Growing up in Florida, I had no real sense of what I was singing about. That was until my father led us on several cross-country sojourns in the Big Blue Van. This was no minivan, mind you, but a no-frills rattly Ford with a gear shift like a semi truck and a bed in the back (built by Dad) with storage below. The van was huge – probably the size of one of those New York “Highland” apartments.
Exactly 30 years ago this summer, we made the trek from the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters, only in reverse. I don’t remember being road weary (all of 10 years old); I just remember marvels such as tumbling down the Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, hopping stones in the creek bed at Yellowstone, and scaring Mom with a life-like coiled clay rattler that my brother and I picked up in some western tourist trap.
This July I had a chance to revive my cross-country adventures (this time in the driver’s seat), by setting out on a 23-day music/art tour. My friend, pianist Joe Smith, left his home near Philly and joined me in Nashville. We loaded up the car – 13 paintings, keyboard, bench, amp, mics, boxes of merch to sell (books, CDs) – and hit the road!
Joe kept us going over 6,550 miles with theme songs for each location (listening to the fabulous Book of Mormon musical while driving through Utah was definitely a highlight).
23 days and no bed in the back of my Ford Escape Hybrid SUV. Joe and I were grateful and surprised by the kindness of friends and strangers who offered a place to stay along the way. Give me a patch of floor for my Aerobed, and I will sing you a song! We were welcomed with open arms as well as prancing paws of numerous pets (dogs, cats and even a parrot named Mumbles).
It is fitting that we started our tour around the 4th of July. We were out to celebrate this great land!
Joe had never been out west and I was determined to show him the sights, even at turbo speed. Our concert schedule meant that we often had limited time between stops. We breezed through the Grand Canyon in about an hour, cruised past the Great Salt Lake, and hit the slots in Las Vegas for 12 minutes.
Yes, in only 12 minutes we lost $35!
Perhaps we would’ve hit the jackpot had we stayed one minute more. You see, my Lucky 13 streak continued: we left Tennessee and traveled through 13 states (AL, MS, LA, TX, NM, CO, WY, UT, NV, CA, AZ, OK, AR) to play 13 gigs with 13 songs and 13 paintings. How weird is that? If this number keeps randomly appearing, I might have to take up Blackjack!
I have been lucky enough to live all over the United States in my adult years, and I relished the opportunity to perform in my old haunts (Houston, San Francisco) as well as some new ones (Boulder, Los Angeles, Taos, Santa Fe). The vistas were incredible, but it’s the people we encountered that made the biggest impact. Thank you for listening to the stories and the songs, thank you for exploring this art, and thank you for following me on this journey!
Check out this video for scenes from the summer tour:
Now accepting bids on the artwork; peruse the paintings at www.EveFleishman.com/Art