I had the privilege of touring with the insanely talented Alexz Johnson this summer. She was opening for Max Schneider on his SAYMAX US/CA Tour. We did 23 shows in 29 days and drove about 9,000 miles.

alexz johnson troubadour los angeles

At the first show in Santa Ana a fan had made a leather jacket with an LED illustration of Alexz’s face on it, so that was exciting.

Alexz Jacket

california troubadour

The LA showcase show at the Troubadour was wild. It was at this show I realized that my job was 50% climbing stairs, 49% not forgetting anything and 1% everything else. Alexz and Megan killed it, all while I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off making sure our VIPs were taken care of, tuning guitars, taking pictures and doing tour managing duties.

alexz johnson troubadour los angeles

We survived the LA show, and next was the San Francisco show. My uncle and cousin came to the show, it was wonderful getting to see them! We held our VIP meet & greet at a wine bar called Etcetera which was super fun, it felt like a birthday party. There were a lot of amazing fans in SF, including Alexz’s youngest fan who was only 2 years old! So cute.

Alexz Johnson

After SF the next city was Bakersfield. It was 108 degrees outside, so load-in was super fun! By fun, I mean I was dying. Next was San Diego! Some of Alexz’s family came to that show, and it was great getting to hang with them. Matti (Alexz’s boyfriend) flew in that night to join us for the next couple days! We all spent some much needed relaxation time in the hot tub at our hotel that night under the palm trees and stars. The drive the next day was 14 hours. We stopped somewhere in New Mexico to see “The Thing”, and that was pretty epic. I won’t tell you what “The Thing” is… you’ll have to go and pay the $1 to see it!

the thing roadtrip roadside attraction

After waving hello to Mexico out our window for a few hours, we passed a fun little border patrol stop where we were asked if we had any dead bodies in the car. Alexz’s response was “not that we know of!” We stopped to eat in Tucson where I annoyed everyone by saying “watch out Tucson!” about 10 times (hopefully someone gets the reference). The following day the drive was still another 5 hours to Dallas. Lord almighty. This was my second time driving across Texas in less than a month. In Dallas, Alexz started asking, “What’s (city we’re in) known for?” Usually one of us would know some good answers, but when we didn’t we would Google it and read the Wikipedia page, hah! We also had a very deep philosophical discussion about how there must be some people that live in Dallas that truly believe it is the most beautiful place on earth… it was then that Alexz wrote her next big hit: “Dallas, the most beautiful place in the world”.

The next day was Houston. Megan and I struck up a conversation with a guy walking to a tour bus in the parking lot of our hotel. He was in the band Bayside and they were about to start Warped Tour. We gave him an EP. Drake was rehearsing for a show in the venue right next to ours that night, and I had to go tell him to stop his rehearsal for our show since the bass was leaking through the walls and interfering with our acoustic show. Afterwards we got to hang out with him backstage since he and Alexz go way back to his Degrassi and her Instant Star days. He was super sweet! The rest of the tour Megan kept using the Drake Shake iPhone app to add Drake to our photo with Drake. Yep.

drake alexz johnson

The next day was another 14 hour drive… to Florida, my home state! That part of the drive is one of my favorites – tons of marshes and swampland, crazy long bridges (the longest one in the world is across Lake Ponchatrain in New Orleans) and wonderfully hillbilly gas stations. The south was a bit scarce on the gluten free/vegan options though, so we had to stop at an Olive Garden for food (they have a gluten free menu that’s not bad!) and I got hit on by a 45 year old guy at the bar. If you’ve ever seen Tiny Toons Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, this town and its people were exactly like the swamp town and alligator people in that movie.

We crashed in St. Augustine for the night, and I’m glad we did because I loveeee St. Augustine. Alexz, Matti and I snuck into the fort. It has a drawbridge and canons. Not bad.

saint augustine florida

staug1

Fort Lauderdale… my high school BFF who I hadn’t seen in years drove up from Miami. That’s a fun perk of tours, you visit a lot of places you wouldn’t otherwise visit so you get to see a lot of friends and family along the way. The next day was Orlando, where my family lives! First order of business in Orlando was saying a tearful goodbye to Matti at the airport. We would miss him and his stories about friends that name their kids “Buck Fred” and his amazing voice impersonations.

My dad, stepmom and little brothers came out to the show and Megan gave my 9yr old brother math lessons when he helped her work the merch booth (hey, you DO use math in real life!) Afterwards we stayed at my parents house and enjoyed some quality hot tub time! In the morning it was off to Atlanta – a 7 hour drive full of billboards advertising peaches, pecans and live baby alligators. Naturally, we stopped to see the alligators…

alligators

The Atlanta venue was in a cool arts complex and my momma and stepdad came to see us! Good times.

The morning brought our last harrowing drive: 14 hours to New York City. We somehow did it, and the next morning I woke up in Brooklyn, and at this point I was waking up every morning with no idea where I was. I had to run an errand to Manhattan that afternoon for t-shirts. I left the t-shirt place with the owner wearing one of our shirts and claiming it was the best shirt he ever made. At this point it was shaping up to be the craziest day/show of the tour. It was a showcase, so lots of important people were coming out. The venue green room was up 3 flights of stairs. There was a huge problem with the sound and we barely got it worked out in time before the show. Whew! I was filming the entire show, only to find out after the fact that the sound guy forgot to record the audio from the board. Overall it was still a smashing success; and Al, Megs and Seth sounded amazing. Afterwards we rewarded ourselves in the bar next door where the hottest bartender in the world, Wolfgang, gave us free drinks! I love you Wolfgang.

nyc

Alexz Johnson Webster Hall

Alexz Johnson Webster Hall

Alexz Johnson Webster Hall

The next few days blurred together… we played a show in Virginia and stayed at what was perhaps the best hotel of the tour: The Governor’s House Inn. When we were checking in, we asked the guy standing next to us if he was the Governor. He wasn’t. We may or may not have walked to our hotel room that night with pepper spray armed and ready to go. Then we were in New Jersey, then Philly… we used Brooklyn as our hub for a few days, which was nice. We frequented this little place that made amazing omelets. Matti and Alexz do an impression of the woman who makes them… when you ask her for salsa, she says “do you want the red one?” in a thick Spanish accent that sounds like a sultry Sophia Vergara. Along with “that’s what she said” jokes, I think that was the most common thing said on tour.

Alexz Johnson

During the Brooklyn stay, Al and I started to watch Twin Peaks. If you have watched Twin Peaks, you know how monumentally awesome this is. It’s like someone seeing Star Wars for the first time. If you haven’t seen Twin Peaks, go marathon the whole series right now, it’s on Netflix. Alexz’s roommate also taught me how to play a ukulele.

In Boston our venue was across the street from Harvard, and the show was at 1pm. Afterwards we walked around Harvard, where I gave an impromptu tour trying to remember all the things I learned on the walking tour I took years ago. I remembered the statue of the three lies at least. And Matt Damon’s dorm room. The important things. Then we found a restaurant and watched Alexz eat a whole lobster while all the vegetarians at the table stared in horror as its juices squirted all over the table (I’m laughing right now). Then we headed back to New York, for our last night there before heading back west…

harvard

harvard2

Pittsburg! We were all pleasantly surprised by how awesome it was. We stayed with Megan’s cousin who is an eligible bachelor, ladies! We played poker, told stories and did laundry… a wonderful thing when you’re on tour. Meg’s cousin also took us (in the middle of the night) to a breathtaking overlook. The next day we drove to Lancaster which was great because we got to see AMISH PEOPLE! We even saw one Amish girl riding an Amish scooter! That’s gotta be 100 points at least. The venue was called “The Chameleon” and it was pretty rad…

Alexz Johnson Lancaster

Alexz Johnson lancaster

Alexz Johnson Lancaster PA

After Lancaster it was time for our big border crossing to Alexz’s homeland! Canada! We sang the Out For A Rip song and rejoiced at being in the great white north. Alexz gave us a cute little tour of her old stomping grounds in Toronto. It was raining really hard when we got to her bro’s place and we all got soaked unloading the van, then we chilled with her bros and had a nice relaxing night. The next day Alexz’s mom and sister got to town. Al had to record some vox at her bro’s studio, so we walked there and then walked around the neighborhood trying to find a vegan friendly restaurant… then it was time to head to the venue, The Mod Club, which was super dope. It was so fun getting to hang with so many of Al’s friends and family. They were all so amazing!

Alexz Johnson Instant Star

The next day we said goodbye to Canada after a nice little drive through southern Ontario. Right before we crossed the border we stumbled upon a guy waving a Canadian flag whilst wearing a Canadian flag cape and baseball cap. Obviously, we had to pull over and get photos. America’s border was a piece of cake – the border agent said “so we got two Americans and one trouble maker?” Exactly.

canada

Next up was Pontiac, MI where Megan is from! We stopped at her parents’ place and they had made us the tastiest lunch ever. Then they came to the show along with Meg’s grandma and brother! That made for all 3 families we got to visit and stay with on the tour. Pontiac was a smaller show, but intimate… and the guys that worked at the venue loved Al’s set so much they bought her EP. The next morning we had another amazing home-cooked meal thanks to Megan’s parents who deserve all the awards. Then it was off… to Chicago!!! I had deep dish pizza that night, and my friend Melissa came to hang with us, so it was a great day.

chicago

The next day was our ONLY day off the entire tour!! We parked the van down by the river and walked around a bit, and found a Native Foods Cafe, where the food was heavenly. Then Megan went to hang out with some friends and Al and I rode bikes down to the water and had way too much fun. We visited cloud gate too, of course!

chicago2

chicago

Alexz Johnson Chicago

chicago

Minneapolis. Our hotel was walking distance from The Mall of America. Al and I rode the roller coaster which we were then banned from for life because we broke the rules. Then we ate at a cool restaurant and invited our server to our show the next night and he actually came! Al always invites our servers to our shows. The venue in Minneapolis was by far my favorite of the tour. First of all, it was in a neighborhood called “Dinkytown”. Second, it had this incredible medieval jungle vibe to it. The restrooms were voted the best in the US, and they deserved that title. Third and most importantly, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile drove by the venue. 1,000,000 points!

minneapolis

St. Louis… we found out on the day of the show that St. Louis would actually be our last show of the tour. Max had to cancel the Kansas City show. We didn’t have to cancel, so we worked it out with the venue so that Alexz would now headline and we had a local opener. That night we said goodbye to the Max crew – sad day! Photos were taken and hashtags were used and the SayMax tour was officially over for us… but now we had one headlining show!

max

So, at some point on the journey, Alexz started singing the “shooby doobie do, oohhh” line from Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love Yous” and Megan and I joined her in unison on the “oh-oh” and we started doing it all the time. We finally recorded a video of it the second-to-last day of the tour. The midwestern hillbillies in the gas station were terrified.

The last show was bittersweet. We did VIP in a rad alleyway and had a lot of super awesome people come out despite the crazy cancellation/rebooking… and Megan played a virtual keyboard on her iPad. Cutting edge.

kansas city

The following morning Megs left before Al and I because she had a crack of dawn flight so I said goodbye to her in my sleep. When Al and I returned the rental I thanked God that we managed to drive the thing 9,000 miles without adding a single scratch to it, and the rental guy said “you drove here from L.A.?!” and sounded so impressed. We were like “uh, a lot further than that actually!” I was flying home with 2 drums and 2 bags and Al was flying home with 4 bags, so we had to do a fun elevator-curbside-bus shuffle. Later that day I landed in sunny Los Angeles wondering what on earth had just happened — had it really only been a month?!

Ps. My GoPro got some fun dashboard footage of our journey: