When I find myself on the road, I like to make it a point to share a meal with friends who live in the cities that I travel through. It was a sunny day in early May, when I met Amie and her blue bus downtown Denver, Colorado. A month earlier, when I found out I would be on tour with the bands Greylag and Augustana during the spring, we had made a plan to converge on this day, in this city. My longtime best friend, Amie Phillips, a talented Denver painter, had recently purchased a refurbished Schoolbus to use as her traveling studio. It was complete with a woodburning stove, vintage couch, succulents, and an amazing backend kitchen. She had been hosting intimate dinner parties in the bus over the short time she had owned it and these were getting rave reviews. Inspired by what I had already seen and heard, I wanted to share in this magic! The plan was to gather a group of likeminded friends who had been disconnected due to various travel schedules and projects over the winter months. Being a freelancing artist, it is hard to find a moment when all my friends are in the same place at the same time. However, there are those magical singular days, or a week here or there when the stars align and all can gather to be together. This was such a day.
The morning of the meal, we loaded a table and chairs, loaves of homemade bread, and handmade wooden serving platters into the blue bus. From there the journey up into the mountains began. As we drove the bus through the city of Denver, my excitement for what we were creating began to escalate. With windows down, hair blowing, bouncing along on the floral vintage couch through the mountains, I could not have been more joyful!
Arriving at the flatirons in Boulder, we found a spot to park the bus that allowed us to cook the meal with a view. A worn dirt path led into the foothills and we carried dinnerware, blankets, and a long wooden tabletop that we set upon stones. As the sky turned pink, friends started to arrive with dishes of homemade ravioli, fresh vegetables, salads and a coconut carrot cake. Our party was one of many talents, including painters, chefs, musicians and photographers. The bus had brought us out into the mountains and under the stars to share stories of our recent, current, and future travels. For this one night, we were all here together. It was calm, the food was filling, but mostly, it was an evening of rejuvenation, to rest and be fed, to share with others who understood the unpredictability of a career as an artist. How this kind of lifestyle can leave you feeling disconnected from a routine or place or people. This is why the bus felt so significant, familiar and like home. It was a symbol of movement, while providing a stationary place to cook, dine, converse, and commune.
After the food had disappeared, instruments appeared in its place. Voices chimed in and feet began to dance. Michael Gungor replaced guitar with the spoons, while Lisa did a jig by candlelight. The melodies were mesmerizing, sung a capella in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Later on that night, as we sat inside the bus by the woodburning stove, sipping whiskey to banjo tunes and snacking on leftover cake, another bus pulled up in front of us. On the way to their next venue, the Greylag boys had driven to find us and join the conclusion of our meal. It was truly a joyful moment of reuniting with best friends, hearing more travels of the road, more music, more love, more sharing. The power of connection and the beauty of belonging, inspire me to keep creating, resting and moving, en route through the mountains.