Lojo's Proze & Mr Boo's Newz

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Back to the future

Below is an account of those days and weeks I was on the road last January along the west coast to tour with the new album. Most are excerpts from my facebook page, (www.facebook.com/lojorussomusic) with some additional insights or memories thrown in to make this just different enough to read again.  Please forgive the back and forth between past and present tense.

I had panned this adventure for a number of months and was mildly successful.  When I go on a big tour like this (not like my other tours which basically amount to me staying over night after a gig) I do it for two reasons: 1) to broaden my fan base and expose my music to other markets and 2) to visit those friends and families who live farther away than my usual tour routes.

Day 1 – Westward Ho!
I left Iowa in the early morning hours and spent the next 13 in an endless loop of sepia-tone landscapes under a milky sun. The roads were clear and the temperature mild. If it wasn't for the winds it would've been a perfect driving day.

Believe it or not I prefer driving when it’s cloudy.  A bright sunny day is gorgeous but dangerous cuz all that sunshine can really make one sleepy and I certainly didn’t need to be “sleepy” - especially when driving thru Nebraska.

I reached Denver 13 hours later and spent the night in CO with my friend, Dighty and her girlfriend.  A beer for the wind-down and a bit of catching up then off to early bed for all of us.  I was up and out of the house in the morning darkness and looking forward to watching the sun light up the eastern slope of the Rockies as I continue the journey west and north.  (And for the curious few, no, I did not stop at a “pharmacy”)

I headed north skirting the foot hills and flat irons and was even more struck with awe by the site of the Moon setting behind the mountains on my left as the Sun rose to my right.  (Hmmm… that reminds me of a song…)

Wyoming. Why?oming. Windy-oming. Wide-opening. I would've thought there'd be more wind farms... They do have a great NPR station - thank gawd. Finally made it to Utah. Gonna take a nap now.

After my nap I headed north and west out of Utah into Idaho. For awhile I was in tandem with a rolling art gallery - otherwise known as a train painted with graffiti. The bold, vivid 3dimensional colours stood out starkly against the brown and white backdrop of the Utah hills.  It’d been so long since I’d been to that area of the country I’d forgotten how beautiful it can be – the Rockies bring their majesty wherever they are. A few hours later I watched the sun crawl back down the western slopes.

It was late and I’m well, frugal,  so the Super 8 for $60 and no breakfast did not appeal to me.  I am no stranger to a truck stop shower and breakfast so I thought I’d save my money and head for the nearest TA or Flying J.  For gits and shiggles I googled hotels in Boise and found a hostel – that’s right, I said hostel, in Boise for $23 dollars AND they provided breakfast!  The hostel was clean, I had a room to myself, the shower was hot and breakfast was coffee and oatmeal (I like oatmeal) – perfect!
And so begins Day 3 - Idaho
I set out this morning with the full bright moon in my sights again. It seems it's been full everyday I've been on the road. Would that it would stay full the entire time… it so much easier and prettier to drive at night when the moon is full.

And so ends Day 3
…neatly tucked against the Oregon coast and the Pacific ocean. Quite a difference from the scene this morning; climbing thru the Idaho mountain range the sun rising over my shoulder.  I came around a bend and found myself looking over a valley shrouded in clouds - like smoke or water - the Columbia River Gorge.  I continued my drive thru the Mount Hood Range descended down the mountainside and dived in... kinda cool.

When I came out the other side I finished my westward journey in Astoria, OR.
I've been on the road for almost 58 hours and now, I rather think its time for a beer and a walkabout.

The town of Astoria is what I would describe as a quaintish, artsy, hip-ish seaside village. There are art galleries, hip restaurants, a quay-side walkway that took me past boats, industrial buildings and seals – though I only heard them, never saw them.

When I left Iowa 3 days ago my plan was to drive to the ocean and sleep on the beach.  Luckily, my friend Betsy had a better idea and hooked me up with a friend of hers I’d met briefly years ago.  Ethan, had a studio apartment above his apartment which is above his studio which is at the seaside end of Astoria – doesn’t get much better than this – sleeping “on the beach” without waking up with sand in your pants.

Ethan is an exceptional artist, a fantastic cook and has the largest collection of music I’d ever seen.  We talked about Minneapolis and music, drank wine, ate homemade brisket Bolognese and listened to selections of his favorite music till very late in the evening.  Sooo much nicer than freezing my ass off on the beach.

Day 4 - First show.
I have neither seen the Sun nor the moon this morning. The clouds hang low and grey. But my mood is bright because I have my first show this evening at a house concert. I'm looking forward to the music and the chance to catch up with an old friend.

I hadn’t seen Char in almost 10 years – she hadn’t changed a bit…except for the husband and the kid and the look of settled contentment on her face.  The 4 of us went out for some excellent Indian food then back to the house to get ready for the night.

House concerts are a good way to start the tour.  Char and Cypress invited their friends to the show and a great group of folks and even an old friend came over.  We had a lovely time and it was fun to play to a mostly unknown crowd.

Huge, mushy Thanks to Char and Cypress for hosting the show and to their daughter Chloe for dancing to all my songs and to all of their friends for taking a chance on an unknown musician. It was a fitting end to a fine start.

Day 5 - Sunday:
After an awesome breakfast with my friends I headed to my next show at Unity Center of Peace.  As many of you know I’m not a big supporter of Religion but the pastor/reverend/whatever gave a thoughtful talk on our role and responsibilities as members of the larger community known as The Human Race and I found that the selection of music I’d planned to perform fit fairly well with her message.  She would talk on a subject, I would sing to that subject, she would talk, I would sing – nice.

Shows over and I'm about to board the ferry to Port Townsend for my second show of the day at Sirens...Woot!  I played there years ago when I toured with my friend and touring mentor, Carloyn Cruso. (That was the tour that inspired Put Your Feet Up – which I did…on her dashboard.)  In the interim the town had become even more awesome.  There’s really not much to it but what’s there is so cool – including an entire store of steampunk and pirate themed clothing and accessories.  The geek in me was in heaven!

Sirens song calls to me...so I shall sing it back to you. Unless the Seahawks lose - then it's going to be lonely night here in Pt Townsend, WA. 

That’s right,  I played at Sirens the same night as the final game of the NFL playoffs.   I got lucky – they won – which means I had a Happy drunk crowd instead of a grumpy drunk crowd.

After the show I packed up my car and I drove around for awhile looking for my “bed room” and settled on a nice little side street near a park.  When I awoke the next morning there was another full moon. How can that be you ask? 4 mornings of full moons? That’s when I put on my glasses and noticed it was an illuminated clock tower.

Day 5 - 8 – Slow time:
Time to head south to Portland – and I’m taking the scenic route. Even in the cold morning fog the deep green of the pines and the light grey of the water is mesmerizing.

[Right about now some of you might be wondering, “What kind of demented musician is this girl who plays late into the night only to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn?”  What kind indeed. The Kind that understands that there’s only so much life in a body and so many hours in a day and to sleep past morning is to waste those precious moments. When the sun comes up – so do I.]

I arrived in Portland on Monday and basically vegged out. I'm staying with my good friends, Ken and Kari, and have been enjoying sitting around doing nothing at 0 mph.

Eventually, Ken and I worked up a set list for the shows and did a little playing but spent most of our time chatting and catching up - ahhh... just like the old days - that's what we call "rehearsing".

I spent part of Wednesday meeting up with an old friend for breakfast and exploring the city - I highly recommend Portland Salvage for the vintage picker in all of us and Alberta Street has become a retro hunter and hipster heaven of chic shops, cool music stores and a world of food choices.  I could’ve spent my entire week exploring Portland – it really is a lovely town..

Wednesday – Show time:
A grand night, a swell night a never kiss and tell night.
Ok… I'll talk. Ken and I enjoyed the heck out of ourselves making a merry mess of it all. The friends who came out to see us seemed to enjoy the mayhem, too. Woot!

Well, what can I say but, thank you all for a magical night . Willow Cottage, its inhabitants and all those who joined the evening’s festivities made for a very amazing evening. The evening’s amazement reached it's most surreal when Howard (one of our hosts) brought out his red plastic trombone and joined me on "Echoes in the Bone". Gypsy trombone... magic, pure freakin' weird magic!

Thursday – Whoa time:
Ken and I played Irishtown Public House– an Irish pub owned by our friend, Peter Yeates.  The crowd was small but the music was big – and the humor was bad.

Friday – Go time:
Thanks again to my fine friends and gracious hosts, Ken and Kari for putting up with me and my stuff for so many days. I left Portland this morning in the clear crisp winter sun. It wasn't long before Mt St Helen's came into view - the damaged peak covered in snow-white lava. Soon after I found my way sporadically obscured by fog. Dependent on the course of the river - wherever the river touched the road the fog flowed over.
Now I sit nestled in the mountains of Snoqualmie enjoying the afternoon sunshine and awaiting another night of music and merriment!

[This is the point in my tour where I must tell you about the huge error I made in scheduling.  It seems that I had mistakenly thought that tonight’s show in Snoqualmie WASHINGTON was the first show of my tour, thus I booked everything based on its placement in the schedule. It wasn’t until a few weeks before I was to start this tour when Carloyn made me aware of the error of my ways…literally.  Please note, I went from Portland, OREGON to Snoqualmie, WASHINGTON followed by a show in Ashland, OREGON.  Yeesh…  And, if you think that’s bad ask me about my Kansas City to St Louis to Denver tour sometime.]

Friday night I found myself nestled deep in the lush Snoqualmie mountain range.
The brewery served a perfect stout, a great grinder and their taste in music rocked.  Then my world got rocked when an audience member introduced himself as a Cats Laughing fan. I obliged with an Emma Bull song, Wear my Face.  Surreal.

Saturday – Back where I started:
A large chunk of evening and a full morning’s drive brought me to my friends Kate and Ash, their 2 kids and their lovely home in Ashland. After some tea and catching up the family and I got ready to go into town for some dinner and my show at Oberon's Tavern.

Normally getting ready means putting on my usual "rock star" jeans and a flattering but comfortable shirt which this evening was my wonderful paisley Tommy Hilfiger.  However, Kate had informed me that the evening at Oberon's would include a film crew from LA making a “sizzle reel” to promote a RenFest themed reality show.  Jeans and comfortable shirt wouldn’t do.  I looked at my lovely 6 foot tall hostess and asked (with much doubt and trepidation) if she had anything I could wear that would be more RenFest appropriate.  Surprise! she did. And I took to the stage looking like a 1970’s version of a pirate – but it worked. And the film crew got some excellent footage of all the wonderfully costumed characters that patronized Oberon’s that evening.  When I got done playing the house band took over. The night was spent singing, drinking, singing, jamming, singing and dancing.. and singing.  I could get used to a place like this.

If you ever find yourself in Ashland please take a moment to enjoy an ale or cider at Oberon’s.  Its like going to an alehouse in the 16th century… or maybe Narnia.

Sunday -  Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile:
I left Ashland this morning and watched the sun warm the blanket of pines that comprise the border between Oregon and California. The rest of this trip is to visit friends and family - no more shows - just slowly making my way homeward.

2 days spent with my Dad and his wife.  I don’t get near enough time spent with my Dad and so I couldn’t imagine having come this far and not making the time to visit.

On my way to my brother’s house I stopped to meet up with my cousins, Marci and her mom, Kathy.  It’d been decades since Marci and I had seen each other.  When we were little girls we would play together at our Grandma’s farm in Maynard, MN.  It was great to see them.  Now, she has little girls of her own…and I still am one ;)

I spent that night with my brother and his wife and my new nephew, Mac.  He’d gotten so big since the last time I saw him and I don’t want to miss too much of his growing up (I’m talking about Mac, not my brother…my brother won’t ever grow up)  so I put aside the fact that my brother warned me that everyone in the house was deathly ill and hugged and kissed and played with my little nephew.

In the morning I woke up to my nephew looking at me from his crib.  “Morning, Mac! How you doing?”  He replied, “Good!”  I’d never heard him speak before…cool!

Day… whatever:
Heading home Sin City to the Quad Cities.  Thank you Left Coast, I enjoyed myself tremendously and hope to return someday soon!

Somewhere around Arizona I developed the cold my brother warned me about and I spent the next 2 days sneezing coughing and generally feeling like H E double crappola.  It wasn’t until Texas when I saw snow again for the first time since Nebraska (not counting the mountains).  I took my mind off the pressure in my head by paralleling Route 66 – and looking at a land that looked like my head felt.  When I arrived at my in-laws in St Louis I was over the worst of it by then but very thankful for the beer, warm bed and hot breakfast. 

I love my life.  I love my job.  I love all my family and friends who make both so much better.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


The other day I turned fifty.  The next day I turned back.

Its hard to wrap my head around that number.  Its difficult to think that I have memories older than I feel.  When it starts to get me down I have to remind myself… it’s just a number, a bookmark.  Besides, there’s no other way I could’ve lived so much life, so much friendship, so much love, so much laughter, so many close calls, so many wonderful, tragic, epic memories. 

So, here’s to the life I’ve lived and the life I have left – which, if I play my cards right, I intend to be even more incredible than the last fifty!