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Friday, September 28, 2007

9.26-27.07: Los Angeles

Here are some more pictures from New Horizons:

New Horizons' mission states: "New Horizons empowers adults with developmental disabilities to fulfill their dreams." To learn more about them, here's a link to their website:

Again, this was a day I will never forget. We had such a great time.

As far as the L.A. Avalon show went, it was truly memorable.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

9.25.07: The Fillmore: San Fran

Sacramento Airport

Chilling at the Golden Gate

Some inspirational history in the dressing room at the Fillmore

Today, 9.26.07, we just played the best show of the tour.

This show to remember took place at New Horizons' cafeteria.

¡Con mucho amor, desde Cuba!


Monday, September 24, 2007

9.22-23.07: Seattle - San Diego

Even though the schedule has been hectic, I don't think I've ever been on a tour with so many restful nights.

I'm not up thinking about philosophical problems (what is reality, problem of evil, you know just some light thinking for bedtime), or crying in my bunk about being away from home (you know, your own loving family and beautiful home). Instead, I'm getting up before sunrise to go to my favorite place in the world: the airport! All the wonderful people, the clean toilets, the lost luggage, the friendly security guards throwing out brand new tubes of tooth paste, hell yeah! What else could I ask for?

Seattle 9.22.07
9:00 a.m. - wake up in an industrial wasteland.
10:30 a.m. - photo shoot.
1:00 p.m. - breakfast at a local Greek dinner.
2:00 p.m. - phone interview
3:00 p.m. - usually time for soundcheck, but there's none today so I walk around in circles in the parking lot.
5:00 p.m. - go to hotel to shower
6:30 p.m. - radio interview at EndFest.
8:00 p.m. - write a new song
10:30 p.m. - crew loads-in
11:00 p.m. - scheduled show time.
11:30 p.m. - re-scheduled show time
11:45 p.m. - waiting around in dressing room, wondering why it's taking so long.
12:00 a.m. or so - finally go on without a soundcheck, which definitely affected me, couldn't hear very well.
1:00 a.m. - finish set.
1:15 a.m. - talk to fans outside.
2:00 a.m. - go to bed.
4:30 a.m. - wake up at airport.
6:00 a.m. - fly to Sacramento
9:00 a.m. - fly to San Diego

San Diego 9.23.07
11:00 a.m. - rent cars and load gear
11:45 a.m. - drive to venue
12:30 p.m. - arrive to a very disorganized festival in Chula Vista; none of our gear (drums, rhodes, etc.) was there, start asking other bands to help: Album Leaf, Switchfoot, Sha-na-na. Thanks again guys!
1:00 p.m. - two video interviews (me and Darren)
2:00 p.m. - eat bad catering
3:00 p.m. - set up to play set, still without everything, namely, no marching drum.
4:15 p.m. - go to a meet-and-greet signing. The SoCal sun and awesome fans made me feel better after a hard show.
5:45 p.m. - another meet-and-greet.
6:30 p.m. - leave for In-N-Out Burger.
7:30 p.m. - get to hotel.
8:15 p.m. - get to room; why does this take so long? There needs to be a special qualifications test for people doing this job.
10:00 p.m. - finally, fall asleep.
6:00 a.m. - wake up to go to the airport to do it all over again!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

9.21.07: Portland, Oregon: Roseland Theater

After smashing my glasses on Jimmy Kimmel, I had some things to take care the days following, not to mention that I busted an upright string in Boise; strings are so expensive for double basses, about $25 per string; so, roughly, about $100 for a set of strings. Fortunately, I had some time to accomplish many things while in Portland.

First, I searched in Portland for strings, but they were $170 a set; thankfully, my friend in Nashville sent me some for a great price. Second, I found some frames for $10 at this rock-n-roll type store on Hawthorne street. Third, I got my eye exam; it had been two years, and finally, I went to a great doctor, who I invited to the show, but he was actually going to see the Smashing Pumpkins that night. After getting my prescription, I placed an order at Lenscrafters, and they had my new glasses within two hours. I kicked around the mall on a Friday night before the show. I hadn't hung out in a mall in a long time. It made me not want to have kids, to say the least, well not to have teenagers.

After 8pm, I headed back to the venue just in time to get changed and watch the last song of Eisley. They were great, and the crowd was really energetic for them, too. Portland has consistently been one of the best cities for us over the past year and half. The fans are just crazy and ready for a good time. I think this has been one of the best shows of this tour, next to Vancouver.

Portland, OR : Roseland : picture by Doug Sassaman.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

9.19.07: Boise, ID: Mississippi Nights

We left L.A. at 6am, after a crazy day of filming Kimmel; we arrived in Boise safely but toasted. This was our first show of the tour with Eisley, which I believe will be a nice fit for the bill. They are really sweet and talented people.

Miraculously, when show time came around, I felt okay, despite getting only a total of eight hours of sleep for the last three nights. Moreover, the experience of traveling through airports just wears me out. I can't stand airports, and hope that something changes in this country (and the world for that matter) concerning the manner in which this industry is ran.

Anyway, we had a great show in Boise. Frankly, I was surprised at the turn out. We had a fun time playing, and the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves, too.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jimmy Kimmel: 9.18.07

We did it. I can't believe it, but we pulled it off, thanks to the help of a lot of willing people. We re-created and in some ways, re-interpreted our video for "Typical" on national t.v.

In the midst of the chaos of silly string and confetti, the blur of the moment got blurrier. That is, I broken my glasses and broke a bass in half. I lost my specs at the beginning of the shoot. You may see me searching for them on t.v., but to no avail.

I can't wait to see it air tonight on Kimmel. Again, Jimmy was really kind and nice to us, saying that he "loved us." I don't think any other late night show would have been able to do this. The amount of planning and work was heavy, and the willingness to pull it all off was impressive.

If you can, try to watch it later on tonight. God bless.


Monday, September 17, 2007

9.16.07: Victoria, BC: Sugar & 9.17.07: Vancouver, BC: Commodore

Cold. Rainy. Dark day for me in Victoria. Unfortunately, these days come around sometimes, and personally, I'd like to forget it and move on. Vancouver, here we come.

--------------a boat ride & eight hours of sleep later----------------------------

In Vancouver, I saw some awesome dogs today, which always brighten my day:

This venue looks amazing!I can't believe we are playing here. I'm really stoked about tonight, especially since the last two haven't been so great. Thank God this day has come!

Here are some pictures from Vancouver, taken by Chad Koehn:


Saturday, September 15, 2007

9.14.07: The Warehouse: Calgary, AB

Wow, this show was really rough for us, probably one of the roughest in the past year. First of all, we couldn't take in a fraction of our production (lights, video, monitor desk, etc.) because the club was ill equipped, namely, poor power, few loaders, no space, and no time! (apparently this place becomes a dance nightclub full druggies at 9pm, and they made us absolutely clear out before 9pm-thus, no encore even though I understood that people cheered on for a good bit. Sorry!). Lack of production led to us not having adequate monitors, i.e., if you can't hear yourself, you're not going to play well. Are you still with me? Think about that the next time your watching a t.v. performance of your favorite band or an episode of American Idol. You'd be surprised that many of these shows can't get monitors straight, or something goes wrong between soundcheck (if there even is a soundcheck) and performance time, which 9 times out of ten monitors always sound different because the room changes, i.e., it fills up with people, well hopefully. So, it's easy to judge from a distance, especially when you don't know what has gone down behind the scene.

So, despite our not-so-great-performance, the crowd was very nice and tolerant of our misgivings. Thank you, Calgary. Next time, it will be better.

I'll leave you with an old show:


Friday, September 14, 2007

9.13.07: Edmonton, AB: Dinwoodie Lounge

Our time in Edmonton was nice I must say. It was beautiful weather, sunny and cool. What a change from Regina, eh? Despite the weather and location, the Regina show went well. Darren and I went to a radio station (Sonic 102.9) in the afternoon, and had a good little interview, which apparently aired later in the day. After our interview, my day really brighten up when I saw this amazing dog hanging outside of Starbucks, which by the way, I hadn't gone to S-bucks in quite a while. I wanted to take this little thing with me. He reminded me of my sweeties.

Here are some pictures of the day:


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

9.12.07: Regina, SK: The Distrikt

I woke up in an industrial area of Regina. It's cold and rainy. Most of the buildings are painted grey and pale blue. It feels surreal, dream-like. Honestly, I don't want to be here. My head has been pounding since I lifted it from my pillow, probably due to the dramatic change in weather. I want it to all go away . . .

A couple of hours later, things turn around a bit because after some Emergen-C and ibu, my body adjusts, and after a phone conversation with mi media naranja y mi mama, my mind accepts that I'll soon be away from this situation. Moreover, I hear that the ticket count is really high tonight, almost a sell-out already, which eases my thoughts of spending my time away from my family.

Touring is always hard. One just adjusts to the life of it in order to stay sane.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

09.11.07: Winnipeg, MB: West End Cultural Centre

After two days of being in "the-middle-of-no-where, Canada" without cell phone service and internet, it's nice to be in a place that provides such lifelines. I can understand how there is a certain beauty to being disconnected, out in the big wide open spaces, basking in the breath-taking scenes of creation, but that's great when you are with your better-half perhaps; in other words, touring is already hard (i.e., being away from my family and home), but without these electrical lifelines, it really sucks.

So, finally, we are in Winnipeg, MB, and I believe that we'll have a nice show tonight. I pray that the sound system is in check. You never know with these small cities. Regardless, we'll make the best of it.

Today marks six years since the 9.11 attacks. It also marks one year since I closed on my house. I vividly remember both days, one of horror and fear and the other of joy and fear!

Another mark for this seemingly ominous day is the death of Joe Zawinul. The headline reads: "Jazz Legend Joe Zawinul Dies at 75 . . . Joe Zawinul, who soared to fame as one of the creators of jazz fusion and performed and recorded with Miles Davis . . . Zawinul suffered from a rare form of skin cancer . . . Zawinul, who was born in the Austrian capital, Vienna, and emigrated to the United States in 1959, is credited with bringing the electric piano and synthesizer into the jazz mainstream . . . Zawinul wrote several important songs, among them the slow and funky hit 'Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.'"

I'll report back on the show later this evening. Au revoir!

ps. I'm addicted to this video:

Tonight's show went well. First of all, it was a sell-out, which is always nice, especially since we've never been here before. I was feeling a bit out-of-it during the show; however, things turned around when we hit "Obsolete," namely because I felt like I connected with the vibe of the music. Unfortunately, we couldn't use any of our lights tonight due to inadequate power. Hopefully, next time we come around, we'll be able to do so. The pictures above were hanging in the venue; the first is of a painting down on plywood. The second is one of my favorite guitarist. Next city: Regina.


Monday, September 10, 2007

9.8.07: Toronto, ON: V-Fest

This was a night to remember: Bjork, MIA, Paolo, Interpol, did I mention Bjork?

First of all, just headlining the second largest stage was really cool, and then, seeing Paolo Nutini out in the crowd watching us was the icing. I dig his voice. When we were first setting up, I was bit nervous as only about 20 people were out front, but as the night went on, the people came. I think that was our first time headlining a stage at a festival. The next night of the festival, the Editors headlined that stage.

Then, the strawberry on top of that icing was seeing Bjork, not only live (which was utterly amazing) but also being back stage with her. I hear she doesn't care for pictures too much; so, I didn't pry to get a picture with her. Her voice was flawless. The beats and horn section sounded ridiculously good. Song after song, I was singing along, and my heart jumped when a song started because it seemed like she was playing all my favorites, from "Joga" and "All Is Full of Love" to "Hyper Ballad" and "Unravel."

Waiting on the pier.

backstage on the picnic tables.

M.I.A. rocked it.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

London, ON: Rum Runners: 9.07.07

The last show we had in London, ON was rough, in my personal opinion. The place was too small and too crammed to make everyone feel comfortable. It's difficult to play a place that sells tickets where only half the room is going to see the band. It's really frustrating because there's no way of controlling that on our end except by canceling the show, which wouldn't be fair to the other half. It's amazing how many clubs around the country do this. They tell us capacity is 800, but they fail to mention that 300 of those 800 are outside on a patio with little to no view of the band and clear out of the way of the sound system. Cheap, sneaky weasels. So, what do you do? Live, learn, and laugh.

Tonight's is more than adequate in space and capacity. I hope that those who couldn't see us well last time have the will to return and gives a second chance. I'm sure it will be a better experience this time around.

As far as life on the road, I've adopted some type of routine. For one, I've been studying French a little everyday. For two, I'm a lover of the classics; so, I've decided to re-read Cervantes' Don Quixote. (I must note that it's not in the original, old Castellano; perhaps, one day I'll take that on.) Thirdly, I've been trying out a workout routine, nothing too strenuous, but hopefully, some thing to help me avoid gaining those road pounds. Fourth, I've been blogging more frequently. This is truly a stress reliever and gives me an outlet. Everyone needs an outlet; Darren's is making tracks right now to blow off some steam. I asked him about last night's show in Ottawa, and how he was feeling today; this is what he said:


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ottawa, ON: Capital Music Hall: 9.06.07

Today's load-in was really rough. It can be summed up in one word: stairs! It's nice having a crew, which means most of the time the band doesn't have to load in and out; however, when days like today come by, it's hard just to sit back and watch. Greg worked his butt off this morning, when he didn't have to at all. Much respect to him and our crew! Don't worry. I threw in my two-cents worth, too.

So, this is only our second time playing Ottawa; the first was The Blues Fest this past summer, which I have to admit was a bit strange; however, the fans here were really great, and I can't wait to see them again. Tonight's show should be a good one because of them. More will come later . . .


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Montreal, QC: Le National: 9.5.07

I woke up around 9:30am to go into the immigration building. Cold air and artificial light flooded the office. Pictures of missing persons covered the wall. Signs in French and English are posted everywhere, and I pass the time reading them all. I think about only the one or two French phrases I know.

There is always this ego trip thing happening with at least one of the agents. I can't stand being in these places, but I have no choice. After some time of sitting and waiting, we make our way onto the venue in Montreal.

We've never played at Le National before, and I must say that it is pretty amazing. Small theaters are always nice to perform in. The vibe of the place is so important, and can sometimes make or break a show. Thankfully, we are playing a lot of small theaters on this tour.

Later on, I'll report on the show, which I predict is going to be crazy (it always is in Montreal), and hopefully, I'll have some pictures and videos to share as well. Au revoir!

I know this is really low-fi, but it's fun to do while on stage. Perhaps, I can figure out a way to get it sounding and looking better. Stay tuned . . .


Vintage cab used on MM debut (two 15" Jensen speakers).