When on tour, we often talk about travel karma. Some days it goes for you, other days not so much. I turned up at Heathrow, having already checked in to Boston, only to find that I'd been moved out of my preferred window seat. I thought it was going to be one of those days. Turns out it was quite the opposite: Rob and I had been upgraded. More leg-room, proper cutlery and china, a glass of champagne...what a difference. And the day kept giving once we landed: barely a queue at immigration, our luggage was waiting for us, the car rental admin took no time at all...we were on our way. We arrived at our smart campus hotel in good time (we are starting the tour at Dartmouth College, 3 hours from Boston) and went for our customary first-night burger and beer. Plane film reviews were swapped, Don gave us the lowdown on what to expect at the venue (he had arrived a day early to give a workshop and taught a class), and we tried to work out which states between us we haven't yet been to. We reckon it's just five: the two Dakotas, Idaho, New Mexico and Alaska. Any promoters out there who might like to help us get to the full 50, please do get in touch!
Having got all our travel out of the way, we had plenty of downtime today. Between us I think we covered all the restaurants in town either for breakfast, brunch or lunch. I managed to get a couple of gifts for my boys (the eldest collects refrigerater magnets from every city I travel to, my youngest has pencils and flags!) and paid a fleeting visit to the gym.
The gig went well and the concert hall was great. And judging by the audience response, we acquitted ourselves well. Don and I did a short post-concert q&a with Dr Diane Belcher, and then it was on to the traditional post-concert beers in Murphy's, helped along with some nachos. Thankfully in this freezing weather, the only outdoor part of that itinerary was to the bar itself, a sacrifice well worth making.
With nothing on the schedule till an afternoon rehearsal, we were left to our own devices this morning: muesem and gallery visits, shopping, runs around Central Park...and big American breakfasts all round.
We left Voices Appeared behind tonight to sing a standard concert. The venue was St Mary the Virgin, a large church just off Time Square (also known as Smokey Mary's), a place we've been to many times. It's a large church with an acoustic to match - quite different from the halls we have performed in so far - and we revelled in its warmth and the echo. Hosted by our good friends at Miller Theater, we performed a programme of 16th-century pieces centred on a theme of poetry and music. Having Rob along was a luxury, enabling us to sing 5-part music we wouldn't normally be able to do, most notably Josquin's famous La Déploration de Johannes Ockeghem.
Our final day was set to be a long one. Thanks to a schedule change by our airline, we had to book a 4am taxi to La Guardia - not much fun. But the journey was smooth and we were checked in to our hotel in Columbus, Ohio by 8am, allowing enough time for a snooze and a shower before heading off to our final venue.
And what a venue. The Grandview Theatre & Drafthouse is the archetypal all-American independent movie theatre. Complete with pin-ball machines and proper popcorn in the foyer (the unforgettable smell drove Mark mad), it couldn't have been more different to the cavernous New York church we sang in last night. Everything about this set-up was unique to us. We learned early on that we would have to start the show by being in control of both our tech screens and the vast movie screen above us (Mark handled the pressure with aplomb). Our changing rooms were up in the eves of the building, accessible only by climbing a ladder (challenging under normal circumstances but lethal with a 23kg suitcase in tow!). And the risk of snow and travel chaos ahead added to the atmosphere. The performance was a success though and the audience seemed to be blown away by the film and the immediacy of our singing in the small and intimate theatre.
The threat of Angus, Don and Rob not being able to make it to Chicago O'Hare passed, thankfully, and Mark reached Boston, so all four of them made it onto the plane home, albeit after nearly a 24-hour day. I had left them to it, heading off for a four-hour drive to see my sister and her family in South Bend, Indiana. I made it there just in time: six inches of snow fell that night and temperatures plummeted to -15c. It turns out a polar vortex was on its way...
[You will be pleased to hear that Matt made it safely home - Ed.]