Monday, June 1, 2009

Dear Lewis & Clarke Tour Journal (Northeast 2009):

Just a few weeks ago, Lewis & Clarke made our maiden voyage in this current incarnation (Lou Rogai, Tom Asselin, Ian O'Hara, Shane O'Hara, and yours truly - Karen Codd)...we headed north to Toronto, then weaved our way south via the wilds of the Canadian border patrol...down through the Berkshires in Massachusetts, back up into Maine, and around to stop in Scranton and finally zig-zagged between Manhattan, Philly and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Lou called me only a month before this excursion to ask if I would join him on the road. [I met Lou in the Fall of 2007 during a whirlwind workshop with Moon&Moon, in the basement of Will Lemon's place...we were preparing for a La Soc CMJ Showcase and I and my cello had also just become absorbed into that family]. Traveling with Lewis & Clarke, getting to visit Maine for the first time, and taking the stages of world class venues with now world-renowned Bat For Lashes, was a set of opportunities I simply couldn't pass up. I shuffled my busy schedule around and thankfully have an employer who believes in me as an artist as well as an administrator ( and I was able to give Lou an enthusiastic, "yes!"

As I write this entry, I'm sitting at the Rogai family kitchen table in Delaware Water Gap, PA, looking out at a thick sea of trees and a Victorian home, now a bed and breakfast/jazz venue called the Deer Head Inn. Since just prior to the tour, it's become a weekly ritual for me to escape my Brooklyn digs to join Lewis & Clarke at the base of the Pocono Region for rehearsals. Because I often feel starved for the bucolic (my forearm is inked with a pine branch), I am prone to note the natural beauty here...that is why I want to tell you that when we first packed our things and shoved off from DWG, the neighborhood magnolia trees were in full bloom - pink and white explosions - the same hues as the vinyl of the just-released Light Time EP. It felt to me like we were starting on a good foot.

Our first performance took place at Toronto's Mod was intense getting through customs and a surprise rain storm but we made it unscathed and were happy to finally join forces with our friends Bat For Lashes. The following show took us out of the city and into the woods. The Montague Bookmill is a dream; "a used bookstore housed in an 1842 gristmill, set on the banks of the Sawmill River, a few miles north of Amherst and Northampton, MA." We were also lucky to be hosted for the night at the home of our new friends Michael (of Oweihops) and Britt. When we finally finished a vigorous Rockband tournament, we slept soundly there.

Then it was on to Portland, ME, which was not an originally scheduled stop, but when we got news that our Boston show with BFL was postponed, our dear friend Dylan Metrano (of Tiger Saw), rustled up a fantastic little spot for us at Slainte. He even found people to come hear us! And then(!), after an unusual and satisfying supper together and a quick stop-off at a South China performance, Dylan and his lovely wife, Mandy, put us up for the night in their very comfy home.

After Portland, we met up with South China's Jerusha Neely Robinson for lunch, some cello-nerd shop talk, and a visit to Loving Anvil (an awesome artist-run shop in Biddeford, ME), then back into the van and south to Kittery, ME. There we picked up our good buddy Matt Bauer (and his banjo) at the Greyhound Station and settled in for an evening at Buoy Gallery. In fact, we got so cozy at Buoy, that the super-accommodating staff there invited us to camp on their gallery floor that night. What can I say? We are so blessed.

Heading back through PA, our next show took place at Scranton's The Bog, a hometown venue for 40% of L&C. For me, it was an opportunity to put faces with names of folks who had coined many an inside joke, which I had since adopted as my own. Thank you, Bill, for "bunch of d***s." I also got to meet the very sweet parents of the O'Hara brothers and, thanks to The Bog's "drum cam," I was able to view Shane's fancy drumming as well as Tom's fancy suspenders...both tour staples.

After a morning of Lou's fortifying strawberry pancakes, with 4-year-old Julian (Lou's angelic son) and L&C life preserver extraordinaire, Leigh Ann Stratakos, we were on the road toward the Bowery Ballroom. Highlights of this show, aside from the obvious (playing at the Bowery Ballroom), included a delicious Whole Foods lunch and David Byrne in the audience. Lou and I also got to reunite with many of our Moon&Moon cohorts.

Philly's First Unitarian Church was our subsequent stop. We were moved from the basement to the gorgeous sanctuary(!) and the BFL crew got creative with lights & other knick knacks (fiber optic angels, Madonnas, fishnetted leg lamp, etc.), setting the tone for a magnificent show. My dear old dad was in attendance there AND I gave my first autograph to a very sweet teenage boy who insisted even after I admitted that I wasn't on the L&C album he had in hand.

The Music Hall of Williamsburg was the last stop on this adventure. Our name made it to the marquee and they even gave us our own green room, wherein we consulted the I Ching following soundcheck. That final evening was definitely charged with good energy and although I was happy to sleep in my own bed later on, it was tough to fall asleep because I was so keyed up and grateful to have taken this wild little journey with such talented performers, crew and with that, a big Thank You to everyone who made this possible. Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

...I can't wait for our summer installment...I'll report back.


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