(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)
All the world’s antiques have been shipped to Vermont. Coming off a late night drive from Buffalo and a short nap in Albany, I awoke envisioning four open lanes pointing straight to the horizon, a Dunkin Donuts coffee break every 56 miles, and track seven from Renmin Park blasting with the windows down. Instead, today’s drive was a torturous crawl through rain soaked Vermont on twisting one-lane roads with antique stores spaced every few hundred feet. Crossing into New Hampshire, the rain turned to blowing snow and I was traversing mountain passes and groping for a phone signal to check my GPS.
Walking into the Stone Mountain Arts Center, the white-knuckle ride over the last mountain immediately dissipated. Some venues manage to put the artist at ease and others are a treat for the ticket holders. This place nails the music experience for both. A rustic wood room with a high peaked ceiling and exposed log beams gives the music enough room to breathe while the floor to ceiling glass windows behind the stage give a glimpse at the stunning scenery outside. Bands are treated to an extensive collection of vinyl, a pool table and instruments to tinker with before taking the intimate stage. Oh, and the food and staff are superb as well.
The band entered as looped sounds from Renmin Park danced through the speakers, which faded into “A Few Bags of Grain” off the new album. It set the mood of the night perfectly and was a wicked opening number. The audience was dialed in from the drop of the puck and stayed on the same page as the band throughout. It became a shared experience where the surroundings made it impossible not to enjoy the night. The set list was diverse and a shimmering “Escape Is So Simple” left enough space between the notes to hear the snow falling outside. A beautiful night.