West Coast Tour
Otherwise known as Alexa Dexa’s West Coast Tour of Fine Ethiopian Eateries & Shows When They Weren’t Being Cancelled.
Although I have an affinity for composing for microwave, I have no tolerance for feeling what is the equivalent of being inside an operational one. The only redeeming component to bearing the heat was the opportunity to explore the exquisite passageways over and within the Hoover Dam, with its marvelous art deco facade and interior.
Black Rock City
9.2 Dustfish Stage
9.5 Center Camp Cafe
The home of Burning Man and radical inclusion, where you’re welcome everywhere and where everywhere is a work of art, including yourself.The magnitude of magic distilled and unleashed in this “leave no trace” temporary city is impossible to recreate with stories, photos, or even videos. Nothing can prepare you for the emotional benevolence, good-will, and creative freedom comprising that ecosystem of living art until you experience it yourself. I had the immense pleasure of sharing my music at the Dustfish Stage and to a beautiful collection of people at Center Camp Cafe. And while my lungs and desk bells may have filled with fine alkaline dust between each phrase, they were performances I wouldn’t change for the world.
9.10 The Redwood Bar & Grill
9.14 Ham & Eggs Tavern
9.15 Bar Lubitsch
LA is home to many a nondescript building and a public transit system that requires 1 full hour to traverse all of 8 miles. Here I met up with my unimaginably imaginative and remarkably talented composer friend, Michael Oldham, who recently released his charming album “Grand Delusions On A Small Scale“, which I couldn’t recommend more highly for your listening pleasure. Together we explored the Hollywood Cemetery, journeyed to the Griffith Observatory to get a good look at Saturn, and swam amongst the Pacific Ocean’s tumultuous waves. It was Michael who recognized that my show at The Redwood Bar & Grill was also the filming location for scenes of 500 Days of Summer and Bridesmaids. He also helped me to leave behind this gorgeous ugly sweater because my collection is getting a little too extensive. It was also in LA that I was able to reconnect with my brief stint as an extra in Matthew Barney’s newest work “River of Fundament”, which was on view at the Geffen Contemporary along with the sculptures that featured prominently in the film, which in a way was a documentation of the process for the making of those sculptures.I also took a little visit to the tar pits to peruse true fossils. As someone who has always been terribly disappointed by museums showcasing casts of fossils, it was seriously cool that everything at the tar pit museum came straight out of the tar pits themselves. My first of many delicious Ethiopian meals to come was shared with trumpeter extraordinaire Hannah Ureste, who trekked to the Ethiopian district with me.
9.12 The Coachella Valley Art Scene
Michael and I road tripped to Cathedral city for my show at The Coachella Valley Art Scene. Prior to the show, we went to the Palm Springs cemetery to see Frank Sinatra’s final resting place, took an impromptu hike to watch the sun set over the valley, and inadvertently ended up at one of the worst establishments for burrito-eating in an attempt to avoid the lard-based cooking in authentic Mexican cuisine. (Sorry Michael!) CVAS was definitely one of the cuter venues I played! Sarah Scheideman, founder of this cultural oasis in the middle of the desert, set the perfect mood for my show by bringing blankets & pillows for people to sit on and all the necessary odds and ends to constitute a glorious crafting table! I made a hat, a ring, and a bunch of super cool new friends.
9.17 Mutiny Radio
9.17 The Octopus Literary Salon
9.20 The Sugar Bowl
Straight off my bus from LA, I was welcomed into SF by way of an in-studio with Mutiny Radio’s David Colon from Behind The Mynd. It was a rare treat to be asked such well-considered questions – and a few fun ones as well! You can listen to the archived show here! I was pretty afraid to bike around the city, both because I’m not used to uphill biking as well as the scattered presence of bike lanes in a traffic-filled arena. But bicycle I did, exploring the many beautiful murals of the Mission and popping in to just about every thrift store I came upon. I also enjoyed the sounds and wonder of many enchanting orchestrions and antique, coin-operated amusements at the Musee Mecanique, which stole my heart so that I could not help but to dispose of many quarters. My next Ethiopian meal, shared with my Uncle in the heart of the Mission, was rich and hearty in flavor and fulfillment. It was in Oakland that Gabriele at Dysonics offered to take this awesome panoramic audio and video of my performance at the Octopus Literary Salon. And my heart-warming house show at the Sugar Bowl was made all the more adorable by a perfectly positioned plastic pony that became a welcome addition to my set. I also had a great hike in Muir Woods, leading all the way up up up for a view of the Pacific Ocean.
A college city to the fullest extent with a really lovely college radio station at which I was happy to spend my morning doing an in-studio interview & performance. I just wouldn’t recommend taking the overnight Greyhound from Oakland, that makes for a rough night to be sure.
9.22 The Waypost
9.23 Music Millenium
Where things were probably weirder before it was hyped for being weird. I biked and bussed through cute & quaint streets and found some sweet donuts, some truly fantastic Ethiopian food, bridges with fun pedestrian walkways, and even Paul Bunyan. Although none of it seemed weirder than anything I’ve seen in my own backyard, I still had a great time exploring the little art galleries, the nearby nature, the different neighborhoods, thrift stores, and playgrounds. Of course I had to make a stop at the Lone Fir Cemetery and I even made it out to Rocky Butte, an extinct volcanic cinder cone with a fabulous view. I was definitely the slowest biker Portland streets have ever seen, but that didn’t stop me from taking a magical ride to Forest Park, one of America’s largest urban parks!
The most darling city the west coast is home to and the friendliest city I’ve visited in a long while. The kind of place where you walk the streets and everyone smiles at you in greeting. As an unabashed lover of state capitol buildings, it was my extreme pleasure to tour Olympia’s. The Alaskan marble interior and custom-made Tiffany lamps give the capitol building a feeling of sanctuary. At first it seemed almost a shame to have all that beauty tucked away in a government building, but the legislature is certainly meant to be a sanctuary for the people so perhaps it is fitting after all. I should also mention that the bridge from downtown to west Olympia made a spectacular place to watch the blood supermoon eclipse.
10.1 Blue Moon
The cohesion of Seattle’s cityscape with the surrounding forested, mountainous landscape is a sight to behold and wander amongst. Here I was thrilled to dine Ethiopian again – and to discover the splendor of Ethiopian shai tea, which tastes a bit like Christmastime. I walked amongst the Center for Urban Horticulture, explored the Center for Wooden Boats where I was able to take a ride in anantique steam boat, checked out the Museum of History and Industry, happened upon a pop-up video installation created by having people on MTurk tape their daily routine for one minute every hour from 9-5, and visited the Frye Art Museum as well as the Seattle Art Museum where I was completely engrossed in Guido van der Werve’s video, Nummer veertien, home, which depicts the artist completing a self-mandated triathlon from Chopin’s heart in Warsaw to his body’s resting place in Paris as a symbolic act of reuniting. I also started and finished reading Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity which was incredibly illuminating about misogyny and the doubled-over act of trans-misogyny. Definitely a book I would recommend to anyone interested in gaining more awareness on gender issues. I had a wonderful time closing out my tour by playing two amazing shows filled with audiences of the highest caliber with my dear friend Allison Preisinger, a fellow classmate from Berklee and a songstress of the most lovely and heartfelt folk tunes.
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I may not be a lady easily swayed towards the hype many feel towards the west coast, maybe because sometimes that laid-back attitude equates to last-minute no-shows and gig cancellations, but I’m so thankful nonetheless for all the time I was able to spend with old friends and for the opportunity to befriend new people along the way. Seeing and meeting you makes the experience worth every inch of desert-heat-induced sweat and every hour spent at home in a vortex of email slinging, reaching for human connection.