Editor’s note: This is the second in a series. Tahoe Onstage writer Spencer Kilpatrick has hit the road with San Jose-based rock trio Joan and The Rivers for a weeklong jaunt through Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. He’ll be poaching WiFi from coffee shops, green rooms and rest stops to post updates on the tour — for better or worse.
Of all the bands I’ve met, none is more DIY than Joan and The Rivers. In a technological climate where it’s easy and common for bands to record their own music, JATR takes it one step further, the members don’t just record their own tunes, they also design their own album art, duplicate and package their own CDs/tapes and print their own shirts all out of their living room; they bought a van for $500 and fixed it up in their driveway to get it into touring condition.
So when it comes to booking gigs, house shows line up with the band’s credo considerably more than a restaurant or bar setup. But as with everything there are pros and cons:
No waiting at a bar
Cheaper to bring your own booze
No stingy-ass club owners
Shitty sound (usually)
Wear and tear on the house
Sunday night the guys played a house/local art hub in Chico called Normal House. The spacious backyard already had a stage and backdrop set up for the three bands that would be playing for 7 to 10 p.m. — the strict end time was set to comply with noise ordinances and while we still had a couple of visits from cops and annoyed neighbors, the night continued flawlessly.
The show was set up by Brad DuFour (vocals/guitar/bass for BandMaster Ruckus), a student at Chico State, who brought in a good college crowd for the bands. Yeah, the early stop time was a little inconvenient, and the lack of monitors made things kind of rough for the bands, but each group — Third World, JATR, BandMaster Ruckus — killed.
As the guys finished their set they reconvened at the van where they set up a makeshift merch booth on the bench seat and floor. The house show was free so the guys slang tapes and shirts, drank beers and mingled to help build on their Chico fanbase.
The party emptied out and the van was once again transformed, this time from merch booth to camper with space for all the gear plus all three members to sleep.