Tour life: Days 9 and 10

I was thinking last night,” We are only half way through this tour!” On our ninth day, we were in Providence, Rhode Island at The Columbus Theater. We had a really great crowd and actually had a little surprise that night. Our friend, Paul, from Jacksonville, Florida was in Rhode Island for business and came out to our show and brought some of his friends, and also brought us dinner from a swanky restaurant! Who knew Sea Bass would taste so good?! And then there was the lobster mac and cheese, the Parmesan truffle fries, and the creamed corn with Applewood smoked bacon. I’m getting hungry again.

After the show we went to Denny’s and ate again because, even though it was after midnight, that meal was technically lunch for us. We ended our night getting a hotel in Rhode Island, which was our first hotel stay for the entire tour. That is because we are blessed with friends who don’t mind having their days and nights interrupted to take care of us. It is beyond words how valuable these people have been to us and how appreciative we are.

The next day we headed out to Philly because we had a house show that night at 7:30. Traffic was insane and I’m pretty sure we got stuck in New York interstate traffic for at least an hour. That would partly be because my GPS is crazy and you have to predict which of the lanes you need to take based on the layout of the land before you and what the signs say according to what the GPS “says” the sign says. Those two things don’t always match up. Needless to say, but I will anyway, we got turned around quite a few times. One time in particular, we went through a toll booth that we weren’t supposed to hit. They made us pay anyway, but gave us a pass to come back through for free after we went another 7.5 miles up the road and after they knew what our license plate number was, how many people were in the car, who our mothers were, etc., etc.

Things did start to look up, though, when I found this little gem at a gas station somewhere near New York or Jersey…20141006_170230We first found these “Kinder-eggs” when Tony and I went to the U.K. in July 2013. They were deemed illegal here in the U.S. and I will tell you our assumptions after I explain what they are. This may just seem like a chocolate egg to you, but it’s not. This chocolate egg has a little plastic egg inside that has tiny little pieces inside of it that, when put together, forms a tiny little toy! I think Alli…excuse me, Alex, got a itsy bitsy robot in this one. While in the U.K. Tony and I were trying to figure out why they were illegal in the U.S. and Tony’s assumption was that kids in America were too stupid to know not to eat the toy inside and that it was a choking hazard. My assumption was less insulting to American children, as I decided that the plastic inside was unsanitary and could cause disease (according to strict rules of the FDA and CDC, not because I’m a germaphobe). The more I think about it, the more I think Tony is right, though. For example…in Rhode Island, Paul bought Alex a Hershey chocolate bar and when she sat down with it, it immediately vanished into thin air. Now, had there been a toy inside, she would not have had the time to realize her mistake before it was too late at the rate she was going. Just saying…

When we finally made it to our destination in Philly, it was 7:10. It was decided to postpone the starting time by just a little due to some circumstances, but that was okay because there was a table full of food! Lunch! (Please do not refer back to the time. I am a good mother, I bought her a Kinder-egg…) This house show that we had arrived at was also full of people that my BFF Lenny had brought together for us! He flew from Florida and greeted us with warm welcomes and surprises! Let me just tell you how cool Lenny is. Starting with food again, this was apparently one of Dianne’s favorite treats…20141006_233755This is called a tomato pie. It is, in effect, a pizza without toppings, and it is good. Then if you traveled down the table a little bit more, you found something slightly familiar and then after the double take…20141006_192122They were little cookies that Lenny had made with the drawing that Gregory Berger had made for us! Yay! How awesome! But this has not scratched the surface… Let me take you a little further inside the house, to the upstairs area where Tony and I would be resting our heads for the night. Laying there were several bags of my favorite chips…20141007_145637Honey Cheese curlsssssssssssss………… There’s the food portion of the awesomeness of Lenny Piazza, now, this is what Lenny usually sends me in the mail, except I saw him in person, so it was just left on my bed to freak out over. I now have the second season of Twin Peaks in my hands. I had just finished the first season before coming out on tour and there were several things that happened in the last episode that were putting me on edge, and so now I will finally know! I also received what looks like two graphic novels of Maus. Looks to be a Nazi themed graphic novel with mice at that! Good! I’m almost done with my third book and I only had two more left. I needed some more things to keep me occupied! I actually thought about skipping the show last night and just going into a honey cheese curl coma while watching Twin Peaks…but I resisted the temptation.

The house show was incredible! Mostly because I got to meet a lot of Lenny and Dianne’s friends and just enjoy time hanging out with people. Also, now I get to unearth the surprise that you all have been waiting for after reading about it! Rob got up during the second half of our set and we all played the Pink Floyd song, Mother, and Rob killed it with the solo! Absolutely amazing! This all went down at one of Dianne’s closest friends mom’s house. Kathy is Dianne’s friends name and Rita is her mom’s name. Kathy and Rita have a business where they teach vocal lessons. Rita was a star in her prime and shines just as much now in her 90’s! I’m fairly certain she flew up the steps to her bedroom at the end of the night instead of hobbling up them like you might think a typical 90 year old might do. I hope I’m like her when I’m that age!

Am I really caught up to present time…? I think I am… maybe I missed a day. Nah… So this morning, I got up and ate a bagel while talking to Lenny, Kathy, and Rita and am thoroughly enjoying myself today. I think I’ll actually open up a bag of my honey cheese curls before I rejoin the group downstairs. Only a few more hours until we play our show in Philly at the Tin Angel!

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Tour life: Days 7 and 8

I’m not sure how many of you realized that I didn’t post yesterday. I think I’ve decided to write about two days together to get back on track, since one of those days is another off day. The first day you have missed, is our show in Arden, Delaware at the Arden Hall. There wasn’t much to say about the drive there, so I’ll start when we got there and I walked into a picture of Lead Belly hanging there in the entrance of him playing for a crowd of children at the Arden Hall. 20141003_165706 After we loaded in and were waiting on Dom’s band to get through sound check, I went outside to view their beautiful amphitheater they had to the side of the venue. photo 2And, you might have guessed that this was coming, but as I entered and was setting up our merch booth, the lighting technician came up to me and showed me a picture of him twirling a “staff” with fire coming out of each side. It is definitely a staff and not a baton. We had that conversation.

Catered food at shows is also something venues should take note on. They have a guy that volunteers to cook for the acts and in return, he gets to watch the show. They don’t even have to pay anything besides what they spent on ingredients. And it was a fine meal. It started out with a salad, then we had Miso soup, and finally, beef stir fry. The show went so well for us. We had, as usual, people crying after our last song, How Great Thou Art. And we probably had the best merch night in the history of our merch nights. I was really impressed with the reception that we had at Arden 1

We loaded up and took another trip to our friend, Rob’s house. We met his girlfriend Tracey this time, and I think Josephine, the poodle, liked us all a little bit more, and then we all went to bed since it was another late night coming in. The next morning, we got up to a meal that Tracey had prepared of a breakfast bake with sausage, eggs, cheese, and bread that was amazing. She also had bacon, fruit, yogurt, granola, and toast laid in perfect order on the table and it was an amazing breakfast, especially with the windows open letting the sweet breeze trickle in beside the rays of warm sun. As soon as we sat down, though, we had a surprise FaceTime call from Lenny Piazza! Yay!

It was our day off, so somehow, we ended up having that day off on the Tennessee/Florida game day. I’m not sure if that was planned or not…but….it happened. But, fear not for me! I laid in bed all day and finally finished the second installment of my Laurie King novels featuring Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell. Then I started on my next book! Out of the 5 that I brought with me, I have already finished two in a week. Somehow, everyone but me, and Alli, have headphones, so when Alli isn’t demanding that I keep turning up her crap pop music, it’s pretty peaceful. Oh, and by the way, on the way to Rob’s house, Alli decided that her name will now be Alex, since her first name is actually Alexis. I am on board with her. Alli is boring, Alex is not. Feelings like this nurtured in my family is probably why I have a nephew named Konrad Wulfrick, and despite many people’s feelings against that, I feel that it is a very interesting and different name that will make him pretty cool in the eyes of his peers. So, Alex. Those that miss this post, will not know who Alex is. Okay, I won’t do that to those of you who aren’t die-hard blog followers.

Back to Rob’s. Well, actually, after the game we did something that is actually a secret as of right now, so in a day or so, we will discuss this. Just an insert here….for  your information, “Alex” has successfully assimilated everyone in our band and Dom’s band into 14 year old girls. Everyone knows the jellyfish handshake, and I just witnessed a highly detailed hand…slap…thing…with mindless dribble words accompanying it that she had taught Pete, our drummer. Anyway, we left Rob’s sometime around five at night and started our journey to Pete’s girlfriend’s brother’s house….did you get that? Okay, Jersey City, that’s where we ended up. Funny story….not….we spent 45 minutes trying to find a place to park for the night. I’m trying to decide if the people who have cars that live there have gotten the parking issue under control and those of us who are outsiders are just watched and made fun of? We finally found a parking garage that we had passed 89 times, and entered wondering how we were going to park with the trailer. We finally decided to detach the trailer and chain it to our wheel. What’s the world coming to? We then, watched Pete’s girlfriend’s (now known as Annie) brother and his wife (now known as Korey and Jen) watch the Michigan State game last night, which got a little worrisome at the end (note how I did not talk about how the Tennessee game went…), but ended up working out for Korey and Jen in the end, so they told us we could stay since they would not be needing to trash their house in anger. The night air was cool and it was nice to snuggle up with Tony and get a good night’s sleep. Next stop will be in Providence, Rhode Island at the Columbus Theater!

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Tour life: Day 6

Days off are a blessing when you do nothing but drive, play, and repeat. We had one of those blessings, and so, since Alli needs a couple of field trips this year, we decided to take her to the Holocaust museum while we were in Washington, D.C.

Starting our day off in Arlington, we walked to a metro station. Note that I said A metro station, not THE metro station. Obviously, there are more than one within the area, but I am trying to point out that we probably took the longest route possible to one. The Ellis’ told us that it was a 10 minute walk. Weeellllll……it took us at least 30 minutes. Maybe more.

Tony and I are really excited for Alli to get to see the different ways that people live, and riding the metro was one of those experiences that would be completely foreign to a 14 year old girl living in Loretto, TN. I explained to her how a metro system works and how to read the map and how to figure out which train on the line you needed to get on. For instance, we were taking the orange line and we were at the Clarendon station. We were trying to get to the Smithsonian station to get to the museum, so we needed to look for the train that said it was going to New Carrollton, which is the end of the orange line on one side, since the Smithsonian station was in between those two. The train going to Vienna, was the train going in the opposite direction on the orange line. That probably doesn’t make sense to people who don’t know anything about metros and probably doesn’t make sense to anybody who travels on a metro everyday. There should really be a better way to explain the system.

Just so you know, it’s 2014. We have smartphones. I’m not even sure how to get a paper map of a city if I wanted one. How in the world did people find things before smartphones?! As we got off of the metro, I had to Google the address of the museum so that I would know which exit to take out of the station, then I pulled up my GPS and just walked in the direction it told me to. I just listened, and it talked to me.

In my head, I thought that when Alli went into the Holocaust museum that she would be completely engrossed and we would have to tear her away. She tore herself away in about five minutes. Just kind of wondered around with whoever was ahead of the group, I believe, in hopes of exiting quicker. There was a lot of reading, though. Wall after wall recounting how things went from taking a few privileges from groups of people, to taking their jobs, their privileges, moving them to ghettos, then murdering them.

There were several things that stuck out to me, and I’ll try to remember them all. A glass case showing miniature figures lining up to enter a building, where they thought they were being deloused. Then being made to strip, and entering what they thought were shower stalls. After their shower turned into carbon monoxide poisoning, miniature Nazis drug them up to be burned in the crematorium after stripping them of gold teeth, and anything else of value. In the same room, there was a casting of the door that closed off the gas chambers, which had a single peep hole for the man who was gassing people to look in to watch all of those people die. All of the pictures of people lining walls whose lives were taken unnecessarily. The shoes that filled a cutout in the wall, encrusted in and smelling like dirt, that covered the feet of people that were murdered. The writing on the walls about how people with mental and physical disabilities were considered useless and murdered to keep the race free of their “problems”. It was sobering. It is mind boggling to think of anything like this ever happening. Even if Adolf Hitler seemed like someone who might solve some issues in the beginning, how did he entice this many people to be on board with this mass murdering spree he commanded? In the end, we spent two and a half hours there and were ushered out at closing time, having to skip past a lot of material. If you ever go, it is important to give yourself ample amount of time to see and learn everything you can. It is well worth it, even if the 14 year old didn’t seem too interested. She did say that the shoe part was her favorite, though. Oh, and I almost forgot the thing that hit me the hardest, and I’m not sure why, especially with everything else that happened. There was a wall sized picture of hair that they had clipped from people, and they sold that hair to businesses to stuff things with. I believe one of those things might have been pillows. Let’s kill all of these people and then sleep on their hair at night.

After leaving with a heavy weight on our shoulders, we walked the 800 miles back to the metro, took the orange line back towards Vienna, and walked the 367 miles back to the Ellis’ house. Awaiting us there were two cute little kids to cheer us all up! Infinity, the 8 year old and Hayden, the 3 year old were watching cartoons. I remember when Mary was Infinity’s age. She would color me things and draw things for me all of the time, and I’m not sure if every mom does this, but there is a gift bag full of things that the girls made me in the hall closet that I will never get rid of. Infinity’s gift may enter said bag in hall closet…20141002_124525

Earlier in the day, we met little Hayden, who reminds me of my cousin, Justin Williams, when he was a little kid. Hayden saw us off to the museum earlier that day with his head hidden in his dad’s shorts and eyes averted. By the time we left that evening, he was giving away colorings that he had previously promised his dad, and asking why we were leaving and when he could go to our house. And it was adorable. Tony does give a heads up to all owners of little boys, that I might steal them. I’m not sure whether this comes as it should, a joke, or just creeps people out.

Before moving on, the Ellis’ and our crew went to eat at a place that had amazing soy garlic chicken, and I can’t remember the name of the place so maybe Danita will get on here and leave a comment. Then, the end of our day took us to the area that Dom’s bass player resides, and Brian was nice enough to let us crash for the night before heading to Arden, Delaware!

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Tour life: Day 5

Let it be known from now on as a well known fact that Tony hates driving in Washington, DC more than he hates driving through the middle of Times Square. Now, let me rewind a few hours and I’ll come back to “well known fact of the day”. As we were leaving Rob’s house, we needed gas and so we stopped not far up the road. (Reminder here of amateurs driving around a Uhaul.) Our turn out of the gas station needed to be to the left. Alas, there was a median preventing this, so we had to turn right. Long story short, we got stuck in a parking lot inching forward and backward, trying to squeeze our Traverse plus Uhaul into tiny spaces to get back on our way again…we lost at least 10 minutes here.

I have had some pretty severe sinus headaches since we have gotten further north and so I went to sleep. Not completely sure what happened between the time I fell asleep and the time I woke up to craziness in the middle of DC, but suffice it to say that it was a rude awakening. I hadn’t been awake but a few minutes before the sound guy from the venue called my cellphone to ask where we were. We were already late for our sound check. I told him that it looked to be about 10 minutes, but to factor traffic in with that. It was apparently rush hour, and that apparently means that left turns are not allowed within a one mile radius of the place we are trying to get to. After navigating our way back to the place we were told to go (a parking garage entrance), a nice little car decides to come out of said entrance at the same time. Little known fact: cars are actually harder to maneuver in reverse than a Traverse WITH A UHAUL BEHIND IT!!! So, this nice car sat there until we moved out of it’s way. I helped unload the equipment in the middle of the freaking street because of this nice little car, and then Tony drove around the block AGAIN and pulled into the entrance to the parking garage, where we encountered more trouble from security who seemed hesitant to open the door us, even though the sound guy was the one talking to her. Enter little black cloud above Grace’s head (this is a little known fact that is becoming increasingly well known to those who have to be around me.) We had just enough time to set up our equipment and do monitor checks before doors opened at this point and the only thing that saved our moods was little Infinity.

Infinity is the 8 year old daughter of John and Danita Ellis, they also have a 3 year old son, Hayden, who we will talk about tomorrow. We met these lovely folks when they came to a show at The Kennedy Center last time we were in DC. Infinity wrote a review of our music that her dad posted to No Depression, a blog that he writes for, along with a picture that she drew of us. The Ellis’ took us into their home after the show, and we are super thankful for that. Infinity, never meeting a stranger, was super excited when it was suggested that Alli and I ride the metro home with her and her mom, while her dad rode with the boys to find a suitable parking space for the Uhaul. So, here is an intriguing picture of Alli’s first ride on the metro…20141001_230821 At this point in time, she was talking about “OMG, my hair is so long” (said in valley girl voice).

So, anyway, we didn’t get mugged on the metro, as was my fear since it was midnightish. That’s pretty much all that happened, so I will leave you with a picture of us singing I’ll Fly Away with Dom at our super finale at The Hamilton in Washington, DC, then you can wait for tomorrow’s installment of Alli’s first home school field trip. photo(2)

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Tour life: Day 4

Lancaster, PA. This is the only Lancaster pronounced LANK-iss-ter. So, there’s that. We played there for day 4 on tour at an Irish pub and music venue called Tellus 360. If you are a venue owner, you better start taking some notes! The owner is really Irish and I’m pretty sure everyone I talked to had an Irish accent. We came in and the owner came to us and shook our hands, talked for a bit, and told us to come in and have a meal on the house. Most of us had the shepherd’s pie, but Tony chose a chicken curry, and Alli chose the enchiladas. Then, skipping forward a bit, a girl came up to us after our set and said that the venue sent out an email telling who would be playing there that night and included a bio for each of us too. She didn’t know either of the acts, but because of that email, she decided to come out. Okay, really take note of that. That’s super cool of them to do that, and I’m pretty sure it’s the reason they had about 150 + people there. Fast forward again; the venue owner then helped us carry our stuff out to our car and told us that he definitely wanted us back anytime we were coming back through Pennsylvania. We love this guy.

Now, let me introduce you to my best friend Lenny Piazza. I met him due to me freaking out over a change of plans on our way to Miami this last February. Management wanted us to take a detour to Orlando for a meeting with some people and that left us in a pickle without a place to go. Tom, our manager, gave me the number of the guy that gave him his first job, and I texted him. At the start, this guy was hilarious, a dry sense of humor like I have, and used big intelligent words, kind of like my mom would have used with me. I knew instantly that I was going to like this guy. When we arrived at his house at two in the morning, he sat up with us and talked until we felt bad about keeping him up. Since then, we have shared times at Disneyworld, comic book stores, and Twin Peaks. Lenny is the guy that will sit with my husband and talk about music until one of them dies. Lenny. Is. Amazing. So, that being said, Lenny talked to his brother in law and found us a place to stay in West Chester, PA, which wasn’t so far from Lancaster. Maybe a little over an hour. Here is Rob’s amazing house….20141001_112152This actually does nothing for how amazing the back yard is. This is the back yard, but there is also a creek, and a huge fire pit, and behind the creek, there is a blanket of ferns that looks like you are walking through a scene in Jurassic Park. Inside, there are glass cases of guitars, and a Poodle named Josephine, and Rob was nice enough to get us breakfast from a Wawa (which is the best place on the face of the earth) and then he went to get us cheese steaks for the road at a place called The Peppermill, which Lenny suggested. They were amazing! This guy didn’t even know us and was so nice to us and we are really thankful that because of cool best friends in Orlando, that we meet cool new people in Pennsylvania.

Rob, as I mentioned, is Lenny’s brother in law. Lenny’s late wife, Diane was Rob’s sister. I didn’t have the honor of meeting this amazing woman, but I know from what I have been told that she was completely selfless and thoughtful and just a wonderful woman. Rob told us a story of his two dogs dying. One went outside and started barking at something that wasn’t there and laid down and died. The next day, the other dog passed away too. Diane, being the good sister she was, sent Rob a Blue Dog book, since the artist paints his late dog after starting to have dreams about the dog after it’s death. Rob now has several books scattered throughout his house with Blue Dog on the cover. It seems this kind act by his sister really helped him through this hard time. With the coming of Diane’s passing from cancer, came the need to commemorate her in some way. He was in Louisiana and asked if the Blue Dog artist could paint him something for this reason. The artist was dealing with cancer as well, but had just painted this beautiful painting recently and was nice enough to take out his supplies once more to paint Diane into his painting. 20141001_144301There she is, the beautiful yellow flower beside Blue Dog. Every story I hear about Diane is so touching that it is actually really starting to suck pretty bad that I never met her and never will get to meet her, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t ever get to KNOW her. She was a person that left footprints everywhere she went with her kindness and her amazing personality and those footprints leave stories to tell so that people won’t ever forget her, and those that didn’t know her would be able to understand who she was.

Well, dry your eyes now and get ready for our next stop, which is Washington, DC!

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Tour life: Day 3

Besides the fact that the British Virgin Islands is my dream home and the Cayamo cruise was one of the best times of my life, it has had other advantages. Fast forward several agonizing months, where I have not been in the Caribbean, to now. Meet Steve and Carrie Beckman! These guys, along with several other families, are one of the perks of Cayamo. They discovered us because they were looking through last year’s line up and thought that we were quite interesting, so now we are BFFs. Tour life: Day 3 was spent at their house with a house show to end the night with perfection.

After our show in Pittsburgh, we drove to the Beckman residence. It was after one a.m. but these guys stayed up waiting for us, and I believe, decided to do so by watching The Walking Dead. Greeting us at almost two in the morning, they helped us in with our luggage and settled us in for the night. The next morning, we were happy to find fresh fruit, scones (chocolate chip and lemon), and scrambled eggs waiting for us. I would like to say that the day was relaxing, but…we have a teenager.

Alli is in her second month of home school, and it has not been an easy transition for her. Friends have been very misunderstanding and potential boyfriends see the fact that she is gone a lot with us undesirable. So, long story short, it took us eight hours to get through the things that she had missed the previous day and I’m pretty sure Tony used the word “forever” in relation to how many days she had without her iPod.

House shows are one of my favorite things to do. You load in your instruments, set them up without worrying about cables or a sound check, and you just go! The Beckmans always bring in a ton of people and this show was no exception. Afterward, everyone was so complementary and friendly, and there’s no rush to talk to someone and send them on their way because someone else is waiting. It’s a party! You have all night! Carrie always makes pies for these parties and here’s a picture of one from this particular show. 20140929_171512I think she was a little bummed about Tony’s eye falling in, but we decided that it was an omen for the future use of an eye patch. She also made these little appetizers that I cleared out for her single-handedly…two plates. I believe she said it was a mixture of goat cheese, cream cheese, and pumpkin on a little bagel cracker, topped with bacon, pecans, and apples.

Then, there’s true love and finding one’s new best friend…. photo(1)Meet Guthrie the Golden Retriever. Tony found one also….20140929-DSC_1015e-3If you look closely in this photo taken by our friend Julie Zipp, there is a snack tiger helping Tony play his guitar. This is because Julie’s son, Elijah, got to take the snack tiger home and record their whereabouts for the weekend he had him. I’m pretty sure that this tops any other kids outing with said snack tiger.

The next morning we had pancakes with real maple syrup and Alli ended up being really proud of herself for her good grades after I forced her into making good enough notes. I believe the words she said were,” Good thing I decided to take all those good notes!” Just like her dad….

These house shows often end with a sad goodbye. We would really have just been happy to stay there for a few more days hanging out with friends and relaxing, but that’s not life. You apparently have to work. Carrie sent us off with more fruit, chips, individually wrapped pieces of pound cake, scones, reese’s cups, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies….have I left anything out? Needless to say, we had a great time and can’t wait to get back to Beckman land…but not in the winter again… (note to audience: inside joke because last time we were there, there was a snow storm). Off to our next stop! Lancaster, PA!

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Tour life: Day 2

Day two was in Pittsburgh, PA. I am a Steelers fan, and as we rolled into town, we grieved with all the other Steelers jersey wearing fans who had to witness a loss by 3 points. In fact, during Dom’s performance, he held a memorial service for the losing team. It was moving.

Club Cafe was where we performed. It is a small bar with a listening room type atmosphere. Pulling up outside, I was a bit worried due to the enormous amount of bikers parked outside. They were not, in fact, there to see us. It was a total surprise. Speaking of bikers, I have to tell a story. On our way to the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July, we embarked on a tour full of house shows to keep us from having to fly to Canada and back. I had to rent a car because mine was in the shop (remember, it’s possessed) and as my spectacular luck would have it, the starter was crapping out on the rental car. I was telling my mom…okay…I was griping about my horrid luck to my mom and she told me to find a chaplain of a christian biker group to lay hands on the car so that we could get to where we were going. The very next day, my car started, I’m convinced, because God listens to my mom and we started on our way to the next show in Farmer City, IL that had quite a gathering of bikers. One, of which, was a chaplain of a particular christian group. My mother has weird ways of reminding me that God is tapping on my shoulder, quietly trying to remind me to quit freaking out. So, I told the biker guy my story, we talked for hours about mission work, and he prayed for my rental car. The next day, we found a shop, a solution, and made it to the next place without a hitch. So…maybe the bikers should have been part of my night.

The show went well, and I think we all had a good time eating the food and hanging out together. We performed I’ll Fly Away together at the end of the night again. One thing that stuck out to me, besides the memorial service, was the fact that out of all the younger people there, the older ones are the ones buying our albums. Maybe I can attribute that to the fact that we aren’t hipster enough to be slinging vinyl…? Maybe it’s because younger people don’t have as much cash as a retired man…? Mostly, it’s just fun knowing that we can appeal to all ages, and it’s even better when we get the comments about putting children to sleep with our songs about cross dressing, murder, and super heroes. Our albums are used as the newfangled storybooks, and that makes me happy.

I’ve written more than I thought I could for this particular post. I was apprehensive about it’s length and had spent some time researching a little about Pittsburgh. So, I’ll leave you with a few fun facts that may or may not be completely accurate, due to haste whilst reading the articles… Did you know?: Pittsburgh is the oldest city inhabited by humans in the United States? It also played a role in the famous Whiskey Rebellion with it’s residents forming a rebel militia to protest the taxes being imposed. So… there’s that…

I’m not sure if anyone is enjoying these, but if you happen to be, keep reading because you have 18 more days of mildly entertaining posts coming your way!

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Tour life: Day 1

Yesterday we drove to Peninsula, Ohio for our first show of the tour with Dom Flemons at the historic G.A.R. Hall. imagesG.A.R stands for The Grand Army of the Republic. This building was originally built in 1850 as a school, and later was a meeting place for veterans. Later on, the building needed some major repairs, and a man by the name of Robert L. Hunker bought it and restored it. It now functions as a Civil War museum and place to hold events. ( It was absolutely amazing on the inside. Even the smell to the place took you back to the 1800’s. I am absolutely obsessed with the 1800’s, and so that’s why I know what the 1800’s smelled like. Here’s a picture of us on stage inside the G.A.R. Hall…facebook 1The show went well, and I feel like we won some more people over, and we have been trying to work up a song along with Dom for the ending of each show. Last night we did I’ll Fly Away together.

The people that run the G.A.R. Hall were generous enough to let us stay in the house of Robert L. Hunker last night, called The Designers Barn. 20140928_134532 And if you think the outside is amazing looking…DSC00765 Yea… we stayed here. I think there was a total of three stories to this house, and despite it’s beauty, it was the most confusing house I’ve ever been in. I attribute this to the fact that there were lots of mirrors everywhere. Example: this morning, I was coming out of the bathroom downstairs and turned too early, and came face to face with another human being! I screamed and as I swatted at the object, I hurt my hand on the mirror that was reflecting my image. Sometimes you would think that you were seeing someone in an adjoining room, but it was only their reflection in a mirror. Makes for a good story.

But…let me introduce Dom Flemons to you. photoDom is one of the original members of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, now gone solo. I think part of the claim to fame is the fact that there are five to six, possibly more, instruments on stage with him. Lets count… two acoustic guitars, two banjos, the quills, the bones, harmonica…Seven! Dom plays a traditional style of folk music that makes you feel like you are sitting around watching your grandparents play music on an old wooden porch. Dom has a new player with him on this tour, a stand up bassist and fiddler named Brian…I’ll learn his last name later and get back to you on that. It’s a wonder I’ve caught on to his first name, but it’s because he’s a really awesome guy and we’ve lucked out to have cool people to hang out with and spend the next 19 days with.

Today was just an all around great day. The town of Peninsula, OH is like walking into the past, which, to me, is one of the most amazing feelings ever. If you are blessed with an imagination, you can just stand there for hours and imagine the hustle and bustle around the buildings still standing and how things looked like in the 1850’s when there were no paved roads and no stop lights. FARROW! I found out Brian’s last name…

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Getting ready for tour life

Let’s just start out with the fact that this is already day 2 for us on tour, but for the lack of wifi and me wanting to share some vital information about the goings on for us before tour, I am starting today and will just be a day late on every post. So, there.

I worked three days this week: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We had a show in Muscle Shoals, AL on Thursday, and left out on Friday. This week was busy, and that goes without saying. Thursday I spent part of the day trying to get all the bills paid that I could before we left out, and doing what I could in general to make Friday’s departure smooth. Except….I didn’t pack anything, nor did I begin to wash clothes until Friday morning.

Then Friday descended upon us. The plan was to leave early enough to have supper with our friends in Louisville, KY and stay the night there before heading to Ohio on Saturday. It would also cut our trip to Ohio in half for Saturday’s drive. Friday was a day of intensity from the time we decided to get our butts out of bed. Tony and I got up, and I made ham cups (in cupcake pan place sliced ham, shredded cheese, and crack an egg inside, then bake at 400 for 15 minutes!) while Tony made a ham and cheese melt for the daughter who doesn’t eat eggs. Then, I’m not really sure what happened, except it felt like the scene in Home Alone before they left for their holiday trip. I do know, that packing is quite an ordeal for me. Let me explain…

When I pack for tour, I pack for weeks at a time, and I like to be organized and make sure I’m going to look like someone my husband would be proud of. Unfortunately, that means that I have to stay away from sweat pants and oversized t-shirts. I map out how many days I’m going to be gone and I start taking out gallon sized ziplock bags. I put on a pair of pants and chose a shirt to pair with them and try the outfit on. Looks good, take the shirt off, and try another shirt. Looks good? Okay, I have two outfits. I roll up those two shirts with my one pair of jeans and place them in the ziplock bag, throw two pair of undies in, squeeze all the air out and throw it in the suitcase. Then I repeat that sequence 10 times for a total of 20 outfits. Now I don’t have to dig through my suitcase trying to find an outfit everyday. I think that Tony both rolls his eyes at this madness/ is mildly impressed with the efficiency and organization displayed.

During my several hour packing ritual, Tony had to take our son Abe to the doggysitter’s house. Abe got several hugs, kisses, and pleads to be good while mommy and daddy were gone, and then I sent him off with tears in my eyes. Tony also took our youngest daughter, Mary, to a friends house to stay the night before going to her grandmother’s for the rest of the time we are gone. This is an easier goodbye, as I know Mary is probably just happy to be somewhere that has cable, being able to get away from her sister, and leaving the higher demands and expectations of her parents and going to the lenient ways of grandparent land. The oldest daughter, Alli, is going out with us for her second tour, but one without her sister this time. The homeschooling routine will be figured out as we go.

I also had a rental car to drop off on Friday, since my possessed car is still in the shop from rolling down a hill and hitting a barn and barbed wire fence. Then we had to pick up the Uhaul that we are pulling behind our Traverse, and by the time we left town, it was three P.M. We still had to pick up our drummer, Pete, and our cellist, Chris, before we left for Louisville. So, by the time we got to Louisville, it was ten at night and our friends helped us order pizza and made us coffee, and after talking for an hour or so, we went to bed. It wasn’t the grand reunion with friends that I had imagined, but that’s how things usually go the first day of tour.

All of this being said, we have a running game that our kids like to play while we are on tour. Anytime someone says a cuss word, the kids get a dollar. This time, however, Pete has decided that before he gives up his dollar, he will quiz Alli on a capital of a state and if she gets it right, she can have her dollar, but if she doesn’t know it, he gets to keep his dollar. That being said, Pete is not the only person that cusses on tour. I’m pretty sure Chris paid for Alli’s meal last night while we were working the merch stand and just told her we didn’t owe him because he was pre-paying for future uses. I try my hardest to keep Tony’s mouth clean, as I can not afford his bad habit.

I’ll leave you with this picture of us, taken by Chris’ mom’s huge new iPhone6 Plus. Stay tuned, because I plan on writing again tonight with details from last night’s show in Peninsula, Ohio. IMG_1801

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Today is my grandfather’s birthday. Every year I make him a warm, old fashioned banana pudding because my grandmother refuses to make them that way. If you make old fashioned pudding, you realize why. After combining your ingredients, you spend the next 20+ minutes constantly stirring your mixture in a double boiler. It’s hot and your arm falls off. But…I make this sacrifice because I love my pawpaw and I believe he likes the pudding that I make. Though, he would never say if he didn’t like it. As I was walking into his house, bearing my gift, I thought,”What if every year pawpaw dreads his birthday because he knows he’s going to get the gift of the dreadful pudding?” I do have to admit that he probably did dread it for a while before I started getting better at making it. When the directions tell you to remove it from heat when it STARTS to thicken, it is lying. You stir that pudding until it has SNAP to it! (This is a term I learned today from my uncle who is a pastry chef.) I’ve been through several recipes, including Paula Dean’s butter banana pudding recipe, but today, I went to my great grandmother’s house and cooked in her kitchen using a recipe off a box of vanilla wafers.

My great grandmother’s (a.k.a. Granny) house has been in a state of disrepair for some time now since her death. If you have seen our video for The Chameleon you have seen this house. Most of the video was shot there; the creepier parts being shot in the attic. She used to tell us there were “haints” up there. It effectively kept me away most of my childhood. Nathan, my uncle, has been restoring the house and has kept as much original as possible. The living room linoleum is still there and in great condition, as is a shag carpet in a bedroom. My granny was a saint, and everyone in our family is so excited to be getting to have holidays over there again since she passed.

Let me explain to you a little more about Granny. She is someone I had the utmost blessing of calling granny. She was hilarious, she had the typical, wavering, soft but high pitched granny voice that increased in pitch as the end of the sentence came nearer. She quilted by hand, she cooked with lard, she kept BOTTLES of Coca-Cola in her fridge at all times, and she was loved by anyone and everyone that met her. Walking into Granny’s house is like walking directly into the best feeling memories of the past I have ever had. I grew up there because my parents lived two minutes away from her and anytime we had family get-togethers, we were there. We would all huddle by the wood burning stove in the winter and my cousins, my sister, and I would go climb trees and stare in awe and wonder at the outhouse in the back yard in the summer. Anytime it rained, we went outside and played in the puddles that collected underneath the edges of the tin roof and every summer, the first time I wore shorts she would say,”Aren’t you pushing the season?” Her food was the best food anyone had ever put in their mouth and there will NEVER be fried potatoes that tasted as good as Granny’s fried potatoes. I remember her looking across the road at her neighbor’s house and pooh-poohing the woman’s desire to keep as many animals as she did. Granny also lived next door to the church I went to growing up, and she would inevitably wash and hang her panties and bras up on the weekends. (Note to reader: her clothes-line was on the side porch facing the church.) My family always picked Granny up for church and would drop her off at her house afterward. Every Sunday morning, my mother would ask Granny how she was, and she would say,”Welllllllllll…..,” increasing in pitch and length every time,”Not so goooooodddddddd.” She was only in her 90’s. 🙂 Every time we dropped her off, mom would ask me to watch her to make sure she made it up her steps okay. One day I yelled and told mom that she had fell. After my mom slammed on the brakes and realized Granny was still going up the steps pretty as you please, she thankfully laughed with me instead of busting my rear. Granny’s plants were the best to hide Easter eggs in and her trees the best to hide the eggs with the dollars in them, especially when I got tall enough to reach them! Her outdoor refrigerator held a jar of pickle juice I’m sure she only kept because she laughed watching my sister and I drink it and pretend we had superpowers because of it. It was bread and butter pickle juice. She had a thing with glass bottles and she would make colored water to fill them up with and sit them in the window of the dining room. Such things were imperative to my childhood, as they were either the poison for your enemy or the cure to the disease when you ran around playing “pretend” with your cousins. And that’s what we did back then before the internet! I could go on for years about how awesome my life was because of Granny, and it’s still awesome every time I walk into her house.

I think Granny was 94 when she died. She fell asleep and didn’t wake up. Everyone has missed her since. Today, the joy of cooking in her kitchen, on the stove that she used to cook on is like therapy. I don’t think Tony ever knew his great grandparents and I think that’s a shame. My last great grandparent died the day before my birthday last year and I wouldn’t trade the sun for the days I had with my great grandparents. They were absolutely perfect in my eyes.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post except that it was a great day for nostalgia and sitting on the front porch in the swing and drinking in my surroundings and remembering what that place means to me. I’m also thankful that she gave us my pawpaw! He’s the one that has the 1950 Oliver tractors that you may have seen me pulling every year. That’s our yearly weekend to bond. He’s also the one that Tony says I compare every man to because I think my pawpaw is what a REAL man should be. So, happy birthday to an awesome man who I am beyond thankful to have and who, because I make the “dreaded gift of pudding” to every year, caused a day full of great memories! This has definitely been a day of reflection and enjoyment for me. IMG951028

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