Of Dewey Beach, Broken Arms, the Myth of Starving on the Road and the Big Apple

Delaware is a popular state for companies to incorporate in because of favorable tax laws (or something).  Delaware is south of the Mason-Dixon line.  Its capital city is Dover.  And until last weekend, that’s about all I had if the conversation ever turned to Delaware, which since it never did, I never had to worry about.  Happily, me and the boys now know a little better.

The Dewey Beach Music Conference bills itself as the most artist-friendly conference in America, and based on our experience it would be really hard to argue that.  What a fantastic time!  But I’m getting ahead of myself, because we stopped for the night in Freehold to break up the trip, where Adam‘s mom and dad put us up and fed us subs big enough to have lunch left over for the ride the next day.  And since we were in the area, we thought we’d stop by Dogfish Head to tour the brewery.  ‘Cause, you know, we love us the beer.  That foamy gold ode to licentious excess.  Or in this case, more of an amber/brown color.  We warned them we were coming, and they said they were ready! We arrived to take the tour promptly at three.  It looks like they’re expanding the plant; we saw a new wing being built and a little area being developed around the brewery.  After a little poking around, we came to a side door with this hipsterish kid in a hoodie and sneakers just going in.  “Are you dudes here for the beer tour?”  And that was when we knew we were in for a good time.  He led us in through a warehouse, smelling of malted barley (everything smells good in a brewery.  It’s like a grain silo farmy earthy sweet heady kind of thing).  As for the tour itself, it was good and well done by the guide, but since I’ve already talked about going through Harpoon’s brewery in an earlier blog, I’ll skip the details.  Suffice it to say, there is a lot of stainless steel, a lot of catwalks and ladders and hoses and a certain kind of party positive humanity that runs these places out of real love.  The free beer was great afterwards (especially the Punkin Ale), and we tried some new gear, made friends, left our CD and caught a little buzz in the process.  And caused a little buzz too, if I may say so.  On to Dewey Beach!

We rolled into town around seven, and right up to the Rusty Rudder, or HQ for this whole thing.  Adam Lewis, of The Planetary Group as well as a panelist at the conference, was drinking on the deck, so we hung out for awhile with him while we got the lay of the land.  We also ran into our old friend, AudioCandy‘s Paige Dearing, who we first met back in Syracuse. The way they had it set up was two opposing stages on the back deck and two inside.  When one band finished, the lights swung around to the other stage and another act went on, so there was no downtime between sets either inside or out, or over at the Bottle & Cork up the street.  This is a genius move, as far as I’m concerned.  We were slated to play at nine, and we were on exactly at nine.  And we did our thing, and happily got some notice from our peers.  We kept hearing about it from a lot of different people over the next couple of days, so apparently we played with some heart. One of them was the promoter for Summerfest, who caught our set and asked us to play this year’s festival!

The other thing that was so excellent about this conference was the level of talent and professionalism on display all weekend.  We saw at least thirty shows over two days between everybody in the band, and not one of them was less than really well executed.  It was really enlightening to see all the talent working so hard to realize itself.  This conference showed us what that next level is, and it also showed us that we’re plenty capable of standing out among even this strong field, judging by the many compliments we got for our show.  But in particular, we liked Flying Machines, Automatic Fire, Natalie Gelman, Shayna Zaid and the Catch, This is a Shakedown, Mean Tamborines, Brother Josephus and the Love Revolution Orchestra, and of course our friends Roman Traffic.  Although they got ripped off on the vocal mix for their set, I thought.  Still, they killed it like only they can, there was blood everywhere!  Did I mention the free food and beer yet?  Oh man…Vikki Walls does such a good job of putting this thing together.  The trade show floor, the panelists, the free food and beer and vodka snow cones.  On Friday night we all got carted up the street to Venus, where we were served this crazy feast of lobster, pan seared ahi, softshell crab, salmon, lobster salad, seaweed salad, clams, mussels, crab cakes, et cetera.  Absolut was there serving up Absolut Citron with freshly squeezed orange juice.  The sun setting over the bay.  I mean, if you had gone to a wedding and they served this for dinner, you would be talking about it for years.  Legendary.  And apparently they did it again the next night, but we had to be in New York on Saturday night, so no go for us.  But that was okay because Mrs. Ritchie cooked us up some steak and noodle pudding and apple pie on our way to that show.  Oh, and Thursday night, we ate so well in Rohoboth, Jesse was making people drop chicken wangs left and right. What is this crap about musicians starving on the road anyway?  Who does that?  Not The Lights Out!

One tragicomic final note on Dewey Beach: one of the bands we were hoping to catch while there was the Superficial Saints from LA.  And awesomely enough, they found us to say they dug our set, so we think, ” all right!  Synchronicity.”  Only to find out the next night, after witnessing some guy jump into our hotel’s courtyard pool from the third floor balcony (and get his band evicted in the process), that the Superficial Saints’ drummer had gone off a hotel roof the night before and broken his arm and gone into four hours of surgery.  They obviously had to cancel their set, and they had driven from LA to play!  Sorry guys, that’s the way the ulna shatters, I guess.  No disrespect intended, we wish for that guy’s speedy recovery.  I also recommend ground floor hotel rooms whenever possible, for loading in and out, and apparently to reduce temptation to reenact that scene in Almost Famous.

We got to Jen Kellas‘s basement flat in Brooklyn and loaded in the gear we weren’t going to need for our M.E.A.N.Y. Fest showcase that night.  (Thanks for the crash pad, Jen!)  Jen is the force behind The Music Slut, the sometime voice-over artist (check out her work on Five Seventeen, from Color Machine, our new disc) and all around friend of the band.  It was about fifteen minutes from her place to the Bowery Poetry Club where we were playing, which turned out to be a good thing when we learned we had to go back for the rest of our gear because the backline wasn’t at the club.  A minor issue, soon taken care of by Matt and I.  It being a showcase, the set was only five songs long, but we milked those five songs for all the energy of at least a six song set!  It was great to see friends and family in the crowd, and our Asbury Park Wave Gathering friends Alison and Suzanne from Eat Sleep Breathe Music.

The next day, it was brunch at Eat Records and back to Boston to the strains of a mock-Creed video on Matt‘s phone that had us all yelling, “Yasseah!” On the whole, this trip was a really positive experience, where we made friends, saw the sights, spread the word, drank the beer.  Not that it wasn’t work.  But pretty good work if you can get it.

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3 Responses to “Of Dewey Beach, Broken Arms, the Myth of Starving on the Road and the Big Apple”

  1. […] The Lights Out Blog Stickier than a High Life-coated sneaker « Of Dewey Beach, Broken Arms, the Myth of Starving on the Road and the Big Apple […]

  2. The Dewey Beach Music Conference was amazing this year. I can’t wait to see what next year holds!

  3. […] moments when we realized we were playing with Dive, a band we hung out with last year in Delaware when we played Dewey Beach.  Great dudes, tight band in the general vicinity of Three Doors Down, good songs, excellent […]

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