It’s a glorious morning in semi-rural Middletown NY. Our hotel is off the Interstate, naturally, but off on a little side road or state route that parallels the Interstate. After I had loaded up my stuff in the van and done my quotidian cleaning and organizing on the inside of the van, I go round to the front of the hotel and I catch a glimpse of a Lamborghini going down the road and then another and another. Turns out this line of Lamborghini’s is a car club out on a morning drive and they’re all riding in tandem down the road. Pretty impressive it was. There were about 20 or so in different colors and models with one near the front filming the procession with a camera being held by an attractive female standing up in a ‘chrome-wrapped’ Lamborghini. I figured I just saw a couple million dollars’ worth of cars rolling down the road. Never know what you’re going to see in my job, that’s why I love it.
Now we’re on to Rochester and the beautiful roads leading up to Syracuse. I never get tired of this drive. Rolling hills and tree covered ranges and bucolic valleys and vistas. It’s all showing its fecundity with the strong resplendent hues of virescent beauty as the new leaves are bursting from their branches and new shoots sprouting forth from the earth. Spring is on full display. I drive in a peaceful state and ruminate with solemn reverence.
The load in is always quick at the Abilene Bar, there’s a side door that leads right to the side of the stage. We’re going to hold off for now cuz’ there’s an opening band so we’ll just do it after they’re done due to space constraints. Sam Snyder is opening up for us tonight and I’ve known Sam for a long time since he was really young. He cites me as a big influence on his playing and for wanting to play and for this I am truly humbled. As I listen to Sam’s set I’m struck by the textural quality of his music. His music reminds me of Portishead or Radiohead with its adventurous and ambitious melodies and sounds. How’s he doing those textures live? It’s only a trio. I look in on him and see two different pedal boards and he later tells me that one is for his vocals. Then I see that Sam plays overhanded on the neck of the guitar. It’s really interesting. He sounds great and even if you sit there and you’re cynical and you think ‘Well he’s just playing that dark vibe atmospheric stuff but when he starts to play a solo it’s at that point you realize Sam is a player. He’s got tone and phrasing that’s way beyond his young years. All overhanded too. He told us that when he started to play guitar he had broken his left arm and he could only play the guitar with it lying on a table and his hands would just lay over it. Fast forward a couple of months and this technique he’s learned is now ingrained and he just thought, ‘well I guess this is how I play the guitar’. He does it well, really well. He does play the conventional way but he adapted that way only after he serendipitously took to teaching kids guitar instruction at the music store he works at. But when he plays out, he plays in his natural way; overhanded. I enjoyed his set immensely and I look forward to hearing his progress in the years to come. I’m humbled again to be considered an influence on him.
Anyway we set up and the crowd is really light due to it being the final night of a big festival they have there in Rochester; The Lilac Festival. I’ve played it before but many years ago. The night was gorgeous and the Lilac Fest’ is a free fest so that really put a damper on our crowd. I get up and start and the stage is really small and the room is small too so no Marshall tonight. I thought about the ‘rock n’ roll stack’ where I’d put my CBB on top of the Marshall cab but that would be just overkill. Oh well, the show must go on. For some reason I’m just having a hard time tonight and I’m not finding my brain hooking up too well with my hands. I soldier on but I’m getting frustrated. This happens from time to time and all you can do is to keep trying to create and try new things. I mean I was really relaxed and usually I’ll have an easy time of it when I’m like that but my brain wasn’t going there tonight. I decided to try some new things and break out one of my new songs and another song off Lucky 13 that we just started playing, Setting Sun, but the results were predictable on my part; disastrous. Gotta’ keep going on though and shake it off. We played a long first set then we came back and did a short second set. Not a horrible night and it did have its moments but I really wish I could’ve been a little more on my game tonight. You just have to get through these tough gigs from time to time cuz’ this is just part of the learning curve and natural progression in my life. Some are worse than others. I’ll be fine because tomorrow I get to go at it again and I’ll try to learn from what I did wrong and build on what I did right. Thus is life.
Tomorrow we go on to Buffalo and I always look forward to the Sportsmen Tavern. A real music venue and the audiences are great. But that’s tomorrow.