Experience the adventure-filled life of a band on the road courtesy of Traverse City’s emerging national act The Accidentals, who play Grand Rapids this weekend after a grueling year of touring. Earlier this year, they documented a West Coast tour for Local Spins.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This “Local Spins Rewind” takes another look at a feature that first ran at Local Spins in October. Traverse City’s The Accidentals wrap up a year of touring this weekend in Grand Rapids with two straight nights (Saturday and Sunday) at Founders Brewing to celebrate the New Year. When they submitted this diary, they had just returned to Michigan after 40 days on the road across the United States, touring behind their new Sony Music Masterworks debut album, “Odyssey.” Indeed, that tour covered several thousand miles and turned into a real odyssey of ups and downs, highlights and lowlights. To give readers insights into what touring bands experience, Local Spins asked Savannah Buist, Katie Larson, Michael Dause and guest Jake Allen to create a “Tour Diary” of that journey. It’s an eye-opening peek into the rigors and delights of the road.
THE ACCIDENTALS’ TOUR DIARY: Sept. 12-Oct. 22
(On show days, the typical schedule for the band is to load in at 3 p.m., conduct sound check until 6 p.m., have dinner, conduct a meet-and-greet after doors open at 7 p.m., play the show at 8 p.m., work merchandise from 11 p.m. until midnight, complete loading out of equipment by 1 a.m., eat at 2 a.m., then go to bed.)
Sept. 12 (Nashville, Tenn.) – We started the tour at the Americana Music Festival & Conference in Nashville. We spent a couple days at Sound Check rehearsing the new album songs with our upgraded gear. Then we attended panels on international touring, social media and radio play. We played showcases, signed our tax forms, interviewed with radio and bloggers, filmed an acoustic session at Disgraceland and a 615 Bus Session. We grabbed lunch with Drew Thurlow, our Sony Masterworks leader, met with our press team, management, finance management, and booking agents and dropped off swag for all the people we love.
HIGHLIGHTS: We accidentally got invited to a private VIP lounge on the rooftop of the Westin for lunch because we were dressed in stage clothes and they thought we were VIPs.
We stayed with Mary Beth (who is an amazing make-up artist), who was to do a shoot with Garth Brooks while we were there. When it got canceled, she brought all his catering to our rehearsal space!
We watched Graham Nash perform Live at Skyville. He had the Milk Carton Kids, the Secret Sisters, Lee Ann Womack, River Whyless, and Ricky Skaggs play most of his catalogue alongside him. I (Sav) ran into Ricky Skaggs after the show, and we both recognized each other, but neither of us knew why, so we ended up awkwardly hugging each other and asking how the other person had been. Then my mom told me that Ricky used to play the Grand Ole Opry with my dad, and when I was a baby, she often brought me backstage to hang out with the band, including Ricky Skaggs. Evidently, he carried me around a lot. We also hung out and talked with (NPR’s) Bob Boilen and he came to our showcase. Pretty crazy.
LOWLIGHTS: First van/trailer injury of the tour. We had to replace a bumper that got cracked at the airport a week prior, but they put the wrong color bumper on, so now one is matte and the other is glossy (I think it looks pretty). It was pretty much nonstop for four or five days, early mornings/late nights and lots of socializing.
Sept. 18 (New Orleans, La.) – We drove in and played a show at The Orpheum’s new room (The Ice Pit).
HIGHLIGHTS: Sav and I (Katie) had our astrological charts read at a nature/crystal store called Earth Odyssey. According to our five-year forecast, 2020 is our year for fame and fortune! We played The Ice Pit, a venue in the basement of the historic Orpheum Theater that got its name because it used to be filled with ice to fill the theater with cool air in the days before air conditioning. We got a tour of the theater after everyone left and an introduction to the resident ghost (Barry). After the flood in New Orleans, the theater was restored and a levitating floor was installed so that the floor could lift up and become even with the stage for other events. Some of our “FAMgrove” fans drove all the way from Michigan to have the New Orleans experience with us, and we met up with them for midnight beignets and ended up watching one of the best funk bands in the French Quarter in the wee hours.
MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE WE MET: We experienced some amazing kindness here. We were exhausted and had no place to park our van/trailer downtown, but an incredibly sweet man named Mr. Gerald (who was the bellhop for the swanky Hotel Monteleone) let us park in front of the hotel, where he kept an eye on it that night. We are super lucky to find people like him.
Sept. 20 (Austin, Texas) – We played the 3Ten Austin City Limits Live venue. This was an awesome room, and they filled our rider to the max (we were practically swimming in granola bars, bagels and veggies). We got to play with Dawn and Hawkes (who are amazing) and the writer for Texas Lifestyle came out along with our Sony University College reps so we interviewed with them backstage. Really, we just ended up talking about bands we all love and introducing each other to new music. Kathryn Strand (FAMgrove) let us use her house while we were in Texas and we took the opportunity to sit on the back porch and relax between shows and eat GrubHub Acai Bowls.
LOWLIGHTS: We cut the corner a little tight loading into the venue with the trailer and scratched the back fender of a car. Luckily, the guy we hit was super nice about it. We gave him a CD.
Sept. 22 (Phoenix, Ariz.)
HIGHLIGHTS: Sav and I celebrated our six-year band anniversary!
We had the opportunity to tour Fender Guitars Headquarters with Phil (who let us play a replica of Flea’s bass), played a sold out show at the MIM (Musical Instrument Museum), and after everyone left and we had loaded the trailer, we were offered a private nighttime tour of the museum. Our friend, Jonathan Frahm (amazing music writer), his sister and Phil from Fender joined us. It was unreal.
A few years ago, we played the Roastery of Cave Creek. Dave, the promoter of that show, not only came to the MIM show but helped us sell out the MIM along with Maria of Insight Mgmt. It was really good to see him again and drink their coffee.
Sept. 23 (Flagstaff, Ariz.)
HIGHLIGHTS: The road to Flagstaff is crazy winding and beautiful scenery. Sedona is on the way and we often stop there to check out the energy portals. We sold out our show at Coconino Center for the Arts; ate some great ramen and mochi ice cream at SoSoBa afterwards. The next day we got to lead a workshop and hang with the hilarious, amazingly talented orchestra/band/choir students at Flagstaff High School (who gave us a gift card to Whole Foods).
Last year, when we played Flagstaff we were snowed in and the engineer for the show, Mikey, let us stay at his house. He offered to let us stay again with his dog, Miles, and his now three cats (Bonnie, Clyde, and Matilda).
MIXED-LIGHTS: Our van, Black Betty, died (fried transmission) at midnight on the way up the hill to Mikey’s house after the show. Mikey came out to help us bring Black Betty back to life, and then towed our trailer up the hill to his house and let us borrow his van so we could do the workshop with the high schoolers the next day.
Being on a time schedule to get to Huntington Beach, Amber limped Betty to a shop called 7 Day Auto the next morning. The owner has a son in a band and totally understood us. She sourced a white rental van in Phoenix on a Sunday and got a SUNcab to get a rental car to drive to Phoenix. But a cab driver told her about a shuttle to Phoenix that was leaving in a couple of minutes, saving us $300. So, she took the shuttle and picked up the van and drove it from Phoenix to Flagstaff and we reattached the trailer and drove it to Huntington Beach that night. Later in the week, when the transmission was replaced, the shop owner engaged one of his employees to drive the van to Huntington Beach, pick up the rental van from us and return it to Phoenix.
Sept. 26 (Los Angeles/Burbank, Calif.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We hung out with Tom at Takamine Guitars, who gave us a tour of the ESP Guitars factory and took us out for Mexican food. We showcased for Warner Brothers TV Music Licensing office and got a tour of the studios afterwards; saw Ellen DeGeneres’ parking space, Conan O’Brien’s studio, the set of the “Gilmore Girls,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “ER,” “La La Land,” and more; swam in the Pacific Ocean. We did karate poses jumping on a trampoline for a photo shoot with Jay Gilbert and ate In-N-Out Burger afterwards. Our friend/rapper Rick Chyme of Grand Rapids flew in and joined us on stage for a run of shows including a dive bar, jazz club, and tiki restaurant.
LOWLIGHTS: We lost power halfway through a live TV interview at USC, RIGHT as we were explaining why we are called The Accidentals. Everyone immediately thought “earthquake,” but it came back on after a few seconds. We left with a small amount of general anxiety.
MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE WE MET: I (Sav) met a guy working for ESP guitars whose grandfather worked alongside my grandfather on NASA’s Viking IV mission to Mars project!
Oct. 1 (Huntington Beach/San Diego/Santa Barbara, Calif.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We stayed in a beautiful house on the beach and our Managers, booking agent, and social media guru all met up and stayed with us for three days. My family flew in to see us for a couple days as well. My little brother and my sister and my dad came and we hung out with them on the beach on our day off and got tacos. The next day, we played a really cool house concert in Santa Barbara called Hound Dog House Concerts, named after two dogs, and we got Black Betty back by special delivery. (See above.)
LOWLIGHTS: The power went out halfway through a song at the house concert, but everybody got their phones out so we stayed illuminated. We got a $100 ticket for being double parked on the street with our trailer. The house made so many creepy noises that Katie and I got freaked out and slept in the living room.
MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE WE MET: Michael met a guy named Glen who is a voiceover actor and did a lot of work for the Big 10 Network, as well as video games.
Oct. 3 (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We left Los Angeles at 4 a.m. to get to an interview at KCPR in San Luis Obispo by 10 a.m. Traffic was insane even at 4 a.m., and on the way, we got pulled over by the police for speeding and informed that our trailer lights were broken. We realized that the connector Sav and I hooked up that morning had come loose and we’d dragged it on the highway until it was completely melted off. We got stuck in traffic a dozen times and were late to the interview but we kept checking in with them and they held our spot.
Manager Amber Buist, Jake and Rick Chyme figured out where to get the trailer lights fixed, and dropped by Dyer’s Diesel while we navigated Cal Poly’s massive college campus. Despite being an hour late for the interview, we were greeted with coffee and a box of doughnuts from SLO Donut Co. One of the audio/engineering students named Meesh showed us around downtown. That night we played pint night for our first party college crowd at SLO Brew.
LOWLIGHTS: Our manager, Amber, went to the ER while we loaded into SLO Brew for treatment of pleurisy. She received a hormone shot and antibiotics and slept during the SLO Brew show while Rick Chyme pitched in on merch and logistics.
After the show, Sav almost got punched in the face by two guys in a drunken fistfight, and halfway through an overnight drive we heard a strange noise and pulled over to discover our trailer’s axle spring broke and the fender was sitting on the back tire. We dragged it to a motel in Paso Robles at 3am and all the hotels were batching out for the day so we waited an hour to get a room. Luckily, we got to hang out with Junior, the hotel cat, in the lobby. At dawn, we dropped into a room and slept for 4 hours, got back up at 9 a.m., unloaded all of our gear into the parking lot and had a Starbucks picnic waiting for Amber to get the trailer fixed. She was able get the van the three miles to Central Coast Trailers.
MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE WE MET: At Central Coast Trailers, a family of badass women immediately replaced the axle spring. They were all friends with a band called The Young Dubliners and often did trailer fixes for them in a rush. A kind man gave her homemade tamales for the band, and their adorable corgi kept her company. When Amber got back to the parking lot, one of the hotel managers came by on a golf cart to see if we were OK, and a lady who was trying to peacefully read a book outside volunteered to help us load all our instruments back into the trailer, so we made it to San Francisco in time for an afternoon showcase and late-night show.
Oct. 4 (San Francisco, Calif.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We stayed with a really close friend of ours who is also a talented blogger and podcaster, named Nancy Davis Kho and played a show at Cafe Du Nord where maybe 20 people showed up including one guy that got removed for being disorderly and heckling. Later, we found out he was on our guest list.
Our show the next day in Sacramento fell through due to low ticket sales (obviously we need to work on California), so instead of driving, we had a day off with Nancy – who took us on a hike through a trail of Redwoods, and fed us tacos and ice cream frozen by liquid nitrogen at Smitten in Rockridge. We were extremely lucky to narrowly miss the wildfires that happened the day after we left California. We spent the first night there exchanging favorite new music: We introduced her to Vulfpeck, and she turned us onto Neil Finn’s newest album and took great care of us. She did a little article on us after we left. Check it out here: http://bit.ly/2inUDNW
Oct. 7 (Eugene, Ore.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We played to a pretty good crowd in Eugene at a venue with disco lights, a designated weed lounge and pool tables. They had an amazing taco truck out front.
We stayed with fans Tom and Rachel (FAMGrove) and their adorable fluffball husky, Dakota. Rachel gave us a tour of the city and took us up to Skinner Butte, where a lot of people were smoking legal pot and enjoying the view. We found a farmer’s/arts market; I (Sav) bought St. Vincent’s album “Actor” on vinyl and ate some amazing tacos from the food truck outside of the venue. The next day, we stopped at Sahalie Waterfall between Eugene and Bend (featuring two rainbows, someone’s wedding and a damp outhouse). Jake decided to hike down and kiss the waterfall in 45-degree weather. It was amazingly beautiful.
LOWLIGHTS: The venue offered to pay us in beer and asked us, “If people balk at the cover fee, should we just let them in anyway?”
MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE WE MET: I (Sav) met a nice lady named Carrie who did a tarot reading for me, and she told me that sometimes in order to move forward, you have to give yourself a chance to breathe. That advice came at a good time.
Oct. 8 (Bend, Ore.)
HIGHLIGHTS: This was a really tough show. The venue fed us a really great pizza. That was the highlight.
LOWLIGHTS: We didn’t get an advance on the show after several attempts, so we took a guess on load in and when we showed up, there was a festival going on, so all the roads were blocked to the venue. We eventually found an alley and squeezed Betty in to unload. We had to load in through a long hallway and a stairwell to the basement. After we were set up and sound checking, the house engineer arrived and proceeded to tell me (Sav) to shut up and play my f—— guitar when I questioned his checking the monitor mix before the levels were set; Michael asked him to leave and our sound engineer Loreen took away his iPad.
Later that night at load out, a drunk guy attacked Amber by reaching through the window of our van and grabbing her, so we had to call the cops. Loreen got really sick on the tour and needed to see a doctor in Los Angeles, so after the show, we drove through the night to Portland and dropped her off at the airport at 4 a.m. Our other sound engineer, Evan, had to fly in same day from Detroit and jump back on tour with us. Which he lovingly did.
Oct. 10 (Portland, Ore.)
HIGHLIGHTS: What a cool theater. We can’t wait to go back to this venue. We performed at the Alberta Rose Theater with the Talbott Brothers – they were great. We had about a hundred people in the audience and they are total music lovers. This was an early show and we were done by 10 p.m.
The waitress at the restaurant across the street was in an all-female rock band and gave us free cake and vegetarian nachos. During our day off, Sav explored Powell’s Books, and Jake Allen took Michael, Evan and I (Katie) on a two-hour drive to the Bagby Hot Springs near Mt. Hood, where we hiked 1.5 miles into a forest and found a rustic bath house. We filled up the tubs with steaming hot water that was too hot to sit in, so we carried buckets to the nearby river to collect cold water and took a quick soak before hiking back through the sunset, driving to Portland and eating at an amazing meal at Maruti Indian Restaurant: https://www.instagram.com/katie.eats.food/
LOWLIGHTS: The power went out in our AirBnB late at night while Michael was taking a shower.
Oct. 11 (Seattle, Wash.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We sold out our show at Nectar Lounge! This was a great venue, and an older couple came with their two 20-something sons that had been wanting to see the band for a while. It was one of the son’s birthdays. Amber heard them talking about how they couldn’t stay as late as we were playing because they had to drive a couple hours home. So we surprised them, and during the opening band’s set, we brought them backstage and played some songs and hung out with them and gave them some merch. It was really fun to connect that way.
Our Sony college rep came out and our press rep at Insight came to the show and we met a ton of Michigan transplants that night. We made friends with the sound guy (Stewart) and the opening band (Sundog). My (Katie’s) friends, who I met working on a goat dairy farm in Florida in 2015, came out to the show for a mini-reunion.
The next day Katie and I (Sav) got apple cider at Pike Place Market, and while we were walking around, Keller Williams (who is featured on our album ‘Odyssey’) texted us with some great spots to hang out in Seattle.
LOWLIGHTS: When we backed into the venue, we had zero room for mistakes. There was a truck, garbage dumpster, old poles sticking out of the ground and a cement barrier all in the way off of a busy two-way street. We had it almost completely in when our front tire hit one of the poles and completely popped our tire in the venue parking lot blocking the whole staff from parking. We waited three hours for the roadside assistance, had to get everything out of the van, put the spare on and limped it to Elliot’s Tire. We ended up having to replace ALL the tires, wheels/rims and shocks and get new heavier duty trailer tires.
Oct. 13 (Bellingham, Wash.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We pulled up to our venue, The Green Frog, and walked inside to check out the load-in situation, only to find a bunch of people with acoustic instruments having a sick bluegrass jam session! They knew fellow Michigander band Lindsay Lou & the Flatbellys and made us feel like we were home for a second. We sold out our show there and ate AMAZING gourmet grilled cheeses and ginger beer.
MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE WE MET: Our longtime friend and part-time merch girl, Tess Starr, invited her little cousin to her first show (she is 6); my (Sav’s) friend Brian Czyzyk’s sister, Stephie, also came to our show.
Oct. 14 (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
HIGHLIGHTS: Amber rented an incredible AirBnb with a stunning view, but when we first pulled into Vancouver at 2 a.m. we had the wrong address. I (Katie) rummaged through a family’s mailbox and almost broke into an inhabited house looking for a key! The next day, Phil Sgriccia, the director of the show “Supernatural,” took us to lunch and gave us a tour of the city. Later, Katie and Evan rented bikes to explore Stanley Park. Sav and Amber went to a legit tea house.
LOWLIGHTS: Our show was in a rough part of town; there were people all over the streets who were homeless or struggling with drugs. There was a girl our age sitting near the alley we parked in with a bloody nose and a man shooting up heroin. It seemed some people were more afraid of us than we were of them. It made us sad, but made us band together tighter. We’re also a little convinced that we witnessed a drug deal at a gas station on the Oregon border.
MOST INTERESTING PEOPLE WE MET: Mo, the promoter of the Rickshaw Theater. He was super sweet and is helping to get us back to Vancouver very soon and the band that opened that night were super kind.
Oct. 17 (North Bend, Wash.)
MIXED-LIGHTS: On our way from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Boise, Idaho, we stopped in North Bend, because Jake Allen wanted to take a picture with the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign from the TV show, “Twin Peaks.” The sign wasn’t there, but we did do our first group “pee-in-the-woods” on this tour, because none of us could hold it anymore. When Jake suggested we go eat at the diner where “Twin Peaks” was filmed, we humored him and started driving over there. As we were coming around the bend, we heard something break, and the whole van started shaking like it was dragging something huge behind it. We crashed in someone’s front yard and got out to find the trailer’s cradle snapped upwards – the front end of the trailer was buried in the gravel. We left a huge skid mark in the road because of it. Luckily, the yard we crashed into was owned by a mechanic named Brandon, who came outside in gym shorts and flip flops with his dog (named Savannah), took stock of the situation, and said, “Hang on, let me get a shirt on, and my winch.” He helped us get our trailer off the ground, called the only tow truck in town still open and took care of us.
Unfortunately, our old trailer, Baby Betty, was totaled, so we had to buy another one. We named her Bam-Da-Lam. We also had to cancel our show in Boise, since we were still nine hours away when our trailer broke. We made it to Salt Lake City the day after, though.
Oct. 19 (Denver, Colo.)
MIXED-LIGHTS: After an all-day drive Salt Lake City to Denver, we were still 90 minutes away when we heard something in the engine gurgling. We stopped at the summit of the Vail Pass and tried to let her cool down, but the computer system installed in Betty before we got her did an emergency shutdown of the whole car and zapped our battery, leaving us stranded on a mountain, in the dark, with no ability to turn on hazards or any lights, and with semi-trucks flying past us at 70 mph. We called the police and asked if they could send someone up to provide lights so we didn’t get hit, and gave the officer who showed up a CD. He was an instant fan.
We also called a towing company, and an amazing tow truck driver named Shane drove 30 minutes to get us, put Black Betty on his flatbed, hooked Bam-Da-Lam the trailer on his hitch, and squeezed the six of us in his cab for the rest of the 90-minute drive to Denver. There, he helped us unload our van and trailer in the parking lot of a GMC Dealership around 1 a.m. Unfortunately, whoever was monitoring the security cameras became concerned about seven people unloading strange cars into their parking lot in the dead of night, so they called the police on us. We explained the situation and gave each of the three police officers who showed up a CD, and then, FINALLY, we made it to our Denver host home. Our Colorado mom, Daphyne, greeted us at her house at 2 a.m. with a cheese plate and plenty of tequila for Amber.
Oct. 20 (Fort Collins, Colo.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We reunited with our friend and rippin’ guitarist Keller Williams and his amazing tour manager/sound engineer/harmony singer, Lou. We opened up the night to a sold-out crowd at the Aggie Theatre, and then we backed up Keller on four of his songs including the encore.
Oct. 21 (Denver, Colo.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We got to play with/open for Keller at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom to a crowd of 1,100 people. Our friend, Dave Rivard, brought some extra musical gear (i.e. power cables, pedals, etc) to help us on our next leg of tour. Daphyne made us dinner of sausages and grape leaf wraps to take with us to the venue, and the bartender, Brianne, gave us all free ginger ales.
LOWLIGHTS: We had to say goodbye to Keller and Lou … until next time.
Oct. 22 (Pueblo, Colo.)
HIGHLIGHTS: We came back to Pueblo thanks to our friend and Songbird Cellars promoter Chris, an incredible guy. Thanks to Luke Lyons’ article on us in the Pueblo Chieftain, lots of people came out to watch us play at the Sangre De Christo Arts Center. An amazing film crew of funny and talented people, called NøtPluto, came out to cover us sporting brand new shoes that Hush Puppies gave us to wear on stage. Earlier that day, NøtPluto shot photos of us near the Garden of the Gods on a trail full of people walking their adorable dogs, and later at The Red Dog Cafe in Manitou Springs, they bought me (Sav) a tea infuser and a cupcake there, despite my protests.
LOWLIGHTS: On the very last song of our last day on the West Coast run of this tour, my (Sav’s) violin’s D string broke. I tried to run off stage and grab a new string to replace it, but I knew that would take too long; I picked up my guitar and tried playing it, but I didn’t want to end the night like that. Eventually, I just picked up my violin and played a solo on two strings. In the end, it worked out. It was just stressful.
Finally, we flew back in to Michigan to not only celebrate our album release with four huge interactive shows, complete with lights and video, but we’ll be joining our friends Jake Allen, Stephie James and The Crane Wives.
See you soon, Michigan!
NEW YEAR’S EVE WEEKEND AT FOUNDERS BREWING
• 9:30 p.m. Saturday – The Accidentals, Stephie James, Jake Allen – $10 admission (no advance ticket sales)
• 9:30 p.m. Sunday – The Accidentals, The Crane Wives, Stephie James, Jake Allen – $10 admission (no advance ticket sales)
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