Dan May Christmas in Ohio Tour, 2009

tour itinerary:

thursday, december 10th – columbus, OH – victorian’s midnight cafe

friday, december 11th – bowling green, OH – the cla-zel theater

saturday, december 12th – sandusky, OH – the coach house theater


martin HD-2832 acoustic
guild F212XL 2 string acoustic
gibson les paul standard
custom “frankenstrat” stratocaster
greco rickenbacker 12 string copy
rickenbacker lap steel
kentucky KM700 mandolin

gibson GA-20T amp


sister rain
drown in a wishing well
last dance with adelaide
a thousand angels
christmas in my hometown
shades of grey
jupiter rising
shallow grave
the field
the gift
one more time
water under the bridge
time and again
it ain’t you
lights out in tupelo
fate said nevermind
tied to your mast
that one song

left for this tour under duress – the hot water heater had died the night before, so i had to scramble to get someone in to replace it the day i was scheduled to leave for these dates. so, yeah – icicle shower beforehand, rush-and-hurry to get out the door to meet with the caravan before the plumber showed up at the house…a bit harrowing, but it was definitely better than leaving without any idea where anything stood with the whole deal. i loaded my gear into the DanVan at around 9:30, and off we went down the turnpike.

as we got further west, the snow picked up and drifted down onto the snow that had stuck from the most recent snowfall…certainly moreso in central and western PA than in my neck of the woods. it started to disappear as we got further west and the temperature dropped so low that it was too cold for snow. when we got out of the van in columbus late thursday afternoon, it was positively bone-chilling.

thursday, december 10th – victorians’ midnight cafe, columbus


you can see the skylines of cleveland and columbus on either side of the interstate as you’re driving into town. for some reason, i thought they were farther apart than that, but – not so much. i had never been to columbus, and was pleasantly surprised by what little of it i actually saw. the venue itself was essentially a bar with a stage, and probably never would have been added to the itinerary, had we had an opportunity to have been in the room before booking it. still, i know i’ve played much, much worse rooms in other situations, and i didn’t find myself bothered by it as much as some of the others. the stage was roomy enough for us, the sound system was adequate (although there was no soundman), and the patrons – the majority of them, anyway – were respectful enough to keep the noise down to a dull roar for the folks who actually paid to come to hear the band.

i’ll tell you this – if you’re a burger afficionado, and you’re ever in the columbus area, you owe it to yourself to stop in and have a burger at the vic. they pride themselves on their burgers, and the fact that they buy their beef from local, organic sources. i had a pretty standard, third-pounder that was delicious…kurman, however, had this ridiculously large, full-pound meatloaf on a bun that shut down his colon for the remainder of the trip. now, in mikes’ defense, he says his “road game” (his ability to deal with digestive issues in the typical fashion, in terms of expulsion….i’m trying to be polite here) has always been a little suspect, but that burger sealed the deal, so to speak. in fact, i don’t think he was able to function in that regard for the rest of the trip.

i will say this about thursday night, though…it’s been a long time since i was as cold as i was on thursday night. we stopped for gas on the way to dan’s brother bobs’ house…i had fallen asleep in the back of the van, and when i woke up, we were parked next to a steak ‘n shake. dan and i both got out of the van – he to pump gas and me to go into the gas station for something to drink – and i jokingly asked him if i’d managed to sleep through the whole tour (since steak ‘n shake is usually the site of the Band Wrap Party for ohio gigs). when dan came inside, though, after filling the tank, he looked numb all over. he said later that he was so cold pumping gas that he wanted to cry.



friday, december 11th – cla-zel theater, bowling green


when the word gets out nationally about this place, it’s gonna be impossible to get into this room.

dan and company onstage at the cla-zel theater

the cla-zel was built in 1926 as an art-deco movie theater, and the current owners have renovated the room with the utmost respect for the integrity of what makes the building special. the sound system is state of the art, the stage is roomy, the lighting and atmosphere are perfect, and i don’t remember ever being treated better by venue staff. they were very accomodating in allowing us in early to soundcheck for an early show, making sure we had everything we needed…and they were, plain and simple, good people.

the theater is on main street in bowling green…and when you walk out the front door of the theater, you half expect jimmy stewart to come running, delirious, down the street wishing the wonderful old building and loan a merry christmas. in too many towns, main street has given way to the strip malls and chain stores, always situated just outside of town. for all i know, it might be the same situation in bowling green, but you wouldn’t know it standing on the street in front of the cla-zel.

"melinda", i believe...


the show went really well, save for one hitch that was a carryover from the night before – the intonation on one of the guitars i brought along just would not settle in. in the set, we were doing drown in a wishing well right before last dance with adelaide, and i have a couple of solos in wishing well that tend to wreack havoc on tuning, and we were doing these two songs one right into the other. so it was an atonal mess the night before, and it wasn’t much better at the cla-zel show, unfortunately. it was the one thing that put a bit of a damper on my performance in any given show on this trip…and i resolved to take care of it before the show the following night. i had convinced myself the night before that the temperature might’ve had something to do with it, but we’d loaded in plenty early for the cla-zel show for the instruments to have had time to acclimate to the indoor temperature, so it was pretty obvious that the weather wasn’t the issue. there was definitely an intonation problem. no biggie – i’d have plenty of time to address it before the last show.

other than the issue with that guitar, though, everything else had gone pretty well, in terms of my gear – there were a couple of moments when i’d wished that i’d brought along one of the fenders rather than the GA-20 that i brought, but it wasn’t a perpetual thought.

saturday, december 12th – coach house theater, sandusky

the stage at the coach house, complete with christmas tree

i feel a strange, unexplainable attachment to sandusky – in a lot of ways, it reminds me of my hometown…but i think that, in a larger sense, it stands as a constant reminder of how to get it wrong.

when you walk around downtown sandusky, it’s the opposite of what you see in bowling green, with traffic on the streets and occupied buildings downtown that are actually patronized by customers. sanduskys’ downtown has been decimated by a long line of chain stores, stacked tightly against one another on both sides of the expressway that brings tourists into town for summer outings at cedar point amusement park. on the way into town you’ll pass best buy, target, wal-mart, and every fast food franchise that could possibly pop into your mind. the price that sandusky has paid for this outward expansion is the same price many, many towns have paid for the same transgressions – its downtown has been essentially decimated by the migration of commerce to the outlying parts of town.

but – i feel like i rant about this every time i have occasion to write about a gig in sandusky. sorry.

onstage in sandusky with dan and drummer rob schnell

for this gig, i was in the house plenty early, we had a ton of time to set up, and i took some time on the bench backstage with my crappy strat that i’d brought with me and got out the tools and started working on the intonation issue…plugged it into the tuner and started adjusting the saddles for the B and G strings, trying to get it as close to correct as i possibly could with a GitTool and a Korg tuner.

and, yeah…i guess i got it somewhat close – but you know what they say about close. 🙂

this time, though, i elected to work around it – as opposed to trying to force it with this thing. i switched to acoustic for a few songs, switched electrics on a couple of songs, and got through it somewhat painlessly.

the hometown crowd – no matter where we play – is always special. i don’t know that we’ll ever play a show as special as the one we played at stillwaters’ on december 16, 2007 – during a blizzard that kept most of the state indoors, we had a full house of friends and family and played one of the best shows we’ve every played.

this show wasn’t in the league of that one, but it wasn’t bad, either…we’d had a few shows to smooth out the power trio lineup, and it was the best show of the three, without a doubt – although i REALLY enjoyed playing the cla-zel, as well.

i made the ride back with rob and kurm, as dan was staying an extra day – it was one of the coldest road trips i’d ever been on, but the shows were quite an experience. it’s funny – some of the songs really shone in this lineup, others actually stood up better in the broken down, acoustic guitar and percussion only lineup we’d brought with us the time before.

but you only figure these things out by running it up the flagpole, ya know?

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