Ft. Collins, CO – Just Payin’ My Dues” – Aggie Theater – November 15, 1998

I admit it.  I was in an internal hail storm before the show at The Aggie last night. 

I called my mom while I crimped and mascaraed my lashes trying not to cry about all the things I felt were going wrong with the world.  Mama said: “Baby, you’re just payin’ your dues.”  I dropped my eye makeup in the sink and stared up at the bare bulb in the ceiling in hopes of pinching off tears I knew would ruin my makeup job.  “Darlin’, you’re tropical,” she went on, “You’re brighter than most skys one second and the next,” she whistled a falling missile, “a torrential storm with clouds around your head you can’t see your way through.”  She was right, my dark moments feel fatal while my light ones are iridescent prismatic pure bliss sunshine halos coated in sugar (and no, I am not bipolar).

I felt a tickle in the back of my throat. Maybe I was coming down with a cold.  As I stuffed a gig bag (gig dress, gig shoes, hair brush, makeup, and pajamas) I added Advil & Sudafed just to be safe.   Hanging up with my mom I reassured myself I was mostly bent out of shape by a restless night’s sleep. 

My ego is an insomniac.  I often wake up to it pulling at my blankets and when I sweetly try to tell it “This is sleep time baby,” it gets incensed by my insolence and pulls me out of bed by the hair and makes me feed it hot chocolate and Panda licorice while it reminds me of all the things that are wrong with me and what I’ll never achieve.

The drive out to Ft. Collins smelled of manure the whole hour and a half.  Mile after mile, the stench of manure and my stomach felt sour, and my throat felt sore.  I was definitely coming down with something.  It was cold in The Aggie and I paced black cavelike halls backstage post soundcheck. I shivered in my beige corduroy jacket, doing vocal exercises to warm up my swollen throat and meditating on the steam rising from my notes.

I was convinced I’d have no singing voice for the stage but when I stepped into the spotlight, I was saved.  My dad refers to the healing powers of the stage as “Dr. Theater.”  He swears “You can be feeling like utter death, have laryngitis and blood running out of your ear but once you hit that stage… It’s a miracle, you feel 100%.”

We played better than well after all my worrying.  It was a sold-out show.  I wore my fur-lined, knee-high rubber Sorell snow shoes on stage under my miss-matching white mini dress on account of it being so fridged.  But like my voice and my mood, ½ way through the first set I warmed up enough to change out of boots and into my gig shoes.  I did so while comedically singing Mr. Roger’s theme song “It’s Such a Good Feeling, a Very Good Feeling….”

It made the audience laugh and their laughter marinated me into a looser performer (always a good thing).  

Reader interactions

6 Replies to “Ft. Collins, CO – Just Payin’ My Dues” – Aggie Theater – November 15, 1998”

  1. Ahhh Mr.Rogers ,what a kind man he was. So misunderstood.
    How our childhood photos bring us to a reality check that we still hold that beauty of innocense and curiosity as adults, as it returns in old age…we give ourselves time again to look within our true essence.
    I love reading your gig stories Sally. The photos really bring to life the moods and vibe of each chapter.
    Thankyou 🤲💖💓

    1. “It’s such a good Feeling, a very good feeling!” -Mr Rogers

  2. I lost a tiny little drum that Fritz made for me. (Tribes) there at that gig. I also remember the cold dungeon downstairs. I am enjoying reading these and remembering some of the adventures we had back in the day.

    1. Awwwwwww Bri. Those days with you behind the drums were some of the best. You always brought such fun, laughter and heart to the van and stage. I love you Bri.

  3. Hey Sal! I’m hanging out reminiscing with my mom and she was asking about you. I told her about tales from the road and you have a new proud subscriber!
    Sandy McRae!
    Cliff (Dad) passed years ago but is reading along as well!

    1. Awwwwwww. Sending love to your dear ma and condolences for your dear pa.

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