The Road Over The Hill (week 1)
Let's move ahead & go back for now, taking a break from the recording scene of the initial one-track version of The Hill & begin to retrace the multi-stated notes indexing five weeks of the 2015 vinyl re-issue tour. It's good to mix it up, right?
The only out-of-town travel since new year's day began pleasantly enough buried behind a winter beard & icy wind with a March wool shearing/coffee-&-doughnut gathering on a farm just a few hours away. I shaved as well when I got home, but then there was nothing else to warm up to & nowhere left to go.
In-town excursions were limited to a few April appointments with an outdoorsy husband & wife dental team who prescribed suspiciously purple homeopathic syrup tinctures cooked up in the backroom of a local Grecian pharmacy & trash-talked rival dentists when not recounting their own latest kayak adventure. There was another dental office around the corner from them that I had briefly considered switching to, but that doctor was now in jail, awaiting trial for extortion & planning a hit job on his wife.
Small town life doesn't necessarily exclude the basic universals.
May's cross-town getaway was to a house-closing dog-pile with a conference table league of bankers who misspelled my name five different ways on the mortgage contracts. They were seated around my unstable landlord/seller Rose & her smirking real estate attorney who appeared to be amused by his own — unusual, however accurately-spelled — last name that seemed abbreviated by its randomly missing crucial vowels like a slurred backronym, but precisely pronounced as “hardliquor.”
Needless to say, I was ready for the open road.
The stir-crazy excuse was my fifteen-year-old album The Hill, set to be re-issued on vinyl by Merge Records that July, so a preemptive release tour was planned for a June strike with un-mic'd acoustic shows in various unstaged backdrops to diversely preview as a sputtering launch.
We'll begin this postcard loosely with a single overnighter, sent from the first week that was supposed to’ve had three shows, but two cancelled themselves due to schedule conflicts with regional sporting events — season ticket holders who had pre-purchased beer & team-color face paint.
The first appearance was four hours & twenty-seven music supporters east. (This works out minivan-mathematically to about seven listeners per hour of driving if one of the smaller ones lies down in the far back.). I stopped short on the way there to check in early at a Mo6 I'd blind-booked — no matter their outward physical appearance, they're always cheaply the same within.
From the highway, I saw the motel sign in front of three stories muffled in a white shroud, roof to ground. Part of the covering was torn away like a wound, exposing a scaffolding skeleton. The small parking lot was crowded with semis, motorcycles & contractor trucks parked in no particular formation. Next door, a closed doughnut shop.
The motel itself had no obvious entrance, but an older couple with a small dog emerged from a slit at the bottom of the veil, looking around & blinking as if they didn't know where they were, like they'd unexpectedly materialized from a cloud releasing them suddenly from somewhere in the 1800's & dropping them into the present — the woman, perhaps seeing a vast prairie, crossed the asphalt to a five-by-five piece of edged lawn that surrounded the Mo6 pylon sign. The dog stopped midway in the lot, as if the multi-century journey had left it weary, doubtful. The man didn’t attempt to cross over to the grasslands — he just hung on to the slit, clinging to a lost homestead dream.
I drove around to the back of the cloaked building, but there was, again, nowhere to park. The only place to stop blocked a truck with a plumbing emblem on the door. The plumber could be within, I thought, snaking, disconnecting or possibly sleeping. I got out & approached an uncovered back entrance glass door. An unsuccessful pull told me it was locked. Taped on the glass, a Sharpied note: "Don't park at donut shop". Inside, a man in coveralls stood in a hallway. He looked towards the door as I pulled it again, then turned, picked up his monkey wrench with a heavy silence & wandered away.
When I walked around the shroud, to the front again, the homesteaders were now gone, destiny possibly manifested, or returned to their prairie dusk.
I entered the time portal slit & cancelled my reservation before it was too late for myself as well & ended up at a Days Inn close by with its sunrise logo. The next morning I headed west to begin a few-thousand-mile, cater-cornered teardrop-shaped loop to drop in on a few hundred patrons in an oncoming round-trip medley of performance spaces wrapped in restorative one-sided visions.
Next week, I'll unearth another song from the Spoon River Demos with notes from the 1999 recording session. Then, we’ll keep on minivanin' with WEEK 2 on & off The Road Over The Hill. See ya around!