The Coffee Report – Jan 20-28, 2017
When you have to get up at 3:45am to catch the airporter, it is advisable not to drink coffee so as to more effectively pass out on the bus.
This I did, good reader. And pass out on the bus I also did.
Having to be awake and functional from 6-8am the morning of our flight out was difficult: trying to focus on not losing my ID, getting my bass checked to Miami, finding gates – all of these things were made difficult by my lack of caffeine and consequent wooziness and disinterest in life and everything in the waking world.
It was, however, important to NOT drink coffee, so as to more effectively pass out on the plane.
And pass out on the plane I also did. Thank God.
The first coffee of the tour was half spilled all over my carry-on bag from my thermos. I can’t seem to find a way to not spill water bottles on planes. Tips are welcome. It was not warm, and it was not terribly delicious, but it was espresso with a little bit of (at one time) hot water and cream, and I felt clever for having thought so far ahead… less clever because my bag was rather soaked in espresso… but still. Pretty clever, right?
Here was the fear. The fear was that Jam Cruise would be rife with coffee but – terrifyingly – absent of espresso. I had hope, however, that the decadence, gluttony and sheer debauchery that seems inherent in a cruise ship would somehow – please – include an espresso bar.
Folks, it did.
One floor below my cabin, a pleasant mid-ship stroll away, there was espresso.
And it was good.
The first day the coffee schedule was a normal, diurnal human’s coffee schedule. I went to bed… late. As Jam Cruise continued, the coffee scheduled shifted as did the normal hours of activity. Jam Cruise – whether you do copious amounts of drugs or not – will transform you into a nocturnal dance-fiend. It is foolish to resist, so I didn’t. I hauled my bass around, jammed when I could, slept when I could, and ended up on a solid two wake-up/shower/coffees-per-day routine – one around noon, one around 8pm.
Getting off the boat was both liberating and an exhausting reality-crash.
We had a day and a half to drive from Miami to Charlotte, NC. We were back on the mainland, and back in the fickle world of yelp/internet-search coffee stops. Happily, my espresso dependence is recognized by the band (mainly because they don’t like to be on tour with the version of me that hasn’t had espresso), and so these road-side stops are not only tolerated, but encouraged.
Whole Foods is a regular stop: everyone can get a breakfast/lunch/dinner of their preference, there’s coffee and espresso, and – even though we spend exorbitant amounts of money for our granola-crunchy-kale&beet-leafy-help-me-digest-food-please food choices – we all leave happy (ish).
But, Whole Foods espresso is not something to write home about. Nor is Jam Cruise espresso. They are stop-gap measures to prevent the cranky-crankerton beast that is Gio-Without-Espresso from rearing his ugly, cantankerous head.
The first local espresso we had was in Savannah, after an amazingly hospitable stay at Casa Di Quattlebaum – the childhood home of our good buddy Austin Quattlebaum from Crow & The Canyon.
The espresso of the day was from Coffee Fox. The place was like many of your modern-day, hip local coffee roaster joints of which I am a strong proponent. However, it had fallen victim to a current localcoffeesmallroaster trend of which I am a huge opponent: the light roast. Folks these days like to roast the coffee just enough to brown it. It stays very flavorful on the high end, has lots of acidic bite… I guess some folks are into that. But not this bass player. I need something deep, full, dark, and roasty in order to fully satisfy those crucial, euphoric parts of my bassy-espresso-loving soul.
The espresso of Coffee Fox was too light, folks. The people working there were awesome and kind and wonderful, but the espresso was too. damn. light.
Happily, even when the espresso is too. damn. light. It still calms the savage beast. The drive to Charlotte could continue.
When we got to the venue I headed over for the traditional afternoon cup of espresso at Earl’s Grocery in Charlotte, right next to the Visulite theater. Excellent, beautiful, dark, full-bodied, roasted, full-flavored espresso. It was excellent.
So excellent that we went back the next morning.
I was a happy boy twice over.
(I am glossing over the part in the tour where we have – at this point – met up with The Infamous Stringdusters to open 3 dates for them. They are awesome guys, fantastic players, and their shows are incredible. But this is not the “Awesome Bands Report. This is the Coffee Report. So let me get back to it.)
The next day’s drive would be an epic 7 hour journey to Washington DC to the 9:30 club. Whenever we approach DC, I listen to Fugazi, one my favorite bands of all time ever. Their bassist, Joe Lally is one of my all time favorites – I grew up learning his lines and loving his playing. Remember this, as it will be important in about 2 paragraphs.
The theater was amazing… and so was the coffee a mere block and a half away at Compass Coffee. They got it right. Best espresso of the trip thus far. I attribute it to the magic of Fugazi, still at work on the streets of DC all these years later.
I asked the people at the theater about Fugazi. Gus, the front of house engineer (that’s the guy that makes sure the sound coming to the audience is groovy and perfect, for those of you wondering. If you want to have good show manners, next time a show sounds great, let your local front of house guy know. They work their asses off.) said that Joe Lally (remember? My favorite bassist from Fugazi? I told you to remember.) still came around every once in a while. I asked Gus if I could leave a love note for Joe, and Gus said he would deliver it for me. So I got to write a teeny-bopper style thank you note to one of my earliest influences, bass teachers, and inspirations. It was awesome.
Today we woke up and headed to breakfast and coffee at Busboys and Poets* in DC. The espresso (cappuccino this morning, actually) was good. Spectacular? Not really. But good. So now I’m well-caffeinated, needing to pee, sitting in the van as we drive to Philly.
We’ll be staying with uncle Pierre in Philly.
Best perk of staying with Uncle Pierre? He has an espresso machine built into his fridge.
*Bonus about Busboys and Poets – it doubles as a bookstore, and I had read all the books I’d brought for this tour. But – again – this is The Coffee Report. The Band Book Report will have to wait.