The Motet’s Lyle Divinsky Tour Diaries: Chico To Tucson

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Words by: Lyle Divinsky

Images by: Susan Weiand

The Motet vocalist Lyle Divinsky kept a journal during the band’s recent run of shows. Here are his thoughts on the band’s run from Chico to Tucson, followed by Susan’s photo gallery from The Fillmore …

Day One: Denver, Colorado to Chico, California

Icy rain drizzled all morning as we packed up the last of our gear and skated our way to DIA. Four days, four shows, three distinctly different climates ahead. Just another weekend in the life of The Motet …

I had been hearing about Chico, California for the weeks leading up to the show. How weird and wonderful the town is, how cool and crazy Lost On Main – the venue we were playing – is, filled with warm hospitality and hush-hush secret hallways and hideouts that only an ancient JCPenney could contain, and those lucky enough to be in the know could discuss. Those secrets will remain secrets to most, but one thing is for sure, all that I had heard rang oh so true. Whether it was a the dude in the giant white fur coat and matching hat dancing with hands flailing above his head to the left, or group of well-dressed college girls cutting a rug like no one was watching with seemingly immovable grins, or the nonchalant chiller in the incredibly legit leather green and gold Celtics bomber jacket laying in the cut, bobbing his head with eyes closed, there was no lack of style, commitment, or enthusiasm. Everyone was open, ready, willing, and able to go anywhere we wanted to take them. There were new and old friends in attendance, making it simultaneously comfortable and exhilarating, with the music feeling as fresh yet flawless as ever after the brief break post-jam cruise.

With so much to look forward to in the coming days, I couldn’t think of a better first night than what Chico provided. A wonderfully weird town, a crazy cool venue, and an incredibly supportive, open, warm, and wacky crowd.

Now it’s off to bed to rest up and move from this cloudy, evergreen oasis to the winter wonderland that is Tahoe/Crystal Bay. Game on!

Day Two: Chico, California to Crystal Bay, Nevada

Damn… That alarm always rings a little too early.

This isn’t my bed… Where am I?

California? Right.

Tonight? Crystal Bay on Lake Tahoe.

Oh fuck yeah! This drive is about to be epic!

And it sure was. I love the drives when you barely touch a big interstate highway. The extra bonuses on this one: I’ve never driven this route before and this is the first repeat venue for me with The Motet! It was almost exactly a year ago that I wrapped up my first ever tour with the crew, but at that point I still didn’t know that I was going to get the gig. My what a year can bring!

This drive was incredible. We went from pointy and twisty hills that could’ve come straight out of a Dr. Seuss story to bright green flatland with drawn out shallow lakes, to fantastically fertile farmland and finally an icy ascent into a treacherously beautiful winter storm welcoming us into Tahoe/Crystal Bay.

I have to say, I absolutely love Crystal Bay Casino, despite the nearly $500 it’s taken from me in the past year – know when to stop, kids … or at least study odds beforehand! We had an amazing time playing here last year, but we couldn’t have expected the energy we experienced tonight. A beyond sold out crowd that danced harder than any crowd I’ve seen in a long time. Good god did these amazing individuals go in tonight. Rail-riding, soul-screaming, peace-promoting beauties from all over came together in the name of love and music. I speak a lot about the responsibility we all have to create the world we want to live in, and we surely created it this evening. From beginning to end, it was pure bliss on and off stage. Gabe [Mervine, trumpet] and Drew [Sayers, sax] were on fire tonight, playing off each other in ways I hadn’t heard yet, and Garrett [Sayers, bass] made my knees weak(er than usual) with some of the shit he was getting into. This band is so fucking good. I’m feeling pretty blessed to be able to do what I do with the people I do it with.

After two unsuccessful stops at the roulette and blackjack table, it’s time for this sasquatch to get to bed so I can be ready for THE FILLMORE! Holy shit, we’re headlining The Fillmore TOMORROW NIGHT!

Day Three: Crystal Bay, Nevada to San Francisco, California

Time to check another off the bucket list. Tonight it’s time to go play one of the most historic venues on the west coast, if not the country, The Fillmore! We sure earned it, too. We tackled heavy snow and rain for three of the four hours of the drive, but luckily we had incredible music to guide us. Sonny Rollins, A Tribe Called Quest, Flying Lotus, pause for In And Out Burger (mmm), resume with Big Yuki, and finish off with some good ole Redman (“I’ll Be Dat!”).

I absolutely love San Francisco. It’s become one of my favorite cities in the world, and any chance I get to hang there is a gift. Speaking of gifts, walking into an empty Fillmore gave me the opportunity to drool in peace as I admired the stage, the chandeliers, the walls filled with truly legendary posters, and the overall history this place has provided. After a good 20 minutes of this, I picked my jaw off the floor and took to the streets to wander about this beautiful city. No maps, no destination, just go. After a good hour and a half walk that included a stumble upon the Full House house, a delicious Ritual Coffee cold brew, and a few fantastic conversations with some unlikely characters, I decided to find my way back.

When I returned, I was so excited to see Jason Hann and Natalie Cressman had arrived. The Motet extended family was in the building, as if tonight couldn’t get any better! The crowd wasn’t ready for what was about to go down! After dinner, my wonderful friend from college brought us a box of some of the most delicious baked goods and maybe the best loaf of bread I’ve ever tasted from Tartine Bakery (if you haven’t tried it before GO! It’s beyond worth it, don’t question it. Just do it!).

Fully sweetened up with baked goods and amazing friends, we got the news: SOLD OUT! Holy shit, we just sold out our first ever Fillmore headlining show. Welp, time to bring it! No better way to start than with Skerik’s Bandalabra. These dudes were on a whole other level, straight up. They set the vibe in a way that only Skerik has the ability to. If you ever get the chance to see them perform, you have to go, it’s a Motet order.

Finally it was time, and oh what a time we had. The whole room was dancing, swaying, singing and smiling throughout the show. It was over in the blink of an eye, as most things one looks forward to so much are. We had so many amazing people giving so much amazing energy, I don’t think it could have gone better. The only moment to breathe was when Watts and Jason Hann had their drum/percussion break, and good lord did they crush that.

What a special night. Now, get some sleep and let’s fly to Tucson to finish this off!

Day Four: San Francisco, California to Tucson, Arizona

Woo! I’m still reeling from last night. It almost feels like a dream.

Without nearly enough sleep, it’s time to head to the Oakland airport to fly down to Tucson, Arizona so we can close out Gem & Jam, and this short but oh-so-sweet four-day run.

I’m really excited because my mom’s side of the family lives in Tucson, so they’re going to stay up late and get their first taste of The Motet!

After a quick and easy flight, we jumped in the rental cars in Phoenix with one thing on the brain: how do we stream the Super Bowl while in the car driving in the middle of the desert? With what seemed like a little too much work, we finally got it up and running, but a few of us from the New England area weren’t really sure if we wanted to be watching it after the first half. That said, once we got to the hotel we all caught our rest by laying down and having probably the most mellow Super Bowl viewing I can remember while watching one of the most exciting Super Bowls of all time. That’s for a different journal though …

Upon arriving at the new festival grounds, we were greeted by some truly wonderful people, taken into our green room, and got ourselves ready for the quick changeover. I jumped outside to steal some hugs from my family before jumping on stage and getting our sounds right. I was wondering whether these soldiers of funk would still have the energy in them after four long nights of amazing music, and they sure squashed all wonder within seconds of the first song. This was such a quick set in comparison to what we had been doing for the rest of the run, so despite us being a little tired, I feel like we all crushed and left everything on the stage. What a joyful way to bring it home, and it was extra special having my family in the front row dancing and smiling all the while.

Once off stage, Drew, Gabriel, Ryan, and I all headed inside to join Steve Kimock, Bobby Vega, and a slew of incredible musicians on some Grateful Dead jams. This was a first for me, and despite being exhausted, it was a truly wonderful experience. Everybody on stage was so kind and so talented, and everyone in the audience was so energized and attentive despite it being 3 a.m. on a Sunday night.

Now here we are, 5:30 in the morning, exhausted but grinning ear to ear. I’m going to go ahead and say that this weekend was a huge success, and another reminder that we are so blessed to be able to do what we do, I’m so incredibly lucky to be able to do it for such a dedicated, loving, supportive community of people. Thank you to each and every one of you who make this possible. We love you!