Greetings from gate 46A of LAX international airport. It is 5:14 am, Pacific time, and I have arrived safely at my gate. As usual, I have more than an hour to kill before boarding starts, so I thought I'd take a minute to update you on what I've been up to.
I flew out to California almost two weeks ago. This impetus for this trip was an invitation to play at the High Sierra Music Festival, an annual event in Quincy, CA over the 4th of July weekend. My very good friend Raina Rose has played the festival several times and she and her tour/life partner Drew Pressman have both recommended strenuously that I try to play there. I applied to the festival promoters late in 2010 and, after a few follow up emails, gave up/got distracted by life.
Late one afternoon in mid-April, days after flying home from Los Angeles where I had spent 6 weeks sequestered in a hotel filming NBC's "The Voice," I sat on a couch in South Austin, blinking at a blank calendar. As a full-time independent musician who makes my living performing original music and selling CDs at live shows, I find the prospect of an empty calendar to be completely terrifying. A blank calendar translates to a financial future even more uncertain than usual. I don't like it. Almost on command, an email appeared in my inbox inviting me to perform at the High Sierra Festival. I accepted the gig immediately, relieved to have something exciting on the horizon, and I got to work booking other shows on the West Coast.
Raina and Drew agreed to join me at the festival as my band, and Drew suggested a few of his longtime friends to join us as my "crew." Drew's friends, Ross, Reid and Reese turned out to be total saviors of my trip! In addition to selling ALL of the CDs that I brought with me to the festival, they each transported me on a leg of my northern California journey.
My California trip began with a flight to San Francisco. Ross arranged for Reese, who I had never met, to pick me up at the San Francisco airport on just a few hours notice and put me up on his couch. In the morning, Reese left me with the keys to Ross' car, which was sitting unused while Ross was home in North Dakota visiting family. I woke up and re-packed my two bags and hauled everything I had brought back downstairs and loaded into Ross' car. Because I'm a little crazy, I had agreed to spend my only day off in San Francisco driving 250 miles roundtrip to/from Carmel, CA to meet with a booking agent who has been friendly with me via email. It was really nice to put a face to the name and get more information from him about how a national agent would fit into the jigsaw puzzle that is my music career.
While on the road to Carmel, I received an email from the promoter at Hotel Utah, the venue I was performing at that night in San Francisco, regretfully informing me that their 21+ age policy is completely and totally inflexible. This was disappointing to me because I was hoping that Sara Oromchi, my darling eighteen year old roommate from my time in LA with the Voice, would be able to join me that night. I called her with the sad news but, happily, realized that San Jose, where she is currently living, is kindasorta on the way back from Carmel to San Francisco. I knew it was cutting it kind of close with traffic, but I really wanted to see Sara, so I stopped in for a quick visit on my way back the city.
Sara and I had a nice visit. We caught up at a diner, talked about the show, about our experiences after it aired (hers being quite different than mine, seeing as she was in high school until very recently), and our plans for the future. I played my newest song for her on the acoustic guitar that Blake Shelton had given her on the Battle Round day and then I got back on the road. To my surprise, I made it to San Francisco in plenty of time for soundcheck at Hotel Utah.
I had never played at Hotel Utah, and I really enjoyed the venue -- it's small, quirky, and I've heard rumors that it's haunted! It also has a balcony that looks like a boat suspended in mid-air. I really liked it. One thing I hadn't considered however, when I agreed to play the 10 pm closing set, is that I would still be on east coast time and therefore it would feel more like 1 am to me. The previous night's cross-country flight, combined with the early morning, day spent driving in a borrowed car and a little jet lag made for an interesting show. Not bad, in fact, I kind of liked it -- I was very worn out, and therefore had to let down some guards that I may usually keep up when I'm performing. I also made some jokes that just flat out didn't go over well, resulting in some very awkward silences which, for better or worse, I take some sense of perverse satisfaction in.
At the end of the night I found myself in the guest room of a fabulous mansion on Haight Street, a last minute crash space provided by a dear college friend who has recently lucked into a magnificent living situation. He and I caught up briefly before bed, and again over breakfast in the morning. As I woke up that day I learned via email that my newest single, "Swallowed by the Sea," had been released to iTunes (I had submitted it the week before, but you never know exactly what day these things will actually show up live in the store) so I quickly sent out an announcement to my mailing list while trying to hold down my end of a conversation and scarfing mouthfuls of granola and weapon-grade coffee.
I was in a rush because Ross, whose car I had been using for the past 24 hours, was flying home and I really, really didn't want to re-pay his kindness by being late to pick him up at the airport. I left Haight Street hastily, hopped on the highway and pulled up curbside just as he stepped outside from baggage claim. Ross and I had met a few weeks earlier when he came to visit Drew and Raina in Austin, so he was easy to spot. I gladly surrendered the driver's seat to him and let him drive us home on streets that were familiar to him. I spent the day on his couch, working on the internet, working to spread the word about my new single and preparing to be 'off the grid' for a few days.
While Ross interviewed for and got a new job, I stayed at his apartment and attempted to watch a live feed of the final episode of "The Voice," on the internet. The broadband lurched and sputtered as confetti poured down on a stunned but ecstatic Javier Colon. I wished that I could have been there, knowing that so many of my friends from the show were just a few hundred miles south celebrating, but moments later Ross bounded in the door, excited about his successful job interview, and we packed up the car to drive north. To be honest, I was surprised by how comforting it was to watch the final episode of The Voice; although my involvement in the show had ended weeks earlier, until the finale it had remained an open book in my heart. As night fell and Ross drove us into Chico, I think we both felt energized by the ending of one chapter and the promise of something new.
Raina and Drew were waiting for us in Chico. Just a few days earlier, Raina had officially announced her pregnancy to the world via Facebook, and it was wonderful to see her even more deeply settled into the glow of impending motherhood than when we had parted ways a few weeks earlier in Austin. For Drew and his friends, who all went to college together in Chico, gathering there to attend High Sierra has become a sacred yearly tradition. By the time the three of them (Drew, Ross and Reid, the final member of our party) were convened that night they were all vibrating with enough excited energy to power a small city (like, say, Chico). Raina and I caught up drowsily on the couch as the boys bounded out the door to visit one of their favorite bars and pool their enthusiasm for the weekend adventure we were about to embark upon together.
I was a bit of a slowpoke in the morning; Drew packed the car, Reid and Ross went to the grocery store for supplies, I sat on the bed of an 11-year-old girl who was away at summer camp, hammering out emails and trying to prepare my inbox and my brain for a weekend of no internet. Not my forte. Everyone was patient with me, I think mostly because they are compassionate, easygoing people but also maybe slightly because they were all getting into the festival as my band and crew. I rode in the back of Ross' car and worked on editing the newest Bona Fide Bootleg live album for www.rebeccaloebe.net on the drive up to Quincy.
Time to get on the aeroplane, I'll try to find some time soon to tell you about the rest of my trip!
Keep in touch! xoxo
www.rebeccaloebe.com (for tour dates and whatnot)
www.facebook.com/rebeccaloebe (for digital friendship)
www.twitter.com/rebeccaloebe (for very short sentances)