Since it isn’t every day you get to take 18 days from real life and tour around the east coast, I have decided to share my experiences with readers of my blog. Long time readers of the blog will remember that in 2013 I had the opportunity to tour with Sonos, but this tour is by far the longest performance tour I’ve been able to participate in. There are some occasional free evenings during the trip that I hope to catch a moment to write, assuming I don’t pass out from exhaustion. Here’s a run down of the first three days.
My view out the window as we flew across the country
Day 1 – Moving across the country: Transporting 13 people, 5 1/2 octaves of bells and chimes, and all the stuff that goes with it from one coast to the other is no small endeavor. Especially when those people come from four separate airports. Fortunately for Sonos, we have an incredible equipment manager. Weeks prior Tess had sent cases of bells home with everyone not flying out of Oakland, California, so on the morning of day 1 we could all just hop on a plane and have everything end up in Boston. Shout out to Southwest for their awesome 2 free bags policy. Perfect for every traveling handbell ensemble.
This also assumes that everyone makes their flights, because everyone always makes their flights. I certainly did not miss my flight…I certainly did not underestimated how crowded the Reno airport would be a 5am…And I certainly did not eventually get to Boston around midnight…because who does that?!
Thankfully I have amazing friends in Boston who gave me a place to crash and got me to our first concert early.
Day 2 – Little town, it’s a quite village: Hardwick, Massachusetts is about as stereotypical New England as you can possibly get. Located about 2 hours west of Boston, this town has it all. From rolling hills to little stone walls to adorable farm houses and barns, Hardwick is exactly what I imagine New England looks like.
Our first concert was at the Center at Eagle Hill. Eagle Hill is a gorgeous boarding school for high school aged students with learning disabilities. Jeong and Melanie, our hosts from the Center, were fabulous. They fed us amazingly well and made sure we had everything we needed (including post concert wine). The space was wonderful. Abby theater had great acoustics and about 400 seats. We had to share the stage with the set for the student production of To Kill A Mocking Bird happening later in the week.
We did alright at the first concert. The audience of about 150 loved it, with many of them coming up on stage after the show to try their hand at ringing the bells. Only about half our audience had seen bells before, which meant that there was lots of interest in seeing the bells up close. I really enjoy all of the post concert questions we get about our bells. People are genuinely interested in how we manage to get so much control over the bells or how much the big bells weigh. I’ve gotten the technique of passing the G2 to someone for the first time down pat. Michele Sharik refers to this portion of the concert as the “petting zoo”, which I can agree with.
One of the nice things about traveling is seeing friends! Friend of the blog Greg Urban came to the first concert (and rescued me from Boston), so we had a great time catching up. Nerding out about handbells over the internet is fun, but it is much better actually hanging out in person. He brought his boyfriend Josh along for the concert, and I caught Josh polishing bells with us after the concert. That’s how you know you’ve found the right significant other.
Day 3: Leaving Podunk: After spending the night in the cutest bed and breakfast I have ever stayed in, we hit the road headed south to Connecticut.
This bed and breakfast was awesome. Every room had a different theme with intricate wall papers to match. There were little details everywhere, and two very creepy dolls that I swear stared at you no matter where you went. If you ever find yourself in Petersham, Massachusetts be sure to stay at the Winterwood at Petersham. The house is currently for sale if anyone is looking for an investment!
Also fun fact: Podunk is an actual place in Connecticut. As we were driving south to Westport, Connecticut we passed a road sign for Podunk. According to Wikipedia, Podunk was a term for people who lived around Hartford, Connecticut back in the 1800s. It didn’t become a colloquial term for a boring place until Mark Twain started using it to replace the names of actual towns in the early 1900s.
We got into Westport in the early afternoon and set up for a rehearsal at our venue. Christ and Holy Trinity Church was our second venue, and we were greeted with a giant banner on the side of the church advertising the concert. While the church itself is a wonderful Gothic style space, there was no room for us to set up in the sanctuary. One of these days we’ll get church architects to plan for bell ensembles.
After a long but good rehearsal you could see how tired everyone in the group was feeling. Jet lag was catching up with us. That night we ate dinner in the hotel restaurant because we were all too tired to leave. By 8pm everyone had disappeared to their hotel rooms. Touring is incredibly fun, but also exhausting. Only two more weeks left!
Preview of future episodes: If you happen to be in any of these cities, come see us perform! You can find all the details at Sonos.org.
- December 6: Westport, CT
- December 7: Holmdel, NJ
- December 10: Harrisonburg, VA
- December 12: St. Louis, MO – With Frederica von Stade!
- December 13: St. Louis, MO – With Frederica von Stade!
- December 14: Fayetteville, AR
- December 16: Bartlett, TN
- December 18: Atlanta, GA
- December 20: The Villages, FL