Last week was an unusually busy one for the Ridgewood Boys. It started on a Saturday afternoon, when we drove an hour to Crab Orchard to play a private event for some friends. From there we drove another thirty minutes to Harrodsburg, to the Kentucky Fudge Company, where we play every other Saturday evening 6:30-8:30pm. Then Sunday morning we made our usual drive to Frankfort, to play at the Kentucky Coffeetree Café 1-3pm.
The original plan was to leave from Frankfort for Owensboro, a three hour drive, to help Pete Wernick teach a bluegrass jam camp Monday through Thursday. But just as we were packing up I got a call from Pete asking if we could bring our sound system along. I laughed after I hung up, since I had just unloaded the sound system that morning (we use it at the Fudge Company) and I had thought about leaving it just in case. So we stopped by the house on the way to Owensboro to pick it up, a bit out of the way but not too much.
Pete worked his usual magic at jam camp, with us on hand to coach the small jam groups and provide general assistance. We also managed to squeeze in a business meeting over supper at the Moonlite BBQ, since I work remotely for Pete running his bluegrass teachers network but rarely see him in person (or even talk to him—nearly all our communication is done via email).
Over the years we’ve developed a travel routine that keeps costs down. In Owensboro the cheapest hotel room was not much more than the best campground rate I could find, so we opted for the hotel (but in two weeks we’ll be at a West Virginia music school where we’ll camp for a week). We’ve learned to be satisfied with water as the beverage of choice, and we always keep a case or two of cheap water bottles (10-15 cents apiece) in the car.
And for multi-day trips we take a cooler full of food with us. We eat Cheerios and milk for breakfast, and I use an electric kettle to brew a cup plus a thermos of coffee for the day. For lunch we we bought a baguette from Panera Bread each morning, and ate that either with butter and supplemented with cheese and summer sausage, or with deli roast beef and mayo. For supper it was either pasta salad, or potato salad supplemented with fried chicken from Wal-Mart. I figure our food budget was $10 per day total for the both of us.
The jam camp ended Thursday with a two-song performance to open the ROMP festival, which was very successful this year (at least 12,000 tickets sold). It’s always remarkable to watch dozens of students, who just three days earlier were hesitant and inexperienced, storm the stage and play well and with with confidence. I wish I had pictures, but we aren’t currently equipped to take them on the road. After the jam campers Pete and his wife Joan played a set. The evening ended with Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, who are doing a remarkable job of introducing the world at large to bluegrass. By 9:15pm we were on the road back home.
Friday we caught up on sleep and chores around the house, and then Saturday it was back to Harrodsburg, not to the Fudge Company but to the Festival of Books and Arts where we were playing. We arrived in plenty of time, which was good because the duo that preceded us walked off the stage after just twenty minutes (they were scheduled to play for fifty). We have no problem stretching, so we got an early start and played for about ninety minutes.
The next day we were in Frankfort again for our usual Sunday performance, and then finally back home to stay for awhile.