Neutral Uke Hotel is most certainly all about taking a bizarre and unexpected journey for me. First of all, I really hate cover bands and tribute bands. I have no interest in hearing them and don’t really understand their appeal at all. When Shawn Fogel asked if I wanted to play a song or something at a one-off Neutral Uke Hotel show in Boston, I reluctantly decided it might be fun to play a version of one of the album outtakes. This would allow me to contribute without interfering with Shawn’s presentation of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea in its entirety. So, I learned “Oh Sister” the best I could in a short time (with its 7000 verses that all had very similar lyrics). At the rehearsal the day of the show, Shawn also invited me to strum along to any of the other songs that I knew. I managed a couple others. That first show we did at the Somerville Armory was just amazing. Here is my recap on the Green Light Go Blog. The room was totally rapt and everyone sang and stomped along. It was really quite a beautiful experience and it also helped me to see that Shawn had decided to do this for the totally right reason…to get a bunch of people obsessed with NMH into a room to have a sort of campfire sing-a-long. Video from the Armory: Holland, 1945 – Ghost – Oh Sister
So, the tremendous success of that first show and the ensuing Internet buzz led quickly to the possibility of playing more shows in cities all across the country. We all decided that would be a fun time and so we embarked on the very first Neutral Uke Hotel tour (tour photos on Facebook). The tour was a grand success. I was able to join the band for most of the shows. The project is led by Shawn Fogel of Golden Bloom and includes Josh Cohen of Golden Bloom, Matthew Girard of The Motion Sick, and me, Michael J. Epstein, also of The Motion Sick. We played a bunch of really exciting shows around the Northeast including a couple at NXNE in Toronto!
We were really excited to have recorded a Take Away Show, which will be released soon. Until then, here’s some behind-the-scenes action from that session.
Here’s our full set from NXNE!
Shawn and Josh perform “Communist Daughter” outside of the bar of the same name in Toronto
At a bunch of the shows, we also got to perform extras including: My Dreamgirl (rare NMH album outtake with special guest vocals by me) – (It was by request) The Motion Uke – “Winged Bicycle” – “30 Lives”
Sometimes, the sing-a-long gets so big that we can’t hear much else from stage and we love it! Philly probably ruled the school on that count. Check out some video.
Now, I am excited to announce that we’re bringing the show to the Midwest and the West Coast!
Dates that I will be performing with the band: 8/16/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel @ The Grog Shop, Cleveland, OH (8:00pm) 8/17/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel @ The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor, MI (9:00pm) 8/18/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel @ Southgate House, Newport, KY (9:00pm) 8/19/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel @ The Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL 8/22/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel @ The Frequency, Madison, WI (8:00pm) 8/23/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel @ LUNA Music, Indianapolis, IN (1:00pm) 8/23/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel @ Cosmic Charlie’s, Lexington, KY 8/24/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel @ The Treehouse, Columbus, OH (9:00pm) 8/25/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel @ Mid City Caffé, Washington, DC (7:00pm) 9/11/10 – Neutral Uke Hotel and The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library @ Cafe 939, Boston, MA – we may or may not do any more shows in Boston after this AND it’s the debut of my new band!
Neutral Uke Hotel is also playing the following dates without me: 8/20/10 – Gabe’s, Iowa City, IA (7:00pm) 8/21/10 – The Kitty Cat Club, Minneapolis, MN (9:00pm) 8/29/10 – Luckey’s, Eugene, OR 8/30/10 – Mississippi Studios, Portland, OR (8:00pm) 8/31/10 – The Sunset, Seattle, WA (9:00pm)
We don’t have anything else booked and it’s not clear how long this project might continue, so catch it now before it’s too late!