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The Weekly Croissant: Tour Diary
Pacific Waves / Coal Mining / Old Age
Out in California, at the end of tour, I took a trip to Malibu with my two best friends from high school. We ate fancy food and walked along the beach. I’d been on the California coast for over a week and still hadn’t managed to get into the ocean. This was my last chance and I was determined. At a rocky outcrop, we stopped and I stripped down to my bikini. The water felt amazing, but I underestimated the strength of waves and was immediately dashed against the rocks. When I got out I had gashes across my back. I felt like an idiot from a landlocked state, which I am and I am.
On the cliff above the water, a bird was aloft, unmoving. I’d never seen a bird fly so still. His wings were spread wide against the wind but they didn’t flap, he simply hovered. I kept waiting for him to dip and dive, to make a move of any kind, but the entire time we were visiting, he never budged. Maybe he was sleeping.
Walking back to the car we passed a dead sea lion, a lime green spray paint tag across his sausage-like body. The smell was putrid and the nearby dogs were going wild, pulling against their leashes to get towards the scent.
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I flew home the next night, and the next day drove to West Virginia with George for Clifftop, the annual old-time festival up in the mountains. We had dinner at Olive Garden (a first for George), and breakfast at Tudor’s Biscuit World, my favorite WV based chain.
West Virginia is so beautiful and so derelict. It should have been a rich state with all that coal. But I guess the money all flowed elsewhere. The first Tudor’s we went to was in tough shape. We stood at the counter for a few minutes with nobody there to help us. There was some yelling from the kitchen. “We’re out of biscuits!”
A nice man came out to the front counter. “I’m sorry, we’re out of biscuits. Our biscuit maker had an emergency and she had to go home. We’ve got toast though…"
I looked at George. Absolutely not. We decided to try another Tudor’s, down the road. When we walked outside, a man was making his way to the front door.
“They’re out of biscuits, “ I said
“They have toast, though,” said George.
The man looked at us and sighed. “I’m not bringing that home to my wife… to get beat!”, he said and turned around to head back to his car. I felt so validated.
At Clifftop I played for about six hours in the key of G, and one hour in the key of D. It rained and rained. I love playing, but I hate camping.
Early Friday morning I flew to Chicago to meet up with Steve and head to a festival in Wisconsin.
I took a tiny plane out of Charleston, WV. The man next to me was a coal miner, headed to Colorado for work. He told me that he did contour mining, works 20 days at a time, and then goes home for 10. “We send the machine in the side of the mountain, pull out the coal, and then cover and re-seed it,” he explained. “It’s better for the environment, you’d never know we were there in a few years. “
“You don’t want to live out in Colorado?” I asked him. “No way, you couldn’t pay me to live there”, he said, “Twenty below in the winter and a hundred and ten in the summer”. He said there’s more mining out in Colorado than in West Virginia these days and more job security. “Colorado coal feeds California’s power grid”, he said. “They send power to California before Colorado even gets any. California likes to act like it’s such a green state, but they just do their coal mining elsewhere”.
I landed in Chicago and successfully retrieved my merch and sound gear from the SW baggage office. My suitcase had been pulled from the plane in LA due to weight and balance issues and I’d had them forward it to O’Hare. By some miracle, this plot worked and Steve picked me up in my own van from Nashville to head to Appleton, WI.
Sometimes at music festivals, the GRAMMY/Musicares Foundation will set up clinics to get all of us grimy musicians some free health care. I had signed up for a dentist appointment, and was thrilled to get an excellent bill of health for my teeth despite having not visited a dentist for the past five or so years… Thank you, genetics?
The dentist's office was kind of lovely and they had this strange Where’s Waldo panel installed on the ceiling so you could distract yourself while the hygienist cleaned your teeth. I was strangely touched by that small kindness. I found a man with two different colored ski boots, two skiers crashed into a tree…an illegal fisherman…etc
Earlier today we played a festival set at a cafe on the water. It was our fourth set in two days. I was so exhausted I took a nap on the green room floor, and woke up to see Steve relaxing under the table like it was a fort-house. ‘
There was an older woman in the very back, and as soon as we started playing she yelled… “It’s too loud! Turn it down!”. She reminded me of my grandma, who used to come to my gigs at Fitzgerald’s in Chicago, which is essentially a rock club, and complain about the same thing. I felt bad for Sam the sound man, who actually had the show set at a very tasteful level, but I was grateful for that lady, who reminded me that at a certain age, one feels entitled to say whatever they want, to whomever they want. It’s like being a little kid again… we grow and then regress.
Hope you all are having a wonderful week!
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