Harrisonburg, 11.5….what smell?

Mid-afternoon, the band headed out in two cars for a two night weekend tour. As Antonia drove, she and I admired the tail end of the  fall leaves, listened to Kris Kristofferson sing: “”Am I young enough to believe in revolution, am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray,” laughed about how it would be adorable to have a children’s choir sing that song, and talked about a strategy for the next five years to keep our heads above water.

We all arrived in time to run over our set and catch up with Willy and Alexis. Among other things, they’ve become engaged, done admirable work on their deck, tiled their bathroom and come up with ideas for my screenprinting company, Triple Stamp Press.  The idea is to make t-shirts that say “Harrisonburg, Virginia…what smell?” (for those not familiar with the town, its poultry production imbues the streets with a certain je ne sais quoi). Willy thinks they’ll sell like hotcakes. I want hotcakes.  Charlie, the dog, just wanted to hear the music.

Willy and Alexis joined us at The Little Grill where ate, drank, and prepared ourselves for “The Howdyshell Show” –a variety Show ‘a la’ Ed Sullivan hosted by Chris Howdyshell with the tag line “An evening of Comedy, Music, and Misadventure.” It opened with a sweet monologue by Chris detailing a morning with his 17 month year old son. Antonia and Alexis both had the look of baby crazy in their eyes.

Crazy Baby Eyes

Re-purposed Sign
MC Howdy

We played six songs in between plate spinning, music sports, found one-liners, and a father and son sketch by local playhouse director Jay Zehr. Antonia really wanted to be a part of the staring contest, but we made do with a nice interview and a round of “This or That.” I received some heckles for choosing Johnny Cash over Tom Waits. But I think Mr. Waits would agree with me on that one. I mean…Johnny Cash.

It was a great night and turned out to be one of the best shows we’ve played this year. It was an honor to be a part of such a creative event and to be allowed to become a part of such a vibrant community for the evening. Ron Copeland was in attendance and some cheers sounded when we mentioned the ‘Our Community Place Christmas Compilation’ coming out this year.

November 6th, Charlottesville…Cville–don’t call it that.
The next day we rolled out of bed, drank some Apropos coffee, ate some fresh eggs,  and spent the morning with Willy and Charlie. Great fellas.

Antonia and I listened to Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ all the way to Charlottesville and I avoided the growing theme of the weekend…babies. Is a conspiracy a foot?
We were scheduled to meet up with my best friends from high school at The Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar around 5. With some time to spare we strolled along the downtown mall, with stops for dumplings and used books where I picked up The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammet.
The Virginia Film Festival was in full swing and we saw official Virginia Film Festival zombies lumbering along hither and thither. We knew they were official because they wore official badges….hm….not very zombie. But their makeup was fantastic. Alas, no pictures of the Undead came out.

Tea time at the Tea Bazaar. Antonia and I shared the Lapsang Oolong. We caught up with Derek and Lacey, their homestead in Washington National Forest, their bunnies, and Derek’s business: “Moxie.”  We had a chance meeting with Bryan and Jess Hoffa and their little girl, Kay–an adorable kid. Bryan recorded and produced the first two records I made in Richmond almost a decade ago.

The Garage was close by. David, Andy and  Sam were already there getting things set up by the time we arrived. The space was a good fit for us. It featured an Avery Lawrence installation: “Oh That Thing” that delved into the mysteries of large headed being.

Sam and Chris hit it off–it turned out they had many mutual friends! Hope met us there with smiles and a camera. Derek, Lacey and Bryan Hoffa ended up coming out to the show. Hot coffee, good company and a space heater made a warm setting for an  intimate  acoustic set by David Shultz, Itchy Hearts (Andy Cobb), and us. Both David and Andy played beautiful sets. During David’s songs Antonia sat behind him, next to the space heater, and looked like a homeless lady.

It was so nice to play The Garage–a remarkable music and arts series for the Charlottesville community and organized by real grassroots grit and moxie (sly reference back to Derek’s bunny and business). For the first time in a long time I encountered something happening in Charlottesville that I could feel a kinship to. Definitely on our ‘A’ list.

As it turned out, time was on our side. Thanks to daylight savings, the trip back only took a few minutes. We parted ways thinking ahead to The Listening Room and the release of ‘Signs & Wonders.’

Photographs by Chris Edwards and Hope Ginsburg