Monday, July 27, 2009

The Balkans' Family Vacation tour journal pt. 1

Posted By on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 at 2:49 PM

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The Balkans aren’t driving a fancy bus, they won’t be staying in hotels or even eating at mid-priced chain restaurants during their nine-stop tour of the east coast this summer.  But they do have complete ownership of the whole tour.  They’ve booked the shows themselves, made T-shirts, pressed records and crammed equipment into a soccer-mom-mobile plus a turtle top.  They spent months convincing concerned parents that they weren’t going to die, and after a full-band and parent meeting last Saturday they were reluctantly given the go for takeoff.  Yes, this is a tour with plan and potential.  It is also a tour with four recent high school graduate boys and a hand full of girls in tow.

The tour started sometime Saturday afternoon while I was in the shower. I emerged to find the car packed full with little room for my own bag.  We arrived in Athens to find people slightly confused as to who the Balkans were. Flagpole, Athens’ local alt-weekly, listed the band as an “Atlanta duo” while Jake, a listing’s paper, had a photo of all four members of the band, but they were labeled the “Blakans.”

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About halfway through their set Saturday night at the Caledonia Lounge, Brett Miller’s guitar erupted with strings flying. Today it's not a question of restringing the guitar: the guitar’s neck is broken. Further damaged includes a broken snare-drum head and the loss of my portable fan donated to cool down the third-row passenger/prisoner. After the show we headed over to Checkers for “cheese-triple-cheese” burgers. On our way from the parking lot to the walk-up window, a woman in the drive-through line thought we were mugging her. Later the band crashed with Will Kiser, “the nicest guy in the world” according to Stanley Vergilis, and the volunteer coordinator and events director at Nuci’s Space, a musicians’ haven in Athens. The band was also hosted by Butters, Will’s real-live Georgia Bulldog.  At the end of the weekend Brett said his experience in Athens can be surmised by the diarrhea following his double bacon and cheese burger from Checkers.

Follow along on our trip as we head to New York and back.  Next shows: an in-store at Plan 9 Music and The Triple in Richmond, Va., on Tues., July 28.  For complete details on the rest of the tour stops visit the Balkans' Myspace.

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(Photos by Elizabeth Shortridge)

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