Welcome to Episode 7 of Four Questions – a kind-of weekly podcast where I answer four questions about my husband’s indie rock band, Learson Peak. My name is Michelle Learson and I’m your host. 

Welcome to July everyone! A lot has happened since the beginning of June. Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Stephen performed many many shows (Thunder Road, Fresh Pond, Block Island, Bull McCabe’s)
  2. We painted a farmhouse in New Hampshire and celebrated Father’s Day
  3. I celebrated my birthday – woooo!
  4. We went to Block Island and returned unscathed!... surprisingly… along with Bartok (there was some dog drama this year) 
  5. Finally – Stephen, Bartok and I escaped for one week to the magnificent Acadia National Park in Maine, where we went for a real family vacation (unlike Block Island where it was more of a business-cation). We slept in, went swimming, ate a TON of lobsters, and saw the sunrise on Cadillac Mountain. Here’s a photo:
 Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, Maine. 7/7/2018

Sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, Maine. 7/7/2018

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#1. WHAT WENT WELL FOR THE BAND LAST WEEK?

The best thing that happened last month was Block Island, by far. Learson Peak played their very first show (with Stephen Learson, Jules Jenssen, Sam McGarrity and Luke Bemand) at Captain Nick’s on Thursday, June 21, and The Indobox (Mike Carter, Jules Jenssen, Stephen Learson and Joey Zarick) played their very last shows on the island on Friday, June 22 and Saturday June 23.

Many people came up to me after the Learson Peak show to say that they were “pleasantly surprised” by the quality of the show – which I’m not really sure is a compliment – but I’ll take it.

On Friday, The Indobox threw everyone a curveball when they decided to play a 3-song set. The final night - The Indobox played their greatest hits and inspired many people to write pages and pages of love letters on their Facebook wall. It was a glorious end to The Indobox Era.

In addition, a truly talented videographer and fan – Matt Vallo – was able to live-stream all three nights online on Facebook to – for FREE. How lucky are we?! You can still go back and watch the shows in high definition (including Stephen’s keytar battle with the owner of Captain Nick’s – Marc Scortino - see below).

So yes -- I had an awesome time -- and I think the fans and friends who made the effort to travel from so far away felt that it was worth it. There is something really magical about Block Island and Captain Nick’s that’s very hard to describe. From an outsider’s point of view, Block Island may just seem like another little getaway island with an average beachfront lined with your typical souvenir shops and sandwich shacks. Yes there a few interesting lighthouses and nature preserves and a generous handful of happy-hour restaurants overlooking postcard-perfect harbors – as well as an exotic animal farm – but there is so much more to the island. It is really the people that make Block Island special. All the staff. The locals. The wedding crashers. The sailors. And, of course, The Indobox family.

Looking back at Box Island 2018, Box Island 2017, Box Island 2016 (the time Stephen proposed to me), and Box Island 2015 (my first Box Island) – here are the things that I will miss most in no particular order:

  1. Dancing in the front row with Kenzie and Kate and Nick and Larry and Tommy
  2. Hanging out with Pete, the mayor of The Gothic Inn, and grilling sausages
  3. Eating sushi from Sushi Bob, who makes delicious decadent rolls at Captain Nick’s
  4. Mike Carter’s guitar solo on Covering Up the Sky - one of my favorite songs
  5. Drinking mud slides with Red Dan and friends, because mudslides are made to be shared (shout out to Colleen, Katie and ST, the best bartenders on the island!)
  6. Watching Stephen munch on dark-chocolate covered bacon – I’ve never seen a man so happy to eat bacon
  7. Late night shenanigans with Larry, Tommy and Chris – the boys of Box Island
  8. And last but not least – looking for my parents during sunrise or sunset – just in case I get caught on camera

#2. WHAT DIDN’T GO SO WELL FOR THE BAND LAST WEEK?

Well besides turning 35 last month, something even more terrible happened to me. I got stung by a bee for the first time in my life. It happened outside Fete Music Hall in Providence, RI. I have never been stung by a bee before, and on this one rare occasion where I was feeling abnormally chipper and volunteered to help Stephen load in his gear – very bad decision on my part. 

As I was walking up the ramp with Stephen’s keyboards in my arms, I saw a bee flutter around my legs and then suddenly sting me for no reason on the back of my ankle. I dropped everything I was carrying and ran inside the venue. I have to be honest there was some screaming and whining involved. It started swelling up right away and I had to wrap it with ice. The swelling didn’t go down until after we got back from Acadia – two weeks later.

Lesson of the Month – Do not help Stephen load in his gear.

Learson Peak had a great show though – no one else got stung. I took one for the team. Special thanks to the bartenders at Fete for giving me a bucket load of ice and water, and to SKYFOOT and Kerry Quirk for opening strong for Learson Peak’s debut appearance in Providence. If you ever go to Providence folks – BEWARE OF THE BEES!

#3. WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING THING I LEARNED?

I’ve been taking my new summer school class at Harvard called Video Editing and Digital Design with Adobe Premiere. I’m really quite excited to be learning more video making techniques, as my goal for July is to complete a new music video for the Space Unicorn track from Stephen’s newest album.

So far we’ve learned different technique in class, such as match-on-action cuts, parallel cuts, blending clips together, color correction and video effects. I love this one clip we watched in class - from a movie called Unfaithful - with Richard Gere with Diane Lane which illustrates the power of parallel cross-cutting. It's a technique where you make a scene more powerful by putting two scenes into one and cutting back and forth between the two scenes to tell a better story.

I want to use this kind of parallel cutting for the Learson Peak music video - I'm just not sure how yet. Open to ideas! The deadline for my final project is July 31, the day I leave for Norway with my girlfriends, so stay tuned for the release of the music video. It’s guaranteed to come out.

#4. WHAT AM I EXCITED ABOUT NEXT WEEK?

I'm very curious in the next week or so to see if we will hear back from three radio stations that I wrote personal letters to about the band - with standard Michelle stationary and custom stamps. The three favorite radio stations that I wrote to are:

  • 88.1 WMBR (MIT)
  • 88.9 WERS (Emerson)
  • 92.5 WXRV (The River)

Even though they will probably just throw my letter in the bin, maybe a DJ will be walking past it one day and just decide to give it a spin. Who knows. I am thinking about also writing to podcast producers (like us!) to see if they will play our music on their shows. I'll let you know how that goes.

New Show Announcement

Last night - we are excited to announce a new Learson Peak performance date – Saturday July 28th from 4-6pm at the New AERONAUT Beer Garden at Whittemore Park in Arlington MA. All ages, no cover. We will be one of the first bands ever to play at this new summer concert series. More information and tickets can be found by clicking here.

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