After Tin Angel, at which I met the very nice Tim Drake from the Roots Agency, Kristin and I headed to Pocopson, PA with our dear friends, Ed and Kristin. We spent two glorious days at their lovely home, a three story white washed structure built in 1865, complete with hard wood floors and an interesting history. On Thursday, Kristin and I visited the downtown area and walked around, ate some lunch, and visited a candy store.
Friday, we left for the five hour drive to Ashland, Virginia. We passed through D.C. and pointed out the places we recognized (“That’s Washington’s Memorial! That’s Lincoln’s Memorial…”)
Ashland Coffee & Tea was a super listening room. A very large, rectangular space situated across from a very active rail line….The interior is dark at night, with bright lights on the stage, so it feels like you are performing to a big, black pit of nothingness, even though you know there are people out there. The sound man, George, was excellent…We played with Mark Stuart and Stacey Earle, Steve Earle’s incredibly talented sister. And Mark plays guitar like no body’s business. He is so tasteful and educated on what he is sharing with us….I truly enjoyed watching their entire set. Catch them if you can….I’ve already emailed George Marinelli (Bonnie Raitt’s guitarist) and told him they should have Stacey & Mark open on their next tour…
Spent the night at a Sleep Inn…free breakfast in the morning, always a good thing…
Drove on to Maryland for the WestSide Cafe event…that was a hoot! We played with Ruthie and Greg (from Ruthie and The Wranglers), a sort of Patsy Kline swing thing…Ruthie has a great voice and big smile, big blonde hair swishing this way and that while Greg accompanied her on bass/vocals. Adorable! I know, you’re thinking, “Who wants their music to be ADORABLE?!” But their personalities and the tunes were catchy, fun, uplifting…adorable!
Made our hearts happy. We had a terrific time, the audience was lively, and Rod, the owner, is from England (?) and so much fun…he runs sound in this little restaurant turned musical spot. At the end of the show, I had asked if Ruthie wanted to sing a song, and I play guitar for her….so we went downstairs and worked up “Down In Dallas” and I sang harmonies to her…fun to just play guitar for someone else! Greg and I were jamming up a storm behind Ruthie wailing away. Then, Kristin came back up and we ended the night with “I Wish You Well” and everyone was hugging and smiling. Great night.
My brother, Carlton, and sister-in-law, Celeste, took us in at their lovely 3 story red brick home in D.C. Carlton always takes such care with me…he won’t let me carry my guitars and he drives us to our gigs, and let me say, GENTLEMEN RULE! Thank you, Carlton!
The last day of the tour…we all slept in…we’d stayed up late the night before eating chocolate cakes and cookies, chatting about life and music…Celeste took us the next day to Ikea, where we ate Swedish meatballs and lingonberries…yum! Kristin had never been, so Celeste and I were excited to expose her to color, design and crazy Swedish names.
The Birchmere was a big change for me…the last time I had played there was at the old location, a stage in front of tables. This Birchmere is like a SUPPER CLUB, with about 350-500 (?) seats, a real crew (sets up and breaks down the stage, walks around with walkie talkies, run to the minute), and a huge green room with multiple areas for numerous artists. I didn’t eat dinner…I just wasn’t hungry, even though they provided dinner in our contract.
We met Shelby Lynne, who we were opening for. Very nice, very lo-key. Took my picture with her…The two guys she was touring with were really sweet, talked to them all for a bit. Then, it was time…
Kristin and I walked out and the announcer had read this hilarious intro my brother wrote….imagine me being introduced at the World Wrestling Federation, and you can guess….”Get ready to rummmmbbblllleee…Sara Hickman!” and we were off. We had half an hour to perform and impress a crowd, which, thankfully, had some folks who had come to see us! Hooray! And they were yelling, “We love you, Sara!” and that made me feel connected right away….
Towards the end of our set, after one verse of “My Mama’s Hands”, my guitar stopped dead. So, I simply lifted the guitar over my head, placed it in the guitar stand next to me, all the while continuing to sing on mic. Kristin and I finished the entire song a cappella….it felt like a grand, loving lullaby in honor of my mom to a room full of people
who were really listening. We recieved a beautiful applause, and lengthy, at that! We finished on the “Train Song”, and were encouraged to do more, but we weren’t allowed to do an encore, so left the stage waving and smiling.
Sat out in the bar with my family and friends and watched Shelby perform on these screens they have all over the club…finally it was time to collect monies from CD sales/for the gig..and the night was finished…
We drove home, happy and tired.
Got up the next day, drove to Baltimore, turned in the rental car, dragged our luggage and guitars to Southwest, sat on the tarmac for four hours in Chicago (due to violent storms) and made it home 7 hours later to my loving children and husband…I don’t think I’ve ever missed them more.
This was the first time I have left them behind on a journey by myself since io was born, and that was difficult for me. I feel proud to be trying to take care of my family (Lance is a stay-at-home dad now), and a little nervous of how this will all work out, but mostly, I feel blessed. I feel blessed I am still making music, that there are so many caring people in the world, that my family is strong and tight, that I get to play with musicians who care about what I am trying to say/accomplish through music, and grateful that a dream can span a lifetime and become who you are…I feel like I am the music and it is in me…no matter what, as I told Lily last night, I will always sing…for my children, for the feel of it, for the joy of it, because it is what I know, it is who I am. I expect I’ll be humming a tune the day I pass away into angel’s arms…..where I will become part of a mighty chorus!