We woke at 9:30 and left Vega after packing the car much more perfectly and successfully than we’d done the day before, so now the trunk would close and we created no sparks as we drove. We thought we’d breakfast at a hipster café in Amarillo, so we got off at the Amarillo College exit, but then couldn’t find much other than cube-shaped bank-like buildings. Also, Ginger/Christy was disappointed that the streets, shops, cars, trees, and so on were not yellow, as advertised (amarillo). So we just got back on the highway and found coffee a little later at a not-claiming-to-be-yellow truck stop, listening to David Sedaris along the way.
We showed up in Shawnee at 4 pm or so, then went to the Hamburger King for a few burgers (one for Ginger, two for me). Orson had to wait outside in a park, which was sad, but we got to talk on the phone to place our orders (see pic).
Then we headed up the street to Sips where our gig was soon to begin.
Marty Peercy, whom I met in Chicago around this time last year at Z&H café in Hyde Park, runs the shop here, and also is the force behind the band Head Cabinets.
Shawnee is a quiet Oklahoma town. Its population of 30,000 is significantly reduced—and significantly less coffee-drinking—when its two colleges are adjourned for the summer months. Nevertheless, there was a roaring crowd at Sips. This is thanks entirely to Marty, who opened for us and tweeted about the show in order to get people out on a Monday night. It was a heartwarming evening. Marty’s songs are deeply personal, honest, and confessional, and yet his personality I would describe as combatively playful. This makes for a prickly interrelationship, powerful personal engagement of the audience with his stories and artistry.
In the audience were a couple of adorable children. We were lucky enough to have test-run a few child-focused quiz questions at last Saturday’s show at Marble, such as “does anyone know what this thing is?” (washboard) “and what it’s used for?” (laundry, back in the day). One of the children (Indigo, 3 years old) impressed her father and other onlookers by singing right on pitch to “Somebody I Used to Know.” Another of them, Duke (also 3), heard Marty playing live for the first time a song that he’d previously known only from the CD player at home, and his impulse was to get as close to the music maker as possible, like a moth to flame.
Duke’s parents—George Wright and LeAnne Henry Wright—very generously invited us to their house to spend the night, so we wouldn’t have to camp in the muggy, Oklahoma heat as we’d planned to do. We were happy to take them up on the offer, and Marty and Matt (father of Indigo) joined us at the house for beers and scotch. Before arriving there, however, we stopped at LeAnne’s art studio in downtown Shawnee, a few blocks from Sips. I think rather than using any words to describe LeAnne’s art, I’ll just advise you to begin living today and click on the link I just posted. I’ll even give you another chance. Here it is. You’ll be happy you did.
Staying with the Wrights was what you might imagine it would be after looking at LeAnne’s art. (Which I know you’ve done.) The whole experience was beautiful. We stayed up drinking all kinds of things into the wee hours of the night. And then in the end Christy and I just rolled out the air mattress and slept in the backyard anyway.
Experiences like this are what make going on tour magical.