13 Miles Short


Friday April 22nd, 2011 – Sault Ste. Marie, MI/Fox Lake, IL

I was wrong about having to do a 500 mile drive today. It was only 487. Silly me, there I go again making situations bigger than they really are. Whatever it was, I’ve had enough of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for the foreseeable future. They can get along without me.

Actually, I have to go back again on Sunday to do a show at the Island Casino in Harris, about 15 miles west of Escanaba. That’s always a filled up room and we get treated nicely by the staff. It’s not the people of the U.P. I dislike, it’s that long lonely drive to get there.

I think part of it has to do with childhood memories. My father had a ‘cabin’ in Daggett, a grungy little town maybe 30 miles north of Menomonie on US Highway 41. We used to go there in summers to ’have fun’, but it was more of a forced labor camp than vacation.

One thing most of my family and I never agreed on was the definition of fun. Having to cut waist length grass, trim endless weeds and cut wood for heat because there wasn’t any electricity, oil or gas stove wasn’t my idea of a getaway dream vacation when I was a kid. That place was a filthy snake pit not fit for human occupancy, but the old man loved it.

I still don’t know why. There were bugs and critters and it was next to a marshy swamp and everything smelled ripe ass funky, especially after it rained. And to make it an official nightmare, there was no indoor plumbing. There was an old bread truck out back that had a hole cut in the floor with a barrel over it as the commode. It all still disgusts me today.

That was a ‘vacation’ to my father, but I hated every minute of it. My step mother was originally from Iron Mountain, maybe an hour or so drive from there, and we’d stop there to visit her family, who were actually very nice people. I realize that now, but back then it was torture to go anywhere near Daggett, Iron Mountain, Escanaba or the U.P. in general.

I can’t help having ugly Daggett flashbacks, especially when I have to drive right past it on my way to some of these gigs. I’d prefer to leave those buried if I could, or better yet, I wish I had a recycle bin in my head and I could empty it once and for all. I don’t want that old childhood pain in my life, but that’s part of being a dented can. What do I do with it?

All I know is to keep plowing forward, exhausting as that can be. Making 487 mile trips this late into the game is not what I thought I’d be doing, and I admit it’s getting to me. If I had an auditorium full of loyal fans screaming my name and paying top dollar to see me, that would be different. Going there to work my ass off for those who got in free is rough.

What’s the answer? I wish I knew. I’ve been trying to figure it out my whole life. I know I have talent and have a show that blows audiences away in the right venue, but how can I get to the top paying venues where those people would love what I do? That’s the mystery I can’t seem to solve, and it didn’t help having the entire day behind the wheel of my road yacht Cadillac to dwell on it. Kristi McHugh slept most of the way back, so I was alone in my world with my thoughts. I don’t like my world right now, and I need some changes.

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