Road Blog: Thursday October 07, 2021 - Brattleboro, VT
Thursday, October 7, 2021
Before we left Albany, Dani Elle and I worked on some vocal harmonies and timing for a couple songs that needed a little attention. Tommy joined in after some guitar maintenance and we got things worked out, packed up, and loaded out of the AirBB. We drove through Troy and headed northeast into Vermont. The colors quickly changed from green to nearly 100% yellow, orange and red as the elevation increased and we were presented with panoramic views of mountains, valleys, and rivers under blue skies. Nich drove, I was shotgun, and Tommy and Dani were in the back. Slade, Sweet, Old 97s and Cheap Trick came up on shuffle.
We landed at our AirBB around 3pm. It’s a super nice house tucked away down a mountain road in a beautiful setting with lots of space. After a short downtime session we drove into Brattleboro through winding mountain roads and over old one-lane bridges and grabbed a parking spot next to the venue. We headed out on foot and had dinner and a pint at the Whetstone Brewery, bopped around town for a bit, had another at Hermet Thrush Brewery, and then headed to the venue for load in. Danielle used to live here so she was pointing out he old haunts and around every corner was someone she knew. It was great to have her insight and to see her friends at the show!
The Stone Church is a beautiful building that lives up to its name – it’s an old church. A big open room with tall wood ceilings, wonderful acoustics, and a big stage. I talked to Tim, Phil and Louis from Moon Hollow, the local openers. We talked Michigan and Detroit, touring in the Midwest, and northeast birds of prey. Super nice dudes and I expect I’ll be running into them again some day. Nich was having some issues with the electronics in his bass and he eventually got them worked out, at least temporarily, but they would be a harbinger of things to come later. Moon Hollow went on to an appreciative room a bit after 8pm. Their set was rich in songwriting and vocals, backed up by tight musicianship and harmonies. They sounded great and were one of the better acoustic bands I’ve seen in a long time.
I went on a little after pm and played a few songs that seemed to be received well. It was very much a listening room so I was able to pull out a couple quieter ones that I don’t get to so in every situation. The band came up and we locked in together, then things started to go downhill. First Tommy broke a string on his acoustic (3rd in 3 nights, if you’re keeping score, but last night it was the D, not the G). He grabbed our backup acoustic while Dani, Nich and I vamped on B-minor, the realized there wasn’t a strap (that’s on me), so he had to grab a stool. A couple songs later, after I switched to mandolin, I broke a string on that, feeling bad as it’s not my instrument and it’s new. We switched back, Tommy tuned it up and we forged on. Then all at once my lap-steel started shortening out and Tommy broke a second string on the mandolin. Things were falling apart but we did our best to forge on. As I struggled with a short in my lap-steel, Dani switched to mandolin as Tommy resumed the acoustic with no strap and yep, she broke string #3. So that’s bass electronics, lap-steel electronics, a guitar string, three mandolin strings, and a backup guitar without a strap. Here we were in this beautiful room and having all these issues. But what are ya gonna do? We culled the set-list by a couple songs, shook our heads and laughed, and plowed ahead. Dani asked which one of us had pissed off the Lord to have such luck in his house.
My dear friend Rachel drove up from Boston for the show and I haven’t seen her for a few years so that was super awesome, and she came up and did some harmonies with us on our last song, a cover of the Stones “Dead Flowers.” It sounded fantastic and was so fun. Tommy gave the knife across the throat “let’s call it there” signal and we were all happy to get off the stage. Still, somehow it was still fun and we were very grateful to play that amazing room and get to see some friends and hang with Moon Hollow.
We headed back through some truly intense terrain that felt straight out of Sleepy Hollow – dark, gravel roads with ghoulish tree limbs reaching down from above, some on-again, off-again fog, and lots of hills and tight curves. Karen Jacobsen - The GPS Girl got us back though. Dani and Nich had a drink and some snacks and watched some TV while Tommy and I tore apart and put our instruments back together, doing whatever we can to make sure tonight goes better than last night. Seems the lap steel had a loose input jack so I got that all tightened up and it seems to be feeding fine into a tuner so fingers crossed. Tommy had to navigate around a new instrument with eight strings and a complicated stringing mechanism and cover, but had it singing like new before long. I crashed out first, ready to put an end to this mixed-bag of a day.
It’s Friday morning, I’m drinking coffee after a minor disaster with the coffee maker (is our streak continuing?) and looking at the wonderful scenery we’re nestled in. We’ll meet Rachel for breakfast then head east to Portland, Maine where we’ll play Blue tonight at 6pm sharp! Really hoping our technical issues are behind us and we have a show more like Albany. Regardless, we’ll make it – and again, super thanks to the employees at The Stone Church, Moon Hollow, Rachel, Dani’s friends, and everyone else who was there to support and say such nice things last night. XX