Posted on Feb 21, 2011
We’re in Missoula, Montana. It’s half-way through the tour and we’ve had all kinds of weather up to this point, but the last seven hundred miles or so have been particularly interesting. Dickinson, North Dakota was the coldest I’ve been for awhile. The wind was like a sentient thing, seeming to shake the snow like clean sheets hanging on the line. The snow itself was dry as sand. I thought about young Theodore Roosevelt, who after the death of his first wife and his mother on the same day, lit out for the territories and found a semblance of peace and a measure of distraction in the same blustery emptiness that we were in. North Dakota is the kind of place where the wind never just whispers in your ear.
The first order of the day was laundry. Finding a way to do laundry on the road is one of the perennial battles. Rolling down the highway in a tightly-enclosed air canister filled with men who sweat for a living, clean clothes on occasion aren’t just a luxury, they’re a necessity. So, clothes done, I went to the gym. I like Holiday Inn Expresses because they always have a gym and the machines always work. Run done, I got together with Sam, Zack, and Tim and we watched the All-Star game. After seeing them play, I came to the basic conclusion that, like playing the Dane, I may very well never be a professional basketball player.
At around 9 p.m. we all trudged back through the blizzard from the hotel lobby to the bus and Les Wethington, our great bus driver popped his head back to make sure we were all aboard. It doesn’t do to leave compatriots behind in blizzards. Then we steamed west once more, driving through the night to Missoula.
Days off are great. They’re a chance to reflect on the show, on the tour and on the other parts of life that require more attention than can sometimes be given to them on show days. It’s also, oddly, a chance to see the people we’re traveling with. On show days we all head off in different directions as soon as the bus stops at the venue. I’ll get a taxi to a radio station, Zack will begin setting up guitars, Sam sets up his gear, Liam and Austin and Tim and Dan set up the stage and Brian sets up merch. With all the stuff to do there’s usually only time for a sandwich, let alone much stray socializing. Days off area chance to catch up with eachother.
Right now, Zack and I are in the hotel lobby in Missoula. Zack is working on getting a horn section together for an upcoming show. He has a pair of very large headphones on. I’m drinking cup after cup of rot-gut coffee and feeling pretty great about how all the shows have been going. There is always a sense of trepidation before I start a tour. I’m afraid I’ll forget the words, and I’m afraid that in the interim between tours people will have decided that they don’t want to come to my shows anymore. When neither of these things happen, it feels like a miracle, and I’m always grateful for a few of those. People have been singing along in the coolest spots of the songs. During “Rattling Locks,” lots of folks sing the “black hole, black hole” part, which I find super cool. People know the new songs way better than I would have expected. It’s really, deeply gratifying. Also, people are really enjoying Scott Hutchison, of Frightened Rabbit, who’s been opening the shows. Besides being a big, scary Scotsman, he’s also a lovely guy and a great performer.
So, on this rare second day off in a row, I find myself clean laundried, mostly groomed, away from sandwiches for a blessed second day, and grateful that there are still so many shows to come. See you all very soon.