So, we’re headed home. I-83 stretches ahead of us, but only a moderate distance. I-83 is a road with an end, and I have no fear of it. And snow heralds our coming.
Our last couple of days have been really relaxed. Let me pick up where I left off. Friday night, we headed from Boston to Windsor, CT, where we met up with a man we actually first met in Cary, North Carolina. Mike has an ill-defined consulting job which sees him commuting regularly around the country. He and his friend Tony caught us after our set at the Six String Café and bought CDs and talked enthusiastically and at length. I remember being caught up in their energy, and when we mentioned that we were planning on heading up to New England, Mike said “That’s where I’m from!” and we made plans (also ill-defined) for meeting again.
Well, as of last Monday, we had planned out our Friday – an open mic, our usual fare. By Tuesday, we’d concluded that the venue didn’t even exist any longer, much less the open mic, and Mike knew Tony knew this guy who owned this place. and through a string of quick-paced emails and phone calls, we suddenly found ourselves booked to play the Centre Coffee Bar in Windsor, CT.
Now, with the way things we were going, I wasn’t sure whether to have high hopes or not. our time in Providence was disappointing. Even the visit from Jason and Cat couldn’t make up for the fact that almost all of our shows had been under-populated, and the whole week had been grey and dismal. Our time in Boston had been sunny, but the open mics had been almost consistently not what we expected – first with the Cantab having (WOW – SNOW AND BON JOVI!!! MARYLAND LIKES ME!!!) a one song night, then with Club Passim sucking ass, and then with Squawk being just plain weird.
My point being, we’d made lots of connexions, but I’d sort of written this outing off as somewhat a bust. The Windsor gig sounded good, but I was wary.
So, Tony gets Mike to get me in touch with Katie (owner of the Centre Coffee Bar) and we get things rolling. My hopes start lifting. Just. anyone who has SO much enthusiasm about us coming, who asks me to email them posters to print, who actually bothers to put EFFORT into a short-notice last-minute gig. she even downloaded mp3s and played them for people in the coffeehouse. we’d never even HEARD of Windsor before, but Katie had generated a BUZZ for us.
So – where was I? Running late. the batteries on the laptop died shortly before our actual arrival at Mike’s well-hidden home. There was no signal for our phones, we knew his house didn’t exactly have a house number. we were bedraggled, tired – we finally stumbled up his drive knowing that we were probably going to have to stumble right back out.
Let the magic begin.
Mike and Gail Live up a quarter-mile of dirt path set off from a twisting tiny unlit road. They Live on acres and acres of land that’s been in Gail’s sprawling family for years, and the house, though tiny, is white and gleaming on the inside – like entering a wedding cake (minus the mess, of course). Though our introductions swiftly turn to departure, things are looking up. Mike wants to run sound for us, has a tonne of equipment he’s eager to try out, and .. Beyond my wildest dreams. he has LOOKED AT OUR TECH REQUIREMENTS ON OUR WEBSITE AND HAS PREPARED ACCORDINGLY!!! He’s taken a label printer and labeled his PA RV, RG, HV, HG. that’s a lot of capital letters. They meant a lot to us.
The Centre Coffee Bar is a converted fire house. Two stories with a beautiful interior, a fire place upstairs, incredible food, and gourmet coffee. Mike sits us down and tells us not to worry about anything, and insists on setting everything up. I have absolutely no issue with that, though it leaves me slightly fidgety. We’re introduced to the owners – Steve: a coffee aficionado and connoisseur, and his dazzling partner, Katie. With her red pixie hair and sparkling eyes, she lead me through dizzying memories of a winter almost-romance with a woman named Lisi – (years ago – no time to talk about her now – suffice it to say she inspired LooseN, bRIDGE, and Coal Boulder). Once the show got started, Katie and a group of teenagers sufficed as inspiration for a pretty good gig. Our CD sales were awesome, and … I don’t know – it was like all the bad bullshit from the past two weeks had somehow been balanced by a huge cosmic fingers. Mike did a wonderful job working the board, and even got a nice, crystalline recording of much of the evening.
Yesterday we wound our way down the Hudson, across the water and into New Jersey, down through Pennsylvania. we passed through some good New York towns. Mount Kisco and Pleasantville were both particularly beautiful, and we’re already looking for places to play there.
Saturday morning I had gotten up especially early to play computers with Mike. We updated software and listened to music. His music collection was gorgeous and surprisingly Indie. I’m going to be harassing him for a while trying to track down all the tunes that I fell in Love with as he was flipping through mp3s.
The Morning After – yeah, playing the Centre Coffee Bar and then returning to Mike’s and finally falling into unconsciousness in the forests of East Hartford. The next morning, after computers and music, Heather and I got on the road to head for Lititz, PA via Sleepy Hollow, NY. On the way we stopped to investigate icicles and car accidents… well… we passed car accidents. We passed some three car accidents – at least one had resulted in the shutdown of a large freeway – we passed a car that had been ripped apart. The entire top half of a car had been cut off, presumably to remove injured occupants… either that or it was eaten. Perhaps by the Christmas elephant?
The drive home was especially Lovely. I’d been feeling somewhat like I’d lost Christmas – working through the holidays… my parents are going to Texas so I won’t be doing much in the way of family stuff for Christmas, and – well, my usual winter activities of admiring Christmas lights and people watching in malls had been kind of overwhelmed with simply trying to get to the gig on time.
The drive however – Pennsylvania had several radio stations that were exclusively playing Christmas carols. Heather and I sang along to all sorts of things, and discovered that we had different call-backs to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The quickly devolved into several obscene versions – not least of which involved a rather graphic version of “going down” in history.