Cross Country Commute

Saturday October 13th, 2012 – California, PA/Wauconda, IL

   No matter how special any particular show might have been the night before, there’s always an inevitable reality the next day of having to get to the next gig. The energy of the night before is a distant memory only one day later, and the process has to start all over to make it happen again.

That’s the incessant grind that consumes us all as entertainers. We are always chasing that next thing, while that which we are able to catch we can’t keep for very long because we’ve got to get back to the chase. After a while, everything melts into one big blur and it can be overwhelming.

I don’t know how anyone can fall right to sleep after a killer show like we had last night. I sure can’t. That’s why I often prefer to drive home after shows less than eight hours away. I was wide awake well past 5am staring at the ceiling thinking about anything and everything from tonight’s show to the origin of the universe. My mental rolodex was spinning like a ballerina on cocaine.

I finally was able to drift off to sleep as the sun was coming up, but then I needed to get up just a few short hours later to start the long drive home. We’d just driven those hard miles less than a day ago, and now we needed to do it again in the opposite direction. The road doesn’t care about how much fun we had last night or where we have to be today. It’s neutral, but it’s unforgiving.

There’s never any discount in time or miles for good behavior, and the distance is the same for everyone. We did catch an extra hour by changing time zones, but that’s about it. We lost it soon enough with a big patch of bad weather, and it ended up becoming a race to make it back in time to do a show I’d booked in Wauconda, IL tonight. I knew I’d cut it close, and it was a nail biter.

Luckily, Jim McHugh has been in the exact same position and knew what I was going through. He’s a road warrior like me, and has had to make drives like this just like I have. It was a perk to have each other in the car to talk to, but that didn’t change the fact I was unsure if we’d make it.

In a perfect world – which it never is – we’d left in enough time to get back to Chicago in time for me to pick up my car at his house, drive home, take a nap, get a shower and be in Wauconda at The Energee Center for my show at 8pm. That didn’t happen. We got caught in a storm front through Indiana, and then in Chicago we got stuck in bad traffic on the Eisenhower expressway.

I was barely able to get into my car and drive too fast through the rain to make it to Wauconda by 7:56. That stress wasn’t pleasant, but I’ve grown quite used to it over decades of having to get places on a deadline. Sometimes it isn’t in the cards, but most times it ends up being a close call.

The audience never knows or cares how difficult it was for the entertainer to get there, and they shouldn’t. They’ve got their own problems, and that’s often why they choose to come and take in a show in the first place. It helps them forget their own struggles, and it’s why we’re in business.

I was completely frazzled by the time I walked in the door, but the audience tonight was also in the mood to see a show and I gave everything I had to make sure they got one. I need sleep now.


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