Rogue Valley tour diary, vol. 5: Heed all warnings
Butte: 37 degrees. Bearmouth: 38 degrees. Missoula: 40 degrees.
Since the beginning of the week, before leaving Minneapolis, we had received warnings from people who knew of our travels. Everyone we met told us "ridiculous snowfall" awaited us in Missoula and beyond. When we finally rolled in, the knee-high mountains of snow plowed into piles around the downtown was impressive, but the worst of the storm had passed, and the city seemed to be functioning normally.
What really surprised me about Missoula was the sublime kindness exhibited by everyone we met. I felt like we had accidentally stumbled upon the movie set of a wonderfully harmonious community of extras who could care less whether or not the picture ever got made.
We found the Top Hat Lounge, and our name was on the marquee under "tonight!" Even if one doesn't know what to expect, it is nice to be expected. We met up with a local band called Butter, a charismatic and talented bunch that helped to welcome us to town. The venue breathed in and exhaled bodies throughout the evening; a steady crowd rotated through to drink and be merry.
St. Regis: 35 degrees. Coeur d'Alene: 31 degrees. Spokane: 40 degrees. We departed for Spokane from Missoula around 11 a.m., but not before making a feast of the continental breakfast buffet. Luke put two packets of instant oatmeal in a to-go coffee cup, and Paul and I each ate an extra hard-boiled egg, jut because. Through the rest of Montana and into Idaho, low-lying clouds haunted the snow-coated hills, where evergreens sprang through like periscopes. Paul put the iPod on shuffle and the likes of Belle & Sebastian, White Stripes, and Bends-era Radiohead supplied our soundtrack.
Spokane wasn't on our itinerary for tour stops as of last week, but a lead from a friend led to a flurry of emails and a last-minute booking at a brand new venue. Besides a group of fun-loving creative writing grad students from Eastern Washington University, our audience was mostly Canadians who had come across to see the band Theory of a Deadman at the Knitting Factory, and trickled over afterwards.
The next morning we started early and headed south through the high plains of eastern Washington, the farmlands of north central oregon, and the immaculate Columbia river gorge. Every visible surface was desaturated and dusted in white. As we closed in on Portland, Luke suggested we had transferred into the surreal realm of Skyrim. "I miss that game." he said.
That night's show was a house show. When people say that it's harder to perform for friends and family than a room of strangers, I wholeheartedly agree. These folks were my scout leaders, music teachers, parents of childhood-friends-since-moved-away, cousins, aunts, neighbors, and family friends. Makes a disinterested blogger of influence seem like a vanilla-scented teddy bear.
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