Up at 6am. 34 degrees and drizzly. 5 miles to People of Hope Lutheran Church where I was to lead music at two services before biking 60 miles to Northfield for the big rock and roll ending to the Hey That’s My Bike Tour.
Got to the church and was warmly welcomed. Of course after the last 5 miles in the cold wet dark any welcome had the odds of being warm. I held on to a cup of coffee for awhile until I could feel my fingers again. Set up my merchandise, sound checked, looked through the power point that was set up, reminded myself that some people are gooder with technology than I am and gave thanks, and then helped carry some pumpkins in for the Great Pumpkin Giveaway!
About a year ago I met up with my buddy Richard in a town south of Rochester for a little mentoring, guidance, encouragement, and all that other stuff interdependent artists like myself require. Before heading back to St. Paul Richard said, “Hey, my dad wants to fill up your tank with gas.”
“He gave me a gas card for this station so that whenever we’re passing through we can fill up the tank. It works for friends too.”
And so Richard’s dad filled up my tank. My 16 gallon Vanagon tank with prices at three-something a gallon.
Well it turns out Richard’s folks go to People of Hope. And I met them. And I said, “You filled up my tank with gas a year ago!”
He of course, having never met me, was a bit confused. So I explained the situation. And then he had the best reaction ever. “I did?” His eyes got big and his smile got bigger. “OH! That’s great!” and he laughed the most delightful overjoyed laugh. It was a eureka moment. His hair brained scheme to keep random artist strangers on the road was working! He had successfully thwarted the powers of failure. He did it! In the best possible way. He couldn’t have been happier.
I want to be like that.
I felt incredibly at home at People of Hope. Just shy of taking my shoes off and leaving my socks in the middle of the floor comfortable. Great people, great vibe, oatmeal raisin cookies… All good.
After church I gave kids rides around the parking lot on the back of my bike. I charged them $1. Not really.
It was about noon. I had 6 ½ hrs. to travel 60 miles. I may not have mentioned it but my thighs had not stopped burning since Winona. My legs were shot. The forecast was rain. I called my friend Erica with the minivan. I took her up on an earlier offer. She dropped me off in Kenyon. She cut my travel down to 22 miles. Hallelujah.
I limped into Northfield around 4. In the rain. Alone. Tired. Oscillating between defeated and triumphant. Into the Blue Moon for coffee. Noticed someone (George the Intern I later learned) had put up a poster for that night’s show. Then I noticed he had put up more than one. About 16 more than one. I was surrounded. By me. As if I hadn’t had enough of me already this week. A lesser man would’ve cried. No comment.
First Micah showed up. Spirits lifted we went out for pizza. Then Graham and Tim joined us. Michael Morris showed up along with Geroge The Intern and we loaded the gear up a lot of stairs. These legs were acutely aware of said stairs. Micah had picked up my electric gear the week before and it was super fun plugging in and being loud. Ending the tour with the full band Welaware experience ruled.
It was another quality over quantity night but the folks who did come included people who’s opinion matters so much to me I couldn’t have been happier to play for them. Including but not limited to: Jodi Houge, Matt Marohl, Rachel Kurtz, Erin DeBoer-Moran, and Michael Morris. Wowzers.
The show was great. This is our second show with Tim on bass and he kills it. Graham kept my tempo in check… or did the best he could with what he had… Micah brought the noise. And broke a pickup while mastering the art of adjusting pedals with the face of a telecaster. It was glorious.
We packed up. I threw everything (including bike) into the back of Jodi’s pickup. We got home.
Today’s ride was great only because parts were so not how I had hoped. I’m already lugging slowly on a long bike with all my gear, I was not expecting the google maps to send me down gravel roads. But they did. Not my first choice for this kind of ride, but as it turns out pretty fun. And the dust? Not bad at all thanks to the near freezing rain.
So that was exciting.
I got to Rochester, or Roch – as the locals should call it, and met up with my friend Jason. We locked my bike up at his work and went out for a late lunch. I had a huge bean burrito. It started pouring outside. I happily got in his car after lunch and we drove to his home, hung with Erica and the kids, I cleaned up my act, the rain subsided, I went and set up at the Salon.
The Salon is an all volunteer run endeavor. As it turned out, from 6-7 I was the only volunteer there. Volunteer organizations can be a bit trusting. I called Jodi and told her the great news that I was now in charge of an art space in downtown Rochester. She was thrilled.
Great folks came out to the concert. A few I knew, a few of their friends, and a few that read about it in the paper and gave it a shot. I’m glad they did. There was also a youngster there that loves my song “Monkey Dance” off the kung fu princess album. Though I haven’t performed it for awhile, no worries. She accepted my invitation and led the group in the Monkey Dance. Pretty much made my night. That and the after concert black ale (s) with Jason and Erica.
You never regret going on a bike ride.
This is what I told my wife when I got home from the post office and bank today in a light drizzle and a recent drop in temperature. And this is true about my recent bike tour as well.
My friend Richard called me today to check in on the recent tour and I realized that I had only blogged about the first two days. Assuming you all check my website daily I’m guessing you were quite certain and I had met an untimely end on a back road of Minnesota. It seems the only plausible explanation for why I hadn’t blogged day 3,4, and 5.
As it turns out I did not die but am very much alive. I just got kind of tired. I’ve now written up the last few days and will post them one day at a time complete with an insight/observation blog at the end. Here goes something. DAY 3 – Winona – Acoustic Cafe
The ride from from Wabasha to Winona was short and beautiful. It would’ve been shorter had I not got another flat tire. Again it was on the rear wheel which is akin to taking everything out of the trunk of your car to get to the spare. Luckily I got it right next too a beautiful park. I think it was in Goodview. So I had a snack, laid down on a park bench for awhile, and patched it up. Onward to Winona. I got to the Acoustic Cafe mid afternoon and stashed my stuff in a corner. I took care of work stuff- wrote a set list, deposited a couple checks at the bank, and sent off a CD order that I had been carrying with me since St. Paul. Then I headed over to Adventure Cycle & Ski and looked into some tire options. The folks there were great and I spent everything I had made in tips so far on a new tire (hard case, puncture resistant) and leg warmers. For some dumb reason I had only brought bike shorts and these nifty things covered the rest of my legs which I was very grateful for the next two days.
I ate a huge vegi burrito.
I played to a small crowd. Patty, who I sold my lap steel to a couple of weeks ago in St. Paul, happened to be playing with Jack Klatt down the street, saw me, and waved. We talked. Small world.
I had a great time.
The guys working at Acoustic were super great. People came and went as is the norm for most coffee shop gigs, but everyone that came listened. The tips were good, I sold a few CD’s, and at the end of the night I got to stay with a friend’s parents who put my bike on their bike rack and took great care of me. I woke up to french toast and eggs. ’nuff said.
Yesterday was my longest ride in probably a year. 60 miles from River Falls WI to Wabasha MN. It took just over 6 hours including a lunch stop, a 5-10 minute break every hourish, and changing a flat tire. So I’m guessing I’m going 10-12mph, which is right where I was hoping to be on these travels. I’m really happy with how this is going.
The morning was cold – it took about 10 minutes of holding a coffee mug at the diner I ate lunch at before I could successfully navigate my phone – but the afternoon was just about perfect. Today looks to be the same.
Also to note: Riding down hwy 35 along the river is just plain beautiful this time of year. (I’m borrowing a computer so check my facebook page for photos https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nate-Houge )
There were some long slow climbs and some great descents and plenty of curves to keep you guessing what was around the bend. The shoulders were wide and smooth. At one point there was road construction that reduced the road down to one lane with a stoplight saying when you’re side could go. I wasn’t as fast as a car getting through that so the other side’s light turned green before I got out. So that was exciting. As much for me as the driver of the Silverado. But he survived.
Last night’s concert was great – warm and receptive audience, lots of great conversations about the bike and what not. I left the bike at the church and got a ride with the couple I’m staying with and am once again at the receiving end of hospitality. Once my riding clothes are dry I’ll be heading out to Winona. I’m grateful for safe travel and a shorter ride today. And I gotta admit, I can’t wait to get back on my bike. Thanks for all the kind words/wishes/prayers/tweets/comments/shares/loves/etc… See down the road! Nate.
Yesterday was the ride from St. Paul to River Falls – went great, a little chilly, a little busy around some of the 94/694 entrance exit ramps, but that only inspired faster riding. Arrived at UWRF at 10:30 played/chatted from 11-1 met great people, ate free food, got put up in a hotel (ROCKANDROLL!) took a shower and a nap, hung out with my friend Erik, gave him a ride with my gear to Dish and the Spoon, checked out their wood fire pizza oven, was stoked to see some old friends and a huge group from Rush River Lutheran Church show up – Awesome!
Here’s a video of me singing “Hey! That’s My Bike.”
Not sure if I’ll have computer access the next few days, but you can keep an eye out for me on FB and Twitter (@housewithag)
The bank sign says 42. I’m putting on gloves and heading to Wabasha – send all your friends down to Faith Lutheran tonight, por favor!
Peace out! Nate.
In 8 hrs I hit the road for the first of five days of me and a bike and a guitar and a yous.
My last post touched on picking a bike, this post is about packing for five days of touring on a bike.
Before I post the video I must say thank you to all the positive feedback and posts and tweets and retweets I’ve been getting about this tour.
I’m nervous. A little apprehensive. Totally excited. And I can’t wait. This is the sort of stuff we live for. Here’s to doing what you love for a living.
I’ve wanted to do a tour on my bike for years. In fact, the last two years I’ve tried setting one up and both times have failed because I couldn’t make it fit within the limitations of distance, time away from home, and big fat wads of cash. Or at least $20 and a pound of coffee…
But now it’s happening! October 16th-20th I’ll be out on my long bike playing in River Falls WI, Wabasha, Winona, Rochester, and Northfield MN. DETAILS HERE
I made this video for you to see how the tour got its name, check out some of the odd bikes I’ve built over the years, and meet my Board of Directors (Richard, Tabitha, and Dudette). Check it out:
I plan on doing a few more video updates as this tour and the new album (Anchor) become a reality so stay tuned and/or sign up for e-mail updates.
An album was recorded. Concerts were played. Work has been good and busy. And equally so on the home front. Our family has a bit on the urban homesteader bug going around. The hops for homebrewing are starting to climb up the front of the house, the chicken coop is complete and our chickens are moving outside (I will not miss sharing an office with them), and in addition to our regular gardens my wife dug up a section of the berm and we’ve got raspberries started.
A theme in all this for me has been focus and limitation. Figuring out the boundaries and working creatively within them. This is what it looks like for me in the areas of Work and Home.
I recorded an album with my band Welaware (Micah Taylor – guitar, Justin Rimbo – bass, Graham Peterson – drums). It was the most finite recording session I’ve ever been a part of and equally one of the greatest. I knew our budget and our time frame. We recorded with Michael Morris at the Barn in Northfield MN. His studio is 100% analog. Old school. And we recorded live and almost entirely overdub free. If I screwed up a guitar part we rewound the tape and we all played the song again as opposed to all the cutting and pasting that can happen when recording digitally. I’m not against digital recording – that’s how I’ve worked in the past and will again in the future – but I will say the performances on the new album are inspired and gutsy and real and we owe that to the limitation of tape. Plus, we had a deadline. We could’ve added things to the recording as overdubs – an extra guitar, a shaker, another harmony… but at 4pm we had to leave the studio. What was done was done. The limitations brought an intense and exhausting focus to the sessions that I can’t wait to share with the world. Or at least you.
Our desire to be connected with the land as a family living in the city of St. Paul has been interesting. Mostly because of use of space. I love raspberries and berries are an easy fruit to grow yourself but they take up space. And spread by the roots. (There’s a fancy word for that… Oh well.) Last year the city of St. Paul okayed growing tall things on the berm. With the street on one side and sidewalk on the other this provides a wonderful border to contain the raspberries. If we had tons of land we wouldn’t have been forced into this use of space, but because of this limitation we’ve come upon an ideal raspberry growing location. And of course lets not forget those chickens. The city of St. Paul has a permit requirement for chickens which is kind of a hoop jumping exercise but it has allowed us to connect with a few neighbors that we haven’t connected with in the past. So kudo’s to St. Paul for helping us lonely Houges make new friends.
In both work and home there are a ton of other limitations that I’ve been embracing that have been leading to stronger focus – including clearing out instruments and getting rid of excess crap in the garage.
There is a freedom in having less and working within boundaries that I’m recognizing more and more in my life as life giving and good. Or maybe I’m just overreacting to all the stuffed animals my girls have. It’s possible.
I’ve sent a ton of you a link to this blog entry to invite you to promote the concert at Urban Abbey in the Old Market district of Omaha NE on April 19th. It’s going to be a great concert and I’m so grateful that you think so too and that you’re coming and that you’re telling other people about it and that we’re going to pack the house. That makes for a pretty sweet Friday night.
Here are the details:
Nate Houge – Acoustic Concert
Urban Abbey – 1026 Jackson St, Omaha, Nebraska 68102
Friday April 19th 2013 @ 7pm
All Ages – No Cover
“Nationally touring folk rock artist Nate Houge will be playing an all ages concert at Urban Abbey (1026 Jackson St) in the Old Market district this Friday, April 19th at 7pm. Nate Nate Houge is known for his catchy tunes, honest lyrics, stories, and quirky sense of humor. You may also recognize his name from his work with Rachel Kurtz, Jonathan Rundman, and Sparkhouse. This concert is open to the public and all are welcome. Check out Nate’s music and more at natehouge.com.”
“This Friday Nate Houge will be playing an acoustic concert at Urban Abbey in the Old Market. Nate’s from St. Paul MN. He’s one of those Lutheran touring musicians you may be familiar with. It’ll be a great night of music and fun. It’s all ages, it’s free, and it starts at 7pm, so check your bulletins for more details, you won’t want to miss it.”
Thanks for your help in promoting this event. It’s my first time playing in Omaha and I’m grateful for you support!