Monday, September 1, 2014

Three States and No Brakes

The Mad-Dub-Chi Tour
Little Man headed out on a small regional tour this past weekend hitting Madison, Dubuque and Chicago, supporting the new album Original Face. It's pretty fun to hit some cool cities over a long weekend and build up more fans and sell some albums. Brian Herb and Sean Gilchrist and I hopped in Walley the Waldoch van and headed out on the road. Meanwhile Brian is in the back asking me about this window shade that has been broken for a couple days, so he took the time to take it all apart while we were in route and totally fixed it! Brian is a true problem solving engineer. I should leave something broken in the van the next time we head out so he has something to do on the drive.

Our first show was in the Madison, WI area, to a place called True Coffee.
First time there, in fact all the clubs we played this time were firsts for us. True Coffee is indeed a coffee house. They roast, brew and serve their own coffee. I was a little unsure about playing there but they say they book all kinds of music. On the bill were a couple solo acoustic acts and a teen trio. It was all ages so the audience was pretty mixed but there were alot of people at this show, so we were very happy. Super small stage for us but we did our thing and enjoyed the set. The headliner brought up his guitar student, who was only 10 years old, and he sang and played his own song and was AMAZING!! The staff was super nice there.

This show was fairly early so we headed back to the place we were staying which was Sean's sister-in-law. Really fun spending time with her, her husband and 3 young girls. That home environment is a good feeling on the road for sure. They have great place across the street from the big lake so we grabbed some beers and hung out lakeside. So nice.

Buying breakfast groceries.
After a big home made breakfast we headed for Dubuque, Iowa and rolled into the Holiday Inn. Nice place! Only two blocks from the club. We also met up with our friend Bryan who was at the show in Madison and wanted to help with gear and merch. We got some press here too so that was cool to see! For food we got a tip to have a burger at Paul's bar so after load in we walked over. This little place was full with taxidermy! All sorts of animals and it was all in these blue lit glass cases that were showcased up high. It was only 8:30pm and people were already lit here. Got bumped into by a couple people walking by and the whole bar stared at me as I sat alone waiting for the guys to return from a smoke. "Who does that guy look like to you??" one guy said and kept pointing and yelling. Johnny Depp was the first response. Uhm sorta, gotten that before so that wasn't so bad. Zappa almost always. Guys get back here already!

Back at The Lift, the show started off with a guitar and vocal duo and fair amount of folks here too. We played two sets and the crowd ended up dwindling but this one guy stood right up in front the whole night dancing.
At one point he dragged over this huge 3 foot or so log to the front and danced with it. It was just hilarious. He was having a great time and so were we!

Photo by Bryan Ludwikoski At The Lift!

After a noon check out, breakfast was at a diner a block from the hotel towards the river. "Sunshine" or something like that it was called. It was just what we needed. Good, very inexpensive food. Sean got the catfish which was deep fried and served to him whole without the fish head. After he was done, all that was left was the full fish bone skeleton and he said he felt like Heathcliff as he held it up for us to see.


At 1pm we roll on to Chicago. 20East out of Dubuque towards Chicago across Illinois is an absolute beautiful drive in the summer. Lots of big rolling green hills and farmland with cool little towns to pass through. I loved Galena, the home of Ulysses S. Grant. This river town was so civil war era looking. I was telling the guys that and then we passed U.S. Grants house and was like "see!!".

So we're driving along on the highway, and Sean was driving, and I look over and the brake light on the dash was on. "Did you hit the emergency brake by accident Sean?" I asked. "No" he replied. After pressing on the brake pedal we knew we had a problem.  - "We have no breaks!! (pause...we each looked at each other) "AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!" Deepest secrets were confessed at 70 mph. -

Well it didn't quite happen like that but it was a bit scary! We were able to exit and get to a gas station to inspect further. We needed break fluid. Bought that, put it in. But then we checked underneath and when we pressed on the brakes it sprayed out the back axle area. This was a bigger problem. Brian got on the phone right away calling service stations. Most were closed. Two were open and one of them had the part we needed and it was 15 miles away in Rockford.
We had to get there quick because they closed in an hour. We knew we could make it if we were very careful. I took the wheel and could press the brake pedal almost to the floor with hardly any resistance but enough to stop the van given plenty of space. Seat belts on and back on the highway. Never hit the brakes. Coasted onto the exit to the stop light. Three stop signals to go! Slowly and giving plenty of space between us and the car ahead, we made it to the service station. The whole brake line needed to be replaced. Staying after hours they were able to do that for us. Whew!! We were so thankful. Still going to make the show. We left them an album too. Chicago or bust!!!
Walley and me

It is so fun for me to return to Chicago because I lived there for 8 years and started Little Man there. Tonight we play The Green Room which is a part of The Abbey Pub. The Abbey's main stage was a Mexican Wrestling event. Rock and wrestling. Our openers were really good with a ripping Chicago blues sound and the headliner was and excellent Americana rock style musician Benjamin Cartel with his band. Real nice people from Brooklyn. Super songwriting skills. Our show was great too. We rocked it. Also big thanks to our Brian Herb for fixing another situation as there was no sound man here!

It felt real good to play in the city again and a group of friends of all of ours showed up to see us. Real happy to see and hang out with old friends. Afterwards we headed over to The Long Room as I know the owners Clark and Jason. It was so cool to be there again. Love stopping by after a show here. Great to catch up. After that we stayed over at my good friend Dave Cottini's place and stayed up late with more friends.
Little Man at The Green Room Pub
Great photo Deb Sonzo!!


Thanks Beth for this late night or early morning Instagram shot!
In the morning we got up pretty early and headed back up to the Twin Cities. Walley surpassed 140,000 miles on the way home! This trip was just over 1000.

My band mates are the best. They are great musicians. I love touring with them and am thankful for their friendship and that special musician band bond comradery. We could have gotten into a serious accident but made it to all our destinations safely. Thanks to all who came out and supported us on this little run. Until next time!!
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