In April, we made our way from New Orleans, LA up to Green Bay, WI. Our trip north coincided with a booking that we were offered to open for Ruth Moody and our CD release party for “Over Land and Leas”. The morning of our arrival we were welcomed by a snowy northern spring and dear friends that we had spent 2006-2011 with. These were the friends that listened to our dreams and desires, that shared our woes and joys. They are the friends that helped us build our bus, pack up our home, and encouraged us on our way. And so, it was with great anticipation and excitement that we pulled into this most recent home town of ours.
Three hours after our arrival we connected with our host family, The Walls, then went to the Brummel home for welcoming hugs and drinks. For dinner, we went to our favorite, El Sarape Mexican restaurant where the Gokey’s meet us. Followed with more friends joining us for a wild Wisconsin night of cosmic bowling. The next morning, all of us girls went to the Y for Zumba and coffee at the Jitterbean. And for lunch we had a visit on our bus from Team Thomas and the VanFossen’s.
Whew! Shortly after lunch we loaded up our gear and went over to the Cup o Joy Music Venue to prepare for our CD release concert that evening. Having played there over the course of the last five years, there was a comfortability and familiarity as Mark, our sound guy, met us at the door and welcomed us back. We had a quick sound check, and went to the green room for dinner. Paula brought us pasta and salads, and Jan O brought us dessert. Yosemite showed up on time and brought their joyful presence with them. A young reporter from UWGB, the local university, arrived to do an interview with our family. My brother and his family arrived a little early to say “hi” and then the Blumreich’s came back to welcome us. Excitement was building and we were ready to roll.
Yosemite, (Greg and Kevin) gave a wonderful offering of music and quirky stories of studying abroad, girls, etc… They delight us every time and eased us into the night perfectly. After a short intermission, we took the stage. It was the first time we performed our new songs in their entirety and in any other setting, nerves would have been high. But here we were on a fantastic stage, in capable hands, with our kind listening ears and bright smiles cheering us on. The exchange was simple and spiritual.
Our son, Banjo, who is going through quite a transformation, blooming from adolescence and into manhood, but not quite yet, was the darling of the night. There is a greater demand on a percussionist, their tone and tempo can make or break a song, such a big responsibility for an 11 yr old but he was spot on! And, Graciana, who is branching out even fuller, came into her own and surprised a few, I’m sure. As parents, it is an honor to perform alongside our children, this was a proud moment and one we will cherish well after this is all said and done.
The next day we found our way to the Neenah Public Library for a lovely afternoon performance and then made our way up to Sturgeon Bay for a couple of nights with family. My brother, sister-in-law and 5 precious darlings, live there. Memories came flooding back of our time living just down the street from them in 2001-2006. It was fun to be back in our old neck of the woods and of course, Pizza night at the Arnold’s was the highlight of our Door County run.
Although our time was filled with community gatherings with more friends, homeschool and family time, by the middle of the week we were coming down with a cold. The weather didn’t help matters as the snow and freezing rain continued to pound Northeast Wisconsin. It was dark and gloomy and we were all longing for our time in Louisiana, where it was warm and sunny. Honestly, if it wouldn’t have been for the obligation to perform that weekend we would have probably started to drive south.
We’re glad we stayed however. The performance opening for Ruth Moody at Luxemburg High School Auditorium was sheer delight. We didn’t know much about Ruth before hand, only that she was in another group called the “Wailin Jennys” which we didn’t know much about either, but found out that they were on Prairie Home Companion, which is a dream of ours. So, then it all made sense. She was a darling young lady and her band was very impressive. Even with a terrible head cold and Craig breaking a string two songs in, our performance went fantastic. We shared a half hour set of Holland tunes, including a few from our new album as well at Old Man’s Town and Morning Star. We invited the stoic crowd to sing and clap along and by the end of our set we all felt like old friends.
Our last night in town was my very favorite. Girls night out, Sushi and Sauna. One of our favorite foods is sushi and believe it or not, Green Bay, WI has one of the best sushi restaurants called Koko’s. The “A” club”, well it’s not really a club, it just how it all worked out, Kara, Tara, Sara, and Paula met Graciana and myself (Jana) at Koko’s. (Get it? All of our names end in “A”) Anyway, we had a feast and after dinner we went down the street to the Downtown YMCA for a sauna.
We couldn’t have asked for a more fantastic welcome home. Life is rich and we don’t take it for granted. We are grateful for those who love us and allow us to love them back. See you in July Wisco!