Sunday is still chilly, but warmer than the previous two days. i don’t do much until later in the afternoon when I return to the festival. It’s the last night and tonight’s band is The Dirty Heads. Think of 311 but not as metal. Rap/ska is the best way to describe them. They’re ok. Lots of kids rush the stage. The lead singer keeps telling the crowd he’ll never forget them. But it’s really pretty mocking. All these people keep stage diving including the three morons of the year. In succession someone jumps on stage and leaves in the following manner: a cannonball, which no one in the crowd tries to catch, a back flip, which no one in the crowd tries to catch and a belly flop, which-you guessed it. The lead singer tells the crowd to stop coming up on stage unless you’re a girl and want to show your tits. He also says not to do it because they don’t want any more people to get injured. He promptly pushes the next kid onstage off.
Surviving the show since I didn’t decide to stage dive, the festival empties out rapidly once the band is done. I stay and help clean up the chamber booth. We end up having to move a boat out of the road to the marina across the street. We all go back to Devon’s house which is nearby. I have my guitar and end up playing to about 10 people. One guy looks at me after one of my songs and says “You’re really great. Should I have heard of you?” I start to answer and Lorena, Devon’s wife, goes into a whole thing about of course he should have because I played on the main stage at the Pineapple Festival. It was cool. At about 4 I’ve had enough and need to go home because I’m exhausted. I leave my brother and his wife with Devon and Lorena who are all still playing Rock Band.
It’s Monday and my brother his wife and I go out to breakfast. Our plan for the day is to go down to Jupiter Island where he has a job as a private chef. He needs to get a shopping list for the people who are coming into town this weekend so he’ll have the kitchen stocked. Jupiter Island is like another world. All the houses are on the ocean with private driveways and gates. The ones you can catch a view of from the road are gigantic sprawling mansions. We get to the house he’s working at and he goes in to get permission to let us come in.
We meet April, who is the assistant to the family. She’s nice and makes us some coffee. The view from the kitchen is all water. It’s amazing. Where do these people get all this money? When I’m a big famous rock star I’m getting a house like this. Why wouldn’t I? You would too if you saw it. We leave the house and go to a car shop to check out a new car they’re getting and end up talking to the owner about classic cars for about 2 hours. It’s only 8:30 but feels much later since we’re all running on low sleep. We go to a great sushi place and go home, park ourselves on the couch and stay up too late again.
Tuesday. I can’t believe it’s already Tuesday. I’ve been here for almost a week and only have one day left. I still haven’t been to the beach because I’ve been so busy but also because it’s still cold, although today is a bit better. I have an outdoor show tonight so I’m hoping that it’ll stay warm. I have to rent a PA so I drive down to West Palm Beach to get the equipment. I had hoped to get some in Jensen Beach but the only place that rented anything wanted $200 for a Fender Passport, which, brand new, is only about $400. The ride is nice. The sun is out and it’s hot enough to drive with the windows down. I get back to Jensen Beach at about 4 and get ready for the show.
I’m playing at Ian’s Tropical Grill which is just outside of the center of town. We decided to make it a dual CD Release Show/Fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce who are buying a new building for their operations. It sells out! After playing at such a big festival it’s a little weird to be in a smaller space, but really let’s me feel the contrast of the two shows. Playing on the big stage is amazingly cool. Playing to a ton of people and playing loud. Smaller shows are very cool too. You perform differently. You tell more stories. The energy is different. Both are great.
I meet a ton of cool people. I sell a lot of CD’s. At the end of the night various people are telling me nice job or stopping to chat for a minute. There’s a table in the back of the patio that I’m walking by on the way to my car. ‘Nice show. We really enjoyed your music’ they say. I stop and say thanks and they ask me where in Saratoga I’m from. Thinking they don’t know where it is, I start telling them it’s north of Albany when they cut me off. ‘We know WHERE it is, where IN it are you from? What street?’ Turns out that three of them had lived in Saratoga and worked at the race track and another guy had just moved down from Troy, NY which is only about 20 minutes away. As I’ve written before, it’s crazy what a small world it really is. Every where I went on the tour I met people with ties to the Albany area, and now, when I was the furthest away from home, I meet three people actually from the town I live in.
Another cool thing was to have a sold out show so far away from home. A lot of people told me that they got their tickets after they saw me at the Pineapple Festival. So I guess it worked out well having the show rescheduled for Tuesday instead of the Thursday before. Plus, it paid for the trip! Plane ticket and car rental all recouped in one show. Pretty nice. Free working vacation in Florida where it’s warm and….oops, I mean cold! But sunny.
It’s been a great trip. I got to play to a bunch of people and see a lot of my family. Really the only family members I haven’t seen on the tour are my sister, who lives in Singapore, and my brother who had grad school tests while I was in Florida so I have to wait to see him. I’m only here for one more day. I’m really liking it. I’ve never really been a fan of Florida, but this time it feels different. Maybe it’s because I’m working at what I love to do and visiting people I love. Whatever it is, I’ll be sad to leave.
Back to West Palm Beach to return the PA. On the way back up I talk to my brother on the phone the whole way. He’s back at the Jupiter Island house doing his shopping. All of the sudden I look up and realize I’m at exit 114 on 95. I was supposed to get off at 101. I’ve driven almost 20 miles too far. I turn around and go back. One last visit to Roosters. By now they feel like old friends and they give me a bunch of extra crumb cake for the plane ride. I go back to my brothers house and get my camera. This is the first warm day since the day I arrived and I am heading to the beach. I drive out to the island and find a spot my brother told me about with lots of rocky outcroppings on the beach. I take a bunch of photos. There’s a sailboat on the horizon. I get my shoes wet standing by the water’s edge trying to get pictures of the waves breaking into the shore. I sit on some rocks and stare out at the ocean while my shoes dry. The sun is going down. Tomorrow at this time I’ll be in NY.
The ocean has always fascinated me. It’s so huge. I look north up the coast and try to picture this same ocean touching New York City. I look south towards Miami and beyond. It’s the same ocean. The size of it made me think again of how big America is. It took me a good 14 hours to get to Asheville, NC to start the tour from my house. I flew to Florida and stopped over in Charlotte. I was there in under four. I was in Miami in less than eight. It gave me a huge appreciation for how incredible planes are.
The wind had died down for the first time in a few days and the water was calm. I looked up and realized that the sailboat was almost out of view to the south. The sun was almost down. I headed back to my car. On the way back to the house, Paula, my brothers wife called me. ‘You’re playing at Lorena’s tonight right?’ Lorena had mentioned to me at her house on Sunday that she may want me to play at her grand opening of her new salon. She hadn’t called me since to confirm anything. Two minutes later I was on the phone with her. I had one more gig before going home.
This time the night remained warm. There were probably 80-100 people through during the evening. I finished playing around 9 and we all hung out talking. The goomba’s were still being poured. I didn’t have any since I had to leave at about 5 am to catch my plane. I left about 11 to pack.
I hate waking up in the morning unless I’m going hiking. After about 3 hours of sleep I was up and in my car driving south on 95 to Miami. The whole time I was in Florida I was telling everyone how amazing the ‘maps’ feature on my I-phone was. It got me everywhere I was looking for. It IS very good. I love it. I punched in the airport address and started driving.
My one complaint for the whole trip is that the radio stations in this area of Florida are AWFUL. One of the things that always make long drives easier for me is listening to good music and if I heard one more friggin Van Halen song I was gonna go postal. I was near West Palm Beach when the sun started poking up to my left. I left early so I wouldn’t have to worry about hitting any rush hour traffic near Miami. My flight wasn’t until 8:30 so I figured leaving at 5 for a two hour drive would be plenty. I was approaching Miami when my directions told me to leave 95 and get on another road which I did. With about 15 miles to go it was only 7:05 so I wasn’t worried about time.
The directions were so specific. I followed them. I drove right into a fence that separated an industrial park from the runways of the airport. Really? You ask for directions to the airport and instead of taking you to the terminal they literally take you to the ‘airport’? I had to turn around, backtrack and drive around the whole airport. Then I followed the signs to the ‘rental return’ on the road and ended up lost. It was almost 7:30 now, which was my rental return time. I didn’t want to have to pay for an extra day because I was late. Plus I still had to fill up the gas tank, take the shuttle back to the airport, check my guitar and get through security. Did I mention I only had three hours of sleep? I didn’t need this!
Thankfully, I found the rental terminal and pulled into the drop off point exactly at 7:30. After I got to the airport and through security etc, it was 8:15. I got to the gate 5 minutes before my boarding time. Then, the big payoff! I was supposed to have a center seat, which we all know SUCK. However, no one else showed up so I slid over to the window and fell asleep.
I woke up in Charlotte. Got off and debated whether I should get a coffee or not. Deciding against it since I knew I’d rather sleep, I waited for the next flight. Slept again. Woke up in Albany. ‘The local temperature is 48′ they announced over the speakers. I felt how thin my fleece was against my skin. I thought about how cold I was at 55 in Florida. Why did I leave my coat in my van?
I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped outside and felt warm. Just like I should at near 50 in mid November in NY. I’ve been thinking about this and it still doesn’t make any sense to me. When it got below 60 in Florida, I was wishing for my winter coat. The past few weeks when it’s been about 45 here in NY, I could walk around in just a long sleeve shirt. Strange.
I went to Caffe Lena the week after I got back to go to the open mic night there. It’s one of the places I learned how to do this whole music thing and a lot of my music friends go there. I did a show there for the release of my CD ‘Reach’ a few years ago. After all the shows and all the time on the road and all the different kind of places I’ve played this fall, it’s nice to go somewhere that’s like home. But it felt different too. There’s still comfort there. It’s still a great place. It’s actually less the place. The change is in me. I’M different. When I first started going to the open mic there, I was new and nervous and raw. I don’t go as much as I used to. I love going though. When I was there last Thursday, I felt truly truly comfortable. I felt sure. Assured. Peaceful. I did this…thing. This tour. I left my comfort zone. I pushed my limits. I went out and did it. I posted to Facebook during the first leg of the tour that a really cool thing that occurred was that I had this conversation a lot: “What do you do?” “I’m a musician and I’m on tour.”
Playing here, with friends and strangers watching, after coming back from all the shows, I knew that now matter what happens from this point on, I truly felt it inside of me for the first time. I am a musician.