Last night was a Monday. I played at the Pirate Underground, in the basement of the student union at East Carolina University, to the sounds of people playing pool and ping-pong. Before the show, me and the Student Union ladies moved something like forty armchairs by hand to make a comfy, inviting seating area in front of the stage. It was a workout. We’re all basically 0% body fat now.
It’s scary to play quiet songs. I have this thing in my head that tells me I have to rock out non-stop for an entire set in order not to put people to sleep, but the truth is, no sober audience WANTS to rock continuously. I didn’t run breathalizers on anyone in the armchairs, but the sense I got was that they were content with the amount of rocking they were treated to, and enjoyed the story songs and quiet stuff, too.
I can’t vouch for sobriety or enjoyment among the dudes playing pool. That’s hard to tell sometimes. Still, nobody whacked me with a pool cue. And during “Tainted Love,” they even gave me a CLAP CLAP at the beginning of each line, without prompting. Pretty good for a Monday night :)
On Tuesday, we got up before the crack of dawn to hear Kidd Kraddick In The Morning play Taylor’s latest studio demo on the air. The show is carried on something like 70 stations and Taylor’s Myspace page instantly got thousands of hits. Pretty awesome.
That afternoon I drove out to Ruston, Louisiana and played a show in The Tonk at Louisiana Tech University. No one knew why it was called “The Tonk.” One theory was that it used to be a honky tonk. I like to think it was the site of Louisiana’s historic 1937 Tonka Truck Rally.
Lots of smiling faces and friendly people, plus I had a stage, a couple lights, and a loud sound system, so I was a happy solo acoustic rock star.
Afterwards some students from Grambling invited me to play at an event at their school a couple days later, but I had to take a rain check due to previous commitments. But I’d love to come back another time, if you’re reading this, Grambling :)
Got back to Dallas at about 2 AM and went right to sleep. Got up (relatively) early the next day and flew home to see Daniel Lee play a Chapel Hill show I set up for him. Another late night and another story entirely.
I got home from Virginia on Friday, put fresh socks in my suitcase and headed back out on Saturday to play in Texas. My winning streak of delay-free air travel was broken by ice issues in Dallas, and I ended up missing my Austin show with Taylor Davis and Bryan Dunn.
Which was a bummer, but I headed down to Austin the next day anyway and just visited a bit. My brother introduced me to Veggie Heaven, which was truly amazing. The food was cheap and delicious and I had iced “bubble tea” with pearls of tapioca root in it.
On Monday I returned to Dallas and played Opening Bell Coffee with Becky Middleton, Jackson Edwards, Chase Gassaway, and Jaimee Harris. The tortilla soup was awesome. The music was good too. And my friend Alex from the band Tripp told his parents about the show and they came and stayed to the end, which was truly impressive for a Monday night. Kudos to the Wilkins family. And to the other performers on the bill. And to Cafe Brazil or wherever it was where we got crepes afterwards. Is this a music or a food blog? Sorry.
At Shepherd today, it was inspiring to see random people go from “hmmph, french fries again…” to “let’s boogie!” and spontaneously dance in the lunchroom during my set. I was, however, utterly unprepared for the free-teddy-bear feeding frenzy that ensued afterwards and barely escaped with my life.
Punchiness arrived full-force at the day’s second show. James Madison University witnessed the emergence of “Tad Dreis, pseudo-philosophical music trivia monologist,” and his alter-ego “Sniffles, the sentimental balladeer,” who eventually strapped himself onto the sled and pushed over the edge of “This Slope Closed Due to Rocking” and did a few flips. Par for the course at a late-night Valentine’s show.
Ryan Villanueva played before me at JMU and was solid as a rock. A really chill, funky rock with a bluegrassy bounce on looper astroturf.
Footnote: no travel difficulties! What’s the big deal with that, you ask? We should discuss “Tad’s 2007 Valentine’s Day Massacre” another time.
Next up: the drive home, then Texas and Louisiana.
Two Valentine’s Day shows this Thursday!
11 AM – Shepherdstown WV – Shepherd University
8 PM – Harrisonburg VA – James Madison University
If you’d like even more Tad Dreis connectivity, I’ve just joined Twitter, so you can get little random status updates about me on your cell phone, your RSS reader, or just by looking at the right column of my webpage. You could even put MY status on YOUR webpage, if you really wanted to! The internets are truly too good to us.
This past Wednesday I drove extremely carefully to my show at Uncommon Ground. It was my first Chicago show in four years, and I played on a bill with two very nice and very talented acts: Mira Mira and Ben Sollee.
Ben’s a singer/songwriter and cellist. He bows the cello the way you’d imagine, but he also fingerpicks it like a guitar and thumps it like a string bass. And sings soulfully. Before the show, he lost his wedding ring in the snow! It was awful but he kept his chin up. Please take a moment, dear readers, and send reunion vibes for Ben and his Precious (or a dollar, to help buy him a new Precious).
Speaking of reunions, at this show I got to visit with my old friend Grace, who I hadn’t seen in ten years. Coincidentally, Uncommon Ground is located on the corner of Clark and, wait for it, Grace Street. Furthermore, Jeff Buckley played a now-legendary concert at the same club in 1994. He was promoting his first album, which was also titled “Grace.”
U2 much? This walkway in the Detroit airport is awesome. There’s this sort of Brian Eno ambient soundtrack playing and the lights pulse and change along with it. I stopped and just watched it for awhile. Then I remembered I had a flight to catch.
This is the student center at the University of Findlay, where I played at lunchtime on Monday. The picture is blurry but it captures the scene: microphone, people talking, some looking up and smiling, others in the background doing their own thing. Everybody clapped after each song, so it’s all good :)
Right now I’m kind of snowed-in in Chicago. I was supposed to play at lunchtime for students at College of DuPage, but the weather shut us down. We shall see about Uncommon Ground tonight. Call ahead to 773-929-3680 to make sure it’s still on, and be careful on the roads!
Let’s see, do I really need two 600-page books in my suitcase? It’s hard to pack for all eventualities, but at least I won’t lack for reading material on this trip, which is important for the downtime when you’re cat-sitting at your cousin’s apartment in-between shows.
The Shows page has details, but I’ll be in Findlay OH on Monday, then the Chicago area on Wednesday, then back to Sylvania OH on Thursday.
Depending on internet access, I’ll be blogging about each day’s rock ‘n roll adventure right here. Stay tuned.