Levi Weaver (Live from the Road)

This is a journal chronicling the 16,000 mile string of houseshow tours Levi Weaver embarked on during the fall and early winter of 2011. It is a companion to the live recording catalogue found at http://leviweaverlive.bandcamp.com

BONUS:

One more photo from the drive between Toronto and Ypsilanti today. The clouds were just too much today.

Once finished, the song for this show will be “Road Map Eyes.”

Show 19: Columbus, OH  9.16.2011

We did it. We made it.

The themes held true last night. House show: excellent? check.
People: amazing? double-check.

I played for 70 minutes last night; the longest I’ve played on any set this tour. Much like Guelph, I would have played well into the night if that sort of thing wasn’t totally self-serving and counter-productive. I played Road Map Eyes, which I haven’t even practiced in at least a month, and it went well enough that I think it’s going to be the recording from tonight. It was just that kind of night.

 Thanks to Jules for setting up the show and Rob & Kelly for hosting it. (Kelly, sorry I whiffed mentioning you in my “thank you”s at the end. No good excuse; just whiffed it.)

This was my first show in Columbus, and hopefully not my last. There are only so many ways to say I loved playing this show, so in the vein of End-of-Leg-One exhaustion, I’ll just leave it at that. Thank you guys. Not just in Columbus, but in every city I visited in the last three weeks. I am encouraged by humanity, and more convinced than ever that I am on the right track with this house show thing.

 After the show, with no Dayton show to worry about, Dethrage and I loaded all the gear up for the last time and drove home. Overnight drives are some of the most surreal hours of existence, and this was no different. The humor was bizarre, the coffee strong, and the highway true. Thanks again to Aaron for all the work he has done on this tour. I wish I could take him with me on every tour I ever do. Alas, he has other work; work that pays him in real dollars, and thus I must bid him adieu. For now. (Thanks, “bro”.)

I’m home now for awhile; dropping back off the radar to spend some time with my family (hence the photo). I’ll re-emerge on September 30th in Chattanooga, TN. See you then, friends.

So, clearly, we haven’t been posting our daily updates in a while.  I got behind on my mixing, and we kept saying, “oh, we’ll just catch up in (insert any city from the tour).”  This has yet to happen.  As nice as it would be to mix from the road, by doing everything ourselves, we are stuck with a lot of secondary obligations that make that a lot more difficult than it sounded at first.

We’ve recorded every set, and we are still planning to compile an album that is composed of live tracks from each show.  However, for the time being, we’re just going to give you all the backdated blog entries here and release the album as a single, completed entity, instead of track by track.

Sorry for both falling behind and having to change the release strategy, but we hope you can understand that it was due to nothing short of absolute exhaustion.

Aaron.

Once finished, the song for this show will be “We’re Tornadoes When We Dance.”
Show 18: Ypsilanti, MI  9.15.2011
I’ll only say two things about the show tonight:  1.)  I was referred to by the closing act in this manner: “Thanks to Nathan  K, Fields of Industry, and… Biff Tannen. …Lee Harvey Oswalt… that  guy that played second.” My natural inclination was to be offended, but  that was a pretty solid Back to the Future reference, so… 2.)  I learned a lesson tonight: in the future, if I only have a half-hour  to play, I will still talk between songs and let the people there get a  chance to know me instead of trying to just cram 8 songs in. I felt  similar tonight as I did in Ardmore - I just wanted to play. But I don’t  think I made any new fans from the people that were there to see the  other bands. Lesson learned.   What I do want  to talk about tonight are the themes from this tour: Venue shows have  been rough. House shows have been excellent. And I know some absolutely  amazing people. Tonight it was Leon and Tim who opened their house to us  and cooked us what I believe was the best meal we’ve had on this tour.  That’s no small feat, considering the food that has been prepared for  us. I have been continually humbled by the people we have stayed / spent  time with. Whereas Charlotte’s show opening for Matrimony inspired me  to be a better performer, everyone that has hosted us has inspired me to  be a better person, a more giving host, a more sincere friend. Even on  nights when the performances don’t go as planned, there are still  treasures to take into my heart and file under “there is good in the  world”.  Thank you, everyone.   Only one more  show on this tour (Dayton was cancelled on account of pneumonia for the  host and his whole family), so Columbus - you’re the caboose this trip.  Let’s finish this on a good note (no pun intended.) -Levi

Once finished, the song for this show will be “We’re Tornadoes When We Dance.”

Show 18: Ypsilanti, MI  9.15.2011

I’ll only say two things about the show tonight:

 1.) I was referred to by the closing act in this manner: “Thanks to Nathan K, Fields of Industry, and… Biff Tannen. …Lee Harvey Oswalt… that guy that played second.” My natural inclination was to be offended, but that was a pretty solid Back to the Future reference, so…

 2.) I learned a lesson tonight: in the future, if I only have a half-hour to play, I will still talk between songs and let the people there get a chance to know me instead of trying to just cram 8 songs in. I felt similar tonight as I did in Ardmore - I just wanted to play. But I don’t think I made any new fans from the people that were there to see the other bands. Lesson learned.

 What I do want to talk about tonight are the themes from this tour: Venue shows have been rough. House shows have been excellent. And I know some absolutely amazing people. Tonight it was Leon and Tim who opened their house to us and cooked us what I believe was the best meal we’ve had on this tour. That’s no small feat, considering the food that has been prepared for us. I have been continually humbled by the people we have stayed / spent time with. Whereas Charlotte’s show opening for Matrimony inspired me to be a better performer, everyone that has hosted us has inspired me to be a better person, a more giving host, a more sincere friend. Even on nights when the performances don’t go as planned, there are still treasures to take into my heart and file under “there is good in the world”.

 Thank you, everyone.

 Only one more show on this tour (Dayton was cancelled on account of pneumonia for the host and his whole family), so Columbus - you’re the caboose this trip. Let’s finish this on a good note (no pun intended.)
-Levi

Once finished, the song for this show will be “Kansas, I Decline.”

Show 17: Toronto, ON  9.14.2011

(This is one that Aaron is going to write when he gets back. In the meantime, the filler content is that I introduced Aaron to Poutine and he loves it so much that I am almost glad we don’t have it in America because I think we might lose him otherwise.)

Once finished, the song for tonight will be “Idioteque.”

Show 16: Guelph, ON  9.13.2011

I have seen the mountain.

And the mountain is Guelph.

 In a city that sounds like a character from Fraggle Rock, I have discovered the Holy Grail of House Shows.

 Tonight, sweat pouring from my body, I played for a packed room of university students. Maybe it was the full night’s rest, but more likely it was the fact that energy breeds energy; tonight was the most fun I can remember having behind a guitar and microphone in a very long time.

 The upstairs room was probably 20’x20’ (I’m not sure what that is in meters, sorry Canada) and there were around 35 or 40 people in it (That’s 35.3-40.4, Canadian. TWO-FOR-ONE CANADA JOKES!). Outside the doorway was a stairwell, also loaded with people. Downstairs, a speaker piped the performance into the kitchen where soup was being served to all attendees. I wanted to play for two hours. Three hours. I wanted to play and sing for them until I collapsed. But 50 minutes was my allotted time, so I just tried to pause once in a while to soak in the moment.

 "Touring is a manic depressive thing…" Tonight, I wanted to climb the tallest mountain and pluck a star from the sky and hurl it at every sad thing that has ever happened, watching it all explode into a supernova of redemption. (if this is not manic, someone please explain to me what that word means, because I think this is pretty much it.)

 

The best part: after I was finished playing, I went back up and sat in the sauna-esque room and watched Jesse Maranger play his fragile delicate songs to a room of listeners, perched inside their sweat cocoons. I closed my eyes and melted into the night, surrounded by a room full of family I’d never met.

Once finished, the song from this show will be “Dead Best Friends.”

Show 15: Mississauga, ON  9.12.2011

Crossing the border is always a bit harrowing. “Musician” = “Drug User” in the mind of most border patrol officers, so it’s pretty rare that I ever cross a border with a guitar and no hassle. (Thanks, Johnny Cash and The Beatles and Elvis and pretty much everyone else.)

 This time went without much hassle, though. They must have been busy, because even to myself, I look like someone from the TV show Intervention. Black circles under my eyes, a bit out of it, probably not walking in a straight line. “Do you have any drugs on you?” “Only the destructive natural uppers and downers of life on the road!”, I (do not, ever) say.

 
Thankfully, this crossing was not too bad, and we made it to Mississauga without much incident. It was great to see the Crank family. Their triplets are six years old now, and their youngest is 14 months (unless you count the one on the way). I am amazed at parents, knowing now what goes into having just one. I used to think people were self-congratulating with the “parents are heroes” bit, but Johnny and Jamie Crank are, in fact, heroes.

I met some wonderful people tonight, but I am tired enough that the performances are suffering. I’m thankful for a place to sleep three nights in a row before embarking on the final stretch of this first leg. I will sleep tonight until I wake up in the morning; no alarms (no surprises?). My body and mind demand rest by way of performing each task I demand of them with utter mediocrity. “We’re not getting paid overtime to come up with clever metaphors for being tired; you get this one, that’s it. We bid you good night."

So with no laborers to accomplish what management demands, we are apparently on strike until tomorrow.

Once finished, the song from this show will be “String Theory.”

Show 14: Aurora, NY  9.11.2011

If I had kept better track of these things, I would probably be telling you that I was approaching or had just surpassed my 1,000th show around now. This is a very rough estimate; I would not be surprised to find that the number was as low as 800 or as high as 1,200 but I suspect 1,000 is as good a guess as any. At any rate, the importance is not on the precise number but on the fact that I have played aproximately a metric ton of shows, and yet I am still surprised sometimes.

I usually have some sort of idea how a show is going to go; if it is going to be successful or not, and I am usually (not from exceptional intelligence, but from extensive experience) pretty close.

But Aurora, NY surprised me. We didn’t get the show confirmed until 2 days before. (strike one.) I was the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and we were in New York State. (strike two.) And my headlights, in spite of a $50 AutoZone fix that morning, had gone out again. (foul ball.)

Add to the equation that we had spent as much time in the previous two days driving (7 hours) and loading gear (2) as we had sleeping (9), and my attitude was legitimately bad.  We stopped in Syracuse to see a friend of Aaron’s, and upon not being able to get the lights working, I despondently turned to my travel companion and flatly said it: “I don’t want to do this show.”

But the promise of a place to sleep, even if it meant we played to 4 people, meant maybe I could cover that $50 AutoZone bill, so we hit the high beams and soldiered on, arriving an hour late.

What awaited us was nothing short of an elixer. Ben Holt and about 30 other Wells College students met us with open arms (metaphorically speaking, lest my wife be reading this). By the end of the night, the lakeside air was filling our lungs with hope, much like conversations with new friends filled our hearts with the warm glow that comes only from human interaction. 

By the time we left the next morning, my attitude was markedly better, even in the face of my air mattress losing a plug and leaving me lying on a wooden floor. (hit by pitch.)

This project hasn’t stalled out. We’ve just been working really hard at driving to / loading in for / playing / hanging out with new friends at / loading out of / driving home from SHOWS SHOWS SHOWS.

(4 in the last 2 days, to go with about 400 miles of driving between.) 

We’ve been getting about 5 hours of sleep per night, and what has suffered has been the mixing of these live tracks (and our mental health.)

But we have about 6 hours in the car tomorrow, so I’m going to drive and Aaron is going to stop being a *slacker and do some mixing. They may be delayed, but we are getting them recorded, don’t you worry.

-Levi

*By “slacker” I mean this: I have finally found someone who can out-work me on a tour, and his name is Aaron Dethrage. I have worked harder on this tour than any previous one I’ve done, and “De(a)th-RAGE!” has not only kept up, he’s actually working harder than me. I have no doubt these mixes will be done soon.

Once finished, the song for this day will be “Sick or Determined.”

Shows 13 and 13.2: Clinton, CT and Providence, RI  9.10.2011

I am writing this at 12:54am, technically now into the wee hours of September 11th, 2011.

In the last 36 hours, I have played four shows. The most grueling stretch of the tour is over and we have survived it.

Well, most of us have.

Hidalgo (the CR-V) has no headlights. We made this discovery tonight after pizza in downtown Providence, RI.

We had headlights on the drive in. After pizza, no headlights.

I’ll try to sort it in the morning, but for tonight… receipts, mileage, blog… sleep.

I finally got some good interview footage today with Andrew and Suzanne Wallach, who host the shows at “Black Sheep Ranch” in Clinton, CT. Bill (Campfire Sky) was there as well and I got some good footage from him. Both are heroes of the independent music world; or at least my independent music world.

 After a great show (opening for Hannah Fair), we got in the car and drove about 80 most of the (55mph speed limit) way to Providence, where we arrived just in time to get loaded in before the show started. Thanks to James Collington and Jonas Wood for also playing (excellent work, guys) and for North Providence Church for hosting it. The show was a fund-raiser for their local charity.

 I am so tired now that my fingers are writing this more than my brain is. Two days, Four shows, and 397 miles of driving between them. I’m shot. Tomorrow (today) promises another couple hundred miles behind the wheel.

It’s 9/11. The tenth anniversary. I am too tired to process what this means to me right now. I need sleep.