• Jennifer

Tour VS Covid-19 #32DaysOnTheRoad


Thursday 3/12 - Starbucks in Amarillo

I am at a Starbucks in Amarillo and it appears to be life as normal here. Most the seats are occupied and a steady stream of traffic is at both the drive through and front counter. But overnight everything has begun to change drastically. We left the Phoenix area Tuesday morning and things were status quo. Now, we are hearing about empty shelves there and back home in Detroit, toilet paper and cleaning supply gouging online, and watching our social media feeds go from foodie pics to those of empty meat coolers.

After Tuesday evening everything has felt very tentative, or moreso than it has felt in the past few days. We have 4 more dates on the tour as we head north, 4 in Michigan as soon as we get there that we are counting on. And we are more than halfway across the country. Honestly, for a week we've been wondering if we were going to be better off staying in Arizona someplace as we began to hear from friends saying their tour dates were getting cancelled one after the other, then the the big announcement that SXSW had been cancelled. The WHO is using the word "Pandemic". Uncertainty is closing in from both coasts and even in West Texas there is a nervous laughter everytime someone coughs or sneezes. Is it Texas Cedar, a cold, or is it Covid-19? You decide.

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Note: We have toured through one of the biggest forest fires on record in the Pacific NW, been towed 100 miles for a tire change during gale force winds on a holiday weekend, Snowpocalypse in the south, floods, and more. We have learned not to worry until there's something to worry about. This pandemic put us on pause with gigs cancelled and concerns for family and friends.

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Suddenly a roll of toilet paper creates a crisis of conscious. Not really! I left it for the next person in need of a clean tush! #modelcitizen

Dylan and I left our venue lodging in Lubbock and I decided since the world seemed to be falling apart, pretending we are living out a "Walking Dead" episode as we headed to Amarillo would lighten the mood as we searched for scarce bathroom supplies. We opted against the interstate. The West Texas landscape was the perfect backdrop for an apocalyptic fantasy. Just us and the cows. He, of course thought I was crazy. But not when we stumbled upon this glorious bounty of bath tissue at a Family Dollar. We were good citizens and only bought one package.

Leaving Lubbock ---- it sure felt like we were venturing outside of our apocalypse compound when we left the venue.

Tuesday 3/17 - Saint Patricks Day.

Amarillo, Wichita, KCMO. The last few days on the road started to carry the vibe that people were clinging to the last vestiges of their livelihoods in the entertainment and hospitality world, and sense of normality. Its clear people want to support their local businesses and there really hasn't been much disruption in daily life in the region besides some barren shelves. And it is clear some just want to have a good time. We had a nice time with friends in Wichita, adopting the elbow bump, and a fantastic show in KCMO. I really wanted to stay but the crowds left me a bit uneasy and we left shortly after our show.

A Trip to Wichita is not complete without a visit with Ike and Tina - Ike pictured below - Betty White aka The Great White Hope is just outside the back window.

We drove dutifully to Memphis from KCMO, stopping along the way at grocery stores picked over of paper products and dried beans. One grocery store had 6 "team members" posted to protect a shipment of white gold. We decided to get a our allotted 2 package ration of Angel Soft and scrounged up some basics for our empty pantry back home. Beale Street was still open for business and we were trying to get a feel for things in this part of the country. We checked the news obsessively as events were being limited to 500, 250,100....Ohio closed bars and restaurants, Illinois, and cities and states on both coasts enacting restrictions once thought impossible. The Honky Tonks on Broadway in Nashville were told to shut down. It was looking like a safe bet that by morning, Michigan would announce closures of all bars/restaurants/venues. We sat outside a hotel we hadn't yet booked a room at, put some food in our stomachs so we could think clearly.

Six employees watch over TP distribution. 2 at each end of the aisle and 2 in the middle. #whitegold

We were really looking forward to returning to Memphis this weekend, enjoying some Gus's Fried Chicken, seeing friends and making music. It was one of our first stops this year and we were treated so great by the local news where we were able to perform and do a little promo we wanted to follow up on. Instead of enjoying a little revelry on Beale Street, we are at home recuperating, putting out fires, honing our social distancing skills and checking on friends and family. There are worse things that can happen than a canceled show.

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On a personal note, I am bursting with gratitude for this tour due to a myriad of reasons which I will blog about soon. We had 5 shows cancelled for this week - our finale. Does it hurt? Yes, but we are so fortunate to have had the winter we did. Am I concerned? I am concerned for friends that are higher risk of contracting a disease we don't fully understand, and friends that rely on an income to feed their families that has disappeared.

We had a few regional events this spring which appear, for now, are cancelled until at least late May. We have had plans in place to tour in late spring and will move ahead as if all will be well and at the same time brace ourselves for whatever may come. We planned on getting in the studio, and doing some live broadcasts, filling our youtube page with content here at home, and once we get our bearings we will forge ahead with some version of all those plans.

Right now, there is not an hour that passes that we don't think about how fortunate we have been and how much we love our friends around the country. I could name so many of you - when we reached the city limits of Detroit something inside me made my heart swell thinking about how lucky I am to have so many of you in my life, to the point of tears. We are never more than a couple hours from someone we love and trust. Thank you for being there and being our family.

Jennifer

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© 2019 BY Jennifer Westwood and The Handsome Devils.