A last minute re-arrangement took us back in familiar territory to kick off the first weekend of our tour in Kent, Ohio! After I got set up at the venue, I finally found myself with some time to go mail a birthday card to my Grandfather. I set off on a walk to find a post box, and once I completed the errand I realized I was in the midst of a great opportunity to take in a bit of Kent. I’ve quickly found that my glamorized idea of exploring a new city every day on tour is not going to be a reality. The reality is there’s a ton of driving, a ton of set-up and tear down, and a ton of performing. When you do have some free time, you’re exhausted and just want to relax. But occasionally you get those odd 20 minute “in the moment” opportunities to get a casual glimpse of a place.
What I saw of Kent had that typical college town feel. It’s got that hugely overdeveloped modern strip with $1000+ apartments, chain bars and stores with names like “College Traditions” flogging various Kent State tchotchkes. And then right next to it, you’ve got the more cultural and historic main street with art galleries, a small concert theater (Ani Difranco was playing that night), and various other local haunts that have survived the onslaught of modern development.
The venue we were playing at, the Stone Tavern, fell into this hub of culture and had a dive bar feel with stacks of records laying around and weird cartoon art all over the place. The show went great. Good crowd, good people, and one man shouted with a cross of amazement and bemusement between songs, “You’re like a one man boy-band!” And yes, I take that as a compliment.
Saturday night took us back to upstate New York at a place called “Nietszche’s” in Buffalo. Buffalo welcomed us warmly with a small snow storm, but of course this city is pretty resilient when it comes to the weather. A good crowd showed up and we had a nice little dance party as the wind was howling outside the front doors. For what you don’t get to explore on tour you can make up for it with the great new people you meet. The proximity to Canada has really rubbed off on the residents of Buffalo. Positive attitudes, unwavering politeness, and hard A’s in the accents were ever present. I left the venue with a sense that this was a place on the up and up and wonderful people trying to make the city a great place to live.
We rounded out the weekend with a featured spot on an Open Mic at the Living Room at the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA. I don’t want to let this post run on too long, but luckily our friend Paul Smeltz wrote up a great summary of the evening through his blog, “The Forwardian Arts Society.” You can find the write-up here.
Onto New York City next for a couple of shows before we had back north. I’ve been warming up to the Big Apple the last couple of times I’ve been back through. Let’s see if the streak continues...