Thursday morning, I woke up before everyone else. I always wake up before everyone else.

I quietly pulled my toiletry bag out of my underseat cubby, grabbed my book of the moment, and that box of cereal from the night before and snuck out of the bus without disturbing a soul--one of the many benefits of sleeping near the front of a bus packed with boys.

I read in the warm Texas sun until the rest of the boys woke up, which they did in a fairly typical order: Todd, then Phil, Karl, Woodsy, Zach, E, and finally Norm. After freshening up ("cowboy showers" as one GTB boy calls them), we continued south toward Houston.

We got sort of lost and drove around for a while before settling on a quick lunch at Whole Foods, which for most of the crew, means the salad bar. After lunch, everyone loaded up once again and we were on our way to the venue, Fitzgeralds. We were far too early. When we have a bit of free time like this, everyone tends to take a little time to their self. Todd and I wandered to a local coffee shop to read for a bit. I made the mistake of ordering a smoothie without noticing the smoothie ingredients were syrup and ice. Poor choice.

When the two of us arrived back to the venue, Cornmeal was in the midst of soundcheck and some of the other boys were on the courtyard practicing. For me, this is always an enjoyable experience--it's one thing to hear everyone together on stage, playing songs they've practiced and performed so many times they've reached near perfection. It's a completely different thing to hear Woodsy in total concentration on his slide guitar; to watch Phil pace back and forth, taking care to hit all of the right notes; Karl making sure his bass is in perfect tune. It's a song in its own and one that's unique each time.

Later, both bands met up in the green room to enjoy a Mediterranean dinner together before the show.

Then, showtime. Both bands were excellent, though the crowd seemed to be a little hesitate to put their dancing shoes on. They slowly warmed up to the music though and by the end, everyone seemed to be having a great time.

I, unfortunately, do not have any pictures of Cornmeal from the night as I was still feeling the ill effects of that sugar smoothie from earlier in the day. After the GTB boys played, I quickly proceeded to the bathroom to get my nightly routine out of the way (to which a girl asked me in horror, "are you really brushing your teeth in a bar?!"; life on the road, man) and retired to the bus to catch some sleep.

Still quite full from the feast earlier that evening, there were no pit stops for midnight snacks this night, instead we were on our way to Austin. I, folded up in my seat, was out cold. I awoke to the sound of the bus coming to a stop and the boys preparing for another night of sleep.

The Giving Tree Band & Cornmeal/Dallas, TX 10/12/11

October 12th happens to be the birth date of my younger brother, and Texas just so happens to be the state of his birth. So what better way for me to celebrate for him than to fly into that grand state, meet up with my wonderful friends in The Giving Tree Band at the House of Blues Dallas, and continue work on The GTB photo-documentary project I currently have in progress?

After five or six coffees and a short two hour flight, (note to self--lay off the diuretic beverages before sitting in the middle seat on an airplane next to a very tired woman...), I arrived at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. If I were writing an airport review, I might gripe about the lack of available information, the numerous transfers required to get to the desolate train station, and the infrequent service of Dallas' Trinity Railway. Convenience, folks, it's a blessing, not a right. But I'm not writing an airport review, so let's just shuffle by all that.

I did get to the House of Blues, and even managed to make it there before the boys took the stage, spotting Eric and Todd right inside the door. I greeted them with hugs; they greeted me with three vegan tacos from Spiral Diner. These guys know me so well.

Need I tell you that this was a great show? I may have become biased after all the time I have spent alongside the seven boys of The Giving Tree Band, but in the many, many shows I have been witness to, I have yet to see one that I felt was off or riddled with mistakes. (Go find them here or here, like now).

Between helping out with the merch table and shooting photos, I took a small break in the green room. I discovered some leftover Asian peapod stir-fry that the bands had been munching on backstage, and also took the opportunity to wash my face and brush my teeth--you never can tell when another chance may arise.

Cornmeal took the stage next. This was the fourth show I've been a part of with Cornmeal, and much like The Giving Tree Band, they always seem to be on top of their game, emitting an energy that immediately gets the crowd moving.

After the show, the eight of us hopped in The Giving Tree Band's bus and headed to a local grocery store to pick up some late night snacks. I wish I could say that my choice was exciting, but I settled for a box of cereal while the others dined on gluten-free cookie sandwiches, various chocolate treats, chips, and peanut butter covered granola.

Houston bound!

Well, for a bit. Once the sugar wore off and the bus grew quiet, we pulled aside for the evening and caught a few hours of precious sleep before continuing onward the following morning.