Monday, September 3, 2012

Playin' In a Bookstore

Angie Atkinson Midtown Scholar Bookstore

April here! On July 6th, we played at Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This was Angie's first time playing a bookstore, and I'm not sure if any bookstore gig can ever top it.

Before we get too deeply into our love for everything Midtown Scholar, let's just get out of the way that we made a completely spontaneous detour to Gettysburg on the way from Richmond to Harrisburg. That's the magic of getting on the road on time. We didn't stay long, but Angie did get a chance for a photo op with everyone's favorite President.

Angie Atkinson Midtown Scholar Bookstore

Angie Atkinson Midtown Scholar Bookstore

When we walked into Midtown to load in, we all had a moment of jaw dropping wonder. We are all book lovers, and an independent book store is a book lover's dream. This one is especially beautiful, with a cafe and a dedicated stage, a second level, and just all around good staff and patrons. Our host, Liz Laribee, was extraordinary, as was the sound tech.

Angie Atkinson Midtown Scholar Bookstore

Unfortunately, I couldn't truly capture the beauty of the space because just that morning I had made an immense blunder and dropped my camera on the hardwood floor at our hotel. Not only was my kit lens broken, but part of it was still attached to the camera. I didn't want to mess things up further by trying to separate it, so I just packed it away to deal with when we got to Boston. But, while I didn't capture many performance shots with cell phone, Angie and I did have an impromptu shoot among the stacks.

Angie Atkinson Midtown Scholar BookstoreAngie Atkinson Midtown Scholar Bookstore

Angie Atkinson Midtown Scholar Bookstore

We had an enthusiastic, responsive crowd, which always creates a better performance, because it becomes more like a conversation than just someone getting up and singing at you. There was even some mild ribbing from the crowd about Angie's propensity for writing breakup songs. We also really began to discover that Angie's music has appeal across many different types of people, from high school girls to experienced older musicians to hippie poets. That's a great feeling.

Angie Atkinson Midtown Scholar Bookstore

Angie Atkinson Midtown Scholar Bookstore

Angie Atkinson Midtown Scholar Bookstore

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Playin' In a Pie Shop

Dangerously Delicious Pies DC

You guys. There are few things in this world I love more than pie. I think I may love pie more than I love Channing Tatum's never ending body.


Anyway, when April told me that she had booked a gig for me at a place that sold nothing but pie, my reaction was akin to what it would be if I were told that Channing Tatum was at my door with a bouquet of flowers and a gallon of Gatorade.


Anyway, Dangerously Delicious Pies has several locations, but we were set to play the Washington, DC, location. When we left Philly, we drove to my college friend Katie's house in the DC area. She has the cutest kitchen and the cutest daughter and the cutest cats. It'd be easy to hate her if she weren't just so cool. We caught up like no time had passed since college. They fed us burgers and brats and cookies and sweet corn and I don't even remember what else before we crashed in their office/guest room.

The next day, after some sleeping and grooming (me) and some underwear yoga (Ashlie) and some musician wrangling (April)we headed to DC well before we were due for load in, because not only did we have to pick up Kelly at the train station, but D.C. metro traffic is just the worst. I hate it so much. So we needed plenty of time to navigate.

But I won't get into the construction or the idiocy or the fact that we drove by Union Station at least 3 times without realizing it. Because none of that mattered because we were reunited with Kelly!

Kelly Fragale Ashlie Lauren Smith
Kelly Fragale Angie Atkinson Ashlie Lauren Smith Washington DCAshlie Lauren Smith Angie Atkinson Kelly Fragale Washington DC

We were about an hour early even with all the traffic, so we went to a local park to do a little busking/rehearsing. We made a dollar and a new fan!
Back at Dangerously Delicious, we loaded in, met the other perfomer, Matt McKinley, then got the show started.

Kelly Fragale Dangerously Delicious Pies DC

Angie Atkinson Dangerously Delicious Pies DC

Ashlie Lauren Smith Dangerously Delicious Pies DC

The shop is tiny. The performance area is literally just a corner of the shop. They move tables out of the way to make that space. However, it's great that even in such a small shop, they go out of their way to host live music. Plus, they had a picture of Dolly Parton in the bathroom, and did I mention they ONLY SELL PIE? I dare you to find fault with place like that.

The set went beautifully. There were some sound issues, causing my mic to go out a few times. But, mama's loud, y'all. I just did it a capella until it was fixed. No sweat. Well, I did sweat, but that's because it was July in DC and the place was packed.

Set completed, we were able to indulge in some pie.

Cherry Pie Dangerously Delicious Pies DC

Look at this pie. This pie,y'all. I'm pretty sure I'd choose it over Channing Tatum with a bouquet of flowers and a gallon of Gatorade.

Angie Atkinson Dangerously Delicious Pies DC

While we scarfed pie, we got to enjoy the absolutely bad ass blues of Matthew "Mule" McKinley. You guys have to check this kid out. I joke often about a singer "takin' us to church," but listening to Matt was truly a spiritual experience at times, especially when he brought out that resonator. I'm so glad I got to share a stage with him.

After load out, we drove straight to Richmond. We had an Atkinson Family Independence Day barbecue to get to!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Philadelphia Freedom

Angie Atkinson busking Philadelphia, PA

April here!

We're gearing up to hit the road again for the Midwest leg of the Double or Nothin' tour...and we've yet to finish sharing about the first leg. We can't promise be more diligent this time around with the blog, but we can promise frequent updates on my Tumblr and Angie's.

So way back on July 1st, we had a show at Milkboy Coffee in Philadelphia. This was a unique show organized by Jason Waters. In addition to Jason and Angie, songwriters Nicki Sbaffoni, Jeanette Lynne and Suzi Brown took turns sharing songs and stories.

It was an easy five hours from Angelica to Philadelphia. Upstate New York reminds me a lot of Wisconsin, being so green and dotted with farms and fields. Not having traveled much in New England before, I was struck with how much older the towns and hamlets are. We have a lot of grand Victorians in Wisconsin, but no Colonials.

Angie Atkinson Slush PuppieAngie Atkinson
Another thing that New England offered us was a genuine Slush Puppie. Not an ICEE, not a Slushie, but a Slush Puppie. There is a difference.

We also think it's fun to make the rock star do the dirty work.

Before we went to the load in at Milkboy, we wanted to check into our hotel. We arrived with plenty of time to check in, change, even get in a shower for those of us who hadn't had the chance that morning. But you know what they say about best laid plans. They are often thwarted by German tourists.
Philadelphia, PA

Yes, that would be an entire tour group checking in. And the hotel had one person at the desk and no clean rooms. Gro├čartig!

Philadelphia, PA
After Angie took charge and had very polite but firm conversation with the manager, whom was on site but in the back, we were able to get in the room in time for very brief showers, a change of clothes, and general freshening up. We also had a gorgeous view of the Ben Franklin bridge that we got to enjoy for roughly half an hour. We made it to Milkboy right on time for load in.

Milkboy Coffee Philadelphia

We were all wowed when we walked in. It isn't just a coffee shop with a little area set aside for musicians, it's a dedicated music venue. They also have absolutely fantastic food.

The show was beautiful and inspiring. It was a refreshing change from watching a full set of one musician followed by another and another. The artists built off of each other's momentum and were inspired by each others' stories to share more. Every one of them had something special and slightly different to offer. to offer. I didn't get any video, but Ashlie has most of the show on her Ustream channel.

Jeanette Lynne Milkboy Coffee
I made a few necklaces to sell along with Angie's merch so I could make some extra cash on the road, and I made my first sale to adorable Jeanette Lynne. She and that necklace were made for each other.

Philadelphia, PA
Being of the non partying variety of travelling musicians, we went back to the hotel, enjoyed the view of the bridge and some lame TV, and ate soggy delivery food that took 2 hours to arrive.

Ashlie Lauren Smith
Angie Atkinson and Sleeping in Gethsemane
The next morning while we were loading the car, Ashlie started talking to a guy because she liked his tattoos. Turned out he was in a band, too. They were checking in after a night long drive from Milwaukee that made me hurt just to think about. They're called Sleeping in Gethesemane. Well, I guess they were called that. They broke up pretty recently.

That day,we came to know what people really mean when they say that touring is not the best way to see the country. I'd never been to Philadelphia before, and thought it was awesome to be there right before Independence Day. Unfortunately, we only really saw any of it from the car.

Philadelphia, PAPhiladelphia, PA

Ashlie Lauren Smith Angie Atkinson
We had time to hit up Trader Joe's for some healthy road snacks before we headed out to visit Ashlie's grandmother. She fed us fresh sweet corn, then Angie and Ashlie played a few songs for her. She also let us borrow a cooler for our perishables.

Angie Atkinson
Of course we made the rock star do the dirty work, and it was on to Virginia.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Cutest Town

Angelica New York
All Photos by April Brown

Nothing could've prepared me for Angelica, NY.
I'd never been to upstate New York before. In fact, this tour is my first real experience in the Northeast corridor above Manhattan. I've traveled a lot in my life, but most of my travels have taken me to Everywhere In The Middle. Out there, rural towns often look similar regardless of where you are; there's a familiarity to the locally owned groceries, the sights of silos along the highway, and the dusty old gas stations. Whether you're in your own hometown or half a country away, rural towns all have the same sort of energy, and the best part is that it always feels like coming home.

Angelica New YorkAngelica New York
Angelica New York
Angelica New YorkAngelica New YorkAngelica New York

Angelica was sort of like that, but...different. This little place was so perfect: It looked like the set of a movie. Its town hall and its churches were all perched perfectly in a roundabout that encircled a beautiful park with a gazebo. And just off this roundabout was a gorgeous little cafe called Black-Eyed Susan. That's where we played.

Black Eyed Susan Acoustic Cafe Angelica New York
Angie Atkinson Ashlie Lauren Smith Black Eyed Susan Acoustic CafeBlack Eyed Susan Acoustic Cafe Angelica New York

This community is small, but it is so vibrant. The cafe was quiet, and I definitely toned down the usual howling-at-the-moon style of country rock that I do back home. Ashlie and I brought them some piano-and-uke-accompanied, acoustic versions of my tunes. But the support of the audience was amazing; they were an engaged AND an engaging audience. We had conversations, and singing my songs for them felt like just sitting down and quietly telling stories.

Angie Atkinson Ashlie Lauren Smith Black Eyed Susan Acoustic CafeP6301654
Angie Atkinson Black Eyed Susan CafeAngie Atkinson Black Eyed Susan Cafe

Black-eyed Susan is stunningly beautiful, a converted old home in the heart of a row of shops that are so perfect and quaint that they belong in a Norman Rockwell painting. Owners Don and Karen were gracious hosts, helping us all evening long with whatever we needed and feeding our hungry bellies with delicious food made by Karen herself.

Angie Atkinson Jim Schwartz Black Eyed Susan Acoustic Cafe

We also got treated to Jim Schwartz, a local musician who kicks off the music weekends at the cafe. He was so delightful...his whimsical set and charming conversation after were among my favorite parts of this tour so far.

Can't wait to go back the next time we're in the area.

Friday, July 6, 2012

On the Road: Johnny Rockets Lounge

Angie Atkinson Kelly Fragale Six Flags Johnny Rockets Lounge
All photos by April Brown

This whole tour has been a labor of love. Personnel changes, scheduling snafus, logistical nightmares. There was even one venue that went out of business a month before tour. It was almost like the universe was daring me not to do it. But I stood up and said, "You know what, universe? Poopy on you." And I dove head first and hit the road.

Guitarist Kelly Fragale, tour manager April Brown, and yours truly braved the tear-inducing traffic of the George Washington Bridge and made our way up to Queensbury, NY, where we played our first gig, Johnny Rockets Sports Lounge at Six Flags Great Escape Lodge. We were immediately met with obstacles: small crowd, no readily available electrical outlets, a new PA system that we'd just bought and were guinea pigging, and a Yankee game to compete with for audience attention. At first it seemed almost like a cartoon drawing of the Most Awkward Gig Imaginable.

But it was amazing.

Angie Atkinson Six Flags Johnny Rockets LoungeAngie Atkinson Six Flags Johnny Rockets Lounge

The PA sounded great, we got tips, we sold two EPs, three people signed up for the mailing list, and we even got 'em all to turn away from the Yankee game! Plus, after the crowd had cleared out, the bartender, staff, and their friends stuck around and listened to Kelly and me just jam for awhile, taking turns sharing songs and stories. It couldn't have been more fun or memorable.

I also got to sport one of the fabulous pieces made for me to wear on tour by Rachael Oglesby of softspoken. SO gorgeous. Thank you, Rachael!

Oh, and the best part? THE most comfortable beds ever. Thanks, Six Flags and Johnny Rockets, for getting us started off right!