"Dude, this could be her last ride. It's only right we take her." I said to Chris convincing him to take the dilapitated band van to our most recent show.
Throughout the years music has taken me across the nation and back. I consider these some of the most formative years of my life. When you are 1,400 miles from home, have no money, everything you own is broken or smelly you learn a thing or two. Since my friends and I started playing music we have destroyed every one of my mom's cars, most of my friend's parents cars, every one of our own cars, vans bought strictly for the band (old or new) and now we have a hand-me-down 2005 Ford FreeStar.
The band van is a beautiful thing. It's your safe house. Office. Board Room. Mobile home. Sales force..makeshift acoustic performance stage...salvation and worst nightmare. I've learned more about auto repair on the side of the highway...at night...in a state I've never been too...with 18-wheelers whizzing by...underage...in the snow...than I ever will in a driveway. All in all seeing new things from a bench seat in a busted van was one of my favorite parts of the journey.
Up until this point of my life preforming has been something I have always done. I have had a chance to play with some great musicians in Los Angeles since my move but haven't hit a stage in a few months. When my old band got a call from the biggest rock radio stations in Philadelphia to preform live we all went for it. I landed in Philadelphia the day before the show and we ran through our normal setlist, caught up and went home to get a good night sleep.
We gathered on the day of the show at Chris' house to get a plan together. We needed to figure out how we were going to get our equipment to the show. Take separate cars? No, that is lame. Then it dawned on us (well at least me) that the old band van was still sitting out front.
Side-note: A quick back story on this van: It was Chris' families van for years. It has carted him and his siblings to countless karate and basketball tournaments. As the years progressed the air conditioning eventually gave up resulting in too many summer adventures with both sliding doors open...including a trip all the way to Outer Banks, NC from Swedesboro, NJ with the doors open. I know the van has been in at least one accident on the highway and after that they gave it to Chris...who never fixed the headlight. Why bother? Something is also wrong with the battery connection so we had to carry around a little wrench to undo the positive connection to the battery everywhere we went. We would show up to work, pop the hood and unhook the battery...besides all that...this van is a gem and we wouldn't have it any other way. One more thing, it looks like this on the inside...
"Dude! Let's take the van!" I screech cracking an ice cold Pabst. "I don't know man, I haven't started her in months." Chris says turning to me. "Dude, this could be her last ride. It's only right we take her. Who knows when we will do this again!" Sipping and spitting beer everywhere. Chris shrugs with a half-assed sigh and we make our way outside to check out the van.
She sits on the street waiting for us to come check her out. She hasn’t been moved in months and there is a layer of yellow and brown dust pollen covering her exterior. One of the tires is just about flat but we know we can make it to the gas station to fill it back up. As we peer in the back tinted windows we see our previous filth from the last ride…and its disgusting…just the way we like it. “Let’s pop the hood and connect the battery!” Chris yells getting more energized remembering all the good times we have had in this beauty.
There was a zap of blue electric that shocked us as we reattached the positive connection to the battery. “Yes!” We belted with a second wind of excitement. This was a good sign and we both knew it. Chris ripped open the driver side door ready with his keys and turned the ignition. She turned over with a sputter, pop - and finally roared like a dying old bird…our dying old bird. “Well boys I guess we know how we're are getting to the show! Let’s start packing!”
We packed, drank the last of our beers and decided it was time to head to Philadelphia. Half of our band had to drive separate due to obligations after the show and work the next morning. This was no big deal - Chris and I found it poetic. We had started a lot of bands together and worked on more music than either of us could remember. We had no idea when we would get the chance to drive to preform together again so it made sense to us that the rock gods aligned the stars this way. It was like we were 17 again.
To be continued...