The New Orleans Trip was just that! A real Point A-to-Point B type of thing. Less of a vacation or a Show and more of an Experience to be remembered and drawn from in later days.

We were fortunate to have a lot of help putting this thing together. We were also very lucky to have the ability to capture both nights in a re-mixable format. This gave us the ability to reset individual levels of the instruments, just as we would in mixing a studio album.

We were initially thinking of putting out a single or double CD of the highlights from the weekend, but as we listened to the tapes, it became difficult to decide what to toss out.

As a Clash fan, I’ve always liked the story that when the Clash wanted to put out a double album, the record company told them they could not do that. They responded by telling the label to put it out and the Band would just take less money for it. That album was London Calling and was a huge success for them.
It was such a success, in fact, that their next record turned out to be a Triple album! The story further goes that the record company told them that it would be commercially impossible to put out a triple record and the Band said, “Well, just price it like it was a double album”.
I should say at this point, that I don’t have sources for any of this and that it’s just rumors that I’d heard at the time. I just repeat them to explain that it’s just in my DNA (to speak only for myself here) to love when bands do stuff like that. My introduction to Wilco was hearing a similar story about a double record of theirs, which made me like them right from the get-go.

All this to say that we wanted to put out the entire weekend, so we did!
4 CDs! And, since we are our own Record Label, we got to price it as a double CD ($29.50). Take that Sandanista! (the triple Clash Record).

It’s called “Live at the Leaf”. You can pick it up here…
Mr. Blotto: Live At The Leaf

Some highlights include…

-The “They’re dancing in Chicago/And down in New Orleans” lines during Dancing in the Streets. It felt like this Motown jem was written specifically for us for that specific night. Gotta love when that happens…

-Performing the entire “Crescent City Ghost Story”, narration included, in the City that inspired it.

-Debuting “Moz” (pronounced “Mose”). It’s only the second Instrumental song we’ve ever released.

-Getting Marti Gras Indian Chief Bo Dollis Jr. up in full regalia for Injuns They Are Comin’ and drifting into the NOLA chant we know as IKO IKO.

-The pairing of Got Nothin’>Corner of My Eye. We’ve done this before a few times, but I don’t believe it’s been released. Corner of My Eye isn’t even on a Record. Yet.

-Roundabout. As a Bassist, I love the Chris Squire lines on this Yes song. The fact that we do some serious reworking in our arrangement just makes it more fun to play. We’ve only done it 2 or 3 times, so it’s nice to have it here in this collection.

These are just a few things that stand out to me. To some who were there, other moments will undoubtedly leap to mind. For those who didn’t make the trip, here’s hoping that it puts you in the Room with all of us!

And remember, if you enjoy it half as much as we enjoyed making it, then we had twice as much fun as you!

NOTE-“Live at The Leaf” will be officially released at Hotel Blotto in LaPorte, IN on Feb. 15th & 16th.

-Chief

Around this time of years it’s right and good to take stock of what we are thankful for.
In Mr. Blotto, we are grateful for our Bandmates and the Fans who allow us to do whatever it is that we do. We are also thankful for the people of a technical sort who have helped us to record our Music, to get it out, and to travel to cool places to perform it.

First and foremost, however, is the Crew…
…and it’s time they get their own Holiday!

We are designating the time between the Christmas Day Night Show at the Cubby Bear thru the Procrastinator’s Ball on January 4th at the Arcada Theater as Crew Appreciation Week. Yes, we know it’s more than a week, but in the Crew World, things always take longer than you’d thought they would take, so just let it go wouldya?
In celebration of or Crew and their Week, please feel free to say Hi to them at a Show and thank them for their efforts. As the saying goes “No Gear/No Show”, and nobody wants that.


The Crew is lead by Brandon Moore.

He lines up the Crew for each show, drives the Truck and generally herds cats professionally. If you didn’t know what he looked like Now You Know!

The second part of Crew Appreciation Week deals with our Soundman, Doug Blesius. As many of you know by now, Doug suffered a Stroke on July 3rd, 2018. He survived and is doing well in treatment, but has not been able to work since then. We set up a GoFundMe to help defray some of his expenses.

www.gofundme.com/douggy-b039s-medical-needs

If you are able to make a donation, please do. It’s been helping a lot…

Remember, Crazed Recreational Entertainment Workers=C.R.E.W….

…and CREW Appreciation Week is 12/25/2018 through 1/4/2019!

Thanks!

-Chief

As Musicians, our general mode of travel is the Bus, and we love ours.  “Blue” is a 40 foot long Eagle 15.  She’s almost a member of the Band, and if she could speak we’d likely be buying her silence on the regular.

That said, any way you can get yourself to New Orleans this weekend is highly recommended.  Personally, I would advise you to go if only to catch Jon Cleary for his Friday Night Residency at the Maple Leaf.  He’s a true monster player with a great Band and has just put out a new album.
And then there’s Mr. Blotto going on after…and then again on Saturday…
And then there’s a Gumbo Fest in Louis Armstrong Park on Saturday…

Finally, for all of you travelers, we can’t wait to see you.
I saw a bunch of people chatting about how they are taking the Train down. Here’s a link to a song that I think sums up a lot for me personally.
There’s a line in it about how
“All along the south bound Odyssey/ the train pulls out of Kankakee”.

Paul and I lived in Kankakee for 10 years and that’s where we learned to play Music and joined our first Bands. Not to put too fine a point on it, but our trip to New Orleans started in Kankakee too.

For those flying, here’s something you need to see, especially if you’ve booked cheap flights…

We have been loving the enthusiasm we’ve been getting from everyone about these Shows. We will try to Stream them, so stay tuned to this Blog and to both Facebook and Instagram for details.  The plan is to record a CD from these Shows and if it turns out well, we hope to have it out by Hotel Blotto in February, if not sooner.

That’s it for now. See you there…

-Chief

For a lot of us here in the Fly Over, Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin,  was the best place to see the Dead.

The Venue was great.  It was just close enough to be convenient, but far away enough for the trip to be Epic, and you could camp out on the Golf Course if you worked it out right. It wasn’t Madison Square Gardens, and it was neither Fillmore East nor West, but it was our Ground Zero and that’s where we heard our first Phil Bombs.

It’s where I got acquainted with the fact that Anything could happen at a Dead Show. Literally, anything…

One example. I met Henry Rollins of Black Flag under the tree at Center Field. For those who may not know Henry, he was at the time Lead Singer of Black Flag. For those who may not know, Black Flag was a Hardcore Punk Rock Band from the West Coast. For those who…ah, fuck it… He was also growing as a spoken word Artist and had published a number of books of his stuff, which I had discovered in school and really liked. I sat down and we talked for a little bit and then split because you don’t want to be that person who talks too much when you’re talking to someone you look up to (See Barlow, John Perry). As I got back to our spot I mentioned to one of my Deadhead friends that I never would have predicted that.

“That’s why we’re here, dumb ass” he replied, “If you want something obvious, watch TV.  This is where we go for the other stuff…”

Most of all though, I remember being on the Hill with my close friends. It occurred to us that if Aliens happened to come down to Earth on that particular Saturday night, maybe around mid-2nd Set, and asked the people in Washington or the Hague or wherever they landed,..

“Hey, we don’t have this “Music” thing in our World. It seems cool.  Where should we go to             hear it at it’s most Exciting and Alive?

We knew that the only legit answer was to send those Music-Starved Green Beings to Alpine Valley, where musical Alchemy was taking place, fearlessly in by 6 guys in front of Thousands.

Plus, a couple more weirdos wouldn’t hurt anything, and they might just help…

-Chief

Truth be Told, I was was shocked…
It was 1986 and a bunch of my hippy friends weren’t going to be able to hang out that weekend. It turned out that the Grateful Dead was going to be at Alpine Valley and they were all going.
I should say at this point that I had literally Zero interest in tagging along.

Yes, I grew up in a family that went camping often. Yes, it was a very Musical Household (my Dad used to say that “even our sewing machine was a Singer”). However, I was into Motorhead, UFO, Maiden, Husker Du and the Clash at the time and figured that if I wanted to take a nap, I could do it at home for free. And so I told all my hippy friends repeatedly. Who looked at each other and laughed knowingly.
Then they told me that one of the guys going was bringing his girlfriend.  One of her friends, who I was kind of crazy about, was going to be going.

So I decided to go…

In the car on the way to East Troy, Wisconsin, I asked the guys what I was getting in to. Was I going to hear Trucking each night? What about Box of Rain? I loved that song, but hearing it 2 or 3 nights in a row might seem predictable, boring, etc.
They chuckled and told me not to worry. At that point I specifically recall thinking “…if we are going camping and there’s Live Music and she’ll be there, just how bad can it be..”?

Fast forward to the Show.

Immediately, I loved the Vibe.
Actually, people often miss that the community feelings at a Dead Show are familiar to certain parts of Punk/Metal Shows. They all share a certain marginalization aimed at them from mainstream Society and have learned to embrace that. Both scenes, at their best, foster a sense of Community that can rival the Music as a source of comfort and belonging.  To me, the Dead vibe was welcoming, familiar and very friendly. Again, I thought, “how bad can the Music be?”

By the 3rd song they had me. Forever…

By the end of the night I felt energized and really lucky that I had friends who would drag me to something that I had loudly and repeatedly told them that they were crazy to enjoy, but that’s what friends are for.

Mars Hotel Blotto is a Grateful Dead-themed Festival held each year at the Best Western in La Porte, IN. This year it’s November 2nd & 3rd. Go to the Festivals Tab on this website for more info and Ticket Sales.

-Chief

There are probably and literally a Hundred things I want to Do, See, Eat and Hear every time I go to NOLA. There is one musician that I’ve always wanted to catch Live but haven’t been able to. That’s never been an issue, as the town is freaking full of badasses and I’ve never been disappointed in the decades that I’ve been going there.
But there’s this one guy…
While we are talking about badasses, one of the most highly respected NOLA Pianists today is Jon Cleary. Like Taj Mahal, he is a walking jukebox of Musical styles. While Taj is crazy deep in Blues, Folk, and Caribbean stuff, Cleary is that way when it comes to New Orleans Piano. Here’s the link that introduced me to him…

I should say at this time, I grew up disliking the Piano. I was forced to take Piano lessons from a Nun at my grade school. ‘Nuff said. That, and my Dad used to play these old songs on our Piano that I found super-corny.
Now, I wasn’t anti-Keyboard. I’ve always had a thing for the B3. There’s nothing like a Hammond B3 screaming though a Leslie. And I’ve always been a fan of a great Synthesizer line, whether it be a Prog solo or Bernie Worrell going deep on a P-Funk synth line, certain keyboards have always been cool by me.
….but the Piano? Not so much.
The exception was in NOLA Music. Once I started heading down, I started hearing how it was the perfect bridge between Melodic Music and Percussive Music. Any High School Band member will tell you that the Piano is classified as a Percussion Instrument, and nowhere is that better heard than in NOLA, where there’s a local history of creative musicians bending that thing to their will in ways not found elsewhere. I began to hear the Piano in a new light.
Here’s how the puzzle pieces all fit together in perfect New Orleans style.
Guess who is playing at the Maple Leaf on Friday November 16th, right before Mr. Blotto, promoting his new Album?
Jon Cleary…the one guy I’ve always wanted to see live but never could.

He goes on at 8.
We hit at 10.
…Same Room. Same Stage. Same Night.

Thanks NOLA…

-Chief

As you may have heard, we are headed to New Orleans in November to play a weekend of Shows. Playing NOLA (NewOrleansLousianA/NOLA) has been a dream for us for a long time. Since we now have this Blog thing at our disposal we thought we’d take a little time and talk about why that is.
If the USA is a Melting Pot, then New Orleans is the most northerly Caribbean pot on the stove. It has a mix of Native American, Creole, African, Celtic/Southern, Caribbean and more influences rubbing shoulders on a daily basis. This has given the US (and the World) a number of unique developments.
In the Food Area, the most obvious mix is the Creole/French cuisine intersecting with the Cajun Style. While the former owes a debt to the predominantly French influences of NOLA’s High Society of the earlier days with it’s rich sauces and delicately balanced dishes, the Cajun food leans toward the hotter spices and more earthy ingredients. When you put these together on the same street, you end up with a confluence of dishes not found anywhere else in the World. Thankfully this still exists today.
What really hits us in the Band however, is how this intersection of Cultures became ground zero for some of the most unique Music that we have ever heard.
Just as the Cultures that drifted through New Orleans brought their Cuisine, they also brought their Music. New Orleans is the home to both Jazz and Rock and Roll, as well as Funk and Gospel. Zydeco is brought in through the Cajuns, bending the Accordion to Lead Guitar status in ways I never thought possible. Take a walk down Frenchman Street and you’ll hear Reggae, Funk, roving Drum & Brass Bands, Country and Rock. And that’s on your average Tuesday night.
As a band that tries to be as eclectic as possible, NOLA has always shown us what can happen when you put your joy and pain into your own music and infuse that with the influences brought by those around you. It’s been a dream of ours to play our Music there, and in November, we will…