On The Road With… The Sour Notes: New Orleans & Atlanta

4:16 am by

The Sour Notes are now almost a full week into their winter tour, and have made the most out of it. With a day off, the band headed to New Orleans to take part in a bit of debauchery before departing for a show at Atlanta’s Drunken Unicorn. Photographer and videographer Eric Morales, who’s been on the road with the band documenting every step of the way, decided to send in words about their trip to The Big Easy. For the Atlanta stop, drummer Travis Hackett took a second stab at writing, and gives us a good write-up of their time in the city.

New Orleans

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Eric. I’ve been traveling with The Sour Notes from day one of their “It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty” tour. I’m a photographer who is also starting to dabble with video (hence the rough video blog post from KTRU). Anyway, I am documenting the entire tour. I am honored that Jared and the band have invited me to “tag along” on this tour. We have been developing a friendship over the last year or so, and I’m enjoying this time getting to know the band a little better.

Let me preface by stating the fact that I like to write and that it’s nearly 2am. So, I apologize ahead of time for being more than a little verbose and, perhaps, somewhat unintelligable. And, before I continue with what The Sour Notes are up to, let me back up a little bit and explain what this experience is all about.

I am getting a privileged look at what it’s like to be part of a fully independent, self-produced pop/rock band from Austin, TX traveling up and across the East Coast toward New York City and back with 10 stops along the way. I’ve been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sleeping on unfamiliar beds, couches and floors and riding in the very back seat of Jacque (the van) so that I can watch over everyone.

Like several thousand other undiscovered bands, this band is working really hard! And, I’m not just saying that. I know what it’s like to work hard. I’ll be starting my second master’s degree and subsequently a PhD. But, I am guaranteed something at the end that I can leverage for higher wages, job security, benefits and all that jazz. These guys, on the other hand, are pouring their hearts and souls and all their energy into an endeavor that may, perhaps, only sum up to all the great memories of having given it a shot. But that, in itself, is extremely admirable.

The music? It’s good. Really good. The more I listen to The Sour Notes play, the more I seem to figure out what they are really about. The music, at first sounds like straight pop, but once you focus your attention on what’s going on, you discover that there are some complex arrangements going on, the lyrics enigmatic and troubled. Jared writes the kind of songs that make you want to know where they came from. And, hopefully we’ll find all that out laterr… But, for now, let’s find out where The Sour Notes are going.

Priceline.com. That’s all we need to know. The rest is quite simple. We follow the directions offered by the GPS attached to Jacque’s windshield and a few hours later Jared and Amarah check in while the rest of us (Chris, Elaine, Travis and myself) wait in the van. It’s cold. We contemplate back entrances and other possible ways to get everyone’s gear up into room 249 of the Renaissance Hotel in New Orleans.

Like most sneaky endeavors, it was much easier than we thought. Jared and Amarah walked up twice loaded with bags. Elaine and Chris walked up a few minutes later, and Travis and I followed last. Once situated in the hotel room, we have a gourmet dinner of PB&J, mac and cheese, and tuna and crackers. Now it’s time to see New Orleans.

First stop is Harrah’s Casino where Elaine and Chris decide to help line the pockets of casino owners with a few extra bucks. After that, we hit up Bourbon Street. We walk past what seems to be one single, huge mile-long bar separated only by walls. We end up in a bar that is brighter than the 4th of July and the thumping music forces us to yell out drink orders. All in all, the bar serves its purpose. There are only a few barstools to sit on. Otherwise, you just walk in, order your hurricane or daquiris or hand grenades, get a free shot with it, and walk out. It’s like “a McDonald’s, only with alcohol,” says Jared.


Along the streets, some local band is covering “Life in the Fast Lane” by the Eagles as a man holding a no cover sign just outside of the entrance to Big Daddy’s World Famous Live Acts beckons us. If you’re asking yourself, “Wait, is that what I’m thinking?” The answer is: Yes. There are pictures decorating the outside wall of girl on girl action, as well as the traditional man/woman combination and, yes, they are naked and performing “live acts”. It’s really cold outside, and we are New Orleans, so we tell ourselves, “What the hell.” We go in.

 

Ninety seconds have not passed from the moment we walked in the door to the moment we walk out. “Failed,” says Elaine. “The outside had promises of love acts,” says Chris, but alas, no love acts to be seen. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but the waitress told us we all had to order a drink immediately so we decided to take our newfound patronage elsewhere.

Since no one in our group frequents adult entertainment bars, we discovered that none us is a good judge when it comes to choosing which strip bar to enter. There’s plenty more to this experience that won’t be covered here…. but, tune in to the full length documentary on the “It’s Not Gonna Be Pretty” Tour to be released by Spring 2010 to get more inside information about this particular experience.

A few bars and a few shots later we end up in one of the cover band bars listening to some people who look like they are straight out of the 80’s singing a Journey song. For a moment, I believe I’m actually watching Journey as the drummer continuously tosses his drum-stick in the air and spins it without missing a beat. We listen to some Whitesnake and Rolling Stones.


Luckily, we finally find a venue that is home to what may have been our most authentic New Orleans experience. We enjoy a good lager while watching and listening to local jazz performers. Eventually, however, we find that we have more of an appetite for food than adventure and we make our way over for some gyros and hummus at Ali-Baba’s before heading back to the Renaissance.

 

Morning arrives too soon. We make a quick stop at Café Du Monde before departing from the lovely city of New Orleans and are destined for an almost a 9-hour drive to Atlanta, Georgia, where we would meet up with Tealights for another show.

The celebrity name game is being played in the van as Jared spins back to Travis, “Ronald Reagan, bitch!” Usually, the times that I’ve played the celebrity name game, people spout off pop culture icons. But, Jared calls out names like Frank Lloyd Wright, Oscar Wilde, and Sonny Liston and Fred Rogers. Jared is apparently an aficionado of high culture. When I get a chance, I’ll ask him about his love for Igmar Bergman and Jean-Luc Godard films.

In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying our adventure thus far. We are, at 2:27am, staying on a farm with Tealights. And, in a few days, you’ll hear about this adventure from someone else…

-Eric


“Hotlanta”

Having booked a good show for Tealights last November, it was great to have the favor returned last night at the Drunken Unicorn. Though as excited as we were after the strenuous 8hr drive, “cooked” food was a priority . . . one can only handle so much mac and cheese from the can. We split our tribe between the unique pizzeria above the pseudo underground club, and The Local for pulled pork and fried ocra, (which reminded me of how spoiled we are back home). Good show: we made lots of new friends, sold some records, and had whiskey shots at the bar until close. Following the show would be a really unusual argument for arguments sake about a hi-hat stand the club tried to give us, but SOMEONE couldn’t possibly take. The thirty minutes of bickering was taped so look for that sometime soon. Off to the farm!!


Tealights is the luckiest band on the planet to have found this space, end of story. They inhabit a farm in the middle of the city, that from an outside glance says Auschwitz. Most of the buildings on the complex have been destroyed and left to rot over decades. The weirdest place we’ve stayed so far for sure, but secretly the coolest.


That’s Atlanta in a nutshell, we’re actually STILL on IH-85 trying to get out, but it would appear we’ve been swallowed whole. Sorry Carborro, this city has chosen its next meal.

 

PS- Thanks to Brett for the Back to the Future themed album. “What the Flux” is certainly on queue in the van.

-Travis


These are some great reads, y’all! I can’t wait to see what other adventures you get yourselves in during the next week.

 

-Eggs