Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tour Report, Day 3: Nick's, Worcester

Stephanie Bindlestiff made us an amazing breakfast, veggie frittata and oatmeal with pink lentils, and then we hit the road, Worcester-bound. Bob Dylan, Santigold, Cat Power and Judy Collins played on the car stereo as Heather and Dobson and I told each other unflattering personal stories of romantic failure. These will not be repeated here.

Our first stop was the College of the Holy Cross, where I was scheduled for an interview at WCHC. Nostalgia: the radio station looked a lot like the one at Vassar, where as a student I didn’t have a show of my own but loved sitting in on friends’ shows when they’d let me. Cat, my student DJ interviewer, invited me to wait in the lounge while we waited for the radio station’s faculty advisor to show up with a working microphone. I tuned my uke and looked at the posters for bands I listen to covering the walls and felt a little thrill. The interview went smoothly. I told Cat the story of my last extended radio appearance, when I impersonated Juliana Hatfield on a friend’s college show when Juliana was going to be playing a concert at Vassar. I said it was nice to finally redeem myself with an interview where I wasn’t pretending to be someone else. I left with an armful of WCHC T-shirts for the band. Heather and Dobson hand been hanging out in the campus coffee shop listening to the show, and they said I didn’t sound stupid. Success!

Next it was on to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for an interview at WWPI, the school’s internet-only station. WPI seemed like an interesting place, an engineering school with a liberal arts bent, and my new DJ friends, Jess and Connor, seemed like great examples of that combination of right-brain and left-brain talent, bright and friendly and engaged. We talked about Days and Nights, they played some tracks from the CD, and I played a couple of tunes live. That show was recorded and will be a podcast, so I’ll post a link to that once it’s up. Connor hooked up a printer so I could print out the chart to the new song we would be playing at Nick’s (which I had printed at my parents’ en route to Albany but left on the kitchen counter) and Jess made copies for the whole band, god bless them both. We all got WWPI bottle opener keychains with the station logo, a goat wearing headphones.

When Heather and Dobson and I got to Nick’s, Bob was there waiting for us: full band reunion! We got to order delicious German food off the menu and I ate a giant platter of sausage and potatoes and cabbage before we started loading in. Nick’s is a charming bar with a pressed-tin ceiling and a tiny cabaret stage with red curtains and shell-shaped footlights. People started arriving when we were still sound checking and slowly filled the tables by the stage in the back room. The Worcester Magazine reporter who wrote the article on Sweet Soubrette gracing the cover of the nightlife section came over to say hello. I changed into my sparkly dress in the basement, where there was a mirror propped next to shelves filled with pickled beets and condiments and spices: a step up from the dim bar bathroom at Valentine’s, though not as homey as Chloe’s bedroom in the Musica loft.

We played two sets to a largely appreciative crowd that filled the back room. In close quarters on the tiny stage, Bob knocked over Dobson’s glockenspiel early into the first set, but Dobson got it put back together quickly and disaster was averted. By the end of the second set, the remaining tables of people were getting talkative, but people bought CDs and T-shirts and signed the mailing list, and Nicole, the owner of the bar, was gracious and complimentary. After the show we drank at the bar, even Sweet Soubrette’s uptight bandleader (that’s me) was talked into doing a couple of shots, Dobson taught Heather and me some swing dancing moves, and we danced to the jukebox until it was last call and we had to load out our gear. Then Heather drove us through the wee hours to Bob’s aunt and uncle’s house, where I woke up to the sight of blue sky through the bedroom skylight and a red-painted dock jutting out into a lake.

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