Several weeks ago we found out through Tanya Donelly's web site that she would be recording a live album in Bellows Falls, Vermont. As we had attended Rock in Rockingham there last summer, and had such a good time, we decided that this would make a nice weekend getaway. There were three recording sessions: Friday night and two sets on Saturday. We were unable to make it to Vermont for the Friday night show, so we bought tickets to both Saturday night shows. We made a reservation for Saturday night at Horsefeathers, the excellent bed and breakfast where we had stayed last year.
We left home around noon on Saturday. We were able to take Route 12 this time (it had been washed out last year), and it seemed significantly faster (and more scenic). It was a very hot and humid day, one of the few really summery days we have had this summer. The drive took us 2 hours and 15 minutes. We went straight to Horsefeathers, where we checked in to our room. It was called "Our Queen" and was on the ground floor. It had a queen sized bed, nice private bathroom, and a little private deck with a sliding glass door. There was an interesting arrangement of antique keys hung on the wall. We said hi to Elke and Bodo, the proprietors, and we met Darrell, who had driven in from Cleveland. He had seen the Friday night show, and he gave it a glowing review. We also talked a bit about blues, and how Robert Lockwood Jr. plays in Cleveland every Wednesday night, and many people sit in with him. We freshened up and then headed into town to find some food. We parked right in front of the Windham, an old brick hotel which has been converted into storefronts. On the right hand side of the building was an area that has been converted to a recording studio/performance space. We ended up talking to Ezra, the sound man. He told us about the recording process, etc. Tanya and her band were rehearsing inside, and we could vaguely see and hear them through the windows.
We wandered around and tried to find someplace to eat. It was around 4:00, and not much was open. The town was definitely very sleepy for a Saturday afternoon. Never one to pass up a good old-fashioned diner, we stopped in at the Miss Bellows Falls Diner. There weren't many people there when we arrived, but soon it was bustling and filled to capacity. Craig and I got iced tea. Craig had a nice cup of clam chowder to start things off, followed by chicken breasts with mashed potatoes, zucchini, and summer squash. I had meat loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. The meat loaf was delicious! Top it all off with a basket of rolls and we were all set. We watched the regulars for a while and soaked up the ambiance of the diner while we finished our iced teas. It was an interesting place to people watch and we couldn't help but think of a few Tom Waits songs that seemed highly appropriate. A sign proclaimed it to be "Worcester Diner Car No, 771, built in the 1920's."
After we finished eating, we wandered around downtown. We went into a sporting goods store, and by then it was 5:30. Most of the other stores were closed, so we took a walk up to the Immanuel Church and around its cemetery, which had graves from the mid-1800's to the present. The church clock struck six o'clock and played some nice chimes. Several minutes later a church down the street struck six and played an extended melody.It was very peaceful and picturesque in the cemetery with the setting sun so we took a few photos.
At around 6:15 we walked back downtown. A local teenager sitting on a park bench talked to us a bit about the town and suddenly somehow the conversation turned to Jesus. We took that as our cue to head across the street to the venue. We ran into the usual suspects, Coelynn, Genevieve, Darrell, Lisa, Vicki, etc., hanging around outside the door of the Windham. We chatted with everyone. A little while later, someone came and started passing out the will-call tickets. At around 7:00 they let us in. The room was very small but elegant. This was actually the lobby of the old hotel and much of the ornate woodwork was still in place. There were blue velvet curtains on the windows and a blue velvet curtain separating the main room from the bathroom area. There was a bar in the rear corner of the room. There were six rows of chairs set up, accommodating around 50 people. There were a couple of tables in the back of the room. We were seated in the third row.
The lineup for the first set was Tanya on guitar and vocals, Dean Fisher on guitar, Joe McMahon on upright bass, Arthur Johnson on drums, Joan Wasser on violin and backup vocals, and Bill Janovitz on backup vocals. It was a great atmosphere. The musicians were joking with the audience, Tanya was picking on herself for messing up a couple of times...it was a really friendly, comfortable, low-key atmosphere, and we all felt very honored to be a part of such an intimate, unique experience. The first set consisted entirely of new songs. The set list was as follows:
After the set was finished, they made us line up outside in the rain while they reorganized the room. We ended up near the back of the line, so when we were allowed to re-enter, we ended up in the last row of seats. It seems that some people managed to stay inside and still have great seats but we still had a great view, though. The musicians for this set consisted of Tanya on vocals and guitar, Dean Fisher on guitar, Rich Gilbert on guitar and pedal steel, and Peter Moore on keyboard and backup vocals. The setlist was a subset of the recent Whiskey Tango Ghost Tour concert we had seen at the Paradise in Boston:
We said goodbye to our friends and then headed back to the B&B. It was soon after midnight, and we needed some time to wind down, so we sat out on our little porch and ate a few granola bars. The moon was almost full and the clouds were racing past. It was quite tranquil sitting there taking in all that we had been a part of that evening. We are really looking forward to the release of the new album. It was fantastic to be a part of something so special. As we talked about this, we realized that not only did we have a great view of the moon but we also looked downriver to the city of Bellows Falls and the clocktower looming over it. After hearing rather strange train noises in the distance and growing tired of keeping an eye on the late evening spiders that felt this porch was theirs, we finally went to bed at around 1:00.
|We woke up at 7:15, and headed out to the dining room for breakfast at 8. We decided to eat in a different room than last year. We decided to avoid creating a bad habit in case we come back yet again next time. We had been looking forward to the tremendous breakfast that Elke made us last year and eagerly awaited the day's selection. Elke had made fresh raisin scones which they served with grapes. We had a nice decanter of coffee and orange juice, and chatted with the other guests. One woman was in town taking an art class while her husband found things to keep him entertained. Bodo then served us Italian toast (toast topped with shredded prosciutto, scrambled eggs and cheese). It was absolutely delicious! We both took our time and savored every bite! After packing up our things, we checked out. On our way to the car we decided to walk down to the pond and chicken coop. Last year we had spent a little time down there so we wanted to say hello to the chickens and take in one last look at the lovely grounds. There was a rather large frog on the shores of the pond and upon closer inspection we saw that it had one eye missing. It looked like it had been that way for quite some time and he seemed to be managing just fine without it. We left Horsefeathers at around 9:45. We stopped for gas and wanted to get a nice Dunkin Donuts coffee for the ride home but the little store counter had about 10 people in line and only one person working the counter. Rather than wait our turn we decided to just head home and we were home by around noon.|