Philly, Pittsburg, Wayne

We haven’t blogged in a few days. One of those missed posts I’ll blame on Donnie, who said he’d blog and didn’t. However, the other two are due to my own procrastination and laziness.

There was a cool open mic we played in the Philadelphia area at a coffee shop called Elcy’s Cafe’. We had a show booked for that date but it fell though, so we decided the best option was to go to an open mic… at a coffee shop…. that happens to be inside a train station. To make the situation even weirder, there was a film crew at this train station, filming some kind of movie that, apparently, really involved the commuter train because they we’re there before and after we got there. The open mic itself was nice to play. The crowd was awesome, my aunt, my cousin and girlfriend and his girlfriends mom were so nice to come out and watch the three of us perform. The some of the other musicians we saw play that night really inspired us as well, it was a unique experience. After the show my cousin Joey and his girlfriend Ashley took us out to a bar out in Ambler and we heard a few bands perform, did a fair amount of laughing and unwinding.

The next day we drove to Pittsburgh which took about 5 hours, basically covering the width of Pennsylvania. Along the way we had to stop in a tiny, rural, rundown, middle of nowhere, place 30 minutes outside Pittsburgh called Kecksburg. Anyone who’s ever studied historic UFO events would understand why, an alleged spacecraft crashed into the desolate town in ’65, witness claim the object was shapped like a bell and had strange writing along the sides. Whatever did crash in Kecksburg was promptly loaded onto military vehicles and carried away(probably to Wright Patterson Air-force Base). The town has now become a cornerstone of ufology, much like Roswell, NM, Rachel, NV and Snowflake, AZ. The town erected a memorial to the event, a model of the bell-shaped crash that witnesses described. As someone who researched the subject for many years, I had always planned to one day see the bell and was beyond enthusiastic when we got to it, which was hilarious to Donnie and Kevin. The real fun came when we attempted to find the “UFO Gift Shop” that was suppose to be right by the bell. There was a few building across the street from the memorial, but only one looked somewhat inhabitable we tried there. The sign for the “UFO Store” pointed us to a door that we entered into a little warily, because two big, rough looking dudes from the sticks, who probably ate little UFO nerds like me for snack, just walked in the same door. When we got in we saw there was another door to get in, a metal door that had a buzzer and signs on it that indicated that this, this was a “members only bar”. A members only bar in the middle of redneck PA, Donnie feared the two of us would be beaten violently for our Catholicism and Kevin for his extended travels and dealings with Catholics. We escaped this situation without harm and made our way for inner-city Pittsburg. The one thing that freaked us out about this city, especially me and Kevin, was the inconsistency in areas. In most cities, well, the only two I’ve  really lived around Greensboro and Charlotte, it seems like there’s “bad” areas and “good” areas, both have their designgnated neighborhoods and between the two are usually mediocre, not dangerous but not where you’d let your 10-year old bike to school. Pittsburg wasn’t like this at all. We’d drive down a decrepit street corner with buildings with graffiti and bordered up windows and say, “wow, this is a real rough section of town.” and then get to the next block 30 seconds later that looked well kept and safe, with a Trader Joe’s and Pet-smart to reassure us. But of course the next block was scarier than the pervious and this cycle continued until we made it to the venue, which landed on scary. We decided that we’d leave our 20 minutes away at Donnie’s friends house. Once we got there Kevin expressed opposition in going back to the venue due to it’s location, saying it wasn’t worth the risk. Donnie made it clear he’d go down with his friend regardless and Kevin asked me to stay. It was a choice I had to make. I have played in areas I felt uncomfortable before in Greensboro and Charlotte but if I did this show, I knew it’d top the list. While Donnie seemed confident, I knew we came from different worlds, it’s hard to go from Davidson to Pittsburg and not lose your head. This combination of not wanting to leave my friend behind in a stranger’s house and fear of getting jumped made me question whether or not I should play this gig. A quick text asking for advice on the situation was sent to my producer/friend/mentor Grey Revell, who’s opinion I respect over many others. Having just flown in to Miami, returning from having just toured in South America, he sent back, “no sense in silly risks..just a gig..play it close..keep your head..you’re smart, trust your gut :-)”. This is advice I ended up taking and me and Kevin stuck around the nice, mountainous suburb of Mt. Lebanon as Donnie and friend ventured out to the show. From what Donnie said, the area wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought and we would have been just fine, but the show wasn’t too great either and the owner was a bit of a spazz, so it wasn’t like we missed anything big. When they got back from the show the four or us lit a fire and talked on Donnie’s friends back porch until three in the morning, mainly about politics. I really liked that guy and his parents, it’s so awesome running into such amazing people on the road who, even though you’re a stranger, treat you like a friend.

We woke up and Donnie’s friend directed us to a great breakfast place in Pittsburg, one that apparently Obama like so much, that we invited members of the staff to fly out to the White House to make him pancakes. It’s called Pamela’s Diner, it was pretty cool. Then came the drive, just about 6 hours on the road through absolute nowhere. The day before we had just about dove the width of PA and yesterday day we drove the entire width of northern Ohio, which is basically a bunch of farmland and Toledo. It was tedious and tiring but, we made it to Fort Wayne, IN where we were greeted by my Aunt with hugs and a warm, home cooked meal, my family is the best. Today we play a record store.

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