As many of you already know, I'm soon heading out on my annual adventure to make music. A friend of mine asked me yesterday why I'm calling the tour in August and September "Last Chance To See." The reason for the title is that this tour will probably be the last time I head out as a road warrior. Fellow musicians will understand it but it's becoming increasingly difficult to organize a tour as an independent musician. Venues are closing, only hiring local artists, prefer bands to solo performers, all kinds of reasons. Couple that with hitting a milestone birthday next year, which will mean a sizeable jump to the cost of health care insurance, and an increase in the cost of a P-2 Visa to cross the border into the US.
Don't get me wrong - I love being out on the road, playing for an appreciative audience, meeting people and talking music and guitars (and capos). It's been a little over 16 years since I first stepped out on the stage at Don's Coffee House after many years of not playing. Since that fateful day (for which I still have the Don's Coffee House Newsletter), I've played countless songs, run up myriad kilometers on a succession of vehicles and seen the inside of a lot of all-day breakfast joints. I will miss it but as Billy Joel said, "It's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete when I wore a younger man's clothes."
What I will miss most of all is the interaction with so many people, some of whom have become close friends. Other travelling musicians (and our hosts) know that there is comfort in having places on the road where you can lay your head, have a shower in the morning, eat a home-cooked meal and maybe a glass of wine, and enjoy conversation on a range of topics. For example, I learned a lot about Rwanda from one of my hosts who had been there to dig into the stories behind the headlines.
So if you're close to any of the places I'll be playing in August and September, please join us and help support live music. Some of the gigs will be solo, some of them are song swaps where I'll be sharing the stage with other musicians. Much of what we do is fun but we're also trying to earn a living at it so we appreciate that you pay the cover or throw a few bucks in the donation jar and also support the venues who continue to present live music in increasingly difficult conditions.
So where is the Last Chance To See?
August 2, Crow Town Gallery, Lubec, ME (Song Swap)
August 3, Welshpool Hall, Campobello, NB (Song Swap)
August 5, Fireside Restaurant, Campobello, NB
August 6, The Puffin Room, Lubec, ME (also being live streamed)
September 7, Riverdale Park, MD (Song Swap)
September 12, Natick, MA
September 13, Maynard, MA (Song Swap)
Sept 15, Orleans, MA
Sept 16, Norfolk, MA
Sept 17, Hopkinton, MA
Sept 22, Hopewell Junction, NY
Sept 23 Hyde Park, NY (Afternoon Workshop and Evening Concert)
More detail on locations and times are available on my website, bobardern.ca.