Dispatches from Spring Break ’99

It’s Spring Break. It’s at least 1/4 Spring Break. These arbitrary forays into leisure are ghost memories from many moons ago to the like of Cody and Ryan and me. But Adam has another month and a half left of his institutional academic pursuits, so Spring Break remains a construct inside the Train Robbing scoundrels’ paradigm.

We decided to take full advantage of this reprieve to cover some easterly ground. Before we left though, we made a stop at the oldest of stomping grounds: the campus coffeeshop at Anderson University, Mocha Joe’s. It’s where JP&GTR played our first show ever, opening for Mike Mains & the Branches on Halloween of 2011, before there was ever a record to promote. We figured it’s been long enough since we were on campus that we’d be old and irrelevant now, and we wanted to reconnect with the student population at 3/4 of us’ alma mater. While there, we did a live interview with our brilliant friend Matt Panfill, who directed our official music video for “Cave of Clouds.” That was followed by a live showing thereof. But now everyone can watch it. Right here!

Friday, we played The Comet with our friends, Royal Holland. I ate the spiciest burrito I’ve ever had in my entire life and learned to not do that when you’re living out of the van. There are so many food lessons to learn. The next night, we were supposed to be playing at Canal Street Saloon, but they informed me earlier in the week that they were closing their doors. Our buddy Charles from the Dayton band OldNews hooked us up with a last-minute show at South Park Tavern, where we had a blast playing and watching the incredible Salvadore Ross. We got to see our good buddies Michael and Hannah, with whom we ate tacos and went hiking on some beautiful, understated nature trails just outside the city.
Joshua of Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery
We also got to talk about our songs and do an interview on the Gem City Podcast. That episode will air soon!
Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery on Gem City Podcast

I don’t know if y’all saw it on social media, but we also got to go record at Audiotree last month! That was truly a dream come true and a milestone for us. You can see the whole session on Youtube or the Audiotree website, or listen to/buy the session on Spotify and Bandcamp!

In other news, our licensing agent is a beast and continues to do a ton of excellent work for us. Tonight, “Cave of Clouds,” will be featured in an episode of “The Fosters” on Freeform, formerly ABC Family. And on March 21st, we’ll have a song on the premiere of MTV’s “Teen Mom 2.” You read that right. Teen Mom 2. The song? “Birth Control.” Glorious irony.
Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery on The Fosters

We have a new t-shirt for sale! All of us in this band grew up playing heavier style of music. Adam was into KISS and ACDC, Ryan was/is a Breaking Benjamin type, I was digging Underoath and Comeback Kid, and Cody listened to bands that have words like “decapitation” in their names. I loved the nostalgic aesthetics of the “tough guy” hardcore shirts, so we recruited talented Indianapolis illustrator Daniel Jewett to create a metal-inspired tee for our folky little band. He came up with this shirt that we absolutely love and that you can buy from our online store. Jacob modeling a shirt for Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery

The last bit of news is concerning a lineup change. As much as we absolutely adore Cody Ray, he’s moving on to other things. He’ll be managing Heirloom, a dope little farm-to-table restaurant in Lafayette and spending more time with his family. In his place, we’re happy to recruit our good friends Jason Boucouras, who will be starting in April and accompanying us on a long summer’s worth of heavy touring. Welcome Jason. And we love you Cody. You’ll be missed.
Cody of Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery
We’ve got 100+ shows coming up. Most of them are up on Bandsintown. We can’t wait to see y’all! Covering as much ground as we know how.
Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery at Mocha Joe's in Anderson

Love you all. We’ll keep working. Keep in touch.


Traveling Alone, Pt. 2

I tasted glory in January. Things with the band have been going swimmingly. Our new cast is highly functional and the chemistry is on a scientific level. I love working with Adam, Ryan, and Cody. They’re great players and better friends. We spent three weeks hitting the Midwest and have felt extraordinarily loved. We got to perform at the WinterFolk festival in Dayton, play two really sweet shows in our beloved hometown, record a session at Audiotree, and have our music played in Starbucks stores across the country, thanks to our wonderful, talented licensing agent.
Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery at Audiotree
That being said, February looks quite different. Adam has one semester of school left, so he can’t up and leave with me for three weeks during classes. Since this is my main gig these days, I knew I needed to keep playing out, so I booked 15 or so shows across the Southeast to hit solo. Last year, I’d gotten into the grind of traveling alone. I went out opening for friends’ bands and stayed close to home. Now, coming down off the joy of being back in the full band, I didn’t expect the culture shock of being back in relatively unfamiliar territory with no one in the shotgun seat. In the words of my man Jason Isbell, “I’ve grown tired of traveling alone.”

photo by Lauren Douglas

photo by Lauren Douglas

I started in Nashville. We got on a Palaver Records showcase and I convinced the boys to drive down for a one-off since I figured the chance for building equity would be high. I didn’t expect our 45-minute set to be adjust to a 30ish minute one due to changeover. That translated to them driving about 11 hours to play six songs, which was a bit of a punch in the fiscal gut. But it was a great night. From there, I went south on my own to hit Asheville for the first time. French Broad Brewery presented me with a very kind room full of attentive listeners and delicious IPAs. A friend of a friend even treated me to an awesome dinner at a local Southern cooking spot.

It got a little rougher from there. Atlanta on a weekend night yielded the first Saturday show I’ve ever played for literally zero dollars. Not so much as a CD sold in Decatur. This was offset by my friends Andy and Caitlin showing me that Atlanta is NOT the desolate urban wasteland I always expected it to be from the bypass. We went to record stores, parks, taverns, and the coolest Thai restaurant I’ve ever seen. Oh, and I got hooked on Twin Peaks. I’m an idiot when it comes to sports (your assumptions were safe), and I booked a show on Super Bowl Sunday, but it turned out much better than I’d hoped, and I got to hook back up with my friends from The Howling Tongues. Refreshing that some other folks don’t care about sports!

It was a long and lonely drive to Tampa, where I was featured on an open mic, and I got to hug my old buddy Sal from Vero Beach—turns out he’s grown in to a capable and talented singer-songwriter since I left the South. I remember him as about a 5 year old at the private school we attended in ol’ Vero, but he looks way cooler than me these days, and we’ll all buy his record when he gets around to putting one out, mark my word.

That’s also about the time things got dicey too though. A housing situation fell through (and I was prepared for this having brought my tent,) but on the way down to Cape Coral, I got pulled over for a light out and got antsy about the vigilance of the local police. Wasn’t keen to spend money for a place to pitch my tent, so I found a copse of trees along the causeway and slung my hammock low to the ground. It was nice to sleep to the sound to the waves, but I woke up with a crick in my neck. A passing couple of dog walkers asked if I had slept there, and I admitted I had.

“You’re brave,” the old man said.
“No sir,” I countered. “Just poor.”

I felt bad afterward because I should have qualified that by saying “poor and happy,” or “relatively poor but always provided for,” and it left me with something to chew on all day. That is, until I miscalculated a turn, skimmed a section of berm, and blew out a tired in Fort Myers. Any fiscal progress I made went right out the van window. But I’m perpetually thankful that the resources do exist for me to get these things fixed and keeping trucking, er, vanning. After all, the van is this band’s biggest business asset, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that she’ll always require maintenance.
Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery, camping style
Tonight, I’m writing from a smokey billiards hall with a punk sort of vibe where I’ll play for what I expect to be a largely inattentive audience, but I look forward to the future: visiting the old hometown, hitting a slew of shows in Orlando alongside my best buddy Michael (Teleios), seeing friends in Orlando (The Young Step), and taking a br00tal drive from Jax to Indy to play Chilly Water Brewing Co. weekend after next. From then on, it’s back to full-band season, and I’m excited for what the spring will yield as our snowy landscape remembers what’s alive underneath it. I continue to fall more in love with Indiana and its people and I miss it dearly, even in February.
Matt Gallegos of Tandem Video Design
Some quick news points: we entered the Tiny Desk Contest over at NPR Music. That video can be seen here. Thanks to Matt Gallegos at Tandem Video Design for coming in clutch. He’s a talented and kind dude. You should have seen me wading across the White River in my boxer shorts carrying a desk. Or maybe I’m glad you didn’t now that I think of it.

We just shot an official music video for “Cave of Clouds” with my good friend Matt Panfill. Turns out this man totally deserves his prolific reputation. He’s made awesome videos for a ton of Indy artists, including our good friends in Cyrus Youngman & the Kingfishers and Gypsy Moonshine, and we’re stoked to have our little spot on on his resume now too. That video will be released in March, so keep a sharp eye.

Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery at Virginia Avenue Folk Fest
Our Audiotree session will come out on February 16th. That’s been a highlight of our band’s career for sure. We have another television placement coming up soon that I can’t announce yet, but I certainly will soon. We also procured a sweet spot on the lineup for the Virginia Avenue Folk Fest in May alongside such acts as Joe Pug and Kopecky. I’m geeked about that. And of course, we have about 67,000 shows coming up this year, so look on our website or on the Bandsintown app as I keep updating those with show dates. We’re hitting the Midwest relentlessly, the East Coast in March, and pretty much the whole daggum country this summer, so I look forward to hugging our friends and fans in all those different states. Thanks, as always, for blowing our minds always. We don’t deserve you.

Photo by Marissa Haskins

Photo by Marissa Haskins

Your friend,