Northampton, MA – “R.I.P Purple Shirt” -The Iron Horse – September 3, 1999

It was hot in Northampton. I felt like I was baking in my overalls and tank. Vocal rest, while great for certain things, can also be such a drag, and I must admit I felt somewhat uncommitted to my silence. I’d left my favorite Purple T-shirt with the rainbow trout on it, which I’ve had since I was 8, back in the band house on Nantucket. So I was desperately calling the club and talking (or rather, having my bandmates talk) to people who could have cared less about my shirt and were probably using it as a bar rag as they insisted they hadn’t seen it “It’s probably gone by now.” They said.

Sally on vocal rest writing trying to locate her favorite purple shirt

Outside the Iron Horse, there was no sign-up that we would be playing and I wondered why no one had even bothered to advertise our show or put up any posters. I decided to do it myself. After we loaded in, I went to work postering the town with some duct tape and a Sharpie.

I came back to the club exhausted and HOT. “Sally?” I heard and turned around to see someone I’d never met before. “Hey, I’m Tom, I’ve been reading your road journal. That’s how I found out about the show tonight.” He said excitedly. Upon seeing the rest of the guys he yelled out each of their names having recognized them from their pictures. The boys seemed frightened but I was delighted as he recalled to them, the different scenarios we’d been through in the past couple of weeks. He offered to buy the guys a drink. “I think I’d better,” said Delucchi still stunned that the guy knew what color his coffee press was.

Celia was the opener. She lives around Northampton, so she brought in a good-sized audience and she sounded good too. She sang some cool jazzy stuff accompanied by sax and piano. Neil, the manager, told us to abbreviate our set but he was too polite to tell us by how much and that merely cutting two songs wasn’t enough. So I was greatly disturbed and confused when despite the positive reception and reaction we were getting from the audience, people were getting up and leaving after about an hour of the show. I felt rushed and somehow invisible up there in the red and orange glowing spotlights.

Afterward, when Chris was settling, Neil told Delucchi that people who come to see music here are used to a 45 to 60-minute set and that our 95-minute set was just too long for them. I wish they’d told us that before. We would have had no problem shortening our long set. Besides my voice was tired and raw now and I couldn’t imagine how I’d make it through the 5th consecutive show in Rhode Island.

Neil invited us over to the “Black Elvis Show” that was going on down the street. We agreed to go for a while. Inside it was dark and loud and everyone was twelve with too many holes in their faces, they wore ink stains on their shoulders and arms, and braids that had turned into lifeless arms that flapped and clapped as they hopped and danced in their thrift.

We felt old. Well, not old “just a little too ol’ to be in the club”-Chris Rock. On the way back to the van, Soucy had to stop into an old romp of a gig he used to play in Northampton. Chris went to school at Smith, so he knew all the ins and outs of the area. I fell asleep in Moby while the others went for late-night snacks down the hill.

Reader interactions

7 Replies to “Northampton, MA – “R.I.P Purple Shirt” -The Iron Horse – September 3, 1999”

  1. Hey Sally,

    I love the drawing of you and the band! What’s the story behind that?

    1. Marianne Cancelleri June 25, 2024 at 11:38 am

      Yeah, it’s a really cool drawing. I’m wondering if she ever got her shirt back too!


    2. Hey Cindy and Marianne,
      I don’t remember who made us that drawing in Northampton but it’s signed D. Butler and I do remember it being presented to us after the show. What a nice surprise to get post gig don’t you think? I preserved it in the pages of my journal and there it lives to this day.

  2. Hey Sally,

    Did you find the t shirt? I hate when that happens it’s such a serious issue, they mean so much to us.

    Loving your gigs and lots of laughter.


    1. I never did get my beautiful purple shirt back Patrice. I still remember it fondly.

  3. Enjae Ostberg June 30, 2024 at 4:48 pm

    I was at that show! You signed my Tomboy Bride CD.
    I had no idea that you were treated so poorly by the Iron Horse.
    I saw you one more time at the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun. That show was badass!

    1. Wow Enjae, How cool that we share that gig. Iron Horse was notoriously jaded to its artists. They never hung posters or promoted the shows and were super ambivalent but sometimes you get that at venues that have been around for a long time.

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