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Blog:

On the Road with Beer-Bear: vol. 1

On our way to Tahoe after a quick stop at Trader Joe’s in Petaluma. The North Bay sun is burning off the foggy night, coffee press is steaming, whir of the engine beneath me in the back of the bus. Ah, mornings. I wake easily, which allows me to be the one who wakes the rest of the band. My style is gentle, “Morning sleepy heads, half an hour ‘til the bus rolls.” I go room-to-room,  and then out to the bus to give the late sleepers a chance at the bathroom before we leave. My grandma always said, “You can’t hoot with the owls and sing with the morning birds.” This M4 life is just that: stay out and blow clubs up ‘til closing, catch a wink, wake up and hustle to the next town.

Last night was unusually inspiring, we played a benefit gig for Petaluma High School’s music programs. They have school funding of $10,000 but need 35-40k to actually do the job. And what a job they are doing! The PHS Jazz Ensemble opened the show, all 25 or so of them, under their director Cliff Eveland. People danced to their up-tempo numbers, and sang along with their version of “Peg” by Steely Dan. M4 knows exactly how hard it is to get 25 players to sound tight, that’s why we play with 15 these days. I was tempted to recruit the shredding saxaphone and clarinet soloist after the gig. “Hey kid, if you hop on the bus, you could be 21 tomorrow, the ladies will love you, and you’ll be famous…whaddaya say?…” If USC and the Jets can do it, why shouldn’t we? Ha! In any case, there’s not much that makes you feel as good as watching young people make music together, except maybe seeing them get down to the music M4 is laying down! Teens are a notorious hard sell, but we all got down together!

As I’m punching this away on my iPhone, we’ve just launched our M4 Kickstarter campaign to buy a newer bus. I walk to the front of the bus, tapping on shoulders to get around people in the alley, so I can help Nathan get Razzle landed at the Crystal Bay Casino. Turns out our bus is starting to lose compression; we only took the pass into Lake Tahoe at 15mph,10 mph slower than our usual 25. Yikes! This new bus has got to happen now. We were told a year and a half ago that the end was near. She’s made it this far, but this compression thing is more than a warning—she’s starting to fail. The choice is clear: rebuild the engine or buy a new bus…now! We pride ourselves on being on time and never missing shows. Our fear has been a cylinder failing and having to scuttle a whole tour. No, no, no…we will get a new bus and keep on! We are March Fourth after all, and we’ll all get out and push this bus if we have too!So here we are: Tahoe! Ah…the lake.

Tahoe is windy and cold today, but there isn’t a hint of snow anywhere. The snowboarders and skiers on the bus have been looking forward to our day off tomorrow and taking to the slopes at Northstar. Now they are wondering
if it’s worth the trip. Still the Crystal Bay Casino is one of the best venues anywhere, with an amazing sound system and big open dance floor. It’ll certainly be a hoot! Plus they put up the band in hotel rooms here, which means a good night’s sleep and a long well-deserved shower, both of which can be hard to come by on the road. Personally, I’m looking forward to putting on my Bear Hat and heading to the craps table with my friends for “bear craps.” Never liked gambling until I picked up a pair of dice looking like a forest critter. Well worth the $20 bucks I alot myself.

Soon it’ll be time to sound check. I’ve played two games of scrabble, ate a panini burrito (prepared for me by Annie) and forgot to squeeze in a nap while writing this.That’s the way it rolls here. And It just keeps on rolling. Casinos, Kickstarter campaigns, and rocking out with kids young and old. I’m feeling lucky today. Lucky to be me! Lucky to be a part of this amazing experience, MarchFourth!

And, P.S. Dear grandma, I’m sure I’ll stay up way too late, but… I always wake with some happy tune in my head. Wish us luck! (a little for the craps table too, please :-)

Love,

Dan (aka beer bear or bi-polar bear)