E/E

Tour Diary, Part II.

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Time zapped us to now. We’ve played Greensboro, two Raleigh shows, Charlottesville, Richmond, and Baltimore, and are on our way to our seventh show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. We’re set to roll into Philly fairly early. I think the prospects of a few hours of down time outside of the van sound pretty damn enlightening to us all.

We’ve been on the road for one week as of this morning, and it’s been one of those myriad, mysterious, edgy weeks on the road where it feels like we left Greensboro either a day or a year ago. Has really just one week passed? We were dragging our furniture to the side of the road and hugging our GSO pals goodbye til the next, and then, POOF, we’ve got seven shows under our belts, we’ve already waved goodbye to our first sitter, and we’re headed toward NYC. I’ve finally taken deep, full lungs of air, shaken the residual effects of moving and planning out of my bones, and am nesting down for the pulp of our journey. It’s hard to believe it has already been a week, and it’s hard for me to fathom that it’s taken a full seven days to shed my skin and morph into the touring lifestyle.

Now that I’m here, it could last forever! We’ve got the knack. Hawk drives anything under four hours, no problem. Chamero’s nestled in between the driver and passenger seats, smiling, alternately gazing at one of us adoringly and laying his head on Hawk’s lap for cuddles. Lio and I are camped out in the middle row. Before we left, I sewed special detachable curtains for around his car seat. There’s one that blacks out the big picture window, one that covers the space between he and the driver, a curtain behind him to separate the third row, and a big curtain that goes up between he and I. It seems Lio has also fallen into the swing of things; his out of the blue “No nap, Mama!” signifies that it is, indeed, nap time, and I pop the curtains into their respective places. When I peek through a mere two minutes later, he’s out, awash in a sea of racing car noises and wind whooshing through the windows, in a neat little dark box of Napville, Pop. 1. We’d talked about curtains after the last tour, when, no matter how tired and cranky Lio became, he simply wouldn’t shut his eyes in favor of saving face in front of whoever else was in the van. The slightest conversation, cough, radio change, or sunlight peeking through to him would have stirred him twice over, and the times he fell asleep on his own accord were too few and far between to make for a consistent napping schedule. Now, I’m amazed how well this curtain idea has worked – how easily he drifts off, how refreshed he awakes after sleeping in darkness. And how much he loves the curtains – when I put them up, there’s never any protest. He gets this giddy look on his face, and I say, “Are you ready for your house, Lio?” Oh, hell yes, he is ready for his house. He’s so excited to have his own little area. I remember how much I loved that as a kid – having my own little niche. Every treehouse, passing motor home, and fort in the woods was an open door into imagination and expression. And for Lio, it’s clear he also feels safe in his little nest, snuggling his stuffed fox Wu Wu, feet up on a soft pillow, a light breeze floating in and swirling around his sweaty little neck.

I have a crush on Charlottesville. It has a Truman-Show-like quality, but sincerely, not creepily, of everyone being ridiculously kind and put together and gentle and observant and open. We filled up The Garage by Lee Park, Ben’s guitar scrapes and Matt’s beats and our keyboards and voices and rhythms bouncing off the brick and sailing over the giant horse statue and surrounding shrubs and spilling into Downtown Charlottesville. Lio sat on the hill in the dark next to Jiha, clapping, “More, Mama! More, Dada!” and cheering after every song. There is nothing like your two-year-old son in the audience to boost your spirits, I’ll tell you what. The fact that he digs our music is something I may savor as no more than sweet memory in about ten or fifteen years. When Lio got tired, Jiha took him into the van to watch movies and relax while we loaded our gear. Though there was a huge house available to us next door to the venue for their comfort, it seems Lio felt more at home in the van, snuggled in Jiha’s lap with his head on her shoulder, watching bulldozers on a little screen. We really put the “all” in an “all ages” show, and I love them.

Richmond was next, another city, another world. We drove there after the show in C-ville and spent the night at a new friend’s house. Here was a fellow, named James, who heard our music online, enjoyed it, asked when we were coming to Richmond, and, when the answer was, “Maybe next month,” took it upon himself not only to offer us a place to stay, but to find us a venue, set up our show, and be our host for the whole visit. It still sort of boggles my mind that someone could and would be this open hearted to complete strangers. What’s more, James had a Basset hound named Mona, who Lio immediately fell in love with and enjoyed a loving kinship with during our visit. They snuggled, kissed, leaned in to each other, sat by each other, slept next to each other, and were inseparable for the whole day and a half we were there. After we went off to play our show, back home, Lio tucked his stuffed fox in with Mona on the bed, then climbed up and lay by them, with plenty of kisses and nuzzles. James said Mona had been a rescue from a puppy mill, where she was made to churn out litter after litter without the satisfaction of raising her pups. We thought that between Wu Wu and Lio, Mona was feeling pretty motherly, and she sure did a bang up job as a dog Mama.

Our show in DC was canceled, so we took advantage of the extra time off by spending some quality time with a couple of our favorite people, Tara and Jared in Church Hill, Maryland, about an hour and a half outside of Baltimore on the eastern shore. Tara is a radical homemaker, and upon arrival we hung out with her chickens and raced around her garden and yard before feasting on spaghetti with home made tomato sauce (with tomatoes from her garden), and some had locally harvested venison. We had freshly harvested greens, wine, and home baked bread with garden garlic. After dinner, relaxed and stuffed, we turned to conversation out of doors. Lio pretended to ride their lawnmower and poked around their garage full of gardening implements while we caught up and chatted. A bit later, Tara and Jared shared with us their elaborate stock of pickled vegetables, homemade moonshine, and homemade fruit vodkas. We drank blueberry and cherry vodka, the best moonshine I’ve ever had, and had tastes of picked beets, pickled garlic, several different types of pickles, pickled carrots, and much, much more. The spread before us was daunting enough, but Tara informed us she had also baked a fresh, from-scratch peach and custard pie that morning. So, we, and our stomachs and minds, we in heaven. If we didn’t have a show to play in Baltimore the next day, I would have started right in again on that blueberry vodka. Good lord was it delicious!

In the morning, we fired up some tea and coffee, caught up on some paperwork, had some girl talk, and, before we knew it, we were packing up the van in dankly humid temperatures and heading back to Balitmore for our gig that night.

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Today, Lio fell in love with Mona, a Bassett

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