The tour we’re doing involves lots and lots of driving. Mainly because these four Ani di Franco dates are sprinkled in between the dates that we’ve already organised for our tour. Mick and myself share the driving, which in some cases involve distances of 800 miles overnight. Over a period of 7 days, we have 3500 miles to travel. I’ve travelled a lot… but nothing will compare to these drives. So crazy are the trips that we will only manage to watch one of Ani’s shows from start to finish. We leave most shows 15 minutes after playing. Unfortunately it’s unavoidable.
Ani’s crew, as I mentioned before, are the most amazingly chilled crew that you could imagine. Every problem is dealt with quickly, efficiently and with a minimum of stress or hassle. Like great undertakers, if you can appreciate that as a compliment. (In the vein of the old Gaelic football commentator in Ireland once said during a game, “he’ll be the last man to let you down…. his family are undertakers”.) Essentially you just have to worry about yourself and everything else can be considered done. (Huge thanks to them for looking after us on the road. Thanks especially to Ally for looking after the merch, and to E for allowing me sleep for two hours on their tour bus in Lowell, before our mammoth drive to Ann Arbor through yet another storm. Without that sleep I don’t think we would have made it.)
After our long drive from Lowell, Massachusetts through Canada into Detroit and over to Ann Arbor, we’re all very tired. The driving has taken its toll. It’s a tired group that arrive at the venue in Ann Arbor just in time for soundcheck after a horrendous delay at the US-Canadian border.
We’re splitting up tomorrow. I’m travelling to Bay City a few hours north of here in Michigan, and the guys are travelling back through Canada to Lewiston, NY (near Niagara Falls) for another show with Ani. When the guys finish in Lewiston, they’re turning around and meeting me back in Ann Arbor… It’s not going to be an easy trip for them – as Mick will now be the sole driver.
Pete, the promoter for The TKP Lounge in Bay City, & his wife Katie have travelled down for the Ann Arbor show to pick me up. This saves Mick over two hours drive… in theory. However our cunning plan fails miserably. When crossing the border earlier that day I accidentally take Mick’s passport with my own and throw it into my bag. Frantic phonecalls and an extensively excavated Mazda later, the guys eventually get Pete on the phone. I still had my phone on silent from the gig. (Arg!) We rendez-vous in Flint at a McDonald’s car park at 2.30 in the morning. We’re so tired at this stage that the underworld-like image of picking up passports in car parks late at night only strikes me days later.
Katie & Pete are working early the next morning… 6 or 7am… The guys have lost about an hour. Nobody complains, which makes me feel even worse. As the guys say, “Strike One, Cooke… Two more and you’re out!”. I can change, Coach. I can change.