318 Cafe, Excelsior, Minnesota

Yesterday morning my mom texted me and said “You should blog about your tour like you used to blog when you were in Korea”.

I’ve been on tour with Chris Bell for a whole week now.  I believe we’ve played 9 shows in 7 days at this point.  Last night we played at the 318 Cafe in Excelsior, Minnesota.  You know it’s a great place when the servers who have the night off come in to hang out just because they like the place.  The interior is all made up of exposed rustic wood beams and wood floor, with perfect lighting.  As soon as I sat down with Chris, he said “This is really a place you should take your wife”, which I had just been thinking.  A local musician who goes by Ginger Bones shared the stage with us who played an incredible set with a violinist, and basically packed the place.  318 calls itself a “listening room” and that is actually what happens.  There was a dedicated sound guy, who did a great job running the quality sound system, and when we started playing, people started listening.  We have several songs where we solicit crowd participation (singing, stomping, clapping) and last night’s crowd did not disappoint.  The only unfortunate thing was that, before we got to the cafe, I had eaten a bunch of Chinese food and I had become ‘MSG-full’, a trend which continued for the rest of the night, and into the next morning.  I definitely plan on playing at this place again in the future, and next time will come ready to chow down on some excellent food.

Tonight we head to Green Bay, Wisconsin to play at the Lyric Room.

Manual Labor

For the past two years I’ve been working toward becoming a full-time musician.  This past January I finally took the plunge.  I feel very privileged to be able to do something I truly love to do and live off the income.  But sometimes I just need to switch gears for a bit.

My Uncle Brad manages a greenhouse in Ramsey, Minnesota.  Green Valley Greenhouse.  They supply all the potted plants for all the COSTCOs, Cub Foods, and hundreds of other retailers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  For the past two years I’ve gone up to work as seasonal help for the week leading up to Mother’s Day.  It’s by far their busiest (and money makin-est) week of the year, and they hire a bunch of extra people and everyone works a whole lot of overtime.  Working from 7am to 7pm is pretty average for any given employee during this particular week, and a lot of people end up working more than that.  Despite the extremely high volume of flowers being loaded, delivered, unloaded and sold, and the accompanying warehouse chaos, I’ve really enjoyed this random little side-job each May for the past couple years.  The management is great to work for (including my uncle) and the rest of the employees are great to work with as well.  It’s also great to be able to work a midst an array of absolutely gorgeous plants, with the accompanying burst of pure oxygen they provide.  It’s like working in an oxygen bar.

Confession: I have never been to an oxygen bar.

I love music, but it involves a lot of precision.  Tune the guitar.  Adjust the gain.  Tweak the EQ.  Tune the guitar again.  Sometimes it’s just nice to carry heavy stuff and get your hands covered in dirt.  I’ve noticed that doing some occasional manual labor is actually really good for me (ya think?)  So that’s obvious I guess.  But it’s easy for me to get in a mindset of thinking that I must work unceasingly at writing, recording, and performing music, 80 hours per week, year after year.  Because as I’ve been told, there’s someone else out there (in Nashville I assume) working just as hard as me at what I’m doing, and if I don’t continue my grueling pace, that person will steal all my success and I’ll be left with nothing.  No, I’m sorry, breaks are good.  I need breaks.  So, starting tomorrow, I’m heading up to Minnesota to go work at a greenhouse and enjoy some good old manual labor.