Valet Confidential

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Tour-ette Wrap-up Saga (Everything Can Go Wrong So Easily)

Hard to believe it was almost two weeks ago that our car brokedown on the way to the first stop of our Chandler Travis Philharmonic mini-tour, at the Rodeo Bar in NYC … but sure enough, it will be two weeks this Thursday. I think I’ve finally readjusted to what semi-reality there is in my life to report on it. Hoo doggy, that was something else, that weekend!

Warning/apology/guarantee: this is a very long report!

Thursday, November 13, 2008 – Rodeo Bar – NYC, NY

Everything was going pretty well on Thursday – we (Chandler, Rikki, and I) got off to a bit of a late start, but there was still plenty of time to get to NYC and stop by our friend Bear’s place in Mystic to wish him a most happy birthday. Next stop after Bear’s house was to be the truck stop Popeye’s about 10 miles or so East of New Haven. Boy, was I psyched!

So, we stopped in Wareham and Chandler got birthday hats & not-horns (you know those things with the roll of paper that unfurls when you blow into it – usually it has a reed of some sort that makes a fairly ugly HONK!? – well, these were just like that, only without the reed for some bizarre reason) . After getting stuck in a nasty backup around Providence, we got to Bear’s, sang happy birthday out on the porch, went in for tasty cake and fried dough treats (deliciously prepared by his sweetie Snow’s mom, Rada), and eventually bade them all a fond farewell as we hit the road.

Just down the road from Bear’s house, all hell broke loose, as suddenly there was no oomph when Chandler hit the gas – the engine revved, but nothing was grabbing – we were pretty certain it was something having to do with the transmission. AAA was called, and we tried to find a local or semi-local car rental place so that we could get back on the road and down to NYC. Amazingly, all car rental locations in the Mystic/Groton/New London, CT area close at 6pm … and we brokedown at about 6:15 … oy vey. The closest open car rental was either 45 minutes or so back the way we came, at the airport near Providence, RI, or 45 minutes or so ahead of us, in New Haven, CT. Unfortunately, we had a car full of music equipment and there were three of us, so even if we *could* get a ride to one of the car rental places, we were going to have to come back to wherever our car ended up to transfer the gear. Though we held out hope for a while longer that we’d come up with a solution, we were pretty resigned to the idea of staying around there for the night. We got a tow to a local business that works on transmissions, and we managed to get Bear to come get us and drive us to the motel that our tow truck driver recommended, the [*cough*] lovely [*cough* *cough*] Flagship Inn & Suites. For a cheap motel, we thought it was pretty expensive, but it did have free wireless internet access, which was good, as Chandler & I figured that since we were stuck there, we might as well watch the Jets/Patriots game, and we were unable to find an open bar within walking distance. Fortunately, it turns out that NFL Network games are streamed live at NFL.com, unfortunately, we didn’t realize that until the game had gone to overtime (D’OH!).

Meanwhile, we had another group of musicians driving down to NYC from Boston in Dinty’s van.
There was Dinty (mandolin, mandocello, guitar, accordion), Whitey (bass), Phil (keyboards), Mark (clarinet and tenor sax), and Bob (trombone). As far as I know, their drive was fairly uneventful, with the exception of our increasingly dire and decreasingly hopeful phone calls. The club was notified that we might not have a full contingent and were given at least some opportunity to find another band but instead told Dinty “nah – you know what to do.” Bob, our trombone player, knew a sax player in town, and it turns out that he was able to find a drummer for the band. Unfortunately, after the band got setup, keyboardist Phil fell ill and spent the rest of the night sleeping in the van, giving the band a lineup of guitar, bass, drums and a four-piece horn section. Now, Dinty has experience fronting a horn-based (mostly covers) band, the Funky White Honkies, and he knows plenty of Philharmonic songs, but the drummer had never played any of this stuff and the horn chart book was in our car, in Connecticut! Well, they made it through the night – I’m told the drummer did a great job of following along – but I guess to call it rough around the edges would be a bit of an understatement. They left NYC and drove to Bethlehem, PA, where we were performing the next night and where they had a place to stay for the night.

Friday, November 14, 2008 – Godfrey Daniels – Bethlehem, PA

The next day Chandler arranged for an Enterprise rental car and we were ready to leave the motel at 10:30 am. You know those commercials for Enterprise where they show the car being delivered right to you? Well, I can tell you that sure wasn’t what happened in Groton, CT! We were picked up in a van or something and driven to the rental place, which was probably 10 or 15 miles away. It took a while to deal with paperwork at Enterprise, too. All of this put us on the road probably an hour or more later than what we originally planned (more like the original 10:30 delivery!) Oh, and of course, once we got our SUV from Enterprise, we still had to go back to our original car, at the repair shop, and transfer all of our gear. We thought we had plenty of time to make it to the 4 pm radio concert promo appearance/performance in Bethlehem, PA.

Except, we soon found out that the appearance was, in fact, at 3pm.

Oh, and did I mention we also had to stop in Brooklyn and pick up John, our trumpeter?

Yeah … well … we still thought we could make it to the radio appearance, if everything worked out ok … maybe not right at 3, but probably before it ended.

Of course, not everything worked out ok …

We arranged with John to pick him up near the entrance to the Holland tunnel in Manhattan, so that we wouldn’t have to negotiate our way in & out of Brooklyn. John gave us great directions how to get to him. Now, I think in a prior tour writeup, I mentioned that Chandler has a nifty GPS which he & his lovely wife have named “Bianca”. Well … let’s just say we should have listened to John a whole lot more than we listened to Bianca … Bianca just doesn’t understand the ins & outs of NYC traffic, like … you know … rush hour on a Friday. We ended up picking up John at about the time the radio show was starting.

But we still had plenty of time to make it to the real gig that night, which started at 8pm. In fact, we made it to the club at about 6pm, giving us plenty of time to setup and get in a soundcheck that included running through a couple of new songs. Not quite enough time to get a full meal before the show, though (more on that later).

In Bethlehem, Dinty led the van portion of the band (including a fully recovered Phil – thank goodness!) in a 3 song performance on the local independent station, WDIY. I haven’t heard the recording of the show, but I heard they played the instrumental “Mid-morning in Moscow”, Pete Labonne’s song “The Driving”, and our standard closing song, “Bob What’s-Is-Name”.

Godfrey Daniels
is a great little club – it’s more wide than deep, so most of the people are to one side of the band or the other, but there’s room for tables in front of the band, too. Chandler said that it reminded him of a club called the Main Point, an old Philadelphia club that he and Steve Shook used to play at back in the Travis & Shook days. The sound in there was really great – both on stage and in the audience. The show went really well, too – not a huge audience, but they made a good dent in the seating, and were very appreciative. We played two sets for them and even sold quite a few CDs. I’m hoping we can get back there again, because I think word of mouth may get us a really good crowd next time.

For any who are interested, here are the set lists for the show:

First Set:

  • We’re From Fruitarama
  • She’s Filthy
  • Bad Bad Boatie
  • (You & Me) Pushin’ Up Daisies
  • Must Be Love
  • Everything Can Go Wrong So Easily – a new Chandler-written instrumental which may eventually have lyrics by David Greenberger. I really find this one catchy, and Rikki’s drumming on it is really cool – lots of different sounds from his small drum set, he plays all over the surface are of the drumskins
  • Don’t Blame Me – crazy drumming from Rikki on this one – Dinty and I were almost giggling it was so loud and energized
  • Two Cents Tops
  • Sometimes I’m Happy
  • Vasco da Gama
  • Taoist Vacation With Mashenka
  • My Bonnie
  • I’m Chandler’s Butterfly – oh my oh my, did Rikki play loud on this song that weekend!
  • Get Right Back Where We Started From

Second Set:

  • All My Good Luck is Gone
  • This is Home
  • Softly in the Night
  • Graciously – a new Travis/Greenberger song that’s turning into a real barn burner – oh so very much fun to sing – I think this one may stick around for quite some time
  • Other Thing
  • Mid-morning in Moscow
  • Not in Service – a new Chandler song that’s a love song to the recorded voice that tells you “I”m sorry, the number you have dialed is not in service” – there’s a demo version up on our Song of the Weak!!! page
  • Brooklyn Bridge – a fairly new “apology” song from Chandler with a nice twist at the end. I think there might be a version of this up on our Song of the Weak!!! page, too
  • Calling Me Back Home
  • Never Never Land – the song from “Peter Pan”, with an extended piano intro by Phil Clements
  • Grand Route St John – another newish song from Chandler, it gets its name from the street in New Orleans where his sister once lived. Alt-Dixieland at its finest!
  • Nature Boy
  • Bob What’s-Is-Name

Encore:

  • Eje Ka Jo

After the show, I’m afraid I got a little pissy … remember I said we didn’t really have time to eat dinner before the show? Well, it had to do with which vehicle was the “smoking” vehicle, how many smokers there were, and which vehicle was stopping for food, likely at the nearby Waffle House. It turns out that the smoking vehicle and the food stopping vehicle were one in the same and was fairly crowded with smokers. They offered to make room for me, but it would have been crowded, and I got a little disappointed and pissy, mostly because I didn’t find out until we were getting ready to go. As it turns out, the other (“non smoking”, non stopping for food) vehicle said they would stop for a bite (drive-thru or something like that), and they had plenty of room, so that was good enough for me, and I went with them, and all was just fine. We pulled off the highway after spotting a sign for White Castle on the highway, but didn’t spot it and ended up getting food to go from a Dunkin’ Donuts, which was just fine with me. Though I have to say, a bag of sliders would have been just about perfect!

Still, my apologies to anyone with whom I might’ve been short when I was being pissy.

We got to our hotel in Tom’s River, NJ at about 2:30. It was a quite nice Comfort Inn, the same place we stayed when we played the area in May, and I had a very nice sleep.

Saturday, November 15, 2008 – Ocean County Library – Tom’s River, NJ

Saturday’s gig was in a performance/lecture hall connected to the Tom’s River branch of the Ocean County Library. In May, we played at another of their branches, only that time we actually set up amid the stacks of books, in a wide open area between magazines and (I think) fiction. To be honest, I think being amongst the books sounded a bit better – it was certainly more surreal, but this was another fun gig – heck, they’re almost always fun for us! There were several people there who had returned after seeing us in the spring – several very brave, brave people! A highlight for me was seeing a woman way in the back of the room dancing up a storm – I think I noticed her first on our new song “Graciously” – she was really getting into things.

We got setup for the show with plenty of time to walk around the town a little. I even managed to snag a new can of (unfortunately quite stinky – perhaps they all are) hair spray to use as part of my valet duties. Chandler’s hair looked absolutely fabulous, with a great tuft sticking straight up, front & center, like a horn – until he put a hat over it and smushed that sucker right back down! I don’t know if anyone in the audience found that funny, or even noticed, but I sure did. For a band that works as “BIG” as the Philharmonic does, there are quite a few more examples of subtlety than many people would expect. That’s one of the things that first attracted me to the band.

Again, for those of you who care, here’s the setlist for the show:

  • Kramat
  • All My Good Luck is Gone
  • (You & Me) Pushin’ Up Daisies
  • Graciously – man, this song is so much fun to sing
  • Bad Bad Boatie
  • Everything Can Go Wrong So Easily
  • Two Cents Tops – there were TWO penalty flags at the beginning of this one!
  • Anne
  • Taoist Vacation With Mashenka
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Calling Me Back Home
  • Not My Fault
  • I’m Chandler’s Butterfly
  • Other Thing
  • Mid-morning in Moscow
  • Sha La La (Lover’s Heart)
  • When the Roses Shine in Picardy
  • Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening – our big rap number – the kids all love the hippity hop
  • Grand Route St John
  • Nature Boy
  • Bob What’s-Is-Name

After the show, we stuck around a bit and chatted with folks from the audience – I sold a few CDs, too, which is always a good thing. Then it was time to load up. Chandler had saved a little space and given Dinty a few things to bring down to the gigs ahead of time, but he wanted to get as much as we could back to the cape. Rikki & I were packing the rental SUV when suddenly, the “puzzle” came to me, and I saw just how to get things arranged. I try to be humble most of the time, but I gotta tell you – I packed that thing like a mo-fo champ! There was only one thing I couldn’t get it, the bathrobe bag, and looking back on things, I think I gave up to easily on it.

After loading up the vehicles for the drives back to Boston and Cape Cod, we all had a really good dinner together at a bar/restaurant just up the street from the library. Finally, we all hit the road.

I wish I could report that the drive home was fairly uneventful – but I can’t. Nothing as dramatic as the drive down on Thursday, but it had its moments. Torrential rain, missed exits, wrong exits, it was definitely another adventure. But we really didn’t lose all that much time, and right about midnight, there we were, pulling into my driveway.

And all was good.

One Response to Tour-ette Wrap-up Saga (Everything Can Go Wrong So Easily)

  1. JAbel says:

    Wow I feel like I was on the road with you!Great writeup.I have heard the old Jug Band road stories from back in the day and wish I was a groupie of both bands.

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