Take Me With You When You Go

Hello, it’s me.

Does anyone remember – me? That old bag, who used to regale you with tales of the road or, more often, what it’s like being stuck in a garage with an army of bicycles, a load of wood offcuts, empty guitar cases and wicker lawn furniture that takes up a lot of room, serves no purpose, but is impossible to throw away?

I know, I get it – times change. Old stalwarts like me, and wicker, outlive our usefulness. Things move on. Tom Petty’s gone. And yet. The world needs witnesses. The doers need those of us who notice the being done. It helps if we can lend a practical hand along the way, and I think I’ve managed that well. Without leaving indentations on people’s thighs, that I know of.

Which is why I found myself giddy with excitement when I heard the Ms. and the Mr. firing up the touring machine. Surely, I thought – but I leaned up against a wall smoking a cigarette when I thought it, just so, y’know, it wouldn’t look like I cared or anything – surely, somebody needs a bag again? An aide de camp, a trusted friend, a hold-all…I threw my nylon shoulders back, put a brave smile on my face…and waited.

February and March passed. They were gone without me. April, he left and I sat sentry while she shifted boxes around and mailed out records. I heard them explaining to people excitedly that they’d released new solo albums and would be on their own separate tours and – I worried. In my world, they belong together. Oh it wasn’t them I was concerned about. They’d be fine, I mean they were doing this thing on their respective lonesomes for years before they got together. My fears were selfish: namely, who would get custody of yours truly?

I pictured them each on their individual trajectories: he in road warrior mode, burning down city after city, she taking a lighter approach, or maybe she just wasn’t as successful at booking herself.  Whatever, her dates had gaps, but she swore those would be filled with writing and what she calls research but I’ve come to learn involves smoked meat, grapes, sporty activities or lurking around bookstores. Either way, they’d be criss-crossing at least a part of the globe, and surely one of them would take me along as part of the journey.

Maybe they had hammered out a plan already, deep in the night or at one of those coffee places they keep in business when they’re home. I could see the rota: two weeks in the Subaru with her, maybe a trip to Blighty with him (I’m not sure why it’s called Blighty – I intend to find out. Bags don’t use the internet so, the only way to get answers is to go there. I hope he can see that.) All these possibilities…

Which is where I find myself this morning. I see their cars sitting in the driveway. She’s  Ohio-bound, and he has a NYC show tonight and then the UK. See, I know what’s what. I could recite both of their itineraries from memory. They need me – together; separately. They. need. me.

And I don’t know who I am without them both.

Did I fall asleep? I heard an engine, and wheels. Twice.

Hey, where did everybody go? Anybody?

hello goodbye show

Amy Rigby on tour

  • Thu May 3   Cleveland OH   Beachland Tavern (w/Johnny Dowd) tickets
  • Fri May 4    Rochester NY    Bop Shop Records 8 PM
  • Sat May 5    Columbus OH   Hogan House Concerts  tickets
  • Sun May 6   Cincinnati OH  Northside Tavern (w/Mark Messerley & Chuck Cleaver)
  • Wed May 9  Knoxville TN    WDVX Blue Plate Special at noon/Sweet P’s BBQ  6:30 PM
  • Sat May 12  Nashville TN     Dee’s Lounge 8 PM
  • Tue May 15 Nashville TN     Bluebird Cafe (w/RB Morris, Bob Woodruff, Jon Byrd) tix
  • Thu Jun 7    Catskill NY         HiLo
  • Sat Jun 16    Ojai CA               Rain Perry’s house concert
  • Sun Jun 17   L.A. CA               Wild Honey Backyard Concert (w/7 Deadly 5) tickets
  • Thu Jun 21  San Fran CA       Hemlock Tavern
  • Fri Jun 22    Chico CA             house concert
  • Sun Jun 24  Santa Cruz CA   Michael’s on Main  2 PM show tickets

Wreckless Eric dates too many to list! Find them here

 

Gotta Serve Somebody

It’s coming up to the season where an old bag gets antsy, dreaming of past glories. Especially one who’s been cooped up in a garage all winter, except for – get this, a concert for the library. That’s been the extent of my professional life so far this year – no UK, no Texas –  one local gig just down the hill. A bag starts to wonder who the hell it even is anymore.

But I had this crazy idea, because by the sound of things the couple of the house aren’t going anywhere much this summer.  No more touring! she cries until her record and book are finished. He’s already got another one in the can. And hey, they’re the artists and you gotta respect that. But back to my idea.

Every now and then in this dank hole, I get a chance to look at a newspaper and I read a little while back that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are playing just up the hill at Mountain Jam in a week or two. I also saw that right around that same time, Wilco are on the other side of the river and up the road a ways at Solid Sound Festival. Now that’s a lot of music happening.

And when you break it down, that’s a hell of a lot of bags. Think about how many old Tom Petty himself must use. What I’m imagining and – hear me out, I know it sounds a little wacky but – Bag Fest. A chance for all the bands’ bags to kick back, chill out and just be bags together for a little while.

Now I’m not talking about those pro road cases, the flight cases of steel that get rolled out like a military operation. They’re a different type of professional. Let’s be honest, when you reach that level…do you even have a soul anymore? No, I mean the lesser in stature but equally important no-fixed-use bags. Call us the utility players. Where does Tom throw his yoga mat and hand weights? Mike Campbell probably hits a lot of yard sales when they’re out there, where does he stick those printed shirts he finds? Jeff Tweedy from Wilco must need a carry-all to stow all the merchandise from other bands he scoops up at festivals. Cables and strings when they’re all just sitting around the bus and the guitars come out. Listen, in addition to purely practical application, they need bags like us around to remember what it’s like to do time in a mangy van. We’d be a motley bunch, but I think it would be really fun. Fire up the barbq, no hierarchy or having to put on airs and graces – just really let our hair down. It’s going to be-

Oh wait. I just remembered who else is playing around here really soon: Dylan.

Shit. Dylan’s bag. We’ve got to invite him. I mean, it wouldn’t be right to leave him out, but –

What if he shows up?

True, he’s just a bag. But…he’s Dylan’s bag.

There’d be no getting around it. I can picture the scene, a bunch of us throwing a frisbee in the yard, cutting up, feeling free.

A shadow crosses the sun and – he’s here.

“Hey, you came!” one of the easy-going bags, probably Nels Cline or Ben Tench’s, would say and hand him a beer, which Dylan’s bag would politely decline. Everybody would sort of shuffle around awkwardly for a while, and then being Dylan’s bag, he’d say something inscrutable but hilarious that would break the ice. In no time we’d be comparing strap width and then the stories would roll out:

How much weed does Tom really smoke?

How do you fill the minutes during an epic two hour set – do you feel obligated to stand by the whole time?

Is John Stirratt opening a barbq place?

What do you do during the down season – do the Chicago bags stay put all winter? Any great recollections from trips to Japan or South America? (I mean basically it’s me asking a bunch of questions. But these bags have been doing this a long time, they know how to craft a tale). So it goes around the fire pit – of course we’re all arranged around the fire pit by now, the flames crackling and illuminating the craggy canvas folds of the veterans, the smooth nylon/Cordura of the rookie bags — until we reach Dylan’s bag.

He yawns a little bit. Cracks his buckles. Looks up at the stars in the sky and lets out a sigh.

Man – you just – we all just – feel that to the depths of our PVC linings. Deeper even.

Because we know he won’t say it, what we’re all thinking. But – we’re here. Together. Lucky to be doing this. Well me, I’m not doing anything much, but…I’m lucky anyway.

And over a hill somewhere, Bob’s going “where the heck is my bug spray? And my harmonica…Hey, has anybody seen my bag?”

And we’re all looking at Dylan’s bag and it’s clear like the night sky filled with stars.

Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 10.27.29 AM

Bag On The Run

Saturday night

“Well it’s alright and comin’ on, we gotta get right back to where we started from!” I’m lying here with the guitar cases and merchandise boxes trying to get some beauty rest, but disco music keeps pumping out of the media room (okay, they’d never call it that, it’s just a den with books, records, a big old Sony TV, couch). The kids are watching the 1977 movie Slapshot where Paul Newman in a leather leisure suit and a trio of hockey thugs wearing scotch-taped glasses smash opponents on the ice and convince themselves the future looks bright in shabby hotel rooms – I get the feeling this is some weird pre-tour ritual. I start to drift off and then here comes that song again. I swear the lady is even clapping along now!

Sunday late afternoon

The drive to DC was a breeze. Man, that Buick LeSabre the guy is so proud of is one smooth ride. Much cooler than the soccer mom-minivan they used to travel in. What’s happening to these two? I hope they aren’t getting too good for yours truly. I’d hate to be cast aside for a leather Louis Vuitton number, but given the budget concerns talk in the car (“if we really push the merchandise on this trip, we can put down the deposit on the van we need to rent for Europe and there’ll be just enough left to pay the property taxes…oh shit, we better get an oil delivery before we leave…that’s $360?”) I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Sunday night

Wow this hotel is deluxe. I didn’t know it would be like this – pretty fancy – but I heard the lady talking about Hotwire and how it’s easy to score nice business travel hotels on weekend nights especially. The show at the Hamilton in DC was a success. The pair played a short set and then talked to a whole lot of people at the merch table. Ian Hunter & The Rant Band were in fine form, in spite of it being a sitting down dining kind of club, they rocked and there was a crowd down in front of the stage. Getting in and out of this place was a little like being on a CIA mission, lots of pressing codes to open doors, winding around corridors and waiting for barricades to go up and down. It’s like that in DC they say – every building feels like Watergate.

photo by Tamara Guo
DC photo by Tamara Guo

Monday afternoon

We’ve been hurtling down I-95 all day (when we’re not crawling along in traffic). The man and lady had their first road food experience apparently, playing it safe with “Panera”. Now we’re passing this monolith on the side of the interstate, called Carolina Crossroads. The lady gets all excited, says her brother told her about the brother of Dolly Parton who rooked the local government into funding his dream theater, and then used up all the money on himself. The place sits on its own in the Carolina wilderness. A shudder goes through the car – it’s like a warning to these show biz folk – keep your dreams realistic? Don’t try to build another Branson? If you build it they probably won’t come? Be thankful you have a job for this week…anyway, it means something, I’m not sure what, but it’s a heckuva story!

Tuesday night

Post-show at their friend Alison’s house, the pair creep around trying to eat a leftover Papa John’s cookie without crunching too loud. They’re still coming down from an epic rock show in Durham. Seems they played this place before (pre-yours truly) and it has a great big sound, no seats. Tonight it was full and the people were cheering. They saw some old friends, Carolina rock royalty filled the room, and Ian brought them up to sing on the encore All The Young Dudes. I sat to the side of the stage beaming with pride, feeling like a Ranter myself. It doesn’t get better than this.

pic by Tamara Guo
All the Young Dudes Durham pic by Tamara Guo

Thursday morning

Wednesday involved a stop at Lexington Barbq, where the waitress insisted the man was a singer with a famous British rock group, but she couldn’t put her finger on who. Then when the lady was in the rest room, she did put her finger on… Who. The Who, she kept saying, you’re the singer with The Who. The more the man shook his head “no, not me, wish I was!” the quicker the owner rushed over wanting to give the pair everything on the menu for free and a tour of the squadron of smokers out back.

lexington

They were too in a rush to get to sound check in Charlotte – a big old theater with chairs set up, not like Durham. It was hard to follow Durham, and almost as penance for the incredible barbq in Lexington, they ate crappy pasta in a bar across from the venue with the sound of trivia night siphoning knowledge from their brains as they ate. Ian brought them up to sing again. The hotel was crappy and now we’re drinking espresso in a nice food market in downtown Charlotte.

Friday night

Your humble bag is here to tell you, I love Atlanta. From hanging out with Shawn and Ruth in Decatur, eating oysters at musician pal Gentleman Jesse’s awesome restaurant Kimball House, to a mind-boggling rock show at Variety Playhouse full of friends from the past and future, this bag is in hog heaven. It’s times like these I think back to the Walmart and wish some of those totes and cases could see me now, rubbing elbows with the Georgia Satellites, and even what appear to be a few groupies from another era who perch around the dressing room in velvet and lace like an infomercial for Stevie Nicks clothing line. Living the dream!

Atlanta photo by Jim Johnson
Atlanta photo by Jim Johnson

Saturday on the road

All afternoon we go up and down the Georgia hills and then they turn into the Alabama hills just after the lady shouts “Summerville! Howard Finster’s Paradise Gardens!” I’m not sure what to expect of Alabama, but they say Huntsville where the guy has his own gig tonight, is full of rocket scientists – for real. The lady has fond memories of shows in a punk club there back in the day. There are some big fans of the guy here who wanted to put him on in a brewery, and he’s asking the lady if she’ll play a few with him. It’s different from when they do their thing together, her being his guest, but it’s still them.

Later that night

The brewery really was filled with rocket scientists. And young people, adorable girls who did interpretive dances to Whole Wide World that involved reaching out their arms to search and then hugging each other and jumping up and down for the chorus. So cute! That’s not just the Kolsch talking. The whole room was buzzing and the lady got to play a few too which felt great not weird like she worried it might. I hung out by the merch table and they were selling albums and the guy’s paintings by the dozens. Who knew Huntsville was so hip?

Sunday

On our way to Nashville. The last Ian Hunter show for a while, at a fancy new winery in town. I never knew they grew grapes in Tennessee? But if Alabama can craft beer…I’m looking forward to sampling their Pinot George Jones or what have you. There’s a buzz in the car here on I-65, it’s that Music City excitement. The lady remembers how even Springsteen was nervous playing Nashville, or said he was. I lean back in my spot next to the Gibson who says she was born here. I’m just hoping there’s time for a stop at those American Pickers’ store.

Nashville pic by Mike Fickel
Nashville pic by Mike Fickel

Monday afternoon

Whoa that went well. The pair did their thing and felt happy about the show, seeing friends, selling records and even meeting that super-nice bass player from Cheap Trick! Ian brought them up one last time to sing on the encore, warm smiles and hugs all around from the boys in the band and he even gave me a nice thumbs up when they were loading out. Then it was hair cuts for the pair from the lady’s old favorite haircutter in town and coffee with Joy who was a friend from Nashville days. Nashville days – the lady talks about feeling sad and regretful last time she was here, but this time it’s all okay, she feels lucky to have had her time living there years back, no regrets! We even drove by her old house, and she texted her daughter a picture, wondering how it got so small and what kind of hillbillies were living in the place now?

nashville house
nashville house

Headed east away from the sun, towards an Applebee’s and home. It’s been swell but I got some woodshedding to do before…Europe next week.

The Bag Stands By

Things have been a little weird around here lately.

It started last month when this big truck pulled up and a girl and a guy loaded a whole bunch of boxes and furniture in the garage. He was tall and lanky (is anyone ever short and lanky?) and she kind of looked like the lady only if the dough came out of the oven a lot sooner if you know what I mean?

Seems me and the other cases will be sharing our place with a load of this Chicago crew’s stuff for a while – it’s a little crowded in here but hey the more the merrier, I was getting tired of hearing the same old stories from the Gibson case, about this time in Germany with Yo La Tengo and that run in with the Swiss police and something about a mountain pass and the Sound of Music, yeah yeah I know you’re all continental and shit and I didn’t come aboard until those jet set days were on hold but hey my time will come, just you wait you piece of –

Oh , sorry. I’m not myself! I’ve been trying to keep an eye on things around here with him away and let me tell you, it hasn’t exactly been a cakewalk. A lot of coming and going with the van, she’s working a lot at the bookstore and bar these days, and every time the lady screeches up into the driveway, she’s playing this record by Amy Allison & David Scott. I’d say she must be going a little screwy on her own, but hey I like the sound of that music.

Then she’s in the house and I hear the same other records over and over, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings – outlaw stuff. Either that or NPR. Then it’s quiet a lot in there and I think “What is she doing? He, he plays guitar a lot but she, she’s pacing around and talking to herself.” Or she’s going on hikes – once or twice she’s even taken her bike out in the cold and when she flings open that garage door I get startled but then act very casual – hey, I don’t judge.

But the other day seems she ran out of heating oil and she comes groping around in the garage for these two big canisters to fill with kerosene. Then she comes back for a chair, to try to hoist the kerosene into the oil tank which is about five feet off the ground. Then she’s looking on YouTube trying to figure out how to get an oil fired heating system to restart – sheesh, I wish I could have helped! Then she’s on the phone with a plumber who’s talking her through, but she’s trying to bleed the line and there’s kerosene in containers everywhere and – boy I hope he’s coming back soon.

A buddy of theirs comes over and helps get the furnace going again and I breathe a big sigh of relief out here in the garage (not that we get the benefit of any of that heat by the way).

Then there’s a snowstorm and I hear her out shoveling and she comes in here to find some salt to put down but she has to move a load of the fresh dough’s stuff out of the way. Then a little while later she’s dragging a propane canister through the snow to the other side of the house, seems the cooking gas has gone down now. She must have got it going again because she’s back in with an empty propane tank, two empty kerosene containers, a snow shovel and a ladder. She curses that the g.d. bike’s in the way, and then back into the van with the Amy Allison playing.

Anyway, it’s a lot more fun when it’s us in the van going to play a show all together but he’ll be back soon. I even heard her practicing the other day so could be there’s something in the works. Until then I’ll be hanging out here trying to pretend I’m interested in the Bulls.

Eric & Amy’s Homemade Aeroplane Sat Jan 11 

Running Down A Dream

So Memorial Day’s here. When I lived back at the Walmart, that was a big one – like, if you were still sitting there after the unofficial start of summer,that was it. Chances were you’d still be hanging around when the Back To School craziness started up at the end of August.

The tour’s over, they’d played the last show down in Baltimore, and really – we’d made it through a lot together. I was pretty tired and even feeling up for hanging out in the garage for a while. I mean, it’s not so bad in there in the summer.

Then I hear them talking – about taking something back to the store. There’s a big hubbub cause the lady can’t find the receipt, but she says she remembers the exact day she bought it and how nice they always are over there about taking returns.

I’ve got to say I was a little surprised. After all we went through together on this last tour, I felt like we were almost a family. I know the shows are over for now and everything but it never hurts to have a bag on hand for emergencies.

Then I start getting piissed off – I mean, can’t these losers make up their minds? The worst I can say is they fit in just fine at that Catskill Walmart, with the rest of the desperate types you see in there. They think it’s all such a big laugh – try living in that place.

But then I remember it’s kind of peaceful and just more…even, than this being on the road business. I start deciding that really, maybe touring isn’t for me, how I’m probably not cut out for it at all. I’m just not tough enough – sure, I’m 600 D ballistic fabric composite nylon with Durable Webbing Handles but sometimes I admit it, I’m too sensitive. I feel things too much. It must be why I’m a decent bag. I do more than just get the job done.

I mean yeah , no – I liked it and everything. Getting to hang out in some pretty cool places, and all the music and the people and the laughs. Even when we were in Omaha, which we all agreed we’d never discuss outside of our own “inner circle” – even then I was learning and growing. But in the long run, where’s it gonna get you?

So we’re on the short drive back over to Walmart and I’m looking around at everyone (the kids were too tired after driving down and back to Baltimore yesterday to unload). There’s Dani and what must be her cousin the 12-string in the hard case. Archery bag – sure he’s top dog and he doesn’t let me forget – he knows I couldn’t cut it with the precious guitar stands but still, he really helped me out a lot, showed me the ropes, stuck up for me that time in St. Louis when I was all over the place.

There’s the other guitars and the amps like usual and I see the two heads over the tops of the front seats and they’re playing Tom Petty now – “Running Down A Dream” and I get a little misty, thinking how I’m really gonna miss this. But honest, I know once I’m back on the shelf, life’s gonna be a heck of a lot easier.

The van rolls into a parking space and I’m prepared, really I am. I’m not going to make a big ceremony out of this. I won’t even look back when they take me out.

It’s quiet for a while. A little while later, the kids come back, they’re laughing and high-fiving about a scale they bought back in March before the flight to England. Something they needed to weigh all the bags and how it didn’t work so good and they’d been wanting to take it back but couldn’t find the receipt but the Walmart will take anything back so hey no problem.

Then we’re pulling back into the driveway, I can see that red Japanese maple against the blue Memorial Day sky and it hits me – it wasn’t me they’d been talking about.

Who knows how long they’ll leave us in the van – I hear they have to drive back down to Newark Airport today to pick up the guy’s mother. Whatever they decide to do is fine by me.

red leaves

But when we roll I hope they crank up the Petty. It’s almost summer after all.

A Bag’s Eye View

I woke up on a stranger’s living room floor this morning, trying to remember where the hell I was. I’m thinking it must’ve been a pretty wild night when I look around and there’s the archery bag still asleep to my left, the Gibson and Guild cases to my right, a couple of soft cases leaning against a wall and I then see her: Dani. The cute copper-colored number we’d picked up in Chicago. And it all comes back.

Winnipeg. We’re in Winnipeg, the province of Manitoba, in a strange place called Canada. We’ve been here two days, the shows happening right in the living room of what seems like a normal family home. Apparently we’re only a few doors down from the house Neil Young grew up in.

I’m not exactly sure who he is and why I should care, but Amy and Eric were excited enough to take each other’s pictures standing in front of the house. Some other dude they speak of often in reverent tones, Chuck Prophet, a kind of sage or something, even picked some clover from the yard when he was here, but they’re too timid

And I don’t know what Winnipeg is, except that it took many many hours of driving to get here.

Images and incidents come back in chronological order: the endless drive from Rochester. The night in a Toledo motel and that sickening crash from the luggage cart when Harmony lost her head.

Harmony, out of commission now, confined to the van for the rest of the trip. They say she’ll be okay eventually but the old girl’s going to be housebound from now on.

And that might not even be a bad thing. See, I’m learning – the talk in the van flip flops from elation to irritation, back to enthusiasm and all the way over to defeat and resignation, often in the space of a few minutes.

So Harmony might be the lucky one, to not have to go out and do this any more.

I’d like to say I’m happy as a piece of Samsonite in a first-class overhead , but the truth is this isn’t the joy ride I was hoping for. Lots of driving means lots of time cooped up in the back of the van. And what can I say, I’m sensitive – I pick up on stuff. The kids are running out of steam.

Oh there are moments, like the other day listening to the Allman Brothers’ Mountain Jam as the sun was setting just west of Minneapolis. I heard the pair talking, saying they were going to start a southern rock band and there was a lot of hilarity as they donned trucker caps and bandanas and imagined how it was going to be, and who could play Duane, who was Dickey and whether it was ever a good idea to be Gregg. They both decided it was.

Schuba's photo by Hazel Rigby
Schuba’s photo by Hazel Rigby

Then they were learning a Guess Who song to play up in Canada and I don’t think I’ve ever heard grownups laugh like that, especially when I was stuck on the Walmart shelf. Come to think of it I don’t think I ever heard so much as a chuckle back there.

For the shows in Chicago and Wisconsin and Winnipeg, I know they played their hearts out and had encores and even some standing ovations, and that made them feel great. But I hear them talk about all the things they want to do at home, new stuff they want to come up with separately and together, and I wonder if there’s even a place for me in all that.

Then I look at Dani, all fresh and copper,her whole life in front of her. Sort of like the young girls who were playing the later show in Chicago, the ones we shared a dressing room with. (That was weird, even Amy’s daughter said it made her feel old to be around a band young enough to have their parents road-managing them.) Like the girls, Dani has an open mind about these things, even professing an interest in the worn and misshapen – heck, she’s a copy of a copy from 1959 (sort of like Amy, her new owner). Still, I doubt she’d have two words to say to an old bag like me, if we weren’t flung together here out on the road. I’m wondering what will happen when the kids get home – no doubt Dani will get to hang out in the house while I keep company with the rakes and weed whackers out in the garage.

But I can’t worry about that now. There’s something ominous ahead, I can feel it. I think it’s called…Omaha.

Story Of A Bag 2

bagSo. I won’t lie – it’s been semi-retirement around here. Ever since that couple took me out on the road, then dropped me back here at Walmart, I’ve kind of been hanging back on the shelf.

True, I made a short trip out around Christmas, which blew. Took some dude in a pickup’s rank laundry to Sudz a few times and then I was back with the other luggage. Trust me, Walmart is a good place to be at holiday time, if only to escape the godawful music that plays everywhere. These bastards are so cheap they won’t pay the license and that’s fine with me – at least a bag can hear himself think.

But the other day, I’m sitting there minding my own when I look up and over one of those new molded suitcase jobs and – it’s her! The lady half of the sketch. I have to say, she looks tired.

It’s late at night and there’s nobody around and she starts talking. Telling me how she’s been lately. Funny, cause we never talked back in the van. She tells me about these house concerts they’ve been having at their place and how it’s fun and saves wear and tear on the vehicle.

What else…how they finally sent out the last of their Kickstarter rewards, and how she did a bunch of paintings for people and loved it so much it felt sad when that job was done – she felt like she’d had a new purpose in life.

She said she’s still at it on this book she’s been working on for a while and that with some more hard hours that’ll come to a close soon too.

The guy’s daughter and granddaughter came to visit and there was a lot of cooking and dancing and watching Toy Story and Shrek and then the house felt so quiet after they left.

How she misses this place, the Spotty Dog, where she had regular laughs working with books and beer but needed to let her shifts go because she and the man are going away a lot these days.

I have to admit my mind was kind of wandering when she was telling me all that personal stuff, but I hear the word “travel” and I’m all ears!

Seems there’s been a few road trips: up to Boston area and Northampton too, where nice people came out to see them, and how playing is better than ever, especially since she got that guitar refret. Down to Virginia, Herndon and Richmond – she asks if I remember that trip down I-95 back in the fall and I nod. She says they stopped for barbq and listened to Lynyrd Skynyrd a lot of the way and suddenly I’m right back there on the floor of the van, bass thumping, “Freebird” blasting and it almost hurts, the memory is so strong. She says there’s something about that stretch of I-95 from the Jersey Turnpike down past DC that feels like she’s been riding it forever and will continue for ever…but that Maryland House rest area was knocked down and being rebuilt and that reminds her how things do change and it won’t be the same awful place it was before and that makes her sad…

I think she’s going off on a mopey tangent at this point but she pulls herself together and says they’re off to the UK in a few days and I think that sounds like the kind of thing that could shake an old bag out of its doldrums, but then she’s off on a tirade about the cost of airfares and how the third checked bag now costs double the price of the second checked bag and all that’s saying to me is I won’t be seeing Big Ben any time soon.

A woman and child come by looking for a suitcase and I wonder shouldn’t the kid be in bed by now but if there’s anything you learn being a bag it’s that people have their reasons for everything. They move on and the lady drifts back over with a pack of Swiffers, a box of hair dye and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and laughs and says she has all the ingredients for a pretty wild night.

She’s just walking away when she turns and lets drop about some US touring they’ll be doing in May, and I can’t help it, my heart lifts. Then she says goodbye, and I see her put a cellphone back in her purse.

I sink back onto the shelf. But I swear she turns and gives me a look before she heads to the checkout, as if to say “See you in the spring?”

Hey, I got nothing better to do. I’ll just be here, kicking back until it’s time to hit the road.

Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby Tour 2013

Wed Mar 6 Marc Riley Show BBC 6 Music
Thu Mar 7 Stereo Glasgow UK
Fri Mar 8 Gateshead Central Newcastle UK
Sat Mar 9 New Adelphi Hull UK
Sun Mar 10 Green Room Stockton on Tees UK
Wed Mar 13 Prince Albert Brighton UK
Thu Mar 14 Railway Winchester UK
Fri Mar 15 Milfords London UK
Sat Mar 16 Railway Hotel Southend on Sea UK
Thu Mar 21 The Greystones Sheffield UK
Fri Mar 22 Thunderbolt Bristol UK
Sat Mar 23 The Rolleston Swindon UK
Sun Mar 24 Marrs Bar Worcester UK

Sat Apr 13 Homemade Aeroplane Catskill NY
Apr 18 – 20 Lawnya Vawnya Fest St. John’s Newfoundland Canada
Sun May 5 University Cafe Stony Brook NY
Wed May 8 Lovin Cup Rochester NY
Thu May 9 house concert Cleveland OH
Fri May 10 Schubas Chicago IL
Sat May 11 Music w/o Boundaries Manitowoc WI
May 13 & 14 StuDome Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
(more dates to be added)