Back In North Attleboro

Not really all too much to report here, but folks are asking me “what’s going on?”, “when’s the next post coming out?” so what the hell, here it goes:

Essentially I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Burlington and Plymouth/Cape Cod for the past month.

June 10 & 11 I was in Plymouth for a couple gigs at Shanty Rose and New World Tavern.

Monday following I played Big Fattie’s BBQ in White River Junction and hung out with my friend Micah, shot a few rounds of pool. He is quite a lot better than me— I may as well have been playing with a blindfold. Oh well. At least the beer was cold.

The rest of that week I spent in Burlington: saw Aunt Margaret on Tuesday, had sushi with my friend Kaitlyn on Wednesday, Thursday played Stone Corral Brewing Co. (solid show), and then Friday…

Friday was interesting. You see, I had picked up a gig at this Democratic event through a friend of a friend. A free gig. Telecast-type thing; it was to be broadcast live from a TV studio of some kind, there were other parties being held around the state, streaming it love over the internet, doing fundraising, raising awareness of issues, etc.

Anyways. To make a long story short, I backed out of the gig about two hours before I was supposed to play. I’m not proud of it, but that’s what I did. Something felt off about the whole thing; I went with my gut. If you’re curious, here’s why:

1. I’m not much of a Democrat. Actually, these days I find myself on the other side of the divide. Thus, even though I agreed to the gig for the exposure, knowing that I would be able to hold my tongue, I did so with an uneasy feeling, knowing that I would not be among people with whom I share opinions on certain policies, etc.

2. The scheduling was crap. I was supposed to play for ten to fifteen minutes at the beginning, then sit around for two hours listening to speakers, and then play for another five minutes at the end. Yuck.

3. The organizer called/texted me too much. It was awkward. For a guy that had booked me two days prior, he was too eager; too friendly. It turned me off.

Ultimately I sent him a text saying that I couldn’t make it. I felt bad for backing out, but it was the right decision for me.

Saturday I was back to Plymouth for another round: Shanty Rose on Saturday night and New World Tavern on Sunday morning for Father’s Day. Both were decent.

The Shanty seems to really like me and has asked me to stay on as a regular performer on Sunday nights.

NWT on the other hand is not interested in continuing a run of Sunday brunch gigs, which we had discussed several weeks ago, citing that I am not drawing a crowd that wouldn’t be there otherwise. Boo hoo.

So that was last week. This week I have been holed up in North Attleboro, working on a confidential project in the mornings and playing poker at Twin Rivers Casino in the afternoons. Big win on Monday (+$156), followed by a loss on Tuesday (-$200), brought it back up to even yesterday, and today I figured I would lay off, take a break, have a beer, write a blog post, you know…

Headed to Falmouth tomorrow to busk Friday & Saturday; will be back at Shanty Rose on Sunday, and next week I’m headed to Connecticut.

And finally, I’m pleased to say that it’s my grandma Nancy’s birthday today, so happy birthday Grandma! Hope the weather’s great in Florida.

Till next time, peace y’all,

Tyler

Notes From A Rainy Monday Visit With My Grandfather In North Attleboro

Whoops. This article was supposed to be posted last Monday but I accidentally left it in the drafts folder:

Rain. Rain. I won’t complain. Rain again another day. Go for it.
Honestly, it feels like home here in New England. Except for the perrenial foliage. And the traffic.

Adding to that feeling today is the warm welcome that I received from my grandfather when I popped by his place yesterday morning to say hi. We spent most of the day chatting, first over coffee, later over dinner.

He’s a very interesting man, Poppa Gallotta. Born in 1932, his childhood years were shadowed by the Great Depression and World War II. He graduated high school in 1949. Two years later he was with the Army in North Korea serving as a bombardier. Imagine that! Twenty years old and halfway around the world, fighting the Communists,

Always a jokester, he recounted his most treasured memory from his time in Korea: an incident in which he and and a buddy landed themselves in trouble for drinking & partying and were assigned to a week of ditch digging. About halfway through their assignment the two friends realized that if they dug the ditches at a certain angle, they could divert the drainage flow towards the BOQ (the officers’ quarters). Naturally they took advantage of the opportunity and quietly served the officers of the regiment a winter’s worth of muddy boots to repay the privilege of digging the ditches. Good trade, no?

After the war was over he returned home and spent a few years at Wentworth Institute of Technology. We didn’t talk much about what he learned there (business management and manufacturing processes, presumably) but I can tell you that it served him well: for the rest of his life Poppa Gallotta was a self-employed businessman. Over the course of his lifetime he operated several businesses, the most significant of which was a jewelry and trinket factory where he and his staff would cast and finish brooches, chains, crosses, lockets, necklaces, pins, promotional trinkets, and other various small metal items.

At one point in the seventies when the Coors Brewery was busy expanding to the west coast he employed thirty-five young women in his factory for a number of months to wrap tiny Coors labels around miniature cans as a promotional giveaway for the Coors salesmen. At another point he produced several runs of the Shelby Cobra logo for the Ford Motor Company. He even developed and patented an invention called a button-topper, which was essentially a gold or silver case that you could wrap around your buttons to add an extra touch of class to a shirt (disappointly it failed, likely due to the fact that it added yet another step to buttoning a button, a pesky task already).

As his business grew, he studied the stock market and began investing, developing a passion for playing the stocks that continues to this day. He talked about how stock trading through brokers back in the day was more expensive than it is now, as brokers would generally charge 10% on trades and would take 10% of sales, whereas now through various internet brokerage sites you can make a trade or a sale for a flat $7. He mentioned that in the early sixties he had written a book about how to invest in the stock market and expressed some regret that he hadn’t published it.

 In any case, Poppa has always been and continues to be a man who likes to stay busy and live with vigor. He’s maintained a hobby of fixing up and playing around with various vehicles throughout his life; as a young man he and his brother used to enjoy motorcycles, and to my knowledge he’s restored at least two different Jeeps from the late forties/early fifties, a seventies Corvette, and a Model T. He’s talking about getting another Model T soon.

New RSS Feed Email List Is Now Up & Running!

Hey y’all, my apologies for the empty email this AM. I’m pretty good at guitar, but not so good at computers and programming stuff on the internet. Thanks for bearing with me while I sort out the wiring here at Tyler Preston HQ.

Going forward, posts that I make to tylerpreston.com will be sent out via the email list/RSS feed that I have set up. If you don’t want to get regular updates from me, please unsubscribe. Otherwise you’re on the list and will be receiving sem-regular updates from me from here on out. I won’t be posting daily as a rule, but you can generally expect 2-5 posts per week.

Also, I got my Patreon page set up, so if you dig what I’m doing and want to make a monthly contribution to my bottom line, head on over there and sign up as a a sponsor now.

As for me, I’m still in Massachussetts currently, it’s Friday afternoon and I’m getting ready to head over and play some guitar at a friend’s BBQ. Hope you are all enjoying your Friday, and I’ll be back at you with another post following my shows at the Shanty Rose this weekend in Plymouth. Cheers.

Booked June 11 + 15 @ New World Tavern

Pleased to announce that I’ve booked two brunch gigs at the New World Tavern in Plymouth, Massachusetts, inarguably the best venue in town.

Incredible beer list (34 on tap!), excellent menu featuring contemporary American pub fare alongside a funky combo of Asian and Latin offerings, two stages, great owners, the list goes on.

I will start with a couple preliminary dates on Sunday, June 11 and again on Sunday, July 15. If the first couple shows go well, then we’ll develop it into a weekly thing.

Cross your fingers for me!

Notes From The Past Two Days in Provincetown

After an unremarkable evening in Hyannis, I awoke on the morning of Memorial Day to a lovely Irish mist.

Cool and refreshing, the droplets swirled around me in the air, heavy enough to dampen my face but light enough to keep my clothes dry. Breakfast consisted of coffee and half a cigar left over from the night before as I did up the bedroll, converted the Element back to Travel Mode, and made plans for the day.

I tossed around the idea of heading to visit my grandfather outside Providence. Also considered heading to Connecticut to pick up a forgotten yoga mat. Settled on McDonald’s for WiFi.

Say what you will about McDonald’s but the coffee is cheap and the WiFi is fast. There are far worse places in which to write. I sat in the front window and knocked out my Monday post while the mist turned into rain. Once done I turned to the traffic report: both bridges clogged with vacationers leaving the Cape.

Rather than turn back and waste time in traffic, I decided to head to Provincetown via Chatham and finish my exploration of the Cape. It turned to out to be an excellent decision as I will explain momentarily, but first let me detail Chatham:

Essentially the opposite of Hyannis, which was sprawling and lowbrow, Chatham is a highly concentrated, highbrow New England hamlet about twenty miles away. I was able to walk from tip to tail of the town in less than ten minutes, during which time I encountered innumerable boutique shops of all kinds. Not much in the way of music venues or busking nooks, however.

I followed my nose to Squire, the preeminent local pub. Very cool establishment, great decorations, great staff. I would’ve stayed longer but the rain started forcing the vacationers in for lunch and by one the place was uncomfortably full of people chattering, so I took off, hanging at a coffeeshop down the street for another hour before deciding to move on towards Provincetown.

As I made my way north towards Provincetown, the weather got better. A fortuitous sign. I arrived a little after two.

First thing I noticed: there is no free parking anywhere in Provincetown.

The place is wedged against the ocean at the very tip of the Cape, so space is at a premium. Add the fact that it’s hands down the coolest, hippest place to visit within at least 100 miles, and you have a downtown parking situation in Provincetown that rivals that of Boston or New York. Depending on location and time of year, parking rates can range from $25/hr to $10/day.

Second thing I noticed: Provincetown is amazing.

The best way to describe Provincetown is that it’s Cape Cod’s answer to Key West, Florida. The similarities abound.

Easy, breezy, laid back? Check.

Adorable old-world boulevards and waterfront district? Check.

Plenty of places to shop, eat, drink, and be merry? Check

Gay mecca? Check.

Incredible vacation spot with a ton of history? Check.

What immediately caught my attention was the high amount of foot traffic and the condensed nature of the streets. Somewhat similar to the old quarter of St. Augustine, though with some vehicular traffic. In any case, having buildings so close together like that is perfect for busking as it organically increases your volume.

Even though it was starting to get late in the day, I decided to try my hand at busking, playing on a corner by an ice cream shop for about an hour before the crowds started to dissipate. Made fifteen dollars. Not too shabby, considering the weather (overcast, misty, very much jacket weather). I anticipate a full day in the sun would be more lucrative.

I stayed the night and returned to the downtown district in the morning to busk again, but the Memorial Day crowd had vanished. After playing for an hour and making about fifty cents, I packed it up and returned to Plymouth.

Will be here in Plymouth for the next several days, writing and doing black-and-white work. Got emails to send, songs to finish, and am booked this weekend at Shanty Rose, so no rambling till next week.

Notes From Yet Another Rainy Monday, This Time In Hyannis

The weather in New England has been weird this year. That’s what everyone keeps saying. Oddly unseasonable. Almost unreasonable. The worst spring ever— there basically hasn’t been a spring, according to most folks. Anyways.

I’m in Hyannis today. Not particularly impressed. Rolled in here about six last night after two decent afternoons of busking in downtown Falmouth. Wow! What a difference. The contrast between the two areas is stark, to say the least. Falmouth is cute and quaint, the shopping district is gentrified but unpretentious, clearly a place of the middle class. Hyannis, on the other hand, smacks of what happens when the middle class gets cut out by bad governmental policy and cultural erosion. Let me paint you a picture.

Walking through the streets of downtown Hyannis yesterday evening I observed several things:

First and foremost, the downtown district around Main Street lacks a cohesive feel. There is no continuity between the architecture of the buildings, no evidence of any particular intention on the part of city council in cultivating a particular feel or vibe. Seediness abounds.

The bars are mostly vintage establishments, a little rough around the edges; not bad, but not necessarily good. The gas stations are beat. There are dingy motels placed in rows along the side streets like Monopoly pieces, the neon signs flicker, missing a letter here and there. All in all the place has the feel of a seventies strip mall that’s slowly running out of luck.

Behind the counters and in the kitchens, watching the shops and cleaning the stores, the staff are mostly African or Hispanic, first generation or so judging by their accents. They seem happy, but I wonder what they must think about the crowd of older, whiter, more affluent Boomers from which their primary clientele derives.

Up and down the street, there are plenty of new, upscale cars: Audi, BMW, Mercedes, occasionally a Tesla. In the windows of the restaurants: polo shirts and pearls. Looking across the street from the McDonald’s where I am currently sitting I can see a particularly nice shopping area named the Christmas Tree Promenade that features a Trader Joe’s, a Yankee Candle, and a Starbucks.

There is obviously still money here in Hyannis. But it appears that it does not live here anymore. It passes through without care.

One is left to wonder what it must have looked like back in its glory days when the Kennedys used to summer here. I am not convinced that this the image of the Great Society that we were sold in ’64.

I have traveled back and forth across the US in one way or another for as long as I can remember, and the most important observation I have made and continue to make is that—just like people—when places give up their integrity, they lose their character.

I cannot say for certain that is what happened here in Hyannis, but I suspect it to be so. I have seen places like this all around the country and I expect to see more. Whether that is a good thing or not remains to be seen. In spite of the rather depressing quality of the town itself, there is still evidence of success here… the question is: whose?

Notes From A Rainy Monday In White River Junction

Excellent weekend! pulled off three gigs in three days: played Burt’s Irish Pub in Stowe on Friday night, brunch at Bagito’s in Montpelier on Saturday, and afternoon BBQ at Big Fattie’s on Sunday.

In between, I managed to scope out several other joints in Montpelier and Barre, such as Charlie O’s, a funky little dive bar, and Positive Pie, a tastefully modernized, slightly upscale pizza parlor. Both very cool; will be getting in touch with them and hopefully returning in the future for a show.

Speaking of which: I booked my next show at Stone Corral Brewing Company in Richmond, Vermont. I will be returning there for a gig on Thursday, June 15. My plan is to book another couple of shows in the area to round out the schedule for that weekend, and then to connect that string of shows to my July 1 show in Wallingford. After that my gig schedule will be more solid. I’m having no trouble booking and busking so far and the rhythm of the road will only get easier to keep up with as I continue to develop my circuit and secure gigs further and further in the future.

Anyways, post-gig at Big Fattie’s my friend M and I went over to Hanover for a couple rounds; we hit Salt Hill Pub and Canoe Club, two other venues that I am looking into. Both were fun, on the mellow side (it was a Sunday night after all), but we did run into several folks that Micah knew and had a relaxing and entertaining evening in spite of what I would term a general lack of exciting action and activity.

There was a little excitement though: After we left Canoe Club, M and I stopped on the sidewalk to have a smoke. While we were smoking he said that he needed to take a look at the wall. I suggested that he pop into the alley for a moment. He did. While he was back there he found a 2/3 full case of Coor’s Light— what luck! So, after returning to his house, we ended the night sipping Rocky Mountain spring water and discussing the fine points of hip hop with his friend W.

Finally at about 1a I decided it was bed time so I rolled out to sleep in the Element. It was drizzling rain, but the temperature was around 63 degrees so I slept with the rear hatch window open to the outside. The futon was super comfortable, and listening to the rain and breathing in the damp, fresh air was incredibly relaxing as I fell asleep.

So, that was my weekend. It’s Monday now. I’m still in White River Junction. Thinking I will play again at Big Fattie’s this evening and take off for Boston or Worcester in Massachussetts via Manchester, New Hampshire tomorrow. After that, I’m not 100% sure, but I’m thinking that Myrtle Beach is in my not-too-distant future.

Notes From The Past Two Weeks in Burlington

Since leaving Alaska on May 1st, I’ve spent the last two weeks in limbo, mostly in Burlington, Vermont. I’ve acquired a reliable vehicle, booked and played two gigs at Stone Corral Brewing Co., conducted several afternoon busking sessions on Church Street, and met a number of very cool, down-to-earth Vermonters.

But my time in limbo is finally over. Alaskan license plates & registration for my touring rig (a 2005 Honda Element) have arrived, and I am officially free to ramble as I please.

For the moment however I am sitting in Starbucks, enjoying the air conditioning, and not going anywhere. Still have a few things to wrap up here in before I can hit the road: I’m waiting on the futon mattress for the back of the Element, and also for my driver’s license to come in from Alaska (it arrived too late for Dad to send it with the plates).

No big deal though. Hanging in Burlingtion for a few days will be fun. It’s graduation weekend here, which means the students and their parents will be brunching and ice-creaming all over downtown, so busking is likely to be lucrative.

I also need a few days to buckle down and put in some computer-time networking and booking gigs. I have leads to follow up in Stowe, Montpelier, White River Junction, and New Haven right now, and more prospective places to look into than I know what to do with. Seems like everyone I meet knows a cool little joint in the next town over that I need to check out.

I booked one yesterday at Jake’s down in Wallingford, Connecticut for Saturday, July 1st, which is a good ways out. I expect from that date onward I will be booked most weekends, but leading up to July my schedule is likely to be spotty at best: lots of pop-up gigs and busking; nothing with any significant promotion. Thankfully improvisation is my strong suit.

In any case I’ll keep you posted. I told Mom and Dad that if they require signs-of-life that they can always check the blog or my Twitter feed, AKA the mini-blog. My intention from here on out is to publish a regularly weekly update on Mondays as best I can, and to post more often as my schedule permits.