North Carolina, Part One: The Triangle

Great goldfinches, where does all the time go? The rest of the account of our journey may read more like memoir than blog, but that’s not because we’ve been slacking off. Promise. Wi-fi connections in the mountains tend to be few and far between. If my fingers were tired the first time I wrote, now the tips are all shiny and pink … they look almost shellacked. Like I’ve almost played my darn fingerprints clean off. On close inspection of everyone else’s paws, they all look very similar.

We celebrated crossing into North Carolina by — you guessed it — drinking some beer and performing much hooping and hollering. As a flatlander band, we all have a great collective fondness for the mountains. Chapel Hill, the location of our first two shows in the Tar Heel State, admittedly turned out to be not the greatest idea we ever had. It is a college town, after all, and it seemed like the majority of its weeknight music-loving population had yet to return from summer vacation. But that’s not to say the shows were complete losses. For starters, we got our foot in the door at two wonderful venues, The Cave and Caffé DriadeThe Cave is a subterranean, members-only (and original music-only) club that literally looks just like a cave, complete with cute little animal paintings on the walls. We had an attentive audience of about six sweet souls, and a couple crusty guys who, like us, seemed to have gotten into their cups early in the day. But the drunks in Chapel Hill are much different from the Shorties of Daytona Beach; instead of hurling insults, they shout things like, “You’re beautiful!” and “I freaking love you!”

Who Would Abe Cap? Artwork at Caffé Driade.

Caffé Driade (pictured above) was a gorgeous garden café set back a little ways in the woods, where flowering crepe myrtle trees showered us with fluffy white blossoms as we played. The baristas also showered us with artsy lattés, beers and cupcakes. We played until it got completely dark and I could barely see my hands a few inches away from my nose.

In between those two weeknights, we took a day off at the home of Joanie Alexander, a former Sarasotan who is a great friend of Rob and Michele’s. She has a pottery studio in Hillsborough, N.C., and was incredibly gracious to allow us to run amok over her place for a couple of days. I tell ya, Jenny the RV is a wonderful amenity and we have been enjoying her to the fullest; but it was so nice to sleep in a real bed, cook in a real kitchen and eat at a real table. It surprised me how much we really needed that Tuesday off. Joanie let us shower and veg out, then we all went out to gormandize on some authentic North Carolina barbecue at the Hillsborough BBQ Company. I just about foundered on pulled pork, Brunswick stew, red slaw and corn pudding. After dinner we wandered to a hangout down the street called The Depot and discovered a real old-time string jam. We didn’t interfere, just pulled up a comfy chair and listened. Dave ate ice cream. All was right with the world.

The old-time jam at The Depot.

Joanie introduced us to more local wonders on Thursday. Tim and Al, the darling husbands, drove straight from Sarasota through Wednesday night and met us at Joanie’s, all punchy from lack of sleep. But instead of crashing, they joined us on a three-mile hike up a mountain to the Eno Quarry for an afternoon swim. On our way up to the quarry, we came across a box turtle, lacy white mushrooms that deliquesced into ink at the lightest touch, and dozens of gray toads the size of my thumbnail. When we got to the quarry we took turns diving off rocks into the fresh, cool, blue-green depths, unable to fathom how deep it actually went down. Sublime stuff.

The show in Durham at The Broad Street Café was like a family reunion! Dave Baker’s mom, dad, brothers and cousins took up one long table; my daddy and younger brother came all the way from Kentucky, too. We ladies decided to bust out the polka-dot dresses for the occasion. An alt-rock trio called Gabe Smiley opened up the evening, and were kind enough to stick around with their friends to listen to most of our sets. We hope they enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed them.

Us gals in our polka-dots at the Broad Street Café.

All of the above sweetened the treat of being in Triangle very much for us, but the best part of our visit was the amazing write-up we received from Grayson Currin, music editor for the Independent WeeklyWe found our smiling faces on the front page of the local music calendar, and Mr. Currin had this to say about us:

… the band’s songs about the sweetest sights and biggest dreams, and the casual confidence with which they deliver them, offer the basic balm of folk music at its best: a song that speaks your own worries and sings a way back out of them.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself (although my bandmates may still suspect that the review is my handiwork). Despite the relatively low turn-out along the first part of our North Carolina jaunt, that review made us feel like a hit. It’s an extraordinary thing to read such nice things about yourself in someone else’s words.     — Sara M.

[to be continued … soon … Sara hopes …]


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