and the Live Sex Show
Panama Red Plays Roosendaal
to Amsterdam, Buffy
A SOULFUL TRIP
On The Road Again in New England
6, 2004 -- I nosed the Volvo out onto I-65 North, headed out
to play my second tour of the Northeast in the past year. My first
date was not until April 8, in Williamsport PA at the Coffee and
Tea Room, but last year's Homeric trip from Nashville to Burlington
VT in just 20 hours had convinced me of the downright foolishness
of these massive bucketing drives through the American night, no
matter how heroic they later seemed in the retelling. Eight hours
after leaving home I stopped to spend the night at my brother's
glen in West Virginia. The trees at home in Tennessee had been decked
out in new spring foliage, primavera, two weeks ago but those in
Glenville, two hundred miles north and five hundred feet higher,
were just starting to leaf out.
It was dark when I arrived
in my brother's holler. Stars were diamonds strewn on the blanket
of sky, much more brilliant than I get to see at home in the reflected
city lights of Nashburg. My brother's porch light was on and I was
greeted by Pudge and Ruby the dogs, Pudge thumping his ancient tail
and Ruby weenying around on the porch, grinning and showing me her
belly. Inside, after all the hugs, we all sat around and talked
incessantly as we always do when freshly reunited, and then, mindful
of my responsibilities, I went to bed.
Next morning I set out
for Williamsport, PA and my gig at The Coffee and Tea Room. Coming
into Williamsport, the home of the Little League World Series, I
was struck by the Andy Hardy American-ness of the town, with big,
comfy old houses lining the streets, relics of the timbering industry
empires that had at the turn of the last century found their home
there. Williamsport is, or was, anyway, also the home of GRIT Newspaper,
which used to be sold door-to-door all across America by entrepreneurial
and/or journalistically bent kids, including the nascent young Panama
Red. All that remains of GRIT, however, is the sign on the side
of a building. For someone who wasn't alive at the time, GRIT is
a little difficult to explain: sort of like National Enquirer only
without the nutty stars and the aliens, and with a little Farmers
Almanac thrown in...
I had been overtaken
by events around the bus these last few weeks and had neglected
striving to publicize the gig until the very last minute. Thanks,
however, to the understanding and kind efforts of the Williamsport
Sun-Gazette's Lisa Hanssen, I was able to gather a small but enthusiastic
crowd. Sold a few CDs, pleased everyone but one guy who had come
to hear me do all of Kinky's material, go figure. I explained that
the only Kinky tunes I did were those I had written with Kinky,
but he wanted to hear They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore.
So there was one person we didn't reach out there that night. Sincere
thanks to Darlene for the gig and the crew at the Coffee and Tea
Room for the hospitality.
After the gig, I stopped
in at a bar down the street, ordered a Scotch, but all they had
was Dewar's, so I drank half a shot and headed back out onto the
I turned up I-81 and
was almost to Binghamton before I realized I had missed my next
turn, so I doubled back, turned East at Scranton and headed into
Massachusetts just at sunrise before turning North toward New Hampshire
and my friend Sebastian's house at Sunapee.
I didn't bother giving
John Kerry a call. I only have advice that it's too late for him
to take. Break a leg, dude.
I rolled into Sunapee
at about nine in the morning, just as it was beginning to rain.
Little did the Volvo, or I, realize the storm that was coming...