Sunday, August 24, 2008

Boulder to The Bean

After the Boulder, CO show, we had to hit the road immediately if Mike and I wanted to make work on Monday morning. We pulled out of Boulder and made serious tracks eastward. Everyone put in some solid driving legs during this haul. We stopped only for gas, and then again when we got far enough east to find the first Dunkin’ Donuts... what a moment!

Cruisin' home... somewhere in Iowa?

We pulled into Lancaster, PA around 10am today. We parted ways with Derek, and trekked back up to Boston. Rolling into Boston it was Colin, Foss and me in one car and Mike and Max in the other. We pulled off the Pike over by Allston, and it was a picture perfect afternoon in the Commonwealth. I started to reflect on the whirlwind experience I just had… all the great people we met, all the beautiful sights we saw, and just the vastness our country as a whole. It was something.

Another Illinois sunset to bookend the tour

We hooked a right onto Memorial Drive and cruised along the Charles with the windows down and the sun in our faces. I looked around at the familiar turf surrounding us and a big smile came to my face. I looked over at my comrades and we all had the same expression going. We were home and it felt perfect. hi8us is a Boston band to the core.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

14th & Euclid... or Thereabouts

A huge driving push put us in Jackson, Wyoming on Thursday morning. We rolled into town and met up with our old friend Zach. Zach let us make his place home today, then brought us down to his bar for some complimentary lunch and bloodies. Thanks Z!

A fine morning on the Teton Pass

Raka has tears of joy as he is reunited with his backpack after leaving it in San Diego a week earlier

We parted ways and headed up to the Granite Hot Springs for some dipping in nature’s version of the hot tub. After a day of relaxation in God’s Country, we shot down to the club, 43 North, and proceeded to get the party going.

Near Granite Hot Springs

We played a marathon show for the fine folks of Wyoming. After three sets of mayhem, we were finally spent and called it a show. We had a chance to catch up with some close friends and have a few too many shots at the bar. It was a nice cap to an excellent evening. With a solid trek ahead of us, we hit the road last night after the show to make it to Boulder for the show tonight.

43 North, at the base of Snow King Ski Resort in Jackson

We hit Boulder this morning, took Derek to the local clinic for an oil change, did some hanging out in the park, and took a dip in Boulder Creek. Well, some of us (me and Mike) slept. The show tonight was another surprisingly awesome one. We had a crew of lovely ladies that came out for their bachelorette party, based on the bride-to-be having an old hi8us bootleg that she was into. We played another three-set show which included doing car bombs with the bridal party mid-song during the 2nd set.

Rockin' Boulder for the final show of tour

I think I also ended up almost puking up the shot that Erin, behind the bar, gave me at the end of the night. She took the same shot. Erin can drink me under the table. It must have been the elevation. Boulder, CO... good times. Thanks!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cartoon Livin'... or Derek & The Dead?

After waking from the most comfortable of sleeping situations in days, I reconvened with the band this morning at Derek, who was parked, literally, at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets. Everyone was feeling like a champ this morning. We all had a real breakfast in our guts, along with some excellent memories of night before at San Fransisco’s legendary Boom Boom Room.

Derek at Haight and Ashbury

Yesterday began with the group pulling into SF fairly early on in the afternoon. We rolled up to the club early to check out the room. There was a huge crowd of screaming fans lining the streets as we wrapped around the corner. Reporters crowded the sidewalk and TV cameras were rolling. We closed the window blinds for a little privacy as Derek rolled through the scene. It was crazy! Turns out the band Tokyo Hotel was playing at The Fillmore, which is right next door to the Boom Boom. They were doing a video shoot during the day, and had to know we were playing right next door. I don’t blame those guys for the slick scheduling to get a hi8us cameo into their shoot. It was smart of them. Next time though, honestly, all you guys have to do is talk to our people and we are happy to help out with these kinds of things. We all in the same gang, Tokyo!

The Boom Boom marquee

After an afternoon of chilling in Golden Gate Park, we hit a Korean BBQ across the street for dinner and then headed back to the club halfway through the opener’s set. Our boy, Bill Beninghof, layed out some eclectic sounds with his partner in crime, Frank Zeccola, in their duo called Devil’s Crumbs. These guys definitely represented and together we had an amazing night with a completely packed house. Everyone in the band was riding high last night after the show. We never expected the night to go off that big. A few of us hit up an excellent after-party at an apartment in the middle of the Haight late- night. It was an awesome time with a bunch of great folks hanging out. Today, everyone is a bit slow from a long night/morning, but definitely feeling good and ready to push on.

On-stage in San Francisco

A big thanks go out to my cousin Lauren, Teddy, Michelle, Bill, Frank, the Jens and Rodney for a killer time we will never forget. Alright, that’s what I got. Off to Jackson, WY.


Monday, August 18, 2008


As we arrived in Lotus, CA, memories of our previous shows in this sweet river town resurfaced. Some old friends we met our last time through greeted us at Marco’s Café. We busted out an early evening show, then partied the night away with the rafting community at the Coloma Club. The band bumped and grinded the night away on the dance floor while Keyboard Mike won the community over with his well-honed karaoke skills… despite the limited song selection.

One of our youngest fans ever... a future bass player, perhaps?

Today is one of our only days off during the trip. This morning we took up an offer to hit the South Fork of the American River for some whitewater rafting. Our friends Janice and Jeremiah got the trip together for us, and when we got to the river, they introduced us to our guide for the day, their buddy Hunter. Hunter was the man. We all got in the boat, he gave us the quick tutorial on how to raft, and we were off.

Max oils up for a long day on the river

hi8us listens intently to Hunter's instructions

Being a private rafting trip, we didn’t have to comply with all of the corporate restrictions that the rafting companies on the river must stick to. Accordingly, Hunter encouraged us to take chances with our lives when they presented themselves. We enjoyed traveling through sections of rapids while not being in the boat, and intentionally flipping the raft by nosing it into a rock wall in the midst of a class 3 rapid. It was an added thrill to not have the security of the boat as I careened through the turbulent river rapids.

We also took the opportunity to scale a steep cliff wall to do a bit of base jumping during one of the calm sections of the river. This was an especially introspective moment for Mike, who can still clearly recall how he felt during the several seconds of freefall he experienced. Ask him for a detailed description of how he sped towards the water from atop the Gorilla Rock… he will surely tell you that “this was NOT in the brochure.”

Our day off proved to be one of the best of the trip so far. Traveling down the South Fork, we talked a bunch with Hunter about the area, about California, about the places he has been and about life in general. A few hours basking in the sun as we drifted down the river was the perfect shift of gears for the band. We had been on a pretty intense push across the country up until then. Everyone seems to be refreshed and relaxed again… not that we weren’t before, but we all now seem rejuvenated for sure. A huge thank you to Jeremiah, Janice, Mark and Hunter for a day we will not soon forget. Hunter is a Jedi!

Post-rafting chillin' at Adventure Connection HQ


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Listen to the Boulevard...

Here we are... on the road again. Leaving LA for NoCal after our spot tonight at 14 Below in Santa Monica. The show was great. Unexpectedly, we shared the bill with some old friends from the east coast. Sean Aleward and his ensemble, Hello Echo, opened the night up and hung out for our set. Collectively, we felt like we didn’t get completely up to speed like we wanted at this show, but we received an overwhelmingly positive response from the crowd. People were fired up about the set. I guess this begs the question: What would you rather have as a band… a great performance with little crowd response, or a less than perfect show with an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response? The artist would likely say the former; the manager would say the latter. I say neither… I would much rather curl up on a couch with a nice bottle of merlot, and catch Sex & The City re-runs on the USA Network all night… that’s just me though.

Rock Me Sexy Jesus... Derek's Dashboard Decoration

Also, for the record, during this stop I went down to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, before the show, looking for a Dodgers Manny Ramirez #99 jersey. Everywhere I went they were sold out. I can understand them being sold out, as Manny is the man, but the frustration came when I tried to communicate with the locals about how awesome Manny is. This was when I came to the realization… NO ONE in LA knows who Manny is. It was so upsetting. It was like having a beautiful, sexy old girlfriend break up with you, only to move to the big city and start dating some good-looking corporate hot shot dude that treats her like crap and takes her for granted. Sure, she still looks great, but is this guy really celebrating all that is wonderful, great and beautiful about Meghan… I mean Manny? I don’t think so. Anyway, enough of that. All Manny matters aside, I have to say, I love LA. There is something that is always exciting about playing this town. I can never wait to get back there. Good to see you again 9021?


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Derek at the Dam... Damn!

It’s about 11:15am. There is a nice man from the Pacific Shores Inn at our door looking at me right now as I sit here on my hotel bed typing. He is asking me to get out, as checkout was 15 minutes ago. I am telling him that we are just packing up and will be out of here shortly. Given the even tone of his voice, I figure we have at least another half an hour before he gets Johnny Leg-Breaker in here to crack some hi8us heads.

We are currently in the central coast town of Morro Bay, CA. After hitting Vegas, we shot down to San Diego for a show. En route to SD, we made a detour to The Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam is something else. Seeing this structure in person is truly awe-inspiring. It is amazing that this beast was built in the 1930s. I was the only one who wanted to go to the Hoover Dam, btw. Everyone in the bus disliked me for the entirety of the detour. The reality is that they will all look back on this tour and thank me when they think about the fact that they have seen the Hoover Dam in person. To this I say. “You guys are welcome in advance. It was truly my pleasure.” ;)

Derek overlooks the Colorado River, near the Hoover Dam

Down in San Diego, we played in the Ocean Beach section of town. It was awesome. We hit up the showers on the beach before the show. Keyboard Mike put on a lovely spectacle for all the locals. Then, after a few fish tacos at South Beach, we headed back to Winston’s and rocked out hard. The San Diego crowd is of the finest this nation has to offer. It was great to see some old friends and make some new ones down there. After a short post-show chill-out session, we hit the road again and began our trip north up the coast. It was my turn at the helm. Derek, Keyboard Mike and I made tracks through the night and found ourselves here in Morro Bay at about 10am yesterday morning.

View of Morro Rock from our motel room

A power nap and a tri-tip sandwich later, we were at the Otter Rock Café setting up for what would be one of our best nights thus far. The crowd in this coastal town seems to be in on some secret that the rest of us are missing. Everything you could want exists in Morro Bay, folks. It is a hidden treasure. A room full of fun, music-minded folks made this a night we will not soon forget. Jamie and the Otter Rock crew treated the band right while we were in town. Scott and Lauren and the rest of our new local friends had the band back to their place for some late night enjoyment that capped off an excellent Friday night on the left coast.

The Otter Rock Cafe in Morro Bay


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Derek in Denver, Derek in the Desert

And so we continued... onward and westward until the Mile High City. We'd never played Denver so we did not know what to expect. Riding blind, we got to the venue early. Immediately, we fell in love with the place; a brand new hot spot in Denver for bands of all kinds. The staff was kind, the drinks were flowing and the music was good. Very good. One faithful employee hooked the band up with the best bar-b-que Denver had to offer; sustenance the band was hard-pressed to turn down after days living on rest area sunflower seeds and Vitamin Water. The locals dug the music and, after the set, we set sail in Derek for destination known - Park City, Utah.

A tunnel somewhere in the Rockies

It was quite a ride navigating the Rockies, finding a band member who was awake enough to make the long trek. But we did it and were rewarded by the quiet sanctuary of the Jordanelle State Park reservoir. Growlers and pizza in hand, we marched down to the waterfront and took a well-needed dip. After washing off days of road funk, we met up with local legend and long time friend Dave March. Dave gave us a tour of the city, complete with tidbits of Sundance Festival and Olympic history. We rallied back to his house and met his better half, Summit, a cute little mutt that was made for the mountains. Summit greeted the band with a mouthful of barks and yelps, but she calmed down a few minutes in and resumed her leisurely life coming and going from the house as she pleased - the tranquil serenity of life as a mountain dog.

Derek at the Jordanelle Reservoir

We headed down to The Spur about two hours before the set to meet up with bar manager, Casey, a good friend of Dave's and subsequently a new friend of the band. Casey set us up with some tasty burgers and got us situated on stage. The night was early was The Spur was already buzzing as locals and tourists alike regaled the accomplishments of Michael Phelps and reflected on the Salt Lake games which brought the same Olympic fervor to Park City just a few years earlier. Little did anyone know, but one member of hi8us had just met his own milestone - as each hour ticked away, our very own Colin Ovitsky was inching deeper and deeper into his new-found thirtydom. The room filled in with strange and familiar faces, and the night of music kicked off. While hi8us laid it down for a solid two-plus hours, the highlight of the show was the last song of the night when Pete March, the younger brother of the aforementioned Dave, stood in and ripped on the harmonica over Penguin & Farley. It was the perfect ending to a butter night of music and mingling. That was not the end for the band though; to leave our mark in Park City and to close the ringing in of Colin's 30-year, we joined together for a Shot Ski, pictured below. You can guess where the night went from there.

Pete March joins in on the harp




No rest for the weary, though, and after a few hours of relaxation back at Dave's abode, Derek roared westward again for the lights of Las Vegas. In complete candor, I was skeptical of what was to come in Sin City. My Vegas knowledge pretty much consisted of the Oceans 11 trilogy and what I saw on late night World Series of Poker marathons, so I was not familiar with our intended destination, the Aruba Hotel. In fact, we drove right by it between the 'old' and 'new' Vegas strips and had to double back before getting it right. Vegas was also the only location on the tour where we were complete strangers. None of us knew anybody that said they were coming to the gig. It's a sinking feeling going into a show where you fathom the possiblity that you might be playing to an empty room. That anxiety began to erode as we pulled into the driveway and saw the Aruba Hotel for the first time. It was a classic Polynesian-themed hotel and spa complete with outdoor pool and tiled floors. For whatever reason, it reminded me of the place the Brady's stayed when they went to Hawaii and Peter woke up with a spider on him. The stage was located in a room that rivaled the style and hipness of any club in the West Village. Friendly bartender Josh greeted us with beers and handshakes and we were rockin'.

Derek in Vegas... or is it Seattle?

Much to our pleasant, pleasant surprise, there were people in the room... and they were actually digging the band, or at least kindly pretending to be into it to make us feel welcome. Either way, we owe much thanks to Stella, Roland and the other members of the Las Vegas Jam Band Society for turning around a seemingly dim night. In between pouring drinks, even Josh left his post behind the well to join in the rug cutting. Josh, sorry ahead of time if you get in trouble with the boss for dancing while at work, but we really appreciated the love. Watching these complete strangers enjoying our music was exactly what the tour was about so we all dialed in, sat back and closed the place down. We packed up the gear, said goodbye to our new friends, and bee-lined it for the Golden Nugget to get in some late night gambling and entertainment. The rest, as the phrase goes, stays in Vegas.

Groovin' in Club Aruba

Our first night in a hotel was a much-needed recharge and revived our spirits and our hygiene. Until the Aruba Hotel, our nights were spent trying to squeak out a couple hours of sleep contorted on the awkward captain's chairs uncomfortably close to our bandmates with whom we had spent every waking moment. Driver and shotgun were positions filled by relying on an honor system, an unspoken contract to drive when you were able and when your turn came up without hesitation or complaint. These were not ideal conditions, and the sleep deprivation was undoubtedly affecting morale. The comfy confines of the Aruba pulled us back together, and we were ready to shove off for San Diego.

Post-show in Vegas


Monday, August 11, 2008

The Life of Derek

Greetings from the foothills of the Rockies... Ft. Collins, Colorado! The tour has been a whirlwind so far, and we have finally landed at our first Western destination. After leaving Boston shortly after our very memorable Release Party at the Middle East, we drove overnight to Lancaster, PA. There, we met Derek, as our trusty Dodge Sprinter tour van has affectionately been named. Derek is a good friend to the band... our trusty steed, our road warrior, and our home for the next two weeks.

After quickly transferring our gear from the two trucks we had driven from Boston to Lancaster, we headed northward toward Toronto for our first gig at Lee's Palace. Unfortunately, a series of minor mishaps, from our delayed departure from Boston to the huge traffic backup at the George Washington Bridge to additional traffic delays in Pennsylvania, and then massive hail storms and backups in Buffalo and crossing the boreder at Niagara Falls, we pulled up to Lee's at 10:30pm, half an hour into our set time. So, the tour did go international, but hi8us still has yet to rock our northern neighbors. Special thank to Leslie and Ron from the club for being so understanding and trying to fit us in... and still giving us some free drinks for our efforts.

After crossing back into the States, we started the overnight haul to Chicago. Arriving there at lunchtime, we stopped off at the home of Colin's cousins, Jill and Mark, where enjoyed a much-needed opportunity to bathe, stretch out, and take a more organized approach to packing Derek's cargo hold. From Chicago, Derek and the rest of us headed out across the prairie for a nonstop run to the Rockies... but not without a quick 'fro pick and a visit to the neighborhood ice cream truck.

Raka picks it out... in slo-mo!

Poor Max... no ice cream left!

We sit here at the apartment of our friend, part-time percussionist, and renter of a kick-ass shower, Scott Baver, and are gearing up to head out for some lunch and a brewery visit before heading down to Denver for the first away-from-home show of the tour. From here, we will drive on to Park City tonight, and expect to enjoy the full visibility of the Perseids meteor shower from somewhere in western Colorado, with no light pollution after the moon sets.

Sunset on the Illinois prairie


Friday, August 8, 2008

first blog

hey folks,
just testing out this puppy. so last night we had our final rehearsal before we hit the road. our songs were sounding tight and the anticipation of the four of us was apparent in our playing. We hope to see everyone over in Cambo tonight. the show should be a ton of fun. i was up until 3am packing my stuff for the road. the plight of the procrastinator.....