I managed to sleep most of the night on the train, though the night ended abruptly at 5:30 when we pulled into Cleveland. It was too early for the local buses to start running, so I killed time in the deserted waiting area (I’ve gotten really good at killing time…) until 6:15, then hopped on the bus and arrived at the house where I’d be staying just as the first streaks of light started hitting the sky.
My friends had both left for work already, so I let myself into their quiet house and dumped my stuff on the floor with vast relief. There is nothing as luxurious on tour as a stay in a comfy house, especially after a few days of long rides and weird sleep. I pasted myself onto their guest room bed and napped most of the morning, snoozing the alarm again and again.
I finally roused myself, ran a load of laundry (I usually pack only three or four days’ worth of clothing, and wash often), ate a buffet lunch of extremely tasty selections from their well-stocked fridge, and caught up on computer stuff before another nap. Loooovely.
My friends and their kids got home in the late afternoon, and I played a bit of guitar for the offspring before it was soon time to head out for my happy-hour set at the Barking Spider. I’d played here twice before, and have always had fun. It’s a unique place, an ancient carriage house which was apparently a locus for hippies in the 60’s, and still has a very earthy, old-school vibe (their website may clue you in), while being located in a prime spot in University Circle near the Museum of Modern Art. I greeted the very pleasant bartender and booker, and she got me set up and ready to go.
The Spider is OK with having kids present for the early music sets, another clue to their uber-welcoming attitude. My hosts brought their two little ones, and other friends showed up with theirs, which made for a pretty lively atmosphere as I started my set. It’s a nice-sounding place, and has started to feel very comfortable to me, and I was having fun right away. The kids responded much more to the upbeat stuff, so I stuck with my more rocking tunes and had a fine old time. A few more people showed up just as I was finishing, and one of them came up afterward, saying all they’d heard was my last song, but they wanted to get a CD based on what they’d seen. Nice to hear.
I’m not sure if it’s a secret that Cleveland is a foodie town, but I’ve never had a bad meal here and have had several amazing ones. They tend towards the fresh and seasonal, and while high-minded it’s rarely fussy. I said my goodbyes at the Spider, then we dropped the kids with a sitter and headed to the Greenhouse Tavern, a meaty place (pig’s head, or actually pig’s *face*, is a standby on the menu), but I had a good selection of non-flesh options. After a substantial gin cocktail, I dug into a shaved pickled kobocha squash salad and roasted matsutake mushrooms in a rich sauce with a ribbon of pasta. Top-notch.
We returned back home and, as is typical, ended up with big glasses of wine on their front porch, catching up until midnight. A great day, this.