Driving south on Route 96 from Ithaca, we pass many roadside signs cautioning us to be aware of snowmobiles appearing from driveways. No fear of that on this warm October Sunday morning. The sun shines down on weathered clapper-board houses and roadside diners offering smashed pumpkin sundae. On winding roads through tiny townships, we pass white-washed churches, their car parks full. As we head towards the Susquehanna River valley and the I-80 East, the Fleet Foxes provide us with hymns to this beautiful Appalachian morning.
The first three gigs on this tour are all in places I’ve never played before and after nearly 20 years of touring in the US and Canada its nice to get off the beaten track. West Long Branch is on the Jersey Shore, the Atlantic coastline that stretches south from New York down to Chesapeake Bay. Asbury Park, home of Bruce Springsteen is nearby.
The gig is at Monmouth College and has all the necessary ingredients of an intimate show – seated auditorium, no bar, Sunday night etc. – and I enjoy playing a less intense show than the night before, talking and singing to the audience in an almost conversational manner.
In the front row away to my right I become aware of a little kid leaping around during the songs, playing a toy electric guitar. He is active all night, windmilling his arm like a tiny Pete Townsend and throwing some classic guitar hero shapes. His name is Ossie and, the end of the show, I invite him up to perform with me during A New England. He steals the show.