Tomorrow is a special day for me as it is every year. It is the anniversary of the last show on the longest tour I ever embarked on. Having lost my passion for a career in 2010, I packed up what little I owned and left Hawaii behind. Over four months, I would spend time in 37 states and see Cowboy Junkies over 30 times. It was a special time in my life as I reset my spirit for the next chapter in life. How I would write the next chapter wasn’t important, I just knew I needed to change my attitude so I changed my latitude. Was it all worth it? What do you think?
I recognize that having a favorite band that is popular enough to tour without being too popular to create friendships with fans is a blessing in itself. This doesn’t happen if your favorite band is Duran Duran or Coldplay. However, Cowboy Junkies always maintained a consistent tour schedule in small to medium-sized rooms and they have always been approachable. After meeting them a few times in the 90s, they started to recognize me and would often let me sneak into soundcheck, knowing I was the sort to lurk near the soundboard and give them their space as artists. One or two shows turned into one or two weeks on the road and that road just kept going. Life-long friendships were built between fans and a real community blossomed. It’s rare that I attend a show these days and don’t know at least a few other fans.
Looking back on the tour, the memories come flooding back. While standing on the hill where Woodstock occurred or sleeping in John Lee Hooker’s old room in Clarksdale, MS are forever special to me, it was the little snippets of life around me that I remember best. In Iowa, I ended up at an Italian restaurant and the owners took an interest in the former restaurant manager from Hawaii who was following his favorite band around. A few minutes later, I was in the kitchen watching them whip together classic recipes. In Maine, some of the band and I ended up in the only bar on Main Street USA in a small town after a show. A father and his two sons were performing to a few people and playing their hearts out without realizing a band that just sold out next door was watching them appreciatively.
Of all the memories, the one that I always come back to is waking up in the backseat of my rental car somewhere near West Texas. I was trying to get from Austin, TX to Albuquerque, NM, and hit the road after the show to put a few miles behind me. I didn’t get far. The amount of deer on the roads in Texas at night was not something l had planned for. It was a white-knuckle drive for a few hours. I parked at a truck stop as soon as I hit the highway and slept. The next morning, I woke up as the sun was just peaking over the horizon (that’s the picture on this post) and had a wonderful feeling of freedom in my gut. I owned almost nothing and I was sleeping in a rental car, nestled amongst a bunch of huge tractor-trailers. I had no idea where or what my next job would be and I didn’t feel nervous about it. It was a sensation that I can’t fully explain but it has always stuck with me. No matter what, everything works itself out and we need to enjoy what we can.
A few nights later on June 24th, 2010, Cowboy Junkies rolled into Arvada, CO for the final night of the tour. I had met the band in Colorado all those years earlier so it was a fitting end to my adventure. The band dedicated their road song “200 More Miles” to me and Margo even choked up a little during the final verse. It was an emotional night for me and one of absolute joy. So, if you ever get the chance to lay it all down and follow your favorite band for a few months, don’t waste the opportunity. Unlike cats, we only get one life to live.
If you want to read my tour diary from the adventures, they start on the band’s website here.