2015 has been a groundbreaking year for us. By the time we ring in 2016 at the Knotty Pine in Victor, Idaho, we will have played 100 shows in 17 states, and traveled upwards of 35,000 miles in pursuit of rock and roll. Let's take a look at how it all went down.
In January, we began recording our third studio album, "The Squeeze," knowing full well that the entire production of the album had to be ready for us to release and take with us on the road in April. Somehow, through a series of small miracles and the tireless efforts of Mr. Jesse "Papa" Barney, we finished recording, editing, mixing, and mastering the album in four short months. It was crazy.
In April, we threw a ridiculous party at Bozeman's newest, nicest venue, and bottled up all the hometown energy we could for a summer that would take us further beyond our confines than this band had ever gone before.
We were lucky to finally be visiting a bunch of places that many of us had never experienced outside of an airport or an interstate. We played shows for folks who had no idea who we were, what we were about, and in a few surprising cases, where exactly Montana was.
We visited family and friends that we hadn’t seen for far too long. Frank got to return home to his native Tallahassee and finally bring this crazy band back to show his family and friends what he had been doing with his time and energy. I was reunited with my Cousin Pippin, Aunt Polly, and Uncle Phil, who Pippin figured I hadn't seen in 17 years!
Along the way, we played in tiny, smoke-filled bars for a dozen people. We played on towering festival stages for hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people. We played everything in between and got to experience the variety of emotions that accompany the experience of live music.
We played Purple Hatter's Ball in Live Oak, FL, where we swam in the amber-dyed Suwannee River by day, and got lost in the maze of trees and tents as the party raged on after dark. We played two thrilling sets for great crowds, met some truly wonderful humans, and experienced all the magic of the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park first hand. It's a beautiful place, and if you have the chance, go there.
We were granted three kick ass sets at Wakarusa and made the most of our opportunity to step up our game and experience a national festival from the other side of the stage. Let me tell you, it was as hot as anything out there in Arkansas in June, but it looked and sounded gooood. Especially considering that we had a die-hard crew of 20+ Montana Family dancing and smiling back at us for each set. You guys are true rock stars, and we can't wait to make our way back to Mulberry Mountain with you someday, if we're so lucky.
We made fans and friends in the most unexpected situations. We worked with some amazing sound, lighting, and production professionals, and shared stages with some incredibly talented bands that are on the top of their respective games.
In between the gigs, we sampled the local fare... at Waffle House, Bojangles, Whataburger, and more.
We ran out of gas once in Tennessee, and blew up a wheel bearing once in Montana, but miraculously, we and never missed a show, and never got robbed blind.
In Asheville, we had what most of us would consider a pinnacle musical experience, opened a festival at one of the best venues in the Southeast, saw Snarky Puppy crush our minds, then shared beers, conversation, and a cheesy 90s gangster pic with them. Pretty sweet.
We drank a lot of great beer and ate at Waffle House again... a few times. Occasionally at 3am. Once after the Tuesday Funk Jam at Asheville Music Hall. Thanks to Derrick Johnson of Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band for inviting us to play a few tunes!
In Florida, Oboz Footwear sent us a care package from their HQ in Bozeman and graced us with some fresh kicks for our tired and trail-worn feet. We played a lot of disc golf, hiked around a bunch of beautiful forests, and experience a lot of neat nature in those puppies. Highly recommended.
We toured the Big House / Allman Brothers’ museum in Macon, Georgia, surveying the perfectly preserved history of some of our greatest musical heroes. At the end, we couldn't help but take our own version of the famous album cover.
We got pulled over at an Agricultural check station in Florida, but Frank got us through by singing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” to the nice inspector lady. If only we had a recording of that moment...
We got a taste of Frank's childhood retreat at St. Theresa, where we ate Gator tail, Grouper, fresh Gulf shrimp, and more delicious sea food caught a mile down the way. We felt the salty sea air blow in off the ocean as we enjoyed some of our stash of ice-cold Montana spirits we had tucked away for special occasions. Thanks to Phil at Wildrye Distilling for providing us a delicious taste of Montana all the way on the other side of the country!
We crashed on the floors of so many generous people across the country and slept in the van more times that we or our aching bodies care to remember. We got funky, got weird, and then got up early to hit the road bound for our next adventure in rock and roll.
We didn’t always have time to sleep, and Frank diligently drove us through the night enough times to make all of our mothers insane with worry (Shh... don't tell!). Along the way, we experienced the beauty, depth, and complexity of the 17 different states we visited. Everything from breathtaking landscapes to subtle messages and uncelebrated works of art tucked unceremoniously into alleyways and bathroom stalls.
We played, we laughed, we fought, we made up, and we learned about ourselves, each other, and our hopes and dreams for the future. At the end of the summer, we made one of the hardest decisions we’ve ever faced, and parted ways with Weston, one of our dearest friends and a founding member of this insane circus called Cure for the Common. He's a fearless leader and a damn fine guitar player, and you should check him out online, on Facebook, and in person if you ever get the chance.
This Fall, we took some time away to reflect on the wake of such a fundamental shift in our life as a band. Of course, we knew we had no choice but to dive headlong into writing new music and redefining our purpose and direction before we hit the road again. We took some new material on our longest tour of the West Coast and felt both the joy and pain that change can bring. We made our way down from Seattle to San Francisco and experienced an entirely different side of the culture of this country than the previous months had afforded.
We pulled into home just in time to prep for a two-night run of Halloween shows with our boys, The Kitchen Dwellers. We worked up some super jam tunes and had a blast rocking out with our friends. That's really what music is all about.
As we take some more time off to celebrate the holidays and reflect, it's safe for us to say that these last 12 months have been a whirlwind, an adventure, a struggle, a vacation, a learning experience, a challenge, a joy, and an honor, all wrapped into one blistering year of music and travel. It goes without saying that we consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have been blessed with the times we’ve had, and the times we have yet to come!
We could not write a post like this without thanking you for being there for us, for listening to our music, dancing at a show, buying a tee shirt, growing with us as our sound and abilities evolve, and for offering your good vibes, your couch, your food, your smiles and your love. You mean the world to us, and we legitimately could not do it without your support. We can't thank you enough, and will always save you a place to stay and a cold beer to drink if you ever find yourself in up here in the Northern Rockies.
We hope the holiday season finds you living well, traveling safely, and spending quality time with the people you love. We'll see you out on the road soon in 2016!
Joe, Garrett, Steve, Matt, Jodan & Frank