1) College of the Redwoods, Crescent City, California: Played one song at the culmination of the Redwood Coast Writers Conference. It’s a little awkward singing a honky-tonk song in a library, but everyone was very supportive and sweet.
2) Wild Goose Cafe & Bar, Ashland, Oregon: Had a great time playing with a small group of very accomplished singer-songwriters as well as a motley crew of poets displaying a wide range of mental health conditions. Check out the video of Michael Jackson Montgomery, country singer satirist who made up for somewhat primitive guitar skills with serious bravado. His showstopper? A song he claimed was scientifically proven to be the ideal pop country song; its only words were “ice cold beer and a pickup truck.”
5) Sean Kelly’s, Missoula, Montana: This Irish pub in downtown Missoula hosted a vibrant, well-attended open mic filled with wholesome, college-aged music lovers. In fact, despite showing up an hour early, we almost didn’t get to play because performing here is so popular. Our waitress told us the sign-up sheet goes up at 10 a.m. and fills by 10:15. Only by begging the host with a desperate story about traveling hundreds of miles just to be there were we able to secure a spot. Hooray to Mike Avery for his kindness! Highlights of this gig: a brother-sister band from North Carolina doing kind of a White Stripes thing with her on drums, him on guitar; this was the only other male-female duet we’ve seen so far—actually, the only chick we’ve seen perform at all! They were very hip, complete with ironic aviator sunglasses and hints of southern attitude. Another major perk of this venue: we had a long talk with a Choctaw-Swedish-Gypsy “minstrel” in his seventies who’s been playing Flamenco guitar for fifty-eight years. His favorite phrase? “I’m an asshole, not an idiot.”
6) Zootown Brew: This spacious, well-lit gallery-turned-coffee shop became the location of our first full-on gig. When we called to see if they planned to host an open mic they said, “No, but you’re welcome to audition.” Voila! We played for a full hour to an almost empty room. Our audience included a couple watching YouTube videos, a guy with headphones on, and James, our very sweet and accommodating barista. Oh, and a guy in a bandanna we thought was drawn by our dulcet tones, but it turns out he just wanted to use the bathroom. Aw, the glamourous life of touring rock stars!