Common Grounds, Waco,TX
We bid goodbye to Dallas and make the hour and a half drive south to Waco, the home of Baylor University and Common Grounds, a cool, artsy coffeehouse right off campus. Halfway there, the bottom drops out of some monster storm cloud, and Jon and I can hardly hear each other yelling over the hail beating down on the van. I guess that's why you're supposed to pick up the insurance on those things. My mind instantly flashes to all the warnings I'm constantly receiving from my family about watching for tornadoes and stuff, and for a good twelve minutes I'm fairly convinced I'm going to die. Over-dramatic? Probably. But for crying out loud, it's raining buckets of ice on this stupid van, and that's just not normal. The hail stops, I unfold from the fetal position, and we continue on, more determined than ever now to reach our destination. And rock it acoustically.
Arriving at Common Grounds, I realize that if I've been given any innate gift or superpower, I think that it might be bad timing. I'm beginning to think that I couldn't plan my way out of wet paper sack, and that only becomes clearer when we realize it's final exam time at Baylor. Sure, there's a house full of folks, but most of them have their ear buds in and are completely engrossed in writing those last minute papers I remember so well. So oh well...
It's like the opposite of White Rock - instead of having a handful of people who were completely into what we were doing, tonight we'll play to a house full of folks who are completely tuned out. These are definitely the times when I feel like playing music is the equivalent of talking to someone's ear off on a plane flight, when all they want is to read their book or enjoy the silence or order something from the Skymall catalog. I can't blame them - they came to the shop not to here music but to study or whatever. I hate it when I'm on their end, trying to finish whatever it is I need to do, and I keep getting interrupted, so it's always weird. I don't really feel that everyone in the world has to care about my music, and I don't really like smacking people over the head with it.
But hey, this is what I do, and these folks are free to leave and go study at an actual library or something, so here we go. Christie, a friend of mine, came out to do some classwork and here me play for a while. It's great to see a familiar face, and as always, I try to remember to make it worth that one person's while. It's a good show, and we sell some CDs, make a few bucks from the house, find a few new friends, and down some free coffee before we head towards Houston. I really like Common Grounds - it's nice to play those rare coffeehouses that actually work as acoustic venues. Thanks, folks!
We've got a driving day ahead on our way to Florida, and we decide to get a head start on the drive. Houston's only a few hours away, and we're going to be sleeping in the van anyway, so why not? Not long into the drive, we catch up to that big storm, and the lightning was such that it almost looked like a strobe light going off in the sky. It was literally hard to see where we were going. Our progress slows to a crawl, because as always, we strive to put safety first. We'll arrive alive, dang it! At about four a.m. we reach a rest stop right outside Beaumont on the Louisiana border, and I carve out enough space between our gear in the back to put my sleeping bag down for a few hours. Tomorrow is all about driving; tonight is all about the sound of rain on the van's roof.