. The first is a recorded Audiotree Live session of tunes, in which we get high quality solo-acoustic Branan which is always a treat. The second is a new hobby for Cory: playlist cultivation. One playlist a month, featuring one songwriter, and first up is Queen’s Freddie Mercury! Once you’re done with all that fancy streaming audio head over to Cory’s website for tour dates and records.


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It’s no secret that I’m a huge Against Me! fan, and one of the many pre-orders announced this past week was for their upcoming concert record “23 Live Sex Acts”. You can check out a preview song, and be just as impressed as I was. Pre-order from iTunes or Amazon, and check out that cover art!

 


1385023_593523444022907_1631043531_nYou think just because Charles Hale is no longer on staff at 9b you can escape the glourious sonic musings of the Ajax Diner Book Club? Well think again, chump! Listen to his show, then head on over to Facebook and like the page for constant updates. He starts this one off with McDougall’s “Coleraine”, which is as good a way to start something as a song can be.


 

Titus Andronicus,8f94c354one of many bands I discovered through 9b, has a new record coming out soon (“The Most Lamentable Tragedy”) and it’s a doozy. You can pre-order this 2-CD or 3-LP beast here, but since it’s taken so long to get out the band has decided to throw us a bone. They just released a free mixtape entitled “Sorry About The Delay” and put it up for streaming or download on their website. It’s full of unreleased tracks, rehearsals, outtakes, and live performances. Worth a listen!


 

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And last but not least, it’s E3! The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or Orthodox Nerd Christmas (dating back before the Reformation, when ComicCon took over). There’s all kinds of new video games announced and previewed and played, and some of it is pretty exciting. I occasionally write for a video gaming site, Colony of Gamers, and since I’m partial if you want to see what the latest haps are on your favorite console or from your favorite publisher, I think you should check it out there!


 

 

Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free – Pre-Order

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So many pre-orders happening! Jason Isbell‘s new album comes out July 17th, and with a pre-order over at iTunes you can listen to “24 Frames” and the title track “Something More Than Free” right away. You can also check them out over on Spotify.

Jason certainly doesn’t need help scrounging up buzz for the album, but these songs are just as good as any he’s ever written. The title track specifically is a truly country song, the kind you don’t hear on the radio anymore…but you might if Isbell gets as big as we all hope.

“My Sins My Own” – A Study of Vanessa Jean Speckman

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“It is most interesting to me,” says Cecelia Jean Speckman, “that she always said she was going to be an artist…and she IS an artist!” She’s speaking of her daughter here, in a breathless amazement that could seem typical of any parent talking about any child. The difference here, however, is that the devotion and commitment with which the mother speaks of the daughter is the same with which the daughter speaks of the art. There’s a clarity of expression here, an ability to be plainspoken and truthful that must surely be genetic. Her brother says the same: “Artists are the folks that can see the beauty in anything and translate that through their medium – it’s something that not everyone can do and Vanessa has found a way to do that.”

This article will be a rough sketch, as it has to be: Vanessa Jean Speckman continues to strive, grow, and learn, much more a tree with many branches than a simpler organism growing only in one direction. The lens through which so many have gotten to know Speckman is a musical one, but music is by no means her starting point or her primary inspiration. Through her family, her peers, and her own words you will get to know a woman whose work has inspired so many in this community.

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The open admiration of her family members is returned wholly in kind. Vanessa Jean Speckman loves and appreciates where she came from. “I was surrounded with art and makers from my earliest memories, so as early as I can remember, it was ‘the norm’.” A grandfather that regularly painted scenes from National Geographic magazines, parents that took her to see Leonard Cohen, a brother that regularly trekked out to shows with her and helped create a zine that influenced the rest of her life.

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The zine was called Lubricated. Speckman was just out of college and had moved in with her older brother Patrick, but was less than thrilled with the lack of community spirit in the Bay Area. “…everyone around me seemed to be straddling what they were, and what they thought we were supposed to be and I saw all this cool stuff in between that I wanted to celebrate. That there didn’t have to be any lines crossed or boxes to be put in.” The zine was about more than music, it was a way of connecting what burned brightest across all mediums: music, visual art, poetry, film. In Patrick’s words, the “common thread was creativity.”

“I was a high school art teacher and 6th and 7th grade English teacher,” Speckman says, “driving to shows every night, painting in my garage and staying up way too late making Lubricated…It was this really organic and beautiful process that took on a life of its own, that I don’t think either of us ever had imagined.”

11021068_10203536113474627_3728400290139592760_nLubricated introduced Vanessa to many like-minded people, including Michael Dean Damron of I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House. “I was touring with Two Cow Garage,” Damron said, “and [Speckman] was doing a zine at the time and came down to talk. The next night we all played in San Jose and she gave us a place to crash and some kick ass Mexican food…One of the kindest, warmest people I had ever met.” And just as the music influenced Speckman, her art influenced the artists around her. Speckman painted the cover of Mike D’s recent solo album When The Darkness Come. “…it was the perfect combination of darkness and my childhood,” Damron said. “I related instantly.”

tumblr_ne8565B2HQ1rvtjh6o1_500Being more than willing to travel up and down the West Coast for shows, plans not being a necessity (for reference see her painted suitcases: ‘Gotta Run!’, and ‘…Can’t Stay!’), there are plenty of stories like the following. Frank Turner, when asked how he met Speckman, said, “Many years back, on the road, through road friends. We used to stay at her place in Northen California when we were on tour.” Vanessa recently contributed a print that was included with Frank’s compilation album ‘The Third Three Years’. The piece features many of Frank’s standby references and inspirations but in Speckman’s particular style. Lyrics have a habit of sliding out of songs and into reality, tattoos are almost too honest, and most figures are bearing quiet witness to their circumstances, looking out at the audience or down at their feet with similar melancholy self-awareness.

10628428_10152400087671325_191840535498871182_nBrandon Barnett of Ghost Shirt, another band Vanessa painted an album cover for, put it as follows: “Vanessa’s art is so direct…She can make you feel all your feelings with 4-5 words spray painted on an old map.” The album cover, featuring a defiant boy (with plenty of tattoos) braving rough seas in a boat also bearing a scythe-wielding Grim Reaper. Barnett: “If the record has a unifying theme it would be something about not looking for well-being, love, or salvation outside yourself. I never told Vanessa this. The first thing I noticed on the art was a little cartoon flag being waved from a boat that just said ‘Save Yourself’. I completely lost it.” Speckman is undoubtedly an artist who understands artists, who creates work not just for artists, but that artists will appreciate.

As previously written, however, there are many branches to Speckman’s artistic life and music is just one of them. Her artistic story has been one of constant change and growth, new mediums and themes emerging as old ones are thoroughly explored. “I don’t ever want to be stuck making the same thing with the same tools – that would be my own personal purgatory,” says Speckman. “I love that I am my own tool in the shed and it’s up to me to learn and develop and stay sharp.” In school she painted with oils and sculpted with clay, and after college she didn’t do much art other than “bastard stubborn photography” and the zine. What soon emerged, though, was a talent for re-purposing or re-imagining existing forms. Maps were a common vehicle for communicating Speckman’s melancholy and wanderlust.

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Speckman’s art seems to be about the medium just as much as the message, whether it’s a cheap plastic compass with “nobody at the wheel” on its back or a matchbook with “i just have a lot of feelings” sewn to it. These simple pieces, a common item and a few words, are also some of her strongest. “I don’t think musicians or artist create a piece in hopes to dictate something, rather to spark something,” Speckman says. A keychain tucked into your bag with another purchase, a notebook with the reminder “we’ll never get out alive” pasted to it, a map saying “we don’t need a map”…all of it is easy to see, to understand on a surface level, but there’s also somewhere to go. Her art is a starting point, and often one that starts you off very abruptly.

There’s something refreshing about saying exactly what you’re thinking, and Speckman’s work embraces those hard truths. “I suppose I try to aggressively gain the viewer’s attention right off the bat, but then I hope that it makes them come back to self reflect on it.” Perhaps the most aggressive of her works are the bummer Valentines, vintage love notes that Speckman updates with feelings and thoughts that are just as powerful and present on V-Day as love is.

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Other truths, often aggressively vulnerable, come painted onto the t-shirts that Speckman makes. Her “Dear rock’n’roll, you can’t break my heart, XO me” has become a favorite for touring musicians to wear onstage and in music videos. There’s nothing ironic or cynical about the statement: being a musician is hard for a long time before it gets easy, and these are people spitting in the face of adversity to do what they love. This is true for all artists across all mediums, for the ones that refuse to back down from a challenging life. In Speckman’s words: “Art is not a means to an end for me.  Art is a means to living for me.  The fact that I currently support myself as an artist, is something that does not get lost upon me or is ever unappreciated.  But art and art as a career are two different things and I am on the side of the first, not the latter.”

It can’t be easy, constantly creating and making so that you can create and make further, but difficulty doesn’t necessarily come with unpleasantness. One element of Speckman’s life is constant touring, either solo or with her partner Micah Schnabel. While touring is a whirlwind no matter who you are, it’s also slightly different for visual artists than performers. “Did I make enough t-shirts? Did I bring enough variety in my art and in my prices? [There’s] this feeling of incomplete completion upon leaving.” But there’s plenty to enjoy about the life as well. The newness of each town, the unease at not knowing where to get your next cup of coffee and the feeling of having conquered the world when you take your first sip: these are all feelings that Speckman lives for. “There’s too much to do and see to be too comfortable doing the same thing every day.”

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Comfort plays a role in her art as well; or rather, the lack thereof. Whether it’s the word ‘FUCK’ emblazoned on a t-shirt, an unapologetic refutation of normal life emblazoned on a map, or a girl holding a Popsicle frozen around a knife out from her crotch, Speckman sets out to make the viewer uneasy. “I like the topical sweetness upon first look,” Speckman says, “and part two hopes to make you uncomfortably comfortable.” All art is the expression of human emotion through some medium, and Speckman’s chosen form of expression is to say what we’re all thinking. In the words of Schnabel, “When you find an artist that makes you think, ‘That’s exactly how I feel! Why didn’t I write that! Why didn’t I think of that!’ it is really something special. It’s challenging and inspiring. Which is what art is all about.”

Everyone in Speckman’s carefully and carelessly drawn/painted/written world is on the same page: the wires are visible, the boom mic is in the shot, there are ordinary cruelties whipping by like storm winds, and her characters stand gazing out at it all. They represent her audience, each of them individually, and this real world is no less cruel. There’s the hope, though, that strength can be drawn from everyone’s own unapologetic observations of the world around them, that maybe honesty of the heart and not just the mouth could get us through all of this. Though the world that Speckman conjures with her words and paints is sometimes bleak, it is never without hope. Like the little boy in the boat, defiantly sailing with Death alongside him, we all have to save ourselves. In the words of one of Speckman’s heroes, the punk rock heroine Patti Smith, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.”

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You can check out Vanessa Jean Speckman’s Tumblr, her Instagram page, and see more of her work at her Etsy.

Benchmarks – Band Name Change and Pre Order!

BenchmarksOur loyal readers are no doubt familiar with Todd Farrell Jr: in addition to writing and recording the opening theme to Ninebullets Radio on WMNF, Farrell has released music under his own name and with the band Todd Farrell Jr. & the Dirty Birds. The band has evidently decided to buckle down and put their nose to the eternal grindstone of touring and sleeping in vans as well as several other cliches.

The newly dubbed Benchmarks have put up a pre-order for their new EP American Night on Bandcamp, and given us the title track to listen to. With lyrics penned by Farrell, a more professional sound than the band has had before, and guest vocals by Micah Schnabel of Two Cow Garage, you can’t really go wrong. Check it out!

 

 

Heathen Sons – Through The Eyes Of A Lion – 2015

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This is certainly an exceptional time of year for rock music. Whether it’s the easy-going melancholy of Great Peacock or the sweat-soaked Tulsa heat brought to us by John Moreland, there’s plenty of seasonally appropriate weather to get us into summer. Through The Eyes Of A Lion is a brand new EP from a brand new band, Nashville-based Heathen Sons, and it is positively soaked in vitamin D.

From the catchy introductory rifts on “Futures”, the first track, you are brought into what might as well be the chronicle of the Fourth of July (the fun ones we have now, not the one that lead to a war). The rhythm section keeps the song moving along, and the counterpoint of guitar and vocals are perfectly self-indulgent for a drive to the beach.

The individual songs may remind you of pop-rock summer fare you’ve heard before, but I guarantee there’s more depth both sonically and lyrically than you may pick up on at first listen. This is a young band stretching its legs, and over the five tracks of this EP you’ll get a feel for what they can do. “Fourth of July” is the perfect example of a catchy tune that would have you on your feet whether you saw them playing in a dive bar on a Tuesday or under marquee lights over the weekend:

‘Cause you’re a little like heartbreak

Even more like cocaine

It’s a little more than I can take

Do you really wanna let me in?

I’m ready to drive around with my windows down, drink all day with friends, then get suitably moody after the sun sets; if those things are things that appeal to you guys as well, I think Through The Eyes Of A Lion by Heathen Sons is worth a look.

Like them over on Facebook, then pick up the record from iTunes or Amazon.

Fourth of July

Two Cow Garage Tour Diary Part 4 – Todd Farrell

 

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May 20
Last night was an interesting one. It was a good show, for sure. The crowd was obviously there for Tim, and only a few folks knew who we were going into it. It was a bit of a Tuesday crowd as well, took folks until the end of our set to really start making some noise (or maybe they were just liquored up enough by then). We all chose to wear Indy Pride t-shirts in response to the refusal of service deal the governor passed last month. Didn’t talk about it, just a little show of solidarity and support for our LGBT brothers and sisters.
We had a chance to hang out with Tim backstage a lot more than we normally do. He’s truly a unique and wonderful human. We all come from very different perspectives on things (bulk of TCG being from small Midwest towns, me growing up in Southern suburbs, and Tim from the South and being a train guy for so long). The way he speaks about the blessing of being able to play music lights a fire in all of us. “Do whatever it is you love to do, and do that until the day you die” is basically his life mantra. Live simply and love life. I like his outlook. What an inspiring human being.
I’d also like to highlight the #anonymoustourquotes hashtag on Twitter. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do. It’s a gold mine.
Chicago tonight. Looking forward to seeing my brother, Marshall.
May 21
I love Chicago. I love everything about that town, other than that the winters are emergency conditions. Gman Tavern is a gem of a place. We set up on the floor with our amps and drums on a riser like it was an old VFW show or something. The show was absolutely packed, and the crowd was great. One of the more fun ones of the tour.
It was great to see my brother, Marshall, as well. He’s lived in Chicago for about a year and a half, and I don’t get to see him much. He’s a big fan of the band (even before I was in it), and had a great time.
Tonight we’re playing at Off Broadway in St. Louis. I won’t lie, I’m nervous about it. It’s nothing on the venue, the city or the people in the city, it’s just a lingering scab that gets ripped off every once in a while when I think about what happened there. The aftermath was a truly beautiful and wonderful thing. I’d just love to not be put in another situation where that needs to happen. After the show, I think we’re going to end up driving for a good bit before staying the night. I’ll probably still take everything into the hotel anyway. It may be overreacting, but I feel like I’ll sleep better knowing my amp is inside the hotel room.
The local news has already started covering our return, so I think tonight should actually be a really great show. Here’s hoping. I hope I’m not writing bad news tomorrow.
May 22
All of our stuff was not stolen.
Also, St. Louis was a really awesome show. Off Broadway was a great venue with great people working there. Beforehand, a few local news agencies came and interviewed us (Murph), updating us about the theft. They left out the part how the police won’t return our calls, but at least they even wanted to talk. Must have been a slow news day. After the show, Shane, Micah and I played a few songs on acoustic guitars for the folks that stuck around. Then we got the hell out of that city to stay the night in an undisclosed location too far away from band thieves.
More cool hangs with Tim as well. He’s one of those guys who sees colors when he hears songs. Not like, mood or feel, but actual colors when he hears songs. He also doesn’t ever know what chords he’s playing. He taught himself how to do just about everything he does, and his perspective on it was interesting. I’m also a self taught, but I would seek out learning things from time to time, or learn other people’s songs, etc. Tim’s music is 100% natural Tim, which is pretty cool.
We’re driving to Louisville now, and it’s the last show of the tour. I’ve had a blast on this quick little run, and a little sad for it to be over so soon, but it’ll be nice to get back to Nashville for a bit to see my friends, my girlfriend, my dog (or really my girlfriend’s dog, but I consider her mine anyway). Last day of tour is always a little bit like the last day of school or summer camp or something. Well, I never went to summer camp, but that’s what I imagine it’s like. The excitement of getting home to sleep in your own bed and see the people you love, but leaving behind doing exactly the thing you love doing with people you also love is bittersweet. We’ll be back on the road again at the beginning of June out on the West coast, so it won’t be too long.
Louisville tonight at Haymarket Whiskey Bar. Last night of tour, hoping it’s a great one.
May 23
The Tim Barry/Two Cow Garage Midwest Tour is officially over. We’re driving back from Louisville towards Columbus (at which point I will get in my car and drive straight back through Louisville towards Nashville… poor planning). Last night was a great way to end it all. A bunch of friends came into town for it and had a great crowd.
After our set, I decided to let loose a bit and actually go into the crowd and watch Tim at as a fan. It felt great. He was such an amazing and inspirational person to tour with, and I hope we get to see him again soon. When we said goodbye to Tim, he said “see you tomorrow.” We wouldn’t see him tomorrow. He was catching a morning flight to Las Vegas for Punk Rock Bowling, and we were jumping in the van bound for Ohio. “I don’t say goodbye, I say see you tomorrow.” Cool.
Thank you to Gabe at Nine Bullets for letting me do this tour diary. It’s been fun to share a glimpse of our life with you guys, and I thoroughly hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. Hopefully one day I won’t be writing it on the notepad of my my iPhone and forgetting things and using terrible grammar and spelling (sorry, Gabe). Thanks to Tim Barry for bringing us out on tour and being an amazing human being. Thanks to everyone who came out, sang along, bought merch, bought us a drink, gave hugs and hang out. It means the world to us that people care.
We’ll be back on the road starting June 9, heading West.
“See you tomorrow.”
-Todd Farrell Jr.

 

Upcoming Tim Barry Tour Dates:
6/18 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
6/19 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes
6/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
6/21 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Upstairs
6/23 – Montreal, Canada @ Divan Orange
6/24 – Toronto, Canada @ Lee’s Place
6/25 – Buffalo, NY @ The Studio at Waiting Room
6/26 – Pittsburgh, PA @ 31st Street Pub
6/27 – Richmond, VA @ The Camel
 
And while you’re at it, pick up music from Two Cow and Tim Barry!

Two Cow Garage Tour Diary Part 3 – Todd Farrell

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May 18
Great show last night at Zeke’s. First of all, it was a rock and roll BBQ joint, and the food was absolutely killer. I try to kind of eat somewhat healthy on the road, because it’s hard to not eat like shit every meal of the day. Shane and Ryan (Parker, our tour manager) try to eat decent as well. Murph teeters, and Micah lives on a strict diet of cheeseburgers and Little Caesars pizza. Everyone has their fix. At this place, however, I ordered something called “The Four Horsemen” which is basically four kinds of bbq on a hoagie. It was life changing.
Being at a BBQ place, we were a little nervous. We’ve done those shows before, and they can be a bit awkward. Playing to seated folks eating dinner isn’t really a Two Cow environment, and Two Cow isn’t really a listening room band. This place was different though. They got the tables out of there, set up the stage and a hundred or more people showed up at the door. All was wonderful, and it was a great show.
Our Detroit friends Jeremy Porter and the Tucos opened up, and they were absolutely stellar. Their new record is fantastic as well, and all should take notice of it. Wonderful band.
More friends were there as well. Matt Woods, Adam Lee and Jeremy Mackinder all played earlier that night and came to hang with us. Seeing other musicians out on the road is always something special. There’s a certain solidarity in the conversation. Always starts with the “how’s the tour, how are the shows?” talk, but quickly goes into the “how amazing is it that we get to do this?” Quickly. It is. It’s absolutely amazing.
Today we have a day off, so we’re driving to Columbus so everyone can sleep in their own bed (everyone but me, of course). Hoping to see Mad Max tonight. Indianapolis tomorrow.

[ed. note: the following is a note Todd passed onto me about music and musicianship, and I thought it would be a neat bit of inside baseball for you all to see]

We had a really cool discussion in the van today while driving to Columbus. Murph and I are probably the most “schooled” musicians in the band as far as music theory goes. He’s a horn player, so it goes hand in hand with that. I had two years in high school of theory, but I don’t really remember too much, and I never really applied it much to my guitar playing. Micah was a drum line guy in high school (and is actually an amazing drummer, for those who don’t know), and Shane basically learned how to play bass as they were recording Please Turn the Gas Back On. Shane brought up an interesting point though, that he had always listened to music as a songwriter as opposed to a bass player. Since he’s started to listen to music as a bass player, he’s improved, he says. I used to listen to songs as a guitar player, and as a songwriter second. In the last five years, it’s been the opposite, and I sort of abandoned improving at guitar. Being in Two Cow, however, has given me a new urge to get the books and scales out and REALLY learn how to play properly. Murph said the same thing. He’s been drumming for over half his life, but never really learned how to play drums. Rock and roll is a strange and wonderful thing where the emotion is more important than the technique. However, we all want to get better with the actual “playing” part. Murph and I both have this want to hit the books when we get home and really zero in on becoming GOOD players. We do this for a living, and we should take it seriously, we decided. For the first time ever, I want to go home and PRACTICE. Just some random van thoughts.

May 19
Today we found out that the Columbus Replacements show that was cancelled will have not be rescheduled. Two Cow Garage has been perpetually the band of “almost”. I think it’s part of the blue collar, working man charm the band has, but it’s definitely not by design. We were so excited about that show. It would have been the biggest show the band had ever played, opening up for THE band. The Replacements might as well be Led Zeppelin or the Stones. Not that this would have been our big break or anything like that. We know better than to believe that. It would have been a nice moment for us though, the type of thing you tell your grandkids about. Now it’s just another foul tip. Another “almost”. So it goes.
Indianapolis tonight. New day.

Tonight is the last show of the Two Cow/Tim Barry tour, so if you or your friends are in Louisville be sure to check it out!! There are still some more tour diaries on the way next week…

5/22 – Louisville, KY @ Haymarket Whiskey Bar
Upcoming Tim Barry Tour Dates:
5/24 – Las Vegas, NV @ Punk Rock Bowling
6/18 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
6/19 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes
6/20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
6/21 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Upstairs
6/23 – Montreal, Canada @ Divan Orange
6/24 – Toronto, Canada @ Lee’s Place
6/25 – Buffalo, NY @ The Studio at Waiting Room
6/26 – Pittsburgh, PA @ 31st Street Pub
6/27 – Richmond, VA @ The Camel
 
And while you’re at it, pick up music from Two Cow and Tim Barry!

Two Cow Garage Tour Diary Part 2 – Todd Farrell

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[Here’s our next installment of Todd Farrell’s tour diary documenting life on the road with one of his favorite bands, Two Cow Garage! Photo credit @joemaiocco]
May 16
Last nights Columbus show was a really fun one. I’m glad it was, because I wasn’t feeling so great towards the end of the drive in. My throat has been killing me from allergies for the last week or so, and it all kicked on in full force when we got to Columbus. I was pretty low key, didn’t drink much and just inhaled water at every moment. I was worried it would be a bad show (for me) because of it all, but once the house music was cut and the lights came down, adrenaline took over, and all was well.
We played after Tim because it was Columbus. He still had a bigger crowd than we did, but there were still a huge chunk of his crowd that still stuck around to hear us. During load out, Tim came over to Micah and I and said “I think you guys are the best rock and roll band in the world.”
It was Micah’s birthday, and his dad (Jon) was at the show. He was a super nice guy, and brought cupcakes for the band. We talked for a long time about music, East Nashville folks like Otis Gibbs and Tim Easton, guitars, and just everything. He was the sweetest dude, and I’m glad I got to meet him. Vanessa also brought cupcakes, so I thing we’ll be pretty set on sweets for the rest of the tour (if anyone’s thinking of making us cupcakes at some point on this tour, please don’t). Sugar overload in the Two Cow camp.
Being in Columbus, we just went to our homes (and me to Micah and Vanessa’s). She loaded me up on tea, vitamins, salt water, and every other remedy possible for my throat, and I’m feeling much better this morning. Tonight we play at the Grog shop in Cleveland.
May 17
Cleveland has definitely been the best show of the tour so far. So many people came out to the Grog Shop to see both Tim and Two Cow. It’s amazing to play to a ton of people and have a ton of people screaming the words back at you, something I’m still getting used to. I’ve started leaving my mic during “Let the Boys be Girls” because I still have that Two Cow fan in me that just wants to sing along with my arms around the people around me. During the “ba ba ba da ba ba” outro, I tend to just get next to the crowd and sing with them. I feel better there.
Tim Barry told the crowd that he thinks Two Cow Garage is the best rock and roll band in the world. That was the coolest. He also told the entire St. Louis gear theft story with it. I had t really thought about that in a while, which I think is a good thing, but it was also a good thing to be reminded. “The best and worst 24 hours of our lives” is something we tend to describe it as. Everything we own that has any value at all, gone in an instant. Then in 5 hours, this amazing music community we’re part of basically gave it all back to us. It’s still surreal to think about. People can be ugly, but people can also be the most wonderful creatures. Most of the people coming to these shows are the latter. It’s an amazing feeling to be surrounded by so much love.
Driving to Detroit tomorrow.
Upcoming Two Cow Garage/Tim Barry shows:
5/19 – Indianapolis, IN @ The White Rabbit Cabaret
5/20 – Chicago, IL @ Gman Tavern
5/21 – St Louis, MO @ Off Broadway
5/22 – Louisville, KY @ Haymarket Whiskey Bar
And while you’re at it, pick up music from Two Cow and Tim Barry!