SOFA CITY SWEETHEART

Music by singer-songwriter J. Lopez

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SXSW 2011 Tour Recap

June 28th, 2011 · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

Alright, I know I said I was going to update the site and do a tour recap in a timely manner, but things have been completely insane at the Sofa City Sweetheart factory lately!  This is no good for blog updates, but very good for other things as I’ve been simultaneously recording a full-length album, booking a Midwest tour, and coordinating a music video shoot.  If you’ve ever done any of those things, you know it takes a bit of time.  So apologies dear friends, but rest assured that you’ll hear more and more about these projects as the summer shines on.

But it’s been long enough. Let’s recap this tour already.

What can I say about the SXSW tour?  Well, it was great.  I saw so much in such a small amount of time and visited several states, climates, restaurants, and people… not enough can be said about how awesome the USA is.  I really dig being an American after being able to enjoy so much of it.

Packing only the essentials for SXSW.

The tour started off with my flight landing me in Dallas, TX and Normandie picking me up (she had DRIVEN to Texas from San Diego) for our first show a few hours later in Grapevine.  It was a little too convenient for us because the venue we were playing was about 10 minutes away from the airport (tours usually include horrendous drives and I’m still not sure how the planets aligned on this one.)  Grapevine was actually a really cool little town that had an old timey downtown area, you should stop by if you ever visit Dallas.  This show was a nice warm up gig, we played with bands from Seattle, Santa Cruz, and Virginia.  Before the last band even played we had to race over to Austin for our two days at South By Southwest.  If you’ve never been to SXSW, here is a taste:

SXSW is a lot of fun.  We had a day off to enjoy the fest so we took in the Flatstock exhibit, which ended up being my favorite part of SXSW.  This exhibit featured concert artwork from artists all across the world.  It was really cool to meet the people that provide the visual look to a lot of my favorite bands.  I could have spent all day in that room… but they kicked us out and locked the doors eventually.

Awesome tour posters at the Flatstock exhibit during SXSW.

The next day we played at Waterloo Cycles, a quaint little bike shop in Austin.  Don’t let the small venue fool you, this show featured bands from the UK, Mexico, and Norway.  During that show, I officially dubbed SXSW the “Street Fighter II” of music.  SXSW is so great for this reason, people from all across the freaking planet come together to share music, make friends, form bonds… it’s truly unique and I’ve never seen anything else like it.  I was sad we couldn’t spend more time enjoying it, but we had to rush off to a party in Grapevine to watch our friend Patrick drink an entire jar of pickle juice in under 60 seconds.

After Austin, we spent a couple of days in Missouri (after driving through some TERRIFYING storms) and a good time was had by all.  We played a great bedroom show in Columbia, and then made our way to St. Louis, which may have been my favorite city on this tour.  I’ve never been to St. Louis before, but it really made an impression on me.  I’m not sure exactly what it was, but the little strip of downtown shops and bars, combined with the small town suburban houses and neighborhoods seemed to be a perfect mix of what I like about small towns and big cities.  We randomly decided to eat at a restaurant named Blueberry Hill, and I was blown away when I found out that CHUCK BERRY plays there once a month.  I didn’t even know Chuck Berry was still alive!  The man inspired the Beatles to play rock and roll and he is still playing shows, who says rock and roll is dead?  We had a good time in St. Louis that night, played a great show and made lots of new friends.  Sadly, we couldn’t stay longer as we had to rush off that very night to make sure we got to Nebraska on time.

Omaha, Nebraska.

I would have never thought this, but the shows in Nebraska turned out to be our most successful stops on the tour.  The first one was in Columbus, which has a population of about 20,000 people.  We played in the town art gallery, and upon our arrival saw lots and lots of posters promoting the show that night.  It was nice to see all the locals come out (there was even coffee and cookies!)  Everybody was very sweet and attentive, and we felt very welcome.  It’s really nice when you can feel a community welcoming you into their small town.  We felt like family.  The next night was our show in Lincoln at the famed Zoo Bar for Gloworm’s CD release party.  This night was extremely fun, and we met TONS of nice Nebraskans that once again, made us feel very welcome.  I can’t wait to go back, gotta love the good life.

The next day we set out for our eight hour drive to Colorado.  This was kind of a nice drive, through the endless plains of Nebraska.  We eventually ended up in Boulder for a low key show at The Laughing Goat.  The next day on our way to Grand Junction, we got to drive through the Rocky Mountains and IT WAS AMAZING!  We through through some intense tunnels, and stopped to play in the snow at a gas station.  I really have to come stay longer in the Rockies when I get some free time.  The lack of visibility was a little scary, but the snow was tons of fun to drive through.  I am still amazed that we have so many differing landscapes and climates in the states, a few days before there was a tornado watch in Nebraska, and now we were driving through snow.  Awesome.

Elevation: 11,000 feet.

The show in Grand Junction ended up falling through, so we decided to man up and drive all the way to Vegas that same day.  You should map this out online, not a drive for the faint of heart.  Boulder, Colorado to Las Vegas in one day (after spending time in Boulder and dealing with show issues.)  Yeesh.  We started going crazy after a while, which is all part of the fun of tour.  Long drives, insanity setting in, deep conversations.  Tour.  This drive was actually very terrifying now that I think about it.  There was a long stretch in Utah where there were no lights, gas stops, or civilization for probably a few hundred miles.  Our zombie apocalypse instincts started setting in after a while, just another perk to being on tour.

After spending the night in the sketchiest hotel ever (we actually feared for our lives) we had most of the day to hang out in Vegas, which we needed at this point.  We actually found somewhere cool in Las Vegas to hang out and eat, which seemed impossible, but we ended up spending a good chunk of time at The Beat Coffeehouse in downtown.  It’s part of the Emergency Arts building (across from the El Cortez) which houses a ton of cool art galleries and shops.  The food and drinks were good, and they also sell and spin vinyl and have a little library you can read from.  I was really amazed a place like this existed in Vegas.

Hello Vegas

We walked the strip after this, enjoying the day, and eventually ended up at the Bunkhouse for our show.  I taught Normandie how to gamble since they had video poker at the bar and she made a cool five bucks before the show started.  I lost a dollar, but eventually won it back.  High stakes in Vegas.  Our show that night went well, we played with some cool bands from Vegas and Albuquerque.  We ended up getting stiffed on door money though, which is never fun on tour, but the show was fun and we made friends and we couldn’t wait to make it home the next day, so we went to Gold Strike and gambled on the nickel machines (that paid off in actual nickels) to make us feel better.

The next day we had a 3.5 hour drive home.  It seemed really funny that that’s all it took to get home after driving halfway across the country and back.  But yes, after a brief stop for some sports drinks, we finally made it home.  I actually did stop by home for maybe half an hour, then we had to head out to Mr. T’s Bowl for our final show of the tour.  The weather was actually the worst in California out of all the cities on our tour.  It had been bright and sunny most everywhere we went in the Midwest, while everyone at home was complaining of rain and gloom.  The rain did not stop the rock tonight though, and we played with our pals Darby Tweed and California Condors, and a good time was had by all.  Mr. T’s is one of those cool little venues in LA that is still the same after all these years.  I’m really glad it’s still there and still a-rockin’.  I always enjoy playing there, the sound guy is awesome, and I am usually surrounded by friends there.  Good way to end the tour.

Here are all of the pictures for your viewing pleasure:

I felt bad for Normandie, since she had to drive all the way to San Diego that night, but she made it there okay and rumor has it she is still alive.  Phew!  What a tour.  The road was long and winding, but we made all of our stops, played all the shows we were able to, and survived to tell the tale.  Let us not forget the golden rule: if you come back from tour alive, then it was a success!  I really have to spend some time thanking everyone that made this tour possible.  Number one is Normandie Wilson, nobody has any idea how hard she works, from booking shows, sending out press releases, finding us places to stay, doing most of the driving (she has a stick,) and still performing 100% at every show.  She’s an animal!  So thanks Normandie, you are great.  Also, I want to thank Mustard Rob, Amanda Rainey, Dubb Nubb, Pancake Productions, Matt Harnish, everyone in St. Louis/Columbia, Joey Kendall, Andy Campbell, Wei Shi, Waterloo Cycles, Christopher B., The Columbus Arts Council, Mark Manning, Gloworm, Joe Younglove, Ghary Gharial, Waffle House, Kum & Go, The Laughing Goat, The Justice League, Darby Tweed, Mr. T’s Bowl, all the great bands we played with, all the venues for letting us play, and everyone that let us stay with them, and anyone else I forgot to mention, YOU ARE ALL AWESOME!  Touring ain’t easy, but people make it happen, and people make it worthwhile.

I also want to mention that I just hit 50,000 hits on this here website, and I want to thank everyone that also made this possible.  I can’t do what I’m doing without your support, so thanks for believing in me.  There are lots and lots more goodies planned for the rest of this year, including another Midwest tour and a brand new record that I’ve begun work on.  The next update will not take as long as this one, I promise.

Love,

Juan

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