The Grand Finale: Iowa City, IA One More Time

With Katie rescued from her Rapid City, South Dakota motel room and back on the bus, the Crew made its way to I-90 for the final leg of the tour.  Scheduled to arrive in Iowa City, Iowa later that week for one final concert, the Crew enjoyed the sights of one of the United States’ most famed highways.  After leaving Rapid City, we (of course) stopped by Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota, enjoying the much-advertised free ice water, five-cent coffee, strangely wonderful sculpture park and delicious donuts.  Not ones to miss a scenic byway or the chance to visit a National Park, the bus made it’s way later that afternoon to the Badlands—the otherworldly geological deposits and the vast gray-white canyons captivated the Crew, its rugged landscape and eerie beauty like something from a science-fiction movie set.  Pat, Ellie and I sat atop the rooftop porch as the bus slowly drove through the park, the sun setting in pinks and blues across the white backdrop of the Badlands and the wind rushing by us.  Unfortunately, the ride was cut short by a park ranger who didn’t think that sitting on top of a moving bus was the safest of ideas.  That evening we camped on the banks of the Missouri River, fearful to leave the bus after a swarm (more like plague) of mayflies had greeted us at the river and splattered across the bus’ windshield.  The next day was spent driving on the not-so-beautiful portions of I-90 (no offense to you, southern Minnesota), ultimately leading us to a campsite at Myre Big Island State Park.  In honor of it being our last official night camping on the bus, Pat cooked up a delicious meal of stir-fried rice and grilled corn (that I had paid far too much for solely because they were being sold by adorable small children) over an open campfire.  We sipped on Grain Belt Beer (not bad!), nibbled on s’mores and enjoyed each other’s company and conversation.  It was a bittersweet final evening spent in the wilderness with Georgia bus and our fellow bus mates The next morning we hurtled towards Iowa City, Iowa, excited to meet up once again with two Iowa City-local bands we had interviewed earlier on in the Locavaux tour—Chasing Shade and The Olympics.  The Olympics had just returned from a regional tour, and Chasing Shade was leaving the next day for Los Angeles to pursue studio time and a professional producer, and so, in the spirit of local support and love of Iowa City music, the two groups decided to host a collaborative concert at the popular local joint, The Blue Moose Tap Room!  The Locavaux Crew was beyond excited when, just a few weeks earlier, we had learned that two of our favorite bands from the tour were performing together in their hometown—it was going to be a prime example of the vibrant and supportive Iowa City community we had once witnessed a few weeks back and an opportunity we couldn’t miss!  We arrived to Iowa City late that afternoon and reunited with the members of both Chasing Shade and The Olympics, happy to see familiar faces and swap summer adventure stories with the two groups.  We even took a few minutes to interview both groups, asking them about the importance of the approaching concert that night and their plans for the future.  That evening we enjoyed ourselves at The Blue Moose Tap Room while listening to both groups perform incredibly well played and energetic sets on stage.  Having listened to both of their CDs numerous times over in the bus throughout the earlier portion of the summer, the Crew was able to dance and sing right along with the other fans!  However, it was particularly moving to see the giant crowds of fans and family supporting the arrival home of The Olympics and the final hometown performance of Chasing Shade—talk about community.  The highlight of the night, you might ask?  The two groups on stage together performing The Chain by Fleetwood Mac!  Or maybe it was the five-person bus dance party the Crew had while getting ready for our evening out.  From the reuniting to the dancing to the singing to the late-night snacking, it was an evening perfectly befitting of the Locavaux Project and it’s winding-down tour.

The next morning we enjoyed a locally-famed breakfast from the Hamburg Inn (Pie Shakes—you seriously need to try them) and headed back to good ol’ I-80, an interstate we had become familiar with earlier on in the trip while heading West through Iowa.  We spent the morning taking in the open road and as much of life on the bus (that we had started to take for granted!) as we could before reaching our final destination:  Chicago.  With heavy hearts, we dropped Ellie off at the airport later that afternoon, sad to say goodbye to one of our most beloved (and enthusiastic) bus mates.  We made our way north of Chicago to Lake Forest, Illinois and the Scribner’s driveway; we were happy to be greeted by family and a delicious meal but couldn’t knock a notion of melancholy upon realizing that the bus ride of a lifetime had officially come to an end.


Despite the end to our incredible and eye-opening road trip tour of American music scenes, we’re excited to announce that the Locavaux Crew will be living in Hamilton, New York this coming fall as we work on postproduction and editing for the documentary feature.  Stay tuned for more announcements regarding the documentary, and, even more exciting, the new reincarnation of Georgia the bus!  She’ll be living in Hamilton as well, so who knows what new business plans the future has in store for her…  Thank you for your continued support and love, words cannot describe how inspiring this summer on the bus has been for the Locavaux Crew and friends.

Midwest is the Best Part II: Iowa and Nebraska

Seriously, we aren’t kidding when we say that Midwesterners are the best.  The Midwest hospitality and friendliness didn’t stop in Minneapolis—as we visited Iowa City, Des Moines, Omaha, we felt even more love from the great plain states.  So much so that we decided to give you a list of the highlights, a.k.a. the nicest of the nice things we experienced in Iowa and Nebraska these past few days. Iowa City, IA

  • Meeting up with the Iowa City local band, The Olympics.  These kids waited around for us (we ran a tad late due to a fuel filter change outside of Minneapolis—that wasn’t so nice) to play us a few of their songs and hang out on the bus.  We haven’t laughed that hard in a while.  We also learned that beakers are the new hipster drinking-vessel of choice.  See you later, mason jars!
  • Grabbing a cup of coffee with Elliott and Griffen of Iowa City group Chasing Shade to talk about local Iowa City musicians, their aspirations for the future, and their own upcoming Kickstarter campaign.  These guys were incredibly nice and enthusiastic to answering any and all of our questions.  Good luck out in Los Angeles, you two!  We know Chasing Shade is bound for great things.

Des Moines, IA

  • Meeting up with Onnalee Kelley (a fellow Colgate-graduate) and her family in their lovely home in Des Moines!  The Kelley’s not only provided us with an air conditioned bedroom and showers during one of the worst heat waves the bus has experienced yet (95 degrees!) but also took us to a tasty Mexican food diner, fed us a delicious breakfast, and did our laundry.  Thanks Kelley’s!  We’ll never pass through Iowa again without stopping by to say hello—you guys are the best!
  • Speaking of delicious Mexican food:  El Patio.  If you’re in Iowa City, make sure to stop by this restaurant because man does that place do enchiladas right.
  • Meeting up-and-coming Des Moines band, DesMunks!  These guys let us peek into their practice session to hear a little bit of their incredible local music.  A little bit of jam, a little bit of funk, and a little bit of jazz, these three musicians are cooking up something really special in Des Moines.

Omaha, NE

  • Upon arriving in Omaha, we stopped by the city Visitor’s Center and met the nicest folks!  One older woman offered to take us out to a vegan dinner, and another (actually a musician herself) gave us a copy of her own band, Drake Hotel’s, CD!  She’s really quite good, check her out here!
  • Sitting down for dinner and drinks with the founder of, Andy Norman, and devoted HB team member, Lauren Schomburg.  These two were the most enthusiastic, devoted individuals we’ve met yet while on the road.  Their passion to bring the world-renowned respect the local Nebraska music scene deserves is incredibly admirable and outrageously cool.  We tip our hats off to these guys, they’re doing great things for their community and for the aspiring musicians in Nebraska.  Make sure to check out what Hear Nebraska is all about here.  What’s more, they took us out to dinner to a great little spot in the Benson neighborhood of Omaha: Benson Brewery!  Good food, good beer, good company.  What more could we have asked for?
  • Interviewing Jeff Taffola of Saddle Creek Records.  We got to sit down with one of the members of the Saddle Creek Record Label team and talk about what it’s like to work for a record label based in Omaha.  A cool guy with even cooler bands signed to the label.  Check their musical roster out here!
  • Later that evening, the Locavaux Project’s bus’s name was born:  Georgia, The Nutty Bus!  It’s fits perfectly for our almond-colored, slightly loco bus lifestyle.
  • Exploring the Old Market district of Omaha.  A burgeoning scene of independent record stores, restaurants, bars and clothing stores.  We wandered around and did a little bit of retail therapy before hitting the open road to North Platte, Nebraska.  Our favorite purchase:  matching hemp Aladdin pants.  Chase even got his own cream, hemp shirt.  Cult status, here we come!

North Platte, NE

  • A nice, comfy, and cheap camping site right next to the Platte River.  We sat on the rooftop porch, ate dinner, drank some vino verde, played a little guitar, wrote in our journals, and got ready for the journey to Denver, CO the next day.

So, thanks Midwest.  Your temperatures might not have been that pleasant (90 degrees is a little much), but the people that call you home sure were.



Midwest is the Best Part I: Minneapolis, MN

There’s something about the Midwest that just can’t be beat.  You email a band in Minneapolis asking to film their set, and the next thing you know they’re touring you around the city, taking you to their favorite beach hangout and asking if you need their car to do any bus errands.  I’m getting ahead of myself—let’s backtrack to our arrival into Minneapolis, Minnesota this past Saturday evening.  It was a long hot drive from Sayner, Wisconsin to Minneapolis but we made the best of the drive, stopping at Lake Hallie (bucket list check off for Locavaux member Hallie Kohler) and picking up some Wisconsin-famous cheese curds to snack on while driving.  As is the fate of most roadside snacks on the bus, the cheese curds did not remain for long.  We arrived to our friend and fellow Colgate classmate, Laura Jaffee’s, house in the Uptown district of Minneapolis that evening, greeted by not only Laura but an entire gaggle of friends!  Carter Cooper (another Colgate graduate) and a few friends from Laura’s hometown were there to hang out that evening having celebrated the Fourth of July in MPLS a few days prior. We quickly caught up, gave a tour of the bus, and headed to downtown Minneapolis’ most famed venue, First Avenue, to film a local band Laura had turned us onto:  Carroll.  Carroll was actually performing at a smaller stage connected to First Avenue, Seventh Street Entrance, but the gang took a look inside the famous main stage, first, just to see what all the hype was about.  First Avenue is among the most popular local venues in MPLS, bringing in up and comers from across the world to nationally renowned artists (of all genres!) to small, Midwestern-based independent groups.  Seventh Street Entrance, the younger sibling of First Avenue, is a small stage with an audience capacity of about one hundred people and is most famous for its showcasing of the underground punk and metal scenes (fun fact:  back in their early punk years, the Flaming Lips preferred to play at Seventh Street Entrance of all of the venues in Minneapolis!).  The Locavaux Crew got to Seventh Street Entrance in time for the opening act, Adelyn Rose, an indie rock band from Eau Claire, Wisconsin featuring a female lead singer, Addy.  Eager to get a female perspective on local music (having interviewed largely all-male or male-led groups), we sat Addy down and talked to her about the pros and cons of being a woman lead-singer in a small, up and coming, local Wisconsin band.  Carroll came on next, and it was clear from the emphatic cheering received by their first song on-stage that they were the local darlings of the MPLS indie rock scene.  The venue was packed as audience-members swayed to smooth, synthesizer-heavy sound characteristic of Carroll’s tracks. We had the pleasure of sitting down with the incredibly friendly and hilarious four friends that comprise Carroll following their set—we discussed the incredibly (almost to a fault!) supportive local music scene in Minneapolis, their days as Macalester students in neighboring St. Paul, and the awesome collaborations that take place in MPLS among musicians and artists.

And now to that part about that famous Midwestern friendliness.  The crew woke up sweltering in the bus (eighty degree mornings + closed windows + no air-conditioning = human oven, bus-style) and joined Laura and friends at French Meadow Bakery for an out of this world delicious breakfast.  Seriously—if I could eat there every day for every meal, I would, no question.  But for now, might I recommend the vegetarian huevos rancheros?  We then got a call from Carroll guitarist, Max Kalicke, asking if we wanted to hang out and see some of the sights in MPLS.  Already stationed at Calhoun Beach for some lake cooling-off and sunbathing, we met up with Max nearby, hopped in his car, got a quick tour of the Lake of the Isles area, and headed to a more “colorful” lakefront, Hidden Beach. On a separate note:  have we mentioned that whenever the Locavaux Crew gets in a car after traveling in the bus for while, it feels like we’re in a racecar?  Minivans even feel like the stuff of NASCAR.  We hung out with Max and friends for a while, discussing Carroll band members’ favorite memories of concerts and festival appearances, swimming about in the lake, learning about local hotspots in MPLS and St. Paul, and making a plethora of “I’m starting a new business” jokes.  Chase, Laura and I even took our chances and went swimming/wrestling in the natural mud pit found on the side of the lake—it got real messy, real fast.  We said out goodbyes to Max that afternoon and relaxed at Laura’s apartment, talking a walk later that evening in the Uptown area to survey some more local bars and music venues, and headed to bed on the earlier side.  We drove Laura to work the next morning (best arrival to work ever), enjoyed yet another delicious breakfast (Cuban this time!) at Victor’s 1959 Café, and headed out towards Iowa City, Iowa.  Thank you Minneapolis for proving that, while we’ve been met with nothing but hospitality and friendliness all across this fine nation, good ‘ol Midwesterners know just how to make three out-of-town kids on a bus feel right at home.


Keep the Nutty Bus Crackin' (er, Rollin')

We have excellent news!  After a burst of tired, delirious joke-cracking upon our arrival in Omaha, NB, we discovered the name for the Locavaux bus and mobile home-Georgia!  We had been musing on this name for a while.  When on the highway, Georgia seems a fitting name for the bus as she lumbers (gracefully, mind you) through beautiful, vast stretches of open road that the Locavaux Crew has come to love so much.  But we also knew that the almond color of the bus had to be incorporated into the name, as her color stands our amidst a sea of black, red and forest green cars and stark white trucks.  So, because the state of Georgia is known for its production of nuts, we've given Georgia the bus a nickname--the Nutty Bus!  We're excited to finally give our beloved bus, home and office space the full name (and nickname!) she deserves.

Thank you for the support!
Thank you for the support!

And with the bus in mind, and her laundry list of mechanical needs and the expensive cost of fuel to keep her happy and running, we have even more good news!  Many people have asked us if it is still possible to continue to donate to the project despite the close of the Kickstarter funding period.  We’re thrilled at the prospect of continued support for the Locavaux Project, so we’ve created a donation button located on the right side of the “Home” page of this blog.  The PayPal account we’ve set up is an easy and extremely helpful way to give any amount of money directly to the project and to help us continue to travel the country in search of the incredibly talented and diverse local music scenes we can’t seem to get enough of.  So please consider donating if you haven’t already and thank you thank you thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the overwhelming kindness and support you have shown the Locavaux Project.