[notesfromtheroad] Aabaraki Minitour: II


mapthere’s really no reason to blow things all out of proportion.  I slept and then I woke.  I had not intended to wake.  I was simply up.  We had the heavy curtain drawn (or is it undrawn? Well, it was over the window) and explicitly informed the front desk that we wanted NO wake-up call.  We turned on the heat (it was quite chilly) and we went to bed thinking, as one does when one is incredibly tired, that we would sleep soundly and unthinkingly until it was almost too late to be on time.

That was 4am.

And then I was up.  And I checked the time: it was 8am.

A good sign or a bad sign?  One never knows.  I will do a 4-hr night when I’m in hustle mode.  Four hours of intense, hyper sleep.  And then you wake up to catch a plane or teach at a school or go to the DMV or something.  But to wake up after four hours when you don’t need to be up til like 1130 (check out was at noon)?  That’s just absurd.  All I can say is perhaps I knew – unconsciously – that I needed to get a quick jump on the day.

So whereas sometimes, when I am afraid that I’ve actually not slept enough, I’ll just lay in bed awake for a few hours, I actually got up.  I read the news.  I showered and, on a foolish gamble, I washed my hair thinking: if I wash my hair now and I’m out of the shower by 10am, then it should be dry by 1030 – when our set stars in Pittsburgh.*

This was foolish, but I get excited by hotel showers and I think anything is possible.

Brian, wise old ass that he is, remained deeply asleep until about 11a.  I took the extra quiet hours to begin yesterday’s account of the day before.

It is a rapid tale from there.  Brian woke, rose, showered.  We watched some FOX News, we laughed, we grumbled, Brian went to brush his teeth, my fingers…. Uh… slipped and the remote control bumbled across a showing of Love, Actually.  I watched with slight interest for about 3 minutes and then Brian came out and I feigned disinterest – both of us knowing full well my abiding happiness with a good Romantic Comedy.  For a while we watched and mutually hated.

But, as happens with any Rom-Com at least worth its salt**, out protestations subsided once we were wrapped in all the plot-lines (regardless of their increasing implausibility***).  And as we became more focused on the movie, our feverish packing grew more and more sluggish until, at last, we were both sitting directly before the television in semi-silence.

Noon came.  Noon went.  Ari and Attis – who’d sensibly checked out and gone down to the lobby – began to text and to call.  We said it’d be a minute.  Then another minute.  Then that we were right out the door.

Well, by the time we were able to bitterly pull ourselves away from the movies big climax, it was past 1230.  Thus did we sheepishly walk down to the lobby and make for the van.


Quarter of 1 in the afternoon.  The van is loaded.  Load-in in Pittsburgh (a good three hours away) is not until 930.  Well… what’s a group of young musicians to do but to screw their courage to the sticking place and make another foray to yesternight’s haunt, the Capitol Diner.  Included, for your viewing pleasure, is the incredible ceiling piece in the foyer of the restaurant.  It was truly a marvel.


We returned to the eatery, took seats, and conversation began almost precisely where it left off.  Talk of music, movies, music, and noble abstractions – such as honor and trust.  Did the conversation have accents of blue humor and profane ejaculations?  Of course.  And yet, we did not disturb the friendly Friday denizens of the Capitol Diner.  We were looked upon as  a spirited table of frothy (is that the right word?) young men.  Indeed, we were approached by one group of folks on their way out asking if we were musicians.

US: Yes!  How did you know?

THEY: We are musicians too.  We could tell.  You are fit the profile.

Somewhere in there we let it slip that we were from New York City and one of the waitresses came by to announce that she too was from the City and had moved to Harrisburg, PA by way of Florida.  We commiserated over those thing which erstwhile NYers and out-of-town NYers can rap down: the hurricane, property values, the true borders of neighborhoods which have now become all strange and sloppy and overlapping (or is it that they used to be so are now rigid, discrete, and intractable ?).

At some point, we paid the tab.  We tortured the woman working the register by asking for change for all of us all at once..  And we got back into the car. Consulted our myriad GPS applications, and set off to the West.



the road to Pittsburgh was not a fraught one.  We left around mid-afternoon on Friday and there was very little traffic.  Yours Truly was left to the driving – and drive I did.

We decided that instead of going straight to Pittsburgh and just bumming around for several hours we would instead go a bit off course and meet Vince and Caitlin Cuneo (of Black Coffee – with whom we would play that night) at their spot in Connellsville, PA.  We got there around 6p and it was pretty dark and rural so we approached the door to what we believe to be the Cuneo residence with some trepidation.  But it was Vince who answered the door.  We were welcomed in and met their folks. Cait was already immersed in the preparations of the evening so Vince and We sat in the Cuneo living room around the piano and just decompressed for a while.  I had the very strong inclination to take a nice, solid nap – but the impetus to truly do so never really came to me.


At some point, Vince whipped out some BBQ pork – and that was the end of any dreams of unconsciousness. We laid into said food voraciously – as only men who’d eat voraciously just a few hours ago can do.  Conversation, this time, turned to the noble question: what is beauty? Is it purely subjective?  Or is there some universality to it?  Or some common ground?

The debate was fierce and the identity of victor – though I was one of the contenders!— remains inconclusive.

Sometime thereafter, we left to Pittsburgh.



if anything of note happened on the ride into the city, I did not know about it.  I sat in the backseat and slept.  When I woke, we were at the club.


Even once we got to the club, I spent a few extra minutes waking slow in the car.  No sense in come out of it all at once and being murderous!  We loaded in.  We soundchecked.  We played.


The audience was lovely.  Lots of friends of the Cuneos and long-time fans and people who were gathered to say goodbye to Black Coffee after two years of unceasing activity.  I know people often thing I get a lot of productivity out of the day, but I never felt too sure I was going to the limit what with Black Coffee careening back and forth to Boston and Virginia and Upstate New York.  They put in the time and hours and the roadmiles.  Our last time out to Pittsburgh was through them last October.  It is a bittersweet thing to see them play their songs so well and know that it must be the final time they are to be done.

Were I a weeping man, I’d have wept.  As it is I understood, I observed, made note, and record it all here.  Goodbye, Back Coffee.  Here’s to what ever comes next.


finally, the band split up for the night.  Half of us go into the city to Partay… it got awkward for a while.  We worked out a whole convoluted thing where me and Attis would get in the rooms and then leave room keys at the front desk for the stragglers.  No biggie.  We got there, got our keys and went to our rooms. Attis’ was fine.  Mine, however, looked like two gnats had been playing squash there.  I had to walk back down the hallway, walk over to the front desk and explain that my room was either a crime scene or had never been cleaned.  He gave me a ticket to another room.

That room was the one Attis was already in.

So, back downstairs, back to the desk. Whine a bit more.  Get a room that finally works.  Go in, shut the door.  The rest is just musical bits: light and light.  Noise and confusion.

And then, somewhere in the middle where the din is the loudest: sleep crept up and laid me out.

It was already well in to Saturday, but I think of that as Friday’s End.


***el fin ***





*in all truth, I knew better.  My hair has a love affair with dampness that can only be described as… carnal.  Well, I suppose it could be described any number of ways.  And, come to think of it, “carnal” is a pretty bad description for it – even as a poetic metaphor.  Cut to the quick then, man! My hair takes a day to dry.  In the sun with a healthy wind blowing and me toweling it regularly. 


**I should really look up the origin of that expression. I have always taken it to me the equivalent weight of a thing in salt.  A reference, perhaps, to times of old when spices were as valuable as gems and salt – while not the most exotic or expensive – was a good meter by which, perhaps, a good seller would measure the state of the market.  Presumably something that was not worth its salt would then be something that was not even functional as what its supposed to be.  Certainly not exceptional.  Not worth its weight in gold.  but you’d better at least be worth your salt. 

   And there is also a very good chance that that is complete bullshit.  But it’s a nice yarn.


***Billy Bob Thorton plays the American President that is supposed to be a super attractive political type and make Hugh Grant seem like an aging “Aunt Mildred?” I mean…






About akiebermiss

pianist, composer, singer, writer. hater.
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