Happy Labor Day!
Ahh, a forced ‘no-work’ holiday celebrating the American worker. No work for most, unless you work in a restaurant, the mall, a car lot, or a grocery store. Oh, and the clothing stores, guitar shops, and the first responders. And the bartenders, hotel workers, and street sweepers on Bourbon Street. I think that was everyone. If you are off today, then celebrate being off today like a good Patriot and go buy stuff with the money you make from Laboring. Or finally clean out the damn garage and empty the cat box, which, again, is work, so…scotch?
I arrived at home yesterday after being on the road for about 10 days. Some things I desperately needed: a shower, a washing machine, and time with my family. (I would have mentioned family first, however the first two make the last one go much better). These 10 days were a little long due to the impending child-dom, and Momma held down the fort in fine fashion. Of course my ‘to-do’ list was long upon my return, but that’s every week, so no big deal.
The first part of our run took us to some familiar places. The first day off in Baltimore I documented last week. We ended up keeping the rental car and managed even more fun sight-seeing. This time I was able to cross off a big one on the bucket list and see a game at Camden Yards. The Orioles staff was extremely gracious, and we were treated very well. I had a good friend able to procure us tickets as well, so we had the option of a suite or box seats. Of course I used both. And we were on the field during batting practice. Not bad for a first time. I’m spoiled, I’ll admit it.
When the bus wheels stopped, I woke up and realized that if the wheels kept moving, we’d be under water. I ambled off the bus to feel the cool breeze off the St. Lawrence river in the sleepy coastal town of Clayton, NY. This historic harbor has two streets lined with quaint shops, amazing eateries, and art galleries. After breakfast on the water, I found a wonderful ‘happy place’: sitting with a cup of strong coffee in my hand while listening to piped-in jazz next to the river with the sun on my cheeks and the sailboats tacking into the wind on a postcard morning. Phil and the boys did a walkabout and it wasn’t long before we had a lay of the land. I could spend a few days in Clayton and take advantage of the water, the local tours of the island castles, and maybe pilot a vintage Chris Craft. When I start looking into a summer retirement home, Clayton will be on the list.
The show in Clayton was at a beautiful theater, completed in 1904. I love the old vaudeville theaters (the few we have left), and I am happy the money comes in to preserve such historically significant structures. Maybe it’s the wood, or the size of the room, but they end up sounding amazing. The only down side to Clayton is the lack of late-night eateries. And the fact that the ‘Home of 1000 Island dressing’ is not open. Other than that she’s a gem.
We ventured further up the Canadian border to Hogansburg, NY to play a casino for a couple of ‘stripped down’ shows. The layout was great, and the casino treated us very well. The fans there were wonderful, as were everyone we encountered on the run. People up north are much happier in Summer.
Our next stop was in Woodstock, CT, where we played the 100 year-old Woodstock Fair. The good people of Woodstock ordered up a perfect day for us. We went into Putnam for lunch and sightseeing. The cafe Jessica’s Tuesdays was a breath of fresh air – locally sourced food, and healthy eating options, a wonderful change from deep fried land. Plus it was in a very old ticket building from the old train station, so they had me at hello. And a shout out to String Tinkers who have a very fine guitar shop. I may be hitting them up for something custom soon.
The last day of our 10-day journey landed us outside of Baltimore at the Maryland State Fair. I’ve been hanging with Phil as he signs merchandise after each of his shows, and I really like to hear about some of the connections fans have made to Phil’s music. He’s been in the game for a long time, and I think it’s great when people say they used to watch him 20 years ago at a piano bar or even further back with his cover band. Good stuff.
Our lives get crazy sometimes, and being on the road while it happens can be difficult. For the next few weeks I will be off the road, tending to the new addition to my family. My sub on these shows will be Rich Ross, a great guy and great friend. He’s also got a lot more hair than I. Treat him well. I will be back at the end of the month to help you all blow out the Summer at Joe’s on Weed St. Until then, thanks for the support and the wonderful gifts, and I will see you all very soon!
See you in the waiting room!