Wisconsin Is a Fabulous Place

We went to Wisconsin to play at the Band on the Sand festival for the third year in a row. We get to meet so many great people on the road, and Wisconsin is no exception. In fact, it was one of the first, if not the first, places where we felt at home on the road.

Thursday night we played at a place called Xpeditions. This place is an underground bar, street-level coffee shop, and upstairs yoga studio. It’s fantastic! We had people singing along to our songs, which is rare so far in our journey. We hung out and talked with people that love Jessie’s music, and what a treat it is to share that bond through music with strangers-turned-friends.

Friday we started making our way to Band on the Sand, but not before a little fly fishing. I fished the Timber Coulee, and it was beautiful. It’s just a little creek running along the road. I found a place to pull off the road, geared up in my waders, and started fishing while Jessie relaxed and read. While I didn’t land anything and get pictures, I did manage to hook about 6 before they spit out the hook and swam away. I had so much fun anyways.

Then Band on the Sand. I don’t know what to say that I haven’t said about it in previous years. We love it. Dennis and Joyce are fantastic hosts to us, and Dick and his wife Pam help them put on our favorite stop along our tour. Two days of music, food, and camaraderie on a sandbar in the middle of the Mississippi River is just what the soul needs. I especially needed it after the previous two weeks’ frustrations with tires and the fact that we had to leave town with a tub full of water that wouldn’t drain (more on that story later).

Jessie and I love our travels. We also love being home. I’m so glad we get to make these memories sharing our music with people.

Wyoming – What a Place!

What a trip we’ve had so far! After playing for a great crowd in Lincoln, Nebraska, we set off for Centennial, Wyoming.

None of us have ever been to Wyoming. Cam has never been west of Texas. Neither Cam nor Jessie had ever seen the Rocky Mountains. All of that changed this weekend.

As we crossed over the state line from Nebraska to Wyoming, the landscape really started to change. Hills started rolling as we passed through Cheyenne on our was towards Laramie. Then the hills started to climb and become what looked like drip-sand castles I used to make with my cousins on the beach. As we neared Centennial, we really started to climb.

Centennial is a small town claiming 270 residents. It looked like a scene out of a movie, and we felt like stars the whole time. The people were so welcoming and accommodating! We wished we didn’t have to go home so soon. In fact, I wasn’t sure Cam would even get in the car with us to go home!

We had dinner with our hosts, then they sent us up the mountain to see something really spectacular. Our host Mike gave me directions to Mirror Lake where we could stand and look straight up to a 14,000-feet-above-sea-level peak. I was so thrilled to get to see Jessie and Cam react to such beauty! We walked in near-silence (except our panting in the thin air) as we took in the majesty of the mountains. Pictures truly don’t do the sight justice.

We couldn’t believe this was work. We went back down the mountain and got to talk to Mike and his wife Kat for a little longer. They are the owners of the Historic Mountain View Hotel in Centennial, and they are also the ones coordinating the Elevation Festival we were to play the next day.

During our conversation, we started talking about fly fishing. Of course I told them I brought my rods just in case I found myself with a few minutes to fish. Mike said, “Hang on just a minute,” and he proceeded to pick up the phone to call a friend. Moments later, he hands me directions to a fishing spot on a friend’s private waters. I was overjoyed at the thought of getting to fish waters that see so little fishing pressure!

We headed to our room to get as much rest as possible. I got up early this morning to head to the fishing spot. I have been trout fishing before, but never on my own for wild trout, and never have I caught trout without a guide. Within a few minutes I had my first fish. I was nearly giddy with the fact that I had caught one all on my own! He was little, but that didn’t bother me at all!

Within a few minutes, I had another hooked. I almost wet my pants in excitement this time – I knew I had something much larger on the end of my line.

In total, I caught about 7 fish. I just couldn’t believe it. The water was cold and clear, and the fish were biting everything I was throwing – Griffith’s Gnats, Prince nymphs, Bluewing Olives, Elk Hair Caddis, and Woolly Buggers. I didn’t want to stop, but I knew I needed to get back.

I got back, got showered, packed up, and the three of us headed across the street to where we would be playing on the front porch of the Mountain View Hotel. We were set to play first, so we got plenty of time to soundcheck. It was very different playing at high altitude – it was harder for Jessie to sing, and Cam and I had to catch our breath as we played!

Once again, the crowd was fantastic! Getting to see people bob their heads, clap, and some even sing along is such a heartwarming experience. We got to meet so many great people like Mike, Kat, Mara, Gary, Rick, Jimmy, Dave, Shane, and so, so many more!

I can’t wait to go back, whether it be to play (hopefully in next year’s Elevation Festival) or for vacation. The people we met hold a special place in my heart. I love doing what I do because I get to meet such wonderful people – I mean that in the sense of my wonder for what people do and how they do it – and I get to see so many things I’ve never seen. I’m so glad Cam got to experience these things with us as well. He’s been such a trooper helping get the camper set up and torn down, and he’s been a great companion on this long journey over the last few days.

Tomorrow is the last (long) leg of the trip back home. I can’t wait to be home, even if it’s not for long. Florida and Wisconsin lay ahead of us in the coming weekends. I can’t wait to see old friends and make a few new ones too.

Off and On the Road Again

First, the off the road story:

Shortly after the last post about riding my bike to work, I did something stupid. About a week and a half ago, I was fixin’ to head home on a Friday afternoon on my bike. I wanted to pump up my tires before starting my homeward trek, so I unlocked my bike and took it to the door that leads from the parking lot directly to my office. Here I pumped up my tires using an electric pump, then took the pump back inside. I changed clothes to my riding attire, packed up my things, and walked back outside to my bike.

Only it wasn’t there.

My bike had been stolen.

I think I know who did it, but I haven’t been able to spot them or my bike since. I still have a little hope.

We’re now back on the road. Jessie and I are currently in the camper in a park outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. Last night, we made it to Monroe City, Missouri, with our friend and drummer Cam. We spent Independence Day driving to Monroe City, then headed down to the park marina for dinner and to do a little people watching. Monroe City didn’t disappoint! It was a warm and muggy night, but we made it all right!

The camp site was beautiful; the bathrooms were not. As hot and sticky as we were, we opted that the showers were too nasty to get us clean. We got a night’s rest and packed up in the morning for hopes of better facilities.

Today we drove to Lincoln. We arrived at the camp site, and Jessie decided to first check the bathrooms and showers in hope we had found something better than what we had just left behind. What she found was an outhouse – a glorified hole in the ground. This was not how we thought it would go.

She knew there had to be more, so she went searching while Cam and I got started setting up the camper. Several minutes later, Jessie came back with a smile on her face – she had found better bathrooms and clean showers!

Jessie gathered up her things and headed to the showers to get ready for tonight’s show. She discovered a problem – these showers required quarters to operate. The rate was 75¢ for the first three minutes, then another 25¢ for each additional minute and a half. That was going to cause a problem. I went through the car and found quarters for a 9-minute shower for Jessie. She was determined to make that work. I luckily found a dollar that I could feed into the machine to get four more quarters. I was able to get a shower before the show as well, and Cam had braved the “prison showers,” as we called them, at the previous camp site and would wait until later for his turn.

Now that we were clean, we headed to the venue in Lincoln to scope it out and find some dinner.

We had found out before we left Nashville that they had accidentally double-booked the night, and there was already a poetry slam happening. They graciously said we could take the stage when they were done at eight, and they would stay open an extra hour for us – all so kind!

After seeing the room, Jessie, Cam, and I found a great Greek restaurant called Sultan’s Kite. With our bellies full of Mediterranean baklava, we headed back to the venue. The slam was going a little long, so we decided to break out the guitars and play a couple of songs with the girl who was opening for us right out on the patio as we waited. As soon at the slam ended, we quickly took our places.

As Grace, the girl performing before us, sang to the crowd in Mo Java, Cam and I played along. It was fun to help this 14-year-old feel like a star with a band. She is very talented, and we were happy to help!

Jessie took the stage next and absolutely blew away the crowd! They were hanging onto every note that fell off her lips, and they were already trying to get us to play their hometown of Omaha on our way back from Wyoming this weekend!

We had a great time playing at Mo Java, and our new friend Rex, who ran sound for us, even helped suggest a new name for our camper – Jim! “Jim the Camper” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?! Well, maybe not.

Anyways, we were so excited to make some new friends this evening, and we are thankful for clean showers. Now it’s time for a little shut-eye before we head to Wyoming in the morning for our show on Saturday. It’s going to be long days from here on out to make it back to Nashville for work on Monday, but we’re up for the adventure.

It’s always an adventure in the camper, but it makes touring possible. Cam has his own bunk, and he’s got the hang of camper life already! We’ve got the A/C on full blast, and it’s feeling quite nice in here tonight. Tomorrow is another day with another song to sing; we have to give it all we have and put on a show for the people. Until then….

No Two Shows Are the Same

But sometimes, you’ll play the same show twice.

That’s what happened to us last week.  My wife and I were on vacation, and she was smart enough to book a show while we were on vacation to give us some exposure while we were out of town.  She’s a smart one!

Well, here’s how it went down: my wife booked the gig via email, and in the last email she sent, she asked how long we needed to play.  That email went unanswered.  We didn’t think about it again.

Until we finished our set.

One of the guys we had met that week had gone inside to the bar to get another drink, and they said there would be music until 11.  The current time was approximately 9.  We had just played every song we had prepared.

Luckily, we had a good crowd – family and some new best (tipsy) friends!  So we played the same set we just finished all over again!

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Yes – we played the same set twice.  That took us to about 10 or just after, and then we conversed with our small crowd.  One guy even bought us a round of my wife’s favorite liquor!  Fireball!

Then he proceeded to buy another.  Oh boy!

All in all, it was a great time.  We really enjoyed ourselves, and we even tried out our new PA system – a Bose L1 Compact.  Man, it did the trick!  We even had one lady ask the waitress if we could turn it down (to which she replied in the negative).

This one goes to all those audiences that have been great to us!

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