We leave early-ish, around 9:30 in the morning, on Friday, which gives us around 11 hours to get to our show in Phoenix at 8. It’s only a 5 and a half hour drive, but I’m giving us time for traffic, to get lost, and it looks like there’s some record stores not too far from where we’re playing that I’m hoping to have time to check out if we do have time.
The extra time budgeted becomes useful almost immediately because we’re a half-hour out and Ron realizes he’s forgotten his boots, so we turn around and go back for them. Otherwise he’d be playing gigs in beat up tennis shoes and that’s just not rock and roll. So we lost an hour right there.
We drive and drive and drive, listening to music, taking pictures of the scenery. We love a good road trip. Not too far outside of Phoenix we hit some ugly traffic that adds a good amount of time to our drive. Plus we have to stop a few times along the way to stretch our legs. We get to Phoenix around 5, which is just a little too late to eat dinner AND go record shopping, so we skip the record stores and meet The Fallen Stars for dinner at a place called 5 &Diner. It’s a super cute old 50s style diner with an excellent patty melt.
Then we head to the venue, Fiddler's Dream Coffeehouse. Bobbo played here not long ago on his trip to SXSW and not only were they nice enough to have him back so soon, but they were kind enough to let us play as well. The audience is small, but wonderfully attentive. There’s a little boy there who’s maybe 6 years old, who is out for his first experience seeing live music tonight. I give him a sticker and honestly feel more than a little happy to be part of his first live music experience. I’m not going to get too emotional or precious about live music, but at the same time I’m not going to downplay how important it is.
FIddler’s Dream is a small room and we play totally unplugged. It’s intimate, like playing in someone’s living room. And I love every minute of it. It’s getting back to my roots as a choir singer. We never used microphones or PAs the way I grew up singing, just listened to each other and blended. We play our set and on the break Bobbo has set up a toaster and people make raisin toast with Irish butter.
Then the Fallen Stars play. They’re just as fantastic as they always are. I’ve honestly run out of ways to say how great the two of them are when they play together. After the show we talk a bit with Nia (who runs Fiddler’s Dream and is such a kind and generous person), we sell a few CDs, and we chat for a bit. Suddenly it’s almost 11:30 and we still have to drive to Tucson, which is an hour and 40 minutes or so away. So we finish packing up and hit the road.
We get to our hotel at somewhere between one and two AM. I’m not sure anymore. Hotel McCoy Tucson is freaking adorable. It’s an old motor lodge that they’ve turned into an art hotel. Each room has artwork from local artists, which is available for commission-free sale. They have bios of the artists in the room as well. The outside walls are covered with murals. The breakfast is an oatmeal bar and pop tarts. There’s a bar with local beer and wine. The whole thing is just too cute for words and I wish we could spend more time there.
But we basically are here to crash. I wake up at 6 am from a stress dream, because my subconscious is a jerk. I can’t get back to sleep so I go grab some breakfast and let Ron sleep in until the “decadent” hour of 8:30. I wish we could both get more sleep but we have to get ready and we want to run our set for the Tucson Folk Festival and check out is at 11 and, and, and... I do feel bad he doesn’t get to sleep more, since he did all the driving yesterday.
We check in at the festival around noon or so. We’re not playing until 2:30, so we have some time to walk around, see some other acts, and meet up with Bobbo and Tracy again, who are playing just before us on the same stage. We see a great mariachi band on the main stage and hear a lot of other beautiful music while walking around.
The weather is absolutely gorgeous, but it’s so dry. I check my weather app and the humidity is 7%. (For the record, that is drier than we keep the room where we freeze-dry things at work). I can’t drink enough water. I’m too much of a delicate flower for this much desert. Tucson and the desert in general has its own beauty, but I could not do it long term.
The staff at the festival are just fantastic. They help us when we’re confused about parking. They are great at managing the stages and getting all the acts on and off quickly. Our sound guys are amazing. We’re not worried about sound at all because every band before us sounds great. We watch the Fallen Stars play, and again, I’m out of ways to say how much they rock it, but they do.
I see Peggy in the audience and give her a wave. I think she thinks I don’t recognize her when she’s waving at me, but I’m mostly just in my own anxieties at this point. There are more people out in front of that stage than I think we’ve ever played for and I’m trying not to get in my head about it but I’m not being very successful. I wanted to tell her hi properly afterwards, but I couldn’t find her.
We get up on stage and after a quick sound check, we’re playing. It takes me about halfway through the first song to relax into it and let go of my anxiety. And I think we do a pretty good job. In a lot of respects it’s the exact opposite of last night’s show—large audience vs small, amplified vs not, a little removed from the audience vs intimacy. But the important things are the same. The staff of both venues are amazing and that the audiences are 100% with us—they’re really listening and we’re so grateful to be playing for them.
Afterward, we sell a CD (as Bobbo would say, making fans the old-fashioned way, one person at a time). We have an early dinner with Bobbo and Tracy and Tracy’s parents (who are just lovely people) and a couple friends of Tracy and Bobbo’s. We eat at a Mexican place with really good shrimp enchiladas and margaritas. Then Ron and I head back home. It’s an almost eight hour drive. Tracy’s parents kindly offer to let us stay on their couch, but I really just want to be in my own bed so we decide to make the haul.
I drive the first bit (because Ron had a margarita and I did not) and we switch after a few hours. It’s a pretty easy drive to be honest; it’s late enough and a Saturday, so we don’t really hit any traffic. We do get a little punchy and silly by the time we hit Riverside; I’m watching hair metal videos and describing the ridiculousness to Ron because I will never not find those kinds of 80s music videos funny, but they’re extra funny at midnight after a long exhausting day.
We get home a little before 2am and literally collapse into bed. But I don’t care how tired I am or that we put 1000 miles on my car in two days. This was a great weekend.