High and low notes sound on last leg of tour
While touring the United States this month with his music project, Golden Shoulders, The Union columnist Adam Kline has reported from the road. He was joined by his good friend and band mate, Neal Morgan, formerly of Nevada County. The first two weeks of the tour were detailed in the last two Prospectors. This installment features the third and final week of the tour.
DAY 15: Monday, Sept. 20. Amherst, Mass. to Rochester, N.Y.
We looked around Amherst for a while this morning before leaving for Rochester. Amherst is another great town that I hadn’t heard of until booking this tour – these places are all over, just waiting to be discovered.
One of Amherst’s record stores had the Joanna Newsom CD prominently displayed as their employee recommendation. That brings to mind another one of the cool things about this trip – people all over the place hear that we’re from Nevada City and immediately ask about Joanna or Utah Phillips. And we’ve been pushing Joanna’s album and Bobby Birdman’s music on the college radio music directors we’ve met across the country, too. We are Nevada City’s Ambassadors of Love.
Today is important, as we’re finally heading west. I’m having a great time on this tour and meeting great people, but I miss my home, my special lady friend, my friends and family and the fine dining options Nevada City has to offer.
After a long, uneventful drive, we got to our host’s house in Rochester. His name is Don Alcott, and I first met him at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, last year. He’s a really nice guy, plus he works at an orchard, so we’re up to our ears in apples and cider during our stay at his place. Neal says: “the best apples I’ve ever eaten in my life.” After reading that quote, every other apple Neal’s ever eaten will act aloof and pretend to not be jealous.
Day 16: Tuesday, Sept. 21. Rochester, N.Y.
This morning, we went out for a great breakfast with Don, his sister and her boyfriend. These people are way too nice to us. But we don’t mind.
The show tonight was a little weird. We played a place called Java’s in downtown Rochester. Everyone was sitting outside, so we just set up outside and played on the sidewalk. People walking by probably thought we were a couple of very well-adjusted homeless people.
One guy at the show drove all the way from Ontario, Canada. I felt a little bad that he drove that far just to see us, but he had a good time, I think. Overall, the show had a positive, friendly feeling, and Neal and I were in good spirits as we walked to the car.
The parking ticket on the windshield took the wind out of our sails a bit, I’ll admit. After all, we’re Ambassadors of Love! Don’t we get some diplomatic immunity from parking tickets? If so, the city of Rochester has chosen not to participate.
Day 17: Wednesday, Sept. 22. Rochester, N.Y. to Plymouth, Mich.
We had to get up and out of town early this morning. This is one of the biggest driving days of the tour – we’re going through a bit of Canada and everything. We’re playing a midday in-store performance at a record store in East Lansing, Mich., this afternoon.
Getting into Canada is an important part of today’s drive. It’ll save us a bunch of time, which is nice, but it also lets us upgrade the status of this tour from a U.S. tour to the much more impressive sounding World Tour. And in turn, we can improve our own title and now introduce ourselves as Nevada City’s International Ambassadors of International Love. Even the parking and traffic division of the Rochester, N.Y., Police Department would have to respect a title that long.
The less said about our in-store performance in East Lansing, the better. Perhaps it will suffice to say that our title has been updated once more and we are now to be referred to as Nevada City’s International Ambassadors of International Love and Dismal In-Store Performances. The good news is that I am now done with that joke.
We sampled the submarine sandwiches of East Lansing and headed out to Plymouth, Mich. We will be staying with my friend Chris Plum, his wife, Stacy, and their 6-week-old baby girl, Ava Jane Plum. Anyone who thinks there’s a cuter name for a baby is wrong.
Chris has a band, the Mood Elevator, which mostly performs in the Detroit area. I like the band a great deal and it’s wonderful to just sit around and talk about music with Chris. Stacy is great and while Ava is not an incredible conversationalist, she should probably be forgiven, since she hasn’t learned any words yet.
Day 18: Thursday, Sept. 23. Plymouth, Mich. to Chicago
Today we’re heading for Chicago to play the second-to-last show of the tour. We’re staying with Sam Salisbury, a former Nevada City resident and one of the best friends I had when I was a kid. Sam is a brilliantly gifted artist and a good guy to be around. He drew a number of illustrations for the booklet of the first Golden Shoulders CD, which was generous of him, and now he’s letting Neal and I sleep in his apartment. The generosity just does not quit!
While here, Neal and I have done a lot of standing around, looking at Sam’s latest paintings. His art is incredible and I hope he someday has a show in a Nevada County gallery. He’s getting a lot of recognition in Chicago, and I think it would be great for the people back home to see what he’s up to.
Sam showed us around Chicago for a while and then we headed off to the show. Our show was at a place called the Buddy Gallery and boy, the people there sure didn’t care too much about us. The people who worked at the gallery were really nice and everything, but I think the audience was there mostly to look at artwork and not to listen to us play. We felt like we were being a nuisance, so we played a short set and got out of there. It was a rough second-to-last show of a tour and now we’re just hoping that tomorrow night’s show in Bloomington goes well.
Day 19: Friday, Sept. 24. Chicago to Bloomington, Ill.
Sam took us to an excellent breakfast place this morning and then we headed out to Bloomington. Tonight’s show was the first one we booked out of all the shows on this tour. We’re playing on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University and the school was kind enough to pay us in advance for our performance, so this show sort of funded the rest of the tour. This is all well and good, but I’m just hoping we have an appreciative audience so we can end the tour on an upbeat note.
Upon getting to Bloomington and finding the school, we were amazed at the beauty of the campus. It’s a small campus, but there’s green grass and good climbing trees everywhere. The staff of the school radio station, WESN, walked us around and fed us. On a tour where we met so many preposterously kind people, these guys were some of the nicest. They were all so helpful and eager to make sure the show was a good one. And after East Lansing and Chicago, that sort of effort was truly appreciated.
Happily, the show was great. The opening act were these two guys, vigorously trying to embody every imaginable frat-boy stereotype, who played a mercifully short set and then went off somewhere to drink themselves into a stupor. Godspeed, gentlemen. Enjoy your youthful indiscretions while you can, because when you’re running for office in 25 years, they won’t be any fun at all.
The audience was so great. They seemed unfazed by our preferred style of playing without microphones or amplification. Better than unfazed, really, they seemed to be taken with the idea. And enough of them owned our first CD that they would get excited when we’d start particular songs, and we developed a really great banter with them. We played one of the longest sets of the tour tonight, and the audience was really with us every step of the way.
We met even more great people after our set, a lot of students and a number of WESN DJs. The show was exactly how we needed to end the tour. Shows like this are the reason we can’t wait to get back out on the road again.
Day 20: Saturday, Sept. 25. Bloomington, Ill. to Pine Bluffs, Wyo.
Neal and I really got acquainted with Interstate-80 today. We were on it for 900 miles. At this point of the tour, there are no more shows to play, and I am ready to get home. Simple as that.
Day 21: Sunday, Sept. 26. Pine Bluffs, Wyo. to Nevada City
Today Neal and I became officially sick of Interstate-80. We really thought that 900 miles in a day was lazy of us, so we drove for around 1,080 miles today. My car smells like two dudes.
Driving into Nevada City tonight gave me a crazy feeling. You remember that scene at the end of “Back To the Future” where Marty finally makes it back to 1985 and he’s so glad to be home and he’s just looking around and taking everything in? I had that exact same crazy feeling, but unlike Marty, I didn’t have to go warn my scientist friend that he was going to be killed by Libyans. Which is good, because I hate doing that.
Honestly, though. The tour was a success; Neal and I both had an amazing time and met wonderful people, but there’s no feeling better than driving into Nevada City and smelling the Nevada City air. It is great to be home. I’d kiss the ground, but I don’t know where it’s been.
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