Our Debut EP "Reason in the Road" is OUT NOW!

Reason In The Road

by The Coteries

On July 29th, Folk Rock Band, The Coteries, released their debut EP “Reason in the Road”. This female-fronted trio brings you music steeped in their travels on the back roads of America in their old VW Bus, Trusty Rusty. The debut EP will be available on www.TheCoteries.com, with digital distribution through iTunes, Amazon, and other major online outlets.
In the summer of 2014 the trio quit their day jobs, bought a VW Bus, and took off on an 11,000 mile journey across North America. Aside for some freezing August nights in Wyoming it was the best decision of their lives. With their inaugural year and over 200 shows behind they’re continuing their momentum into 2016 with a recent endorsement from GoWesty as traveling ambassadors. They’ve gone from small farmer’s markets and corners of bars to major festivals like Divide Music Festival sharing the stage with artists Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Blondie, and The Fray.
Recorded at Miner Street Recordings in Philadelphia, PA and mixed/produced by Josh Gannet (Redman, John Ginty, Keith Richards, Slash), this is their take on modern folk. Bolstering their sound with acoustic guitars, mandolin, a stomp box, harmonicas and various other instruments they’ve picked up along the way, “Reason in the Road” is a reflection of all they have experienced discovering themselves and the American countryside.
  1. 1 I'm Travelin' On 04:19 Info Buy
  2. 2 Run, Run Elmira 03:56 Info Buy
  3. 3 Santa Fe 03:25 Info Buy
  4. 4 Reason in the Road 04:33 Info Buy
  5. 5 Water's Getting Too High 04:24 Info Buy
  6. 6 Ain't No Time 03:53 Info Buy

Check out our newest video "Run, Run Elmira"

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Sometimes Starving Artists 

Salutations from Columbia South Carolina!

We've got some down time before hitting the final 2 weeks of our tour down south and decided to escape the scorching Halloween heat at the library. That's right folks. For those of you up north (especially our friends in Massachusetts, we hope you're enjoying the snow) Autumn is very different below the Mason Dixon line. As our friends in Tennessee say, "It's hotter than a goats ass in a pepper patch" down here..and we're not complaining. I honestly didn't expect to be wearing shorts and t-shirts going in to November but I guess that is one of the reasons we booked this tour down here at this time of the year. Let's chalk it up to "Job Perks". 

As it is Halloween today, we decided that with our low budget and lack of resources to make any formidable costumes we are going to be "not so starving artists". Most wouldn't know it to look at us and I'm sure we would be turned away at any door if we went trick or treating (are we even allowed to trick or treat at our age?) but eating well on the road is one of the biggest challenges we face as touring musicians. Moving from city to city on a tight schedule and major highways can sometimes limit our options for good eats and quality food sources. Anyone who has driven on any of the Major US highways knows the all too familiar onslaught of fast food chains and Walmarts which seem to be the only establishments next to gas stations off any main road. Couple that with a van that doesn't go faster than 60 mph and hundreds of miles to cover in a day, we don't have much time to stop and eat at any of these places anyways. Not to say we don't sometimes succumb to the temptation of McDonalds' new organic chicken nuggets (*cough*cough* bullshit *cough*) but as we have progressed on this adventure in our Vanagon we have discovered some ways to keep ourselves fed in as healthy a fashion as we can on a budget. 

Let me just get you all up to speed (roughly 60 mph) with the food challenges we face every day.

1.) We love food. Seriously. We LOVE food. Anyone who has been to one of our shows can attest to Emily's constant inquiries, sometimes in the middle of a song, "Oooh, what are you eating?! mmmm that looks so good! MEEEEEEAAAT!"

2.) Unlike the gargantuan RV's we park next to on campgrounds we do not have a refrigerator to store food. I mean, technically we do have a refrigerator in Trusty but as with many other things in a 3 decade old vehicle, it doesn't work. So all food that we get is either cooked that day or is non perishable. Sometimes we can store things overnight in a cooler that we stock with ice but things like deli-meats for sandwiches wind up floating like pool toys as the ice melts and who wants a watery turkey sandwich?

3.) Emily has severe gluten and lactose allergies. Honestly, this is at the bottom of our list of challenges. Matt and I have switched to eating gluten free pasta for our staple meal of Pasta and Meat sauce and to be honest, I actually prefer it now. I don't get that heavy I'm-going-to-pass-out-sitting-down-because-I-am-too-full-to-actually-move feeling after eating regular pasta. However, it does prove challenging at restaurants where people are somehow still clueless to the severity of gluten allergies. One time, I think it was in Buffalo, NY, Emily ordered a salad and stressed "No croutons" and so they brought her out a salad with the croutons substituted with 2 large slices of Texas toast.... This is one of the main reasons we try to cook for ourselves as much as possible. 

4.) We just don't have time. Bouncing from gig to gig with hundreds of miles in between makes it hard to stop and sit down at any restaurant for 45 minutes, not to mention we really can't afford to do that. On top of that, when we do cook it needs to be something that can be cooked and consumed in 30 minutes or less. Which is a very challenging task.

5.) Traveling in Trusty Rusty, our beloved Westfalia, has granted us the ability to cook for ourselves with it's two burner propane stove top. However, with only 2 stove tops to cook on, it certainly can limit what we can cook. Everything is cooked in a pot or cooked in a pan. 2 things at a time.

6.) As we have dived deeper and deeper into the Westylife we have tried to adopt many of the lifestyle choices that come with it which includes, at least in my mind, eating locally sourced fruits and vegetables and supporting local farmers. Driving through America's backroads and byways we will sometimes be lucky enough to pull up to a farm stand where we can get some fresh produce. I will never forget the strawberries we bought at a little farm stand in the Salinas Valley in California or more recently the fresh cut steaks (literally butchered that morning) we got in Enola, Pa which we cooked up with some fresh beans and peppers we got in Jonesboro, TN which made for the best meal I think we've ever had on the road. I'm drooling just thinking about it. Then there are times like when we stopped at a "local" farm stand to get some produce. Something was off but we just couldn't figure it out.. We bought a few sweet potatoes and some peppers and walked out of there feeling semi good about our decision. Til it hit us what was wrong. We took the peppers out of the "recycled" walmart plastic bag and pulled off the sticker informing us that this pepper was grown in Canada...real local huh.. Apparently this "farm stand" goes to walmart and buys their produce and then resells it for a profit.. but I guess it is just another story and another lesson learned. 

Despite these challenges we've been getting by and rather enjoy the starving artist diet, probably more effective than Atkins if you ask me. We survive the days on apples and bananas, nuts, trailmix bars, tortilla chips, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and more recently for Emily and I, cold brew coffee (click here: Cold Brew Pot for the best find ever) that we can brew overnight and have waiting for us in the morning. Our meals for the day rotate between pasta and meat sauce, chicken with stir fried zucchini, peppers, string beans, corn, and/or broccoli and rice, or beef tacos. A few weeks ago we bought a cast iron skillet and have been experimenting cooking over a campfire when we have some time. The other night I made steak and campfire roasted potatoes. mmmm. (unfortunately these kinds of meals are few and far between as they take a long time to cook). I'm always trying to figure out new things to make where we can all be happy and fed and our wallet doesn't get as skinny as we are.  So feel free to drop us some suggestions! 

We are also fortunate enough in our profession to sing for our supper at some fantastic establishments that employ the farm-to-table mantra and are truly amazing. Last week in Chamblee, Atlanta we played at this lovely restaurant called Southbound. Not only did they have local, seasonal ingredients and a very gluten allergen conscious menu, they have an experimental, quirky menu. I had the BBQ style ramen which perfectly fit into my intrigue with weird flavors and combinations and it was truly a delightful food experience.(this is why I'm a musician and not a food critic) The owners Mike and Amanda were also amazing people and parents. Their little 4 year old son is already obsessed with the Pacific Northwest and getting a camper van and their 9 year old daughter, loves John Prine, Bonnie Raitt, Loretta Lynne and Nikki Lane! She even plays guitar and sings and we had the pleasure of getting her up in front of the mic to sing "Angels From Montgomery". It was truly a magical moment we won't soon forget.

While we may not be indulging in the Candyland parade this year we will be hanging out fireside with some pasta and meat sauce and a bottle of some sweet Georgia wine from The Three Sisters Vineyard thinking about our next meal and next adventures on this leg of this tour in Florida! 

<3 Ben

P.S. Maybe it's time to check out these GoWesty Camping Recipes

Back Road Inspiration 

Drawing inspiration to create with the countless blocks you can face can be one daunting roller coaster ride. All three of us find our creative inspiration in different places, many times it seemingly comes out of nowhere, but the place we find the most inspiration from is the road. We’ve had songs come to us from learning about places we’ve been, or learning stories from people we meet. One time in Kentucky we were at a festival and one woman told her drunk daughter not to “rock the table ‘cause you’ll make the watermelon roll” and I found myself holed up in the van for an hour starting a song about getting caught in Kentucky rain. It’s the greatest canvas for creating music, these American back roads we find ourselves on. 

A few months ago we played a show in a little town called Cheraw, South Carolina (and then found ourselves passing through there again this week). Cheraw likes to call itself the Prettiest Town in Dixie. Apparently when General Sherman came marching through setting the country on fire he got to this little town and went “Hold it boys, put your torches down this town is too gosh dang pretty to burn”. (Historically accurate word choice I’m sure) A few days later, some of his troops were doing something (as Ben likes to put a little bit of the “naughty, naughty”) and wound up burning the town down anyways. After hearing this delightful tale, we wound up writing a song that has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Below you can watch our video about “Prettiest Town in Dixie” about a rock n’ roll band. 

The past 10 days we’ve gone from upstate New York, to lake Erie, to New Jersey then down to Charlotte, Wilmington, Atlanta, Dahlonega, up to Morristown, Tennessee, back to Dahlonega and then back to Atlanta again. (We’re still clearly getting a handle on touring.) The most exciting part of this adventure so far has to be when we were driving through real life cotton fields. We took a little pit stop to go feel what cotton off the plant feels like...and guess what...it feels just like cotton! Yes...we are from the North. 

We headed to another Sofar Sounds show, this time in Atlanta, GA, where we played in an Alice in Wonderland inspired tea shop. Apparently state parks in Georgia lock their gates anywhere between 6 and 9 pm (warning all you vanagon travelers) so we were bracing ourselves for our first Walmart parking lot in ages. But...as fate will have it we arrived extremely early to the show and were the only people there aside for one guy, Jan, who was grinding away on a start up he's working on. We started talking and he ended up staying for the show, telling us tales about his swing dancing competitions (yes...swing dancing is still a thing...and yes, The Coteries are going to learn how to do it) and we ended up staying in the comforts of his high-rise apartment looking out at the blood orange moon over Atlanta. 

After we went out to dance and play the night away in the first gold mining town, Dahlonega, we headed to Morristown, Tennessee where we played a festival to some real, genuine, country folk. It’s quite intimidating being a band who plays a cover of a Jackson 5 song on traditional bluegrass instruments in front of pickers whose blood runs thick with generations of bluegrass tradition. They fortunately embraced us with open arms and we wound up having one of the best shows in a long time, eating fantastic jambalaya, and hoping we could take a little of their kindness with us. Heading back to Dahlonega on Sunday, we played some music at a vineyard that is Lumpkin County's founding wine grape growers (aka they made booze legal). Holy heck is their wine good! 

So here we are again, back in Atlanta, about to start another week in South Carolina and Georgia. More tales to come! - Emily


Lessons in the Road  

The past couple of weeks we’ve faced some hard truths on just how much one road warrior can take. We’ve bounced from Albany, NY all the way to Tennessee, back and forth to North Carolina twice, through the traffic of New Jersey and Washington DC more times than we’d like to admit, and as we settle into our our first weekend off since May we took a glance at our odometer and stopped...how did we drive THAT MANY MILES IN TWO WEEKS! With more receipts for Chipotle and hotels than farmer’s markets and campgrounds, we have come to realize there is a serious art to booking a tour and we clearly haven’t mastered it, but heck...isn’t that what chasing your dreams and starting something on your own is all about? Making mistakes, dusting off the dirt and getting better. Not to mention, there were some truly incredible moments the past few weeks that make everything worth it. 

We kicked off the storm in Charlotte, NC...a day before the riots broke out. The show was just supposed to be some pocket change for the “real shows” that weekend and it turned out to be one of the best times we’ve had in a long time. The people in Charlotte, or at least at Jack Beagle’s that night, were freaking awesome. One special man from the “Jersey Bros” table showed us up when he came to sing S.O.B. by Nathaniel Rateliff with us...and killed it. Never underestimate a man in a muscle tee. 

We took off for two fall festivals in rural Tennessee where we had an odd moment opening for a 12 year old Country prodigy, Emisunshine. At 12 I think I dubbed myself an honorary Spice Girl as I sang to one major crowd of stuffed animals. She probably doesn’t even know who the Spice Girls are…let me just get my walker out and head out for Tuesday night Bingo because I AM OLD. We ended the weekend camping in one of our favorite places in America, Douglas Dam, and playing a brand new brewery in the Blue Ridge Mountains constructed by a shoeless man and his bare hands. There were some rain mishaps and yah know, the shoeless man not even knowing that we were supposed to play that day but...all in all we got through it and made our way to Pennsylvania where we had our 15 minutes of fame on Good Day PA. (Man were we nervous nellies.) I had the pleasure of listening to a 45 minute conversation between Matt and Ben about the art of grooming your beard. (See instagram for the recent developments in their facial hair growth) There are apparently waxes and oils and whole assortment of products to making yourself look like you’ve just stepped out of a 3 week expedition in the woods catching fish with your bare hands, howling at the moon and chopping down trees like a real man. (We need more women in our band.) After this enlightening conversation it was back to New Jersey…. 

Fast forward a week, we headed to Washington D.C. for Sofar Sounds. It was in this old church converted into an art space called Blind Whino that had a complete mural wrap inside and outside the building. It was one of the most mesmerizing places I have ever seen, and we got to play there! That’s the magic of Sofar Sounds...if you do not know what this global movement is, go look it up. Now. And then come back to finish reading the rest of our adventures. You really come to understand the culture of a city at Sofar, and everyone we met there had found a way to combine their artistic passions with...politics. Surprised? 

We stopped at Ben’s parents for some R&R and a big breakfast. As we began cooking our feast we realized there was one missing ingredient...maple syrup. I have never seen Matt move so quickly racing to the grocery store. God forbid a Canadian not have his maple syrup. 

Saturday, we headed for a doubleheader in Pennsylvania. First, a relaxing art festival in Carlisle where a woman actually painted a portrait of us performing. We then hustled over to play our very first...metal festival. The main stage may have had a mosh pit but our acoustic stage rocked out pretty hard with a fire pit. I SHREDDED my melodica. Some of our favorite people we’ve met came out for the show and helped us practice our metal screaming (my voice is still recovering). As we tried to tuck in for the night into Trusty to the sweet sounds of death metal we all had a moment huddled together where we lost a little bit of sanity. In the morning we took off for one of the fanciest vineyards we’ve ever played in Maryland...because that’s how hard rock we are. Now, we’ve had many a drunk people come and take instruments from us at shows and grab our mics to sing...but that show there was a first. A woman (donning wine glass shaped sunglasses) actually brought her own egg shakers to the party. We were still laughing as we made our way back to New Jersey...again. 

Fast forward another week and we bounced from Albany all the way to Williamsburg, Virginia. In Williamsburg we played one of our favorite places, Alewerks Brewing Company. We met a couple who was celebrating their 25th anniversary. The husband not only played in a band but was a mechanic...who WORKS ON VANAGONS. What are the odds? They were just looking for music (which we learned that night is scarce in Williamsburg) and happened to come in when we were playing. We then headed to a Beer festival in Virginia and all the way to Fayetteville, NC (a couple days after the floods). 

Our last show was the Dog Patch House Concerts at the lovely home of Lee and Mike. All of the neighbors and a few others who had heard of the show through flyers came out with a dish of food. We’ve played many house concerts but none with such a sense of community. It may have had to do with the openness of Lee and her family, but it was a truly special evening. Finally we packed up Trusty and headed back to..you guessed it...New Jersey. 

With a week of rest we gear up to head out on a six week Southeast tour that is following the path of Hurricane Matthew. We’ve had many experiences lately where we have just missed national headlines, and it really puts into perspective how fortunate we are to be doing what we’re doing and how much more we should be doing. Maybe this road we travel will help us to figure out how. - Emily 

Photo credit: Mauricio Castro / Sofar Sounds Washington D.C.

Summer, Where Did You Go 

Maybe it is the 9 hours of sleep to 22 hours of driving ratio from this past weekend's touring but I woke up today and couldn't believe another Summer came and went. Waking up to a sunny 65 degree day feels like  a shock after the 3 non-stop months of traveling with a 90 degree 100% humidity biodome around us. This last month has been a wild ride filled with hot air balloons, Elvis impersonators, BBQ, new VW hippie friends, broken instruments, and yellow jacket attacks among a slew of other great moments. 

It always seems that the end of a long stretch is when Murphy's law decides to kick in. The end of August was filled with some of my favorite moments from this summer. In Jonesborough, Tennessee we not only stumbled into Jeff The Candyman's candy shop and were like...kids in a..candyshop... we also found a fantastic wooden box with a VW bus carved into the top in an antique shop. It was a must-buy and is now our new tip jar. The kind folks of Jonesborough were all out for the concert series which has been running for 18 years now! We even had the train passing through town to play a couple of horn solos!

In Kennesaw, Georgia as we began setting up, what started as a clear skied perfect day for a BBQ festival turned into end of the world downpouring in a matter of seconds. There were a few minutes where, as water was flooding under the tent necessitating speakers and wires to be moved onto the stage, we were not sure we were going to be able to play. The clouds broke after 10 minutes and with people still taking shelter under the tent we sound checked and got to playing. If we thought we knew humidity before we were sadly mistaken.. I have never experienced a heat like that before. Matt, poor Canadian, looked like he had been pushed into a river. Right next to the tent where we played was an awesome orange VW bus and we were compelled to go and meet the owner. We met Scooby, her family, and her van, Daisy, who have their own clothing store that pops up in the Atlanta area and all over the place. (check her out @shophippiekids and www.hippie-kid.com) Scooby and her family even came out to see us the next night in Atlanta at the Wrecking Bar. They were wonderful people and we cant wait to camp with them later in the fall. 

In Knoxville we connected with some great musicians at the WDVX Blue Plate Special. Ethan Crump and his band had some fantastic songs that left me thinking about my dog and my grandparents. You'll understand once you take a listen (http://www.ethancrump.com/). Not to mention Ethan is only 19! There is hope for the future..Despite having the mandolin input jack deciding live radio is the best time to short out and some other mishaps during our performance we were fortunate that an incredibly talented Bassist by the name of Aiden Moore came up to us afterwards. After talking we learned he grew up in Knoxville, did the whole musician traveling in a van thing, moved to NYC and LA and then finally back to Knoxville 3 days previously. We invited him to come play with us that night which he did and killed. It was truly a blast and if we have to we will kidnap him next time we are in town and make him get on stage with us again. 

 We finally had more than 2 days off and we found ourselves in the Smoky Mountains of beautiful Tennessee. With time to stretch our legs and let Trusty's engine take a break we decided we would take advantage of the scenic hiking. Starting small we thought 5 miles would be a good distance to get the rust off our driving-for-too-long legs. There were some amazing abandoned houses from the logging days of the early 1900's. Now they are abandoned and spooky as all hell. About halfway through our trek we crossed a creek and upon touching foot to the other side began the onslaught of yellow jackets. I knew something was wrong when i felt a sharp pinch in my calf and then hearing the curses and screams of Matt and Emily realized we were under attack. A mile of sprinting ensued, myself screaming hoping to scare away the yellow jackets, and Emily had one stuck in her hair which had Matt and I both swatting at her head trying to get it out after she was stung in the head multiple times. It was a moment that makes one wish they had a camera on them at all hours. 2.5 miles of hiking with multiple stings on our bodies was not the most fun I will say, but we found remedy in fire grilled steak and wine. At least until I burned my hand on the fire and had a huge welt for..well until now still. At least I still have wine..

We had the mandolin fixed in the coolest little shop in Abingdon, VA by a man named Joe in a shop called Audiotronics Repair run out of the basement of his house. If you're ever in the area and in need of a electronics fix, this is the guy. He had a room full of coocoo clocks and vintage rifles and gypsy guitars he had built and old amplifiers and microphones and harmonicas. We found out he did civil war reeneactments as well and had some very cool relics from that time period. It was quite an interesting experience and one of those moments you're almost not upset about something bad happened (mandolin breaking on live radio...) so that you were able to meet a someone super fascinating, learn some new things, and have a new experience. 

We ended the week near Charlottesville, VA at the Jam Fish Festival run and organized by our friends Emily and Ryan of Together S.O.U.L.. While there were many technical difficulties with the sound engineer we still had fun performing and enjoyed the company of our friends and intense games of cornhole afterwards. To cap everything off I found myself out in a field somewhere and got poison ivy but that is a story for another time. 

2 weeks later (man time flies) with 2 days off we will be getting back on that dusty trail and heading out to Charlotte, NC, Cowan and Murfreesboro, TN, Lovingston, VA and Harrisburg, PA followed by a string of shows in DC, Carlisle, PA and Rohersville, MD. Hope to see ya'll out there! - Ben


Fresh Mountain Air  

We've been a little out of it since we got back from Colorado...I think it had to be that we had way too much fresh mountain air. We headed West after a couple quick stops along Lake Erie and Lake Michigan. As we started to get into Corn Country, it started to get hella hot. Ben started to read a nice little article about ""Corn Sweat" to me as we were driving down I-80. I guess in the summer heat, Corn actually releases moisture from the soil into the air causing a drastic rise in the Humidity. For the Mid-West-that makes a 90 degree feel close to 110. With no A/C, it felt like we were potato chips, slowly baking in an oven. 

As we closed out the drive the Rockies started to appear on the horizon. Our lack of planning and ignorance to just how much people enjoy the outdoors in Colorado left us with just one option for a place to sleep: The Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Beautifully situated just west of Denver, the Fairgrounds is home to a lovely RV park where everybody and their friends big rig RV's came to lay their heads. We were greeted on the first morning with a shout from our neighbor, "Who plays da banjo!". He stumbled out of his RV and towards Trusty as we were packing to make our lunch time gig. He then asked us the same question in about 5 different ways, but it seemed as if he expected a different answer with each different phrasing of the question. I didn't know what to tell him! Yes, we play music man and yes we are actually going to play music today! 

We ended up getting up to Winter Park for the Divide Music Festival in plenty of time. We were originally worried Trusty might have some trouble heading over the Berthoud Pass. When we had reached the Summit, I heard him laughing at us. I swear...We were treated to Kid Cudi's soundcheck for the Headline later in the evening and morning Yoga just before we played. Oh, and what a small fuckin' world! The engineer running our stage mix used to teach drum line at West Orange High School, where Ben went to school. 

Fort Collins and Gunnison left us wanting more and more of Colorado. From the kid who fist pumped for an entire 3 songs on stage with us in Fort Collins to the best dance competition to date in Gunnison, we couldn't have asked for more! On recommendation from a bunch of locals, we took down a couple hiking trails around the Gunnison area and quickly found that our weary legs and minds were not looking forward to the 12 mile and 15 mile hikes the "kind" Coloradans suggested. We chose a much more modest 6 miler for a first hike in quite some time. Hopefully not the last though! Then came the dreaded drive back to NJ...through the corn sweat...down 80...the entire way....

We made it just in time for Woodstonestock! 

Debut EP "Reason in the Road" Out Now!  

Or get it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/TheCoteries

The debut EP "Reason in the Road" is finally out on all major outlets! This EP is a truly a reflection of everything we've learned discovering ourselves and the backroads of the American countryside the past year and a half in good ole Trusty Rusty. Every song is written through our experiences meeting people, cruising through little towns, breaking down, scaling mountains, and so much more. "I'm Travelin' On" is really an ode to our beloved van and all the places we have been the past year while "Reason in the Road" is a song we wrote about why we took off to find ourselves. Thank you to everyone who continues to support us, it means more than you will ever know. 

Homemade Whiskey, Homemade Wine. Backwoods Corn Liquor and a ton of Good Times 

Howdy folks! It has once again been a crazy two weeks jam packed full of new adventures, new friends, and new outlooks on life. This is the first time any of us have had any time to sit down in some wifi and let ya'll know what we have been up to since our last string of shows in the Northeast! As it happens, I am in the comfort of a coffeehouse in downtown Toronto daintily sipping some French/Canadian espresso as the other 2/3rds of Coterius attend a wedding in a castle. That's right. A castle. Life can be magical sometimes...anyways, strap up your overalls and tie up your bonnets, here is a recap of the last two weeks of our travels! I'll try and keep it short but the coffee is starting to kick in.

While we thought we had escaped the tornadoes and intense stormage of the Midwest we were rapidly reminded that in today's world  the Northeast is just as susceptible to intense and random storm cells as anywhere else. Our drive up to Saratoga Springs, NY, typically an hour and change, took us 4 hours to go 60 miles thank you to July 4th weekend traffic. We were greeted in Poughkeepsie by dark ominous clouds reminiscent of every single movie about the end of the world. Within seconds our phones began to explode with flash flood and tornado warnings and we made the decision it would be best to turn around and continue to live life. Upon getting home we saw that there was no touch down of a tornado but significant damage in that area due to heavy rain and thunderstorms, luckily no one was harmed. 

The next morning we were off to Columbia, PA to play at one of our favorite places for some of our favorite people. If you are ever in the Area of Columbia, PA and are looking to wet your whistle repeatedly with delicious and diverse craft beer beverages we highly encourage you to go to Columbia Kettle Works. On top of having some of the best beers I've had the privilege of tasting the owners and staff couldn't be nicer. So nice are they in fact that after a *few post show drinks (*a lot of post show drinks) they let us crash at their lovely apartment. Thanks again Dan and Kat, I sincerely apologize for the drawings I did of your cats. They are much cuter than those drawings would indicate. 

We managed to wake up and make it out to Bedford, PA for their summer concert series. I won't lie to you guys and say I wasn't still possibly a teensy bit drunk through the show...anyways, we made it through and had a really nice time meeting some of the Bedford locals afterwards.

From there we drove up to the prettiest campground in Ohio, according to Emily the prettiest in all of the land, Maumee Bay State Park. Right on lake Erie it provides some very serene views and wonderfully clean facilities. We spent our 4th of July grilling hotdogs and s'mores by campfire and as the night set we watched what must have been every resident of the county set off fireworks in the distance for about 4 hours. If there was ever a simulation of  D-day we experienced it that night. 

The next day we were in a brand new city for us. On our original trip two years ago we sped date Chicago, parking in Naperville and taking the metro over only to spend an hour walking to and from Millennium Park. This time we got to hang out in Wrigleyville literally right next to the stadium with our buddy Bob as the Cubbies were playing. The Cubs lost. We didn't actually check the score but could tell by the seemingly sad stroll everyone in a blue shirt was moving with. The timing of the game could not have been worse for us. It took us an hour to go 3 miles to the venue for our show and in the scorching city in July heat Trusty almost overheated and at certain points we had to turn off his engine hoping we would not be stuck and miss our show. We did make it to the residential part of Chicago and were delighted to again be doing a SOFAR show. The show took place in the living room of a very talented artist in her own right, Jessie Winslow, and we were overjoyed to be a part of such a talented bill. Jody Searcy (former contestant on The Voice) and drummer Scooter opened the show with some truly beautiful songs followed by poet Raych Jackson whose energy was contagious and had everyone hootin' and hollering, snapping and clapping. Despite the apartment not being air conditioned the audience was a great bunch and sand along and even played the shakers and tambourine along with us during "You're So Lovely". Shout out to Scooter for joining us on the cajon and percussion as well during that. We all stepped out of our individual pools of sweat and said our goodbyes and got back on the road heading to Michigan..

Michigan also proved to be a unique experience. As it was another new place for us to perform we did not know what to expect. We performed on a gazebo in a children's park, jungle gym and slides in front of us, but a good deal of people came out (including the local news station with an exuberant amount of camera's) and couldn't have been nicer.  During our break there was a bubble gum bubble blowing contest which despite all of my trash talking I was the first to be DQ'ed from. At one point we even got an 82 year old woman to dance! After the show I went up to her to say thank you and I gave her a hug, apologizing for how sweaty I was to which she responded delightfully, "oh, it's fine! I like a hot man."  So..sorry ladies, my relationship status is now changed to "taken".  One of the camera men from the news station offered us to use the shower at his house and had access to the marina in town where we could park Trusty overnight. We went to his humble abode and he showed us his hand crafted wines, whiskeys, and backyard aquaponics set up. He may or may not have also been growing some of his herbal medicines. It was all quite impressive and he was quite the character. We truly appreciated his hospitality and green thumb. We left the marina early in the morning in good spirits with 3 bottles of his homemade wine.

Continuing on our streak of new frontier we cruised in to Kentucky for the Whippoorwill Festival. Almost immediately upon entering the state flash flood warnings and severe thunderstorm alerts began ringing. At this point, we are convinced that the weather is following us. Lightning strikes and violent thunder coupled with torrential rain brought us to the public library in Richmond, KY where we waited out the storm. We were happy to see the rain pass after an hour or two and we hopped back in Trusty to head out to the Beattyville mountains for the festival. We were not even close to prepared for what we were about to roll in to. After driving on a winding backwoods mountain road passing old decrepit farm houses and barns we came upon a hidden campground off an unpaved road. What looked like a shanty-town was packed with all sorts of people walking barefoot through the freshly wet grass getting in line as the dinner bell rang. You heard right. The dinner bell.. A line of people with their tin plates,wicker baskets, cast-iron pots and pans all waited for some fantastic tacos. 

In a sweaty daze we walked around the grounds, scoping out the tents, the fire circle, the road-kill clad folks with their handmade garments (yes, they fashioned found roadkill into clothing) and the pond which had to be closed off as it became unswimmable after a child did what children do in swimming holes. It wasn't just pee. You get the idea... We sat and watched Laura Thurston, friends with one of the first people we met on our musical journey Mary Byrd, serenade everyone and then as the night came in we prepared to play. With the help of the insane humidity, the drastic change in temperature and our desire to impress these people of the earth we broke a combined 5 strings throughout our set. The first string broke on Matt's guitar in the first verse of the first song we played. Pretty soon guitar strings were snapping like cables on a bridge falling down. The sound man Neil, bless him, was running around grabbing strings and restringing our guitars while we continued to play on and improvise through our set. Neil himself has a very fascinating story that we will happily tell you next time we see you in person.  We managed to make it through the set again, really frazzled and discombobulated, ending on a fitting note, Matt breaking another string on our last song. Although we felt like it was the worst show of our lives every person we spoke to for the rest of the night was so kind and supportive. So much so that they invited us to their campsite to play some music while bottles of homemade blackberry wine and moonshine were passed around. We had a blast making new friends and learning about their incredible earth-friendly sustainable lifestyles. The next day we bartered some CDs for some of that moonshine which came with the verbal  warning, "now son, don't let anyone smoke while drinking this here. This is flammable." Needless to say I cannot wait to try some and see how much hair it puts on my chest and then how much immediately is burned off. 

The following morning after breakfast we took a lecture on survival skills and how to start fires with things you would find in your pocket or purse. We now know how to start fires using lipstick, belly button lint, and a condom. 

I think this is as good a place as any to end this post. Cheers.
- Ben



We are knocking on the door of another Mid-West run in the coming days and New England could not have sent us off in better fashion. We've always had a love-hate relationship with New England...but I don't think that's a bad thing. Everyone has got to pay their dues!

This time around it sure was one to remember. From taking in the immense talent that the Harmonium Music Fest brought together to braving the incoming storm with some of the happiest and supportive people we have ever met up in Orono, ME, we couldn't have asked for more positive encouragement. Not to mention another run in with another Westy at Harmonium and taking Trusty out on his first trip to Acadia! We also had the pleasure of running into an unnamed establishment in Bar Harbor, ME that conveniently pleaded ignorance when supplying Emily with a gluten and lactose filled plate. The manager let us know, "Mistakes happen". Not once, but twice. It took us three tries to get an edible meal that wouldn't send Emily to the hospital. I guess that's what the stove is for in Trusty! What a lobstahead she was...

I guess we should have known that something was going to happen driving back south from Orono on Tuesday night. Things had been TOO good over the course of the week. I decided we would stop off at a service center as it started to pour rain and my eyes were getting heavy. I figured 3 hours of shut eye would be good to get us back on the road....I promptly woke Emily and Ben up at 3:30am to get back on the road to more grumbling and moaning underneath there breather then a Volcanic eruption. I should have let them sleep. About a half way onto the ramp onto I-95 we got a loud banging noise coming from our back right wheel. We pinpointed the location of the noise by having Ben, in the pitch black, at 4am, run alongside the van as I putted along the shoulder of I-95. It was a great team building exercise. He did a great job of not smashing his face into any mile markers! 

We realized we were about 10 miles from Portsmouth, NH, where oddly enough we bought Trusty back in June of 2014. Two years to the month and we pulled into the same shop that did the original service on Trusty back in 2014. At 5am we popped the top and slept peacefully to the sound of Dump Trucks passing by in the front lot of Precision Auto. We were saved with a new axle by Brian, the local Vanagon expert, by 9am and sent further on our way.  



I'm Travelin' On  

Over the winter we were sans Trusty for two months and were really missing our partner-in-crime. We were sitting around a kitchen table one morning and starting brainstorming what we thought was our first love song. It was the first song the three of us collectively wrote in one sitting, and we quickly realized why. Listening back, this song was just an ode to our van and times on the road we were sorely missing.

Fast-forward a few months, and here we are back on the road in New England! Listen to the "In The Vines" session we did before our show this past Thursday at the beautiful Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton, RI. This song will be the first single on our album coming out this July! 

We’re Not in Jersey Anymore, Toto 

After a whirlwind three day trek through the Midwest’s corn fields we found ourselves in Kansas. While it was not the Oz of our expectations the roadsides are definitely paved with yellow bricks of corn and hay bundles and the vastness of beautiful prairie might as well be a magical land compared to the traffic ridden highways of the tri-state area. In the scorching heat that can only come from sun-beaten plains we dipped our toes and washed our road worn faces in the bath-warm water of the Clinton State Park lake. We played music as the sun set, drinking moonshine and sweet tea. 

We made it to Council Grove, an historical point along the Santa Fe trail, and got a taste of the old settler days with lunch at a local saloon. As if the stagecoach entering town wasn’t enough to tickle Matt’s history fancy! Such kind and wonderful folks were out and about at the Washunga Days Festival. Along with a petting zoo stocked with a kangaroo, llama and a camel offering rides (we did not have the gumption to get on) there was great music and snowcones. Emily even had a chance to get up on stage with Call it a Night and show the world her percussion skills! No one got hurt. 

Somehow we woke up the next day in Iowa and a few hours later were in Lanesboro, Minnesota which may be the most perfect town in the world. Everyone is the most healthy looking person, like they are kept healthy from the homegrown food and hand-in-the dirt lifestyle. Our washboard must have gotten swept up by a tornado in Kansas and taken to Oz ‘cause we found ourselves washboardless and had a bit of a panic attack. Luckily, with the help of some new friends we were able to locate not 1 but 2 washboards in some antique shops right before we were set to perform! On top of that stroke of chance, we were approached by a glowing spirit of a woman who grew up in the same town in NJ that Ben grew up in (in fact, they graduated from the same high school) who had left in the 60’s and now finds herself living in Northern California on a farm where she grows Northern California plants and frequents Lanesboro.   

While we did not get to experience a tornado like Emily has been dreaming of but we did live through the most intense storm any of us have ever seen. The lightning and thunder would make a Berlin EDM nightclub light show look like a traffic light. 

While the midwest has been eye opening and inspiring we have to begin heading back tonight after our show in Hutchinson, Minnesota. We’re excited to get back to the Northeast to see all of our friends and play around in our old stomping grounds in New England!

- Ben