Unpacking the van after arriving home from our western states tour was like opening presents on Christmas morning. Moby was full of the loot it trundled home: a Mexican rug from Escalante, sapling coastal redwood trees from California, coffee from Peet’s in Davis, cases of wine from the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard, Lush Soap from Boulder, and requisite groceries from Trader Joe’s. Though we pulled up to our house in the dark I couldn’t help but take a flashlight into the yard and inspect the garden. Our bulbs were about to bloom, and trees we planted, bare last fall, had made it through the winter and were spouting young, delicate leaves.
My greatest thrill was an experiment to bring home eight coastal redwood trees from the mountains near Santa Cruz and transplant them at our North Carolina home. We packed the foot-tall trees in buckets, four to a milk crate. Each night driving homeward across the desert and high plains, after checking in to our motel, we carried them into the bathroom and turned on a warm shower for steam to give them a simulated fog – moisture for their parched needles. Besides there being a slightly colder winter, the climate here is not too different, so I’m hoping some survive the transition.
Friday, April 22nd
We were asked to perform at a new arts festival in Greenville, South Carolina. Held in the beautiful historic west end district by the Reedy River Falls and beautifully landscaped parks, Artisphere has the promise of becoming a first-rate festival. The debut was today, and on a large amphitheater stage we were among its opening acts. We were having a really good time on the big stage, the sound system filling the entire outdoor theater with music. It was an idyllic scene of people sitting on the grass and under the shade of trees enjoying their lunches, when about halfway through our set I noticed people were getting up to leave. I should have taken it as a hint that something was wrong. As we launched into the next song I looked to my left, past Sue, and noticed a large black cloud in the distance. I thought, hmm… it’ll get here about the time our set is over. Then toward the middle of the song debris began to blow across the stage, and I thought, hmm, we should finish up after this song. It was then that the soundman’s eyes got huge and he yelled, GET OFF THE STAGE!! We grabbed our instruments and literally jumped off the stage and ran at the same moment as a massive wind slammed into the canopy and broke the scaffolding that held it up. Stage lighting tossed up and down, and tarps to protect the sound equipment broke off their tethers, exposing all the expensive gear to the downpour. My display of CD’s flew to the four directions and were soaked and ruined. All this happened in slow motion, the yelling, cussing, running and commotion to save the stage, not to mention, our necks.
In the shelter of a doorway to a large building nearby we watched the squall exhaust itself. Eight of us, mostly strangers, were wide-eyed, wet, and shaking our heads, glad to be intact. Police and festival officials came by to make sure we were all right. There was really nothing else to do but pick up, pack up, and go home. I sure hope the festival had better weather and an easier time over their two remaining days.
Thursday, April 28th
One bizarre thing about traveling around the country from gig to gig is observing how time passes, twists, and bends. It seems that each gig is its own mini-epic event. When one gig is passed, we move onto the next. An episode that occurred three weeks ago may as well have happened last year. Yet, when asked to remember a particular and obscure concert, the details reveal themselves, faces re-animate, and the situation comes to life.
This moment, Sue is driving, and I’m sitting shotgun while our big white van rolls on down I-290 between Chicago and Rockford, Illinois. We’re on our way to a gig at a place called the Busted Lift in Dubuque, Iowa. I notice in my calendar that exactly 28 days ago, Sue and I were crossing the San Francisco Bay on the Dumbarton Bridge on our way to play the Brask House Concert in Freemont. So much has happened between then and now it feels like that was last year!
Sunday, May 1st
Where was I… oh yes, The Busted Lift is a hip and funky Irish pub that years ago was a mattress factory in downtown Dubuque. They built mattresses in the basement and used the lift to haul them up to the showroom for display. Now the lift is broken, but it gave the pub a name; a hand-me-down of sorts that makes continuity between the old and the new. Upon the lift now is a table with candles and a couple of chairs on either side – a good place to drink a pint.
The next night we drove south for a concert in Fairfield, where the Maharishi Vedic University is located. I love the welcome sign at the city limits. It reads:
A Cast Of 10,000 As Themselves
A Story About Excellence In Community Living
We finished out the tour and the month with a house concert style gig in Iowa City. It was held in an auto repair garage being converted into a delicatessen. Guido’s, as it will be called, hasn’t actually opened yet, but the owners spared no expense in setting out a beautiful spread. The room, despite its state of construction, was decked out with fresh-cut lilacs, innumerable candles, and a carpet to demark the stage. Guido himself (a part-time lighting director from Hollywood) set up some first-rate theater lighting to illuminate it all. With a full house, and a festive vibe, it was a good night all around. We carried that feeling home with us all the long drive from Iowa to North Carolina the following day, arriving home once again in the dark. Safe home.