It was a clear, dark night with a bright, white moon when I made the journey from the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest to the still waters of the San Francisco Bay. Arriving just in time for a Jibboo Crew sing along, I knew that somehow this was going to be the trip of a lifetime. It had been over nine years since my last coast-to-coast tour and I had spent a solid majority of the summer in anticipation of what was to come during this two-week journey across the heartland and back.
I had been a HeadCount volunteer since 2004, but now, for the first time, I was on the road, with my favorite band, registering voters from California to Georgia and everywhere in between.
The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium brought three days of goodness that only an indoor venue can behold. Sunday 8/19 was one HeadCount highlight of the tour; with an interview from The San Francisco Chronicle and a second set that increased the vibration of the entire venue to the point of meltage. After the festivities, our group of traveling peeps left for Kansas City.
Starting in Kansas City, I teamed up with East Coast HeadCount legend Laura Bedrick. We looked at each other and said, “Let’s do this.”
Venue after venue, show after show we were in continuous amazement of the HeadCount family who proved to be seamlessly weaving together the fabric of a legendary quilt of memories for both Bedrick and myself. While our travels through Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte and St. Louis were streamlined, the upbeat pace of this tour in no way prevented us from exploring a few “short-cuts” along the way, as well as awarding each other new nicknames – Lone Eagle and Old Finger, or Laura and Laura.
The response we got really varied geographically. A lot of people at Phish shows are already registered, but as we rolled through the South, we really felt the warmth and the need for what we were doing. In Atlanta, everything clicked. Charlotte, too. Sure, we met people who gave the whole “I don’t want to talk about politics," but they were the minority. Most of the phans really appreciated what we were doing.
At the beginning of our journey together Bedrick was one show fresh into the Phish scene and I had been around for more than 15 years. Besides our names and a huge love for HeadCount, what might a girl who has been living off the grid on the west coast have in common with a girl from Brooklyn? Turns out quite a bit, actually. We soon learned that while our similarities brought us together, it was our differences that would help shape us into the team we have become. In matters of democracy, this is no small feat. After sharing laughter and encouragement, re-calculations and perseverance, and possibly a few chalupas, we parted ways in St. Louis both knowing that we would see each other soon.
Looking ahead to the last four shows of the tour, I was filled with a sense of stillness and awe. It had been such an incredible journey thus far; little did I know the story waiting to unfold as I transitioned to the end of summer tour. After a courageous road trip to Oklahoma City, I found myself at Dick’s Park outside of Denver. With the astrological patterns of 2012 holding the brightest blue moon in 35 years, an energetic connection between divine and the core of the earth was made that none of us had ever quite experienced in our lives. That connection is light. I’ll never forget Friday night at Denver, when everyone realized they were starting to spell out F*CK YOUR FACE with the first letter of each song on the setlist.
I thought my trip had come full circle when I arrived at the Amtrak station on Labor Day to head home and Ty from just south of Des Moines, Iowa asked, “Are you the voting girl?” I laughed and responded, “Yes”. “You asked me to register vote in Kansas City,” he replied. With a huge smile on my face I boarded the train to Indiana see my parents. Upon arriving, I quickly recognized that the circle was part of the spiral when my mom asked me what the best part of the trip was. After stating that of course it was coming back to see her, she said, “I’ve been reading the reviews, It sounds like the Denver shows were excellent.”
Yes, mom – they were indeed.
To the volunteers and family members of HeadCount, the crew of The Waterwheel Foundation, and those of you who supported Laura and myself in your own unique ways throughout this tour, Thank YOU. It is you who made this all possible.
Photographs provided by Christy Articola of Surrender to the Flow.