SFO Airport Gig

A couple years ago we got a gig playing at SFO. For me, Stephie and James DePrato, it was our first airport gig. And I'd say it's our last, but I've learned not to make those kind of promises. My mother somehow caught wind of it and over Thanksgiving dinner she's like, "Honey, are you still working out at the airport?"

"Mom," I said, "I don't work at the airport. Stop asking me that!"

Which was a little less than absolutely true.

Playing at the airport is an odd experience. Like standing on a chair in the middle of somebody's living room, singing your songs to people on the way from the bathroom to the kitchen. The gig was such a strange fucked-up experience that when they asked us back the following year, I didn't hesitate before I blurted out, "I'm in!"

Might as well take the gig. You can find us there half the time anyway. Ramming our way down narrow aisles, with people staring at us as we try to carry in way too much stuff. We've got guitars on our backs, backpacks falling off our shoulders, a stale Starbucks sandwich in one hand and a venti coffee in the other. We're the ones who overpack the overhead bins.

The airport gig is like a window seat to the world. Think about it; people strap themselves into almost as many belts as an electric chair, fly above the clouds, then unstrap themselves, "debark" and walk around and stare (again with

the staring!) at us like we're human holograms. And the weird vibe is mutual! Folks walking up to me asking me about their flights. (Do I look like an electronic flight board?) I got recognized more than once. A woman said, "Wow, me and my boyfriend just saw you in Portland last week." I shrugged and went, "Ah, yeah, I guess so." Was she pleased to see me, or sorry for me, like I'd turned up at a restaurant and bussed her table?

Still, it's good to play the songs any chance you get. And improvise and play with your friends. Sometimes people will walk up and want to talk about their music. Or how they used to be in a band and it must be really hard. "Can I help you?" I say. Is that rude? It does tend to snap them back to reality.

We finished one set with a song I wrote with Alejandro Escovedo, "Always A Friend." A song that Al recorded and later did a duet of with Springsteen. Some guy said, "You have great choices in covers."

"Yeah, whatever. I actually wrote that."

He rolled his eyes and walked away. Wouldn't you?

Video after the jump.

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