The show in Worcester felt like a great success, and it was with some confidence that we drove all the way up to Montpelier, Vermont. Even though, unlike in Worcester, there was no official show planned. I’d have to earn an audience from the pedestrians passing by…wherever I set up to play.
We arrived about 5:30pm Friday, and there was decent pedestrian traffic on a beautiful summer evening. Montpelier has a pretty small downtown area for a state capital, so there wasn’t much looking around for a place to play. I walked by the many café and pub outdoor seating areas, but I prefer not to bother people who are seated without the option to leave.
Then I remembered a friend suggested playing in front of the local record shop. It was just half a block off the main drag, so I’d be somewhat audible to pedestrians on said drag, and they could come closer if they wanted to hear better.
I asked the proprietor if he’d mind my playing a few songs out front, and he offered no objection. It might be relevant that he seemed to be closing anyway, but it’s always nice to have permission. And so I set up in front of Buch Spieler Records in Montpelier, Vermont, and began to play.
I’ve played music on streets in several different cities around the US. Sometimes I will get a real feeling that I’m filling a void, that the people nearby have been needing something more than what was there. (E.g., lots of times it’s near bus stops in bigger cities.) Sometimes there’s more hostility to what I’m doing, as if I’m intruding on something.
I’d put Montpelier somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I felt no outright hostility, but neither did I feel like rain falling onto the long OMB drought they’d suffered. Or to put it another way, some passers-by crossed the street to hear me more closely, others crossed the street to hear me more faintly; it was a nice mix.
I hypothesize this OMB drought because my appearance was unusual enough to merit a local newspaper photographer’s visit. This photo appeared in the Monday edition of the Argus:
Well, at least the people in the picture seem like they’re having a good time. Although full disclosure would require my telling you, I personally know almost all of them.
Even in this digital age, there must be something legitimizing about appearing in a printed newspaper. My mother actually texted me about how much she’d enjoyed reading about my exploits. And I didn’t even buy five copies for her!
Like everywhere on this tour, it was HOT. I played as long as I could manage, then played some more. It’s hard to stop when a new listener walks up and wants to hear another song. But within the hour, I was spent, and packed up.
After the show, we headed to the Three Penny Taproom to enjoy some of Vermont’s finest fermented beverages. Every tour has one wild night, and this was destined to be one. I sampled about everything on the beer menu (including the fabled Heady Topper) plus everything our host proudly offered from his refrigerator. And thus spent the latter part of the evening rather, uh, tipsy, and made about a hundred fruitless attempts to get a photo containing all three of our hosts’ pugs.
After an amazing home-cooked breakfast the next day, we headed to Maine with me behind the wheel. One of my companions expressed amazement that it was able to drive after so much…reveling. I don’t know, maybe countless grueling hours of one-man-banding have hardened my constitution so I can better withstand an occasional evening of excess.
Or more likely, it’s nothing more than tour adrenaline. We were heading to Cherryfield, Maine, to my first contact in New England, a friend of a friend, who told us about a music festival we could play at. It was kind of the keystone of the tour, and I couldn’t wait to get there!