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Column 16

August 1, 2012

Another Side
By Jon Berman

90 West, in the bus. Upstate NY. Last night we were on the ocean at Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury Beach, and we’re headed to Glens Falls NY. About an hour ago I could almost but not quite catch a glimpse of our house through the trees in Blandford as we rolled past at 70 miles per hour on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

I’m going through my wallet while sitting in the back, and among the receipts from the past week I pull out a business card that states “The Real Taste of Maine”. My mind travels back in time to that night a week ago, when we were there. It was in Bath, Maine where I met Warren.

The bar was typically blue collar, and the owner was a fan of the band. That meant a round of free drinks. It was after 11 pm. That meant no food.
After a two hour plus show that was not a good discovery. I was famished. Did I mention that we were in Maine? Talk about a ghost town. There wasn’t a light on in town except for a lonely streetlight, and any fishermen looking for a rowdy time were with us at the bar, negating any reason for any other institution to be open. And Ben Kenobi from Star Wars stepped forward.

Okay, it wasn’t him, but other than his thick Maine accent, he certainly reminded me of a tougher-looking version of Alec Guinness’s character. And as our slide guitarist told me- this man can hook you up with food. Warren stepped forward with a big smile and said,
“Who’s hungry? Get a spoon, or just eat it out of the cup. This will be the best chowder you’ve ever had”. A moment later, he reappeared, chowder in hand. As soon as I tasted my cup of Orr’s Island Seafood Chowder all was right for the night. I looked around the bar and saw amongst the fishermen, lobstermen, and day laborers members of the band talking to various people, drinking Shipyard Ale, and relaxing for the first time in a while. Warren wouldn’t accept payment, but gladly accepted a CD. What a guy.

It’s moments like these that give meaning to life on the road these days. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel around most of the country in a couple of the nicest buses with some of my best friends, and in my mind New England is the only place to return to. From the shores of Maine to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the rolling farmland of Vermont and the coast of Rhode Island, the hustle and history of Boston and the confusion amongst Connecticut folk as to whether the Yankees or the Red Sox are their home team.  New England is full of people like Warren who we meet and spend a moment with- a moment that will return a smile to my face for the rest of my life.

Moments like the unlocked doors in Freeport Maine at L.L. Bean at 2am (we bought hats), hot cider and donuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, VT before they opened on a Sunday in November,  a free dinner at Thames Waterside Grill in Bristol, RI with a view that cannot be beat, and a hike in New Hampshire with the family up Black Cap. Not to mention the countless moments of “am I really here?” in Boston.

Enjoy what we have within four hours in any direction. If you include the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge and Cooperstown , NY, you realize that there is so much culture and history to soak in driving around that there really isn’t time for boredom. And I hope to travel around these parts playing my songs for people and writing about life for a long time to come.  And my next song will definitely have a part about Orr’s Island Seafood Chowder at midnight in Bath, Maine.

Jon Berman is a musician who lives in Blandford. He can be reached at jon@jonbermanmusic.com
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