Oct 20 2006 - A Weekend to Remember

Oct 20 2006 - A Weekend to Remember

Schuba's bar, outside the tavern's wonderful performance hall
in Chicago, Il

A Weekend to Remember
October 12-16th, 2006


Crozet, VA Oct. 20th, 2006

I ran out my door in Crozet on Thusday at 10pm, to drive as far as my eyelids would allow me, the journey came packed to the gills with a car full of guitars and fresh outta the oven cd's streaking down highway 64 west at 70 plus mph-- I had the new album cranking on the stereo, enjoying the sequencing for the very first time, watching the moon on the horizon. By 3 am with talk radio pulling my eyelids slowly down, I said to myself, "pull over", and I curled up in the sheets of a little Ohio motel , with crickets in the background playing their midnight symphony.

The buzzing of an alarm clock hit my ears like a sledge hammer and I stumbled out to the CRV and was road bound again, for the tiny Ohio town of Yellow Springs and WYSO, a little community radio station that does big things for that part of Ohio. They were fund driving on the air and I threw them a couple copies of the new cd, and sang a couple of live songs and then scooted out of there for the Dayton airport to pick up Antje Duvekot who was opening for me over the weekend of shows.

Canal Street Tavern was our first stop, there in Dayton. I have history here, good friends, great memories. The place was started in 1981 by Mick Montgomery, who still counts the cash into the palm of your hand at the end of the night. The place has a slew of greats on the walls, Bela Fleck, John Sebastian, Woody Guthrie. The wood on the walls and trim is dark, and the green room is completely covered with band graffitti, names and greetings, slurs and put downs. Twenty five years of bands and song writers come and gone. I've signed the walls twenty times over the years. Twenty-one, tonight.

Antje went on for her set at Canal Street and immediately started quietly confronting God with a song, and then dropped the f-bomb and left the peaceable audience of midwesterners reaching for a gulp of oxygen. You could hear a pin drop, she wove her quiet magic and sold a bunch a cd's and maybe altered the dna of a few of those folks in the audience.


I went on an stomped and screamed and whispered my way to a two and a half hour set, stepping down the stairs at 1:15am, one of the latest shows i have ever played. The crowd was boisterous, especially a gang of Shakespearean actors in from Cincinatti for the show. They made me feel like Elvis. (early Elvis, the alive one) They were raising their glasses to Alice's Champagne Palace, (which is becoming quite a spontaneous habit at the shows. Starting to feel like Rocky Horror Picture show. I'm waiting for someone to show up as an Angel in Manhatten next) and they shouted out for my western style suede shirt. I love Canal Street, it was one of my first venues on the road back in 1992. I have had a few doozy moments there-- I was inspired to get my Woody Guthrie tatoo there, among other wild times.But tonight was one of the best shows there in memory. I did alot of older stuff, Here She Is, Kristian's Song, and even a version of Ring of Fire. Antje sang some beautiful harmonies, and it made me miss her on those times ahead, when she will be doing her own shows, apart from mine. Nice to enjoy the moments when we can sing together. She sprinkles a bit of fairy dust when she lays her notes sweetly over my songs..

If you are live in Ohio, give WNKU or WYSO a call and request something from the new Essentials album... I suggest "Home" if you're feeling quiet, or "Sweet Mistakes" if you feel like noise...

I crashed in Dayton at my friend Bruce Twiss' place, an antique museum bed and breakfast that I have been crashing at for ten years. He made me soup and crackers and we caught up with a years worth of our lives, and by the time I slid into the sheets, the clock was informing me that it was 4:30 in the morning.

9am came buzzing into my dreamnworld and tapped me on the shoulder with the sledge hammer again. I crawled out of bed to the CRV and I swung by Antje's hotel and we drove north on I-75 towards Detroit to pick up our manager, Ralph Jaccodine.

We paced around the streets of Ann Arbor window shopping, a nice japanese Print shop there. We met with our kind hearted booking agents, Adam and Jim, over Japanese food, and then did a show at the Ark, another one of America's best acoustic music venues. They have a beautiful piano. I am trying to learn "Home" in a key that uses the black notes. So i don't have to scream to hit the hihg notes. I like how we did it on the new cd, it's in a comfortable key for me.

Antje's set went very well, I think my booking agents loved her, which would be great for them all. And then i went on and did my set, and had a great time playing their lovely grand piano. The Detroit Tigers had just won the American league title just before the show started, and a collective scream of joy came over them when they heard the news of the game winning home run being belted. Needless to say,they were in a great mood by the time i stepped onstage. Any team that eliminates the Yankees immediately becomes my favorite team. GO TIGERS!!!

if you live in the ann arbor Detroit area, call WDET, or WCSX and request "Home" or 'Sweet Mistakes", or anything you feel like hearing that you think the world should hear.

After the show, we were brought to an Ann Arbor restaurant named EVE by my long time friend Tarek. Tarek knows good food when he sees it. The staff at EVE had stayed open for us and knew we were coming, and we were treated to one of the best meals I have had in years. Great wine, great deserts, and a wonderful way to cap the evening-- little shot glasses of white and dark chocolate. we closed down the restaurant at 1:30am. I made it to Jim Fleming's fluffy guest bed by 2:30 am, and slept with a big smile on my face. I think I still had chocolate on my lips, because I had some happily perverse dreams during the course of the evening.

By 6:30pm the next day we were in Chicago at Schuba's playing one of my favorite stages in America. This little weekend tour truly has some of the best venues around, and it is tough to have a bad night on any city on the trip. Antje really did well in Chicago, sold 44 cd's and the crowd was really mesmerized. I sang a couple of songs with her, "Acadian Driftwood" by the Band was a highlight. We really enjoy singing together. it reminds me of singing with Patty Griffin back in the old days, Like a wool blanket on a cotton sheet. After her, I played for a good two plus hours and did a few requests and really enjoyed myself. She returned the favor by singing on my stuff. I think we had the crowd feeling like it was a Saturday night before the end of it. They seemed too raucous for a Sunday night crowd. I should record a live album here sometime, regardless of what day of the week it is.

I stayed at my friend Joe Roth's place-- high in a tower over-looking the twinkling lights of the Navy Pier ferris wheel. We caught up with each other's lives, and laughed about our shared Don Conoscenti experiences. The view is incredible at Joe's, 180 degrees of water and Chicago skyline. I could look out that window for days and never think about turning my back. It's a lake disguised as an ocean. It's a small town disguised as a metropolis.

It was 2:30am before my sleepy head found it's target.

And then Grand Rapids, Michigan, an interview at WYCE, and a show at One Trick Pony, a great restaurant in town that has live acoustic music. The place was packed. Antje and I song swapped on this show, and sang on each others stuff, almost like a duo. It was great fun, and a perfect way to end the weekend. We crawled back to the bed and breakfast exhausted and caught up with each others lives.

Traveling on the road can mess with your sense of time, Seasons blur, faces converge, pillows coagulate. You can sleep too little, drink too much, play too hard. Wake up with no idea what city this ceiling belongs to. The payoff is a rich life of experience, of people and places, sites and sounds. ferris wheels, toll booths, fast food, gourmet restaurants, nachos, filet mignon, soul food, home cooked meals, beers and ales and cappucinos, bed and breakfasts with clouds for beds, sleeping in the car with a stick shift in your privates, a friends couch, an occasional floor, back stage a cross a couple of chairs. It's life in the extremes, fast paced, get there quick, then sitting around waiting for a plane, or a sound check for hours. it's stories heard and stories told. a cup a coffee at a greek diner with friends.


Then there is home, one place, roots dug all the way down through to the iron core of the planet, holding tight there, with a pretty woman and a little girl standing back up on the surface like a big old oak tree, saying "I love you Daddy", and then, yep, there it is, holding still can feel pretty damn good too.

See you out there! And please call your local AAA or NPR or college or folk station and request the songs from the new cd that move you.

Thanks for everything!
Ellis

updated: 1 year ago