Pete's Blog

Road Diary '09

Well, I'm finally caught up on the sleep I lost so there's no longer any excuse to avoid telling the story of the Nostalgia for Driving Tour. Except the "driving" part almost didn't happen. The weekend I flew in to Nashville was CMA Weekend, a three day outdoor festival of corporate country music and marketing. Plus, two hours south of Nashville was the Bonnarroo (sp?) rock festival. So there were lots of people renting cars that Thursday. I had made a reservation at Dollar Rent-a-Car and when I presented my debit card at the counter the man informed me that if you didn't have a CREDIT card (never use 'em) they ran a credit check on you - not a bank check to see if there is enough money in the account; a CREDIT check. I was summarily refused a car. I went from counter to counter and everyone was booked up. Just when I was looking forward to spending five days in the Nashville airport the guy at the Avis counter had someone whisper in his ear that they had gotten a shipment of new cars that afternoon which nobody knew about. So I got a shiny new Detroit Special. Yay, Avis! Boo, Dollar! The next afternoon I went out to the little town of Pegram, TN to record. While driving down a country road I saw a faded sign advertising a real estate development that was "coming soon." It had four buzzards sitting on it - O! for a camera. The session went well, and then I went to the town of Hendersonville (where Johnny Cash lived) to play a Songwriter Night. That went well, and I hit the road. Drive, drive, drive. Tennessee is a long state and I stopped now and then to take a nap, timing the trip so I got to the Great Smokies at dawn. That was a sight. They mean it when they call them Smokies - the ground fog in those narrow little valleys was as thick as any I've ever seen. Then it was up through the Shenandoah Valley, which I'd just got through reading about in Bruce Catton's Civil War Trilogy, listening all the while to "Girl With a Pearl Earring" and the terrific new Willie Nelson/Wynton Marsalis album "Two Men with the Blues." I got to West Windsor, NJ a couple of hours before showtime Saturday night and met Kay Kalawar, the queen of the swell little online community, where these blogs get reprinted and my videos get played. She asked if I could please tape some more vids because she was running out. She was the one who set up the gig - a nice lady. My sister Margaret showed up, which is always a kick, and Nick and Jennifer Hilton, old friends from the Rocky Hill days. And at the end a guy came up to me (I'd wondered who he was all through both sets) and introduced himself as Elliott Stroul, who had been a fellow teenaged folkie in Erie, PA. I hadn't seen him since I was 18. The next day I drove up to Lambertville, NJ and spent the afternoon with Caleb. We rehearsed several numbers and put together an opening set for that night's show (no pressure!) that really worked, I thought. He started with four tunes by himself, then brought me up to sing harmony on a great Louvin Brothers tune called "When I Stop Dreaming." Then we both played guitar on Sonny Boy Williamson's "Fattening Frogs for Snakes," after which I played and he sang "Nothing Was Delivered" (Dylan), "Wolverine" (with The Wolverine Dance), "Mama Couldn't Be Persuaded" (Zevon), and "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue." A great set, and there's video. Margaret showed up again (what a champ!) along with lots of Bucks County friends so it was definitely a homecoming. My brother Bill and his son Gilbert where there, too, upping the ante in musical terms. There should be lots of photos soon. In fact, I've got a couple I'll post right now. Then it was drive, drive, drive, then fly, fly, fly, then sleep, sleep, sleep.

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