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Get outta town!

June 17, 2011

We rolled, caravan wheels creeking and tired, into Baltimore’s harbor just looking for a place to hang our hats. A local teahouse provided libations: green pots of black tea, fish from the wild and frigid atlantic north, exotic raviolis from the far east, beer from the next town over. Some plucky music filled the house while forks tinked on plates, conversations competing with the music for attention.

Jen and Tim scrounged up some food and drink, chatting up the locals (Jen) or threatening them with drumsticks up their nose (Tim). But the holes in our pockets meant we were soon expected to sing for our dinner. So we grabbed our instruments and did our best. A handful of fellow circus runaways lent a hand, the restaurant allowed us to leave without washing the dishes, and so we packed up our instruments and headed out to the next town, the Hamilton Arts Collect, where we pretended to be americanans for a night before being found out, then to The Windup Space to raise money for warphans.

The room was dark when we entered; strange objets d’art hung from the way, depicting the insane, the nude, the insanely nude, protruding nipples on men on the covers of children’s books, devil horns on children reading those books, animals in odd poses with an odd number of limbs. A cat played guitar on the stage with a cricket playing fiddle, while all around us women and men sold gambling tickets and desserts.  We offered up a pair of octopuses as a sacrifice, and in return were granted a short time to play. The night was old, the yawns were plentiful, but the cheers were strong. I got sloshed on cranberry juice and lost my jacket, dragged myself home to bed and slept with a guitar on my chest.

We laid low for a few days, but the carnival is only welcome in town for a short while. Kids start to lose their lunch money on a turn of the wheel, and men become fast and loose with women. They won’t stand for it long. It’s pick up and head south or get picked up and thrown out. So we packed our clothes into our suitcases, our suitcases into our trunks, our trucks into the carts, and bit a short farewell to Baltimore.

At the New Deal Cafe we found a warm welcome and fresh rootbeer and cider. There wasn’t a competing carnival this time, but we did meet up with fellow travelers from the windy city, heading south, who marched their way through a set filled with quiet violence and captivatingly beautiful singing. They gave us a tip on an alehouse in Brooklyn, New York where we’d find a moment’s peace. So, shaking hands and vowing that we’d meet by the river, we said farewell to our new friends and packed up once more. Brooklyn. This would be the farthest from home we’d ever been. It was a scary realization.

Other thoughts: We work out shows months ahead of time, which sometimes leads to weird alterations in the space-time continuum for me. Right now, October (it’s a secret!) seems more important than August (27th, the birthday party), because it’s a big show that isn’t quite worked out yet, and new and shiny and so very exciting. It’s also the show that has finally given me the idea about how the rest of this year will go.

I’ve decided to do four really big shows this year, and we’ll largely take it easy otherwise. All four will have an original poster commissioned from a local artist. And we’re going to do something at each of the shows to show off some form of art—not just music. The birthday dinner is food, but maybe there will be another surprise. October will be literary arts, something near and dear to my English major heart. I have a kernel of an idea for winter, but I don’t want to put it out there until it’s grown into a mighty . . . um . . . stalk of corn.

But the August will become more exciting in a couple weeks and become new and shiny again. And in July we get to play with Peanut Butter for the first time for reals this time, which is closer and ought to be exciting, but New York has somehow breadily wedged itself onto one side, forming a sandwhich with Miss Shevaughn and the birthday party on both sides.

Brennan from Petal Blight was kind enough to invent a new genre for us. “Baltimericana.” I kind of like it. I’ll be eating pizza at Joe Squared, but encouraging everyone else to get drunk. I worry about what this says about me.

Okay, that’s probably enough plugging the future for one blog post. Now I have to go find my lost blazer.

-Jon

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