On the road: going, going, gone | AspenTimes.com

On the road: going, going, gone

Barry SmithAspen, CO Colorado

“Irrelativity” is on the road as Barry tours his solo shows through the U.S. and Canada this summer. This dispatch is from somewhere in Nebraska, or maybe Iowa – hard to tell.By the time you read this, I’ll be cruising through middle America, a place I’ve never been, on my way to Montreal to “officially” begin my summer tour.I say “officially” because, despite having a going-away party and everything, I only went as far as Orlando, Fla., and only for two weeks. Then I came back home. Not for long, but since I live in a tiny little town in the mountains, I was constantly busted.”I thought you were supposed to be gone,” people said to me on the street, actually sounding a little disappointed to be seeing me.”Well, I am gone, sorta,” I’d say, and then launch into the details of my schedule, how I flew to Orlando to perform “Jesus In Montana,” then flew back home only long enough to pack up the van and drive to Montreal to perform “American Squatter,” then “Jesus” in Ottawa right after that, then on to Toronto for -“But I thought you were gone,” they’d interrupt, their eyes glazed over a bit at the prospect of having to spend one more precious second hearing about my summer itinerary.I don’t blame them. My summer schedule is exciting to me, but dense and confusing to everyone who is not me, which is turning out to be more people than I originally thought. I’m videotaping the whole tour, so soon I’ll be able to make all those other not-mes watch a video version of my dense and confusing summer itinerary. I’ve now given you advance warning, so run and hide while you still can.So, the whole experience of my brief visit back home has been like those moments when you leave someone’s house, having said all kinds of tearful and sincere and painful goodbyes, then drive away only to discover that you left your sunglasses. You return to the house three minutes later, and everyone jokes, “Back so soon?” and ha ha, and it’s kinda cute. Then you leave again, forgetting something else, return again, this time to fewer jokes, and when you have to come back the third time the door is locked and the lights are turned off. Yeah. Just like that.”Aren’t you supposed to be gone?”Well, I am gone. As of this moment I am gone. I swear. I can buy new sunglasses in Canada if I need to.So, the next four days will be all about the driving, the monotonous hours alone behind the wheel of my ’92 Dodge Ram Van with the camper conversion, cheesy wood paneling and a CB radio. My first stretch of driving went exactly as I imagined it would. I listened to the iPod until I got bored, played with the CB until I got bored, made some phone calls until my ear got hot, got sleepy, sang a song out loud (“Baby Elephant Walk”) until I got bored, then started the whole cycle over again. And this was all in the first hour of my estimated 32 hours of driving, which takes place in the first two weeks of my four-month trip. Yeah, I like to do the numbers thing while driving. It helps take my mind off of the tedium of watching the road.Post OrlandoThe Orlando Fringe Festival worked out well for me – great crowds, fun parties, soul food every day – I even won a “Sold Out” award, which I think I was given because I actually had people in every single seat during one performance, and NOT because I’ve lost sight of my artistic integrity and decided to gear my shows to the lowest common denominator in an effort to merely make as much money as possible. I suppose I should have double-checked before I accepted the award. If nothing else, it would have changed the tone of my acceptance speech.But that already seems like months ago, as I plod my way through the Midwest, headed for the Great White North. It’s time for another singing of “Baby Elephant Walk.” That should get me as far as Des Moines.For more updates on Barry’s summer tour, check out his blog at http://www.barrysmith.com.


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