Last night, I got to thinking that it was pretty cool playing the role of a musician on tour. Then it dawned on me that I'm not playing the role, I am a musician on tour. This has always been the lifestyle I wanted to pursue, if only I could make a living at it.
But I don't think this is your ordinary rock 'n' roll tour. For one, thanks to the good folks at Washington Post.Newseek Interactive (which owns Slate), most of the expenses for this trip are being covered, so we don't need to scrape for change by passing the hat and charging for our merchandise. And while I'd love to leave my day job behind for the life of a touring musician, I've actually been able to keep up with work during most of the trip. A few days before leaving, a brand new wireless BlackBerry arrived at my door, and I've been staying in touch via e-mail and phone all week. The proliferation of unprotected WiFi networks across the country has also allowed me to get my laptop online in just about every city we've been to so far. I'm starting to wonder if I might actually be able to do both my day job and my night job anywhere I can find a WiFi connection. I'll have to pose this scenario at the next staff meeting.
Getting out of Fort Collins, Colo., was somewhat dicey, as we woke up to heavy snowfall. But we had all day to travel the short 50 miles down to Denver for tonight's show at the 15th Street Tavern. We took it slow and easy all the way down I-25, and the weather started to come around once we got into Denver and landed at the Cotton-Cortiglio residence, where we'll be spending the night thanks to the hospitality of Doug, his wife Carrie, and their baby Lilah.
Shagbark and I set out on foot along the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver, a block from the venue for the night, and we started to feel a bit out of place and to wonder if it might be a struggle to play in such a ritzy area of town. As we walked toward the tavern, we felt better as things got a little seedier. Heading off to lunch, we hit an ATM and discovered a 60-minute cassette tape labeled "Reality of Hell" sitting on a window ledge. We don't have a tape deck in the car, so we don't know what's on the tape.
For dinner, we had a delicious home-cooked meal at Doug and Carrie's—chicken stuffed with artichokes, lemon, and feta cheese, with rice and broccoli. Shagbark, a notorious shirker of chores, got caught clearing the table and doing the dishes. We headed out for the show, with Doug as our new crew member, and arrived to find our tour's first marquee mention.
The show went really well. We're playing both loosely and tightly—tight when we need to be, especially with hitting the looper at just the right moment, but loose enough to let anything happen, so that we're following the music rather than guiding it. There was a decent crowd in attendance, including a very important couple of folks, Quinn's brother Floydd H. Shagbark and his lovely wife, who happen to be vacationing in nearby Winter Park, Colo. It was an honor to play for them tonight.
Jonathan Epstein is Slate's technical manager. He is relocating to Arlington, Va., after seven years in Seattle, Wash.