Shakers Tour Diary: L.A. Rockers Land in Philly, Scarf Cheesesteak, Hit the Studio + Drink Like Champs
[Editors Note: Earlier this year, we gave away 'The Weight,' a killer tune by L.A. foursome the Shakers. So smitten are we with their bluesy, blustery rock 'n' roll sound (some liken them to an unholy union of AC/DC and the Supremes) that when they offered to guest blog about their latest East Coast swing -- a three-date run prefacing the release of next month's 'Rescue Team' album -- we couldn't resist. In the first installment, lead singer Jodie Schell recounts the band's adventures in Philadelphia, where they scarfed down cheesesteak, swilled Yuenglings (among other brews), tangled with rental car agencies and generally lived the dream. Scroll down for the full tour diary -- complete with photos -- and stay tuned for episodes two and three.]
The red-eye flight in to Philly wasn't as kind as our quick, leg-friendly connecting flight to Vegas. We had plenty to keep us cracking each other up: The boys' newly discovered Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom in the Vegas food court became an instant new term of endearment for me. It's no "Tallcock," but it's better than Scrodie McBoogerballs.
Every monitor in the airport is talking about the outrageous Zimmerman verdict, and acting as leader, Chris has warned that the current social climate would make wandering off* for sightseeing during this tour a bad idea. That might be a little extreme, but you don't have to twist my arm to stick close to these guys. We're excited to be together, excited to be away from work, excited to have Kyle on his first East Coast trip with us snapping every pic he can on his new iPhone5, excited to pretend we're not broke, excited to make fun of Chris Lee's babytalk to his new girlfriend, and excited to reunite with our East Coast Family.
Unfortunately our red-eye had us shoulder to shoulder for five hours, and neither of us got more than two winks of sleep. The saving grace to our exhaustion was two things: We were going to have Wawa for breakfast, and we were about to reunite with our good buddy Ron DiSilvestro at Forge Recording Studios. All we needed was our Dollar Rent A Car.
Now this is where it got dicey. In fact, I can't remember a single visit to Philly -- and there have been at least two per year since 2009 -- where something DIDN'T GO EXTRAORDINARILY WRONG at the rental car company. This one was hilarious: Both Chris Lee's card and my card were d.e.c.l.i.n.e.d. Jane at US Bank was as helpful as possible (during both customer service calls), but no transaction was possible, despite our stocked-up checking account, and we were car-less. Chris and I stared at each other the same way we did when the roads flooded us in Tehachapi, the same way when I cut my hand open in San Diego, the same way when we were stranded in Atlanta's airport, the same way when the blizzard killed Mistletoe Jam: TERROR.
Nick Woods saved the day, though. He had just enough in his checking account to cover it, and we were on our way in a pearly white sedan. ON TO WAWA!!!
(*Let it be noted that the first violator of the 2013 NO-WANDERING policy was Chris Lee himself: Too hungry to wait for us, he raced back to the Wawa parking lot alone and sat in the rental car eating his hot breakfast hoagie.)
Next stop was the beautiful Forge Recording Studios for a quick tracking session. (The purpose of the recording is a surprise. Stay tuned…) I got a good thick nap in while the boys tracked drums, guitars and bass. Sorry about it. By the time vocals came around, Chris and Nick put on running shoes to squeeze in a one-mile jog. I do not condone their behavior -- it was at least 90 degrees and 100 percent humidity.
Once they returned, we were able to get some gang vocals in to the chorus. Nick Woods is the most hesitant vocally, but at the last second, he scooted toward the mic. He has a great voice, so I'm glad his fearlessness took over.
The track sounds beautiful, and we're beyond impressed with Forge. We were able to squeeze in a stop at a beer distributors for some Yeungling before heading back to Ron's home in Jenkintown. Chris had to wait in the car, since he left his ID at the Dollar Rent a Car, so us out-of-towners headed inside to pretend we knew what we were doing. "24 pack of lager please." Why is this hullabaloo necessary, Philly? Why can't you get beer in the grocery store?
After a few naps, induced only by a 'Cheers' marathon Jodie found on TV, the Shakers felt refreshed enough to hit the town. Cheesesteaks were in order, so we went Tony Luke's to debate the quality of the meat, presentation, onion taste and bread rolls in comparison to Pat's. The verdict: Pat's is better. If you don't live in Philly, you will be annoyed by the obscure references in the three sentences above.
It was time to make moves to South Street, and I was the only one who needed a doggy-bag. Monk's Cafe was highly recommended to Kyle for their wide range of fancy imports and brews, and we want Kyle to experience as much of Philly with us as possible. The Delirium Tremens were especially delicious. Feeling sauced up, we headed to the Legendary Dobbs on South Street to catch up with John Faye and Double V Bookings. We ran in to a lot of old buddies and the bartender hooked us up!
What an amazing night. We ended up back at Ron's house in Jenkintown, and Chris Lee narrowly escaped getting caught peeing in someone's front lawn. Now, everyone is enjoying Yeungling and catching up while I write this and shoo flies from the desktop screen. Sorry this got so long!