Storrs, CT – “The Ride” – Husky Blues – September 2, 1999

“We’ve never played a strip mall before,” laughed Chris sarcastically as we pulled into the parking lot. I was busy knitting (I’m making hats for the guys for Christmas…shhhh, don’t tell them) but I only had to glance at the Husky Blues signage, squeezed between a pharmacy and a Domino’s Pizza, to feel queasy. Inside, Huskey Blues was like every other venue we’ve ever played. Framed and signed 8 X 10’s were displayed like trophies on the walls, limp input cords hung off crooked mic stands, and the familiar barmaid cry of — “Sound man’s not here yet,” rang out as we entered the venue.

We ate a comped dinner in a psychedelic carpeted booth. Brian had shrimp salad, Kenny (his favorite) Chicken Fried Steak, Chris — T-bone, Soucy had a pasta thing and I just had onion rings. I’d been feeling a little sick. My voice was shredded, and it was hard to know if I was getting a cold or just singing too loud in smokey, late-night bars. I hoped the fried food would oil my vocal cords and prayed my voice would hold out for the next string of shows. We won’t get a break for three more days.

A mini-vocal rest helps temporarily as a sort of bandaid. It’s qualified by a silence thats starts directly after a show and last ’til soundcheck the following day. But it’s no replacement for an honest 72 hours of not talking which is what I need to repair and heal my voice at this stage. As hard as you’d think vocal rest is (no talking, whispering, coughing etc. for days on end), It has certain fringe benefits.

  1. The band asks fewer questions of me. They seem to figure stuff out independently in a way they couldn’t or wouldn’t if I were talking.
  2. I don’t have to be on the phone. Anyone who knows me, knows I have a medium to high degree of phone phobia and a legitimate excuse to not use the phone is a blessing.
  3. I develop facial expressions and gestures that can convey the nuances of my thoughts which is not only fun, it makes me a better performer.
  4. I have more time to think and daydream and write songs in my head.
  5. I’m always delighted and relieved when the time comes to test drive my vocal cords (after a two or three-day break) and my normal voice comes out.

I changed clothes in the back cage of the van which is slowly becoming the official band changing room. Soucy was back there too and there was a lot of bumping and a lot of “Turn around!” “Don’t look!” and “Close your eyes,” as though even a thread of modesty still exists between the 5 of us pent up together these last 8 months.

I did vocal exercises and knit band hats in the back of the van while we waited for a crowd that never came. The UCONN students weren’t back from summer break yet. Though we only had a measly thirty people in attendance, all of them lined up an hour early for the show worried they wouldn’t get in if they arrived later. Their enthusiasm made us play our very best and somehow, we managed to sell forty CDs!!!

After the show, I slipped into pajama bottoms and silence. I’m happy and ready for whatever may come tomorrow. After all, IT’S ABOUT THE RIDE….NOT THE DESTINATION.