Spending this much time (about two months so far) not being on tour has been fun but very unsettling. I still refuse to put down roots, and the factors drawing me to New York at the moment are ironically discouraging me from finding a reasonable place to live. Needless to say, when my violin compatriot invited me to tag along on his tour, I jumped at the chance. Actually, it really was more of a last minute decision in the end (see post about the busker), but the desire was there all along. I wasn’t even playing with him or doing merch, I was literally just along for the ride… and the superb company.
What I hadn’t expected was to get a mid-afternoon phone call on Friday, the day before we were supposed to leave, letting me know that he’d been offered a spot at a show somewhere North of Boston but we’d have to leave right away. Adventure, anything but yes would have been absurd! We’d spent the last night seeing Veveritse and What Cheer? Brigade (but sadly missed Apocalypse Five and Dime’s set), wearing ourselves out and expecting to spend the next day doing internet whatnot and maybe going to Occupy. Not so easy as that. Heart racing with the joy of the old ways of touring, I hurriedly got myself together and headed to meet him at the subway nearest both of us. Laden with our instruments and his assorted gear, we headed for Grand Central. It’s been a couple years, but I’ve definitely done absurd urban tours which involved a lot of silly subway hauling; I do miss it, but barely. The train took unusually long and by the time we reached the station, we knew it was too late. I insisted that we might as well head out of town no matter what. Midtown at rush hour with a bunch of baggage is never fun. First order of business, get on the Metro North and head up to Purchase to retrieve his car. It was odd to pass my old college on the way, heading for our neighboring school which we so snobbishly used to call “Puny Circus” among other things.
I had gotten in touch with the mother of one of the Broadway kids who I nanny for and she insisted we stop on our way and have dinner with them at their place near Connecticut. Inevitably, it turned into a lovely evening of conversation in their charming farm house and we took them up on the invitation to sleep there for the night and continue on to Boston in the morning. My friend got to geek out about composition with their oldest son, who is a burgeoning musician and attending the School of Rock up there. One of the highlights of visiting them and seeing their land was getting to hang out with their two horses in the morning, both of whom were rescued animals but incredibly sweet.
The next day we took our time getting on the road. It sure beat making the trek from NYC early that morning. We saw billboards for a diner with a lady wearing goggles on top of her head, checked it out, turned our noses up at the prices, and continued on. A little while down the road, he spotted an Indian buffet on the side of the highway – it was delicious and cheap; who needs smart phones? We made it to Boston exactly in time to catch a little bit of rehearsal for the show where we were both playing the next day. Again, I pushed my agenda and again it worked out for the better, as our visit to rehearsal led to meeting someone outside of the space who then booked him on a show a few days later (when another gig had just fallen through). The rehearsal was fun and we got to run through the most complicated song a couple of times. Eventually, we headed over to the infamous Alston punk house where he was playing. Again, lo-fi touring and playing house shows is a world I’ve been slowly dragged away from, but one that I do miss considerably. He decided to do his set acoustically in the upstairs part and the mellow audience was very into the music. That night we stayed at a house where a bunch of my friends live up near Somerville, which strangely enough happens to have a picture from Honk on their living room wall where I am front and center. Eerie.
The drive to the Middle East the next afternoon was super close and we made it just in time for soundcheck. Although we were playing in a sixteen piece band in the upstairs space, the venue was super fair about giving us food coupons and drink tickets, so the day was quite pleasant indeed. The show itself was a lot of fun, with the massive horn and string sections coming together quite nicely. Whatever my friend and I hadn’t gotten to memorize, we played by ear. I can’t remember the last time I played onstage with that many musicians and it wasn’t a marching band, so it was pretty epic. Strangely, some of the band already knew me as the Ramona Flowers character, due to the goggles I wore when the bandleader and I first met.
Eventually, we headed out of there to pick up another musician who would be playing that evening’s house show with my friend. We wound up being four in a car and the ladies and I split off in it as soon as we got to Lowell, both in search of food and old buildings. I’d never been there and it was far more interesting than I’d imagined, but I always feel that way about small cities in Massachusetts. My taste for old mill towns and dilapidated Victorian houses was certainly catered to there as well. We made it back to the house just in time for the first band. It was another classic basement show and my friends sets were really good. Afterwards, we hit up the renowned Odwalla dumpster along with a more well stocked Trader Joe’s one. The boy found me a bouquet of flowers. We also rescued a lot of eggs and bread there, which made for a pretty massive free breakfast when we woke up in the morning and began the game of constantly moving the car to avoid parking tickets.
I’d already stayed a day longer than planned, so by Monday I was ready to head back to NYC. I could have continued on with the tour until Wednesday, but I had a loft-sit waiting for me in Chelsea, as well as some other fun and edifying plans. I didn’t leave Boston particularly early that day, though, so there was time for the aforementioned leisurely brunch as well as a visit to the Lucy Parsons Center to do some browsing and internet work. They didn’t want any of our dumpstered bread, but we had some May Day posters to deliver. Strangely enough, I had met both of the people volunteering there in two separate cities under completely different circumstances. Typical. I caught my bus just in time and arrived in New York awake enough for a leisurely walk to the apartment, throwing on a load of laundry before passing out in the massive comfy bed there.