Leg 1 of Neil Young North American tour

10 29 2008

Today is Tuesday, October, 28. We have a day off at home today in Los Angeles, resting and recovering from our days on the road with Neil Young and Death Cab For Cutie. It's a bit strange trying to make heads or tails out of things at the moment as the past few weeks have been like a dream that you cannot and do not wish to wake from.

Let me begin by saying what an honor and a privilege it is to be on tour with Neil Young. He and his band are mind blowing every single night and it is a dream come true to get to see him perform his songs night after night. To have the opportunity to get to know him and talk with him has been very meaningful to say the least.

We started our journey on October 11th, six guys in a van, driving like mad across the country to get to St. Paul for the first show. We stopped at a casino in Nevada where Eli, Davey and our lovely tour manager and guru Fred decided to ride a very large roller coaster while J, Joel and myself played some slots and wandered aimlessly through the money sucking maze listening to the hum of the machines. when the other boys returned from their ride, watery eyed and hair standing straight up, they seemed disappointed and a little beat up. That night we slept for a few hours in some place I can't recall. The next day we drove the rest of the way to St. Paul and checked into our hotel which was right across the street from the venue. It resembled....well, it was very large and we started to get giddy and excited. We were kids there for a second, together, standing there looking up at the mega-screen with Neil Young's face on it, advertising the show for the following night. We went into the venue to check out some of Neil's rehearsal and roamed around the 14,000 capacity arena for a few hours, listening to cavernous versions of Hey Hey, My My and Spirit Road before returning to the hotel bar where a kind gentleman recognized us, asked if we were Everest and proceeded to buy the band a round of shots, our favorite, Power's Irish whiskey. We shared a moment in that time and space that I'll never forget for the rest of my life. The night before we opened for Neil Young.

It's a good feeling when you huddle together with 4 of your closest friends and cheer each other on before walking onto a dimly lit stage where an audience of Neil Young fans await, cheering for you before hitting the first note of our set. It's like passing a test when you're on stage in an arena, looking out at more people than you've ever played to and knowing that Neil is going to be right where you're standing in just a couple of hours. It's very intense, it's very humbling and it's exactly where we want to be. The band enjoyed every second of the first of many shows. Thank you St. Paul for your hospitality on such an important night for us!

next we drove across the Canadian border to Winnipeg, Neil's home town.

10 Interesting Trivia Facts About Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada;

* Monty Hall, the television celebrity, who began and hosted the well known game show "Let's Make a Deal" from 1963 to 1977, came from chilly Winnipeg.

* The 2005 Academy Award winning film "Capote", starring Philip Seymore Hoffman was filmed on location in Winnipeg. Winnipeg is a seemingly unlikely center for movies, but many have been, and are in the process of filming in the Northern city in the center of Canada.

* The Manitoba Legislative Building, seat to the Manitoba government, is topped by a 17 foot golden statue known as "The Golden Boy". He has been standing suspended on top of the legislative dome since 1920. The choice of a fully nude statue in a city known for its long cold winters, seems a somewhat humorous choice to crown the governmental seat.

* Neil Young of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock group fame, reportedly lived in Winnipeg, although he was born in Toronto, in Ontario. The story goes that Neil Young was thrown out of Kelvin High School on Kingsway Ave, in the south school district of Winnipeg, for playing his guitar in the school halls.

* Winnie the Pooh was named after the city of Winnipeg, by a Canadian Lieutenant in the Fort Garry Horse Militia who purchased Winnipeg Bear, shortened to Winnie the Pooh, from a hunter in 1914.
(Read the Origins of Winnie the Pooh here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/546951/the_origins_of_winnie_th... )

* Winnipeg is the Slurpee capital of the world. The citizens of the city frozen 6 months of the year, consume an estimated 400,000 Slurpees per month in Winnipeg. This includes the frigid winter months. The author and family have contributed to this statistic many times, even in the winter.

* Crash Test Dummies, the band that came into the public eye in the late 1980's originated in, you guessed it, Winnipeg.

So...we got to our hotel, chilled for a while and then met up with our friend Kelly and went out for Indian food. The waiter asked if we were a band and we said yes. He asked where in town we would be playing. When he found out we were Neil Young's support band, he brought out a round of warm cognac in snifters, it was very regal. We finished up there and headed out to a bar called...drum roll... The Regal Beagle. growing up a fan of Three Is Company, how could one pass that up? Eli and I posted up on some sofas and created our own living room, the perfect environment to enjoy a pint of local brew. We sat there and talked with Kelly for an hour or so, said goodnight and went off to sleep. When we arrived at the arena the next afternoon, we could sense the energy in the building, this was Neil's place. This was going to be an epic show. Walking out onto the floor, I actually laughed when taking in the capacity of the place. Enormo Dome! Wow. We rolled our gear onstage around 5pm and line checked our instruments and vocals before retiring to our dressing room to warm up. I cannot express to you how crazy and fun that warm up session turned out to be. Our dressing room had a massive shower for 15 hockey players at once so we all walked into there and hooted and howled our way through some songs before taking the stage. Man...that was amazing. I'll never forget Davey improvising drum licks on the shower heads and the tile floor. We carried that energy out onto the stage that night and played one of the most fired up shows we've ever played. I think it worked, the crowd gave us a lot of love. The highlight of the night was when Neil ended his set with Keep On Rocking In The Free World and the house lights turned on and you could see 16,000 fans singing along and smiling and screaming and loosing it...oh man it was crazy! He came out for an encore and ended the show with a barn burning version of A Day In The Life. Winnipeg was extremely cool.

On to Regina, Saskatchewan. None of us had ever driven through the middle of Canada before. It's similar to the middle of America. Very flat, you can see for days. The land is different up there though and I imagine life can be hard on a person in that area in the winter. When we got to our hotel, we dropped our bags and went out to eat, then went to a store and walked around aimlessly looking for thermal Underwear. I slept in mine that night.
About the show... I think it was our best show on the tour so far and it was the most responsive audience for sure. It was a great night for Everest, Death Cab and Neil. Thank You Regina!

Next stop, Calgary.
Eli, J., Davey and I jumped onto Elliot Robert's Bus after the Regina show while Joel and Fred drove the van to meet us in Calgary. Thanks Joel and Fred. So we sat on the bus and watched Re-animator before passing out around 3am. I awoke to Eli's voice saying we have to get off the bus. I looked at my phone, it was 8a.m.. The bus had arrived at Neil's hotel and we were on our own and it was cold. Well, we decided to find a coffee shop and post up for a while to read the paper while we waited for Joel and Fred to arrive with the van. Calgary is a very nice city. I was impressed with how clean and beautiful it is. After finishing our coffees and paper reading, we jumped in a cab and went to the saddledome, an arena shaped like a saddle. We got there around noon and grabbed some food from catering. Yes, catering...three meals a day, a juicer with beets, celery, apples and carrots ready to be juiced and drank, all kinds of food...it's crazy, we're getting spoiled. We spent the rest of that afternoon working on new material and warming up for the show. The show went well and though it wasn't our personal best, we pulled off a good set and Calgary warmed up and gave us some hollers. Big, big thanks Calgary! We left early that night because we had to get up super early the next morning to drive to Everett, Wa and there could be some bad weather.

Everett is a city just above Seattle. It's very special to me as I have some good friends who live there on a beautiful farm where i have stayed several times while touring.
We got to our hotel after a brutal drive and crashed pretty soon after getting in the rooms. The next morning, I remember looking out the hotel window and seeing the fall colors on the leaves. I opened the window and a cool breeze seeped in through the screen. I was filled with nostalgia and I thought about my childhood and where I was and for a second I felt lost but in a good way, where I knew I would be found. I just kinda floated there for a while and let myself be happy/sad as all moments of nostalgia tend to be.
We got to the venue that day around 3pm and had some food and continued working on some new songs. We had some friends show up that evening and it was nice to hang. After the show, we went into Neil's dressing room and spoke with him for a while about the tour. My personal highlight of the night was singing Look At All The Things by the late Danny Whitten with Neil before leaving his dressing room. I'll always remember the smile on his face when he recalled performing that song with Crazy Horse in the early 70's. Wow...wow.

We crossed the border the next day to Vancouver. Vancouver is an interesting city, it's as beautiful as can be yet there is a dark side to it. it's really the only place in Canada where the homeless can survive in the winter and there is a huge drug problem that seems a little out of control. That said, it's always the positive aspect of the city that shines through as I've never had a bad show in Vancouver...ever.
The arena was really nice and the sound was really good that night. Neil's set was particularly amazing as was Death Cab's. We hung out that night for a while, then headed back to the hotel to get some rest before the long drive to San Francisco.

The next evening we went to Neil's ranch, Broken Arrow. This is the part of the blog that will remain mystical.

We woke up the next day and rolled over to Mountain View to see some of the performers at Bridge School. We had our own show that night in S.F. so we could only catch Band Of Horses and Cat Power. They both ruled. Band of Horses played a gorgeous set, full of harmonies and simplicity...amazing. Cat Power was incredible too and Neil came out and Joined them for a C.C.R. cover. We hung out with Nora Jones and her band and I can't say enough kind words about them, such good souls.

We played that night at a little place downtown called Hotel Utah. Some friends came out and it was good to see their faces and catch up. L.A. band Le Switch played an amazing set, go see them! Openers Winter's Fall were really great too. Our energy dipped a little but it was fun and a lot of people came out to see us. What a cool place...I love San Francisco.

We drove home the next morning and slept in our own beds that night.

Now...last night we played a free show at R Bar and it went off. Our dear friend Bo Koster joined us on keys and it was such a treat to have him. The Parson Redheads played too and i wanted to kiss and hug them all over and over. I love that band, as people and as players..they are wonderful. Thanks to the good people at the bar for treating us well and thanks to all who came out...what a cool night and what a fantastic homecoming.

So...tomorrow we're off to San Diego then the Forum in Los Angeles on the 30th. We'll wrap up leg 1 in Reno then take a couple weeks off before starting up again on leg 2 in Nova Scotia. To our Label, Vapor Records, To all of you who've listened, bought our record, hung out with us, booked us a show, cooked for us, to Neil, the Young family and his band and crew, to Elliot Roberts, to HQ management, to Death Cab For Cutie and crew and especially...to our loving families...Thank you kindly with all of our hearts.

signing off,

(((((((Russell of Everest)))))))

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