Road Blog: Saturday June 16, 2018 - Ithaca, NY
June 16, 2018
We left Buffalo at noon with bellies full of hotel breakfast bar food and heads spinning from too much caffeine. Gabe was at the wheel as we listened to Liz Phair and Neko Case and drove through hilly, mountainous back country and talked about the futility of our efforts to eat healthy on the road, the trade war with our country’s allies, and the upcoming elections. Upstate New York is beautiful country, and in places it can look as back-woodsy as the deep south or northern Michigan (good and bad). We made it to our hotel without stopping and checked in. Gabriel went to get some lunch and Patrick and I chilled out and watched this movie Four Brothers (movie) with Mark Whalberg. It was cool that it was filmed and took place in Detroit, but other than that it was pretty much two hours of my life that I’ll never get back.
Our hotel is about 40 minutes south of Ithaca so we headed north down more winding back roads and eventually hit the city, pointing out crappy hotels we’ve stayed at before and waxing nostalgic about past gigs there. Crowds have been a bit thin on this run, and I’d be lying if I said we were optimistic about the show we were heading to. Ithaca is a college town, and in the summer its population is cut in half. No matter, we had a job to do, and we love the town, so there we were.
We parked the van behind the bar and expelled a collective gasp as we took in the stairs leading up to the stage. Three flights, then a hallway and another short flight. Fortunately, the venue provided a backline drum kit and bass rig, so that saved a lot of work, but I still had amps, and we had plenty of other gear and merch to haul. We got loaded in, said hello to the bartenders and sound engineer, and took off on foot to get some food. We were surprised to run into Dan and Dawn near the bar, some friends from the Cleveland, Oho area who drove in for the show. We said hellos and agreed to meet back up closer to showtime.
The Range sits on a promenade called State Street that’s blocked off to cars. There’s loads of restaurants and stores and bars. Too many good food options! We ended up at a joint called Luna Inspired Street Food and it was really, really great. I got this Bayou Street Plate that had a fried chicken leg, a strip of fried catfish, half of an andouille sausage, locally-sourced collard greens, molasses-cider slaw, and cornbread with honey-compound butter.
The Range is a big square room above a department store with high ceiling, a bar along one side, and a big stage in the corner. We met Cass, the sound engineer, and she couldn’t have been more friendly. We ordered beers, set up, and soundchecked as people started coming in, ordering drinks, checking the merch booth out, and asking about the band. The boys struggled just a little with the house gear, as is often the case when it’s not your stuff, but they got it all in order fairly quickly. Cass had us dialed in great, and we kicked off three hours of music at 9:30 to a medium-sized audience that quickly grew to a respectable room with no open tables, dancers, couples, hippies, girls-night-outs, and whoever else might have meandered in to catch some tunes. It was refreshing to play in front of a good crowd for the first time in a couple nights, and people were appreciative and responsive to our music. We had a great time up there, took a short break around 11, and wrapped up somewhere short of 12:30am. My pal Jim, a transplant from Montreal and common friend of many of my friends up there, showed up and we got caught up between sets and after the show, and Dawn and Dan set up camp at table #1 and worked on a steady stream of Miller Lites as the evening went on.
We loaded out, I sucked down one last Redemption Rye, and we hit the street to find a late-night bite before the commute back to our hotel. We settled on slices at a busy, bar-crowd spot, and they were serviceable but nothing to applaud. As we were eating, one of the above-mentioned audience members from the show came by with his guitar and begged us to let him play a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song for us. We hemmed and hawed a bit, and Dawn finally relented, saying we’d listen if he wanted to play, so he sat Indian-style on the street and strummed some tune that I’d never heard for well over the 2:40 he quoted us. Patty wasn’t impressed. I asked him why he didn’t sing, he muttered something about not being able to do that, handed his guitar to anther dude who was also at the show and had joined us, and he played some grunge tune, handed the guitar to me and took off. I tried tuning it, gave up quickly and we were off. Dan and Dawn requested their Uber, we said out goodbyes, and Pat got us back to the hotel just before 2am.
This morning I was up at 5:55am for some stupid reason. I tossed and turned for a couple hours then came down to the lobby to do some accounting, write the blog, and send my dad John a Father’s Day gift. He’s out on the West Coast, so I might not be able to talk to him till later today, but in case he sees this first, Happy Father’s Day pops! Hope it’s a great one!
Thanks to The Range, Cass, D&D (as TrooperGirl22 calls Dawn and Dan), Jim, and everyone else who came out last night for helping us cap this run off with a really good show! And thanks to YOU for reading the blog. We’re back at it in two weeks for the last run of the Spring/Summer tour and then it’s a couple months off to work on new material.