Dark Road Diary: Part 42, Seattle, Washington

By the time we get to Seattle, I’m a bit fried. Five days of about 500 miles (800 km) a day, sometimes more, sometimes a bit less. It’s just Jenkinson and me. No music or radio, just the very occasional conversation. Mostly the road noise, and the click-click-click of the turn signal as I change lanes, plus every now and then the car bleeping some message at me, the most popular which is “DRIVER ALERT! REST PERIOD RECOMMENDED!”

I’m plagued by nerves more than usual before the gig. I haven’t touched my guitar or sang a note in five days. I feel more like a chauffeur than a singer or guitar player after the epic drive, and thus (I guess) the extra anxiety. I’m smart enough to just let it come on and have its way. No point trying to stop it.

So I’m singing in Washington Hall. I’m playing guitar in Washington Hall. It’s a full house. I’m critiquing myself as I go along until I hook onto images of Billie Holiday singing on this very stage; of Ella Fitzgerald with the Duke Ellington Orchestra on this very stage; of Jimmy Hendrix, for crying out loud, on this very stage. 

I let myself ease into the shadows of those people who have sung and played here long before me, and the berating eases, giving way to something like “I’m honoured”.  I can hear it seep into my voice. I try to stretch as much as I can on the guitar, sometimes flying, sometimes falling.

We were adamant about no pictures being taken during our time under the lights, and what with Charlie having gone home for a spell, the set up and tear down is labour intensive and there is no inclination or time for me to snap off a shot. So there are no images, no proof we were there or that we did what we did. Just the echoes of a silent crowd; their laughter, too; their hoots of agreement; and that one time they all joined in on “I Will Find A Way to Let You Down”.