(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.)
The second leg of the 2010 tour kicked off in Buffalo, NY as the Buffalo Sabres were hitting their playoff ignitions down the street. Tonight’s show took place at Asbury Hall, the performance hall within the restored church appropriately named Babeville. Hometown heroine Ani Difranco saved the crumbling edifice in downtown Buffalo and created a beautiful venue with two performance rooms, an art gallery, and the headquarters of her indie label, Righteous Babe Records.
Today, I was blessed with the opportunity to tour Babeville and meet the wonderful Righteous Babe Records folks. Their love for what they do is infectious and spending the afternoon on a couch in the offices writing under the gaze of pictures, paintings, and statues of Ani was an inspiring moment on this adventure. Her music was the cornerstone of my college years and influenced the path I’ve taken through life. The rabbit that roamed the offices and occasionally looked at me suspiciously only added to the good karma of this day.
Like most big cities, Buffalo has fallen on harder times and the streets were mostly empty around my hotel when I pulled in last night. However, there is a good vibe permeating the streets if you wander down the right ones. Thanks to some kind new friends who found me at a tequila bar, I was deposited on a funky side street full of eclectic bars and restaurants. It’s hard not to feel welcome in a city where two women don’t think twice about giving a strange guy from Hawaii a ride across town.
For the show tonight, I set sail with the infamous Bob’s and Marsh (quietly at her 75th show) in the balcony. The sound at that altitude was flowing below us and it gave us a dynamic view of the extensive lighting on stage. At times, the notes from stage were darting below us like brightly colored fish as the chatter of the crowd lapped at our ark. The set list included two new songs off the Renmin Park album that arrived in our hands today (digital for the young hipsters and an old fashioned CD package for the rest of us). The new material continues to expand the band’s sonic palette and included Jeff triggering samples under Margo’s vocals. The adventurous tones of the new songs were bracketed by the crowd favorites and the good vibes spilled into the aisles during the encore with people dancing throughout the venue.
I’m no cartographer but Buffalo to Maine looks like a pretty long drive. Hmmm, just checked, its 588 miles (which is how many times the crowd yelled “Sweet Jane” tonight). Time to hit the roads. Buffalo, I shall see you again.