Oh my gosh, you guys! Today was a special day!!
So, last night we stopped at the Days Inn in Souix City. We were in no rush. We had about a 7-hour haul we needed to make in 2 days. We stopped a hundred times and talked and laughed. Our intention was to find somewhere around 4:30/5:00 to stay for the night, but, when that time rolled around, we were in a pretty good groove and felt like driving a bit more.
In the morning, we made a stop off at the “Worlds Largest Truck Stop” off the 80 in Iowa. It lived up. It was basically a mall with a lot of camouflage, several places to eat, a million flags, countless junk to buy, a casino, movie theater, laundromat, all of it. Nothing to represent America better than a huge box in the middle of America full of American paraphernalia and ‘Mercans. We took in our fill, then left it in the restrooms and headed on our way.
Another stop included a remarkably nice business and residential complex, complete with fishing pond and picnic table, where we lunched and threw rocks into the water to try to make the biggest splash possible. A family came up to fish and Rudy “ducklinged” after them. He informed us later that he wanted to go fishing sometime. He told me he wanted to catch a gold fish. I told him I just want to catch gold.
Anyway, after the final push, we settled on the Days Inn in Sioux City, because, 1. Cheap. 2. Indoor pool. 3. Separate beds!! We checked in over the phone, rolled in, set up in our room, put our suits on and by 7:30 we were headed to the pool! The 84° pool water felt cool and inviting in comparison to the midwestern weather. We swam, jumped, Marco Polo-ed, for about an hour. We were starving and excited about a restaurant we found up the block called “Four Brothers”. By the time we got dressed and walked over to it, it was about 8:50…closed at 9:00 on Sundays. So bummed, I just asked if we could grab a drink and then we’d leave. The manager, Robert Hightower, insisted we stay for dinner, and he and his staff treated the three of us like royalty. Having been in the service industry for many years, I have a full appreciation for restaurant staff willing to go the extra mile for guests, especially at closing time. We ordered quickly but never felt rushed. They even indulged Rudy and listened to his stories and watched him dance. Really shining example of human kindness and quality service.
Once back at the hotel, we played a few rounds of “Stinky Pig”, basically a Hot Potato-esque game that had us all laughing hysterically! Bed time came on fast and strong for the travelers, as, once again, actual pillows proved too much to refuse, and within minutes of me reading from my favorite book to my Rudes, we were all passed out.
The next day:
Since the blog for yesterday was more introspective musings, I felt I had to sum up the actual events before I could go on. Too much sweet stuff to leave out. Anyway, since we’d made so much headway the day before, today’s “big drive” was about an hour and a half. Squeezing every last drop out of our monetary investment at the Days Inn, we got showers, reorganizing, and continental breakfast in before hitting the road at 11:00am. We rolled into Yankton around 1:00, and spent a lovely, if not horrendously bug-filled, afternoon camped out, picnicking, playgrounding, and playing guitars by the Missouri River. At some point, Jared went down to the playground to check on Rudes and stopped at the musical instruments section of the park. As he was banging around on stuff, I asked him what key the instruments were in and he said “C.” This gave me the idea to write a song on the spot in the key of C and then get a video us playing it with the park instruments. Well, I accomplished half of my goal. We never did get to videotape it, but we did write a darling new song that we can’t wait to get down and share with you guys. If you tune in to our live video stream on Facebook, you can hear a rough and, somewhat janky, version of the new tune, as we begin our show. We used it as a sound check because a family dining at the restaurant at insisted they hear it.
Being asked back to play a return show while on the road is a huge compliment. It also is a nice, relaxing place to be, mentally. There are none of the usual trepidations of, “Will they like us?“, “Will we be a good fit?”, “How do we set up?”, and a handful of other questions we ask ourselves when we first meet a venue. It’s warm and comfortable and feels good to have something familiar. However, it was a Monday night and we weren’t sure of what kind of business there would be. Well, when you’re in a small town, the good thing about playing at a restaurant is that, usually, it is one of the only places to go out and see a band in that town. That seemed to be the case here at The Landing in Yankton, South Dakota. A couple tunes into the first set, the whole place was full and people were already getting excited for the show. The tip jar kept being fed and people were genuinely happy that we were there! As the night went on, we had a pretty special communion with those people in Yankton. We shared stories and played our hearts out for them and felt like we genuinely made an impact being there.
I’ve said it before and I will probably continue to say it for the rest of my time here on earth as an entertainer. I believe so strongly that our job must be taken seriously. I feel like it is our charge, our duty, to break down stereotypes in people, genres in music, and, much like at the nudist park, see people for who they truly are, treating them as we would treat and respect ourselves. I think we provide our audiences with the gift of escape, yet we also show them the real, the honest, the mistakes and the glory of being human. I gotta back track a couple days real quick and tell you, there was a man at one show on this trip who came in, sat right in front and metaphorically “shouted” from his tight, white t-shirt, his grotesque political affiliation. As he gorged on his food, licked his fingers, ordered drink after drink, demanded things forcefully from the service staff, flexed his muscles and twitched around in his seat, he still listened to the music. He laughed at the stories, he clapped when we were done, he cheered for Jared’s guitar solo. It was during this that I had to really put my own self in check. Would I ignore this human, would I turn my eyes away when singing “I love you”, who am I when faced with the physical embodiment of so many things I can’t agree with or support? As he got up to leave, he shoved a wad of chewing tobacco in his lower lip, waved goodbye and smugly acknowledged, then ignored our tip jar. I smiled back. I had to. This man can not change who I am, who I strive to be, who I want to present to our fans. Once released into the stratosphere, our music isn’t even ours anymore. It’s for ears and hearts, regardless of political affiliations or past and present offenses. Do I agree with the actions of a rapist, murderer, domestic offender, hell no! But what if they love our music? We’ve tried to create an “all inclusive” setting. That must include everyone. I don’t have to know you, agree with you or even like you to share my music with you and offer you love on a human level. I just have to do my job, which I have set as my own personal mission. There can’t be a separation between love and music. If I believe in one, I must believe in the other. Hot damn… I’m really getting into it now. I suppose if you ever wonder what I’m thinking while on stage…this is just some of it. But, mostly I’m thinking about how hot my husband is though.
Anyway, the Yankton crowd jumped to its feet when we were through. Dads, moms, friends, kids, lovers, politics, religions, putting it all aside for a little while to escape. To enjoy something together. If they can, I can. We owe them that.
I kid you not, after our encore (Music Box, btw), somebody went around the corner and set off one, single, solitary firework. Huge, loud and beautiful, it was a brilliant picture in the sky of my heart at that very moment.