Tour Diary – Norfolk and Charlottesville, VA (March 2 and 3)

We’ve been coming to Norfolk for years now and we have watched this city grow from being an ugly little wart on the face of the enormous naval base that houses the Atlantic Fleet, to being a very sharp little burgh with lots to recommend it as a tourist destination. A lot of US Naval history emanates from this port, it is also a very short ride to the Jamestown Settlement, the Yorktown battle site, numerous civil war sites and only a few miles from some very nice beaches and a beautifully maintained wetland preserve. They have also poured tons of money into developing the downtown and waterfront area. It’s not a bad place to base yourself if you want to explore this part of the country. When we first started coming here we used to play a club called The Boathouse. It was a rotting old club set on the derelict waterfront….a real dive. I think locals have fond memories of the place because it played host to a lot of acts as they were coming up the ranks, but it was not a pleasant stop on our itinerary. In the early nineties we did a very fun and successful tour with John Prine. We played at the small arena downtown and one of the crew got held up at gunpoint just outside the stage door. Our next stop in this town was a downtown club (I think it was called The NorVa). It was a huge step up from The Boathouse but it was a cold, box-like building and not a lot of fun to play. Our new home in Norfolk is Attucks Theater, a very nice old theater on the edge of downtown, with lots of history and character. We’re slowly moving up the ladder. It was a really nice size audience tonight and very enthusiastic. We weren’t all that pleased with our show. The eighth show in nine nights kind of caught up to us and were a little unfocused and sloppy. Bring on the Red Bull…time to dig in.

It was a spectacularly beautiful day: a little chilly, but full of sunshine. There was a very nice energy on The Mall in Charlottesville. Many cities have tried the downtown pedestrian Mall as an attempt at bringing up a neglected part of the city, but few have succeeded. The downtown Mall in Charlottesville seems to have worked. There’s a nice combination of retail, restaurants, at least three music venues and an old independent movie theater. It’s an inviting and friendly place with lots of reasons to visit. We hung out all day and spent a bit of money on breakfast crepes and crappy birthday toys for Margo’s son Ed who has been out with us for the past few days…. today was his birthday. I gave him a supreme wedgie for his birthday. He didn’t appreciate it, but I think it’s the only present that he got today that he will remember ten years from now. I figure that since he doesn’t have any brothers he needs his uncles to supply the necessary childhood rites-of-passage, like wedgies. We had another sold out show tonight. This was our first time at The Jefferson Theater and it was a very good experience: very friendly and helpful stage hands and backstage help. I don’t know how we played tonight, but we had fun and it sounded like the audience had fun…and that’s about as good as it gets. We love this town.