Adam Kline storms Utah, the Midwest
While touring the United States this month with his music project, Golden Shoulders, The Union columnist Adam Kline is reporting from the road about the tour. He is joined by his good friend and band mate, Neal Morgan, formerly of Nevada County.
Day one: Monday,
Sept. 6, Nevada City
to Provo, Utah
We left Nevada City early this morning. The mood is optimistic, though I always get a little bummed out when I leave this town. Which is the polite way of saying that I get homesick for Nevada City just being in Colfax for an afternoon. Still, I know Provo to be a friendly town and I believe it will prove to be a good first stop for us.
While on the road, we’ve come across a number of vehicles coming from the Burning Man Festival. I’ve never attended, but it’s my understanding that it’s a big, incredible hippie-fest deep in the Nevada desert. You can tell a car is coming from Burning Man if it’s caked with more than 6 inches of dirt on every exposed surface. We passed one van that displayed a sign in the rear window: “BURNING MAN IS THE ONLY MAN I NEED.” Neal and I, being nonincendiary gentlemen, had our feelings hurt by this declaration. Touring can truly be rough.
We rolled the Shouldersmobile into Provo at about seven this evening. Our kind hostesses fed us and gave us comfortable couches to sleep on. Tomorrow evening, we’ll play the first show of the tour.
Day two: Tuesday, Sept. 7, Provo, Utah
Amazing weather here in Provo. We had to run some errands today. The sun hit us pretty hard yesterday, and we’ll both need to buy some sunglasses before the week is through. Neal is dead set on getting some immediately, but I’m not in a real hurry, as I think I look mysterious and thoughtful when I squint.
A couple of our hostesses took us to the biggest Target store we’d ever seen. It was like walking around in some art student’s project on the subject of rampant, pointless commercialism. Weird. And they didn’t even have any good sunglasses. The squinting continues.
Our show tonight went well. One of our hostesses, Kari, opened the show with a great solo set of her songs. After that, we played, and another one of our hostesses, Charla, sang with us. It all seemed to sound good, the audience was polite and happy, and we sold enough CDs and T-shirts to pay for gas. We also met a lot of beautiful girls. And their husbands. Ah, Provo.
Day three: Wednesday, Sept. 8, Provo, Utah, to Gunnison, Colo.
Woke up early this morning, loaded the car up and got out of town. We hope to stop in on Provo again on our way home in a few weeks.
After about seven or eight hours of driving past mostly beautiful countryside, we pulled up to the venue we’re playing in tonight. This place, the Firebrand, has amazing sandwiches and a wonderful vibe that reminds me of home. It’s locally owned and operated and the locals support it well. A Subway franchise has opened up next door but I don’t think the people at the Firebrand are too worried about it. They have superior sandwiches and the locals seem to understand the importance of supporting locally owned businesses.
The owner, Kate, took us on a tour of the town, which reminds me a little of Tahoe. The local paper, the excellent Gunnison Country Times, ran a small item on page three about the show we’re playing tonight. You’ve got to love small town newspapers.
The show ended up being great. The Firebrand roughly seats as many as Nevada City’s Magic Theatre and was pretty well packed. The opening band was called Just The Pribyles. They warmed up the audience in fine form and then Neal and I took it from there. Such a great audience. So receptive and generous. It’s official, these first two shows have spoiled us completely.
Tomorrow looks to be a big driving day. I look forward to seeing what Kansas is like.
Day four: Thursday, Sept. 9, Gunnison, Colo., to Seibert, Colo.
Colorado, as it turns out, is larger than anything really ought to be. We didn’t get to see any of Kansas today, but we did get to drive for hours on end with no noticeable change in the scenery.
Such is life.
We found a sketchy little campsite in the sketchy little town of Seibert about an hour away from the Colorado/Kansas border. We’ll get there in the morning.
Day five: Friday, Sept. 10, Seibert, Colo., to Manhattan, Kan.
Neal and I decided early this morning that we wanted to eat breakfast at a good old-fashioned greasy spoon diner in Kansas. We were saddened to find that a number of the little towns we were driving through were pretty much overrun with franchise restaurants. We don’t want Pizza Hut, we want Flo’s Diner! This is bumming us out. Somebody please go eat breakfast at Ike’s or South Pine and dedicate your dining experience to our struggle. Thank you.
Manhattan, Kan., is amazing. Kansas State University is here, so there’s a great college town feel all around. We’re playing at a big used bookstore called the Dusty Bookshelf. The staff is great and glad to have us. That’s our favorite kind of staff! This place is good news.
We’re staying with the guy who is opening tonight’s show. His name is Matt and he performs under the name Manipulator Alligator. Ridiculously nice guy. He and his brilliant lady have a 15-month-old baby girl who amuses Neal and me to no end. Babies are the best people.
The show ended up being another great one. So many nice people came to the bookstore and attentively watched us play. Kansas audiences, it seems, are a bit like statues. I had no sense of them enjoying the show until after it was done, and we sold a healthy number of CDs and T-shirts and talked to a lot of wonderful people. I forgave them their statue-like tendencies and they forgave me for having messy hair. Touring is fun.
Day six: Saturday, Sept. 11, Manhattan, Kan., to Kansas City, Mo.
It was tough leaving such a great place and such great people this morning, but it had to be done. We have a day off from playing shows today and a lot of driving to do. The bookstore staff in Manhattan suggested we stop off and visit their sister store in Lawrence, Kan., which is right on the way to Kansas City.
Lawrence ended up being a great town. In retrospect, we now wish we’d booked a proper show here. Next time we tour, we’re definitely booking something in Lawrence. This is where the University of Kansas is located, so it’s another nice college town, but it has a massive sort of shopping district with great record stores and restaurants. And Neal finally found some sunglasses that suited him. This town is great.
We went into the Dusty Bookshelf of Lawrence and with the permission of the helpful staff, played five songs to the customers who happened to be in the store at the time. It’s a little weird playing music in a bookstore – I think all the books made me feel like I was being noisy in a library, which everyone knows is absolutely inappropriate. But the people there seemed to like it and we sold some more CDs and T-shirts to them. It’s possible at this point that we may come home with a little money. This is good news.
We left Lawrence and got to Kansas City. Our hostess is a nice lady with a lot of birds in her house. This could be interesting.
Day seven: Sunday, Sept. 12, Kansas City, Mo.
We began the day with a proper, respectable breakfast of pizza at a local place. After that, Neal and I realized we had time to kill before the show tonight, so we headed off to one of Kansas City’s fine art museums. Neal works at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, so he was great to have around. Such a knowledgeable guy about these things. We were particularly taken with an exhibit on photos documenting the civil rights struggle in the United States. Coming to the museum was a good idea for us.
We found out during dinner that the venue we were to play at tonight was condemned by the fire department earlier in the day. Well, let’s not play there, then. After consulting her birds, our helpful hostess called around and found us another venue to play at. Instead of a student-run art space called the Stray Cat (because of the condemning I mentioned earlier), we’ll be playing at a sports bar called the Hurricane. Oh my.
Neal and I are making really quiet music, so it fits well with places like the Firebrand in Colorado and the Dusty Bookshelves in Kansas. The Hurricane was not a perfect fit for us but ended up being pretty good anyway. The audience (who was there for the other, louder bands) was really nice and had a lot of good things to say. As a wise man once said, “touring is fun.”
We’re heading off to Indiana tomorrow morning and looking forward to it.
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