1998 Ford Econoline Conversion Van: I’ll be honest about two things. One, I’m not actually sure it was a 1998. Two, this isn’t a picture of the actual van, but it’s close. Somehow, I don’t have a picture.
After a Saturday afternoon test drive, I traded in the Saturn at Jack Maxton Chevrolet and purchased this rolling condominium. I know it was late 90s, but I don’t have the paperwork anymore, so I’m just guessing.
Inside, it was plush. It featured separate front and rear stereo systems, a television with VCR (that we swapped out for an Xbox), individual headphone jacks for each passenger, window curtains and enough space to carry all the gear plus six people. In other words, a kick-ass band van.
Unfortunately, the band was purchased late in the band’s existence after the excitement of out-of-town travel had begun to lose it’s luster. We made it to various cities around the state, Nashville, Indiapolis and even Boston, which is quite often referred to as the “the trip that killed the band.”
We got picked to play the NEMO Music Festival in Boston in late October 2004 and drove about thirteen and half hours overnight to get there. We soon learned that Boston is one of the worst cities to drive on the planet. After checking into our hotel we set out for food, but somehow were unable to locate anything other than an UNO for an early dinner. No, no Boston specialities for us.
Upon arriving at the show, we discovered that our venue, the All-Asian Cafe, was in fact just that – an Asian Cafe. It wasn’t a music venue, just a cheap restaurant with a makeshift stage. An ungrounded stage. The added bonus was that nobody from the conference was there to keep the stage or schedule organized, so as bands that were supposed to play didn’t show up and completely unknown bands did show up, nobody knew what the hell was going on.
We ended up playing early and finishing up right around the time the few people who were coming to see us actually showed up. So, after a disappointing evening, we headed out and made the decision not to spend an extra day in Boston and return the next day.
The return trip provided the lone highlight, a stop at the incredible House of Guitars in Rochester, New York. At the time, an visit to a record or music gear store was a bright spot. This time it was the only redeemable aspect of the trip.
Upon our return, we ended up playing fifteen shows over the next two years (as opposed to almost two hundred in the previous four). The light dimmed slowly before finally going out a few years later, but this was definitely to torture another analogy, this was a body blow from which we didn’t recover.