Heyo! We’re excited to hit up Walnut Creek for the FIRST TIME EVER tomorrow night. We’re playing with the wonderful Big Tree and Fever Charm. Get yer tix here; there’s rumours of a keg of some special beer and other drank specials so, ya know….that’s what we’re all about (getting loaded).
Also, we just realized it’s been just over a year since Fire in the Desert was released! Man, time flies. So we’re reminding y’all that you can bump us on Spotify while you wait (with bated breath?) for the new EP. We promise you it’s a-comin’….release is set for mid-to-late summer, so keep your eyes and ears peeled. The mixes are sounding amazing and we’ll be putting finishing touches on the songs before sending them off for mastering and printing magic. We are giddy-excited to share these songs with y’all. It’s a whole new era of Vandella, and we cannot wait!
Check your guys (and girl) out on Spotify here mates!
I can’t believe my best friend, collaborator, hero, and basic other-fuckin-half is turning 30. I’ve known this guy since he was 21 and I was a wee lass of 19; time flies, and I truly mean it when I say I don’t know where the hell I’d be without having Chris Tye in my life.
I hope everyone(!!) will come out for this super-special birthday show we’re throwing for him- his brother’s band is coming up from SD to open up the night, and we’re hoping to have some other surprises in store for y’all so that it feels like everyone’s motherfuckin’ birthday. Now that sounds like a hell of a time.
Aaand…we’re back! Man, the Pacific Northwest sure knows how to show a good time. Our 10-day tour was much too short, but don’t fear- we will back in late July/August for a longer run, and with a new vinyl EP in hand! Here’s a short recap of the shenanigans that went down….
We kicked things off in Benicia at the always-fun Rellik Tavern. Out of town friends that we haven’t seen for awhile (shoutout to Mark!) came up for the show and reunions were had. Chris and I know Mark from back in our San Diego days, and he was around for the first band Chris and I were in before forming Vandella so…he’s been with us from shit-bottom to now. And no, we refuse to tell you our old band name. Don’t even ask.
Next night was the big surprise of the tour: Fresno. We were playing at this spot called Fresno Brewing Co., and we pull up to this walking/strip mall in the middle of downtown Fresno. There’s literally nothing around there except for several bail bonds places (always good to know), so we weren’t quite sure what to expect when we were told to pull up inside the motherfuckin’ mall. Umm…okay. As we roll along the walkway of this deserted mall, we come upon a glowing enclave that is buzzing and humming, with groups of people flocking in. If you are in Fresno, please go through and check this spot out- it is pretty awesome. Coffeehouse by day, bar/live music venue by night, the owner Ephram (hope I spelled that right!) was one of the nicest guys, and is really doing something cool there by opening this spot. There are 94- count em, 94(!)- beers and even a “choose your own beer-venture” wheel in the joint. What made this place so fucking cool was the crowd. Before too long, people were going NUTS- moving tables off the floor to make more room, chanting and yelling and hollering and just getting the hell down. Chris and I even ended up in the middle of the dance party a couple times just cause they looked like they were having too much fun for us to be on the stage and not join ‘em. I think it was one of- if not the funnest- crowds we’ve ever played for. We definitely have lots ‘o love for Fresno, and hope to be back there really soon. If you live near or in Fresno, please check this place out and go support em- they’re really trying to revitalize the area and bring some great music through there. Support local business, yo! Big thanks to Anne, Matt, and their furry little beast Thor having us.
After that, we played The Shady Lady Bar in Sacramento and it just so happened to be their 4-year anniversary. We had a couple birthdays on this tour, which we found to be quite good luck. Shady Lady sure is a classy establishment- cads concocting a cadre of curious cocktails (dig that alliteration?), donning vests and passing around appetizers and punch(!) in honor of the big day. They sure treated us and all their guests well; there were whiskey shots during the break so…ya know. We felt real warm for set #2. We had a whole lot of fun, I ended the night with a Bourbon Cooler, and we called it a (great) night. Grabbed breakfast the next morning with our buddy Jerome (big thanks to Jerome, Tori, and Links, who may or may not have tried to sexually assault Chris in the morning?) at a secret spot in Sac-town, and made our way to beautiful Blue Lake….
It was a Monday night in Blue Lake, but the Mad River Brewing Co. was pretty kickin’. Blue Lake is in the middle of this big bowl-shaped, dramatic valley- it was lovely and the beers at Mad River were tasty as hell. They make Steelhead so- go grab ya some. The owner/bartender was a musician herself who used to spend 350 days a year on the road- she was a total badass and was so wonderful to us. The stellar TR from Spirit Vibrations Presents hooked us up with this show, which ended up being a great success for a Monday night. The next night was another Spirit Vibrations Presents show in the newly-opened Palm Lounge in the Eureka Inn. This was also the night of the ever-dreaded Tour Fender-Bender. That’s right- some lady straight ran a red light as we’re driving down 4th St. in Eureka, Fritz saw her out of the corner of his eye just in time and sped forward, and she hit the back bumper of the van. She could’ve T-boned us- so it could’ve been a lot worse. But I guess any self-respecting tour has some sort of bullshit, right? So we made our way to the Palm Lounge, and I assured Fritz he’d have a rockin’ set cause after all, you always play better when you’re pissed off. Or is that just me? Anyway, Palm Lounge: This place is in an old inn that was shuttered for years and just re-opened- it’s beautiful and definitely has a “Shining” vibe- kinda spooky and cool and eerie all at the same time. The lounge has a fireplace(!) and sexy lighting- check it out if you’re in Eureka. We made some new friends, Mike and his grandson Mikey, who are awesome supporters of local music; they came two nights in a row and fuckin’ rule. Got to chill out at TR’s lovely home (complete with a hot tub and bitchin’ back yard!) for a couple days and she sent us off feeling relaxed and loved. Thanks are in order to TR, Norm, Kaya (half-husky/half-wolf!), Rex (big old lug dog), and Cinnamon the skittish-kitty for letting us chill at their lovely place for a couple days. Also Gunsafe and Morgan Magpie Corviday for opening up the show with us!
Oregon! It was time for Oregon. We made our way up to Eugene, with a quick pit stop at Cougar Hot Springs. Judging by the name figured all the guys would get creeped upon by horny middle-aged women, but it was pretty mellow. It was really lovely to sit in a wooded glen in warm water with steam rising up into the air, with your best buddies in the world. We’re so lame for each other. We played that night at Sam Bond’s Garage- a funky little spot that looks like it actually used to be someone’s garage (someone maybe named Sam, last name Bond?). Sweet little garden patio and all- bet that spot is awesome in the summertime. We played with local Phoebe Blume, and a band from Raleigh called American Aquarium that Chris and I had met several years back at Hotel Utah when they were touring through SF. So it was another mini-reunion. They’re all super nice dudes- the bass player and Fritz nerded out on gear and bass amps, he lent me his jacket to join the boys for a smoke outside (Southern gentlemen, I tell ya), and it was nice to have some company for a spell while on the road. They were on week six of their tour adventures, and they sounded fuckin’ great. This was the only night on tour we stayed in a motel- we all went back to our little room at the Timbers Motel (after a potentially ill-advised late-night Mexican food run) and watched some TV, drank some beers and giggled immaturedly, as you do when you’re 4 dudes (er, 3 dudes and a lady) on the road in a motel. It was all fun and games and dirty jokes.
The next night we made our way over to the mountain town of Bend, which was the second big surprise of tour. Grabbed dinner with Fritz’s old buddy John and met his rad dog Niles. We were playing at the Horned Hand in Bend, which was a mix between taxidermy shop, your weird uncle’s garage, punk bar and old-school movie house (they were projecting Metropolis on the wall). This place had probably the BEST on-stage sound we have ever had. Seriously, that place had it on lock. The owner/booker/bartender Calle was absolutely lovely and so generous and welcoming- we learned that she and her husband own and run the joint, and have a new baby to boot. Pretty bitchin’. We played that night with a guy named Matt Hopper- a super talented musician and all-around hilarious guy from Alaska via Idaho. He was on a solo tour, and totally killed it- wearing a classy leisure suit, killin’ on guitar and vocals (I give vocal props sparingly!), he was a badass from start to finish. Our show was the weekly pick in the Bend Weekly paper, which was also cool, so we felt a lot of love from Bend! The crowd was down to dance and drink and have a good time- they wouldn’t let us leave the stage and partied with us til we retired into the crowd for more beers and good times. Learned our new buddy Matt was heading up to Portland the next day too, for a week-long residency at Al’s Den. It’s all giggling and shoe-shuffling when you make the new band friends. Had a late-night party at John’s house where he made us up some delicious pizzas, gave us more beers, and let us listen to Grateful Dead on his gigantic, awesome stereo.
Friday was our only night off; we bid adieu to John and our new homie Niles the dog, and made our way up to Portland. We were staying with our buddy Robert, who we’d stayed with last time we were through Portland. Reunions left and right! Decided to grab some eats and head over to Matt Hopper’s show at Laurelthirst. He was killin’ once again, and a rollicking good time was had. He ended up staying with us that night, and we had the morning-after slumber party round robin, which is always good times. Then we all went to an epic brunch that took about 2 hours to get to (brunch is always a fucking fiasco, no?), had a photoshoot in the Mississippi Studios garden courtesy of Mr. Hopper, aka budding videographer, and then met up with some of Chris’ family at Rogue for a beer and some catching up. Gearing up for the show that night, we were all a mixture of excited and sad that it was the last day before we’d have to head home. The show that night was at the Blue Monk, which is in the basement of a restaurant. Played with a klezmer/anti-folk/vaudeville-ish band called All The Apparatus. Such nice people, man do they put on one hell of a show! There’s about 12 of em in the band, lots of brass, and down to get the dance party going. Our new buddy Matt was there, our friends Robert, Ben, and Brian were there, Chris’ family was there! The crowd was bumping (the booker later told us the venue is at capacity at 80 people, and we had 120 in there! whoop!) and helped us rage and wrap up that last show in a mighty fine way. We all went to sleep that night feeling disgustingly happy and rich.
Sunday, bleary-eyed and sore, we bombed our way back home to SF from Portland. You’d think 10 hours stuck in the van with three other people would drive you insane, but we’re a really lucky goddamn band. We’re a family and truly fucking love each other and get along just peachy. We have a great time together. It’s slightly nauseating.
We had a couple days off before we had our last show in Berkeley at the Starry Plough. Our good friend and booker-extraordinaire, Michele Kappel-Stone, was opening up with her new band, Laura Benitez and the Heartache, as well as The Far West, a really great country-rock band from LA, and newly-minted band friends. This was our last show before heading into the studio to start recording for the new EP, and we sure did get down. Chris was out in the crowd with his guitar, beating on the floor tom when everyone was chanting for an encore- it was a good night. Our buddy Mark came up for this show too (Mark rules), and we got to share our road tales with some familiar faces. We dragged ourselves, sore and tired but happy, home to bed before rising in the morning to hit the studio.
So…I’m writing this recap now while sitting in the control room of Hyde Street Studio C, with our new friend Scott McDowell at the helm of this here puppy. We just surprised Chris with his big 30th birthday show(!), which is gonna be May 29th at Bottom of the Hill, so…you should be there if you’re reading this and within a stone’s throw of SF. I can’t wait- I set the show up, got his brother David’s band from SD (Hills Like Elephants) to open it, and got our good friend Misisipi Mike to make up an awesome poster that we taped to the door of the studio. Chris walked right by it at first, and we were all incredulously cracking up to ourselves until he spotted his mug on a big old poster. We’ve got a couple more days recording ahead of us, and we’re feeling really fucking good! Exciting things are on the horizon, and we’re gonna be workin’ it hard these next couple months. We all feel so lucky to be able to do what we love, and get to play music together and for all y’all. We owe a HUGE thank you to everyone who showed us so much love and hospitality on the road- those who gave us a place to stay, booked us or helped set up shows, shared the stage with us;our new and old friends, and every single person who came out, rocked out, and re-affirmed to us all why we don’t wanna do anything else.
To our friends in the cities we were just through- we’ll be back! Summer! Keep yer eyes and earholes peeled for us- we’ve got a new EP we’re already stoked about and proud of, and can’t wait to share with you guys. And to our SF friends, come see us May 29th at Bottom of the Hill for Chris’ big motherfuckin’ birthday show!! We love all you guys a whole hell of a lot.
Tracey – and the dudes