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Dear Surfer:

We still have shows at the end of this week, but since it is a mini tour that runs into October, I'll write about them in our forum. So this month's DEAR SURFER is being published early. I'm sure you will find that it is long enough!

Our first show this month was September 1st. This was a tough month of scrambling with lineups for shows. I really want to keep blue number nine going! It's so freaking hard with the inconsistent lineup. Anyway, we returned to the Lexington Market in Baltimore, again with Dara and Camari on vocals. We brought our own PA this time, so we sounded better than last time. Dara's sister came out to see us. It was a fun time once again, and I talked to some interesting people, namely Robert, who is in the military and will soon be deployed to Iraq. I am against the invasion and occupation of Iraq and I have been since the beginning. I've been vocal about it and I always will be. So when Robert told me he was going, I almost cried.

He said, "Someone has to do it." I told him I don't agree, but I said it with compassion, because this man could very well lose his life over there due to the madness of the people in high places.

I gave Robert a free demo CD and a DVD and I told him he could take it with him and share it with the other troops (he is in the army.) Just writing about this fills me with sadness. People in the military are surely propagandized... I don't know for sure, because I was never in the military and never received the training. However, I believe that it isn't just propaganda, and it isn't just the dire need for money for college. It isn't just the desire to get out of poverty or to be given a shot at a real career. I believe many people who join the military do it also out of a sense of duty and patriotism. Many join because it is a family tradition. Robert struck me as one of these types - pure hearted and patriotic. The fact that the Bush administration has not only exploited the post 9/11 fears of the American Public, but also has exploited the good hearts of our military makes me sick! Of course, there are bad eggs everywhere - not everyone in the military is a good person at heart. But they are all risking their lives, and it simply disgusts me. Ok... next topic...

September 2nd, we were to perform at The 2nd Annual Frenchtown River Festival. The weather on the 1st was horrible in Baltimore - Hurricane Ernesto was in full rage. So I called my contact for the Frenchtown fest on the way home from Baltimore. She was disheveled and didn't quite know what to do, because the weather forecast was not good. We were going to perform from 1 to 2, then there was going to be an animal show, then we were going to perform again from 3 to 4. However, she told me that many vendors had already cancelled, the band after us cancelled, the hayride folks cancelled, and she wasn't sure what we should do. She gave us several options, and we spoke later that night, but there was a miscommunication. When I woke up, she had called at 8am telling us to come anyway and play at 1! So I called her, told her we would get there as fast as we could, called everyone in the band and made arrangements for us all to get there, but then, she called again (after people were already on route) and told me the weather suddenly turned for the worse.

Well, it was too late, so we went, we played to a tiny audience under a tent that kept us dry and safe, but the weather was simply horrible. We did our best anyway, then went and ate some Mexican food and drove home. Jill was on this gig with us, and my mother came along. Towards the end, we played "Dance Dance Dance" and I told the audience I was putting West Indian "hoodoo voodoo" on the town so that on Sunday, the weather would be beautiful. Because "D, D, D" is a calypso song, I told everyone to think Carribean, sun, heat, summer, and that would make the weather great on Sunday. Well, Sunday did turn out to be a nice day, so I'm glad they got one good day for the festival. It feel miserable when these types of events get rained out. So much work goes into them and everyone loses money if it's a washout.

September 8th, we played the Hkan Hookah Bar in Pittsburgh. Thanks to Craig & Lisa, Donna & Teddie for coming from Altoona and thanks to John for coming from Somerset! Cute place, fine tobacco for the hookahs, but not the greatest sound system. Also, the dreaded tin ceilings... bad for acoustics. Thanks to Cindy and to Jim for videotaping us, and thanks to Jonah for letting us crash at his place, which we ended up doing both Friday and Saturday night. Also, thanks to Morgan! Morgan hasn't performed with us much this summer, but thanks to her people and the band's fans, we had a good turnout at the Hkan, and we had a place to sleep and of course, Cindy gave us more food than we could eat! We played 3 sets at the Hkan. It's in a cute section of Pittsburgh... definitely my favorite live music venue yet.

On the 9th, we performed at "A Fair in the Park" in Mellon Park. We arrived with plenty of time to set up and do a soundcheck, but one of our Random Horns, Luke (alto sax) got terribly lost and showed up an hour into our set. I felt so bad for him. He left about 6 messages on my answering machine. I also felt bad for Les, our trombone player, who had to be his own horn section! He was great, though. He played the alto sax charts instead of the trombone charts, because the harmonies make more sense. When Luke did show up, it was sweet to hear! We had a good turnout and whipped out our kiddie percussion instruments at one point. The kids stormed the stage and most weren't shy! We played a tight hour and a half set. The band was great and we got a standing ovation. I was proud, but also sad, because I'm going to miss Luca and I wish Morgan weren't so busy with other things and could be more a part of the band. This has been a great lineup, and I'm not good with change to begin with.

I'm also sad because our 2006 tourdates are almost over. Funny how I was dreading them, and now I wish it wouldn't end. The Grass Is Always Greener - we really have to get that song into our repetoire when we find our new guitar player. It would be nice to find a full time keyboard player, too!

Anyway, after our performance, the Craftman's Guild of Pittsburgh (responsible for putting the fair together) had some food, wine and beer available for the artists, so we all ate a bit and drank a bit and hung out and talked to people. A solo artist performed on guitar and sang. THANK YOU to my MySpace friend Nelson for stopping by. He had 2 gigs that day, but still came out to meet me in person and he also bought 2 CD's and suggested we stop by a venue called "The Shadow Lounge". He said that a lot of musicians hang out there and they often let other musicians come up and jam. So we stopped by, but it was early, so the only people there were the owners. They were super nice and gave us a tour of the place, which is absolutely gorgeous. If I lived in Pittsburgh, I'd hang out there. I wish them much success with their business. I know it's tough to make money, and they are young guys. Hopefully, we'll play there in the future. The room is really cool.

After that, we went to Primanti Brothers, a famous Pittsburgh sandwich joint where they put homemade french fries and cole slaw on all sandwiches. Delicious and gloopy! We then bought 3 six packs of beer and headed back to Jonah's where we watched a documentary called "All We Are Saying", by Roseanna Arquette.

I have watched this movie 3 times now. It is a MUST SEE for all musicians, venue owners, managers... everyone involved in the music business and anyone involved with someone involved in the music business - rock music, though. It's an important, well-made movie which has inspired me because it has validated what I've been doing for last 12 years. Arquette interviews Elton John, Willie Nelson, Iggy Pop, Marilyn Manson, Patty Smith, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Chrissie Hynde, Annie Lennox, Peter Gabriel, Thom Yorke, Anthony Kiedis and Flea, Joanie Mitchell, Stevie Nicks, Andre 2000, Macy Gray, Gwen Stefani, Patty Scialfa, Ben Harper, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Petty, Steven Tyler, Sting, Merle Haggard, Shelby Lynne, Burt Bacharach, Perry Farrell, and other artists whom I can't think of right now, as well as a few label owners and others in the music business. Nobody watched the whole movie, though. Marco and I were the last ones standing, so to speak, but that was a good thing because we had to leave the next morning at 9. We didn't leave until quarter to ten. Then, Marco, Jack and I had to set up and rehearse with BD Lenz, guitarist who performed with us on September 22nd.

On the 15th we were supposed to play outside at Journal Square Fountain in Jersey City. I was really looking forward to it. We were going to have no back up singers, but 2 random horns, one of whom does sing. Well, it rained, so it got cancelled and I'm bummed out about it.

On the 22nd, we returned to Altoona, PA to perform one last time this yeat at the Curtain Mall. It was Evie and Camari on vocals (don't you, too, get confused with the lineup?!) BD Lenz is an accomplished songwriter who plays the same circuit we do, pretty much, and he played guitar with us, as I mentioned earlier. He was not only excellent, but enthused, super nice, cooperative, communicative on stage and fun to hang out with. He even jumped on "LOVE THE BEAT", even though he was reading music. It was cool. A friend of ours videotaped the show. We saw a lot of familiar faces, but there were a lot of new people in the audience because there was a biker's convention in town. This time, they put us up in a hotel, so we didn't have to drive home immediately afterwards and got to hangout "downstairs". SUPER SUPER THANKS to Michael for the free drinks, but mostly, for opening up his restaurant so we could eat at a table and get warm (it was a chilly evening.) Thank you to Donna & Teddie for coordinating the food thing with Michael for us. We love you guys!! I had a great time at this show. I was so worried about it, because we only had two rehearsals with BD and none with Evie, but they both did absolutely fantastic jobs.

Well, that's it for now. The rest of the month's tourdates will be in our forum.



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