I didn't realize it going into this tour, but Constance was bringing along not a regular cello, but a looper and an electric cello with a 5th bass string. That's her at the left, setting up in in Wilmington, NC. It was my first time getting to see someone play this cool instrument up close, and I'm hooked. It was fun to walk into a place, soundcheck, and watch people's head's turn when they heard the first strains of Constance's strings.
We started out the tour with a show in my hometown at the Gay Community Center of Richmond, VA. They have a giant thrift store connected to the center that I used to volunteer at in high school to raise money for our Gay-Straight Alliance. In the center itself, there's tables and tables setup for bingo. Our show was a lot of fun, especially because my mom and a lot of her friends who have known me my whole life came, as well as some high school friends of mine. And I got to hang out with the women who put on Girls Rock! Richmond after the show and get to know them a bit. I wish there'd been something like GR!RVA when I was a high school girl-person just starting to teach myself to play the guitar. That was the first night Constance and I collaborated onstage. I backed her up on Ani DiFranco's "Swim" and Jeffery Foucault's "Stripping Cane" and remembered how much I enjoy singing harmonies. If I could sing harmonies for myself live, I totally would.
On Friday we drove up to Staunton, Virginia to play with Sally Rose and her mom Catherine Monnes at the Darjeeling Cafe, where they had wonderful pots of herbal tea and a killer sound system -- both balm for me, as I had developed a bad cold right before we went on tour. I started out the show and a table of people had to leave before I finished my set. I thought they must not have been wanting to listen to live music, but after the show they came back and told me they'd had dinner reservations next door, but they regretted having to miss my music because they really liked it. They asked me to serenade them, so I got my first crack at entertaining tableside. It was pretty fun. The awkwardest thing, I think, is deciding whether to look people in the eyes as you sing, or over their heads. That night with stayed with Catherine, who told us about The Unearthing, this really neat multi-issue, dance/theater/activism/music project she's a part of. Check out this video of her improvising music for the project here.
In Washington DC we played at Phase 1, a lesbian bar that got packed over the course of the night! There in particular, Constance started playing her cello and the crowd, which had been kind of chatty, got immediately silent. It was fun to watch. There were several people there with bay area connections, and I really enjoyed connecting with the other musicians we were playing with -- Angie Head, SolRose, and The Lost Bois. Watch those women; they are doing some powerful stuff.
Sunday morning was our first chance to sleep in, and we took it! In Baltimore on our final show together, we played at Gallery 788, a really cute space crammed with art all over the walls. Though the gallery's not an exclusively queer space, the painting of the owner Eduardo wearing a crown beside the words "Long Live the Queen" up behind our makeshift stage made me feel right at home. Playing with QueenEarth and Brooks Long didn't hurt either. Check out this video QueenEarth made of me doing John Prine's "Angel From Montgomery" that night: