Michigan and Ohio Together at Peace

That day we left Milwaukee was some Mad Max: Fury Road type business, just with less desert and less Charlize Theron. So actually not really like Mad Max at all, except that we had a lot of serious driving to do. And Adam grunts like Tom Hardy instead of talking.

(This is a long post. Strap yourselves in if you’re not one of our moms.)

We played Bremen Cafe in rainy Wisco and got about four hours of sleep before our 5:30am departure for home, where we were on the 1pm Hotel Tango stage of the Virginia Avenue Folk Fest. VAFF featured Kopecky, Joe Pug, and Charlie Parr, as well as some of our personal road pals like Motherfolk, Von Strantz, Gypsy Moonshine…hell of a lineup. Unfortunately for us, we had to blaze in and blaze out—we grabbed burgers and veggie burgers alike along the canal in SoBro with a handful of our loved ones, then marathoned back up to Jackson, MI, where we played at our oldest Michigan mainstay, the Bifferhaus Brewing Co., where Terry never lets your ceramic mug empty all the way. A wild-eyed old dude videotaped our whole performance with some kind of makeshift phone in a box, duct-taped up like he was warding off alien mind-readers, all the while mumbling off numerics of video resolutions that we figured were probably made up.

Photo by David Render

Photo by David Render


Our day off: it snows in May. I cry at a baptism service because the symbolism wrecks me. We watch Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors. We drive back to Grand Rapids to smash a 30-rack with Jonny Carroll and friends, shoveling down vegetarian pasta and engraining ourselves heavily in a debate about the state and merits of pop music.

The next day, our friend Ricky took us out to Rosy Mound in Grand Haven, an idyllic little beach town, where we hiked up the backdune forest and played along the coast of Lake Michigan. That night took us to Lightfast Coffee Bar, a hip little startup with a listening room vibe, where Jonny hosted us and The Crane Wives for a beautifully attentive audience, concretizing Grand Rapids as a staple for our future routes, if only for how many people in flannel shirts bought our vinyl or whatever.

Jonny Carroll
We had one more night of carousing with Carroll and co. over in Lansing at the Avenue Cafe alongside another MI friend-band, Olivia Mainville & the Aquatic Troupe, where the weather started to feel like summer and our friend Doug let us stay in his house that was way too clean for our sweaty selves, before we headed down to the Buckeye state.

Columbus has become another one of our favorite cities and folks really came out of the woodwork to make our show at Spacebar a memorable one. Their trivia night went over time, so we found ourselves battling it out with a bunch of aggressive nerds. (Oh yeah, we totally won one because Jason came up with, “My Big Fat Fleek Wedding” in a pun-based romantic comedy category.) We stayed with my old cellist, Topsy, and her husband Chris (suh dude?,) and we rousted about with their dog, Argo. We played in the lake at Hoover Dam and hammocked in blooming summer, hiding from the high school girls who walked the trail because we were in boxer shorts and not trying to get arrested.

Gorge State Park in Cuyahoga Falls
Canton: we played with a band we love, Portage, and drank Genessee and talked to a girl who worked there about a lot of Star Wars and obscure comics and whatnot.

I turned 25 in Akron. My friend Noel lives in Cuyahoga Falls, and he helped curate an exquisite five-star day. We had Indian food, my band members bought me used books on Kerouac and Brautigan, and we hiked the Gorge Metropolitan Park, free-climbing the limestone ledges, building cairns, skipping rocks, and trespassing on a sickeningly high catwalk beneath the bridge that crossed the river. The show in Akron was a full rock show. I’ve never had actual fog envelope me during “Cave of Clouds.” That was pretty weird. But the rest of it was electric. And my friend Tammy made us a casserole that lasted about thirty seconds. Getting older is not as bad as I’ve always thought it would be.

Joshua of Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery
Adam is from Youngstown—if you’ve ever talked to him for five seconds, you know this—and so we usually slay there. Suzie’s is always a good time. Our friend Gator is the only man I’ve ever hugged who makes me feel like a toddler. Uncle Jay is the only horse trader I’m friends with so far. And Mrs. Shuntich cooks the crap out of pierogis/manicotti/salmon/pot roast/strawberry pie/mashed potatoes/spice cake/you get the point by now, so we gained back all the weight we’d lost on the road so far. And Y-town has, oddly, some of my favorite falafel in the world, right out of a weird convenient store in a downtown strip. We spent our next (and last) day off swinging from a 30+ foot high rope swing in the neighbor’s lake and hanging out a bonfire straight out a bro-country song where Adam killed the truck battery playing country radio and getting his cheeks kissed by hometown girls in the headlights.

Youngstown Hangs
We’re a week or so past Youngstown now, into stranger country and back in belt-tightening mode, eating cold soup out of cans and cursing the toll booths. But it feels like tour, and I’m tired and I’m really happy.

Photo by Dmitri Suleymanyan

Photo by Dmitri Suleymanyan

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.

-Joshua