Gig Archives: 2014


(Disclaimer: this may be incomplete or inaccurate)

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
A quick, dense west coast run - 13 shows in 12 days, mostly to celebrate the newest CD "Book of Souls: Folio A" as well as two brand new 7" singles. The first half of the tour had Atomic Ape as openers. They were super fun and sounded great, and Jason will sit in on guitar for the upcoming Masada shows and Ryan will sit in on kaval on a couple SC3 tunes as well. We all made it successfully up to Vancouver, BC for the first show. Admittedly this set was a little rough given the long drive and some minor equipment kinks that still needed to be worked out. Nevertheless I had a much better time in town than last time, i.e. no food poisoning nor evading crackheads while puking my guts out in a piss-soaked alleyway. First time working with soundguy Bill from Portland who will be doing the next couple of shows as well.
Wednesday, February 5th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
Made it down to Seattle real quick and played Neumos once again - we were just there a few months ago. Still, despite the school night and recent appearance it was a great show. Good crowd, good performance, good response. Also good hot dog at that cart right outside the club - I got one from the same vendor last time in town. It's all about the cream cheese.
Thursday, February 6th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
Finally we got screwed by bad weather during a tour - I've been quite lucky on all these tours the past few years but we finally hit some major snow and I-5 was a parking lot. Luckily Toby was navigating and got us off the highway before too long and we took smaller streets the whole rest of the way. We stopped to buy chains in one small town just in case. It was pretty sketchy, but we made it eventually - a drive that regularly takes 3 hours took about 8 hours. Atomic Ape weren't as lucky, stuck on I-5 the whole time and showing up after the whole evening was over (but the people at Mississippi Studios were super nice and still fed and paid them and they sold a bunch of CDs anyway). Jenya flew up to meet us there which was fun - and quite miraculous that her flight wasn't delayed given the snowstorm. She got some great photos/video snippets of this show and others.
Friday, February 7th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
The bad weather continued, and after brunch we got stuck in more snow conditions passing Eugene, adding a few extra hours to our trip. And beyond the snow was nonstop sheets of rain all the way to Arcata. This is Trey's home town, more or less, so lots of old friends were out and about. This is my first time performing in Arcata since.. 1995! Another small and friendly venue - Humboldt Brews. Great house sound people, too - the soundboard used to be used in all the sound production for the show "Friends." We played well despite epic, stressful drives the past two days..
Saturday, February 8th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
And more bad weather - at least just rain rain rain - all the way to Felton to play at Don Quixote's International Music Hall. Loaded in the rain, loaded out in the rain. Great show, great to be close to home and beyond the long drives in shitty weather. Sadly, this was the last gig on this tour with Atomic Ape and they played a longer more lively set than before. Headed back to Oakland late that night and most of the band crashed at my house.
Sunday, February 9th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
First of two gigs today - and another rainy load in/out - at Amoeba Music in SF. Yup, an in-store gig. We had an autograph receiving line to kick things off. Some friends showed up for the short free set. It should have been a super fun and easy gig, but I had the worst technical issues of the tour and was fighting the computer the whole time - and encountering unexpected glitches with the controller I bought during the last tour. Great. So be it.
Sunday, February 9th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
And then schlepped over to Oakland real quick to load into Duende, stopping off at my pad to get a keyboard that worked. We had a late set there but had to be done soundchecking before the dinner service. Haven't been to this place yet - wow it was awesome. And since we were doing the Masada set it was easier/quicker to set up. We also talked through the tunes a bit before we got served a free tasting menu dinner. The chef and owner of this place are friends with Zorn and the whole related music family, so they were quite happy to set us all up with some amazing food and hospitality. It was also a sold out show which was also happy making. Jenya joined us for the dinner and drinks, and then we hit the small room upstairs at 10pm. All the frustration of the past few days definitely came out in my solos. A lovely way to celebrate the middle of the tour, then went back to my house afterward to party.
Monday, February 10th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
Back on tour proper, heading quickly to Sacramento. Another easy load and set up and during all that the miRthkon gang arrived. miRthkon will be opening the rest of the rock shows this tour, and during the soundcheck chaos I introduced people in both bands, helped facilitate the changeover and stage setups, and tried to push things along as this soundcheck will be the first time the whole miRthkon band, including new drummer Pete, would be playing together since the last gig of the Europe tour five months ago - so it would be nice to run a song or two. Everything went smoothly enough, though I can tell right away this double duty for me is going to be quite exhausting. Quickly wolfed down pizza, rocked the miRthkon set, then rocked the SC3 set. Small Monday night crowd, but still enough energy to pull off some face melting.
Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
Long ass drive down to Santa Ana - so we got up with only a few hours' sleep and hit the road with extra people hitching a ride. Made good time on the 5 such that we could sneak in a dinner such as it was near the venue before loading in. A slightly better show crowd and performance wise than last night. I'm happy with the response miRthkon is getting. Great hospitality at this club. Then after the show hauled ass to San Diego just so we don't have to deal with traffic tomorrow. Arrived at the hotel at 3:30am, and check in took forever due to confused desk person and their broken key making machine.
Wednesday, February 12th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
Woke in San Diego, which was lovely, but I didn't sleep enough. Walked around in the hot sun (such a difference from less than a week ago) until meet up time, then we got some killer tacos/tamales at a local shop before loading in. Once again playing the Casbah, and they were super nice to us as we set up. I mustered the energy to deal with miRthkon set up as well, then had an hour of Matt time to briskly walk 10 blocks away to the nearest slice of pizza. Not bad. Back to the club and rocked out. Easily the best show of the tour as far as I could tell. Packed house, great sound, great vibe, good vibes for both sets.
Thursday, February 13th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
Then up to LA for two nights at the Bootleg Theater, the first night being the rock show with miRthkon on a big stage in a different room I had no idea existed last time we played here. We were squeezed to finish soundcheck as there was a play going on (in front of the stage) before our show. Luckily our usual soundguy Ryan was, as usual, on top of it so no worries. In fact Ryan and John (doing SC3 sound this half of the tour) worked pretty well together making life super easy. For dinner got a few $1 street tacos. Super delicious. Eventually played our sets. We were worried after last night tonight would be a let down, but it wasn't. We broke on through to the other side just fine. Though I'm drinking a can of red bull each night just to deal with all the performing and setting up and tearing down.
Friday, February 14th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
Lazy day hanging in LA then back to the Bootleg doing another Masada set (miRthkon was already heading back to SF). In a different room than last night, but at least our gear was already there. Set up. A bit of a stressful check as the PA in this room was pretty shitty and half the time picking up loud Mexican radio. But we fought through that, and then had a few hours to kill before late set time. I got more street tacos/burritos at a much better grill-in-a-parking-lot a half mile down the street. So wonderful. I fell asleep on a couch until the security guy woke me up to let me know he was about to open doors. It was an energetic show, and despite the date (Valentine's Day) and the late hour it was still a sold out event. We played on the floor with people around us. Felt intimate and highly charged. Good times.
Saturday, February 15th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Winter 2014
Another long ass drive on little sleep, hauling all the way back to SF to play the Chapel. I haven't been to this new venue before. It ruled! Great room, great staff, and we sold the place out. In some ways this was also the best show of the tour, and a great way to end it! Lots of local peeps, lots of new faces, miRthkon did great, and so did Secret Chiefs 3. Played all the tunes on our list. Took an epic Brazen solo for the final number of the tour. There was a long tour dismount, as we hung out for the next day or so working on recordings and other band stuff. After everybody split it still took me a few days to remember how to sleep more than 3 hours a night.
Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
with MoeTar:
Two bands with a Moe in them! We played the Uptown in Oakland on a rainy rainy school night, but there was still a pretty good crowd to check us out. First up was the wild and energetic Surplus 1980 and then MoeTar. We had a couple new tricks up our sleeves, i.e. two new tunes and the introduction of Jonathan Herrera - also on keyboards - bringing it to a whole new polished level. We rocked out, loaded out in the drizzle, went home and went to work tomorrow.
Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
We played at the Town Hall as part of the epic premiere of John Zorn's Masada Book Three. We were 20th out of 20 different acts, each playing one song from this new collection of material. It was a great hang backstage with the 50 other musicians involved, and everybody put forth really inspiring and amazing performances. It was kinda funny being the last ones at bat, also funny flying to NYC to play 4 minutes of material. Lovely venue, but a crappy night - I emerged from the subway in the rain on the way to the gig and hid inside all night, and then within a few minutes of playing was back outside running between the raindrops to the subway to head back to the LES and meet my sister Lisa for a ride back to her place.
Saturday, April 12th, 2014
What an ambitious show! New Music Works presented an evening of music by Timba Harris and Trey Spruance as performed by Secret Chiefs 3 along with choir (Ariose Singers) and extended ensemble (harp, flute, violin, cello, voice). After a week of rehearsals we performed Timba's entire Nexus I: Cascadia piece, and then a collection of new/old SC3 songs arranged for larger ensemble. Due to the varied sets I actually had to bring 4 keyboards to this gig and plug them into Trey's whole computer matrix and I had my laptop to boot. So many cables! By the way the day started with me getting totally hassled by some random Santa Cruz dude for having the gall to tap the bumper of the car parked behind me when pulling out of a parking space. Yay hippies.
Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
with members of Secret Chiefs 3:
So Secret Chiefs 3 got some last-minute shows in Brazil, and we managed to get our visas in order just in time. While down there, we played a couple non-SC3 events on nights off because why not? We all arrived in São Paulo on Tuesday and that night all of us (minus Trey) assembled at the club Trackers to do an improvisational set. Opening was circuit bending group Patch Shop Boys containing various friends from the area. They had a lovely set then we just went nuts on a dozen short improvs all based on random instrumentations and titles we took turns calling out. Some good ones in there.
Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
We headed north up to play at the SESC in Ribeirão Preto. Lovely venue, but I didn't really get a chance to check out the facility as I was freaking out about gear all through sound check - spent a lot of time folding in borrowed controllers with mysterious quirks, plus we also forgot the VGA monitor adapter so the only thing that would work was a large flat screen TV that I had propped up by Trey's amp. So funny. Despite the stress of soundcheck we played a good 90 minute set. Nice crowd with familiar faces. Spent the next day or so on a sugar cane ranch just chilling out and eating bbq.
Friday, May 16th, 2014
with members of Secret Chiefs 3:
Back to São Paulo for another improv gig, this one at a house called Ibrasotope. A comfy setting, and we followed the Patch Shop Boys again with a round of random improvs, this time with Trey as well. It was funny using this borrowed keyboard as I had no idea what the sounds were, which was embarrassing at times. Good fun, though, with a lovely home-cooked vegan meal beforehand, and hanging with more familar faces afterwards.
Sunday, May 18th, 2014
The big gig that brought us down here: playing on the large São João stage as part of the 24 hour Virada Cultural festival with outdoor stages and events all over town. We were scheduled to go on at 3am, after Uriah Heep and Mark Farner (yes, that Mark Farner). They sounded great but those acts went on a little long and took extra time setting up/breaking down, so we didn't get on until 3:40am. We actually kicked ass and were ready by 3:20am, but then the mixing board rebooted right after we checked, and they were too scared to tell us as they frantically tried to recreate everything from memory (but we knew what was going on). So the sound was a bit off on stage. I snapped for a moment and started jumping up and down while pointing downward at the stage as the poor monitor guy kept turning the bass up beyond deafeningly loud in the wrong monitors. We all had a good laugh about that afterwards. I'd hate to be the monitor guy at a huge festival at 4am. Also, I was bracing to perform to upwards of 50,000 people, as that was the number I kept hearing all week, but it ended up being not that large a street, and there were like maybe 1,000 people - or perhaps 2,000 tops at one point. And also we lucked out with the weather - all week there were predicted thunderstorms when we were to play, but the storm waited until the next afternoon.
Thursday, May 29th, 2014
with MoeTar:
We headlined at the Fenix in San Rafael. New club, really nice place, set up real well. Except it was a real bitch to park after unloading. Full lots, streets closed off due to the Farmer's Market right there, etc. Whatever I'm whining. Opening up was the lovely duo Erin & the Project who were also joined for a bit by Jon and Matt on bass/guitar. Good stuff. Easy switch and then we crammed all 6 of us on the stage and enjoyed playing for the good crowd of locals and friends who made the journey. We debuted both "Machines" and "Unknowable." All but one tune from the new record has now been performed live!
Wednesday, July 9th, 2014
with MoeTar:
As part of the Summer Concert Serires at the Oakland City Center, we played a free gig right there in the city center quad (next to the Jamba Juice) for the lunch time crowd. Super easy setup and fun. Despite being all original and quite quirky at that people were generally be into it. It's always good to perform for random subsections of the population and see what flies.
Friday, August 1st, 2014
with MoeTar:
We were back at the Fenix in San Rafael again! Cool club, great people running the show. This time we were headlining after the Austin Willacy Band and 'Til Dawn. It was kind of a whole family affair for Moorea who has known Austin a while and was in 'Til Dawn way back when. Fun hang, good crowd. And I got the rock star parking spot right out back, so I was unloaded and outta there and home by midnight.
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
So this was a crazy jet-set tour. We landed in Heathrow and drove two stick-shift cars on the wrong side of the road up near Stirling, Scotland to play the annual Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival. Despite all manner of delay due to technical issues (and more issues while on stage) we managed to pull off a pretty good set. Fun times. Had some Laphroaig afterward. Tastes a lot better in Scotland. By the way, unlike all the other SC3 tours thus far, Jenya came along for the whole thing. It was really nice having her on board on some many levels and made many of the difficulties far less so.
Saturday, August 30th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
We immediately then flew to Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. Trey broke his foot soon after our arrival in a random accident. All things considered, he was fine and a real trooper, but this made an already ambitious tour nigh impossible now that he was on crutches. Nevertheless everybody picked up the slack. Go team! Anyway, we spent a few days rehearsing with the Krasnoyarsk Russian Traditional Orchestra - Trey arranged many SC3 tunes for them to play with us, we learned some traditional Russian tunes to play with them. We were in a real alien city - and it's not like there is American tourism there so the residents were staring confused at us as we bought coffee and snacks in the supermarket. The hotel cook who lovingly fed us amazing dill-heavy meals each morning and night, when first encountering us and finding out we're from the US, asked our promoter, "aren't we enemies?" This lovely cultural exchange had its magic, and by week's end we drove even further east to the tinier town of Kansk for the big performance at its annual International Film Festival (Why Kansk? Because it's similar sounding to "Cannes"). Outside of a technological brain fart on my part the resulting in a glorious and humiliating musical failure (to hopefully be edited out of the final recording) the performance was wonderful. Music connects all, and there was drunken revelry afterward at a local Chinese restaurant (we are pretty close to China, for what that's worth) where Russians, Israelis (of Ukranian and Arab descent), Americans, and a Serbian friend all toasted each other and our shared humanity despite the politicians operating above us, and the global corporations operating above them, and the news media which confuses everybody.
Sunday, August 31st, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
Drove all night back to Krasnoyarsk, then flew to Moscow for a standard rock gig at the China Town Cafe. Checked out Red Square during a few free hours in the afternoon. En route saw a Subway, a Krispy Kreme, a Baskin Robbins, and a Hooters. It was a great gig to a packed house. It was our first time in Russia and the fans were super appreciative. Felt really good on stage, and "holy crap I'm playing Moscow" was running in my head most of the time.
Monday, September 1st, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
Then took a sleeper train all the way to St. Petersburg for another rock show the next night. Didn't have much time to check out the city, but from what I saw it looked cool. Once again, a packed house and an appreciative Russian crowd. Good times.
Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
Got up super early to catch a train to Helsinki, Finland. Another new city/country for me and SC3. Had some time to walk around in the afternoon, and enjoy a dinner at a burger restaurant near the club after soundcheck. I got the spicy kimchi burger. And it came with whole peanuts on it. It was yummy. Anyway, good show. I should point out before the first gig my Roland D-5 died (after 25 years of service!) so we were short a controller and scraping for one at each gig. Tonight Toby found somebody in town (Christian) who loaned us his controller, but I got my hands on it literally 10 minutes before getting on stage. It was a controller of unknown type, and I had no wifi to dig up a manual for it, and had no clue how to change its midi channel. But by some miracle it was already set to channel 3, which was exactly what it needed to be. Phew. Anyway, good gig. Can't believe we just did Kansk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, then Helsinki four nights in a row.
Saturday, September 6th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
Naturally, we then flew from Helsinki to Tel Aviv. Random routing, sure, but this was quite welcome - despite meaning to go for decades I *finally* made it to Israel! Plus we had a couple days off to explore and eat amazing food and hang out with some (but sadly not all) members of my extended family who live there. It's an amazing country. You should stop posting your ignorant vitiol about it on Facebook and check it out. Anyway, we played a wonderful show at Barby. The audience was incredible, the sound was perfect, great playing, etc. Plus the crowd was super appreciative we didn't cancel our gig there like all the other US bands recently. Fucking pussies.
Sunday, September 7th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
We pulled an allnighter right after the Tel Aviv show to get to Paris (and wait an hour for our oversized luggage to arrive on a random carousel - a common occurrence at CDG, if you're lucky to have the luggage ever appear at all). Then we were back in the hands of Macario and family who set up back-to-back Paris shows at Petit Bain. Last time I was here two years ago I slipped and bashed my face against my keyboard. Seems like yesterday. This first night we did a Forms/Traditionalists set, and then an Ishraqiyun set. It all went fabulously. Great crowd. Good times. Then we shuttled back to our home-away-from-home in Erquery, where Christine and Masai always make wonderful hosts (and wonderful food).
Monday, September 8th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
Night #2 at Petit Bain. After sleeping like kings/queens we headed back to Paris for another two sets, this time Ur and Masada. My main controller is now freaking out in an annoying fashion - basically at the end of every solo it is decided I've had enough and just dies until I power cycle it. So lame. But despite that, it was another great energy show. Nice to have a welcome return to France after too long. And another restful night in Erquery.
Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
But no rest for us! The next morning we flew to London and taxiied right to Corsica Studios with all our stuff and dove right into setting up for a three-night stand here. Tight stage, but we managed best we could. Amazing hospitality in the form of our dedicated chef, Yuval, make us these awesome vegan dinners. Like Paris, we were doing the multi-set thing. Sold out shows across the board. After the first set the guys doing the lights/video determined there wasn't enough light on Kenny, so they shoveled a whole mess of cables right underneath my keyboards (where I stand) to make room for a floorlamp. You know, because fuck keyboardists. Also due to a nearby train's 3rd rail there was a pitched hum in all the amps, but luckily it was in Bb, like most of our songs.
Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
We were put up in a nice hotel nearby. But construction started at 8am including the demolition of a wall literally 20 feet away from our window. So no sleep for us. Spent the day wandering the neighborhood south of Elephant & Castle and then tucked in for night #2 at Corsica. Another 2 set deal. Another great response.
Thursday, September 11th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 Euro/Russia/Israel 2014
Final night of the Corsica studios run, and final night of the tour. The lack of sleep was really catching up to me during an afternoon wandering around London with Jenya, but we pulled it together for one last epic performance: one long, sweaty 2.5 hour set of all the greatest hits (and a tune or two we hadn't played yet the previous nights). Went out with a bang. Final packing up of all our crap in the club and prepping for plane flights back to the US. Kenny and Toby left for the airport at 4am that morning (oy). Jenya and I left at 7am. So once again not much sleep for us before lengthy travels, but we made it home safe and sound the next day. Many thanks to our friends Lara and Anthony who babysat the house and Laszlo this whole time...
Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Not much time off from the road, but there we were driving all the way from Oakland up to Alberta. Took two days, more or less, including an easy border crossing into BC from Idaho, and then a scenic route through Banff to get to Calgary. Strange place to start a tour, but it was a good kick-off show on the SAIT campus. Cleric was opening all the shows the first half of this odyssey. Fun to watch them melting faces and brains at every gig. Trey's foot is much better, but he's still walking around with a cane.
Friday, October 3rd, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
We pushed even further north to play the Starlite Room in Edmonton. I've taken to clear my head with solo walks around town before gigs, and had a lovely stroll by the river for a while before show time. We haven't yet folded in the new arrangements of old tunes, but we will. Still just getting our bearings again.
Saturday, October 4th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Then a long schlep into Saskatchewan to play in Saskatoon at the Vangelis Tavern. Smallish but packed club. For some reason the promoters added two other bands to the bill. They went on after us, so no encores for us. Fine. We did get personal pizzas for dinner at the attached restaurant - mine had Canandian bacon on it. Yum. Timba was super bummed as he left his robe in the dressing room in Edmonton, but turns out one of the Cleric guys spotted and grabbed it. Phew!
Sunday, October 5th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Another long schlep into and through Manitoba where I got a total bullshit speeding ticket which cost $350. Really the offense was driving while being a band from America. This put me in a foul mood that lasted until well after the tour was over. Played at the West End Cultural Centre. Had a lovely Vietnamese meal around the corner beforehand. A nice break from all the Tim Horton's we've been otherwise eating.
Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Back into the U.S.! In fact, we went through Fargo (where we stopped to eat a burger) en route to St. Paul, which means I finally stepped foot in North Dakota. That in turn means I've been to all the United States except for Alaska now. Cool. Anyway, great show. Had dinner with local pal Marshall beforehand at an Ethiopian place nearby, and hung with old Binghamton/WHRW buddy Jason and a couple Bubblemath dudes at the club before hitting the stage. Fun hang, fun gig.
Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
My first time in Milwaukee. We played at the Cactus Club. I admit I thought this was gonna be a weird (maybe bad) gig as the venue was kinda in the middle of nowhere. But the people turned out and it was a rager. Maybe we were also inspired by the 80's horror flicks playing on televisions behind the bar. Okay full disclosure: I walked a mile to the nearest cafe so I could use a better bathroom as the only john in the club was right on the bar, had no stall, and the lock didn't work. This is what you deal with on tour.
Thursday, October 9th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Off to Chicago to play at the Double Door (with not just Cleric but also Pavlov opening). We actually woke up early to get in town early enough to have brunch at our favorite restaurant in the country: Nana. I also got some pretty good hipster tacos near the club later for dinner. Love this town. Didn't love the other bands playing in the basement stage and sharing the backstage and smoking it out and stealing our beers.
Friday, October 10th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Then off to Ferndale (near Detroit). This is such a good town for us. Always a great gig here. Even better: early prints of the new SC3 CD met us here, so they were now for sale. Everybody was stoked. Except for the house soundguy. For some reason he hated us and sabotaged the gig (leaving the mixing board all randomly fucked up after our soundcheck, and then after the gig powering off my computer unceremoniously without shutting it down properly and yanking my midi cable out of Toby's controller and thus destroying it). What a dick.
Saturday, October 11th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Back to Canada! An easy border crossing and journey to Toronto where we played Lee's Palace. This is where I had my second gig with SC3 ever. Big venue but we filled it. Also had some of the best Ethiopian food on the continent (in a ridiculously nice restaurant at a ridiculously low price). Turns out Major Entertainer Mike H and Neil Hamburger were in town and playing a gig a few blocks down. Oh well.
Sunday, October 12th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Last minute picked up this extra gig at this tiny but welcoming club, where we played a Masada set and a second set of material of songs we didn't play last night. A real treat for those who made it to both shows. Old local pal John came out to hang - I'm getting to see lots of peeps on this tour, which is cool. Speaking of which, our friends Dora and Jimmy and Courtney hooked us up with an amazing Canadian Thanksgiving feast on our day off the next day. Love this country.
Wednesday, October 15th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Headed to Montreal on our second day off in a row, and then played at La Vitrola the next night. Back in action. And what's better than kicking off a set of shows in Quebec? How about having Jenya and my sister Lisa meet us there and join us for all these shows! So nice having them along on what will be a rather awesome string of gigs in beautiful locations. Also Jenya and Lisa got to finally get some Montreal style bagels. Us and them and the Cleric descended on St. Viateur at 2am and got a zillion of these treats and enjoyed them immensely. The Cleric guys actually got t-shirts from this bagelry to wear at the next gig.
Thursday, October 16th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Then backtracked to Wakefield, QC, but took the luciously beautiful highway 50 rich with yellowy autumn color. In fact, this whole tour seemed to be perfectly aligned as far as what date would be the peak of autumn at each location. Anyway, this is a lovely little town on a lovely little lake by lovely little hills and we played a lovely little club after I ate a whole bunch of lovely little chicken wings.
Friday, October 17th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Then back towards Montreal to play the even smaller (and also pretty) town of Lavaltrie in an even smaller club. Once again we did a Masada set, but even on the small ass stage Cleric did their usual opening brain melter. The only real rainy gig, and not even that much, on this whole tour.
Saturday, October 18th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
To Quebec City. Played Le Cercle (like I did last time here) which is an awesome club. Unlike last time though I had more time to explore in the morning. Still didn't see much, but Jenya and Lisa have been able to enjoy lots of look-sees around these towns as I soundchecked. Awesome gig, sound and crowd wise. And yes, it's totally a French town. It's like being in Europe, like they say.
Sunday, October 19th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Jenya and Lisa parted ways with us to get straight back to NYC (Jenya flying out tomorrow). The rest of us crossed back into the U.S. for good on this tour, and went to Boston to play Brighton Music Hall. Old pal Linda was in attendance on this gig, or at least for the long stretch of time after soundcheck and my set. Got dinner and walked around town and then got tea. Fun gig, but we then hauled ass (me driving) all the way to NYC just to get there (and avoid spending the night in Boston). Arrived at my sister's place in the Bronx around 5am, where she and Jenya were asleep. Enjoyed a day off in the hood the next day, Lisa and I got Jenya to the airport back to Oakland, did laundry and went costume shopping for Halloween.
Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Back at the Poisson Rouge, which was a hoot. Great gig except for two things. First, they actually had this second round stage set up on the main floor and made us play on that instead of the normal stage. That was interesting. Second, load out ended up being made more difficult by being told there was an elevator - me and Timba hauled everything ourselves to the elevator, then up in several trips, then down a long hall to the street - where it was impossible to double park and load out. Luckily a spot opened up later for us to load, but damn. That coulda sucked. What didn't suck was Lisa came out for the gig, as did my old homie Lehho. Hung out with him at the tables watching the Cleric set. Oh yeah for an encore we had surprise guest Gyan come out in the extra robe and we did Shoel.
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Second show in NYC, this time at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn. And this time Atomic Ape opened up instead of Cleric - they'll be the main support band for the second half of the tour. Felt kinda spoiled having two different but awesome bands to travel with for this tour, and switching over to these guys helped mix things up a bit. And they had fresh tour energy and rocked it. But then this bummer: there was some pipe leaking all over my robe in the basement and I only really noticed the extent and stench of the soakage during my set, and almost was convinced I was actually steeping in human piss for the whole show. I figured out later it wasn't piss, but it still smelled bad, and I'll have to do laundry again tomorrow. Lame. This was the last gig with our buddy Alex doing sound (he was with us since Chicago). Bye, dude.
Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Finally bye to sister Lisa then headed to Philadelphia with the guys to play at the Boot & Saddle. Since this is Cleric's home turf, they once again opened up, as did Atomic Ape. This meant short sets for everybody due to a ridiculously early curfew, but fine. My dad and brother Ben came out for the show, and we all hung out beforehand in the bar. That was cool. What wasn't cool was that my computer freaked out during the gig such that I had to bail on it in the middle of the first tune and just use the internal Kurzweil sounds (and guitar) for the rest of the set. This meant winging it, set wise, but we managed, and the curfew was actually a blessing as we just barely had enough doable material in my computer-less state to make it to the end. Bummer this was the set my dad and bro caught, but my recovery and composure during this ordeal on stage was heroic (if I do say so myself) and turns out it was just a loose power cable and everything was fine the rest of the tour. Long goodbyes to the Cleric guys. Sniff.
Friday, October 24th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
To the South! Played at Gallery 5 in Richmond, VA. Great venue, great gig. And great dinner at the restaurant called "Comfort" just down the block. I love the South. I admit it. Proggers extraordinaire Debi and Helaine were in attendance - nice to see them and touch base about various bands and various festivals. Ryan from Atomic Ape has taken to making everybody coffee during load in *and* sitting in with us on ney for some of the Ishraqiyun tunes. Rad.
Saturday, October 25th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Then to Raleigh, NC to play at King's Barcade. Holy crap this was an awsesome venue and awesome restaurant - all together in one awesome complex. The main guy behind this wanted to make this as "european" a venue as he could. Well it rocked. Did I mention I love the South?
Sunday, October 26th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Pushed further to Atlanta (and deep into its trafficky core) to play at The Earl. I played here before with SC3. Good to be back. Had a great gig the first time, had a great gig this time. And this is where we picked up Steve to be our soundguy for the remainder of the tour. Another fresh presence to breathe new life into this epic tour. Had a day off the next day which was an epic drive towards Texas, including a stop in Mobile, AL for a very local-flavored dinner.
Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Holy crap, back in Austin for the first time in 12 years! Last time I was here was playing a gig with Species Being (me, Frank, and Jai Young) just around the corner. This time we were playing the back, outdoor stage at Red 7. And just because the stars were aligned not only Atomic Ape opened up, but Mike Watt and his new band Il Sogno del Marinaio shared the bill as well. Nice to cross paths with Mike again. He's awesome. Me and the guys walked around the hot sweaty town for dinner beforehand and soaked in that Austin vibe - feels like I was just here recently. Sound and playing wise one of the best shows of the tour. AND putting forth an after show set were old pals The Invincible Czars. This was now the fourth bill I shared with these guys, and each time I was playing in a different band. Josh and Leila happily put us up for the night as well, which was an awesome hang. Played with their cute pets and ate lots of pumpkin bread.
Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Then to Denton, TX, playing at Rubber Gloves - I totally forgot this was the club I played at with Species Being my only other time in this town until I got to the venue and recognized the stage and memories were jogged. That was cool. This was another four band night, with the The Invincible Czars closing it out again. The next day was a day off, during which we drove all the way to Denver!
Friday, October 31st, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Halloween at the Larimer Lounge in Denver. Everybody in SC3 (and Steve) dressed up like different Kurt Russell leading characters from his various movies. I was Big Trouble in Little China. You can find a picture circulating around Facebook for the others. Fun ass show, but exhaustion levels were high with one week to go and many epic drives still ahead of us...
Saturday, November 1st, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Long, lovely, stormy drive to Albuquerque. I love the Colorado Plateau! Mellow night at the Launchpad, partially because GWAR was playing down the street, but also it's the night after Halloween. Still a good show. More people than we thought showed up.
Sunday, November 2nd, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Another day, another epic drive and show. A smaller turnout than we would have liked, but once again to be expected on a Sunday night of a Halloween weekend. We were at Club Congress and thus we got to stay at the attached Hotel Congress which made things a lot easier. Despite having to get up super early to do an oil change (and drive to LA) we all stayed up doing Karaoke - which was what was going on in the venue after we were done playing. I rocked some Sheryl Crow. True story.
Monday, November 3rd, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
And finally back to California! First of two evenings was doing the Masada set at El Cid, with Mike H opening up with his hilarious schtick. So nice to be in my home state. So nice to not have to drive much the next day.
Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Long day spent inside remotely dealing with a crashed server at the lab back in Berkeley. Yeah, during these tours I actually try and work remotely as much as I can. But anyway, second night in LA, and a more typical well-attended rock show at the Echoplex. Good stuff. Day off casually driving north so Trey and Fernanda and I could be back in our respective homes in the north. Aaah!
Thursday, November 6th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Santa Cruz @ Moe's Alley. Worst gig of the tour, attendance wise. They can't all be winners. But it wasn't a total disaster - some people showed up and we played well. And I got to go back to Oakland afterward and sleep in my own bed again.
Friday, November 7th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Final gig of the tour at good ol' Great American Music Hall in SF. We pulled out all the stops for this set, and it was a great crowd full of familiar home town faces. Plus the people at this venue are totally nice and awesome. Super easy and comfy place to play and wrap up the touring season. Oof! Long goodbyes to the Atomic Ape gang at the venue, and then long goodbyes to SC3 troops at my house after loading in. Actually the goodbyes smeared into the next day as me and Timba drove Kenny and Toby to the airport at some ungodly early hour, then returned the u-haul and tour van. Everybody was out of my house and on their separate ways by 3pm. Ah, the tour dismount.. and the beginning of weeks of recovery.
Friday, November 7th, 2014
On Tour: Secret Chiefs 3 North America Fall 2014
Then went to Hayfork, CA to play at Northern Delights. This was weird on many levels, including: 1. what and where the hell is Hayfork?! 2. why go all the way there only to come back again the next day to play SF? Well, it was a really good guarantee, and a really beautiful little town in the hills. We did get pulled over by three cop cars at once on the way there - they were just checking to make sure we weren't transporting piles of weed but it was kinda scary there for a second. But the show was great, the crowd good, and we were treated well and put up for the night. Probably the most restful hotel experience on the whole tour. I love California, especially these quiet towns hidden in the nooks of various mountain ranges.
Sunday, November 16th, 2014
with MoeTar:
Usually four band bills are a bummer, especially on a school night, but this one was a pleasant exception to that rule! Starting the epic evening at the Night Light in Oakland was MWE bouncing their Balkan beats on the floor, then on stage the always amazing and increasingly powerful Cash Pony. Pitom from NYC - part of the Tzadik family - went on third with their powerful set (with Tarik and Jon Arkin sitting in on bass and drums). I was happy there was a crowd for this touring band as we finally went on fourth and plowed through all the material from the new album (save the impossible Raze the Maze) - our first show since the record was released! Good times, and thanks to everybody being a pro we were done at a reasonable time, all things considered.
Thursday, December 4th, 2014
with MoeTar:
Once again at 19 Broadway in Fairfax. I showed up first before the rest of the band and the soundperson - the stage was in complete disarray, due to a water leak (lots of rain lately). This was concerning, and I went to avoid the situation and kill time by getting a coffee at Fairfax. I returned and things sorted out fast enough after everybody arrived. Quick line check. Mellow night. Got to hang upstairs and gather my thoughts and have a free PBR before hitting the stage. Great show! Mostly because it was free, but also we were playing with the Tom Finch Group and their draw was pretty good and quite open to the experience. Some old friends in the crowd, and new fans made. Good stuff.
Friday, December 12th, 2014
I guess the economy is improving as we had two holiday parties this weekend after not doing much the past couple of years. This one was a dot com party at the SF Regency. We folded in a ton of more modern material since the 60's pop music thing is kinda timing out. So for this show tonight I learned 30+ tunes from the 90's, 00's, and 10's. Oddly challenging but we deftly managed our way through three sets of material spanning, jeez, almost 50 years. Plus it was the current A team: Paul, Holland, and Emily on vocals, Chris and John and horns, me, Tarik, Scrote, and John as the rhythm section. Oh yeah we also had free reign of the dinner buffet and open bar. That's a huge bonus.
Saturday, December 13th, 2014
Another huge holiday party at the San Mateo Event Center. This had more of a spy/go go theme and thus we were back to doing our usual old school material plus lots of James Bond and spy music stuff. Another three set deal, and pretty much the same crew as yesterday except Karina instead of Emily, and Rich instead of John on trumpet. It went pretty smoothly except for two power outages on stage during our various sets (during which John kept drumming a groove until the whole stage was reset). Felt pretty good about the ~70 different songs we learned or dug up for these two gigs.
Sunday, December 14th, 2014
with miRthkon:
Great to shake this monster out after 10 months of hiatus. And once again Peter came up from LA to heroically sit in on drums. It was also cool to finally check at this new venue right in my hood: Leo's - where Leo's Pro Audio used to be. Kinda eerie being in the same space now that it's a music venue/bar. Lots of memories of this music shop (this was where I got a bunch of keyboards/guitars/etc. over the years). Anyway.. it was a night full of choice Oakland wacko bands. Starting the night were the beautiful Jack O' the Clock and then the wonderfully weird Surplus 1980 and then us. Good crowd for a Sunday night of curious music. We also attempted Wally's incredible arrangement of the Frank Zappa classic "Be Bop Tango." Syncopated septuplets? Child's play!
Thursday, December 25th, 2014
with The Fuxedos:
Yes, we did it again! We were at the Elbo Room in SF on Christmas performing at Karla LaVey's 17th Annual Black X Mass party. It was a real hoot compared to previous years, given the pretty good turnout with friends in the crowd, and we actually just played "I am Fine, How are you?" for the whole damn set. And people dug it! Wacky times, but I pretty much fled after playing as I had to work the next day...

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