Posts Tagged ‘Jack Lewis’

I loved playing these songs in all their forms.

By Jack Lewis



Photo: Sarah Cass



Tried to find all evidence of its existence on youtube recently. Then moved on to album reviews.

Almost our full set from Primavera is online

(all audio is crap, but sounds better if you use real speakers/get more low end/IE bass/IE me)

First Song:

“In the Beginning” (Written by Jeffrey Lewis, Kimya Dawson, Karl Blau, Jack Lewis and Anders Griffen)

2. Over the Moon

Not sure of the set order after that.

Desert Bundles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbI2pGblMDQ (Primavera)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swo8nv-IDfo&list=PL07EI0qrMrAuSMUmappZzcu6mjG4jOoR9 (Glazart/Paris)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWYXFzOXBmo (Primavera)


Supergroup cover medley

Traveling Wilburys “End of the Line

Raconteurs “Steady As She Goes”

Temple of the Dog “Hunger Strike”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEhNOMHIBOA (Union Chapel/London)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn0M-pQIVRM (Glazart/Paris)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKGHhU5Zoto  (Union Chapel/London)

(Can anyone tell me what the guy at the end of this yells?)



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMYmN04xHMI (jeff and Kimya)

(with extended banter intro: Pavement was there playing some of their first shows on their reunion tour, it was a big deal)


Pirates Declare War

Original audio recording:










(just Audio, live at Brudenell Social Club Leeds/UK)

Album version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kURjCrBbHSk


Last time I played this

Common Chorus


(album version)

Full album:


bundlesPhoto: Sarah Cass


Oh and that Pitchfork Review:


Personally I think this is one of the albums I’m most proud of playing and being a part of.

Recorded/Engineered and “Produced” by Karl Blau at Dub Narcotic, Olympia Washington. It was a dream come true to record there and release something on K records. I even got to draw the K shield on the back of the album.









Album Cover design by Toby Goodshank

Primavera stage

Photo: Anders Griffen (Primavera)


Photo: Eric Lippe (sidewalk cafe)




Photo: Eric Lippe (sidewalk cafe)



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A lost comedy skit I never released featuring the Safdie brothers.

Filmed in 2009. Took a year to edit and still wasn’t done.

The episode is essentially the third East Side Buffet episode after we got canceled in episode 2.

(featuring Claire Titleman, Mikey Kamppmann, Chess Hero and a live performance from The Shaky Hands at Burgerville)

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A story from Nick Zimmerman about his time as a reporter during the Iraq War, a radio play  “I Picked a Winner” and  a song.

(Click the link above not the image below)

Wrong guy Wrong guy

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I can’t get this link to work properly. Ach. I guess you’ll have to copy and paste the URL. Who the hell is going to do that? What an amateur move. I blame WordPress.

Untitled Podcast Project: The Review

Wait, I think that works. Oh boy. If it doesn’t copy and paste the below link.


First episode of my untitled podcast project. This episode is called “The Review.”  It features a short story and a post show discussion with my brother Jeff and Drummer Dave. Topics include the show we just played in Nottingham, UK, Lou Reed and a review by the music critic Robert Christgau on NPR’s All Things Considered. It features music by My Two Toms, Ghostman & Sandman, The Teardrop Explodes and Lou Reed.

Photo 73

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Yesterday morning in Marseilles I found out our good friend Dashan Coram has died. Very shocking. I’ve known him for many years. Recorded in his bedroom and played in his band and he played in mine. He’s a huge presence in the NY music scene I grew up in.

I still can’t believe it. It’s so damn sad.

A few of the old songs he recorded for me appear on my new album. There is an out pouring of love and grief from the huge NY music community.

There is a memorial Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=607220471#!/DashanCoramForever

Back to the road days earlier:


Now in Lille, last night was Brussels and the night before was Amsterdam.

We’re supposed to write a song about the venue we played tonight in Lille. They are hosting us tomorrow and Jeff has been commissioned to write them a ditty. I’m not sure what he will write. We thought of these lyrics: “There is a stage and microphones and it is a venue” (just need a melody). Lou Reed is playing the big room of the same venue. Tickets are 85 Euros. Wow. He’s doing a whole European tour called “From VU to LuLu” I wish I could see one of the shows. (or maybe not)

The night before we were in Brussels. We see our old friend Guillame and we play again with our old friend Seth:

We stayed at our old friend Sabrina’s house. It was very nice. her boyfriend Louie runs a used bookstore and he shows us a book he has from the 16th century.

I stayed up all night on the internet and today was very tired. I slept through dinner.

Played with a cool band in Brussels called Joy as a Toy.

Back home I get updates from Marci about the new roof that we are getting, it’s very stressful that I am not able to be home to over-see the work. We had them put in 3 skylights, but they put them in very roughly and now we need to fix the holes. AAAA.

In Amsterdam I met up with Marci’s cousin Emille, who moved her years ago and has a wife and child now. I have a great time hanging out at the Jewish museum and walking the streets. We have a really cool conversation about lots of different topics.

Music, art, creative lives, relationships. It was good.

In Lille. I forget if I mentioned this. On the first day of tour I realize that I’ve forgotten to bring two pairs of jeans. I had two pairs ready to go, but forgot one. I can’t survive 5 weeks on tour with 1 pair of jeans. A couple days in and my one pair of pants has already developed a hole in the knee. What the hell? I just bought these jeans (second hand sure) but really they should last longer. Ach.

(When I image searched ripped jeans I found this image:

I tried buying pants in Amsterdam but they were pricey and didn’t fit that well. In Lille, there’s an H & M near the venue. I’ve never bought anything from and H & M, maybe never been in there, but I am now the happy owner of a fresh pair of blue H & M pants. Sort of like jeans, but not really. My brother was jealous of my new pants, he wanted his own pair. Ha.

The venue we play in Lille is hosting Lou Reed in a month (we played the small stage, he will play the big stage) tickets are 85 Euros, 2,000 capacity and he gets the whole door. The venue is government-funded and will lose lots of money on the show. French tax payer money going to support Lou and his crew. It doesn’t seem that reasonable.

Also in Lille, the venue is near a gypsy camp. I’ve never seen such a  thing. Lots of trailers and trash and scrap every where. And gypsy’s walking around, lots of kids.

Another world. I don’t think we see many real gypsies in America. More hippies and faux gypsies.

In Lyon we play a weird small festival that has two stages.One stage is techno DJs (or house or whatever dance music is), the other stage is weird cult bands not many people care about. Our stage is us, Gallon Drunk, Black Jaspers (Side project of King Kahn), Rocket from the Tomb (old 70’s punk/proto metal band with Dave Thomas who later formed Peru Ubu) and a  band called the Spits (who came out wearing Ronald Reagan masks (great shtick).

During our set it starts pouring rain, there are some hard-core fans up front and then everyone else hiding in the back. When the rain stops more people come out, but then there’s more rain and then hail and everyone disperses again. Oh well.

The festival has amazing weird/scary  composting toilets. The toilets  dust and the pissers have hay.





Some members of the band the Black Lips are hanging out with King Kahn.

We played with them in Barcelona at a big show for Primavera. I say hi to one of them who says his name is Cole.  he remembers  Jeff’s history of the Fall. I tell him I heard him on NPR with Kesha.


They’re much more media savvy then Jeff. Also they appear too cool to care really who we are. King Kahn is nice though. I had him read my tarot cards at Primavera a couple years ago.

Jeff and I watch Rocket From The Tombs.

Jeff tells me Cheeta Chrome is on bass and that he heard whole episode of Ken Katkin’s Trash Flow Radio dedicated to him. He says he told Dave Thomas backstage, but he didn’t respond or care at all.

After the show I decide to tell Cheeta. Dave Thomas is sitting exhausted. I tell him I saw him years ago at Prospect park, he doesn’t care. I tell Cheeta about Ken Katkin’s show. “Oh yeah” he says, “Cheeta really held the whole band together, was the glue” I guess he’s not Cheeta Chrome.

The festival is a day thing and it’s over on the early side. Back at hotel I’m able to have a nice video- chat with Marci back in Portland.  She’ shows me the new skylight in our bathroom and a bunch of garden work she’s done.

It’s late but I’m hungry so I go out and get churro and some pizza around 2 AM. Ug.

The next morning I wake up to the phone ringing. Drummer Dave says we’re late. I feel totally dizzy and hung over. I feel nauseous, I have some sort of pizza hangover.

It’s a long drive to Bordeaux. Err.

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4th day on the road.

Driving from Amsterdam to Brussels I put on an episode of WNYC Soundcheck. Mike Watt is the guest. He talks about keeping a tour diary to stay sane on tour.

I didn’t feel like keeping one yet, but I feel the craziness and depression creeping in, maybe it was driving in traffic today or maybe it was … the usual.

So some memories from the first few days.

I fly from Portland to Philly and get a flight to Paris. I’ve taken some Tylenol Pm to sleep and I drift in and out of some restless rest. My TV is broken so I can’t watch any movies. I suppose this is good I need to sleep. But perhaps I would have watched with Sherlock 2, The Artist, or ….

In Rouen. We’re playing an arts center, very nice space and they’ve let us rehearse in some studios they have there also very nice. But there are some issues with the bathrooms. The first night I use the men’s room and notice there is no toilet paper. Luckily I have toilet paper in my bookbag left over from a hike earlier that week. What luck! When I’m done I grab some toilet paper and paper towels from the women’s bathroom next door and leave some for the next person.

The women’s room is fully stocked. Which is nice. The next day I’m shocked when I return to the same men’s bathroom and there is still no toilet paper or paper towels.

Again I grab some from the fully stocked women’s room. I guess no one told the guy to re-stock and damned if I’m going to do it.

That night after our show there is another band playing in the big room. It’s a huge 35 piece big band playing great big band music,  Gypsy brass, Samba, big band jazz, white soul. It’s a treat to see/hear.

In Rouen we try to see the famous Rouen Cathedral made famous by Monet’s paintings. We drive around and pass two possible locations. We don’t have time to stay long. Jeff and I were here many years ago and we both drew pictures of the Cathedral, but we’re not sure which one it was.

The venue screens a French documentary about the radical 60’s group the Diggers. It’s not that great, but it does have some interesting discussions about freedom and liberty. I’m very jet lagged and end up staying up late. The next day I’m exhausted, but when the night comes I can’t sleep that well again. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diggers_%28theater%29)

Other Rouen tid-bit. Our rooms were on the 5th floor of a hotel. 1st off it was nice that we got hotel rooms, a real luxury for us on tour. 2nd, I forced myself to walk up and down the stairs at least a few times to get some much needed exercise. Man it’s tough to do that.

Other news. I don’t have toothpaste and haven’t brushed in days. Very bad. Just chomping a box of mints I bought in Virginia. I feel very embarrassed every time I talk to someone. (and I also feel bad for all the people I make out with —joking)

In Paris I meet Julian who is friends with the Herman Dune crew and Jeff, I feel like I’ve never met him before. He’s a painter/artist and it’s nice to talk a little art/music with him.

I’m sad the night before in Paris my old friend Carter played with the band Lower Dens. We just missed each other. This happens with Jeff Brodsky, another friend who played Amsterdam the night before we did. (he plays drums in Yacht).

We’re playing tonight with some old friends and influential people to Jeff’s musical life. Ish Marquez and Seth Fergolzia (Dufus).

Lisa Li Lund the Herman Dune sister comes, haven’t seen her in years.  We don’t have a place to stay for the evening, but then a friend from New York– Julie from Ching Chong song and The Wowz– is there and can host a couple of us.  she’s in Paris to perform in what sounds like a wild crazy experimental theater/opera piece that she’s been working with for years).

Jeff and I go to Lisa’s place. She has awesome books and drawings and stuff and a funny yippy dog named Cookie Balboa. She gives us shirts that she made for her band, they are amazing. Drawn by our friend Mayon. I wish our t-shirts looked half as cool. Our shirts look like shit.

In the morning we all meet up and Julie takes us to a special bakery. Oh my, we all get this special pistachio chocolate croissant. It is  …. I’m still speechless.

Some shots from the bakery: 




I suppose more to come.

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Jeff: “me & Katey & Peter & Kristin went to go see “Inside Job,” which you’ve probably seen but if you haven’t then you should definitely see it.”

Jack:  “I have not seen Inside Job, but I’m taking macroeconomics, so I know the deal.”


Jeff: “You should definitely see Inside Job, everybody should see it.  Especially
for you to relate it to your classes, because there’s some stuff about the
way economics are taught in the US.”

Jack: sure sure, But I have a pretty liberal economics professor.
Right now we’re doing the classical/orthodox method which is the basic
Laissezfaire idea that most conservatives subscribe to and have
convince most poor americans to do this as well against their

Then we’ll finish with the Keynesian model with some Marxist model.

Did they talk in the movie about how the government got rid of the
Glass-Stegal act in 1999 (under Clinton) this was an FDR policy that
regulated banks and prevented them from investing in the stock market
themselves.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_Steagall_Act

Also, I saw an interesting interview with Bill Moyers and Bill Bartlett. Barlett had some smart stuff to say about people in general.


1. People think if government is more powerful, people will be less powerful
2. People don’t know how their taxes are being spent (this is based on
surveys, but I’m not sure if it was just a  survey of Tea Party people
or not.).
They think gov spends %20 on foreign aid, it is really %1. They think
they are being taxed at a higher rate then they are. (they think %50,
when it’s around 20-30%)
The government should break it down for everyone simple, total % a
year (state/federal)- + what it’s spent on % wise.

Jeff: Jack, you say:

“The government should break it down for everyone simple, total % a
year (state/federal)- + what it’s spent on % wise.”

I absolutely agree.  I started writing you back but it expanded so much that I also decided to post it on the OJ board.
Here’s my thought:

I’ve been saying this for a little while and I wonder why it isn’t said more.
Maybe somebody can point out flaws in this idea that I haven’t considered yet.

Why not have more REAL democracy by allowing every citizen, on his or her tax return each year, to decide where they want their tax money to go to?
Each year the IRS should provide a pie chart, or similar graph, to show how Americans’ tax money was spent in the preceding year (or years).  People could check off a box that says “let the elected government officials decide how to allocate my tax payments this year” but they would ALSO have the option to create a pie chart or other graph of how they want THEIR OWN tax contribution to be divided up in the coming year, among a list of existing categories:  funding for education, military spending, arts programs, infrastructure, scientific research into sustainable energy, etc etc.

This could begin as merely a survey, without changing the current system of tax funds being allocated via elected (or appointed) officials, just to see how different the will of the tax paying public is from the decisions that are being made in their name.

Ultimately if implemented it would be true financial democracy, and society would benefit or fail based on its actual democratic decisions, removed from any threat of elected/appointed officials’ self-interest/ideology or other distortions of democracy which are inherent in a republic form of government.

The government could still oversee the process via the usual departments, and there could still be some form of electoral college to balance out the results of popular vote results vs. electoral vote results, to avoid high-populated areas/states receiving too much representation in budget decisions. For example this would be important if a low-population state (such as Maine) might still be very rich in resources (such as wood), and might be uncomfortable with a high population state (such as California) having too much influence over how to allocate Maine’s resources; other such situations would exist too, which would require some balancing between electoral and popular votes regarding tax money allocation, just as the current system attempts to balance such issues (for example each state gets 2 senators regardless of population, plus a number of representatives proportional to state population, seemingly an effective compromise).  America is already used to the flexibility involved in juggling representation between federal and state interests; if this is a point of contention regarding the allocation of tax resources via democracy, that’s no different than any other federal vs. state issue that goes on in America all the time (like the Civil War for example).

Anyway, like our “republic” system of democratically elected representatives, I believe that the current tax system was a system formed based on the technological realities of the day in 1776, at which point only representational democracy rather than actual democracy would have been technologically practical.  But the world is very different today.

Everybody knows that power corrupts – that’s one of the great arguments for democracy in the first place, the de-centralization of power, a process that has made slow (but definite and progressive) headway against countless millennia of centralized/arbitrary power systems.

The argument against democracy is also millennia old: the people are too uneducated as a mass for majority-rule to effectively steer society in and of itself.  But this seems an awfully self-serving argument when made by an existing power structure.  How many individuals would, if given the choice, prefer the decisions affecting them to be made by somebody else?  Probably very few, at least according to the values of democracy/freedom/self-determination that we Americans have been pumped full of since birth.  And perhaps these values are inherent in all humanity, perhaps even in most life forms.  That may or may not be true.  In any case, a democratic tax system – why not??  Do you believe in democracy or don’t you??

Jack: you’re plan is a little to radical and unrealistic.
I simple want some tax code reform which I think is more realistic goal.
Oregon is a broke state,
but they could help that by imposing a %1 sales tax on none essential
goods (not on food etc). But it seems impossible to get this done.

During the New deal, anyone making over 5 million was taxed at about a
75% tax rate.
this continued until Reagan. It’s now below %20 because of tax loop holes.
(Mitt   %15, Warren Buffet taxed less than his secretary)

You’re idea doesn’t really work because people do need to contribute
to an anonymous collective whole, but they would never do that given
the choice.
Sure it’d be interesting if this was done every year as a survey
hypothetically and the categories were chosen for people

state (local education, infrastructure, public officials etc)
fed (education, infrastructure etc)

etc etc

Jeff: “You say
“Did they talk in the movie about how the government got rid of the
Glass-Stegal act in 1999 (under Clinton) this was an FDR policy that
regulated banks and prevented them from investing in the stock market

Yes, it did talk about this.  But the movie only said this allowed savings banks to merge with investment banks, and the movie didn’t mention what I thought was an important part of this decision, based on what I’ve read on Wikipedia:  the original Banking Act of 1933 (Glass-Stegal Act) also established the FDIC, which was a way to prevent a “run on the bank” from occurring like what used to happen in the wild west and before the great depression.  The FDIC was/is government insurance for everybody who had their money in a regular savings bank, up to a certain amount  (it was originally something like $2,500 in 1933).  In other words, if you were just a normal person putting money in a bank, not somebody making an investment hoping to make a profit, then no matter what happened to that savings bank, if the bank went out of business, or everybody pulled their money out of the savings bank at the exact same time (a “run on the bank”), the government would make sure that every person would get the amount of money they had put into that savings bank (up to a certain amount).  If the bank really didn’t have the money to pay everybody, the government would cover the rest of the loss, from tax payers’ money.  That’s why there was a limit on how much each person’s bank investment could be covered, and that limit of course rose over the years, until I think the FDIC currently insures each citizen up to $250,000 of what they put into a savings bank.  This was also a big reason for the original Glass-Stegal 1933 provision that savings banks HAD to be completely separate from investment banks – because investment banks are much riskier, so the government refuses to ensure THAT risky money with an FDIC guarantee.  (The same as how you might pay your car insurance company to insure your normal, safe car, but that insurance doesn’t also cover the 300-mile-an-hour race car that you drive on race tracks on weekends – it’s a much riskier vehicle so the insurance is unwilling to cover it under the same policy.)  SO when the Glass-Stegal act was overturned in 1999, the fact that investment banks could merge with savings banks wasn’t just bad because it allowed for bigger corporations, verging on monopolies, with increased money and power: the overturning of Glass-Stegal in 1999 also meant that NOW the government/FDIC/tax payers’ money IS in fact still left responsible to cover savings banks’ losses, even though the savings banks can now be playing with your savings money in much higher-risk investment scenarios/gambles purely for their own benefit, and when the high-risk scenarios/gambles pay off for the banks, the winnings are kept by the bank company.  But when the high-risk gambles lose, the banks have no worries because the government is still responsible to insure people.  A totally fucked up situation, and nobody seemed to fight it much while the banks were winning their gambles, but of course gamblers don’t win all the time, and the big gambles eventually lost big, and cost the tax payers hundreds of billions.  The fact that the banks now knew they’d be protected by the government (and deemed “too big to fail”) probably psychologically even made the banks gamble bigger than they knew was smart – what did they care?  If they won, they kept the money, and if/when they eventually lost, the public would pay.
At least that’s my understanding of it based on some Wikipedia pages.  This FDIC aspect wasn’t discussed in Inside Job, and I may be wrong about my current understanding.”

… More to come

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My brother asked for this game when we were little. Maybe he was 14 and I was 9? I don’t know. I’ll have to ask him. Why did he want this one. Where did he play it before?

It was one of maybe 3 games we had for NES. We played it a lot and beat it a lot. One of the best parts was the music to level 8.

There was an arcade version of this at the time, but it wasn’t as fun as the home version.

Brother Jeff says: ”

I think it was the first Nintendo game we got – and we didn’t get many Nintendo games, they were very expensive to buy (like $50-$70 each), maybe we’d get one a year as a birthday or christmas gift.  Mostly borrowed or rented games.  What other Nintendo games did we even own??
I think I originally wanted Bionic Commando because I must have played it at somebody else’s house – certainly I wasn’t familiar with the arcade version, I didn’t see that till we already knew the Nintendo version inside and out.  And 99% of the time those experiences were disappointing, whenever there was a great arcade game that was released in Nintendo version, the home versions were so much crummier and totally different from the arcade.  Like Shinobi, which I worshipped as an arcade game, I made the mistake of being excited for the Nintendo version which of course was lame.
But I do remember being surprised and sort of disappointed that Bionic Commando was so easy to beat.  It was such a fancy and exciting gift to get, I thought it would provide months of challenge like Super Mario before finally beating it, but I think I beat it in about one day of playing.  Sort of guilty and horrifying, I think I assumed that all Nintendo games were guarantees of weeks or months of challenging fun.  But some were beatable in one day, and other were frustratingly nigh-impossible to beat.  It was a very rare game that provided just the exact right amount of challenge, like the Super Mario games.
 I don’t remember where I first saw Bionic Commando though.  Maybe Elan’s house or something like that.  Maybe Abe had it.  That sort of thing.”

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After years of hard work, the 2nd episode of East Side Buffet: 3rd Anniversary Season Edition is here. This might be the last one. It’s taken so long I grew a beard, shaved it and grew another one. We recommend watching it in one sitting while at work.

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Day 8

 Abe knocks on our door to wake us up. He’ll fly Jeff and myself to Wuhan with Xiao He, but Dave and he will skip the show and take a train to Shanghai. Personally I don’t want to fly to Wuhan. I hate flying. I try to convince Abe not to send me. If he can barely afford to send us, shouldn’t he save some money and not send me. He books my plane ticket anyway.

We have some time in the morning so we grab a cab to the park where we climb some stairs and get a view of the Forbidden City from above. I buy a bunch of playing cards to distribute to friends back home: “The Emperors of China” – “A History Of Mao” etc.


We walk back to the hotel. Abe puts Jeff and I in a cab to the airport. We’re supposed to meet Xiao He at the gate to the flight and he will help us get to the club and then get our train the day to Shanghai. Jeff and I arrive at the airport and have a yummy beef soup with noodles at restaurant near our gate.


Boarding starts and there is no sign of Xiao He. I suppose we’ll just have to board. Our drummer missed and EasyJet flight once so we call him EasyJet sometimes when he’s late for stuff or wonders off at inappropriate times. We’ll have to start calling Xiao He China-Eastern

Jeff and I board and take our seats. Over the loud speak there is an announcement in Chinese. It sounds like the say Xiao He’s name. Are they looking for him? Will they offload his bags? Then there is a pre-recorded announcement in English about taking your seats quickly. Then the Chinese announcement and again it sounds like they say Xiao He’s name, then the English announcement. I guess Xiao He’s name just sounds like a word that might mean “Please Take Your Seat.” Finally we see him boarding with his guitar in tow. Whew. Later I ask him what his name means, and he says it means “Little River” So no answers there.

The flight is less than 2 hours, but they serve us a meal. Even though Jeff and I just ate a huge bowl of beef noodle soup we never turn our nose up at some free food. The food is bad but we eat some of it anyway. When we arrive we’re not sure if the club has a car waiting for us or not. We give Abe a call who says we should take a taxi to the club and it’ll be about an hour. We grab a cab, but it’s so small we barely fit. The trunk is mostly taken up by some sort of fuel tank. We have so much stuff between the three of us it seems we’ll need two cabs. But instead we all cram in with instruments on our laps and buckle down for a hot uncomfortable hour drive into the city of Wuhan. We try to talk a bit with Xiao He but it’s a little difficult as he speaks only a little bit of English.

The city looks a little like Las Vegas, lots of lights and billboards, neon palm trees and all. We arrive at the bar which is a small little divey place.


There are lots of street food venders setting up along the main street. They’ve booked our hotel room right next door to the club. We meet Wayne. She is our local promoter and a friend of Abe’s. She will give us our train tickets for Shanghai.

We’re playing first tonight as Xiao He is the draw tonight. The crowd is more mixed with locals and Westerners. Jeff and I do a pretty good duo show and meet some English and Scottish fans. Two guys traveled from an hour away to catch the show.  Xiao He plays and destroys the crowd. He is in full command tonight.


He is pedal FX/loop master as well as a very good singer and guitar player. His music reminds me mostly of a one-man band version of Akron Family. I take a lot of video of the final show we do with him. I’ll post some of it here.

Not sure it captures it but close enough. He’ll do long sound textures builds and then sing on top. He has a midi control set up to his guitar and he can turn his guitar sound into a drum sound or piano or into other songs. One “song” he does each night is samples from popular or cheesy Chinese songs, that people laugh at and sing along to. Each time he plays a string it’s a sample of a different song. On the last night he plays them all at once which makes for a cool sound collage.

After he plays the crowd cheers. (maybe 50-70 people) They come say hi to him afterward. One woman is so moved she is crying.


I bring some of our stuff up to the hotel room. When I return Xiao He calls me over to get paid. I count the cash with him and go over some of the costs. He hands me three drink tickets and takes one back for himself. I’m too tired to have two drinks so I offer him one, but he declines. I don’t end up getting a drink and stuff the tickets in my back pocket.

Outside I go looking at all the street food options. It all looks delicious. I end up getting some fried rice with beef.

It’s very good. I head upstairs. In China I’ve been told to avoid tap water and so I’ve been brushing my teeth with bottled water.

Which I’ve forgotten to get. So I go back downstairs. I see Wayne and say goodbye. I ask her if she has the train tickets and she says she’s given them to Xiao He. The train is at 8:30 AM so we’ll meet Xiao he in the lobby at 7 AM to get a cab. I have no idea how far the train station is, but it sounds fine to me.

Day 9

I’ve set the alarm for 6:30. At 6:30 the alarm goes off and I try to hit snooze. But instead I must have turned it off because the next thing I hear is the phone in the room ringing. Luckily Xiao He was able to get our room number and call and wake us up. It’s 7:10. We quickly pack and head out to grab a cab. The cabs are hard to get. But finally one stops. Again is very small and has some sort of gas tank in the back. It’s very hot even at 7:30 in the morning, so Xiao He hails another cab. He tells our driver to take us to the train station. This is a very bad plan. We never should have split up.

We drive maybe 20 or 30 minutes in typical crazy Chinese taxi driving weaving in and out of lanes and using the horn when he should use the brake. The driver lets us off on a street across from what looks like a station of some kind. He motions to us that we need to use the underground walkway to cross the street. We don’t see Xiao He. It’s 8 AM. We don’t know if his cab was right behind us.

We wait there for a few minutes hoping Xiao He will arrive. He doesn’t so we take the underground passageway to the other side. We see a sign that points to a “Long Distance Bus,”  but no sign for the train station? Are we in the right place?

Did the driver not hear what station to take us too? There are no signs in English. My phone hasn’t worked since I got here to China but I try texting Abe. We drag our bags around the station looking for train station signs and Xiao He. We find neither.

We’re pretty fucked I assume. We’ll miss the train to Shanghai, and be trapped here for days (or perhaps just a few hours we don’t know).

I frantically try to find a Westerner to ask about the train station. There are none. I start asking Chinese people. Finally one guy says the train station is up the escalator. There is no sign that says this in English. We take the escalator up and aha there’s Xiao He. Whew. We enter the train station. And go to the waiting area. I ask Xiao He for our train tickets. “I gave them to you last night” He says. “No I never got them I say” I start going through my pockets. I don’t remember getting train tickets. I open all my bags I can’t find them. It looks like we’ll be stuck here after all. Tickets? When did he give me the … drink tickets. He gave me drink tickets. AAAAAA. I reach into my back pocket and find what could have been drink tickets but are actually train tickets. I could have easily crumpled them up and thrown them away at the hotel. AAAAA. Well I guess you might call all this good luck.

We get on the train which is very nicely air conditioned and settle in for the 5 hour trip to Shanghai. I listen to different podcasts WTF, Savage Love and Judge John Hodgeman. I’ve been having a big argument with Jeff about the October UK tour. My friend Lily from college is getting married around the time that our tour is supposed to end and I want to attend. But Jeff says we can’t miss booking that last day of tour, because it’s on a Saturday. I’ve typed up my arguments and sent them to the Judge Hodgeman podcast a few days earlier. Their producer Julia got in touch with me and said they were interested in having us on the podcast, but it would be difficult with the time difference and lack of phone. Still last night in the hotel I was able to call Julia through G-chat/gmail and we thought maybe it could work in the next week.


We arrive in Shanghai and Abe is there to meet us. He takes us to hour hotel. Dave is gone out and about walking around. Abe takes us for a walk and out then out to eat. Xiao He shows Jeff how to write his name in Chinese. It starts pouring rain. We grab a cab back to the hotel and then walk to the venue which isn’t too far. This show can make or break the finances of the trip.

We have a good soundcheck (shirtless again)


and Jeff and I go off for a walk. He wants dumplings. We don’t find anything, but there’s some sort of fast food asian restaurant across from the club. Jeff thinks they have dumplings. We enter and try to ask for dumplings to go, but they don’t speak English and have no idea what we’re saying. I can see that everyone eating here is soup, it’s a Hot Pot place. Hot Pot restaurants have a cauldron of boiling water at each table. They bring you raw ingredients like chicken beef, veggies, sauces, noodles and you cook your own soup. I only know this because I did it once with Marci in Portland. It was quite good. I know we can’t do Hot Pot to go so I tell Jeff we should go. We walk out the door, but the server woman calls after us “Veggie, meat” Jeff goes back in to try and get some dumplings to go. I go to the club.

It doesn’t seem that busy and I’m worried. Abe asks where Jeff is I say he’s across the street trying to get dumplings to go Abe laughs and says that would be impossible he goes over to help Jeff. It turns out that when Jeff tried getting dumplings to go they instead gave him a bag of meat and veggies to take away. Abe sort of saved him by convincing him to sit down and eat there.

Back at the club people start pouring in. Whew


Three French people come to the door. “Do we get a free drink with a ticket” They ask.

No. They leave.

We play a pretty good show for a packed house of about 230. People dance. We sweat. It’s good. Near the end of the set one American guy shouts at Jeff and tells him he has to play the History of Communism in China. He’d seen Jeff do it in Beijing and come back to see it again. Jeff refuses. Later the same guy come by the merch table. He’s disappointed he says. “I understand you guys like to play different sets, but you guys gotta play the hits” He also says he’s our only groupie. He also says he runs the Noisepop festival in San Francisco.

Day 10

Abe comes to get us at the hotel in the morning, we go out to eat and head for the train. When we arrive Abe gets train tickets, but says it’ll be three hours until the train. We settle down. We’re told there’s an internet café in the station and Abe goes off to look for it. It’s kind of nice having a little time to settle down and catch our breath and do some net stuff in a nice air conditioned place.

But NO. All of a sudden there is a bus we must catch so we can get to soundcheck so we race through the station to some other station dragging our bags, completely annoyed and frustrated. We get on a bus and 2 hours later we’re in the next city for our final show. But when we arrive at the venue it’s a restaurant and there is no soundcheck, so we go to the hotel, annoyed tired. Then we go out to eat.


It’s a big meal with Abe and the local promoters and some other friends. After we hurry out of the restaurant. In the street we’re told to hustle. I guess it turns out they did a dash and dine. Ug. Not really my idea of a fun time.

We return to the venue for soundcheck, but no, there is still no soundcheck a local musician plays acoustic cover songs of Oasis, The Doors, and more to an empty room.

And so I take a nap.

Eventually we set up to play/soundcheck. The show is one of our best, but I’m sad because we don’t record it. ARg. Xaio He has forced us all to drink a lot before, but we don’t drink as much as he does. He doesn’t appear drunk, but he plays for a very long time. It is cool, but long. I shoot a lot of video of his show.

Here it is. It’s not his best show, but it does display why is so awesome.

After the show Xiao he is sad to say goodbye to us.


We return to the hotel for a little sleep.

Side Note: When we return to Shanghai after our 3 day Korea tour to pick up our bags from Abe, he tells us this:

There was a man from the local government at the show recording out set. He wasn’t happy that we hadn’t submitted our songs/lyrics gotten official approval from the local government. On the wall outside the room is a poster advertising out show along with an up-coming show for a Mongolian band.

That show we are told had to be canceled. (though it was just for that venue, supposedly the only venue in town). Abe also tells us there are no stricter rules for foreign bands playing Shanghai. Each must pay $300 for an official to check their lyrics.

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