March 9, 2018 - Needham High School and Boston Latin

I sing a song about a guy whose travels are repeatedly impacted by the weather.

I remember the first time I realized that there was something similar in the experience of a traveling bard.

I was sitting at O'Hare airport in June of 2013 watching as a summer storm came through and delayed my flight just enough that I was unable to make it to Columbia, Missouri, in time for my inaugural performance at The Missouri Scholars Academy.  

I was able to make it to MSA in 2014 (and each year since) so I don't consider that as a canceled performance, merely a delayed one.  It may be a bit of semantic wriggling, but it allows me to claim (to myself I suppose) that I've never missed an Odyssey show because of the weather.  

Nearly 250 performances in, that feels like a pretty good streak, albeit one that will no doubt end at some point if I continue traveling and performing at the pace at which I have been the last few years.

My early March week of shows in New Jersey and Massachusetts provided the strongest test yet to this undefeated record.

First I had to quickly move my flight from Philadelphia to Boston up from Wednesday morning to Tuesday night to beat the snow (every flight out of Philly on Wednesday wound up being canceled so it was a good thing I acted on Monday night when it became clear the weather would be an issue).

Then, as I pulled into my hotel Wednesday night in Boston after my show at Catholic Memorial, I got word that most Boston-area schools were staying closed on Thursday because of the Wednesday overnight snowstorm, including Boston Latin, at which I was scheduled to perform Thursday afternoon.

Over the course of the next 12 hours I managed to put together a solution: I would reschedule that performance for Friday afternoon and push my flight back to Chicago a little bit later that day.

This entailed a pretty big challenge in that it would mean I was singing three shows on Friday: the two originally scheduled at Needham High School in the morning and then the make up show at Boston Latin in the early afternoon.

I haven't done three full shows in a day in a very long time and can count the number of times I have, ever, on one hand. The piece is so demanding vocally and when you add in the lecturing/Q&A it's very taxing on my voice not to mention my overall energy.

But I was determined to keep my streak alive and I figured I had 10 days off singing between these last Boston shows and my next performance in Nebraska so... I went for it.

It also meant I had Thursday off and though it did snow overnight, by the time I checked out of my hotel the snow had stopped and the roads were clear.  I scoped out a swimming facility and went for a peaceful midday swim before checking into my new hotel for the night.  

On Friday, I was up early feeling out my vocal health.  I wrote about how I came into the week at the end of a bad head cold but as I've found typical with touring, my voice seems to get stronger with repeated usage.

A quick drive to Needham High School to set up for my first performance at 8:35 am.  I played Needham last year in April and it was really nice to be asked back and walk into a familiar room with familiar teachers.  The first show went really well: my voice felt good and I was able to sing easily but with strength.  All the notes were there as was my tone.

I reloaded immediately for the second performance at a little after 10:00 am and it too was great.  I sang with a little more abandon but didn't feel as if my voice was wearing down in any way.

After a 30 minute drive into the city I arrived at Boston Latin at noon.  Boston Latin is the oldest public school in the United States, founded in the 17th century.  Every student who attends (by virtue of testing in) takes four years of Latin, making it a great audience for my piece.  

I was stunned as my contact lead me into the performance space, a giant long hall with spectacular, high ornate ceilings and the names of famous alumni lining the walls: Adams, Emerson, Kennedy, Hancock. It was as grand and beautiful a room as I've been in.

A quick set up and my voice was booming through the PA system.

At 12:45, a couple of hundred kids filed in and I was off.

My guitar and voice thundered through the dead silent hall.  The last quarter of the piece I felt a combination of pride and relief that I was going to make it through these three performances intact and still singing well.  

I finished, fielded questions for 30 minutes, and then pushed through Friday Boston traffic to drop off my rental car and get to the airport.  

I found myself sitting at the bar near my gate with a well-earned beer in sort of a post-performance trance.  

7 shows in 5 days in two states plus an interview in New York on Sunday.

A storm anticipated, a storm endured.

Odysseus would be proud.

Homer, too.

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