We follow the iPhone directions to the West Side Theater in Newman, but not before they nearly have us lost. There needs to be a word for when you rely on your “smart” phone rather than your brain and five senses and you nearly miss something right in front of you. Or you nearly get hit by a car. On a huge scale this is what’s happening in our culture. If it doesn’t show up in our FB news feed we don’t see it, even if it’s as giant 1920’s art deco theater right in front of us. iSensemnesia?
It’s good to be back in Newman. The friendly and knowledgeable sound man and lead volunteer Dave welcomes us back. It is cool and dark in the old movie house, the velvet walls dampening the echoes in the big hall. We set up and and run through some tunes, dialing in the highs and lows. We even go so far as to wheel a chuck wagon on stage to add some atmosphere. They tell us it’s the original chuck wagon used in the Purina commercials and we believe them. Dave’s wife Ferris then prepares us a wonderful meal of shrimp pasta salad and cheesy toastwiches. We meet Mary the local Dairy Princess and the charming Lorna who tends the finest garden in town. Everyone is warm and welcoming and we feel so well taken care of. After dinner they take us back to the eerie little band house we stayed in last time. We find our note in the guestbook from February 2007, two full children ago for RW. Seems like a lifetime.
The show goes great. We feel like old school entertainers, telling stories and singing songs to a small but wiry crowd. Some old friends roll down from the Sierras to see us and it all feels grand. We’ve been touring California for a while now and we’ve got friends all over this great state. We hang for a while drinking cranberry margaritas with our new friends.