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



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