Tag Archives: North Carolina

East Coast Summer Phish Tour 2018

My first year living on the west coast and I was excited when Phish announced their summer tour. They have not been touring nearly as long as past tours but they are hitting bigger cities for longer stints which is nice. Over the last few years it has not been so much about the quantity of shows as the quality of shows. When they said three shows at The Gorge I was so excited. Unfortunately this conflicted with a company event and there was just no way I could swing seeing even one show at The Gorge.

Not being deterred I decided to hit three shows on the east coast. If I could not see them in my adopted home I would see them in my real home. This actually worked out for the best. While disappointed to not see them at The Gorge I was excited to see my family. I would see Phish for three straight nights to close the summer tour out. One more time at Walnut Creek and then two nights at Merriweather. The final show of the tour would be Sunday and never miss a Sunday show. It was also just after the 20th anniversary of me seeing Phish live. In fact my first show was their first time at Merriweather so this was a home coming for many reasons.

As the trip grew closer I gotta be honest, I checked out at work. I was so excited for what was about to come. SiriusXM just switched their Jam_On channel to Phish Radio which was awesome. I was going to see my family, and Phish, oh man so excited.

The entire trip didn’t disappoint at all. In fact it went well above my expectations. If there was anything to complain about it was the lack of any real down time. As soon as I landed till the time I took off the tarmac on a delayed flight, I was non-stop go go go. It was exhausting but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It does remind me that I am getting older however.

First thing after landing was picking up the rental car. I needed to make it to Craft House in Fairfax Corner for a drink with my old boss. That guy is great, taught me a lot and it was great catching up with him. He just had his third kid so I was happy he got a kitchen pass for the night to have a couple of drinks. That night I went to my brother’s house. That turned into a disaster, he’s an asshole.

Cigars and beer with friends.

Not letting it ruin my trip the next morning I was up pretty early for being on vacation. It was a five hour drive to Raleigh and I wanted to stop by Old Virginia Tobacco in Woodbridge to hangout and have a cigar. I was not sure who I would run into but I ended up seeing a shit ton of people.

The coolest thing was catching up with CJ. Last I heard he was getting out of OVTC and moving onto a better job. Well come to find out that fell through so he is now running the Woodbridge shop while he looks for a better paying job. Working at OVTC has its benefits but money is not one of them. I ran into a lot of customers including Ed, Sal, John, Baker, Clive, and Ben. Probably forgetting one or two people. For a Friday morning I was happy to run into so many familiar faces as I did.

The drive south to Raleigh was shit. I haven’t been on the east coast in a year and even longer since I have driven 95 during the summer months. I didn’t leave Woodbridge till after noon and it took me about 6 hours to make it down to Raleigh. Unfortunately this put a damper on doing any actives in Raleigh before the show. I had just enough time to check into the hotel and then I was off to the venue.

Despite being a Friday it was not sold out. I arrived about thirty minutes before the show and the lawn was not packed at all. What I couldn’t wait for was the sun to set. It is the south in August so needless to say it was hot and muggy that night. Finally when the sun went down things cooled off a little.

First show of summer tour for me and I was rather disappointed in the performance. All during the first set Trey kept screwing up his guitar work and the lyrics. To me it was so obvious. They would have this groove going and all of a sudden Trey would miss a note and it was like dragging fingers across the chalk board to me.

Thankfully the second set pulled it out and helped save the night. Still not a stellar performance from the band but it brought it up to an average rating. The Runaway > Antelope > Runaway > Antelope > Makisupa is what saved the night in my opinion. That little medley was awesome. By the second set I had moved further back and to the left so I wasn’t so crowded. Plus I was further away from all the smokers who where ridiculous.

Having missed dinner and not getting anything at the venue I was hungry for some food. Thankfully Raleigh is a larger city so it was easy to find something that was open late on a Friday night. Virgil’s Original Taqueria which was pretty good. I got three tacos and some chips which all was good but my eyes where bigger then my stomach. A great way to cap off the night.

The next morning I couldn’t sleep in as I needed to head north to Columbia for the show Saturday night. I made a long stop in Fredericksburg to see my mother and her husband at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. It was a already a long day of driving but thankfully only a little traffic. My mother actually had to kick me out so I wouldn’t be late for the show that night. It was so great catching up for them even if it was only for a few hours.

Similar to Raleigh I was able to check into the hotel, catch a quick nap and then head to the venue. It has been several years since I was last at Merriweather and it has changed a lot since that time. The area around the venue is now well developed with lots of new apartment buildings and retail locations. This changed the parking situation which is now a little confusing if you are not prepared. You can get tickets for parking ahead in numbered lots or just show up and they will guide you to the right lots in the back.

First night I had a lawn seat and tried to get there at a reasonable time. Parking ended up taking longer then I wanted so by the time I got onsite the lawn was already packed. Tonights show was sold out for months so it was going to be a packed house. I noticed that they redesigned the wings on either side of the stage to adjust the seating and have a new roof covering the area instead of those stupid canvas tents. They have also redesigned some of the concessions and looks like they will start doing a true VIP area soon.

Ended up being a good night to be outside seeing a show. Temps and humidity not as bad as Raleigh.

First set really started off strong with Blaze On > Party Time. After that it just turned for a much slower pace of show. Blah…get over it. Set ended on a good high of Stash and 46 Days. Second set was constant flip flopping of old school, new school, repeat till the encore. Sand and Ghost had good jams and they rocked Fuego.

The encore was four songs. I over heard someone say this was the first time this tour that happened. Set two was barely over an hour long. They seemed to struggle to play during the second set. To me the crowd just wasn’t into the show. It started with such promise but failed to live up to the hype in a way. A failure of its own success you could say. So even a four set encore wasn’t anything to write home about.

Sunday was the first day I didn’t have to get up and travel some place. It was one day but a well deserved break. I got a casual start before meeting Nancy early for drinks. We were going to get together with others for brunch at Earls Kitchen + Bar. I got a simple eggs Benedict and it was pretty amazing. The Hollanda sauce had the right amount of tang and creamy richness.

After that most of us headed to Bungalow Lakehouse for cigars in the gazebo. Here I meet up with Jaye and Ed. The weather was finally starting to break. The humidity level was dropping along with the temperatures. This just meant that a weather front was moving in and it would rain. I smoked two cigars before I had to leave for Merriweather. Just before I left it started to rain and that meant the highways would be filled with idiots that don’t know how to drive.

After saying my goodbyes and filling up the tank it didn’t take long to make it to the venue. The whole way up it rained but I still made pretty good time. I was able to stop and get a sandwich before the show in fact. I had a pavilion seat so didn’t care if it rained or not.

I got to the venue with plenty of time before the show. As I showed my ticket and walked toward my seat I was shocked at just how closed it was. My seat ended up being the first row of seats, right behind the pit and eye level with the stage. This is the best seat I have ever had seeing Phish or probably any major band ever. One or twice I might have been closer from behind the stage but never this close from the front.

The entire second night kicked ass. Having such a good seat certainly made it a little more enjoyable but the setlist and the energy were all from the band. The rain stopped a little after 7pm and never returned. It cooled everything off quite a lot which was a welcome comfort.

The show got off to a rocking start and the jams throughout the songs kicked ass. Upbeat toons like Llama and BBFCFM are a good way to start things. Lots of these slow laid back kinda jams thrown in all throughout the show. I just couldn’t believe how good the first set was. The end was of the set was just flowed from song to song with a good selection of Tweezer > Bathtub > The Curtain With > Chalk Dust.

I was hoping for as close to the original 8/8/1998 show as possible so during the second set I got a Piper and then a really really good 2001 > Harry Hood to close the set, close the show, close the tour. What a groovy second set they played I was completely blown away by it.

National Gallery of Art

Encore was a mix of typical encore slow jams. Not bad but not really great either. The second Tweezer Reprise certainly was a change of pace and not expected. They opened set two with the reprise so this came completely out of left field.

Just a great show and the perfect way to end the day. It was a short ride back to the hotel and a well deserved nights sleep. The next morning I planed on getting up and out at a reasonable hour. I had a late flight so took the opportunity to visit the National Gallery of Art in the morning. Here I browsed and took some time to do a little writing. Eventually I meet Nancy for lunch at Plan B Burger Bar. I was still on vacation so we started the afternoon off with a couple of beers. After lunch we headed to Ocelot for some more beer before she dropped me off at the airport.

I think going west is easier because you gain all your time back. It does make for a long day but I think its easier getting home and adjusting to the difference. The weather at IAD ended up not playing well and delayed my flight by over an hour. Whats worst was the hour or so lost on the tarmac just sitting there.  This just made for a long day of travel getting home. The seats are not the most comfortable so my ass was already hurting before I even left the ground

This is a copy of the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment is a bronze relief sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens at 24 Beacon Street, Boston, MA.

Once I got home I took the Max home. It felt so good to get home that night. I dropped my bags on the floor and crawled right into bed. This trip was a lot of fun. Not a lot of time to stop and smell the roses but I was able to accomplish a lot of what I wanted. I saw three shows of Phish with the Sunday show completely blowing my mind. I also managed to see a lot of friends and family so it was awesome catching up with them. This was a trip when I really did need a day to recover from my trip. Next year I hope that I can make The Gorge shows. But if they play Merriweather again it is worth it going home to catch them at my home venue. Always a blast.

Friday, August 10th 2018
Walnut Creek – Raleigh, NC

Set 1 starts at 7:33pm
1. Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
2. Funky Bitch
3. Ocelot >
4. The Wedge
5. Wombat
6. Guelah Papyrus
7. Birds of a Feather >
8. Saw It Again >
9. Timber (Jerry The Mule) >
10. Limb By Limb >
11. Farmhouse >
12. More
set over at 8:49pm

Set 2 starts at 9:35pm
1. Meatstick* >
2. Drowned >
3. NICU >
4. Thread >
5. Runaway Jim >
6. Run Like an Antelope >
7. Runaway Jim >
8. Run Like an Antelope >
9. Makisupa Policeman >
10. Run Like an Antelope >
11. You Enjoy Myself
set over at 10:38pm

Encore starts at 10:40pm
12. A Day in the Life
house lights at 10:46pm

* Trey did a dance associated with In My Feelings.
Page teased the theme from Barney Miller after Wombat. Trey quoted Clowny Clown Clown in Saw It Again. Saw It Again was teased and quoted in Timber. Trey quoted In My Feelings and did a dance associated with the song during Meatstick. The first Runaway Jim and the second Run Like an Antelope contained Thread quotes.

Saturday, August 11th 2018
Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD

The new wings are pretty impressive.

Set 1 starts at 7:38pm
1. Blaze On >
2. Party Time
3. Breath and Burning
4. Sugar Shack
5. Home
6. Joy
7. Stash
8. 46 Days
set over at 8:46pm

Set 2 starts at 9:19pm
1. Sand >
2. Mercury >
3. Ghost >
4. Fuego >
5. Slave to the Traffic Light
set over at 10:23pm

Encore starts at 10:26pm
6. Twenty Years Later >
7. Martian Monster >
8. Rocky Top >
9. Golgi Apparatus
house lights at 10:46pm

Trey teased Wingsuit in 46 Days.

Sunday, August 12th 2018
Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD

I lucked out and got a really good seat for the second night.

Set 1 starts at 7:36pm
1. Llama
2. Big Black Furry Creature from Mars
3. Meat
4. Alaska
5. Tweezer >
6. Bathtub Gin >
7. The Curtain With >
8. Chalk Dust Torture
set over at 8:50pm

Set 2 starts at 9:24pm
1. Tweezer Reprise >
2. No Men In No Man’s Land >
3. Twist >
4. Prince Caspian >
5. Piper >
6. Backwards Down the Number Line >
7. Also Sprach Zarathustra >
8. Harry Hood
set over at 10:37pm

Encore starts at 10:39pm
9. Heavy Things
10. Bug >
11. Tweezer Reprise
12. house lights at 10:54pm

Trey teased Streets of Cairo during Meat. Trey teased L.A. Woman during Tweezer. Trey teased San-Ho-Zay in No Men in No Man’s Land. Page teased In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida in Twist. Piper contained a Tweezer Reprise jam and quotes. Also Sprach Zarathustra included Martian Monster teases.

The New Mastersounds December 17th 2016 Orange Peel

downtown Asheville copyright The AtlanticBack in November I planned on seeing WSP in Asheville but that fell through.  As I was looking for my next travel adventure I saw the The New Mastersounds were playing the Orange Peel as their tour closer in Asheville and I was in.  As I started doing my research on the town I was getting more excited.

For years I have been a fan of The New Mastersounds and their particular brand of funk.  Many years ago I saw them at the 8×10 and later that same year at the State Theatre.  At both shows I was blown away by the rhythm and soul of the band.  As soon as they started playing I just couldn’t help but get up and dance, it was infections.  The show at the Orange Peel was similar but also a lot different.  It had been almost 8 years since I last saw them and the band has definitely evolved.  I have kept up with their new albums over the years and for the most part they are all darn good.

The back entrance to Bhramari. Nice place with some good beer. Food looked good but I didn’t eat here.

Tonight’s show was a co-headline with Turkuaz who opened the show that night.  I have heard a few of their songs on Jam On and they played this years Lockn’ Festival which I caught most of and it was pretty good.  Not exactly my thing but the crowd was eating it up.  Throughout The New Mastersounds set various members of Turkuaz sat in to lend a hand.  They had vocalists and in particular they had members from the horn section laying down the beats.  What truly blew me away was that Alan Evans from Soulive was the drummer all night.  Not exactly sure what happened to the original drummer or if Alan was covering all tour but it was awesome to see him again.

This was not just a trip to see The New Mastersounds but also to see what Asheville had to offer.  I have heard this town is great for hippies and is very open and welcoming.  North Carolina I don’t really think of as progressive but Asheville is certainly leaps and bounds ahead of the most of the state.  The whole time I was there I felt very at home and at ease.  This is certainly a town where I fit in.  One thing in particular that struck me was the number of breweries.  I swear there must be a law but there seemed to be a brewery on every block, sometimes two.  There are so many some are tucked down dead end allies.

It was an interesting show that night. This was during the encore the band snapped a photo with the crowd in the background.

I had already scoped out a few places to drink before coming down.  When I checked in at the hotel they wanted to hand me a guide but I told her I was all prepared.  I even talked beer with a very sweet old lady at a craft shop who was selling me on going to the Asheville Brewing Company for beer and pizza.  Doing my research I certainly wanted to hit up the Funkatorium which specializes in sour/wild ales.  I have been a fan of this style for many years so when I found they had 20+ beers on tap of nothing but sour I was excited.  The brewery is run by Wicked Weed Brewing which coincidentally has their main brewery right next to the Orange Peel which was awesome in it own right.

After arriving to Asheville I walked around the city for a while and stopped by Bhramari Brewing Company as my first brewery.  Like many of the breweries they have a great outdoor patio with ample seating on the inside.  Here I sat down for a glass of Street Busker and Molly’s Lips.  Both of which I thought were excellent.  I kinda screwed myself by going directly to the bar to get my first drink so the servers avoided me like the plaque.  So I skipped this place to order food and headed to find something to eat.

I stumbled across The Blackbird and their burger which was amazing.  After reading the description I was excited to try it but all I could find on their menu was wine and this was a beer trip.  I should have looked at the bar first but when I finally did I noticed the beer taps.  The food was great, service excellent and the atmosphere was swanky which was a change of pace for me.  After finishing my meal it was off to Wicked Weed for a quick beer before the show.  I was surprised at how busy the place was.  There were several bouncers outside and when I first passed by they had a line waiting to get into the place.  You would think it was a night club but they just serve beer.  The top level was busy as shit so I went down to the tap room and got my beer there, hanging outside while I people watched and enjoyed my Pillow Talker.  She was so good to me that night.

Ah! One of the samples after our tour. Very informative and great beer.

The next morning I did my normal thing of finding a local coffee shop and sitting down to write some letters to friends and family about my adventure.  High Five a few blocks from the hotel was the perfect spot to collect my thoughts and kill some time before the Funkatorium opened a noon.  I got the Cubano which all I really got from the barista was it had a crap ton of espresso.  Still with some time to kill I walked around downtown in the light rain visiting several art shops and a chocolatier I found.

Finally noon came and the Funkatorium was open.  They use a special yeast to give the beer a sour flavor and it requires some aging in wooden barrels to get the flavors right.  Generally 12 to 18 months of aging and as a bonus when bottle you can age them for several more years.  Because of aging there is a significant investment in time and money when making sour beers.  I believe this is one reason it hasn’t yet taken off in the country but the Funkatorium had some foresight and started their operations years ago to get ahead of the craze.

A better picture of their barrel room. Just an amazing amount of beer here.

For me this place was a mecca.  I booked a brewery tour for 1pm but arrived early to get one drink in before we got down to serious business.  I have been on brewery tours before but this was the first one dedicated to the wild ale craft.  I was simply blown away by our guide Jessie and his knowledge of the process.  Wild ales are also know as lambics but just like champagne, they can only come from a certain area in Belgium to be called lambic.  Produced in any other area they are simple sour or wild ales.  When you walk into the back of the warehouse you will be shocked at the number of barrels they have aging beer.  The warehouse is stacked floor to ceiling with barrels of all types.  They have grown so much they are working on building a dedicated brewing facility for distribution but the Funkatorium will remain open for small batch and experimental beers.

With the finally brewery under my belt it was time to head home.  The weather was still crappy but thankfully only rained a little on my way out of town, no ice this time.  Asheville was a great place to visit and catch a show.  The restaurants are great and if you are a beer lover, this is certainly the place.  I found out it is the water that makes the beer here so good.  No special processing or filtration required.  Just get a connection to the city water supply and start brewing.  I will definitely have to come back to do a tour of more local breweries.

The New Mastersounds
Saturday, December 17th 2016
The Orange Peel – Asheville, NC

Set 1 (starts at 11:05pm)
1. Monday Meters
2. Way Out West
3. MRG
4. In the Middle
5. Flimsy Lewis
6. Sitting On My Knees
7. Will it Go Round in Circles#
8. I am Somebody%
9. Turn this Thing Around^
10. Jan Jan&
11. Never Did I Ever@
12. Expressway!
13. One Note Brown
Set over at 12:24am

14. On the Border*
15.The Rules**
house lights at 12:44am

Alan Evans on drums all night.

# – with horns from Turkuaz and Josh on vocals
% – with Greg from Turkuaz
^ – with Sammi and horns
& – with Michelangelo Carubba on drums and Turkuaz horns
@ – with Shira and horns
! – with both Sammi and Shira and horns
* – with Turkuaz and with bass player & drummer from Turkuaz
** – with Turkuaz and with bass player & drummer from New Mastersounds


Phish PNC Music Pavilion July 25th 2014

Phish_Poster_Charlotte_2014_Justin_ SantoraFirst show of a five show summer tour run. It has been a long time since I have done a tour this long so I was excited to get back int the swing of things. As I got older with more responsibilities, long tours like this became more difficult. While I make more money, getting the time off is harder.

Friday was an earlier morning because of the 7:30 hour drive. It had been a long time since I have driven so far to see a show but I was excited. I bought some new albums so I had plenty of driving music to keep me company. Another nice thing about getting older and seeing shows, I stopped at the hotel and checked in before heading to the venue. No more sleeping in my car or a camp sites, Marriott all the way!

This was the only show I had a pavilion seat for.  Not that I would be doing much sitting but during the set breaks it is always nice to have a place to sit down.  Show started with Mike’s > Train > Weekapaug which was something different to open the show up. Tube > My Friend, My Friend was another good highlight. David Bowie also had a good jam in the middle.  Unfortunately Trey on Golgi had so many errors on guitar, making it almost impossible to listen to really.  The flow was just so off.  Not a very good way to end the set.

My actual seat
My actual seat

Like all summer shows the sun set behind the lawn before the second set started.  All the songs from the new album are great so starting off the set with 555 > Chalkdust > Fuego was a good combo.  Both the new songs were extended and Chalkdust fit right in between the two new additions.  Reba was a good one and I thought Character Zero was an ok way to end the set.  Unfortunately I thought Loving Cup was a poor choice to end the show but I guess it does have some good lyrics to end a show with.

Show ended at a very reasonable hour, 11pm.  With my hotel only 20 minutes away the hardest part was getting out of the venue which was not that bad.  It felt good to be on tour and have a nice comfy bed to crash in after the show.  One down, four more to go.

Set 1 (starts at 7:35pm)
01. Mike’s Song >
02. Back on the Train >
03. Weekapaug Groove
04. Wingsuit >
05. Possum
06. Tube >
07. My Friend, My Friend
08. Winterqueen
09. Beauty of a Broken Heart
10. David Bowie
11. Golgi Apparatus
8:59pm stop

Set 2 (stars at 9:29pm)
01. 555 >
02. Chalk Dust Torture[1] >
03. Fuego >
04. Twist >
05. When the Circus Comes >
06. Piper >
07. Rift
08. Waiting All Night >
09. Reba >
10. Character Zero
10:51pm stop

Encore (starts at 10:53)
11. Loving Cup
show over at 10:59pm

[1] Unfinished
Bowie contained a Beauty of a Broken Heart tease from Trey. Chalk Dust was unfinished. Twist, Reba, and Character Zero included Fuego teases. Character Zero also contained a Wingsuit tease from Trey.

Cuatro’s First Birthday

2013-03-09 16.38.43The newest member of the Clouston Clan had his first birthday this past Saturday.  He is technically the William Clouston IV but we have nicknamed him Cuatro.  I have always thought of first birthdays as a milestone and in many cultures they still are.  I remember my niece Ellie’s first birthday, that was a freaking huge production.  Her father is Filipino and they went all out on her first birthday.  She was the first grandchild and it was her first birthday, they had an entire smoked pig and close to 100 people showed up.

For Cuatro, a similar effort was made by the parents.  We got word to hold March 9th open months in advance.  Like I said, first birthdays are import so we made the 4 hour drive from our house to Pikeville just for the party.  We didn’t even plan to spend the night, just leave, enjoy the party, and head back the same day.  There were balloons everywhere, tons of tables and chairs for everyone to sit, games, a moon bounce and TONS of food.  I felt bad because we ate on the way down and I didn’t get to enjoy much of the cooking.  Thankfully Nancy and I stayed really late so I got my dinner meal in by eating leftovers.

Get it killer!
Get it killer!

It was great seeing them, we don’t meet up often because of the distance between us so when we do meet there is lots to talk about.  I think the last time we saw them was the family vacation in Nags Head which was awesome.  Today Greg, Maggie, Yolanda and the kids split early, around 5.  I think the kids where getting bored and they wanted to get home before it was too late.  Nancy and I stayed and shut the party down at 9pm.  Cuatro was in bed and the parents where obviously tired as well.  At the end of the party we got to really catch up with them and enjoy some peace and quite.

By 9:30 we said our good buys, grabbed our goodie bag, took a picture and I started driving back.  As soon as we got onto 95 Nancy was passed out and slept the entire trip home.  I was tired but managed to get us some safely by 1am.  I would normally stay up for a while but I went right to sleep when we got home.