While Defiance seems like it would be an abrasive place, it was actually a very beautiful countryside. As we closed in on our venue for the evening, Chandler Hill Vineyards, our eyes were opened to what a magnificent countryside that Missouri has to offer. Chandler Hill itself sits a top a large hill, as implied by the name, and boasts a long dining hall area, reminiscent of the old cotton mill in Lebanon, TN where we were married more than five years ago. With high ceilings and exposed wood beams, it’s really a beautiful site, along with a large porch overlooking the hills.
The weather was just on the brink of too cold and just right, and as the sun was near setting they set us up on the far end of the space by the rather large fireplace. As folks strolled in for a Sunday afternoon meal, or a bottle of vino, we added a bit of ambience for a relaxed winter afternoon. My parents who were en route back to Iowa also surprised us by making a quick stop at the vineyard for a glass of vino and a bit of listening time near the end of our last set. So we enjoyed a big hug and some chitchat after the show. It’s definitely a great place to gather with family and friends and enjoy a relaxing afternoon, only made better by their regular offering of live music.
:::Blue Springs, MO:::
Well, I will say that our family pretty well spans the states, and seems to be growing with regularity. Blue Springs is home to some of my dear cousins, just outside of Kansas City, in addition to my kindred Auntie and Uncle. We enjoyed catching up with family and playing at a relatively new downtown family-run bar, Brewer’s Sports Bar & Grill. Their booking guy, TK was very helpful from the moment we arrived. Greeting us and offering up details on what to expect. And the owner came out of the kitchen to introduce himself.
The place has a very family oriented feel with walls of pictures of local athletes and clubs, making it very community centered. We had a great crowd of friends, family, and locals, and enjoyed a fun night. Brewers is a great little gem in the heart of downtown Blue Springs!
Moving out of Missouri and back to Colorado after the horrendously long, flat and mundane east to west trek through Kansas, we found ourselves back in Boulder for an evening with friends. We love, and I stress LOVE, Boulder. And our growing group of friends there only adds to its draw.
We played party bus the next night and drove a couple of friends with us from Boulder to one of our favorite local microbreweries just a stones throw away in Berthoud, Colorado, City Star Brewing. Having played there before, we knew just what to expect: Great beer, Great people, and Great music. This brewery is doing everything right and we were just happy to make another stop at one of our favorites.
Speaking of favorites, just a few hours down the road we found ourselves back at Bonfire Brewing. After a big article in Sneak Peak Vail, we were greeted by a large crowd of beer and music enthusiasts. Things got rowdy. Nestled just outside of the Vail in the small town of Eagle, Colorado, Bonfire seems to be becoming a more and more widely known hidden diamond of sorts in an otherwise pretty quiet town.
They have a huge selection of craft brews, and we have yet to try one we don’t thoroughly enjoy. I actually really like the gluten free beer they have on tap, which my sister Danielle (Celiac’s), would definitely appreciate. We love this spot!
We’d been hearing stories about Paonia for what seemed like forever now. How great it was. How the people there loved live music. How it was the quintessential Colorado hippie town. And let me just say, it was all that and more.
Our venue for the evening, and clearly Paonia’s favorite watering hole was Revolution Brewing. One more stop on the Colorado beer tour, no complaints here. ;-) When I say this is a small spot, I mean that we shared the stage with the flanking restrooms. Yet, this created a living room or basement bar sort of feel to it, only adding to the fun and intimacy of the night. Paonia’s residents are eclectic and awesome. The thing we love about this small town brewery is that everyone has nickname, a story, and a warm welcome to share. We thoroughly enjoyed sharing our music with them and have already scheduled a return performance in the spring.
After an early morning drive from Paonia to Carbondale, we grabbed a cup of joe and headed over to the local radio station for an interview and on-air performance. With my voice not quite warmed up and the cobwebs still clearing from our foggy brains, we shared our story with local listeners and play a couple of our favorite originals.
We were happy to encounter more than one table of people at our venue that evening that had come in to hear us play at Beer Works after hearing us that morning on the radio, so we must have sounded better than we felt. ;-) We are definitely always our worst critics. Carbondale Beer Works has a wide selection of brews, including a few of their own, and some yummy and interesting bar food. I felt a bit guilty about the elk that had to go to make my chili, but mmmmmm it was tasty.
The side stage and sound system were just right for the space, and we were happy to grace the stage after hearing such good things about the venue from the many locals that had referred us after hearing us at other establishments in the area. We hope to return to Beer Works again soon!
:::Park City, UT:::
If you’ve never been to Park City, Utah before, do yourself a favor and go. It doesn’t matter what time of year you go there it is always beautiful. With mountains in and around Park City you have your pick of outdoor activities to enjoy, and the town is adorable. There’s a multitude of fun little boutiques for the window-shopper in the group, and a vast array of pubs and restaurants for the foodie/drinker.
Being a bit of a foodie myself, I particularly enjoyed playing back at our favorite little Park City venue, The Silver Star Café. The chef makes a bass filet that’s to die for, and everything is delicately seasoned. I don’t think you could go wrong with a single dish on the menu. The cozy indoor ambience makes for a warm and inviting setting for music sharing and listening. We love this place!
:::Idaho Falls, ID:::
While Idaho Falls was certainly never on our list of must stops when we started the tour, it’s definitely become a place we love to visit. It’s also mid-way between Park City and Bozeman, two of our faves, so we love that little added bonus.
Vino Rosso, local wine bar hotspot in town boasts a wide selection of wines and craft brews. They also host live music regularly, so folks know to come in for the weekend shows. Each time we play there they have something new on tap to enjoy.
And, on a side note, we finally gave the local pancake house a shot on our way out of town. And, it was oh so good. We are looking forward to making our way back to Idaho Falls again soon!
Music and hot springs?! Yes please! The Norris Hot Springs in Norris, Montana will seriously blow your mind, especially for an evening dip. They take being green to the extreme. Shower free, no electricity (except in the very small, local/sustainable kitchen and in the stage area of course), natural wood benches in the soaking pool, and out in the middle of nowhere. This spot is cool.
It was a frigid day, but when you’re soaking in a hot springs, you don’t really care. The Norris Hot Springs also has a selection of local beers and wines to choose from. So dippers are sure to enjoy a relaxing time.
The stage is the real gem here, however. Enclosed in an almost igloo like dome, completely surrounded by windows, pumping the music out to soakers through outdoor speakers, as musicians we were in our own little bubble. ;-) This definitely created a unique and lasting memory for us, and our friends that came out had nothing but good things to say about the place. Feeling cold, or just need to relax?? Go to Montana, and go to The Norris Hot Springs. Better yet, go on a weekend and enjoy some late night music while you dip!
If you haven’t been to Bozeman before, you probably have no idea how cool this place is. Just a short drive from the mountains, and filled with artsy and interesting people of all ages, this town has a lot to offer. The downtown is full of cutsie, perfect for the window-shopper in all of us. And it has a vast array of cafes, restaurants, and bars to indulge even the most refined of tasters.
We also had a great time visiting with friends in the area from as far back as childhood, Cie’s old middle school sweetheart, and of course our friends over at Gibson, we’ve got a good group of folks in Bozeman. Staying with some of our faves, we even had a chance to enjoy a bit of outdoor winter sporting in the form of cross-country skiing. Cie seemed to think that I’d be an expert at this, due to the fact that I’d spent a few PE classes in high school and a couple of runs in girl scouts learning the sport, but he was trying to get me to climb a mountain. Not gonna happen! It’s called cross-COUNTRY skiing for a reason, no mountains! I’m from Iowa buddy!
Before I get to the tasty part, I would be remiss to leave out our visit to Gibson Acoustic. Headquartered smack dab in little ol’ Bozeman, Montana, Gibson Acoustic puts out some of the most beautifully crafted musical specimens you could ever put your fingers on. Oh, and did I mention that we got the VIP tour? No big deal… ;-) Pretty amazing stuff!
After our visit to Gibson Acoustic, we headed over to our venue for the evening, 406 Brewing. Not knowing what to expect on a Wednesday evening, we were happy to find the place hopping (pun intended) and many of our friends and colleagues out to enjoy the show. 406 Brewing has a vast array of delicious brews, so it was hard to choose just a couple (Montana state law). The folks out enjoying their brews definitely enjoy their music as well. Good beer, good people, good music, good times!!
Just a few hours down the road we continued the tour de beer at Bitter Root Brewing. Located in what has the outward appearance of a grain elevator gone wild this place has character from the moment you walk in. With the bar front and center as you open the door, you are greeted by regulars and a long list of craft brews. Folks come from all over the state and beyond to enjoy a brew at Bitter Root.
They also do their live music justice by hosting acts on a small central stage, which is perfectly placed for folks dining and drinking up in their balcony area or hanging down by the bar. We had enjoyed a bit of local press, so there was a bit of a buzz going about our music (always a good sign). From start to finish, this was a great night. You might think Hamilton, MT? Where the heck is that? And all I could say to that was, figure it out, because Bitter Root Brewing is putting a whole new meaning to doing it right.
Let me first make the point that Snoqualmie has its very own Polar Express, or at least that’s what I’ve come to call it. They have an old commuter train that gives riders a throwback trip and onlookers a sense of nostalgia. I think I hear bells.
It’s also home to another great brewery, Snoqualmie Brewery. With Cie’s preggo sister and brother-in-law just a short drive away in Seattle, and Cie’s folks in town for the holidays, we had some friendly faces in the crowd. We also had a couple of family friends make the trip. It had been eons since Cie’s sister had seen us play, so it was fun to show her what we’d been up to.
They host their live music up on the top floor overlooking the whole brewery. With a completely ludicrous fear of heights, it made me a bit nervous playing next to the railed off balcony, but I just need to get over that. The brews were comforting and tasty on a cold rainy evening, and locals, family and friends showed their support for our original tunes. If you are looking for a craft brew close to Seattle, be sure to check out Snoqualmie Brewery!
Seattle is big city. Located right on the Sound, it’s surrounded by huge barges importing and exporting goods and supporting global commerce. Yes, it rains a lot. But between the rain showers, the views are to die for, especially on a clear December night. Who needs a Christmas tree when you can see the city lights?
This was not our first trip to Seattle, but we were seeing it through new eyes, specifically the eyes of our family. Cie’s sister and her husband are recent Seattlites (I may have made this word up, but I like it) and also very pregnant. We’d all agreed on spending a week enjoying family time in Seattle over the holidays. With Cie’s parents in town, they’d found us a great house to rent via Air B&B right on the Sound complete with great views, a faux Christmas tree to trim, a pool table, and a grand piano. No complaints here!
I can’t even begin to count the number of delicious meals we enjoyed in Seattle, including my first dim sum. And Cie’s father is a big cook, so we always enjoy his cooking. However, I’d have to say that Cie was particularly partial to his sister’s cookies. But hey, that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for right? Or something like that…
Having visited Seattle previously, we didn’t do a lot of site seeing on this trip, but spent more time getting some much needed R&R. Cie tends to require this a lot more than I do. In fact, I think he would have fallen apart had it not been for those few days off. Sometimes you just need a break.
Bothell, what some would call a suburb of Seattle is a cute little town away from all of the hustle and bustle of the city. We were schedule to play at Tandem Dinner & Wine Bar in Bothell, a little bistro specializing in exquisitely cooked seasonal meals and local Washington boutique wines. Owned by a lovely local couple, these two put their heart and soul into their business.
The wife, Lisa may not be a certified sommelier, but she goes to great lengths to learn about every wine that they have to offer at Tandem. She also takes great pride in the fact that all of their wines our from small Washington vineyards and cannot be purchased at any of the big box stores. You have to respect that.
Her husband, Brad is the chef extraordinaire. Their small open kitchen area allows patrons to devour every last scent that emanates from the dishes that he puts out. From lobster tail to roasted duck, every last bite that he puts out is something to savor. And boy did we!
The bistro definitely ranks right up there as one of the most intimate settings we’ve played in. We played nearly completely unplugged, yet filled the space with our music. With return listeners on our second evening at Tandem Dinner & Wine Bar, it was clear that the people of Bothell truly appreciate live original music.
Back to Seattle… Blue Moon Seattle is one of the most iconic dive bar/venues in Seattle. It exudes the stuff of legendary local and touring original music from its very core. It’s also a great place to enjoy a basket of peanuts and share a pitcher of Washington beer.
It has a very similar vibe to The Red Line Tap in Chicago with a good group of local regulars and music appreciators, along with a perfectly sized side stage and seating. With a great sound guy, this place is the perfect stop for a touring band or musician. Props to Blue Moon Seattle for putting on a good show!
I just love the name of this Northern Washington town, Twisp. The little town is located along the Twisp River, which was of course frozen over upon our arrival. We were scheduled to play at Twisp River Pub. Just off the main drag, which looks like something out of an old western film, Twisp River Pub is clearly the newer and favored kid on the block.
The Pub puts out it’s own original brews, including a couple of excellent hard ciders which hit the spot for me. In fact, jumping ahead a bit, the morning after we played they were crushing apples for a new batch. Washington definitely has an array of different apples to choose from!
But I digress; Twisp River Pub has a nice sized stage for a 2-4-piece band and a pretty sweet old upright piano adjacent to the stage. They also have their own PA, which is always appreciated, and the owner runs the sound. Folks know to expect live music and were pleased to hear something a bit different from a land far far away. J There was also a fun blast from 90’s music past in the crowd, guitarist from Chumbawumba who happens to live in Twisp and DJ at the local radio station. He stuck around for the show and picked up a CD, which he graciously played on air later in the week. Thanks bud!
What better way to ring in the New Year than at one of the top 100 Hotels in the world?? We were scheduled to play at the Sun Mountain Lodge/Wolf Creek Bar & Grill for New Years and although they were yearning for a bit more snow, we were excited to land a gig at this Washington cross-country skiing oasis.
Overlooking a lovely lake near the base of the mountain, the resort is the perfect place to escape to the outdoors. We enjoyed a walk on the frozen lake (Cie was a bit nervous about the whole ordeal), and were blessed to be put up in the resort apartment for the evening.
The lodge itself is clearly the place where locals and Washingtonians travel to get away from it all. It has all the amenities and views for days. The Bar & Grill was definitely the upper echelon of your standard bar and grill where we were treated to a shrimp louie salad and a goat cheese and artichoke pesto pizzette. Live music was a special treat for folks there celebrating, and a fun way to ring in the New Year!
TRAVEL. TASTE. AND TUNE IN.