Oooh, this is a long one. Many of you complain when I don’t write about what’s really going on. Here we go..
Omaha was such a delightful surprise. Mick’s is a beautiful club. It felt a lot to me like Conor Byrne Pub in Seattle. Kind of like a double wide New Orleans shotgun bar… tall ceilings, pressed tin, great wine and sound. Almost too good. The acoustics are such that one person talking in the very back can be heard on stage. I had to focus, because I felt like I was eaves dropping. This one drunk girl who forgot her purse there was discussing all sorts of personal things that surely were not intended for my ears. The opener was a poetry slam… a great glimpse into the life and style of at least one section o Omaha.
At a pizza place nearby, before the show, someone called out my name as I was headed back to my table. Strange feeling when you’re in a new city. It turned out to be Michael, the owner of Mick’s music bar. He said recognized me from a feature in the newspaper. When we went to pay for our bill, Michael had already covered it. He was a very cool guy, who obviously loves music. If you look at the before and after pictures of his club, you’ll see what I mean.
Our headliner in Omaha got sick, so we got to take our time. Same thing the next night in Iowa City, which was a blessing, because we made more money than expected. The Siren also fed us well. I was falling asleep on my stool because we had driven from Austin to Omaha and then on to Iowa City straight after the gig to be there in time for a morning radio show. Ben Keiffer hosted us on ‘The Talk of Iowa – Live from the Java House’. It was quite a production in a very cool coffee shop. They individually brew each cup of coffee as it’s ordered. That was exactly what we needed by the time we got there! Ben paired us with an author named Christopher Merrill who had lived as a monk on pilgrimages to sacred Mount Athos. So we switched off between his talk of sacrifice, and purity to songs about pre-marital sex, drugs, and obsession. There were two priests right in the front row! I have never felt so aware of the fact that I have my own set of rules. I actually felt grateful for my freedom.
After the morning show, Rob, our tour manager convinced the Motel 6 clerk to let us check in very early. Again, random kindness. Sleep is goooooood.
At each gig over the last 2 weeks, I’ve made a judgment call based on the likelihood of CD sales. At some gigs I have given away the last few copies of the first pressing of ‘4th person’ in exchange for email addresses… just to scatter them and get good tips. People are very generous when they get free things. In Oshkosh, we had a really cool crowd of mostly students. I could tell there was not a lot of disposable income in the room, so I gave out 30 CDs and got 30 email addresses.
After the show, one of the openers hijacked my tip jar while I was in the rest room and divided it 3 ways between the two unexpected local openers and me. I was in such shock that I didn’t put up enough of a fight. I’ve glimpsed behavior like this before, where someone decides to prove their value over a tip jar. I saw it with a guy I sang for at Liberty Lunch, the last week before they closed. He didn’t want to pay Heidi an equal percentage of the tip jar because she was ‘just a back up singer’. She had rehearsed like everyone else for the gig. In the end, I think we made $8 each and he paid Heidi with pizza coupons. Heidi and I bonded over the experience and have jokes about it to this day. Random acts of asinine behavior…
So on to the ultimate act of generosity and kindness… My friends John and Janell came up from Madison for our gig in Oshkosh. They booked us a hotel room for the night “just ‘cuz”. Aaaahhh… Aveda mini products and a Jacuzzi bubble bath. I could get used to it. They are so, so cool and thoughtful and we had so much fun catching up in the hotel bar. Janell and I continued our catching up while the boys ventured out on the town. They apparently ended their night with a drink called a ‘Dirty Snowball’. They don’t remember what was in it, but it made them all feel like hell the next day. It was so cold, Rob and Buffalo swore they could tell which girls were not wearing underwear, because they could see steam coming out of the bottom of some miniskirts.
In Chicago, we got to see the Body Worlds exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. This was the real reason that Rob came on the tour. Go see it! I can’t even explain how amazing it is.
Uncommon Ground was a great show and they asked us back as soon as we can get there. I was approached before the show by a man who told me that he was in my parents wedding and that he decorated their car on their wedding day. Later, when I asked him how far he lived from the club, he said, “33.4 miles.” “Wow, that’s accurate.” “Well, your dad took the liberty of emailing me Mapquest directions to your show even though I told him that my son lives 2 blocks away.” A pleasant reminder of my dad’s persistence when he works to get the word out for me.
And finally, Madison. We saw a lot of snow. Buffalo and I went skiing. It was his first time. He was very good at skiing, not very good at stopping. Any time he was in danger of hitting a child, I would yell, “Sit down Buffalo! Just sit down!”
Once again, we got very well fed by my new friend Susan, who Jeffry Duke Patterson intorudced me to. She is known for taking good care of Austin musicians. She cooks at the Flatiron Tavern. I had the best veggie burger ever. Our last Midwest gig at Maduro Cigar bar was, well smokey! It was worth it for the crowd and the atmosphere. John and Janell rallied their friends. The bar gave a free drink to everyone who bought a CD. More random kindness… The road is a magical place.
We made it back to Austin in 21 hours. Rob drove the whole way home. He is a fearless lead foot. After 3,000 miles in the car together, Rob, Buffalo and I took to comparing the toll that the road was taking on our regularity. Here are some classic quotes that a fly on the wall would have heard. “Mine was just another M&M.” “I finally had last Thursday’s movement.” “I haven’t even shat a mouthful. I don’t know where it’s going, man.” “I had a pre and post breakfast movement!”
I found out on the drive home that I was going to LA the next day. Internet in the car is a must! I don’t know how I’ll get around when Buffalo isn’t on the next tour. He has high speed internet through his cell phone into his tablet PC. We got back to Austin just in time for me to do laundry, gather my audio files and catch a flight to LA to finish my work on Drop Dead Sexy. We got 99 percent of the scenes finished. Now I have 22 songs to license by the morning. Luckily, I have prepared every band that I though might be in there so that they are ready to sign at a moments notice. Unfortunately, a few songs got cut and I have to break the news. It kills me! OOOUUUCCHHH I feel their pain. Disappointment is such a staple in this business.