Amagansett, Long Island, NY – “Encore” – Stephen Talkhouse – August 31, 1999

Like a zipper we retrace the miles up and down the east coast we left behind yesterday. Gigs begin to feel like well-worn habits. The sun comes up like a curtain on another day and goes down like the stage lights on another show.

Sal & Heidi

It took us four ferries to get from Martha’s Vineyard to Long Island. It’ll take another four to get us to tomorrow’s gig on Nantucket. My friend, Heidi is traveling with us. It’s nice to have another girl on the road. Her boyfriend, Brandon Fisher, painted us a huge sunflower tapestry backdrop for our stage tonight. It definitely adds to our increasingly unique set. We now have the following stage dressings:

  • Brandon’s painting
  • 1 Betty Boop doll
  • 3 Feather boas (1 red, 1 black, and 1 white)
  • 1 Red star-shaped tambourine and
  • Kenny’s collection of plush toys:
    1 Yellow Smiley Face Critter
    1 parrot
    1 Purple “Thing One”
    1 Brown “Thing Two” and
    1 “Puff Daddy” the Magic Dragon courtesy of Kenny’s daughter, Brittany.

At a gas stop between ferry 2 and 3, Delucchi let me know he still hadn’t managed to secure a place for us to stay tonight. All the hotels were either sold out or cost upwards of $165. I figured, if worse came to worse, we could get one room at that rate, and Heidi, Delucchi and I could sleep in the van. But I’ll be honest with you, the idea didn’t thrill me. I was overjoyed when our pal Ian, from NYC called out of the blue and happened to mention he had a house 3 minutes down the road from the venue we could crash at. Oh, bless your heart Ian!!!!!

We were warmly welcomed back into the Talkhouse. Drew, the house sound man, had hugs for all of us and the staff remembered us by name. They enthusiastically told us we were the only new group to be invited back this season. We were honored.

Pre-show, the boys, in their effort to rebrand me as a rough-rocker chick, dressed me in various mismatched outfits, scrunching up their noses or raising their eyebrows to show their approval or lack thereof. Brett, the manager, interrupted our game of dress-up to reassure us we’d have more people this time at our show. The last time we were here the gig was sparsely attended and half the crowd were only present to cheer on The Knicks who were playing the Eastern Championship at a TV over the bar.

Indeed, this time there WERE more people. Stephen Talkhouse was overflowing with a rapt crowd and when I spotted Suzanne Vega in the front row I got so starstruck I nearly toppled off the stage. But the best part of the night wasn’t the free housing, the generosity of the staff, the packed house, or even my idol sitting stageside.

At the end of the show, after I’d played my encore and thanked everyone so much for coming, I dashed upstairs to grab CDs, preparing for our post-stage show. The one where we sell and sign merch, pack the van, and drive off into the night. But not this night. This night was special and you can’t believe how touched and dumbstruck I was when the audience persuaded me to sing another song. It was the first time I was asked to do an honest encore.

Encores, for the most part, are prewritten into a set. For example, on tonight’s set list written on the back of a kazoo wrapper, you’ll see Tomboy Bride (TBB) has been singled out for the encore.

The performer goes off stage and is seemingly “persuaded” to do “just one more!!” Meanwhile, the audience is already in on the trick. They all know they can expect a few more tunes after the performer has initially gone off stage and said “goodnight.” They know to wait and hold up lighters and clap and bang and whistle and then cheer loudly when the artist reappears, as though they’d made it happen. And despite the charade, the premeditated encore still exists. My dad’s so successful he has 3 predetermined encores penned into his set list (but don’t tell him I told ya).

Well….I didn’t have anything left on my set list and already had two boxes of CDs under my rough-rocker-chick arms but I put them down, picked up my Gibson, and played a solo version of “In My Mind.” And that, my friends ABSOLUTELY MADE MY NIGHT.