I have to admit, I was kind of wondering what I'd gotten myself into last night. True, I'd been thrilled when the news I was back in the fold arrived like a last minute death row pardon, saving me from a springtime stock cull that would've sent me to rot in a metal warehouse in the bowels of Arkansas.
"The kids" were back at it again, and though my rightful place had been usurped by that big-shot archery bag who's got the full-time job of holding all the guitar stands, they'd found a spot for me in the back seat of the van housing cables and small mic stands. I honestly think they just missed my company, and the casual sporty flair I bring to their operation.
The pair were a little tired from work they were doing right up to the moment of leaving for this tour, and once or twice had to switch places on the drive to Rochester to keep from falling asleep. But it was great to be back on the road.
We got ourselves into the club and there was a big hubbub with a beer-tasting event. After everything was set up and I was sitting under the piano with the other cases (who treat me like I never left, they're a real bunch of old troopers), I noticed there wasn't a soundcheck and that worried me - I know how these two really need to check and make sure they're getting enough sound to work with. They tried to play it cool and they could've dealt with that okay but then there was a struggle going on between an audience who'd come to see the show and some loud people who'd drunk a lot of beer and didn't want to leave but weren't interested in the show. One poor guy even got in a fight, it was hard to tell what was going on but he was telling people to shut up and listen and before you knew it they were showing him the door.
The kids struggled on and in the end they did a hell of a job, but I wondered why it has to be so hard. In the van I'd been eavesdropping, heard them talking about the difficulty of doing everything yourself and a feeling of wanting to keep going but not wanting to keep treading the same ground. Or something like that - hell, I'm just a bag.
Still I felt some real moments of glory in that performance. And back in the van today they were playing music and seemed less tired. The lady said they had a critics pick in Time Out Chicago for their show coming up Friday, and they know that's a nice club with a separate room for the boozers, so there's every reason to be optimistic.
And me I'm just happy to be back in the van. Have you ever been to Arkansas?