Day 22:

Sun’s up. Toes in the dust. Bladders emptied. Dressed. Coffee bought. On to Great Falls. Our gig was a return show at Mighty Mo Brewing and we were looking forward to it! We were scheduled to play 5:00-8:00, so we wanted to get into town and check into our hotel around 2:00. That did not happen. For no real reason or fault, we just sort of moseyed our way there, stopping a few times, having lunch, stopping a few more times, and before we knew it, we were rolling into town around 3:45!!! Damn!! Now it’s rush, rush, drop Jared off to unload, take Rudy to the hotel, check in, get ready, Jared meets us at the hotel (the gig was just a block from where we stayed), re-do Jared’s hair, make sure Rudy has all his stuff, run to the car, start to drive, then…stop. The street was barricaded off!!! Ok, we’ll just go this other…crap! Another blocked street. What’s going on? A parade?!?! Oh man, the State Fair just got to town?? Well, we just need to get a block over and, well, here goes! Jared jumps out, moves a barrier and plows through. “Do you want me to jump out and put it back?” I ask. “No! People are already glaring at us. Someone else will get it. Let’s go!” Because of all these variables, we ended up getting started almost 20 mins late. The show was ok. Not nearly as awesome as the first time through, but we did have some people come back to see us from our first visit, and sometimes work is just that…work. Not too upset about it, we played until 8:00, packed up and headed to our hotel room. Grateful to stretch out, we all fell asleep pretty early. We didn’t want to stay here two nights, but we did want to hang in the hotel for a little the next day to relax and get ready, so I paid a bit extra for a 4:00 check out and we all slept hard and past 8:00!!

Day 23:

I didn’t sleep as well as I had hoped because of the “starfish” child I shared a bed with while Jared snored quietly in the bed next to us. At one point, around 3:00am, I thought I could sneak into bed with my husband and actually get some sleep. As I started to creep out of bed, five little, sticky fingers grabbed me and a tiny voice from the pillows said, “Mommy, don’t go. I love you, Iceman.” (It’s an inside joke) and I was bound by the sacred bond between mother and son, absolutely paralyzed with sweet love and resolved to battle the night with hands and feet and hair in my face…the mother’s blessing and curse all rolled into one. During my sleepy shower the next morning, Jared asked why I didn’t just leave and join him in bed…silly Dad, moms are for kids!

The boys enjoyed the pool while I added to Jared’s blog on our Nashville experience, trying to glean some sunshine from our shady time there. The afternoon sort of slinked on with our second-to-last gig slowly approaching. We had heard from everyone that the Celtic Cowboy was THE place to play in town and we were so looking forward to it.

The show was scheduled to go from 7:00-11:00. Gearing up for a long night, we wanted to do a late lunch/early dinner. Loving the name of the restaurant, we chose Bert n Ernie’s. Delicious food and kind staff! We finished up and headed to the Celtic Cowboy.

It’s always fun to see the “sizing up” people do to us as we enter a place. My favorites are the ones who really give a good once over, slip you the side eye, and turn to their friend to say something quietly. Those are the ones I tend to smile biggest at, especially when I then come back in carrying Rudy and then all of a sudden, the “Ooohhh, you’re a mom. Now we have respect for you” look comes on. It’s like Rudy has been validating Jared and I all over the country for a month. More than the music, the length of time spent at our craft, our deep respect and love for each other…more than any of that is our Rudy. Because of him, people seem to take us more seriously. It’s like we are validated as responsible adults when we add a kid to the mix. I mean, I’m not gonna lie…we have slept more, drank less, spent less money, remained more level-headed, and have generally just been better humans because of him. So, I can’t say their assessment is wrong. It’s just a funny observation every time.

The bartender had asked us to play easy the first hour, since that was still “dining” time. Totally understandable. That’s actually pretty common at most restaurants. So, we weren’t too disappointed during the first set at the low attendance or quiet crowd attentiveness. After all, we still had 3 hours to play. We didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Second set we picked it up a bit and a few more people wandered in. Hmmm. I thought this was the best place to hear live music in town. They even had an award for it on the piano. Not sure what was going on, but we weren’t getting any response…from crowd OR staff. Then it came. What I hoped we’d get through the whole tour without hearing. “You guys should have been here last night. It was packed. They would have LOVED you!” It’s the weirdest phenomenon, and when I get a chance, I may even write a song about it…but it seems to be a never-ending curse of Champagne Sunday to hit the places the night AFTER some huge crowd was there or some giant event happened where apparently all the people in the world were in attendance and would have just died for us. It’s gotten so that Jared and I just laugh when we hear it, almost with the ability to stop whatever staff member before they utter a word and say, “Let me guess. We should have been here last night, right?” I’m telling you, when I write the Champagne Sunday musical, I’m calling it, “You Should Have Been Here Last Night: The story of the band who ALMOST made it”.

Anyway, sets 3 and 4 played out with about as much excitement as watching a lizard on a rock. Well, at least from where we stood. For OUR part, it was good. I remember thinking how tight we’ve gotten. The harmonies, rhythms, show flow, stories, all have just been seamlessly stitched together in this glorious musical quilt that we just like to come in and lay it down on the people. *If you know me, you’ll wonder why it’s taken me this long to make a blanket metaphor about our music. (I brake for counterpanes)* The songs have always been good, in my humble opinion, but coordinating the “oneness” of two people is a constant challenge. The concentrated living, breathing, singing, playing, sleeping, eating that the three of us have experienced, has just strengthened the musical current that runs continually through Jared and me. So, these kinds of gigs aren’t all wasted. As a matter of fact, they are necessary to fortify us and keep us creative and fresh, honing our skills and utilizing the time to keep getting better. That all said, it’s really hard to be giving it all to a lackluster-at-best audience of 7, one of whom is your son, and even HE is wearing headphones and listening to a different band. To be fair…it was the Fair. The State Fair. It was its first day in town and the restaurant told us they did a significantly worse night in sales than a typical Friday night. They all loved us and asked us to come back, and I’m sure we will. Kindness goes a long way, and this area is brimming with it.

Rudy was particularly brilliant this night. He was sweet and calm. Ate his dinner without issue, used the bathroom several times by himself and played quietly for the entire 4-HOUR SHOW!!! Until the very end. He knew that if we ended the show quietly with Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”, The Beatles’ “Blackbird” would follow. As we closed out the Gabriel tune, our little Rudy stepped onto the stage, lifted his arms to me and he and I launched into the sweetest version of Paul’s perfect tune, that I have ever been part of. We didn’t video it, and only a handful of people were there and even fewer were paying attention. But it was one of my very favorite moments on tour.

As we were tearing down, Rudy, who is pretty tuned into my emotions, noticed that I was a little melancholy.

“What’s wrong, mom?”

“Oh baby, I’m just a little sad that our great adventure is almost over.”

“Well, I’m really excited to go home and see the dogs and my friend, Kier. But, mom….” and he took my hands and looked right into my eyes. “Mom, we can do this great adventure again. Don’t be sad. We’ll just keep doing it every time.”

You know we will.

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