Monday, January 21, 2008

Fairfield, CT.

We are up and out early for the rainy drive to Sacred Heart University and our first of two shows with Hinder and Operator. I am psyched because my lovely Traci will be meeting us in Fairfield. When Travis wakes there is a message from Rick the ghost manager waiting on his phone:

"Happy Birthday, T. Want you to know that The Showdown are headed back to Tennessee and will not be on any more shows for the run."

The news is bittersweet. With all the bad routing of the first shows and the sense of neglect the band has felt where the management is concerned, it's kind of nice that Rick took an interest in trying to better our touring conditions. At the same time, no one was so upset about The Showdown that we needed them thrown off tour. But the bottom line is there's too much shit to think about to spend much time pondering the decision. The upside may be that a message has been sent to the booking agent that we'd rather not play shows with RAWK bands opening. (Unless it's Not Of This World).

In any case, The Showdown, and especially Rowdy, wherever you are, I bid thee well. Tell Ozzy I say hi.

The Hinder shows are part of a College tour show called Mudpackers.com. Mudpackers produce concert tours that play smaller colleges around the country. They set up a big tent and lights that turn Sacred Heart University's gymnasium into Chuck E. Cheese.

YAY! Traci arrives with Marni! Seeing my wife standing across the parking lot with her chocolate mint hat looking for me in the crowd makes my heart skip beats. I'm not the only one having a reunion. Malcolm's wife Aimee, his Mom and friend (Ed?) also drive up from New York City. Malcolm's Mom has brought him raw fish for dinner. It's like Malcolm is her baby penguin.

Tonight is the first show of the tour where we are playing a large concert-size stage and I enjoy getting to stretch my arms when I play. Travis wears a tie for his birthday show and we play a great set. He does not stress the Hinder fans that think nothing of us and make sure we know it. All through the set, he speaks his mind to the crowd, connecting lyrics he wrote 5 and 10 years ago to what he is feeling right now. Midway through I take my leave and stand stage side as Travis plays Dancing With The Wind to a gymnasium of three thousand people. Watching him stand alone in front of three thousand people, unflinchingly true to himself is balls-out inspiring. I become aware that I am witnessing Travis evolve into a focused, realized performing artist who has his energies in command. Such a moment in an artist's lifetime is something few people ever witness and tonight myself and three thousand kids have a ringside seat for the transformation.

After the set, I can't relax until I see Traci."Was it okay," I ask her. She has seen so much music being with me that I have to know. She says it was great. "I like seeing you back on a big stage." Sweet.

Marni has brought cake and sweets and presents for Travis. We sing Happy Birthday to Travis in a converted girls locker room on Sacred Heart University's campus. Traci asks Travis,"How does it feel to be 28?"

"I sat for a while with 27 to say goodbye to it," Travis says. "I didn't go out like Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. So now what?"

On this day our dear Jason Fresta seems to have reached a precipice. He is none-too pleased by how little he is being regarded (Phil would not let him stand onstage during our set), and with good reason. We haven't figured out how to disperse roles and delegate authority and Jason, who took unpaid weeks off from Mtv to join us on the road, has had the biggest challenge for integrating himself into the fold. With no merchandise for him to sell, there is some discussion as to his usefulness for the rest of the tour. It's a frustrating predicament and because he is very close to his home, he thinks about packing and leaving. Lord knows many people would.

But he does not. He decides to stick it out. (And this, dear Fresta, will make all the difference.)

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