Londonderry, NH – “Dad’s in the House” – The Muse at Gray Goose – August 26, 1999

I played in front of my ol’ man for the first time last night and boy was I nervous!

The night before, he’d put the band up at Stockbridge’s charming “Red Lion Inn,” a Victorian-style bed and breakfast and his groovy girlfriend, Kim and he had us over for dinner. We sat around the table on his porch late into the evening trading hilarious tales from our paralell roads. It felt good to be with my dad and to identify with his musical journey in a new way, from the vantage of my own. The dark enveloped us. Candles were lit and the flickering played a strobe light of smiles across the night. The boys absolutely loved my ol’ man! They couldn’t stop talking about him the whole way back to the inn.

It rained the next day and we returned to my Pop’s to do an unreasonable amount of laundry in their very nice new washer & dryer. In the afternoon, Dad rode up to the show with us in Moby. It felt a little extra stuffy in the van due to the way our clothes stuck to us with velcro-like insistence. Every vehicle over 22 feet long that passed us inspired my dad to point and say: “Now, THAT would be a good ride to tour in!” We’d all agree and offer renovations we’d make to accommodate a touring band:

“Build in Bunkbeds” Yelled Kenny
“Could you hang hammocks in a bus like that? I think I’d like to stay stationary around corners.” I’d posit.
“All a vehical like that needs is a mini fridge and a coffee machine. I’d sleep on the floor if I could tour in a thing like that,” laughed Delucchi.
“You’d probably want to tare out most of the interior, pop the top up and start form scratch.” Proposed my dad imagining the finished product. And just as we were dreaming about perfecting the last van or truck, the next 22-footer would drive by and we’d start all over again.

We had a great Opener, a guy named Mark Erelli, who sang some beautiful original tunes and wasn’t at all bummed about getting to perform them in front of James Taylor. The show was sold out. It had been for 2 weeks according to Meredith and Kent, the beautiful couple who owned the venue. They’d supposedly had to turn away twice their capacity.

I was shaking and nervous in the changing area back stage before I went on and did jumping jacks and leg exchanges to work out some of the nerves. Fitness is my go-to stagefright eraser. My hypothesis being that there’s too much adrenaline pooling in the body and so exersize encourages the heart to pump it out. I am clearly not a doctor and have no way of knowing if this is true but it feels right doesn’t it? Anyhow, it works.

Some nerves are good. If I can convince myself the fear I’m feeling is actually just excitement, I can ride the energy instead of letting it ride me and the effect can be contagious. The trick is to get the crowd to climb on board the butterflies in your stomach and ride them with you to magical heights. To encourage this, I use humor. When I can get an audience to laugh early in a show I know they’re on board and my nervousness starts to abate.

Performance is an art all its own. Before I was a musician, I didn’t know this. I just started writing songs. Then I learned how to play guitar to accompany those songs. Then I learned how to sing while playing guitar and then I learned how play a room of people while singing and playing guitar. I think you become a performing artist the same way you become a ball balancing, plate-spinning, juggler—one skill at a time.

The show was great. My voice was on point and the band was locked in. The audience was respectful and often stood to applaud after a song. At the end of the night, as I was thanking the cowd for coming someone yelled out “Get your dad up for one.” Without hesitation my dad joined me on stage and without a rehearsal we played “Close Your Eyes.” It was sweet and joyous and familiar in the truest sense.

Dad said he was impressed with the show, the band and more than that “I’m just so proud of the way you’re independently tackling this music thing Sal.” We strolled in our matching Taylor lopeing strides toward a loaded-up Moby. “It’s not for the weak of heart my gal,” he continued “and you’ve really got it.” Outside the van, in the parking lot, he turned me toward him. I could hear his familiar breathing pattern—in for 2 out for 10. He put his hands on my shoulders and gave me the Taylor hug—2 pats followed by 3 shakes.

And with that, we waved goodbye under a full moon and forged our way alone toward Maine.

Reader interactions

6 Replies to “Londonderry, NH – “Dad’s in the House” – The Muse at Gray Goose – August 26, 1999”

  1. I’m loving this journey Sally. I’m a big fan of Mark Erelli, and so nice to read your paths crossed way back when. I’m looking forward to reading what happens tomorrow……

    1. Hey Donene! I’m so glad you know Mark Erelli’s work. He’s been a good friend since that first date we played together. I wish more people knew of his music. He’s soooooo talented!

  2. Hi Sally,

    If I’m not mistaken, I think your dad’s dreams of a luxury ride with a *few* more amenities than Moby actually came true!

    Love the pictures of baby Sally and ever-so-handsome dad. His praise for you made me smile, remembering the praise I got from my own dad when I followed him into an engineering career. (Yep – recognize that is slightly less glamorous than singer songwriter).

    Loving the journey with Moby!

    1. Hahaha, Yes my dad got his pimped out ride for sure. Praise from your folks always means more than anything. I agree.

  3. Jeffrey Sidelsky June 19, 2024 at 8:25 am

    I love reading about the encouragement you’ve received from both of your gifted parents! And that both Carly & James have joined you separately at different venues/shows. There’s something about familial harmonies and the way family members echo each other that is so cool to observe, both subtly & unmistakably. Hope you enjoy your summer, dearest Sally!

    1. Thanks Jeffery, Yes, I am very blessed.

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