HIDE THE DOG!: Community Records Hits the Road (Summer ’12 Edition)
Touring has become one of the aspects of my life that I look forward to the most. For me, it’s the thing that makes waking up at 6 am, 5 days a week to go serve coffee, lattes and bagels to people on their way to work seem less burdensome. Touring is addictive (more addictive than that coffee I serve) and always a ton of fun. I’ve toured for at least a few weeks out of the year for the past 9 years and I have no intention of stopping soon. This summer’s trip was incredible and has made me even more confident that I want it to continue to be a central part of my life.
Community Records does a tour each summer that features at least two and sometimes three of the acts on our label. This year we sent Stuck Lucky and the Lollies around the Midwest, Northeast and East coast of the United States. If you are unfamiliar with the bands or the label, here’s a quick synopsis. Stuck Lucky is from Nashville; they have been around for about 10 years and play a blend of thrashy punk with ska riffs and are influenced equally by Oingo Boingo, Tom Waits and Operation Ivy. The Lollies are from New Orleans and are a three-piece, well-oiled punk band with introspective lyrics. Community Records is a project that Daniel (D-Ray) Ray and myself have been working on for the past 4 years. We give away all of our downloads for free. Our goal is to spread positivity and to support our friends, as well as to have a foundation for us to release our own music.
I traveled along to work the merchandise table, help keep everyone on schedule and in general keep things moving along smoothly. We did 17 shows in 19 days with both bands traveling in one vehicle in order to save on gasoline and share backline. If you are planning out a tour yourself, I would highly recommend this method. We saved a good amount of money with just one gas tank and one set of gear.
FOOD ON TOUR:
What we primarily eat on tour: peanut butter sandwiches, dry cereal and burritos. We always bring along our own rice cooker to steam rice and beans wherever we are. We will even set up our own makeshift kitchen in the back of the venue if they will let us. This is the easiest way we have found to feed 9 people on less than 9 dollars. Tourritos make tour a reality. But the real reason to tour is to eat at amazing restaurants along the way. Here, I’ll name a few of the go-to places on my list:
• Yat’s (Indianapolis, Indiana): A Creole kitchen owned and operated by Joe Vuskovich. Joe originally owned Visko’s (seafood spot on the Westbank). The restaurant offers delicious plates of New Orleans-style slop served over rice. The walls are lined with Schwegmann’s grocery bags, Jazz Fest artifacts and Saints gear. Every time we show up, Joe feeds us for free just for mentioning that we’re from New Orleans. It rules.
• The Grease Trucks (New Brunswick, New Jersey): A late night college spot that offers pretty much any greasy food inside a sandwich. A staple of Rutgers University, all of the sandwiches have names that start with FAT. My favorite, the Fat Indian: falafel, mozzarella sticks, french fries, lettuce, tomato, marinara sauce (replace the mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce for hummus). This place is more for the experience of going rather than to find top-notch cuisine.
• The Chicago Diner (Chicago, Illinois): Established in 1983, this place is a vegetarian and vegan paradise. The food is tasty and well-priced for the quality. I recommend ordering off of the breakfast/brunch menu. They also have their own bakery!
• Blackbird Pizzeria (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania): They offer a vegan Philly cheesesteak that (and I know this is hard to believe) is better than most classic cheesesteaks. I have trouble not ordering two of them.
INSIDE JOKES AND UNEXPECTED JOYS OF TOURING:
Traveling around for a few weeks with a group of 9 friends has its way of creating unique experiences that only really seem funny or interesting to those that were on the trip. But I’ll try my best to describe them anyway.
GIVE ME SOMETHING TO BREAK!
There’s nothing like watching Zach from the Lollies passionately sing “Break Stuff” by Limp Bizkit to a crowd of fifteen people, with a backing band called Craving Chaos (New Hampshire nu metal cover band). Glorified karaoke, Zach won over the crowd with his on-point rendition of the (unfortunately) unforgettable ‘90s bro-down anthem. Zach also purchased at least one, if not two 23 ounce cans of Arizona brand “Arnold Palmer” at every gas station we stopped at. I am pretty sure this resulted in about 35 cans of the tasty lemonade-iced tea hybrid consumed in a 19 day period.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN THIS HOUSE???!!!
We got yelled at by an irate landlord in Long Island. Apparently the person we were staying with was supposed to ask permission to have anyone crash at his house for the evening. He was already on thin ice and our presence made everyone feel terribly uncomfortable. Our solution was to bolt as quickly as possible (hiding the dog we had traveling with us by wrapping him in a sleeping bag) and go get pizza ASAP.
MY NAME IS GREG!!!!!!
This was the running quote and joke for the tour. I fell asleep (or mostly asleep) before everybody else when we slept in Connecticut. I had this pseudo-nightmare where I was being interrogated by the CIA or something. I guess in the dream they were looking for somebody who I needed to prove that I was not. So my response was to scream at the top of my lungs “No, My Name is GREG!” and it became everyone else’s favorite thing to say or shout for the next week and a half. It even became part of the lyrics for one of the new Lollies songs (let’s see if it makes their new album).
Touring rules. It’s a reason not to have a “real job” and it provides an opportunity to interact with people all around the country and even the world. Music is communication. To be able to communicate with new and different people each night is such a blessing. I came home refreshed and ready to take on new projects and pick up where I left off. Also, seeing how other towns operate inspires me. I feel lucky for what we have and it gives me new ideas on how to make improvements on my projects. Taking in some fresh perspective never fails to make me feel that with a positive attitude I can contribute to making my hometown a better place. Peace always.
Greg Rodrigue is the co-owner of Hey! Cafe and Community Records. For more information on Stuck Lucky and the Lollies, check out communityrecords.org