Sunday, April 23, 2006

Garden City, Part 2

Arriving in Garden City, I was terribly disappointed to see that the streets were not paved of gold, but they were nicely bricked in some places, and that seemed a good compromise. Yep, Garden City suited me just fine. Jon and I had essentially booked a tour last September so we could play our way out there. After all, no one had ever complimented my music like Mary had, and it seemed the least I could do. Plus, driving 19 hours to play a free show at a public radio station seemed incredibly ridiculous and therefore mandatory. It was a good trip, and Mary said we could come backw when Jon's album was done.

Which leads us to the reason why I'm pummeling Auburn in the back seat of the van at 4:32 in the morning. The score has now rocketed to 102-0, and now that I've reached the century mark, I can begin to relax, safe in the knowledge that the game is well in hand. We've still got a while to go yet, and soon enough it's my turn to drive. We pull into the station at about 5:30 am and catch a nap in the van.

I'm awakened to find workers looking at me through the van window, and after that shock runs through my body, I'm not going back to sleep. It's finally daylight, and I figure someone's probably up and at 'em at the station, so I stick my head in the door to see what's going on. Pam has just made a fresh pot of coffee. She apologizes for making it too strong. I hug her. We've never met.

Pouring my coffee, I run into Mary and she gives me a great hug. We chat in the studio during the song breaks, and after catching up for a bit, I go wake Jon up from his coma in the van so that we can perform on "High Plains Morning". We do a half-asleep interview, stumble through some songs, and somehow find our way to the Holiday Inn Express. I'm excited about that because those people in the commercials always seem to do extraordinary things when they stay at one of those places. We think the interview went well, but neither one of us can remember.

At 3pm, Mary gives us a call, and not long after, Jon and I are touring the local zoo with Mary and her two children. That's right, there's a free zoo. With a rhino, some giraffes, elephants, lions, tiger, bears... oh my. Not to mention the monkeys, otters, and snow leopards. Apparently they used to have a couple of polar bears (I'm not sure what happened there, but Mary mentioned that as a senior prank, the graduates managed to dye them purple).

A little Chinese buffet and conversation later, Jon and I performed at the HPPR studios as part of their running "Living Room Concert Series". Whereas Columbia felt like a fight to be heard by anyone at all, the Living Room series is more like, well, a living room. Comfortable. Unassuming. Disarming. I personally have no real care for all the "show" in music. Don't get me wrong - I'm all for going for it with a performance - but it seems that most of what constitutes "rocking" these days really comes down to some stupid choreographed jumps, poses, and those cute little moves where the guitar player slings his guitar all the way his body and then catches it... all the while continuing to rock. Yeah, I think that's all crap, but that's purely my opinion. Feel free to disagree. At any rate, personally, I don't hold myself up as an artist to be any different than anyone else, and I've always had a hard time dealing with "the stage" - that marked separation between the artist and the audience. It seems like the music that really forms our American pedigree was born more on friends' back porches and basements - the blues, jazz (and everything that came from there... so pretty much everything) - these are art forms built on an authentic connection between the audience and the artist. That's what I dig about music - it still can be that. It doesn't all have to be an advertisement for some kind of lifestyle or cell phone company. To play for even just a few people who have no idea who you are - but who have a genuine interest in the music you have to offer - that's something to hold on to.

Plus, they had snacks, including some fancy strawberry shortcake and vanilla nut coffee. All in all, it's a good time, and Mary bids us goodbye after a hug and some kind words. We head back to the hotel for a few hours worth of sleep before we get up and make the big drive to Dallas the next morning. Tomorrow we'll make the turn east and begin our trek home. Jon and I do Dallas, baby, yeah!!

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