Happy Spring Everyone!
Happy to announce some news and a couple gigs this coming weekend. This month we added our debut album "Very Soon the Light" to our store on Bandcamp. The charity we have chosen to share profits with on this one is PAWS (animal rescue and shelter). Both of our albums on the site have a free download of the album's single with a bonus b-side.
Here's a link to the latest addition http://autumnelectric.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-fields-free-single-w-b-side-blue-stars
More West Coast Tour dates for this May are starting to come in! We will be travelling as supporting act for another great artist that I play bass with regularly, the Ethan Freckleton Band. Including a Kickoff show at Seattle FolkLife Festival! (dates and many other summer dates at Bottom). Also we are finishing the final mixing of "Make Me a Tree" today, which means it's getting very close to print!!! Hope to see some of you this weekend, ~Michael
This Saturday... 5pm DragonFest! Mason Fairgrounds 751 West Fairgrounds Road, Shelton, WA (360) 427-5599 $5 for full fair entrance and free for kids
9pm @ Le Voyeur Cafe 404 4th Ave E Olympia, WA 98501 with Plack Smith and Unicorn Secret Plan tba 21+/$5
May 12 Seattle Event May 15th Seattle Comet with Fox and Woman (SF)
May 25th Seattle FolkLife Fest 11am!!!! May 25th Portland - Marino Adriatic Café. (starts tour) May 26th Triangle Inn (Salem) May 28 San Francisco tba May 29th Fresno TBA May 30th Santa Barbara tba June 1st Los Angeles June 2 Sac tba
June 10th Portland Rose Fest
June 14th CD release show tba
July 29th San Francisco Marathon
1) This Monday we finished recording "Make Me a Tree"! after a bit of mixing and mastering, we send it to print! before you know it, we'll be featuring the first single (with a b side!)
2nd: The Journey continues! We are going to be partnering with some local non profits. Because much of the material from Make Me a Tree, was inspired from overcoming a loss in the family (many of you read about it during our Kickstarter, album fundraising Campaign). I got to thinking, about how my own family members, and folks everywhere, what they do to overcome and move on in these situations. There are non profit grief centers with programs you can go do for super cheap or free. I got to take a tour of one here in Seattle, and have a good talk with one of their counselors. In the end, we decided that when we release the new album, we would send half of our profits from it to help fund this center ( actually 2. One in Seattle and one in Wenatchee, WA). Many of you were able to help fund "Make Me a Tree", and as we sell it online and at shows, and make subsequent printings of it, what we have collectively created will help thousands of children and adults get through some of life's hardest times. We'll have more details about this to share in the next months, as well as the big release show, which will be a benefit for the Seattle grief center. (Hopefully we can arrange one in Wenatchee as well).
3rd: We couldn't stop there. I figured we could do a good work when we sell our older albums too. I made a great new online store for us at BandCamp, and all of our previous releases are now dedicated to their own charity. same as above, we are splitting our profit with each of these. The first album up is our more recent "If You're Home" from 2010. I've chosen "Light Under the Bridge" (their desc is below). You can check it out at
the store is very fun and easy, and you get to listen to all the songs and pay what you want (there's a low min, as we need to raise something).
Thanks for all of your support, and looking forward to seeing many of you at Unicorn Meat Parade this Friday in Seattle! ~Michael
It was great meeting so many new folks, as well as some farmiliar faces on this latest tour. This was our first tour, together with another band since our first ever tour in 2008 with Secret Plan. There's a who's who below, but first I'll mention our upcoming show. Our band mate Barton couldn't make it to SD with us this time...but we have some more touring coming up! Space Travel: An Intergalactic Evening @ Unicorn Meat Parade! 6321 Corgiat Drive S. Seattle WA 98108 Fri March 30 8pm $5/21+ *If you come dressed in Spacewear, you can win prizes (I love my friends wacky ideas). http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3232256697496&set=at.2565748155199.129594.1599008060.500294091&type=1#!/events/192470324188641/ In other news, we are wrapping up recording the album, and so pleased with it. Because of the subject matter, overcoming grief/loss, we've decided to partner with and help fund a couple of community healing centers. These places offer a free and amazing environment to work through your stuff. We are super excited to help fund them with every sale of Make Me a Tree. We are even doing a benefit concert for them this summer for our album release party! I'll share more details as they come along. Below is a Basic Calender of upcoming events and fun stuff about folks in the photo above. Thanks for your continued love, support and enjoyment March 30 Seattle (see above) April 21 Olympia WA, Le Voyeur May 15 Seattle , The Comet w/ SF's Fox and Woman! May 25th Seattle FolkLife Fest! May 25th-June 3rd West Coast/Rocky Mts Tour as supporting act for Ethan Freckleton (We will also be serving as his travelling back up band!) have exact dates soon! Mid June Seattle: Benefit Concert release of Make Me a Tree (keep fingers crossed) I've included a group photo of everyone involved. From left you see Tyler Oquist our Travelling Photographer/Videographer. He got some great shots/video that we'll be sharing in the next month. He also took footage for a new AE music video to with the song Black Shroud from the upcoming album. He was a great addition to our group. Next you see Naomi Smith. Pulling double duty as keyboardist/vocals for both AE and her newest group Plack Smith and Unicorn. I'm in a granny hat in the middle, squinting in the San Diego sun. In the cosby sweater is Johnny Unicorn. A busy man, both producing "Make Me a Tree" and being tour bassist for AE, he did a set of his own and Jesse's music everynight in above mentioned PSU. The next fellow in debonaire shades in Jesse Plack. a new dear friend to the fold. Co songwriter of PSU and all around talent. By the end, he had joined us on many sets as aux percussion. This added much to the efforts of our faithful Drummer Daniel Desrosiers. Dan is finishing up a couple of his own albums as well. A photo does say 1,000 words.
And the wild ending was... Joe and I took off toward New York City, and were greeted with some serious empire state traffic. In Manhattan, people aren't really out til like 10, at which point places get louder til they devour your folk singing soul. I understand perhaps why Bob Dylan took on his high nasaly, and piercing voice. And no, the Bowery is not anything like it used to be. Rent is way up, and most artists now live in Brooklyn... why hadn't any little voice told me? Half my set was spent playfully making fun of a group in the back who were uber loud. Turns out they were a group of off duty cops and their wives! um. Between this and the 2nd NYC show , where we collectively played for eachother in this sparkly tomb of a venue, hidden behind a loud DJ party frontbar. The musicians I met were in fact very sincere and hard working as any I have met. I was kinda bummed, but it was good to be there in the city, talk to the folks and hear about what's happening to the city firsthand, the way we had in Detroit. Joe took his drum and was dropped off in Times Square. Honestly I was kinda freaked as he began banging the hell out of his bass drum while yelling redemptive political/social/religious slogans. He had been happy to support my gentle tour thus far, but Joe the Lion was ready to roar as he put it. If there was a list of ingredients in Times Square, the first 3 would be neon, televisions and... cops. As intense as Times Square/NYC is, the cops couldn't handle or stand for Joe's noise. I found him again just in time to avoid some kind of confiscation/arrest. Tour was getting interesting fast. My friend's volatile nature, though well meaning at it's core was starting to get to be too much. Joe loves having his story be told and loves being an example for bad or good, so he wouldn't mind me telling my story. Well NYC was kinda a bust. On the flip side, we has a church holiday in Cinci to look forward to, if we could make the 24hr drive there. Our heater core was leaking. Liquid copper helped for a couple days. Joe was getting more outta hand, endless hours in the van. We couldn't talk much without arguing, bc of his general state. Against the odds perhaps, we did make it to Cinci. Van/health was getting worse, I had to make a decision soon. The right one. I told Joe to take the van, and head for Louisanna, where his family was. His Nephew the mechanic would fix the heater core. Time and rest would help him I supposed. Hard to see one of your best friends go through Paranoia. Part of me wondered if taking him on the quest was selfish, finding out near the end of this, that he couldn't really get the care he needed on the road. But you never know the alternatives, how our fall would have been had we not shared the Traveling Joy School Tour. It would not have nearly the powerful memories without him. In fact my only alternative transpo had broken the week we started (also heater core), and had he not be ready it all could have never happened. Like Michael J Fox seeing his name dissapear on a gravestone in Back to the Future. Doing the last 3 shows by greyhound started to unravel. One lost their liquor lisence. What's more, the fella renting my room back in Seattle was moving out a month early! 3 months of barely seeing Lauren. So I packed it in, I took a flight back to Seattle. Had time to really hang with dear friend Lew and his awesome wife Lena. I did one last show in a livingroom in Cincinatti, all for UCG folks there. Lots of good folks crowded in a little house. I sang my heart out one last show. Afterwards one of the tenants had a Bachelor's party. The whiskey nog went down sweetly. 2 more planes and I was back. There are a lot of friends I've been missing. Well... I guess i'm in Oregon now, but just til Saturday. The Future is endlessly full of surprises.
We knew we had a long drive ahead. Columbus Oh to Ithaca NY... the only time it rained hard was the hour while we passed through Pennsylvania. We took a happy hour break in Jamestown, NY. The closer we get to Boston, the more every bar looks like "Cheers". We slept at a rest stop. When I woke, Joe had done some good panhandling (it was a lot of miles between gigs) and I noticed the white tent standing by the BR last night was open for business now. this was the motherlode of rest stop munchies. basically a food bank... we feasted on coffee, fresh baked goods. when we finished, some guy started grillin up hot dogs! Joe said the volunteer gals wanted me to come sing them a song... so while people shuffled up to the tent to get coffee, we stood there and sang every john Denver song I could remember (at least 3). Everyone was singing, Joe started crying. One gal Rita, gave him a hug. Our religious experiences kept getting more religious. I was starting to feel like some indie rock version of Israelites wandering in the just turning foliage. the amount of sympathy/notariety that our broken in window was getting was starting to feel like some legendary anecdote more than an annoying problem. we'd used about 5 rolls of duct tape at this point to keep it on, more because of rainstorms now than midwest meltdowns. We arrived in Ithaca, about 2pm on the 24th. I'd really been looking forward to seeing this guy Louiston, who wrote a song that he and I agree sounds like CCR! well, he had to miss the show on account of a family emergency ( I know the feeling, see Tour blog part 1). We had some time to kill, so I decided to take yet another page from the John Denver Handbook... 1) roll into town 2) find the radio station 3) knock on the door uninvited, and plea with your most tender and melodious folk singer voice that you need to play on the air 4) plug tonights show it worked, and we were suddenly on air, suddenly famous, getting played along Sufjan Stevens (who?) his new song was really good. The gig itself was pretty chill, turns out all the bands were from outta town. but they had soul, Grain Elevator and The Wild Hunt. 5) sleep in van again I should devote a whole chapter to NYC, bc it's ego will be hurt if I don't. it's where it all went down.
Oct 4th and I'm home. what? change of plans. here's the skinny sept 20 Joe picked me up at the Detroit airport. He'd been doing things like enjoying hay rides in W Michigan for 2 weeks. We spent all day in Detroit before the show at Small's. I really learned a lot from that day. At first glance Detroit is one big ghetto. Every bus stop has a man holding a bagged malt liquor, many neighborhoods we drove through sport several houses abandoned and subsequently burnt out... you've heard countless news stories about it. People don't jaywalk there, it's more like they don't believe in "streets". A group crossed the 50mph urban highway, and one guy stopped for ten seconds just to laugh at the mototrist he was delaying. I spent an hour that evening trying to find a public bathroom. I couldn't buy my way into one! thank goodness for Wendy's burger chain... The show was a breath of fresh air, possibly the best show of the tour. Small's is one of the Hamtrammck Blowout fest sites. Sure people were smoking cigs indoors (where else can you find that these days?), but playing alongside Andy and the Pandys, Sunny Side Up and Our Mighty Heart was like a mini folk festival. SSU is even moving to Portland OR! We spent the evening at Andy Maitland's house (Pandys). It was inspiring talking to him and other determined Detroiters (um). Knocking down suburban skeletons and planting gardens. the return of the grocery store... (why were there so few?) No one is excited about this as much as my traveling companion Joe (Joe Detroit). We even went to Ernie's Market in 8 mile, enjoyed a 5lb sandwich with "extra heavy love". It was hard to leave town, I had a Columbus OH gig. We took off in afternoon for Bellefontaine OH (nearby Columbus). This little town is where my friend Joseph Stormer grew up. Joe introduced me to Ohio in the last few years through his songs and stories. it's so peaceful there. Sitting on the bumper of the van drinking beer in our friend's driveway was enough to get 5 driveby's by the local police force. (contrast with Detroit? ...check). We couldn't sleep much so we wandered the sleepy streets, all shrouded in fog and streetlights. coming up next the wilderness of Upstate NY and NYC.
Finally a day off. I'm in CT today, might even do some laundry. After the Cinci gig labor day weekend, Joe dropped me at Columbus Airport, (yes I'm leaving tour right in the middle to go home), not because I'm tired of it, but bc there's cool stuff to do in Seattle. I play bass in a Children's Rock Band "Brian Vogan and his Good Buddies". Naomi's in it too! So I get home, sunday night, suffer a bit of time change (not to mention the deep inner quandary of "what am I really doing with my life?") . I'm back in my home town in the blink of an eye, almost like tour never really happened... Of course it's happening, bc I don't head home. I'm housesitting for my girlfriend Lauren, who is still in Birmingham AL working for the Symphony there. I spend about 4 days huddled away in her studio apt in 1st hill, near downtown. Do friends know I'm back? The next day the Good Buddies played Bumbershoot Festival! I get to skip the 35 dollar entrance fee. I truly reccomend to anyone to check out Brian's music. it's ok to enjoy it even if you are a grownup. I skip Hall and Oates in the key arena... I even skip Reverend Horton Heat, to see the reunited Grant Lee Buffalo. Soon Lauren arrives on a plane. it was planned, but it's still just a week together. we have enough time to go with the Good Buddies to Laundry Room studios and record Brian's 3rd album. Lauren played all kinds of woodwinds. Brian always has a lot of past bandmates play on the records and it has been cool meeting them all. It was fun recording where rockstars have made records (cross your fingers me). At the end of my Seattle stint, I did another gig with Scott Price. Then the Good buddies played a crazy kids fest in Redmond... with you guessed it Chris Ballew from the Presidents. It's like everyone was so afraid to say hello to him and he's about to get on stage and sing about how to tie your shoes or something. we gave eachother some kind of knowing nod (we both had a hearty breakfast? who knows.) this chapter ends (have to get off the library computer), with me getting on another airplane with a dozen US soldiers and heading to Detroit to meet Joe and continue the Quest... Burnt out villas and unquenchable hope in our next episode. Joy School continues ~Michael
Hi again, lots going on as usual these days. I was about in Chicago when I left off. Rolled in just in time for the gig at Harrigan's. always nice to come back to a place like that. just a hole in the wall near where the Bears were playing. The Skis were fun, opting for a duo set, it was like watching John and Paul (the beatles people!) go back and forth. it was about 95 degrees out at 11pm, and like 50 inside. Suicide Bunnies were great too. They play with a lot of heart and soul, and just have a great combo of male female harmonies. I wish Naomi were there, but sometimes I get the crowd to chime in with me. We stayed that night with Tim from SB, in the countryside next to a horse ranch. Again, amazing kindness. In the morning his wife Sashka (sp?) from Serbia made us traditional coffee. She said after you finish your cup, you flip it over on the saucer and wait a minute. flip it again and you'll see it has dried into a strange shape all over the cup. Serbian girls used to like to tell eachother's fortune in the grounds. Joe Detroit's dad comes from Serbia so they had a great time talking. Quickly we were off to Ft Wayne IN, to visit long time buddy Cheryl Chaprinko (chasprinkles?). that's the best part about tour folks. onward to Cincinnati OH, we met with another good friend Lewis Vanausdle (Sp?) and his clan. Sometimes I think about moving there. Lew would like that. Nick from Grasshopper Juice Records got a show for me there. Seems like the Cincy Scene is in transition or something. but there are a lot of good bands there. Evan Luse and The Desert Gun played great. There were disco lights during my subtle folks set... I really like all the folks there, and would like to get out there more. Gotta get off this library comp! As a last note, Traveling Joy School was something Lew and I came up with on our travels through Mexico and US back in '06. Lew would write things on his hands in marker to remember to do things for himself and others, so we used it as our temporary bandname. It was either that or Psychic Cat. It has been a traveling joy. mostly it's me gettin schooled. I keep getting surprised and blessed and such by people, with advise or just not being a stranger. many stories but I'll take a break for now.
I figured I'd write something a little longer than just a comment and a photo, as there's been a lot of important things happening, in music and in life. it's been an amazing whirlwind of things working/not working out. but I wouldn't change a thing so far. the most important aspect of the tour happened day one... we filled up on gas, heading for yakima wa, when I got the call that my grandma Violet was dying (like in 24 hrs). I was able to meet my family and see her that day. She had many health complications and was peacefully ready to go. an amzing outlook on life and death. Most anyone who has been a fan of Autumn Electric over the last years, are farmiliar with the awesome wool hats that she would crochet and donate to the band. she made so many, she would send them to the homeless too. at first I'd send her $ for yarn, but as time went by people just donated more and more yarn to her. I'd estimate there's over 100 grandma love hats sitting on heads around the states. At the end of tour, my mom has prmised to teach me to crochet so I can keep up the tradition. At her funeral they played our songs "Wild Blackberries", and "Roses in her Face", both inspired or about Violet. Thanks Grandma for everything. So on aug 27th we finally headed east, and missing the first show in Yakima, our next real one was in Aberdeen SD, 1000 miles away...we ate peanut butter, and I somehow made $50 playing REM out on the street in Missoula MT during their River Days fest. before we made it outta MT, there was rain so bad, we thought it might tear the cardboard window off the van. (Did I mention our trusty cardboard window? secured by duct tape?) when the weather hit 100f, it almost melted right off. I guess we survived that and sleeping in the front seat of the van one night. Finally on the 30th, it was like tour had began 1000 miles later. Aberdeen SD reminds me a lot of Ellensburg, WA. landlocked and with no lack of personal charm. Dan at Red Rooster is a wonderful host. Even let us sleep on extra beds in his basement. They host dozens of community inclusive events in Aberdeen every year as well as make films. He and his wife were an inspiration. I almost wanna move there. In some ways a contrast to arrival in Minneapolis, MN. it's like being in Portlandia Oregon. Why did the hipster burn his mouth on the pizza??? cause he ate it "before it was cool"... nice one Savannah Smith. She is a singer I played with at Acadia (having heard about the place from good ol Bearkat). she is on tour to NYC as well and we might just catch a show when we go there. Also a treat were the Stephen Cunsolo Band (everyone has a song about thier sister having babies right?), and the 2 part harmonies of Tyrant Sea Bear. Well, I'm on a tour break back in Seattle for the time being (another story), and will have plenty of time to write about the cool stuff that happened in Chicago the Farmhouse and Cincinatti soon. Glad to be back for now. ~Michael
whoah, I learned how to use Reverbnation and songs from our new album are up. you can probably download them too. time to go to one of a million bandpractices! (it's a good life)