Road Blog: Tuesday October 12, 2021 - Cambridge Springs, PA
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Cambridge Springs, PA
Early Tuesday morning after posting my blog I took a shower and packed my stuff up. Tommy was drinking coffee, Shannon was running around the kitchen, spatula in one hand, the other waving in the air, emphasizing some point of whatever story or anecdote she was enthusiastically reciting as some form of pork meat (not Canadian bacon but similar, can’t remember what she called it. Shannon?) sizzed in an iron skillet and the bagels Joseph Wolf gave us came out of the oven. Axl was pacing around, looking for attention and table scraps. I scarfed down an amazing half a bagel-cheese-egg-pork sandwich and told Nicholas Richard the other half was waiting for him on the table as I stepped over his horizontal body, draped awkwardly over the small, cement front porch of the house, as he attempted to straighten his spine after a few hours of rest in a recliner.
I opened the back of the truck to start loading guitars (we don’t leave anything with strings in the truck overnight) and a box of Tucos shot glasses fell onto the street, breaking four and sparing eight. I cleaned up the mess, had a ceremonial moment of silence for my lost soldiers, and pressed on. Dani emerged from the tomb, threw a sweater over her PJs and climbed into the truck and promptly resumed the fetal position in the back seat as we thanked Shannon and drove into the New Jersey morning.
Tommy was driving and I was shotgun-navigator-DJ. Nich mostly slept, still unable to do so horizontally, and Dani kinda dozed and talked for a while as Tommy and I discussed the Thin Lizzy catalog and various Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris bootlegs floating around out there. We stopped at a Dunkin Donuts for coffees right before we got on the highway and were soon doing 75 with traffic heading west towards Pennsylvania. Our time in new Jersey was all over the map – chaotic, fun, relaxing, emotional, manic, exhausting, nostalgic, heartwarming, and busy. I’ll never forget the many people I’ve met here in the last couple days, and I know I’ll see a bunch of them again.
We hit I-80 and paid our last toll before we crossed the PA line. The forests got thicker and the topography more diverse. We traveled over rivers and through mountains, in tunnels and through big valleys. Beautiful country, barely starting to turn colors. The yellow, orange, and red mountains of Vermont and Maine seem like they were weeks ago. A hawk dove just over the truck, missing the windshield by inches as it pounced on some unexpecting creature in the rear-view mirror. We had one stop for gas and snacks and I pushed fate one step further by purchasing a “Pepperoni (non-cured) wrapped mozzarella stick.” I had a prosciutto one in New Hampshire that was almost edible, but this just seemed gross (still did it anyway). The girl at the register told me Combos were buy one get one free so Nich helped me decide on the pretzel mustard ones for the second bag. Another questionable decision.
Back in the truck I choked down that nasty meat wrapped cheese stick. It may as well have been wrapped in Alpo and I think it would have tasted better. My days of cured meat covered stale cheese sticks are over for at least a couple weeks. As we approached Cambridge Springs Tommy got excited to pass through Meadville, where The Byrds played at Allegheny College in 1972. I might shoot some condescending joke his way right now if I wasn’t absolutely at that level of geekdom for music history myself. We found The Riverside Brewing Company down a short gravel road in Cambridge Springs and stepped out to survey the situation.
It’s a giant cabin stilling on a big lot along the French Creek with Adirondack chairs set up in a field around a big stage, a big half-covered outdoor patio, and a big tall main room with fireplaces and ornate woodwork. We loaded in and Tommy started setting up the stage inside as I ducked away to a quiet corner and called into WUDR Flyer Radio – where I had an interview with my pal Art Jipson about our show in Dayton tonight. It started ok, small talk, “how are ya?” – then right on queue Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” started blaring over the speakers above my head while I apologized and high-tailed it out to the parking lot where the passing elevated pickup trucks and old jeeps were less competition. We had a great chat about the Tuco’s last record, my writing process, working with The Wild Honey Collective, and the tour so far. Art has always been very supportive of my music and it was a really fun talk.
By now we’d come to learn that the show was a private event, not open to the public. I made arrangements for my friend Dawn, her dad and stepmom to get in, who were coming from about an hour west in Ohio. We ordered a round of pints and I started the show with a few songs of my own. There was a respectable audience, some more engaged than others. I kept it mostly to upbeat, chordy stuff as opposed to quieter picking stuff because it cut through better against the chatter. The rest of the band came up and we did a couple more of my songs before transitioning to the WHC material. The crowd was responding better to the full band stuff, even the dude with F*CK BIDEN hat at the corned of the bar, and at one point I walked over to a table of eight and got them clapping along, helping us keep time to “I Know You Rider.” I switched over to lap steel and we finished up the set, with a couple rounds of “Happy Birthday” to the owner Jason, who was over behind the bar. Tommy asked if anyone in attendance had been to that Byrds show, and he looked a little sad and disappointed when his question yielded no results.
I spent a few minutes talking to Dawn and her dad and stepmom. I introduced her to “my new friends who are way better looking than Gabe and Bob eh?” and she gave me the stink eye and said be careful, she’s partial to Gabriel. I told her she NEEDED The Wild Honey Collective CD so she picked one up. We had a couple laughs and they headed out, back to northern Ohio. I’m really grateful that they came out and were able to get in to see this tour because it very well might be a one-time opportunity. Hoping to see Dawn at some Tucos shows in the coming weeks.
We finished our beers and loaded out, then Nich drove us to our AirBB about 40 minutes away in Erie. We brought in everything with strings and headed out on foot to find food and whiskey. We walked several blocks where some things were open but most kitchens were closed and the group wasn’t feeling the $18 bistro burger thing, so we got a couple rounds at this joint The Plymouth Tavern, which made me a little homesick, and I had a chat with two British guys who were here playing soccer, and I told them about a couple of the places I’d played when I toured there with The Tucos in 2018. One dude was from Manchester, and I could tell because his accent matches Liam Gallagher’s perfectly. He pressed his lemon wedge through the stem of his Corona bottle down into the beer, clinked my whiskey glass, muttered “a’ight mate chee’s. See’a’n Detrought sumtoime.” and they went off in search of better looking company. Nich ordered a cheese pizza and a basket of fried clams to be delivered and we walked back to the AirBB to meet the courier.
We had a nightcap as we gulped down our fried clams and cheese pizza and watched the Norm McDonald tribute on last week’s Saturday Night Live. Dani crashed out shortly after dinner, and Nich and Tommy outlasted me, not sure by how long. Our AirBB is nice – we each get our own room and bed and there’s plenty of space and privacy. We also have time today to chill and they can sleep in and I can change the strings on my guitar and do my blog out here on this awesome deck overlooking the neighborhood, which is exactly what I am doing, with a hot cup of coffee and the morning air and sounds of the city wafting through.
Today we are driving to Dayton, Ohio for the last night of the tour, then we’re driving home after the show. It’s going to be a long day, but it will be very nice to see TrooperGirl22 and wake up in my own bed tomorrow. We’re at the Yellow Cab Tavern tonight, a converted Taxi garage. Doors at 8, Brother Hill on around 8:30, WHC feat JP on around 9 (times are loose). Plan is to be done by 11 and home by 2am. Hope to see my Dayton friends! Thanks for reading! Thanks to the Riverside Brewing Company and Dawn and the F*CK BIDEN guy and the girl who got me some free Combos and everyone else who was part of yesterday. Xx