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© John Derhak, 2013
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Road Diary
on tour with moe.
by John Derhak

Summer Tour, Entry IV. Boulder, Colorado. July 3, 2013
Rolling Along From NC to Colorado

How many days now have we been choking this chicken? That's relative, I suppose, because it seems like a couple days ago this chicken laid the egg that started this tour. In fact, wasn't it just last week we survived the great deluge at Summer Camp? Then started the summer tour with DMB for a couple of shifts, and hosted the Wood Brothers for a couple of more shows, before moe. launched into full-bore summer tour mode???

…The first week slipped by, and then the second week. And here we are winding it down. The miles have added up, too-600 and 700 miles a day. From all over the northeast to our dip south to Asheville back up to Lunar Bay, across to Kalamazoo and Colorado, and then Northern California, we're approaching 7,000 miles. The final push is underway, but I'm getting ahead of myself…

…In North Carolina, the band played the first of three outdoor shows in four days. Two of the three shows were at breweries--Pisgah and Bell's. Growlers rolled like bowling balls. We're at a critical juncture in the summer tour, and I'm forced to make a very tough choice: this is a bad time to give my liver a break…

…The outside shows are tough--the elements can be dicey--wind and rain, thunder and lightning, heat and humidity. For the moe.crew, the challenges add up daily-from managing the logistics of setting up equipment on smaller stages to simply having enough time to set it up. There's literally tons of equipment to unload and setup on a small stage around a bunch of other bands that are setting up and taking down between performances. That's what happened at Lunar Bay. In Kalamazoo, we arrive at the Bell's Eccentric Café, to play out back, in their delightful little garden of good and evil (note: my nickname for the place). I imagine that string bands and small combos have no problem negotiating walkways made of field stone to a small stage and space, but for a big production that moe. puts on, to unload a tractor trailer, it takes a lot of work. Nevertheless, moe.'s crew is very good at it oh ye moe.rons. From working with and directing the local crews, to getting the stage ready for lights, audio, action! You may or may not know what it takes for your favorite rock band to walk on stage and jam the night away, but it's near a full day's work to pull it off. You can thank moe.'s crew...

…Because to your enjoyment, the shows go off without a hitch. There's bonus stuff that happens, too. Brock Butler sat in with moe. at Pisgah, and Paul Hoffman from Greensky Bluegrass, sat in at Bell's.

…For me, my challenge outside is nightfall. My lights at merch world draw more species of insects than I know exist. In fact, species of insects I've yet to identify fly into my mouth at will. I know them by taste and texture now-metallic, bitter, flaky, powdery, crunchy-and try to avoid the darker ones…

…Midway through one show a woman approached the merch table. She was showing me cleavage, and plenty of it. On her right breast was a tattoo that was once, I believe, a mermaid, but now, regrettably, with much weight gain and time, was all stretched out and looked more like a boned herring. My father had warned me of such consequences. He was a sailor for a time, and had seen what he had seen. That eventually a tattoo will melt in its own way, into the folds of flesh that come with age. Then again, one look at my beer gut and all I can see is a breached whale...

…I feel like one when the bus rolled into Omaha, noonish, the following day after Kalamazoo. We've stopped at a hotel for about 12 hours. The bus driver needs to crash before we finish the drive to Colorado. Everyone loads out of the bus and goes to their respective rooms or in search of something to do, which is basically not much. There's a big mall nearby, a bridal shop, a strip mall filled with insurance agencies, car dealerships, a cinema. I see a full day of adventure in the cards and I'm not disappointed. I roll out of my bunk. Search for fodder. I watch a small flock of turkeys strut by the bus. Gobble, gobble. Buy a shirt. Yawn. Eat cheesecake. Go to a movie. Climb into my bunk and leave Omaha.

I awake in Boulder, show day, a little before 10 am. This is good-gives me a chance to stroll about town and view the public art projects and the bums who use them as day beds. It's a hip happening place, as I'm sure you know or have heard. Colorado is the in place to be these days. It's the "It Girl" for stoners incorporated and a Mecca for touristas from around the globe.

Every time I'm here, I wonder why I don't live here and get down with a Rocky Mountain high.

That's what I thinking, at that moment, sitting outside a café sipping coffee. And just as I was visualizing it, a stranger walked by, talking into her cell phone, but, oddly, looking my way, said, "The way that you feel is not necessarily the way that it is."

It gives one pause to wonder-there are no coincidences, but there are meaningful coincidences. I realize that this tour is one of them-the final push is on.