We had a very welcome day off in Chapel Hill and then two shows over two nights in neighbouring Carrboro, so we had the luxury of staying in the same place for three full days. We also happened to be booked in to a very comfortable hotel (The Franklin), sometimes the stars align. Chapel Hill is home to the University of North Carolina, which in turn, is home to those ass-kicking-basketball Tar Heels. It’s a very easy place to spend a few days, a classic University town with lots of used book stores, music stores, coffee shops, restaurants and co-eds strolling the strip. It’s hard to believe that these young people are college age; it’s hard to believe that I was that young when I was in University…. I am so old.
The two shows were at the Arts Center which could use a major retro-fit, at the very least they could spend a bit of cash and put a decent sound system in to the place. Despite that we had two very good nights, with two very good audiences.
David Wiffen, who wrote Lost My Driving Wheel and a whole mitt full of other great songs and who had one of the great baritones in folk music suffered a serious heart attack this weekend. We sent positive vibes his way with a closing version of Driving Wheel, as did Lee Harvey Osmond with their cover of Wiffen’s “Lucifer Blues”. We wish him a speedy recovery.
We used up all of our good hotel karma in Chapel Hill. We pulled in to our hotel (more like a motel) early this morning, the only things awake were Bobby our bus driver and the cockroaches running up and down the stairwells.
Never mind those West Virginia jokes, Lewisburg is located in a stunningly beautiful part of the world. It was one of those perfect Fall days, when simply inhaling is a pleasure. Stepping off the bus into the streets of this town (actually we stepped off the bus into a hundred and fifty year old graveyard) was like stepping in to another era. The church across the street from where we were parked was built in the late 1700’s. Even though the main street has been fully occupied by local retailers (coffee shops, art galleries, bakeries, antique shops, etc..) they have somehow figured out how too not swamp the street in cliché and overkill. Perhaps that day is somewhere down the line, but for now it’s a beautiful little town that has preserved much of its heritage. There was some kind of fund raising Fall festival on the main street today so the town had a special vibe.
Sitting above the town is a Civil War graveyard where the bodies of 95 unknown Confederate Soldiers where re-interned years after the end of the war. They were originally buried in an unmarked mass grave on the orders of an obviously, nasty Union general. The current site is also a mass grave laid out in the shape of a giant cross…very eerie…a very good location for the start of a Confederate soldier zombie movie. There must be so many ghosts wandering around this town: it was the site of a notable battle in the Civil War as well as the site of a major Shawnee Indian raid on the original settlement, which saw dozens of settler’s families slaughtered along with a subsequent slaughter of dozens of Shawnee families. There has been lots of blood spilt in these hills.
Tonight we played Carnegie Hall. There are three Carnegie Halls in the USA, and we have now played them all (ok, there might be four, but who’s counting). We played a very cool set of music: very low revving, simmering grooves. Aaron seems to be settling in to the music.
This is why one tours… even after 25 years on the road….for nights like this on stage and for occasionally running into special little towns like this one. A very good day.