North Carolina, Part Two: The West

At last! A blessed free moment to write! The members of Passerine crash-landed back into Sarasota at different points throughout the evening of last Sunday, and spent about five hours on Monday scrubbing Jenny to a shine we didn’t know she possessed under all that road dirt. The transition back into the “real world” hasn’t been easy; I keep telling folks I feel “life-lagged.” But we still want y’all to know about all our adventures — the sights, the sounds and stories from Passerine’s first tour.

The rest of the retrospective picks back up in North Carolina, where we regrouped in Black Mountain to perform at the Town Pump Tavern. Carmela wants to extend a very warm handshake to Tim Moone (that’s mah husband) for once again running sound on an unfamiliar PA for us that evening. Mr. Moone and one Albert Klenk are in the running for “Husband of the Year 2012;” they drove more miles total than we did, just coming up to spend time with us on each and every weekend of the tour!

These guys came to the Town Pump Tavern with their dancin’ shoes on. [photo by Tim Moone]

Not only did we have family present, but we got to play for friends we hadn’t seen in a long time, and even met a nice couple from Sarasota. Small world! The show was technically a long one, but it didn’t really feel that way; as the night wore on, people came trickling in for a nightcap and stayed to dance a little bit. That’s always a treat for us — we don’t often get dancers over the age of four, y’know.

My very dear grandmother, who lives in Asheville, had agreed to put us up for the night. “Grammy Cammie” (as the band has affectionately dubbed her) came to the show and hung in there until the very end, then after the nail-biting task of parking the RV down in her garden, she stayed up until 3 a.m. to serve us homemade rhubarb pie and vanilla ice cream! You should have seen Dave Baker’s face when he not only found a chair lift waiting at the bottom of the stairs, but a bowl of bee-bop-a-ree-bop-a-rhubarb pie, too! Come to think, there is a picture, so you actually do get to see it.

There it is. That’s the face. [photo by Carmela Pedicini]

Come Saturday, it was time for something completely different. Phill and Venus Bowman are friends of my father’s who have known me literally all my life — Phill says he knew me even before I was conceived! He must have spotted me in glimmer form. Anyway, Phill and Venus helped to organize a house concert in Taylorsville at the home and studio of Richard and Barbara Sinclair. Every year the Sinclairs host an art and music festival called Art in the Shop; if you are in the Taylorsville area on October 6, you ought to check it out.

The house concert in Taylorsville. [photo by Tim Moone]

Dick is a woodworker and metal sculptor, and has shops for both pursuits; we set up on the porch of the woodshop to play for a wonderfully friendly crowd. They treated us to a fabulous potluck dinner before the show. It was evident that everyone had a bumper crop of tomatoes, zucchini and squash from their gardens this year, and Venus makes a heavenly white chocolate and key lime pie. We got a nice surprise when Eric “The Intern” Blytheturned up at the show; he stopped by on his way to Chicago after completing an internship in Sarasota at the architecture firm where Michele works. Passerine’s got friends in high places, low places, hilly places, windy places and everywhere in between!

After the show we stood around like a bunch of moonshiners taking pulls off a big growler of strong beer. Dick’s metalworks is a magical place at night, with huge hunks of tractor and machine parts gleaming dully under lamplight, waiting for Dick to make them into art. It was tough to muster up the gumption to get a move on, but eventually we managed to part ways. Tanya and I stayed close by in a beautiful old house belonging to the Bowman family, while the rest of the group took Jenny up the switchback-ridden trail to our next stop in High Cove.

Emerging artist Indigo chills out “backstage” at the High Cove Music Festival. [photo by Olga Ronay]

The next morning, Tanya and I said bye to Tim, Al, my dad and little brother, which was no fun at all — but we had places to be! In an old black Nissan Pathfinder we’d borrowed, Tanya took those mountain roads and switchbacks like a fighter pilot. I just sat back and navigated, trying not to squeal like a first-time roller coaster rider. We made it to the first-ever High Cove Music Festival in time to catch some brilliant and beautiful music from young emerging artists KalicohSara Slate and Indigo. Those young ladies make truly impressive music. The weather up at High Cove that Sunday was, well, I simply lack the words to describe just how perfect. Our ears were also treated to sounds by Celo ConleyKim and Pete McWhirter and Lórien and EarlyWe have a heap of thanks to pile onto these musicians for sharing their talent with us and the rest of the festival audience (which was a substantial crowd, hooray!). We also thank Matt Mazzuckelli from Smoking Goat Epicurean Arts for feeding us with amazing focaccia sandwiches, chicken and veggie kebabs and mojito Italian ices (okay mouth, stop watering) — and we extend our gratitude and appreciation to Alan Tinney and Ron Johnson (of Celo Conley) for ever-so-patiently and graciously running sound for the day. And to Olga Ronayand the other folks at High Cove for giving us the opportunity to spend time at a truly amazing community. The thanking could honestly go on for pages and pages.

Matt Mazzuckelli (Smoking Goat Epicurean Arts) grills up some chicken skewers at the High Cove Music Festival. Nice shirt, Matt! [photo by Olga Ronay]

Jenny by starlight in Leicester. [photo by Rob Demperio]

But then I’d never get to tell you about playing at the Good Stuff grocery in Marshall — an old church converted into a general store, cafe and music venue with a distinct “Alice’s Restaurant” feel, where we swapped sets with a group of local poets led by Jeff Davis; and traded CDs for a six-pack of Shiner Ruby Red Bird, the band’s new favorite beer — or the day off we enjoyed in Leicester at the home-in-progress of Darren and Kara Henegar. They are working on building a house inside a Quonset hut, which once was a stable for horses. So while they’re converting the horse stalls into a kick-ass living space, they live in two RVs, much like were doing, with a kitchen, bath and living room where the stable offices used to be. One might think that’s positively roughing it, but I can’t imagine a finer luxury than their 360-degree panoramic views of mountaintops. It was a truly charmed evening that we spent there. We saw a rainbow, picked four-leaf clovers (Kara found a five-leafed one) and drank in that priceless view of the mountains, the sunset and the stars.

With a drive to Atlanta ahead of us, we crept out of there at 7:00 in the morning, trying not to stir our wonderful hosts from their slumber. Imagine, if you will, a 28-foot RV lumbering down a hillside on its tiptoes. We are truly blessed as a band to have such friends as these, and to have made the new ones that we did in North Carolina.     — Sara M.

[… stay tuned for more tales of the amazing live music venues Passerine discovered in Atlanta and Birmingham …]

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