Smile Politely

Tour Diaries: You & Yourn in the northeast

We just completed a week of great shows in the Northeast. We’ve been lucky enough to play for full rooms and appreciative audiences. Thanks to those of you who have come out to shows and befriended us along the way.

Our CD Release Party kicked off this string of shows on Saturday, Nov. 7, at an art space called Indi Go in Champaign, IL. The crowd was a perfect combination of close friends and strangers, and the room’s natural reverb complimented our sound very nicely. Caleb Engstrom played an opening set, and the night felt really special. Following the show, our housemate and some comrades proposed an after party at nearby Mike ‘N Molly’s. We attended the after party, of course, but in typical Nic & Heather fashion, we had not yet packed our bags (and were leaving early the next morning), so we ended up sleeping very little that night.

On our way east, we made a stop at The 509 in Huntington, IN, and were happy to see several familiar faces, including our good friends Josh and Alyssa. From there, we spent a couple days in Jamestown, NY, where we were able to chill with the Christopher Bell and pick up some locally-made borsari salt. We played a well-received show at the Labyrinth and saw a couple nice reviews while in Jamestown—one in the daily paper, The Post-Journal, and another in the Chautauqua County alt weekly, WORD. After describing the sound and subject matter of our new album, the reviewer for WORD writes, “Why all of this is invigorating and not depressing is hard to say. Maybe because it’s so candid….”

Next stop: Syracuse. We played at an independent coffee shop/café/bookstore called 2nd Story. Following the show, we went for a late night walk with some new friends and our dogs. It was our first experience with a fennel plant. The nice folks with whom we were walking picked some fennel and encouraged us to chew on the dried flowers, eating the seeds and freshening our breath.

On Thursday and Friday, we had a couple college shows that took us further north. Thursday night we played in Canton, NY—a small town with two colleges up by the Canadian border. And the following night we were in Middlebury, VT. On our way from New York to Vermont, we met a large sign that read, “Bridge to Vermont CLOSED.” Our GPS was no help, so we stopped at a local gas station and learned that the detour involved a ferry ride across Lake Champlain. Despite this minor snag, we still made it to the show on time.

Lots of crowd interaction has been a theme of every show, but our show at Middlebury College was especially fun. We played a longer-than-normal set, which allowed us to cover a multitude of topics in between songs. Early in the show, we discussed use of the phrase, “Shit, man.” As one might imagine, that influenced the dialogue of the evening. Other discussion items included Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex, the harmonium, Nic getting hit by a tree, and the Second Vermont Republic. Nic warned the audience that we would make judgments about them based on whether or not they participated in our sing-a-long. Sure enough, they proved themselves by singing very loudly to our cover of Akron/Family’s “Woody Guthrie’s America.”

We drove into the mountains to Firefly Ranch Bed and Breakfast after our show in Middlebury, and the “Rustic Cabin” became our home for the night. The cabin looks like it may have been a shed at one time, but is now an active part of the bed and breakfast. It was very cozy, but was sans running water. Luckily, the main house was not terribly far away and had both toilet and shower access.

Saturday was grey and rainy. We wanted to hole up in the Rustic Cabin to drink tea and write, but instead, we traveled to Montague, MA. We played in the upstairs of The Bookmill—an old mill that has been transformed into a secondhand bookstore with a neighboring café and record store. We were surrounded on all sides by floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books. The vibe was serene as I sipped red wine in the dim light and listened to the sound of the river outside backing a guitar/clarinet/upright bass trio (known as The Accident that Led Me to the World).

Our final stop in the Northeast was a Sunday night show at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn. We always love visiting New York City, and Pete’s was a great space for our genre of music. The bartender made us some yummy spiced hot cider with rum, and we got to catch up with several lovely friends.

After a short night, we got up early Monday morning to begin our trek back to the Midwest. We have four more shows in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa before we will sleep in our own bed again. Once again, thanks for keeping up with us!

See more pictures on You & Yourn’s blog.

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