In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the indie pop artist, Chelsea Williams, shares one of her stories from being on the road. You can check out the story, after the break.
“The Ravine Room”
I pulled up to the venue in my little grey Prius C. It was just starting to rain as I unloaded my gear. A bit confused and starting to get a little soggy, I checked the address again. Was this a mall or a venue? Yes, this was definitely a galleria style mall (H&M, Sephora etc)… Hmmmm… I had been told this was a theater venue. When I got the call a couple weeks prior asking if I could open up for Marc Cohn I was over the moon. As you may already know, Mr. Cohn is a grammy winning songwriter. I had been (along with many other adoring fans) truly affected and forever changed by his music. My excitement only slightly hampered by the look of the venue, I forged ahead on my quest.
I headed toward the mall with a mild hesitation. My gear was heavy and awkward to carry and I stumbled clumsily inside the automatic glass doors. The smell of Mrs. Fields cookies, Bath and Body Works lotion and rampant capitalism filled my lungs. And there it was! In flashy red letters “The Ravine Room” (Name altered to avoid any chance of a libel law suit). It looked like it had once been an Olive Garden or something similar. I quickly spotted the sound man who had no idea who I was or why I was there. After explaining to him, that I was the opening act his face warmed a bit. He scratched his greying beard and pointed at a door in the back of the large room. “You can set your stuff down back there” he said gruffly.
I limped and lumbered my way through the door only to find that the room seemed to be 1 part cleaning supply closet and 1 part meat locker. Huge slabs of beef were strewn about in various stages of thawing. The floor was wet with what I could only hope was dirty mop water leaking out of a well worn bucket in the corner. I managed to find one dry spot in the room and carefully balanced my gear in a precarious leaning tower.
And then a miracle occurred. Marc’s tour manager barreled into the closet looking for some piece of equipment only to find me huddled in my little dry corner. Appalled at the situation, he invited me to join him back in the dressing room and informed that me I should hang out there for the duration! What a relief! I nervously walked into the dressing room and there he was, Marc Cohn himself, sitting at a table with his band. They all looked genuinely delighted to see me and immediately invited me to sit and eat with them. Truly gobsmacked I floated over to the nearest chair! We sat there chatting and eating like old friends.
Before I knew it, it was time for my set. They all wished me luck and I hustled back to the stage area my heart beating heavily. When the stage lights came up, all of my nerves disappeared and were replaced by a rush of excitement and levity. The crowd was wonderful, really warm and attentive. I walked off the stage at the end my set ready to kick my feet up and enjoy Marc’s set, but as I passed him back stage he asked if I’d be willing to sing a couple songs with him. Willing?? It would be an honor!
He pulled me up about halfway through his set and had me sing a couple verses of a Bob Dylan tune. One of my personal favorites. Could this night get any better? Why yes, I guess I could. The next thing I knew, he was asking the audience, “Is Jackson here?”. An attractive older man with wind blown hair and rain boots stood up. Oh my f-ing god, that is Jackson f-ing Browne! As he walked up on stage I turned to leave but Marc stopped me and asked if I knew the Van Morrison song Crazy Love. Yeah, I may have heard of it. Before I knew it they started to sing in beautiful harmony, when the chorus hit I jumped in with a third harmony part. At this point it felt like I was floating ten feet above my body. I still find it hard to believe that I got to sing in harmony with Marc Cohn and Jackson Browne in and old Olive Garden inside of a weird little suburban mall. It feels like some kind of crazy dream!