The next gig was a venue called The Space For Ames, in Ames, Iowa. It was a commercial space in a building that included a spa, a Korean restaurant called The Scallion (and very popular, from the traffic going in and out that I saw), as well as one or two offices of one sort or another. The performance space itself was adorned with an art installation from Lindsey, a graduate student at Iowa State. I was one of some half-dozen acts scheduled that night; the only “touring artist”, and the unofficial headliner, given an hour set while the others varied from 15 to 30 minutes. I was also scheduled in the middle of the line-up, which also suited me just fine.
It was a good crowd that filled the room. They were a very welcoming audience as well, making for a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I don’t mean this so much as a brag, but with such an encouraging audience, I did one of my best sets. Every tune, every piece felt confident. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of studying guitar with Ricardo Iznaola (who leads the guitar program at University of Denver). Ricardo has such a mastery of his instrument that, to watch him play is to see an artist with the most direct connection between him and his music. On a night like the one at Ames, I had a glimpse of what that must feel like. It is a form of Satori; a natural high of being firmly in the moment.
I want to take one moment to send a shout out to my old friend and Coe College classmate, Doris Nash. She works as a costumer for the Iowa State theatre dept., and made it out to the gig to hear what I am up to these days. It was good catching up with her.
The next day, I had a gig booked at the Morning Sun Care Center, in Morning Sun, Iowa. It was about 150 or so miles from Ames, so we packed up early and were out of Prairie Flowers State Park by 8:30 that morning, giving us more than five hours to make it to Morning Sun . Once we were on the road, I urged Pony to head to the back and take a nap on the bed. Rufus joined her.
The Morning Sun Care Center is a different sort of gig, but still one that I dearly enjoy playing. The audience there wants more in the way of stuff they can sing along to. I still mixed in a few of my original tunes, as well as some covers from a couple of my CD’s, but for the most part I stuck with John Denver, Hank Williams, the Beatles, and other favorites that they could join along. On a couple of songs, one or another of the residents got up to dance to the music. Angie, the Activities Director, told me I would be welcome back anytime, and also shared with me the names of a couple more care centers in the area that I could look to contact, Since we were already talking about returning to the Pizza Shoppe Collective (in Omaha) in December, it seems like a good idea to make it back through Southeast Iowa at that time, as well.
After the gig, we made our way to Geode State Park, about midway between Mt. Pleasant and Burlington, IA. These are old stomping grounds, where I grew up. The next gigs are two in Michigan, set for the 20th and 21st of September. That gives us a few days to spend a bit of time with family and friends, and to camp out for a day or two in the Burlington Public Library; again, making use of the WiFi and plotting where our tour goes from here.
And one of the things I would like to observe at this point is that I find myself feeling evermore firmly rooted in the present moment. Every day feels more unique. I am surrounded by loved ones, doing what I dearly love, and learning new things all the time. So far, so good.