Summer Tour 2016: Shawnee to Williamsport, PA

We got breakfast sandwiches and coffee from the Buckwood Bakery and Cafe, and enjoyed them out on the porch overlooking the resort grounds.

A friendly little house sparrow hopped over looking for crumbs, and we could not help but feed him. Especially since he was being such a good papa, bringing most of our offerings to a nest full of chicks! I also saw a baby chipping sparrow in a shrub below the porch. Its parents came to feed on a regular basis, but they did not seem quite as diligent as the house sparrow.

After breakfast, we packed up our stuff, checked out of our room, then walked over to rent kayaks. We took the 3-mile option, paddling effortlessly down the Delaware River from the drop-off point at Smithfield Beach back to the Shawnee Inn.

It was a beautiful sunny day, the water was clear as glass, and there were more fish swimming around than I've ever seen, other than at an aquarium. We had a great time watching them and pointing them out to each other; many swam right under our boats.

Unfortunately there were also quite a number of dead fish floating, which was unsettling. I later asked google what was up with that, and it seems it was probably carp stressed out from spawning, succumbing to bacterial infections.

We chose to focus on the living fish and the beauty of the crystalline water. We also pulled over onto one of the islands and took a dip.

After the paddle, we stopped in at the Shawnee General Store to pick up a few things (including souvenir mugs), showered in the resort locker rooms, then got lunch at the Gem & Keystone Brewpub. Then it was time to drive to our next gig destination: The Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, PA, just about 2 hours away.

As we pulled into the Bullfrog parking lot, I was mesmerized by an immense and colorful mural that covered the entirety of the walls surrounding the lot. WOW!

The brewery crowd was small but respectable for a Sunday night. People were generally appreciative of us, but a lot of folks were there to watch sports, and there was nowhere near the response of the previous night. Well, that would have been hard to beat, anyway. So it was a bit of a ho-hum gig, until the end, when it turned into one of those experiences that are etched into memory.

We were approaching the end of our last set. The crowd had thinned out to just a few stragglers. We were pretty ready to call it a night. But then an intense-looking man came up close to listen, intently. He seemed swept away by our music (and perhaps a little drunk). Then he came up even closer, and told us that today, Father's Day, was hard for him; he was really missing his daughter who had died at the age of 19. He
requested that we play a song related to that, one of our own choosing. What do you play for that type of heartbreak?

I chose to play one we never play in bars, one we rarely play out at all. It is my rendition of a Shakespeare sonnet, and I call it "Heavy". The last line of the song is "My grief lies onward, and my joy behind." Here is an old arrangement of the song, back when we had a full band:

Our man was completely moved; so moved that he needed to give us a hug! As we talked with him some more, we found out that he was Michael Pilato, the artist who had created the mural outside. How amazing is that?!? And he wanted to give us a private tour, after we finished playing. So once we were done, we went outside with him and his friend Yuri, and Michael told us the stories behind some of scenes in the mural. I will always remember that night, the passion of the painter, the luminous colors emanating from the walls in the dark, the feeling of connecting with a stranger over art and music and love and loss.

But then back to the mundane. While Dacey was loading our equipment into the car, I was upstairs in the banquet hall above the brewery, where we had been offered "indoor camping" accommodations. I had forgotten to bring my pump, so I was up there blowing the entire contents of my lungs into an air mattress. Which developed a slow leak and deflated overnight. Oh yeah.