The past couple of weeks we’ve faced some hard truths on just how much one road warrior can take. We’ve bounced from Albany, NY all the way to Tennessee, back and forth to North Carolina twice, through the traffic of New Jersey and Washington DC more times than we’d like to admit, and as we settle into our our first weekend off since May we took a glance at our odometer and stopped...how did we drive THAT MANY MILES IN TWO WEEKS! With more receipts for Chipotle and hotels than farmer’s markets and campgrounds, we have come to realize there is a serious art to booking a tour and we clearly haven’t mastered it, but heck...isn’t that what chasing your dreams and starting something on your own is all about? Making mistakes, dusting off the dirt and getting better. Not to mention, there were some truly incredible moments the past few weeks that make everything worth it.
We kicked off the storm in Charlotte, NC...a day before the riots broke out. The show was just supposed to be some pocket change for the “real shows” that weekend and it turned out to be one of the best times we’ve had in a long time. The people in Charlotte, or at least at Jack Beagle’s that night, were freaking awesome. One special man from the “Jersey Bros” table showed us up when he came to sing S.O.B. by Nathaniel Rateliff with us...and killed it. Never underestimate a man in a muscle tee.
We took off for two fall festivals in rural Tennessee where we had an odd moment opening for a 12 year old Country prodigy, Emisunshine. At 12 I think I dubbed myself an honorary Spice Girl as I sang to one major crowd of stuffed animals. She probably doesn’t even know who the Spice Girls are…let me just get my walker out and head out for Tuesday night Bingo because I AM OLD. We ended the weekend camping in one of our favorite places in America, Douglas Dam, and playing a brand new brewery in the Blue Ridge Mountains constructed by a shoeless man and his bare hands. There were some rain mishaps and yah know, the shoeless man not even knowing that we were supposed to play that day but...all in all we got through it and made our way to Pennsylvania where we had our 15 minutes of fame on Good Day PA. (Man were we nervous nellies.) I had the pleasure of listening to a 45 minute conversation between Matt and Ben about the art of grooming your beard. (See instagram for the recent developments in their facial hair growth) There are apparently waxes and oils and whole assortment of products to making yourself look like you’ve just stepped out of a 3 week expedition in the woods catching fish with your bare hands, howling at the moon and chopping down trees like a real man. (We need more women in our band.) After this enlightening conversation it was back to New Jersey….
Fast forward a week, we headed to Washington D.C. for Sofar Sounds. It was in this old church converted into an art space called Blind Whino that had a complete mural wrap inside and outside the building. It was one of the most mesmerizing places I have ever seen, and we got to play there! That’s the magic of Sofar Sounds...if you do not know what this global movement is, go look it up. Now. And then come back to finish reading the rest of our adventures. You really come to understand the culture of a city at Sofar, and everyone we met there had found a way to combine their artistic passions with...politics. Surprised?
We stopped at Ben’s parents for some R&R and a big breakfast. As we began cooking our feast we realized there was one missing ingredient...maple syrup. I have never seen Matt move so quickly racing to the grocery store. God forbid a Canadian not have his maple syrup.
Saturday, we headed for a doubleheader in Pennsylvania. First, a relaxing art festival in Carlisle where a woman actually painted a portrait of us performing. We then hustled over to play our very first...metal festival. The main stage may have had a mosh pit but our acoustic stage rocked out pretty hard with a fire pit. I SHREDDED my melodica. Some of our favorite people we’ve met came out for the show and helped us practice our metal screaming (my voice is still recovering). As we tried to tuck in for the night into Trusty to the sweet sounds of death metal we all had a moment huddled together where we lost a little bit of sanity. In the morning we took off for one of the fanciest vineyards we’ve ever played in Maryland...because that’s how hard rock we are. Now, we’ve had many a drunk people come and take instruments from us at shows and grab our mics to sing...but that show there was a first. A woman (donning wine glass shaped sunglasses) actually brought her own egg shakers to the party. We were still laughing as we made our way back to New Jersey...again.
Fast forward another week and we bounced from Albany all the way to Williamsburg, Virginia. In Williamsburg we played one of our favorite places, Alewerks Brewing Company. We met a couple who was celebrating their 25th anniversary. The husband not only played in a band but was a mechanic...who WORKS ON VANAGONS. What are the odds? They were just looking for music (which we learned that night is scarce in Williamsburg) and happened to come in when we were playing. We then headed to a Beer festival in Virginia and all the way to Fayetteville, NC (a couple days after the floods).
Our last show was the Dog Patch House Concerts at the lovely home of Lee and Mike. All of the neighbors and a few others who had heard of the show through flyers came out with a dish of food. We’ve played many house concerts but none with such a sense of community. It may have had to do with the openness of Lee and her family, but it was a truly special evening. Finally we packed up Trusty and headed back to..you guessed it...New Jersey.
With a week of rest we gear up to head out on a six week Southeast tour that is following the path of Hurricane Matthew. We’ve had many experiences lately where we have just missed national headlines, and it really puts into perspective how fortunate we are to be doing what we’re doing and how much more we should be doing. Maybe this road we travel will help us to figure out how. - Emily
Photo credit: Mauricio Castro / Sofar Sounds Washington D.C.