Shows, returns, etc
Here is more or less what happened:
The world fell apart. I tried my best. We got incredibly sick. Two days went by where I thought José might die.
(At one point I didn’t want him to see me cry so I kissed him on the forehead and went to the living room. I called my best friend Dylan and sat on the couch and wept while I tried to imagine a world without José.)
(I don’t like that world.) (I really, really don’t like that world.) (But I think about that moment, often.)
(Do I think I’ll ever really get past that?)
Hard to say.
Either way, 51 days of fever later we began to slowly recover. Despite having booked a full years’ worth of nonrefundable flights for tours that were all canceled, it even looked like we could potentially stay afloat if we held on to a run of Asia shows that José had in the fall of 2020. The plan was to live in Seoul for four months to make it work.
Then those Asia shows canceled. We watched our life, both financially and culturally, seemingly fall the fuck apart.
(At one point I had a 12 month budget of ours running where the red numbers kept growing to staggeringly high figures the likes of which I couldn’t comprehend. With absolutely no other jobs available to even bridge us, it didn’t look like there was a way out.)
(How do you give up when there aren’t even options to give up?)
We didn’t, somehow. We stayed alive, thanks to miracles and grants and a lot of your support. But the idea of living abroad with a purpose had made its way into my taalibrain.
So we got to work making it happen. We landed in Amsterdam. We figured out a life in a completely locked down foreign city. We rented bikes. I fell off my bike and tore my meniscus and got even more quarantine overweight. I wrote an album. I started this newsletter. You and I talked throughout the album.
We started to teach. I actually finished the album. And at some point in a flurry of confusion and new activity, these shows all came together.
Just like that. Returning to them and tour this week felt at once familiar and completely surreal. Last week I wasn’t sure how it would feel.
It didn’t disappoint. I did indeed weep. I put my hand on the wall backstage at Montreux to remember it, to ground myself.
All week I’ve been experiencing extremely intense emotions. Rage. Despair. Elation. All of it. That whole year and a half of pent up energy coming out all sorts of sideways.
But through it all, we’ve been back doing what we love. COVID has canceled nearly every flight, so most lobby calls are in the 2-4 am range. And I don’t give one eff.
An added bonus is that I’ve been able to experience that treasured feeling of hearing an album in its middle state in glorious new contexts. I listened to the rough tracks in Montreux, while walking past the Freddy Mercury statue.
They accompanied me on the drive through the Alps, finally landing way up the mountains of St. Moritz in a perfect town that was just straight out of Frozen.
And then of course there was yesterday, when I got to sing with the Metropol Orchestra. Gonna have to give you video evidence of that one when it’s available but more or less just know I spent the entire time trying not to cry.
Right after we got off stage in Montreux José said yes to a photographer backstage, something he never does. High five for post COVID show energy though, because I’m obsessed with this photo that I never ever could have imagined one year ago.
Now we’re in Bulgaria. Heading off to the festival in 14 minutes or so. Apparently this festival stage has an audience of 30,000 + people, and we’re headlining. I don’t know how that makes legitimately any COVID sense, and I’m also very excited because every show these days feels just as good as the last one.
On either side of the pandemic we’ve maintained our friends, family, and community. We stepped offstage at Gent Jazz Festival a few nights ago to our dear friends Kurt and Leen and vaccinated- hugged and wept a lot after two years away from each other.
Family, family, family.
Our family is worldwide now, and I thank you for being part of it. I’ve learned through all this to keep my eyes on a bright future no matter what’s in front of my actual eyes. To always, always, ask, “Why the fuck not?”
I’m gonna step out on that stage now. 30,000 and all. Because why the fuck not?
Love you endlessly,
ps: if you’re new here or have been perusing and now want to join the community, the below helps these go straight to your inbox like the letter they’re intended to be.