tales from the road, part 6

We returned to California for what was originally going to be the home stretch of our tour, and we began with a return trip to Auburn, California, to our host’s back deck perched beautifully and impossibly over the American River Canyon. It was a pretty powerful place to get to sing at the top of my lungs the first song of this year’s show, “Wait For the Sound,” which reflects on the impulse every one of us has to yell out across the earth and wait for the sound of our voices to return. To verify that we exist.


across a canyon
between tall buildings
down a well
in this empty room
slap off the faces
streets of cement
walls of stone tell me
“I am.”

A couple days later we made a return trip to the backyard garden of friends in Redwood City, California, where the brightest, reddest roses greeted us. The concert itself was super rewarding, as we felt utterly enveloped with this group of open-hearted people. But my favorite part of the day was when I got a chance to have a long chat before the show with our host, who shared with me the transformation he’s been going through in the last year as he’s found himself awakened to a new sense of his responsibility and calling to act for social justice. As I listened to him share, the smile did not leave my face as I heard my own experience in his story. It was incredibly encouraging to share space with someone whose heart has had the same kind of journey as mine has had this last year. It was really special.

We had a “first” at our show the following night in Mountain View, California: the cops showed up! Apparently a neighbor across the street wasn’t enjoying the musical experience quite as much as the guests were in the backyard. But the funny thing is that when the cops showed up, their reaction to seeing what we were up to was, “So *this* is why we were called out here? Nah, you all are fine,” and they were actually pretty intrigued by our little backyard concert. I think they might’ve sat down and joined us if they hadn’t been on duty! I wish they could have, because this particular group is so warm and curious and fun to be with. We can’t wait to see them all again.

We had another “first” the following night in Oakland, California. Our host for this show was not really a person, but a whole neighborhood association! And what a cool experience. It was a gathering not just of friends, but of actual neighbors — some meeting each other for the first time that night!. The president of the association’s board got up before we started and talked about some of the goals they have for their community, and he said that gathering for shared art experiences like this one is something they hope to cultivate. It was such an honor to be with that group of people, and we met so many inspiring and lovely folks there that night.

And then we drove all the way back down south, to San Diego, California. Our host on this night has been to many house concerts of ours over the years, but since she just bought a great new house this last year, it was her first opportunity to host. This night goes down as one of the most epic post-show hangouts of the tour — I think the group of us that remained realized it was time for bed when 3am rolled around and we hadn’t stopped talking since the end of the show. Thankfully, we only had to walk down the hall to the lovely guest bedroom our host had set up for us.

The next day we had a short trip up to beautiful Fallbrook, California. What an absolutely gorgeous setting for a house concert. One of our hosts is a man I grew up with in Stockton, California; and he and his wife recently bought a beautiful home / vineyard / winery in this burgeoning wine region of southern California. This was a whole new crowd for us, and it always feels somewhat vulnerable to bring what we do to a new group of people. But we made some really great connections with folks there that night — we shared tears and stories and hugs of encouragement and new friendship. I hope we get to go back next year and do it again.