North Dakota Tour Recap
Got home yesterday from a delightful musical adventure with some good friends. I haven't taken a band on an extended tour since 1998 (when Andy, Benji, Dave, and I gigged from Chicago to Minneapolis and back). This time I brought three talented Twin Cities-based musicians with me on a tour to the Upper-West corner of North Dakota and back again, and indeed we rocked. This was the band:
Justin Rimbo sang harmony, played bass and videogames.
I sang and played acoustic guitar and electric guitar and harmonica.
Graham Peterson drove the vehicle, hooked up the trailer, and played drums. Very well.
Nate Houge sang harmony, played electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, and lap steel.
WEDNESDAY: We hit the road, cruising Northwest out of the Twin Cities in the rain, listening to the new Lucinda Williams album "Little Honey." We stopped in some little town (I forget the name) and had a great lunch at the Boondocks Diner.
That night we played the first concert of the tour at Redeemer Lutheran Church way up in Thief River Falls, MN. Here's a shot from the stage. The audience was way into it, as you can see. We all had fun. And afterwards we ate pizza and the locals told us tales of a career at K-Mart and the store's shoplifting issues. Musical highlights included a bluegrass version of "The Princess Wants To Spend Her Time With Me" (nice banjo, Nate!) and a group-sing of my new favorite hymn "How Small Our Span of Life" from the cranberry colored Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal.
THURSDAY: we headed West on US-2 (the same highway I drove a week ago in Escanaba, MI!) across the top of North Dakota. Here's a picture of us in Rugby, North Dakota at the exact spot of the Geographic Center of North America. We felt like the center of attention, if not of the entire continent.
Later that afternoon we arrived in Minot, and provided music and liturgy for 375 of these lovely folks at the Western North Dakota Synod Youth Gathering. We tried to avoid talking politics with the hired-gun sound engineer. He told me during dinner that we should've "finished the job in Iraq, nuked the entire place, and turned it into glass." Nice. I wonder who he's voting for? Politics aside, he was a good sound guy, and it sure was nice to have stage monitors.
FRIDAY: more music and more fun with those rocking teenaged Lutherans. During our free time Nate got himself a new/used Peavy tube guitar amp at the local music store, and I found some $0.99 CDs at the used record store: Damon & Naomi, Darden Smith, and Phantom Planet. We bandmembers went to the Mall in Minot to see the new Oliver Stone movie "W." I'd been to that theater before, in 1989, when I was on my very first musical tour...I saw "Driving Miss Daisy" at that exact same place nearly 20 years ago.
SATURDAY: We wrapped up the youth event in Minot, with many a fun musical moment. Some faves of mine were playing full band arrangements of hymns like "I Love To Tell The Story" and "My Song Is Love Unknown" as well as wall-shaking versions of "Hey Hey Samuel" with hundreds of folks singing along. Justin, Graham, and Nate never ceased to amaze me with their musicianship and enthusiasm and down-home joyous fun-ness.
We loaded everything back in the trailer and hauled back East to Fargo during the afternoon, stopping in Bismarck long enough to get a blizzard at Dairy Queen and check out the blandest state capitol building in the whole country. That night in Fargo we played a grungy bar-band show at the Nestor Tavern. It was truly a delight for us as musicians...we were loud and loose, with a fresh set-list which included such rarities as "List of Things-to-do," "Prophetstown Tornado," "Daniel & Peter & Thomas," and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter." The club was full of people, we drew about 20 listeners who came just to see us, and we scored a feature story in the local entertainment paper the High Plains Reader.
SUNDAY: We wrapped up the tour ringing in Reformation Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, MN. 'Twas fun to hang out with Lutheran Rock legend Jay Beech, and kick off the morning with a Larry Mullen, Jr.-inspired take on "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."
The tour was a smashing success, and now I'm inspired to try to set up another like it. Anybody out there want to book me with a band in your town? Let me know, eh!