In this Crazy Tour Stories segment, the folk band, Eva and The Vagabond Tales, shares one of their stories from being on the road. You can check out the story, after the break.
During a rainstorm in January, we arrived in San Francisco to play a three-hour show. Up until this point, we always had a place to stay when we traveled, and due to a series of failures and unfortunate events, we had nowhere to stay and couldn’t afford anything in the city. I heard a lot about the website, “Couch Surfing,” so we decided to give it a try. During one of our breaks, we huddled around an iPhone, looking through all the different profiles, trying to find the least scary-looking host that would let us stay with them that night. All the normal-looking homes ended up being booked. There was one man left. His invitation said, “Come stay on my houseboat.” Jasmine and I were feeling a little more adventurous than the boys in the band, so we sent him a request. He quickly replied and told us to meet him by the docks near a warehouse after our show, where he would come to pick us up and take us to his houseboat. We played through the rest of our set and started to pack up our things to head to this houseboat.
When we arrived at the empty warehouse lot, there was a layer of thick, dark fog. We waited until we saw a dim light coming from the water. A really tall, older man was walking out from the darkness, mumbling to himself and coming towards us with what seemed like an old lantern. Al and Jake were panicking and blaming Jasmine and I for getting us into this situation, but we still got out of the car and listened to the man’s instructions. “Take anything that’s valuable with you, and then one of you needs to park the car somewhere on the street,” John said after introducing himself. We followed him through the fog with our luggage, sleeping bags, and instruments. We thought he might be taking us to a house near the water, but he led us to a wooden dock, where he climbed into a paddle boat and told us to get in and watch our step. We lowered ourselves into the boat, one by one, carefully making sure that our instruments didn’t fall into the water. Then, we set off into the night as he rowed us into the gloom of the ocean. We went by yachts stationed in the bay, some dark and quiet, others playing music with people chatting inside. We stayed quiet, making small talk, while the water splashed up against the boat. As we went further and further away from land, he talked more and more about “Uncle Eddy.”
As I turned around, I couldn’t see land anymore through the fog. We passed all the yachts and were now way out in the bay waters, coming up to a dark yacht named “Suisun”. John told us that the Suisun was built in 1914 and that it needed repairs because it was sinking. He pulled up to the side, where we had to climb a rope net to get to the top of the yacht. The boys got out first and we handed them our instruments. A little door on the ground was opened, and we climbed down the ladder into a massive room filled with records, maps, curtains, diagrams and blueprints from the 1900s, and vintage photos of the boat. John took us to the second room and showed us where we would sleep, where the bathroom was, and how to use the toilet pump. We sat in a circle, and told him about our show, shared stories of how we all met and talked about what it’s like to be in a band. He wanted to hear us play a song, so we got our instruments out and played “Winter” for him. He patiently waited until the song was over, but I could see the eagerness in his eyes when he got his own guitar out and started playing one of “Uncle Eddy’s” songs. He didn’t stop at one. He continued to play one song after another, singing “Make the world go away, and get it off my shoulders, say the things you used to say, and make the world go away…” I thought the song lyrics sounded awfully familiar. He told us that he plays these songs at local open mics every week, and he kept bringing Uncle Eddy back into the conversation. He spoke about him like we were long distant relatives that also knew and missed our beloved uncle. A sweet blind pug named Opie walked by us, and as the boat rocked, he tipped over and we laughed. We felt at peace there and appreciated the man that let us onto his houseboat. He went to his room to sleep, and we slept on the side couches as the yacht rocked us all into a deep ocean dreamland.
The next morning, John woke up and made us coffee. He invited us to come out and look at the morning seagulls that were swarming the sky in the light rain. It was one of the most beautiful things we’ve seen. After coffee, we packed our things and started to head to the top of the yacht when I noticed something on the wall above John’s bed. It was a vinyl from Eddy Arnold. Suddenly, it all clicked. Uncle Eddy, the song lyrics, Eddy Arnold… “Is Eddy Arnold your uncle?!” I asked, holding back the excitement. “Why, yes Uncle Eddy…” and he started mumbling on again about Uncle Eddy. Eddy Arnold was one of my favorite country singers from the 1950s. I was so excited and exhausted from all of the events from the past 20 hours, and almost in disbelief that any of it was real. As the rain started to come down, John rowed us back to shore. We saw the Golden Gate Bridge through the morning fog and realized what amazing adventures taking chances can bring us. We gave him one of our CDs and said our goodbyes to him and Opie. When we got to the car, we messaged all of our parents to let them know we were alive, and then we carried on to our next show.