I was on a little hiatus from laboring for lawyers (read: got unfairly and unjustly fired from a big, ugly, selfish, majorly dickish law firm) in the spring of 1990; I wasn’t really doing anything important this particular summer. My good friend, Drew, suggested that I go on the road with his girlfriend, Ruth’s, band, the Pseudonymphs (hereinafter, the P’nymphs.) I had not met or seen this three-women punk group before, but I gave it some thought, and decided to meet with Ruth and the girls. I got together with Ruth Hampton, and sisters Carrie and Julie O’Baoighill, one hot July afternoon, and we really clicked right away. It was decided that I would assist with driving and just sort of help them manage their East Coast tour. It mattered not that I didn’t have a driver’s license at the time.
So the plans were in motion. We’d leave Minneapolis in a couple of weeks for an East Coast tour, with shows starting in Connecticut and ending up in Carrie and Julie’s hometown of Portland, Maine.
My boyfriend (who is now my hubby) was cool with the whole thing, and even encouraged me to go do something adventurous and different. The weekend before I was to leave, however, we were playing softball with a bunch of English guys who didn’t know you needed to get out of the way when someone is sliding into a base…which is a long way of saying that my boyfriend, now hubby, broke his leg while sliding into a base being manned by an English guy who wouldn’t get out of the way. Snap! Broke in two places. Holy shit! The doctors put him in a cast but were evaluating and trying to decide whether they should do surgery and put in a screw or two, which would have meant that I would not be going with the P’nymphs. My now hubby decided against the screws, so my trip was on. He still hasn’t shown any signs of resentment, even though his dad came and stayed with him while I was gone. Sorry, honey.
Alright, trip on! We gathered at the Seward Café to meet up with the guy loaning us his van, a 1971 Ford Econoline with a hole in the gas tank, so we could never quite fill up the tank all the way…swell. It was really nice of the van owner to loan it to us though.
Our first destination was to Ruthie’s parents’ farm in Northeastern Iowa. We got there pretty late at night, and I was amazed to see how beautiful it was in the morning when we got up – rolling hills and lots of trees – not all flat and corny. I mean, lots of corn of course, it was a corn farm. Ruth’s dad was funny, making corn smut jokes that I didn’t quite get, not understanding what corn smut was. Both of her parents were very lovely people – Quakers – whom I’ve grown a deep respect for in the years since meeting them.
I think all of us started getting our sea legs, and were ready for the trek out East. These girls were prepared – they had the mechanisms for cooking on the road and making coffee – they weren’t going to pay me anything, but they sure did take care of me. We ate very healthy meals and always had the java going. We went through all the “I” states, as Julie called them – I did all the driving through Ohio – I couldn’t see straight anymore and I think it was Carrie who took over the driving duties while I slept in the back of the van. [here is one of the P’Nymphs’ big hits “Premature Ejaculation” http://youtu.be/JbO2e0z4BvQ ]
First gig was at the Third World Café in New Haven, Connecticut, the P’nymphs would be opening for a group called The Sun City Girls (actually, 3 guys from Arizona, and hereinafter “SCG”.) SCG was 2 brothers, Alan and Richard Bishop, and their soul brother, Charlie Gocher (Goshay, dammit.) I loved these guys instantly, their performance was amazing, and they were spectacular human beings. We all got along famously – went to a Denny’s after the show and then stayed with the club’s manager, Fernando, that night. We thought it was great that Fernando’s place was right on the ocean and went for a dip that morning, but jesus there were hypodermic needles and condoms on the beach…it was crazy! [here’s more stuff about those sun city girls – I guess they were kind of a “thing” http://www.suncitygirls.com/about/]
Then it was on to Worcester, Massachusetts (worstah) for another show with SCG at Worcester Artists Group (WAG), a large warehouse space. This was a really cool show, although during the P’nymphs’ performance I sort of had to strong-arm some really stupid frat-boy types sitting in the back who wouldn’t shut up. I made them shut up.
That night we (P’nymphs and SCG) stayed with booking agent Bob Jordan – I slept in the van – we had a big breakfast feast and then just hung out in Bob’s living room for a spell. One of the guys from WAG was filming us singing “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family…I would kill to see that video. After the sing-song, Julie goes “what does that mean ‘geeouroldlasallerangreat?’” and then Alan broke it down and explained it to her. Priceless!
We parted ways with SCG – they had a gig in Boston, and so did the P’nymphs, only in different venues. Things got a little screwed up for the P’nymphs – we got to this weird little club and the sign said “The Acoustic Nymphs” – there was no way the P’nymphs were going to do anything acoustic. So we just hung out at this place for a little bit, and then decided to head on up to Portland.
The O’Baoighill girls had a great gig in their hometown at Geno’s. Girl group band The Brood opened…and the P’nymphs blew everyone’s socks off. We were all invited to a lobster beach party hosted by The Brood the next day, and when we got there (and we weren’t late), the people were having a food fight on the rocky beach, throwing lobsters and other food items at each other. They didn’t acknowledge our arrival or existence. Were they paying us back for kicking their asses the night before? We were soooo hungry.
We stayed at Carrie and Julie’s mom’s house that night and, after getting fully rested, we cleaned out the van the next morning and got our shit together for the long journey home. We pretty much drove straight through, making sure that there was at least one licensed driver up front at all times. We got pulled over in Calumet, Illinois (one of those dammed “I” states) and had to do a big switcheroo – Ruthie had to quickly jump in the driver’s seat (I had been driving) – and the O’Baoighill girls were naked in the back and had to quickly put some clothes on. It was hot, ok? All of this happened in front of an oil change place where a bunch of the mechanics were on their lunch break, and they were thoroughly entertained by the whole scene. We got a ticket for something minor, I can’t recall what it was for, but I guess it could have been a lot worse.
Got back to Minneapolis and was glad to see my poor now hubby with his poor broken leg. I made life-long friends with the P’nymphs and won’t ever forget this trip. The Sun City Girls came through Minneapolis towards the end of their tour, played at the Uptown (may it rest in peace) and stayed with us. More life-long friends.
If anyone asks you to be a road manager, don’t let something like not having a driver’s license hold you back.