The Dixie Bee-Liners went out last weekend for a quick run up to Iowa and Wisconsin to play a couple of gigs. These weekend out-and-back trips are typical for a touring bluegrass band, so I thought I'd give you a brief picture of how our time breaks down.
Total time away from home: 77 hours
Time spent driving/riding: 32.5 hours (or 42%)
Time spent sleeping 20 hours (this is pretty good, actually!)
Time spent practicing: 2 hours
Time spent actually playing music on stage 3 hours 10 minutes (or 4%)
The two shows we played went really, really well. At the Legion Arts Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we had a nearly-sold-out crowd that was extremely enthusiastic and bought lots of CDs. (That's our favorite type of crowd!) The building that housed the show---built in 1891---was originally a Czech social hall and it had that wonderful, slightly musty old building smell the second you walked in the door. Now it's used for concerts and art exhibits. The exhibit currently on display featured artifacts someone had pulled our of their river two years ago when it flooded. (The many still-empty store fronts in downtown Cedar Rapids provided a sobering parallel to Nashville's more recent disaster.)
Possibly the most interesting element of our show that night was the bat that flew around while we played. It made a couple of swooping passes during each set and, I suppose, kept the room mosquito free. Our concert was the next-to-last before they pause for a major building renovation, during which they will close up all the holes where bats come in (among other things). I, for one, am extremely glad we got to play in the old version of the hall. Bats add so much scope for imagination.
(Exciting side note [well, exciting to me, anyway...]: Cedar Rapids is apparently the home of Quaker Oats. Our hotel was right across from their factory. And downtown really did smell like oatmeal! Dear Quaker Oats folks, I have one request: organic steel-cut oats. Thank you.)
Our show the next day was in Two Rivers, WI. We were a bit late arriving because the GPS (I believe I've mentioned here before that I HATE THE GPS!!!) took us on a longer-than-necessary route (instead of 312 miles on four-lane state highways---5 hours 45 min---it sent us 389 miles on interstates---6 hours 30 minutes).
But after a speedy set-up and soundcheck we were treated to yet another enthusiastic audience. This time they not only gave us an encore, but baked goods as well. The famous Hagar, who makes half-pound cookies (no kidding), bestowed upon us a bag full of them, one of which became my supper. We actually sold out of Susanville CDs that night, which is a great feeling.
During all of our driving around I finished up one crocheting project, and figured out how to make my very first granny square (perhaps a little messy, but still recognizable). I predict many more of these in the future.
On the trip back Sunday I, for once, actually arrived home before the rest of the band. Usually we head east, so I meet the van at Brandi and Buddy's house in Abingdon, Va., which is a five-hour drive from my house. This time we met up in Louisville---three hours for me, but six for them. As I sat on my couch that evening, with a frosty cold beer, I thought about them, still in the van, traveling through the night to make it back home.