They had a 5½-hour drive to Rochester. The bus and crew had left that morning with most of the gear. The band was in danger of missing its set time.
As he often does when things get tense, the banjo player cut the air with a joke. Under a photo of the Dalai Lama that was taken on the same set, he asked, “You mean the morning-show greenroom doesn’t have a coke bowl?!”
Finally, with images of missile launchers and President Obama showing on the screen, the band was given a throat-cutting signal by a CBS staffer. The gig was off.
Apologies were exchanged. So were sandwiches. Many sandwiches, in fact. Realizing that they wouldn’t have time to stop for a bite, the band shoveled the finger foods off the greenroom catering cart into their bags. Once again, food would be the only form of payment.
They made it to Rochester with a half-hour to spare.
• • •
“Traveling in a bus is a luxury. It gets cramped in here for sure. If everybody is up, there’s not really 12 places for people to sit. Somebody has to go lie down. But that’s nothing to complain about. Having this crew has made our lives so much easier.”
Ryan Young, fiddler
PHILADELPHIA > BALTIMORE
Friday, July 18
Gigs: WXPN “Free at Noon” broadcast, Sound Garden in-store
A seasoned road hound who did many tours of duty with Steve Earle and once got to punch Ryan Adams in the face (at the singer’s request, no less), Trampled sound technician Matt Svobodny looked even happier than the band did about being at WXPN’s renowned World Cafe Live.
Part nightclub and part radio studio, the NPR affiliate’s three-tiered, 300-capacity venue rivals any small theater. “It’s always a treat here,” the Minneapolis roadie said before the band’s performance, broadcast live on air and over the Internet.
As screwdrivers from the bar and Duluth gossip circulated in the dressing room, singer Simonett stepped out for a smoke. He shrugged off the prior day’s mad dash, citing the day’s real tragedy as well as a more tumultuous moment from the band’s tour annals.
Headed to Montana in the late-’00s, they got stuck in Wall, S.D., for two nights due to heavy snow. They finally dug out their van, only to find it wouldn’t start. One very crammed tow-truck ride to Rapid City and eight hours of sketchy driving later, they pulled up to their gig in Bozeman, Mont., to find fellow Minnesota openers Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles playing their set a second time, stalling.
“It’s hard to complain about anything that goes on these days,” Simonett said, fondly adding, “That’s when we got to know Eamonn, too.” (Cellist Eamonn McLain, the band’s newest member, also plays with Michelle.)