There’s a lot happening in Tacoma.

Music, visual arts, literature, printmaking, performing arts, public art, treasure hunting, found object-finding,

and more. The Almanac brings them all together as a weekly digital publication.

I Went On A Tour and Now I'm Back In Tacoma WashingtonAeroplane Icon
Aramis Johnson
May 22, 2023
Follow: instagramProfile

I’m in a sea of people trying my hardest to hold the tears back as the opening riff of Hope by Alex G begins to play. The crowd erupts as I’m immediately transported to my desk in the freight department at the Lakewood Fastenal warehouse. That’s where I listened to Hope for the first time. Overcome by the way music can take you back to a time and place I finally let a few tears breath to honor how much my life’s changed. I’m on tour!!!

As we like to say, “all off the music baby!”. Somehow a song about feeling annoying that I named after the shitty warehouse job I had for 3 years, has landed me in Minneapolis on a surprisingly warm November night. My band Enumclaw and I as well as 2 of my closest friends have managed to get on the guest list for the Alex G show at Minneapolis’s historic First Avenue. We all look like kids in a candy store when we realize we’ve all been given a drink ticket along with our list spot.


Days like this help remind us all of just how far we’ve come both physically (Tacoma’s 1,669 Miles from Minneapolis) and as a band who only put out their first song in February 2021. It is not lost on me just how fast everything happened. Since last fall we’ve been on 3 tours around America and wrote, recorded, and released our debut album. Despite all that it often doesn't feel real or like anything has happened yet. For the most part my lifes the same it’s always been. I still live in Tacoma, I still hang out with my same friends, I go to the same bars and restaurants, and I'm still broke! However tour makes it feel extremely real and this tour more so than any other now that our album’s out. 

Two days before we made it to Minneapolis we were In Chicago. It was halloween weekend and when we rolled into town at 2 PM the whole city of chicago appeared to be more concerned with celebrating the holiday than going to a rock show. As we walked out on stage to a sea of people in the crowd, I realized that there just might be a few people in Chicago who like rock music more than they like halloween. We walk on stage as normal but it becomes very apparent that this isn't a normal night on tour….. It's a special one. From the moment when we started until the last chord rang out it was pandemonium. 


After we played I was hanging out at the merch booth and got to meet a fan. I noticed him in the crowd while we were playing, he knew all the words to every song. He told me he found the band from an instagram ad and was hooked. He said he had never really seen a band that looked like him before and when he saw that we were coming to town he had to come. Before he left he told me that he “wants to wake up every day and wanna be brand new too”. In those moments it's almost impossible to think of this thing we're doing as anything but real. 

Unfortunately the tour isn’t only moments like that. It's honestly nothing like what you fantasized about at 16 when you thought about going on tour. Enumclaw has yet to enter our sex drug and rock and roll era. We're far too broke for that. Most of the tour is 6 stinky boys stuck in the van for on average 5 to 6 hours a day. Stops at truck stops in the absolute middle of nowhere america and shoveling into a cramped holiday inn or trying to find the most prime spot on the floor of a friends place at the end of the night. Somewhere in that chaos you're able to carve out 30 minutes where you are able to step on stage and play the songs that brought you to all these places. For those 30 minutes I feel like I have a real purpose in this world. I feel important.  

Screen Shot 2023-05-22 at 11

The sad reality of those moments is that they're fleeting and often long gone by the time you wake up the next day in some place you’ve never been before and might not ever see again. Your biggest concern is making sure you’re up early enough to be one of the first ones in the shower and to maybe have time for the shitty continental breakfast. One thing they don’t tell you about the tour is that it's a time machine. A week turns into a month but also can feel like 2 days and by the time you reach the last week of the tour you're a shell of the person you left home as. In my opinion that's the best part of going on tour, it changes you in my opinion for the better. It teaches you how to be resourceful, kind, considerate, and how to embrace change and new experiences head on. 

Just like everything in this life, the tour eventually has to come to an end. The arguments about who hasn’t slept on the floor enough are to be soon traded in for your empty apartment back home. Don't get me wrong, after 6 weeks I definitely miss my bed but it's a small sacrifice to make for the nights out in Baltimore and the excitement of our last LA show. Before the band started to tour I had never really seen anything outside of the west coast. These experiences that music has provided me are not lost on me. I got to go to Prince Edward County, Ontario Canada this past weekend and see what a “weekend at the cottage”  is like Canadian style, an experience I probably would’ve never stumbled upon if I never decided to pick up a guitar. 


With all that being said, the tour is over and now I'm back in Tacoma, Washington. I have humbly taken off my enumclaw cap and put back on my “Aramis Johnson” hat. We just played our last show of the year with Milly and Fish Narc in Tacoma at my job actually. I went back to work the very next morning. My life is different but it's still the same and that is very humbling and exciting. For the next three months while I'm home I have the joy of working, being stressed out about moving and those awkward run ins with people you’d kind of prefer to never see again. I know my life isn’t gonna be like this forever so I'm trying my best to just enjoy what's left of this era while I can!




More from Almanac

Screen Shot 2022-12-05 at 10

Make It To The Show: Home In Tacoma For All

Home In Tacoma For All | Thursday, Dec. 8Housing is a human right. Can we start with that? If we can, then we can move on to the myriad ways in which this right is distorted and kept from the vulnerable people who need it. Home in Tacoma is an organization that is working to address this in the face of opposition that seems to view those without access to housing as – without failure – drug addicts and violent criminals.The problem is that housing has become an asset that has been priced out of the attainability of all but the most fortunate citizens. As Home in Tacoma have reported, Tacoma’s average rent saw a nearly 40% increase from March of 2021 to March of 2022, meaning that so many people have had to resort to treading water by sleeping in cars, motel rooms, or tents. As we enter the cold months of Tacoma, it’s heartbreaking to consider how many people are being left out to fend for themselves, and the cruel mindset that keeps them that way.In an effort to provide some sort of relief, ALMA is hosting Home in Tacoma for their “Home in Tacoma For All'' show, featuring some amazing acts that showcase a pretty wide swath of Tacoma’s artistic expression.

Screen Shot 2023-05-17 at 8

Umi Wagoner’s Tacoma: Curran Coffee Carries on Tradition

Coffee culture is continuing to grow in Tacoma and it continues to be exciting to have options. Tacoma hasn’t always been a place with variety as a priority; it’s more of an oldie but goodie place. The more of the market place independents take up the less need for chains like Starbucks and far less market potential for them to poach. I’m not saying we don’t need them but more us and less them should always be the goal. Although keeping in mind there may be some Tacomans who own franchises and those should be the ones most frequented. There is a lot of charm and tradition built into our businesses. But as of late (the last 5 years) we are starting to see the rumblings of progress. Slowly more independent coffee experiences are developing throughout Tacoma and that’s bringing Tacomans into neighborhoods they haven’t traditionally frequented. It’s great businesses that often create cross pollination within cities. An area may feel out of the way until you have a reason to go. And Old Town Tacoma hasn’t been injected with something new in a while. Space is a major part of the issue, there’s only room for about 4 businesses on the little strip of N 30th anyway, but it’s prime real estate and holds significant historical value. The space they occupy was once completely owned by the Spar, one side was the Spar cafe while the other catered to the Spar bar. During my early years of college living elsewhere and coming home to the Spar felt like the most authentic part of Tacoma, the Old Town history and proximity to downtown via Schuster Way offered a level of convenience to the Waterfront prior to its developments and my version of nightlife simultaneously.

Screen Shot 2022-12-09 at 3

Make It To The Show: Them

THEM | Thursday, Dec. 15There’s a sense of timelessness to THEM that belies the young age of the band members, all women in their late teens and early ‘20s. The Seattle four-piece has an innate ability to recall ‘70s Laurel Canyon, ‘80s synth-pop, ‘90s slacker rock, mid-00s twee, and all manner of decades of teenage pop heartache.

Screen Shot 2023-07-05 at 1

Make It To The Show: Small Paul 7/14

Someday, there will be proper studies done to explore the effect that a certain global pandemic had on creative processes. Anecdotally, through conversations and interviews over the past few years, I’ve heard artists report everything from a complete inability to create, to others claiming that they’ve never been more productive with their art. For those who were able to avoid writers’ block, though, one thing seems to be a constant: projects that might’ve otherwise never seen the light of day were given the chance to blossom in these times.This is certainly the case with Small Paul, a band that came together in a Seattle basement, formed with members of the Moondoggies, Chris King and the Gutterballs, and All Star Opera, towards the beginning of the pandemic. Rather than reflect any of the anxiety that has permeated the past few years, Small Paul carries with a warm, harmonic twang that recalls the ‘70s intersection of country and rock, a sound both laidback and soulful. Their debut EP, Strangeland, feels at times like a balm to protect against the stressors of the modern world. This is especially felt on album standout “Mexico,” with its vibes of golden hour, of a sun peacefully disappearing behind a horizon, and untold adventures waiting in the future.Small Paul’s debut LP, Come Alive & Live Again, is due to be released at the end of July – hopefully supplying the perfect soundtrack for another summer in the unknown.ALMA RooftopFriday, July 14thSmall Paul, w/ Salt Lick, RestrospecterAll Ages, Doors at 6pm, Show at 7pm, $15Tickets instagram