Weeks three and four of the Join The Ranks Tour are no more! My schedule hasn’t allowed for much writing, so this update comes a little late. I drank twice as much beer to make up for it though, one for each of ya! 100% guaranteed! From Chicago to Quebec City, my travels have been festive and fortuitous. That means ‘lucky’. Ok, enough with the Tombstone references. Carry on.
I finally had enough downtime to update Trollwhack and promote some shows for Church of the 8th Day. The rest of the day was passed by sipping on Bell’s Two Hearted Ale and jamming some new material with the band.
My girlfriend flew into Chicago to hang out for a few days. I was beyond excited to see her. Relationships while you are on tour are challenging to say the least, especially with spotty cell phone reception. It was also Eric W. Brown’s birthday. Tour birthdays are never as exciting as you might think, although this night was one of the best of the tour so far! We played at the Red Line Tap in Chicago, and the place was PACKED! The local support, Eikthyrnir are always great to see too. We had performed with them a few months back during Alestorm’s Piratefest. The venue treated us very well, and provided us food from the café next door. Nom!
8/29 – 8/30
Another weekend at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. This one was packed with antics, the most memorable being a group of witches crashing our set to reveal a secret love child that we all had unwittingly and collectively helped spawn. That Sunday was my birthday, and it was spent performing 4 shows in the gross, mosquito laden heat. I repeat, tour birthdays aren’t as exciting as you might think. I spent it in good company though. We had a feast back at the house we were staying in and I picked up a case of Goose Island beers for the night.
Magic The Gathering, if you haven’t noticed by now, is a reoccurring theme in the Join The Ranks Tour. We hit another game store and purchased a bunch of cards and booster packs. Gambling is addicting. I like to gamble. I am addicted to opening booster packs. My name is Eric and I am a packaholic. There, I said it! From the store, we went to Kuma’s Corner, which is a famous metal themed burger joint in Chicago. After a hearty, heart attack worthy meal, we stopped at a hardware store to repair instruments and such. Here I invented the best hack of all hacks! Playing Magic The Gathering in a moving vehicle is annoying as hell. Cards slip, flip, dive, and roll all over the place! The solution came in the form a cookie pan, and a non-slip drawer liner, both purchased for $1 each in a bargain bin! I couldn’t wait to test out the play mat! This was our last night in Illinois before we had to head east, so we had a bonfire and recorded a podcast that may or may not ever see the light of day.
I tested out the play mat hack. IT CHANGED EVERYTHING! Games are now hilariously less frustrating to play on the road! Tonight’s show was at the Empty Glass in West Virginia. I’ve been there before and had a great time. The bar has a killer craft beer selection, and the patrons genuinely enjoy music. That is not a common thing to see these days. The first beer ordered was a Harpoon Leviathan IPA. I also tried a local beer from Flying Mouse. It was one of the best stouts I have had in a while! The Best Western in town gives musicians performing at the Empty Glass a decent room for $50, so we crashed there for the night.
The trek to Baltimore took us through a crazy hail storm. No idea where the shit it came from in the middle of balls ass hot summer…but there it was! We stopped off at a Sheetz in some middle of nowhere town. This was my first Sheetz experience, and it won’t be my last! You order your food via touch screen aka the future! The food wasn’t too bad either, for something you can procure at a gas station. As we neared Baltimore, rumors of imminent riots in the cities had reached us. There was nothing but a small, peaceful protest when we arrived. Good ol’ media hype! The show was at the Sidebar. Really cool room, with Southern Tier Pumking on tap! The promoter was really easy to work with and her, along with Feed The Scene, cooked us an incredible meal. If you ever tour through Baltimore, hit up Bobbie Dickerson of Black Rose Metal Heart Promotions. She is amazing!
Tonight’s show was at Church in Boston and it had me a little worried since the deal wasn’t that great and the new talent buyer was difficult to work with so far. The previous talent buyer was very responsive and helped promote the show. This new guy would ignore messages for weeks and complained when I wanted to add a third band for local support. I had only booked the show because I’ve performed at the venue before and really liked the room and their beer selection. This time, to my horror, all of their great craft beer was gone! Even the liquor shelves were barren! When we loaded in, the staff was mostly standoffish. Bleh! We played, we drew a good crowd, and then everyone’s attitude changed. It’s funny how that happens….
Having a day to spend in Boston is one of the things I look forward to while I am on tour. We feasted at Redbones for lunch, and there I discovered Slumbrew, a local brewery. Redbones had their Porter Square Porter on tap. It slapped my mouth with cacao and coffee. Amazing! Later on that day, we went to visit the brewery. Before heading to New York, we stocked up on Regina Pizzeria. It’s pretty much the best pizza ever. Yes, better than pizza in New York!
9/5 – 9/7
Ren Faire Weekend! The New York Faire gave us a trailer with A/C and a fridge. HEAVEN! Cold beers ahoy! I also read that Church in Boston closed down the night after we performed that. Guess that explains the grim greetings and drink selection!
Time to return to Canada! The border crossing into Montreal was actually really easy this time! No one at the border bothered to process our paperwork ahead of time, so we had to pull over and go to the office. We were only there for about 5 minutes before being given the green light to venture forth. We were going to be staying with our friend Michelle, so we met up with her at a bar and devoured some beers from West Shefford.
This night marked the first of four shows we are playing with ARKONA and HEIDEVOLK. We were greeted by many fans that discovered us when we toured through on ALESTORM’s Piratefest. It was really cool to play here for the second time and have a draw of our own. Someone at the show bought me a Boréale Noire, a local and delicious stout. The night ended with poutine, because Canada.
The second show with ARKONA and HEIDEVOLK was at Envol et Macadam in Quebec City. It was rad to see our name on posters for this festival all over the city. It didn’t hurt that this is one of my favorite cities to visit either. Holy incredible foods and architecture! We stayed with a friend who lives nearby, hiked up many perilous hills, and capped the night of with poutine!
We had to trek back to NY for the weekend, but not before consuming epic crepes in Quebec City! I managed to grab a couple local beers too. A full report on their taste and worth will be in the next Join The Ranks Tour update!
I’m hanging in Brooklyn right now. It’s about 2:00am, one band mate is contently snoring on the floor in front of me, two are playing Magic The Gathering on the table nearby, another is working in the kitchen, and I have a bottle of Harpoon Pumpkin Cider. Whoever lives here probably hates us and life is pretty rad. See ya!