Nov. 1-4

Nov. 1
We’re in Durham, soaking in the rain. Hawk’s making grilled cheeses with tomatoes, mozzarella, sharp cheddar, and basil paste; KZ’s got the tomato soup spilling over on the stove top. Larry pops on a live Tom Jones concert from 2011. Lio affectionately and physically adores the cats in a way that’s borderline antagonistic. Chamero yips from the guest room; Larry whisks the cats off to be fed; Chamero emerges; it’s the cycle of the guest house, and here, 40 shows in, with 11 left to go of this nearly three-month tour, we’re loving every minute of it. This is Life. This is the good stuff. It’s hectic, it’s insane, it’s full of details and decisions and inquiries and caffeine-fueled benders of tour-planning and babysitter planning and “Hey, can you watch Lio on Friday night?” and, “Hey, do you mind if we crash at your house? We’ll make dinner!” And I feel like I could go forever, on a marathon of cities and short sleeps and long sleeps and highways and thresholds into venues; of van straightening, of tidying, of admiring our sweet little travel nest that is the innards of a ’94 Chevy G20 named Sarah, the endless amount of cashing in on the host-karma of all the bands we’ve taken in, all those meals we’ve made. I can’t shake this feeling that most people don’t like their personal space invaded, their schedules inflicted upon, their home life interrupted – that no matter how benign we can manage to make ourselves as guests, we’re almost always in some way infringing, even if, in reality, we’re just more added molecules in a room. But our hosts are unequivocally unruffled. And the energy it takes to be a house guest, I’m realizing, might be equivalent to the energy expended to host one. Thus, we’ve paced ourselves, a mighty feat considering we’ve been social every day and every night for going on 9 weeks. It feels a bit over the top, cramming this many new friends and faces and places into each 24-hour increment. It has me fantasizing about quiet mornings to ourselves, about thoughtful pondering while looking over mountains and making coffee in silence and – gasp – playing guitar and writing songs and recording drums and coming up with new keys parts! Ah yes. All of these things will come when we get off the road. But holy shit, for now, we revel the hell outta our pals, new and old. The connections we make, the conversations we have, and the stories we share bind us and bond us. We’re lucky to know so many incredible people who are doing so many incredible things – that has always been made abundantly clear. But then to visit them, to sit around a table and drink wine and listen, is something else, entirely. I feel enormous gratitude and luck toward life and the magical people it has brought our way. Or have we brought the way, and life is coloring it? Which came first, our desire to see the world and infuse it with pop songs, or this web or fantastical people revolving and spinning like neurons around the country? Or were they raised together?

We usually have no trouble finding a venue – it’s just one sweep by and an electronic voice telling us its weird psychoanalytic way, “You have arrived.” Then, there it is – no, that one – and then we park and and we’ll walk in and survey the scene and figure out where to load in. But tonight, driving around in the pouring rain and ill-lit streets with a malfunctioning GPS, we simply have no idea where Duke Coffeehouse is. Primary to many college layouts, the streets are small, curvy, and unmarked. Plus, as I mentioned, it’s pouring rain. Hawk rolls down the window and asks for directions from a youth-faced young man, for whom, it turns out, it may or may not be a first time giving directions. He tells us it’s a brick building (setting it apart from zero other buildings in plain sight) and that it’s “over there.” Except, he doesn’t point, or anything. After lucklessly trying to extract more information from this robotic member of the next generation, we drive “over there” and proceed to get tangled in a web of tiny one-way maintenance roads for small college service vehicles. We stop again to ask directions – this time I buzz my window down to two students. My god, they look young. I remember being that young. Suddenly, my experiences crumble me. Wow. The collective experiences of my 20’s rise up to greet me. These people have so much before them! I think about this timeframe and am astounded so much has taken place. So, um, where’s this coffeehouse? “Just, like, go down there,” says one, motioning in the general direction of every other building on campus. “You’ll see it.” “Yeah, just like, right down that road?” The other points, too, in the same general direction. “It’s behind that other building.” “Is it brick?” I ask. “Yeah,” they say excitedly.

At the Duke Coffeehouse (which ended up, in the end, being fairly easy to find) we toss Pink Flag some whiskey money, joke a lot, and set up. There’s a lot of confusion about whether we’re doing a sound check or a line check. We go back and forth about 50 times, even going so far as to set everything up, but then we don’t really check any house levels, just our own, and shove it all in the corner so Pink Flag can warm up with some CCR tunes and a few of their own nasty beast songs. Now, I love Pink Flag! They are one of my favorite bands we’ve ever played with. They are great people. They are OUR people, ya know? We drink some Maker’s Mark and Whole Foods ginger beer/club sodas, toasting all the way. I give Betsy a cd for her car. Some people better show up, because this is going to be a fantastic fucking show!

duke b

(Duke Coffeehouse)

After the show (which was amazing on many levels), we take our sweet ass time loading out before hopping in with Betsy’s roommate to find some burritos. We spend our merch money on a meal and talk forever, dreaming of tours and collaborations. Finally, we head back to our van, happy as larks, another 3 AM morning that makes for an early rise with the youngster. But oh, worth it.

Nov. 4
A billboard that speaks to me on the road (likely the only one of this nature):

-Greensboro, NC.

Tour is a sensory explosion, and Lio is loving it.
He has grown up so much on the road. Speaking in sentences, knowing the proper names for things that we don’t see regularly, using his little manners… it’s such a trip. We communicate so much better after this 9-week stint on the road, like our family unit is this symbiotic sponge, half esp and half hashing it out. We’re testing the waters, we’re watching Mighty Machines and mouse movies, we’re drawing bulldozers and refusing to say the ABC’s, requesting “Pubba J’s” (PB&J’s) thirty times per day and sleeping in different places every night – together.
Together, together, together. I feel like the luckiest fucking family in the world. It’s like working from home, and home is all over the United States. We were worried, before we started, that three months on the road for a two-and-a-half year old would mean tantrums, resentments, and a lack of cordial order sacred to most young families. Yet we’ve managed to carve out a pattern, a rhythm, the buzz-worded “routine” – waking, meals, playtime, naptimes, bedtimes. Maybe cos he’s our spawn, and we dig this. I’m surprised by the efficient, flexible little path we’re walking. It’s so liberating to let the days shape you. It’s relieving to embrace something that’s living for exactly what you want to (minus the horrific number of dollars we spend fueling our van. Have they made a tour-worthy hybrid yet?). And it’s just kind of frickin’ awesome. I don’t know all the reasons why. We’re poor, but we’re rich with experience. We’re tired, but we’re breathing great full lungs of air. It’s like an Alanis Morissette song for the weary traveler!
Growth spurts are incredible waves. Lio grew some pretty wicked molars at the start of tour, and ate little, with slightly restless sleeps and cranky post-naps. Now that’s beyond us, and he’s a butterfly from a cocoon, eating his weight in food every day (he had three separate breakfasts today – a PB&J, a blueberry muffin, and an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich) – and has turned wonderfully chatty, chipper, and hyper-aware. His love for bulldozers is undiminished, his mouse-movie obsession remains, and his beautiful little soul is unfolding in time-lapse succession right before our eyes. This morning he was in stitches over the fact that the fire alarm went off at our pal’s house while I was taking a shower, the steam overbearing the cool air of our room. Hawk flew out of bed, flapping a blanket at the ceiling, which caused the type of deep-belly laughs I remember Lio making as a super young baby. So Lio’s laughing his baby bum off on the bed, Hawk’s laughing now because Lio’s laughing, the fire alarm grinds to a halt, and Lio jumps up with his own blanket, flapping it over his head at the ceiling, mimicking dad, laughing gleefully.
Before our eyes! This is the part that I’m ever so grateful for. I know we’ll have to find new jobs when we hunker down, and figure out ways to have an income so we can continue to provide for our family and build up the next nest-egg to hold our future dreams. And I’m excited for that, and ready for it, too. I can’t wait to see what it holds, to reunite with old f-r-e-n’s and forge new musical friendships. But these days, I’m savoring every moment of our togetherness. I can’t even tell you how much it means to me to have my own little close-knit family that grows and learns together. We’re becoming thick as thieves.



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