On The Road With… The Sour Notes: Carrboro & Baltimore

4:24 am by

As we continue our On The Road series with Austin band, The Sour Notes, we check back in with documentarian Eric Morales. Eric brings us a nice recap of their time spent both on and off the road from Carrboro, NC all the way through their night off in Baltimore, MD. He’s quite the writer, and I’m happy to have his words, photos and video here on BOT – check out his On The Road tour diary after the jump.

CARRBORO

We veer off the highway, and from civilization, as we make our final stretch to Carrboro. The road is pitch black and everyone in the car is silent. It’s a little creepy and we have a conversation about being murdered by witches. There is a short debate about the title of the male counterpart to witches. Warlock. We chuckle through the eeriness.

Fever Ray happens to be playing through Jacque’s speakers. “This music isn’t helping either,” says Travis. Then, all of a sudden, we are in Carrboro. For some reason, the name “Food Lion” (a local grocery) is funny to us.

Jared took a chance booking a show at The Reservoir in Carrboro. He mentioned that he saw a few other bands he knew stop through, so it was worth a shot. We see the sign, but miss the front door. From the outside, The Reservoir looks like an abandoned warehouse. There is one red sign above the door: Bar.

It’s 22 degrees and we are just in time to see first band, Jews and Catholics, breaking down their set and loading up their gear. The Sour Notes feel really bad for having missed the band that invited them to play on the same bill.

The Reservoir, from the inside, is actually pretty nice, aside from the metal music blaring throughout the club. It’s got a loft style upstairs and is otherwise a pretty intimate space. The only problem is that there aren’t very many people there to be intimate with. I guess that is to be expected on a Tuesday night in below freezing weather in Carrboro, North Carolina.

The band that plays before The Sour Notes is loud, redundant, annoying. Or, maybe I’m just really exhausted. I go upstairs to start editing images, dump video, and write. A couple of locals are enjoying a few too many beers and playing a game of pool. They are genuinely interested in the band from Austin and one guy uses my laptop to log on to his MySpace music page (because, he too, is a musician) so that he can “friend” The Sour Notes.

He then asks if I don’t mind watching their beers and making sure no one interferes with their ongoing game of pool while they step outside for a smoke. The smoking ban in Carrboro took effect on Jan 1st of this year. “That fuckin’ sucks, right?” says the local. I’m too tired to share his enthusiasm. “Some of us like it,” I reply. He shrugs and laughs and walks away.

In the meantime, The Sour Notes take advantage of the free Schlitz that sits in an ice-chest by the loading door that is labeled “Band Beer”. Jared later expresses his regret for this action. Travis, on the other hand, played it safe with a local IPA.

By the time The Sour Notes are set up, there are about six people at the bar, sitting, drinking, playing cards, and a handful of others who might have actually showed up to hear an Austin band play.

The Sour Notes open up with “It’s the Hair That Makes the Dress Chic”. I watch the sparse crowd and notice people nodding and bobbing their heads to the beat. There are a couple of guys sitting up close, one records some video with his iPhone. A local photographer, Debbie Johnson, is getting up close and personal with The Sour Notes.

The locals that were standing up front stick around after the show for nearly an hour just to tell The Sour Notes, over and again, how much they enjoyed the show. Up to this point, The Sour Notes have sold the most merch in Carrboro.

 

 

THE ROAD TO BALTIMORE

For some reason, everyone has to pee a lot more than usual on this specific drive from Carrboro to Baltimore. We’ve already made about three stops. The first stop happened within 45 minutes after we got started on the road.

The drive to Baltimore was otherwise not very interesting, but, before I tell this particular story, let me remind everyone that we are riding in Jacque. Jacque is a blue and grey Dodge conceived and manufactured in the late 1980’s. Jacque gets his name from the television series “Twin Peaks”. Anyone who watched the series may be familiar with Jacque Renault, the drug smuggler from Canada.

Back to our story about peeing, Jared takes Jacque off the highway for the fourth or fifth time to find a gas station. The exit ramp curves sharply and the trees off the highway part and reveal road signs that state: Quantico. United States Marine Corps University. There is a checkpoint and I’m sitting in the very back seat of Jacque, the same van that Jared invited me into to smoke some pot just before breakfast (an invitation I politely delined). The scene is almost straight out of a Cheech and Chong movie. We all begin imagining the epic scenes that might take place should the marine decide to employ the rather large machine gun that is slung over her shoulder.

We pull up and Jared rolls down the window. Before the Marine has a chance to speak, Jared, blurts out his timid and spacey voice, “We made a wrong turn. We’re just looking for a gas station.” Of course, like any comedy, the marine is polite, peers into the van with the trained eyes of assessment and tells us to make an immediate u-turn after the checkpoint.

 


Jared Boulanger & Jana Hunter

 

BALTIMORE

We get to Baltimore pretty early. There’s no show tonight, so we can take it easy. Jared’s has a friend who lives in Baltimore so she sends us to the Zodiac, where we listen to a lecture on Wagner. It’s a good time. Certainly unexpected. Dan Deacon is sitting down close to the stage. He is, apparently, a fixture in these parts.

Eight operas later we venture over to Charles (next door) to have a drink and some hot food. Most of us eat too much and the drinks keep coming. Too many drinks.

Jared passes the keys over to Chris. It’s his first time driving Jacque. Jared’s friend, Jana, who is now with us navigates from the front passenger seat and we end up at Mt. Royal Tavern. The navigator is actually Jana Hunter, another musician of note. She will be in NYC the same night that The Sour Notes play at Cake Shop, except Jana will be opening for a sold out Beach House show. Apparently, Passion Pit will also be playing in NYC, which means there will be a lot of competition.

We settle in at Mt. Royal Tavern where two drinks barely total up to five bucks. Low priced booze makes everyone happy. Jared and Jana catch up on the music scene, old times. They talk about touring and producing records, etc. An hour or so passes by and it’s time to go find a hotel.

Chris takes the helm, and Jana is delivered to a gas station from where she will walk the rest of the way home. As we are backing out of the gas station, Chris has to pull some tough maneuvering as we barely miss a delivery truck and a couple of guys who are unloading at 1am. One of the guys starts yelling at us, and we just assume that’s he’s cursing at us for coming so close to his truck.

He follows us out into the street yelling and pointing. “You got a flat tire!” he yells. (VIDEO on this COMING SOON)

 

PETE’S GRILLE

Jana also recommended Pete’s Grille. They typically close at 1pm… It was about 12:30 when we got there. The elderly woman with a scarf wrapped around her head was there to pick up her daily to go order. The waitress smiles at me and tells me that she comes in every day.

Pete’s Grille is what you would expect from a diner. You can smell the grease from about a block away. No table seating, just a long row of barstools and regulars. There are no touch screen computers, just pen and pad. Our server has a weathered look, a permanent frown and a little heavy on the eye shadow. It’s surreal in the sense that it’s always a surprise when a situation meets your stereotypical expectations. It almost feels too authentic.

The Sour Notes are all seated to my right, and to my left there is another older couple. The old black man says “Happy New Year” to one of the waitresses and they mention casually that they haven’t really been in since then. I begin a conversation with them, and it comes out that they live just down the block. They recommend the pancakes.

“Our daughter won the pancake eating contest here a while back. She made five-hundred bucks.” They talk about how Michael Phelps likes to do his carb loading here, and they point out his picture framed on the back wall.

The food is delicious and the servings are more than generous. Our waitresses have warmed up to us and by the time we are leaving, they are telling us to drive safe and wishing us luck on the rest of the tour. The old couple and I exchange some information and we part ways with smiling faces.


I hope your next stop in New York was great – I can’t wait to hear about it!

-Eggs