Synthesis Editorial Director Daniel Taylor is out on the road as part of the Tooth and Nail Acoustic Tour, and will be blogging about his travels
Frontier: It struck me somewhere in the middle of Texas, on the 35 heading towards that infernal oasis known as San Antonio, that I had officially been away from the warm bosom of the Chico/Willows area for longer than I had ever been before. And I do mean EVER. Perhaps that just goes to show how limited my prior adventures on this earth have been. But it was a milestone nonetheless, one that was marked by no small amount of anxiousness on my part. What would happen now? Would I implode? Would I suddenly go insane and drive the van off the edge of one of those absurdly skyscraping Texas turnpike overpasses, a variety of roadway if not unique to the state, then most certainly perfected therein? Who knows? I was practically beside myself with fear. And loathing. And I wasn’t even in Las Vegas.
Get in the Van: Adding to my general state of anxiety were the litany of annoyances and random pitfalls encumbering my journey. Foremost among these was the vessel itself. Though a vehicle of the hardiest and most expansive build, our tour van was nevertheless an apartment ill-suited to the purpose of housing five grown men and their assorted belongings for a month’s time, not to mention an entire band’s worth of musical equipment. Were we to have two such vans for a trip half the length, things would have been tough but manageable. We nevertheless endeavored to make the best of the situation at hand, scientifically arranging and angling every item to achieve maximum usage of the space available. After accomplishing this to our satisfaction, we set out on the initial leg of our journey. However, a night of sleeping in various yogic-like positions, legs and arms and heads splayed about at fantastic angles like a slumbering Cirque du Soliel troupe, duly motivated us to arrange and rearrange until finally we had freed ourselves enough space for four people to lay prone, one on the floor and three on the seats. This arrangement left only one odd man out, whose task it was to either drive or find his own sleeping arrangement outside of the van. Since the latter was often less than appetizing, on most nights while all else tried their best to sleep, one unlucky soul was left to man the helm, navigating through the night. This also served to exacerbate my condition, as the perpetual motion of my erstwhile bed rendered it less than agreeable to slumbering. What sleep I did find was typically haunted by perturbing dreams doubtlessly inspired by the less than ideal conditions, the wind shrieking through open windows (as we were without air-conditioning), the stopping and starting and turning typically involved in the act of driving, and not least of all, the close quarters of my companions, who though more accomplished in the art of â€œsleeping through itâ€ were nevertheless still prone to incessant stirrings, lending the interior of our dear old van the air of an oversized hamster cage with wheels, hurtling through the blithe air.
Show is the Rainbow: I do believe that the only thing that kept me, and is keeping me still, from coming completely unglued was the salvation found in our nightly performances. Few things cheer the mood of that unabashed variety of narcissist known as a â€œmusicianâ€ more than the eyes of a few hundred people pointed directly at his person. Ah the magic of music! No matter what condition the day’s, and often previous night’s, journey had rendered usâ€”unrested, unshowered, unchanged, soiled and otherwise unkemptâ€”a quick visit to the stage proffered to the bearded lot of more invigoration and handsomeness of aspect than any amount of grooming and primping could have ever hoped to accomplish. Who needs sleep when there’s rock n roll? And coffee?
Westward Ho: There is also some amount of solace to be found in the fact that, having reached the easternmost end of our journey at Florida, we’ve now plotted a zig-zagging return course, heading west. As anxious as I am to return home to open arms and motionless beds and slow food and all the trimmings of everyday life, I know that, like all things in life, as soon as I’m finally free from this musical servitude I’ll only wish to have it back, if only to have something to complain about. It seems the plight of man, to be happy only through comparative unhappiness! And I’m just a man. In a van. Looking for a Starbucks.