After a great first day of tour on Monday and a beautiful, intense Blues of Achilles show at Earlham College on Tuesday night, I awoke on Wednesday in my quirky mid-century modern Airbnb in Richmond, Indiana. I only had a two and a half hour to drive to Lexington, but my first of two performances was an Odyssey show for a class that started at 11:00 am so it was still dark when I got on the road.
I arrived in Lexington without incident and met my contact, a previous host from a 2016 Odyssey show who oversaw a panel for the American Comparative Literature Association Confernence to which I virtually presented a paper on The Blues of Achilles earlier this year.
This morning show was in a(nother) converted chapel space and the light shone in the stained glass windows as the 100 Myth students took their seats. The excellent acoustics meant I was able to perform again without a microphone, my voice and guitar booming the length of the room. I could feel that this was my fourth show in 48 hours but not in a bad way.
The map I follow in my brain to perform the Odyssey, the muscle memory in my hands and voice, these things are so well worn they give me comfort. They are as effortless in some ways as breathing and I finished this morning show with a flourish to applause and great questions.
After an afternoon on campus, I set up for my evening Blues of Achilles show in a partitioned ballroom in the the student center. The sound was incredible. I got to use a microphone which my voice and the material appreciated. The quieter I can sing my war songs, the more impact they seem to have, and the amazing sound allowed me to nearly whisper as needed.
In contrast to the Odyssey, the Blues of Achilles takes a lot of work, physically and emotionally. Performing it guts me in a way that the Odyssey never has and I think the audience can feel that.
This is the first time I’ve performed both on the same day in person and I’m struck by how different they are, proud of how I’ve organically managed to capture some of the vast differences between the two Homeric texts in my songs.
After a celebratory dinner with my host and some students, it’s back to the hotel. The next day is a 5 hour drive for the last show of the first leg of this tour and the occasion to perform the Odyssey in my 45th state, West Virginia.
I fall asleep trying to remember as many shows as possible working across the United States from west to east. I fall asleep well before I reach my home state of Illinois which has much less dire consequences (in fact the opposite) than it does for Odysseus...