Tag: SaucerfulOfSecrets

REVIEW: Dave Rawlings Machine at The Sheldon Concert Hall – St. Louis 6/25/14

Dave Rawlings Machine at The Sheldon Concert Hall – St. Louis 6/25/14

The five piece Americana string quintet put together by folk singer/songwriter David Rawlings is something really special. Rawlings has assembled an all-star cast of musicians that includes his partner in crime for the last 20 years Gillian Welch, former Old Crow Medicine Show member Willie Watson, and Punch Brothers bassist Paul Kowert. He also found this guy they call John Paul Jones that used to play bass in a little band called Led Zeppelin, and he just so happens to be really good with a mandolin and friends with Rawlings.

Dave Rawlings Machine

Independently, you have five incredibly well respected musicians in their genre that each bring their own unique aspect to the Dave Rawlings Machine. Together, you have a five piece bluegrass/Americana powerhouse that put on what can only be described as one of the best live music experiences of my entire life in front of a jam packed crowd at the Sheldon Concert Hall last Wednesday, June 25.

The show started just after 8:00PM as the band came out and the crowd erupted… half the crowd rose to their feet and began wildly applauding before the first note was played. Without introduction Rawlings picked up his 1935 Epiphone Olympic arch top guitar and began playing the John Hartford tune “Turn Your Radio On.” It has become somewhat of tradition for bands to honor Hartford around St. Louis, and it always gets the crowds attention right from the start! After the song Rawlings greeted the crowd and informed us that this was the first time he had played that one, but it seemed appropriate.

The always incredible and Grammy nominated guitarist Gillian Welch assisted throughout the night adding beautiful harmonies and even taking lead vocal duties on a few songs. Welch was also the comic relief on the mic, telling the crowd that “we broke out our best denim for tonight… it works, you know, with all the wood” referring to the fact that each band member was wearing at least one piece of denim clothing. David chimed in that the room was “very 70’s looking.” As Rawlings prepared his banjo and third guitarist Willie Watson switched to fiddle, Welch introduced the next song by telling us “if theres one thing people say about St. Louis, its that y’all love the banjo.” They went into a rousing rendition of “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)” popularized by Ryan Adams, but co-penned by Rawlings. This one really woke the crowd up.

Willie Watson switched to the banjo for the next tune… a trend that would continue through the night as he shared time between the guitar, banjo, and fiddle. Watson led us in the bluegrass traditional “Dry Bones” while attacking the banjo claw hammer style. Rawlings introduced him to the crowd and asked him to “lead us in another one… how about a dirty song.” Watson sang the first of three songs from his newly released solo album, Folk Singer Vol. 1, a fun track called “Keep It Clean.”Dave Rawlings Machine 2

The highlight of the first set was a mashup of Bob Dylan’s “Dear Landlord” and the Grateful Dead’s “Candyman.” Rawlings flawlessly executed the transition about four minutes into “Dear Landlord” without skipping a beat… the transition really allowed John Paul Jones to shine for the first time all night on the mandolin. After playing pretty much all of “Candyman” they finsihed BACK into “Dear Landlord.” The crowd exploded in applause as Welch said “Only his brain would be able to come up with that mashup”

After a 30 minute set break Rawlings told us that he wanted to wait until the beer line was gone to start again, but realized that would never happen. Someone in the crowd took the opportunity to throw out a perfectly timed “If theres two things St. Louis is known for….” as the entire crowd and the band started laughing. The first song of the second set was the beautifully written “Ruby”, a song that appeared on the Dave Rawlings Machine album, A Friend of a Friend. Willie Watson then sang “Stewball”, another track from his new solo album, this one featured lyrics about a race car. Gillian Welch led a gorgeous rendition of her song “Wayside/Back in Time.” Rawlings then told us of his misfortune during the prior show where his banjo strap broke and he quickly replaced it with a shoe string he found in his case… problem was, he didn’t think to change it prior to this show so he informed us that “if the banjo hits the floor, its not part of the show” to which the capacity crowd laughed again.

After a Paul Kowert led number, the band left only Gillian and David on stage. Together they played “Sweet Tooth” before Willie came back out to join on banjo for the traditional “I Hear Them All” into “This Land Is Your Land.” The rest of the band came back out to join them for a song that Rawlings had co-wrote with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame, “Method Acting.” Rawlings actually recorded that song for the A Friend of A Friend album where he mixed it with Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer”, well that’s the incredible version we received at The Sheldon. The second set ended with another Bob Dylan song, “Queen Jane Approximately.” Another John Paul Jones intro led to yet another smattering of applause and a standing ovation as the band walked off the stage.

Dave Rawlings Machine 3

About a minute later they re-claimed their spots on the tiny stage for their take on the Led Zeppelin classic, “Going to California.” Rawlings introduced the entire band one last time prior to another traditional “I’ll Fly Away” with him and Welch sharing vocal duties. The encore closed with “The Weight”, originally by The Band, where verses were handled by Welch, Watson, and Kowert with the rest of the band joining in on the chorus. Again the crowd rose to their feet as the band joined hands and bowed before walking off the stage. A few people started to head for the exits while others remained in the spots, but on their feet going crazy. After about 2 minutes the band came out AGAIN for a second encore! Rawlings again thanked the crowd, and after a quick huddle the next song, “Midnight Special” was led by Willie Watson. The night ended with the five of them gathered around a single mic (above) for an acappella version of “Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby” before one last bow and exit as the house lights came on.

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NOTE: This is only a brief clip of “Going to California” played at The Sheldon. Had to sneak this clip of JPJ playing mandolin before i was asked to stop by security. Please note that my recording in no way bothered other concert-goers as the screen was shielded.

4th Annual LouFest Music Festival Comes To A Close – Day 1 Review

4th Annual LouFest Music Festival Comes To A Close – Day 1 Recap

Words and Pictures By Bradley Darby

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LouFest 2013 - Main Stage TBT

The Fourth Annual LouFest Music Festival has come to an end. This year’s installment featured the addition of a third stage and expanded festival grounds in the beautiful and seemingly never ending Forest Park in St. Louis. The stacked lineup mixed some of the hottest up and comers with some grizzled veterans that have many large shows already under their belts. This was my third experience at a LouFest Music Festival… and I could tell it was certainly larger in scale and attendance than previous years. Early reports were that the organizers were expecting as many as 15K people each day. Previous LouFest’s averaged around 8K over the two day span! The first thing I noticed upon arriving was that the parking situation was starting to get out of hand. Luckily we arrived a bit earlier on Saturday than we did on Sunday, so we lucked out and found a spot. More on that later…

 LouFest 2013 - Gate

Upon arriving we exchanged our paper tickets for wristbands and we were in the gates within minutes! Security was very friendly and rather quick with their searches, which I certainly appreciated. Right as we entered, Jukebox the Ghost and Kentucky Knife Fight both began playing at opposite ends of the festival. We decided to make a lap and see where everything was… we ended up at the Schlafly Beer booth. From there we could hear Kentucky Knife Fight on the smallest of the stages, the BMI Stage. After indulging in a few beverages we went to set up shop for the first band on our list, J Roddy Walston & the Business.

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Originally from Tennessee, J Roddy Walston & the Business play straight forward rock and roll music. Their live show was incredibly energetic and transferred well from the few songs I had listened to pre festival. Their new album, Essential Tremors, is scheduled to be released on Tuesday, but they were selling advance copies at the festival which I found to be pretty cool.

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 LouFest 2013 - Trampled by Turtles

After aimlessly wandering around a bit more and meeting up with some friends, we headed back to the Bud Light Mainstage for our second featured show of the afternoon, Trampled by Turtles. Straight outta Minnesota, Trampled by Turtles is a band that I really should enjoy, they are about as in my music wheelhouse as it gets… but for some reason I have now watched them three times and I just can’t seem to get into them. I’m not saying the show wasn’t good, they sounded great and the majority of the crowd seemed to really be digging their modernized bluegrass sound. The rapid fire banjo and fiddle both played at machine gun speed were definitely  standouts… but I can’t pinpoint what it is about TBT that doesn’t allow me to get sucked in. Don’t let that stop you from checking them out. The crowd went absolutely bonkers when they broke out “Wait So Long” from 2010’s Palomino.

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 LouFest 2013 - Space Capone

It was now time for us to check out the band who wins my award for Best Band Name of LouFest… Nashville’s soulful funky 8 piece Space Capone. Invading the smallest of the three stages and playing against the very popular Ra Ra Riot, we chose to check this new group out and see what the Chipotle VIP lounge was all about at the same time. What it was about was some FREE tacos and bottled water! We sat in the shade while enjoying the music of Space Capone while catching a few minutes of the Mizzou game and eating free lunch before venturing stage front for a handful of songs. Space Capone is apparently the stage name of the lead singer, who can get down while working the crowd. Behind him you find seven other band members playing drums, horns, tambourines, keys, guitar and bass. Capone had a unique voice, one that took me a few songs to really accept. But by the end of his set I was feeling the soul/R&B/funkiness. They definitely had an Earth, Wind & Fire / George Clinton thing going on. Be sure to check out Space Capone, my pick for hidden gem of Day 1. Watch this video, it has a Michael Jackson vibe to it.

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 LouFest 2013 - Fitz and the Tantrums

After the 70’s dance party ended, we kept the funkiness going with Fitz & the Tantrums back on the main stage.  Another band that I had previously watched and found myself less than impressed with, Fitz & the Tantrums call the City of Angels home and play a modern brand of pop-soul music. A few years back they headlined one night of the Taste of St. Louis and I was not a fan. I still tease my girlfriend about making me watch them. Going into this one I was less than thrilled, but in all honestly they sounded a lot better this time around. The two part harmonies provided by Fitz and the strong winded Noelle Scaggs worked really well and everyone in the field was dancing or swaying around to the grooves.

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Next on our lineup card was Jim James, but with a bit of time to kill we decided to spend some time venturing around. LouFest featured a great selection of food vendors from a cast of mostly local establishments including Atomic Cowboy, Local Harvest and Mission Taco Joint. There was a rather small grouping of vendors set up and drinks were incredibly easy to find from any stage. The only downfall was that Schalfy Beer was only available at one stand, the Schlafly Brewtopia, and was on the far side of the grounds from the Forest Park Stage. Euclid Records had a tent set up to sell the artists CDs and vinyl while there was a separate merch booth for your LouFest branded merchandise as well as posters and t-shirts. You could also wait in line to meet certain artists and get your albums signed at the Euclid Tent.

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 LouFest 2013 - The National

We wandered over to check out some of The National, a band that no one in our group was excited to see, but we were all at least a little intrigued to see what we were missing. At this point you couldn’t get anywhere near the stages, so we just hung out towards the back of the crowd. The National featured what I would call the best stage design thus far with a large LED screen in the background that had been teasing us all day finally being utilized. I am not at all familiar with The National, and I won’t even pretend to know any of their songs… but I will say they sounded a lot better than I would have imagined. It was now time to go claim our spot for Jim James.

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 LouFest 2013 - Jim James 2

Best known as the front man of My Morning Jacket, Jim James is on his own for this tour promoting his first full length solo album Regions of Light and Sound of God. Prior to James taking the stage his signature flying V guitar was mounted center stage… right at 7:30 the lights dimmed and out came Jim James in a suit with his long curly hair bouncing around as he prowled around the front of the stage to the opening notes of “State of the Art.” Finally the lonely guitar was played, while still on its stand. The set featured most of James’ newest album and also a peek at Jim James playing the saxophone during one song. This one wins the award for Best Show of LouFest in my opinion. The only downfall was that the set was limited to only an hour, but this was consistent with most of the lineup as only headliners received more than an hour and a few bands early each day received 45 minute sets.

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Day One ended in style as 2010 LouFest headliner, and Belleville born and raised, Jeff Tweedy came back to Forest Park and brought along his buddies that make up Wilco. If you have yet to see Wilco, I truly am sorry. A lot of people give Tweedy a lot of flack, but the man can straight up write songs and watching the live execution is a thing of beauty. The set opened with a pair of songs from 1996’s Being There, “Misunderstood” and “Forget the Flowers.” Other highlights of the set included an Uncle Tupelo song, “Give Back the Key to My Heart”, “I Might”, “Handshake Drugs”, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” and “Heavy Metal Drummer.” In typical Wilco fashion, “Casino Queen” was featured near the end of the night before closing down LouFest Day One with “Hoodoo Voodoo.” Wilco proved yet again why they are one of the best live bands out there today. Make it a point to catch them at a more intimate venue next time you are given the chance. (Note: I didn’t get a decent picture of Wilco as we just posted up in the field… so instead of Wilco please enjoy this picture of some random dude that was in the zone rocking out on his keyboard while bands played on the stages in front of him. Rock on brother!)

This was yet another great LouFest and I look forward to the 2014 edition! They have found a truly beautiful place to hold the festival, but to come back to the parking dilemma I briefly discussed earlier, that is something that needs to be addressed. The Muny parking lot was being used and people were making their own spots wherever they damn well pleased. This led to an incredibly tight parking lot that was impossible to navigate with cars going every which direction and fighting over spots. Outside of that lot, there were numerous cars being ticketed all over the park for various reasons including creating their own spots, having 2” of their car over the yellow line, parking in wide open streets that were marked no parking for no apparent reason. If you want to draw 15,000 people a day there needs to be parking to accommodate those people. It took us an hour to find a legal parking spot on Sunday.  There were shuttle signs randomly around the park but I couldn’t find any other info on the shuttle service in the program that was passed out or near the signs stating it was a shuttle zone. I also never once saw a shuttle running.

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 LouFest 2013 - Jim James

JIM JAMES

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LouFest 2013 - Alabama Shakes

ALABAMA SHAKES (Played Sunday)

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Fitz and the Tantrums - LoUFest 2013 2

FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS

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LouFest 2013 - Space Capone 2

SPACE CAPONE

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LouFest 2013 - Forest Park Stage Lit Up

FOREST PARK STAGE ILLUMINATED FOR JIM JAMES

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LouFest 2013 - The Killers

THE KILLERS (Played Sunday)

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CLICK HERE TO JUMP TO A FULL PHOTO GALLERY ON INSIDESTL.COM

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INTERVIEW: 15 MINUTES IN TRAFFIC WITH JEFF AUSTIN

15 MINUTES IN TRAFFIC WITH JEFF AUSTIN (of Yonder Mountain String Band) 

Interview by Bradley Darby

@DarbySTL / DarbySTL on Facebook

JeffAustin_bySeñorMcGuire_2

 Jeff Austin, who you may know as the mandolin man and one fourth of the jamgrass powerhouse that is the Yonder Mountain String Band, recently took some downtime with Yonder to hit the road with a few close friends. Austin’s current project, Jeff Austin and The Here & Now, consists of banjo picker extraordinaire Danny Barnes, as well as the husband and wife / legendary bluegrass combo of flat picker Larry Keel and Jenny Keel on the bass.

The tour kicked off in Chicago a few nights ago and has recently stopped in Kentucky and Ohio. They also stop in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Thursday before wrapping up at the Mumford and Son’s Gentlemen of the Road Stopover in Guthrie, Oklahoma this weekend.

You can download a FREE 4 SONG EP HERE. Be sure to check out one of the few Jeff Austin and the Here and Now shows or catch Jeff later this fall when the Yonder Mountain String Band resumes their schedule. All the dates are listed below, may I suggest the Harvest Music Festival in Ozark, AR in October. Not only do you get Yonder, but you get to see Tedeschi Trucks Band, Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, Railroad Earth, JJ Grey and MOFRO, as well as Friends of Concert Confessions, Dirtfoot and many many others. Get the full lineup here.

I recently had a chance to catch up with Jeff Austin to discuss his new adventure while he was sitting in traffic with Danny Barnes en route to their show at the Bluebird in Bloomington, Indiana. We also discuss a lot of things St. Louis (this was originally done as preview piece for STL show on another site) and Jeff’s passion for delicious food.

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Me: Thank you for taking a few minutes to talk to me about The Here and Now. Its a great project that I’m very excited to see on Wednesday.

Jeff Austin: I’m pretty excited too. It’s some of my heroes and they happen to be some of my friends. Every day is just great, I’m really looking forward to it.

 

Me: You’ve been involved in many different solo projects over the years, from the 30dB shows (with Brendan Bayliss from Umphrey’s McGee) to various Bluegrass Balls to the Grateful Grass show (with Keller Williams and Keith Moseley) How did the Here and Now come about?

Jeff Austin: The first time the 4 of us played together it was two years ago out in Oregon. I got asked to do a set of Jerry Garcia music on the anniversary of his death. They said play whatever you want, hire whoever you want, and I kind of went… Shit, this could be a  fun lineup to try and get together. Everyone was able to do it and it was just a blast we had a great time. The musical conversation was really neat, it was very easy to have, the call and the response and all of that it was just beyond cool and to ignore that would be irresponsible. We’ve all been busy, it took a little while to get it together, but earlier this year we played together in Colorado and it was off to the races… we put together a tour and it came together.

 

Me: I am very happy you’ve chosen St. Louis as a stop to bring this project to. You’ve been at the Old Rock House a few times before with the Bluegrass Ball, is that a venue you personally wanted to come back to or did it just happen that way?

Jeff Austin: I really enjoy that venue, I think its perfect for this project. Its not too big, but its not small. Its got that intimate vibe to it. This is a Wednesday night and a new project, so its all about new things. I’m telling you, I like St. Louis… I really, really like St. Louis and I wanted to kind of  make sure this was somewhere we went on our first run. It worked out perfectly and the people at that venue are really nice and accommodating and open to musicians coming in. I was really glad when it worked out.

 

Me: A few of the other shows are just duo shows with you and Danny Barnes. How does planning a set list with just you and Danny differ than a set list with the whole Here and Now band?

Jeff Austin: The Keels had a prior engagement at that Lock’n Festival that they have to fly out to. One of the things with Danny and I just doing that show, and I’m looking at him right now, with just the two of us it will be a lot of open ended stuff and kind of, off the cuff. Seeing how the emotion of the evening kind of writes the set list for us. Some of the songs we probably haven’t even rehearsed like ‘Hey you know this Hartford tune’ or whatever. That will be really cool, it’ll be really kinda in the spur of the moment thing and see how the crowd reacts and how we’re having our conversation with each other.

 

Me: Is the Here and Now going to be a rotating cast of musicians, similar to Sam Bush’s New Grass Revival, or is this the group of four you plan on moving forward with?

Jeff Austin: Well it has the potential there that we could write songs, have a horns section, who knows? It could turn into anything. It kind of really is based on the idea of Here and Now, what’s happening in this moment and what works. Not just because I’m writing material I want to play for people, but you know… I have so much freaking fun with this lineup that I may be hard pressed to pick up traveling with anyone else. Its pretty damn fun.

 

Me: What does the future of the Here and Now look like? Is there going to be an album or is this mostly a live thing?

Jeff Austin: The plan right now is that I have a laundry list of material I want to put on a record I was hoping to have out this fall. There are certain songs being played, that I can’t think of any other lineup playing them than the folks I am traveling with, so as i’m thinking of the studio version of it I absolutely want to see these guys play on it. But it could be a rotation of songs where i want a  horn section or drums or strings or this and that. It will vary a little bit but the core of it will be built around the way that this project is sounding… thats what I hope

 

Me: That sounds awesome.

Jeff Austin: There are songs that I didn’t write in a bluegrass vane but I played them in a bluegrass vane and when I put them out, I want to play them the way that I wrote them. To be able to go into a studio to do those songs that way, its going to be interesting because its not going to be a bluegrass album by any stretch of the imagination. It will just be a record. I guess if you had to categorize it Americana? I don’t know, but i’m looking forward to that process. i’m in the part right now of getting the lineup of songs, editing, and all that kind of stuff and going full steam ahead.

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Me: I’ve read recently that in your freetime one of the things you love doing is running a food blog, “Table for One”, right?

Jeff Austin: It’s not only a food blog its going to be turning into a webisode kind of thing. I’m actually in the editing process right now with that as well. I did filming a number of months ago, and I have four days of a shoot coming up in September. My hope is by mid or late October to drop the first webisode of Table for One. I have some high aspirations for that so that hopefully it could maybe turn into, or launch, a show at some point, but yeah its a huge passion of mine. Just telling the story of people who are passionate about what they do and how that affects me and how it affects people. I find that story intriguing.

 

Me: Back in Spring 2012 we spoke briefly and you told me about the Thai Kitchen Cafe down on Delmar. Is there anywhere in St Louis you are looking forward to checking out when you get back in town or somewhere you went last time you want to give a shout out to?

Jeff Austin: Thai Country Cafe.. I LOVE that place. One of the heartbreaks on the road for me was when they took the duck noodle soup off the menu, and then they put it back on. I was so happy… so happy. I love that place. Uhh… I am not sure. I’d like to make it a point to get back there. The beautiful thing about having not done a tour like this is with these friends is that I get to take them to new food joints that I love and I want to share. This morning in Chicago we went to Hot Dougs Sausage Emporium. I’ll tell you what I like at the Rock House is right down the block that tiny little joint, that one room diner. That place blows my mind. When the Del McCoury Band was just down there doing a couple nights… me and a couple of those guys, we will text each other when we know we’re in a restaurant that someone else likes. I got a couple photos of just them at the counter or the menu on the wall.

 

Me: Well Jeff thats really all I had for you, is there anything else you want to tell us about? What else is going on in the life of Jeff Austin?

Jeff Austin: I’d say check out www.JeffAustin.com, I am going to try to post something everyday from the tour whether its a little video of us playing, song ideas or food updates or whatever but I’m going to start that up tonight here and do little things everyday. Kind of a little road diary type of thing.

 

Me: Thanks for the time Jeff, we’ll see you on Wednesday!

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READ MY MARCH 2012 INTERVIEW WITH JEFF AND DAVE JOHNSTON FROM YONDER MTN STRING BAND HERE

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JEFF AUSTIN and THE HERE & NOW on Tour:

9/04 Old Rock House – St. Louis, MO

9/05 The Shrine – Tulsa, OK *Jeff Austin & Danny Barnes duo show

9/06-07 Cottonwood Flats – Mumford & Sons Gentlemen of the Road – Guthrie, OK

YONDER MOUNTAIN STRING BAND

10/09 Wilmington, NC – Greenfield Lake Amphitheater

10/10 Charlotte, NC – Amos’ Southend

10/11 Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre

10/12 Silk Hope, NC

10/13 Chattanooga, TN – Track 29

10/16 Oxford, MS – The Lyric Oxford

10/17-19 Ozark, AR – YMSB Harvest Festival at Mulberry Mountain (3 nights)

10/23 Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall Ballroom

10/24 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue & 7th St Entry

10/25-26 Chicago, IL – House of Blues (2 nights)

10/29-30 Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl (2 nights)

10/31 Philadelphia, PA – Theatre of Living Arts

11/01 Boston, MA – House of Blues

11/02 Portland, ME – State Theatre

12/27-29 & 12/31 Boulder, CO – Boulder Theater (4 nights)

jeff austin

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