piglet, the five lands, oatmeal and beer

It's a sunny day in Texas and I'm trying to catch up on everything. My stomach is full (peach scone and fancy-schmancy breakfast burrito from Brasil) and I'm happy to be back home. But I just finished uploading all the pictures from the tour so I thought I would recap those 6 weeks of madness....

I think I left off somewhere in Italy. That was the busiest tour we've ever done in Italy - 24 shows in 28 days. Lots and lots and lots of driving up and down the A1 autostrada. We had a great time though. We got to play some shows with our new drummer, Dodi (who was the drummer from our old drummer Alberto's band The Gumo...confused yet?), and that was a blast. We so rarely get to play as the full band, and I love hanging out with these guys....they are so freaking funny, and fun to play with. I'm very lucky to be surrounded by such talented musicians.

We had a great show in Udine as part of a tribute series to Fabrizio de Andre, considered one of Italy's greatest songwriters. We stayed in this unbelievably deluxe agriturismo, ate like champs, and made a new friend, Nicolas from Slovenia (Udine is right on the Slovenia/Austria/Italy border area). We are not entirely sure why, but he kind of fell in love with me... and gave me a gift at the show: an oversized stuffed Piglet doll. You'll be seeing more of Piglet in blogs to come.

The drive back home from Udine was a typically epic adventure for us... should have been 4 hours, ended up being 9... it involved various forced detours (due to highway accidents) and the car window motor dying as we reach the Apennines (the cold mountains that we had to drive through on the way home). Manuel rolled down the window to pay yet another exorbitant toll and the window remained stuck ... so we had to bust out the duct tape and a handy piece of plastic:

While Manuel and Dodi taped the heck out of the window, I stayed in the back, shivering and hoping for the best, taking comfort in my new friend:

We finally did make it home, though we feared Dodi would never return to play with us after such an epic drive.... but happily we were wrong and we made it up to him the following weekend.

In the meantime, we had a trio show with Juri at the magnificent Folk Club in Torino... which remains one of the best venues I have ever played at. Incredible sound, incredible audience, the nicest people.... if there were more venues like the FC, there would be no need for unhappiness in the world. It's just the greatest place ever. From there we went to Savona, where it was warm enough to take a walk on the beach before our show... and from there to Cuneo, where everything was still covered in snow.

But the greatest part of our Italian tour was the half day we had free towards the end.... we were between Piacenza and La Spezia and that can only mean one thing.... free day at the Cinque Terre! Amazingly, none of the guys had ever been (I've been 5 or 6 times... it's one of my favorite places in Italy) so I played tour guide and took them around Riomaggiore and Manarola (all we really had time for). This is us hanging out on the rocks of Riomaggiore... what a goofy band I have:

We had another great show that night at Pegaso (!) near La Spezia, and then we drove all night (translation: Manuel drove all night, Dodi talked to him and kept him awake, I slept soundly in the backseat with Piglet). We used the next day to do laundry, pack, say hello and goodbye to everyone in Italy, and the next day we were on a plane to Holland. Sheesh.

We had an awesome tour this time in Holland, Germany, and Belgium. We always do but these shows were for the most part exceptional. A great show at Radboud University in Nijmegen... a simply incredible show at Thalia in Baarlo.... a super fun show at Crossroads Radio with the Shiner Twins... 'Toogenblik in Brussels.... the royal treatment at 't Ey in Belsele, and a screamer of a show in Gelsenkirchen, Germany to close the tour. We have our incredible friends (Hans & Dietmar) to thank for their help in booking, as well as our friends (H&D again, plus Anja, Femke, Ronald, Dagmar, Arianna, Eveline, Bert, Eva, Erlinde, and Pieterjan) to thank for hosting us, feeding us, letting us do laundry, and generally making us feel loved and wanted. And of course ENORMOUS thanks goes to Alex Akela, for coming with us to all the shows and generally kicking ass on every instrument he touches.

Some highlights from the trip:

Giant bowling balls in Eindhoven

Amsterdam at sunset, from the Amsterdam Central Library

Rocking our LaraBar stickers, live on TV in Amsterdam

Tongenworst. Could you eat this?

Me being SUPER rock'n'roll... I'm eating flax seed oatmeal after our gig at 'toogenblik. The guys tried to make me seem cooler by putting a Belgian beer nearby but I was having none of it.

By the way, this is a good review of our gig at 'toogenblik:

All in all, it was such a great tour. We finished our last show in Germany, got a tad bit lost I think on the way back to Holland, dropped off Alex at midnight (but not before eating fries and kroket together one last time, hooray!), and then drove towards Amsterdam, stopping at gas station and sleeping for a few hours in the car. I flew out early that morning to America, and Manuel flew to Italy... and now he's arriving in a few hours. I'll go pick him up in Houston, we'll drive to Shreveport, play a show, see my dad, drive to Austin, practice with the guys, and then load up the car one more time for BAND SHOWS IN TEXAS!!! YEE-HAW!!! I'm pretty freaking excited about that. :)

Keep an eye on YouTube, I think some videos of our tour will be appearing soon...

little peachy kisses to you all,

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