I have come to the conclusion that Georgia by far has the greatest rest areas in the country. Not only did it not reek of pee like the one in Alabama, this place had a lounge, nice couches, and free Wifi. Go Georgia.
Anyway, we made it to Sarasota without any major issues and settled right at the Robarts Sports Arena. With an entire week to kill you think I would've sketched out some sort of plan and tried to see lots of cool stuff. Not quite the case. I've been having a good time thus far, but it's been largely improvisatory with regards to what I've gotten into.
I got my hurrr did at a neat little salon on Tuesday and had a cool convo with the dude who cut my hair. He's a bass player/DJ from Chicago and he kind of gave me the low-down on the scene (or complete lack thereof) in Sarasota. Just down the street from the salon was a great little spot called the Sarasota Olive Oil Company. I found out that there having a show there that night. Kind of an 'invite open mic' with a ton of local acoustic acts. I guess it was the first time they were trying something like that out and they had a really good crowd. It seemed like the beginning of a somewhat large scale effort to get a scene going. No one really blew me away save this girl Harper with a gorgeous voice and some Mandolin skills and her dude Toby.
Since I was there by myself among everyone else who knew each other I had to step it up and initiate some conversation. I approached a cool looking girl and dude and started talking with them. Miranda plays with this group Villanova Junction (who gets to open for a Motley Crue tribute band this Saturday haha) and her dude Scott freelances doing 3D modeling and animation work. They were super rad. One of the highlights of the evening was when the Paddy Wagon rolled up and the officer leaned out the window and asked everyone "Did any of you see a man in a hospital gown run by here? He's a mental patient that's running loose. If you see him, don't give him any beer." Awesome. I met a few other performers and called it an early night.
Wednesday I met someone at the Whole Foods Cafe and while we were talking a group of biker kids had assembled around this one bike that was locked up. Eventually, a cop rolled up. After overhearing the conversation for a while it seems that the bike belonged to one of the dudes and had recently been stolen. The sad part is that whoever stole the bike obviously didn't steal it to ride it. He probably sold to someone else who bought it without realizing it was stolen. Now that poor kid is going to come out eventually to find that "his" bike was stolen. It would've been entertaining to stick around and see if they ended up calling the police as well. Oh well. Later, I grabbed sushi and hung out and jammed with one of the guitarists from the Tuesday night show.
Thursday was much more eventful. I spent a good 3 hours checking out the Ringling Estate, Art Museum, and Circus Museum. Ringling was quite the art collector and had tons of museum worthy pieces. Nothing modern or anything but still pretty cool. There were two special exhibits. One Japanese themed and one Egyptian.
Art Museum/Estate Pics
After the art museum, it was off to tour the Ringling Estate and Gardens. Bad-ass. There were tons and tons of these awesome Banyard trees all over the place and this huge flower garden.
The estate itself was rather impressive as well. That was all well and good, but the main thing I was interested in was the Circus Museum...and I wasn't disappointed.
There's not much detail to go into but all the exhibits were totally rad....especially the miniature circus which took up an entire floor and was the most intricately crafted....thing....I have ever seen.
It was really fun to be in a museum dedicated to what I do now.
Circus Museum Pics
Later on, I met up with Kathryn's sister Stephanie who lives down here. Every Thursday her and a few of her friends meet at the one dudes house for a percussion/meditative jam session....I guess it could've been considered a drum circle but I hesitate to use that term as it conjures up a mass of rhythm-less hippies and college dorks flailing away on djembes making the "look us mannnn...we're realllly groooooovinn'" face. P-U. These people were the real deal. There were different Udus, a kind of Bata drum with a Tabla head on one end (this was given to me to play), a log drum, lots of Tar Frame Drums, this instrument that was like an accordion, only it was set up and looked like a tiny piano....not sure what it was called, and Stephanie and a couple others sang. It was really really amazing to improvise and create these....pieces...with these people. I got there at 7:30 and before I knew it, it was 10:00. The whole circle was just really tuned in with each other and things swelled, climaxed, and released beautifully together. A couple of us really dug into create these amazing cross rhythms and killer killer groves with hypnotic drones coming from the accordion/piano and the voices. It felt great to actually create something again with musicians. I'm hoping to sit in with them again on our return trip to Sarasota after the string of (RIDICULOUS) shows in West Palm.
After the session was over, I headed back down to the Olive Oil Company to hear Miranda spin. She has a great collection of 60s Psychedelia. Brian (the dude who cut my hair), Scott, and some other people I had met were there as well. It really didn't feel far from getting together with some friends in Pittsburgh....don't get me wrong...NOTHING compares with hanging with friends back home, but it was nice to be in the company of awesome people.
The night ended there around 12:30 and I met up with Scott and Miranda at this place called the Cabana Inn where Thursday night Karaoke was in full swing. The bar was the huge dive and the clientele was like picking up Gooskis and the Brillobox, shaking them like a hipsterpunk snow globe, and dumping the contents into this bar. People dig their karaoke out here ha.
I met a really cool girl who was friends with Scott and Miranda and keep with the trend of my miraculous luck.....she was moving to Boston the next morning....of course, haha. T'was an amazing day regardless. Now I'm at a different coffeeshop downtown trying to figure out what to do with my night. Prospects look rather slim but I'm sure something will pop up.