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CORRECTED DATE: VanceFans! This Thurs 9/29 in NH, Cambridge 10/8, and a good, long story!!

[ Hey all - that Club Passim Cambridge date is 10/8 not 11/8 and I'm all thumbs...... Xovg ]

Hi VanceFans!!

This Thursday I'm here - 9/29 New London, NH -

And between them two shows lies Columbus Ohio and Irvington NY shows!! will tell you more, but sure, there’s this rundown...

9/29 New London, NH -
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10/1 Irvington, NY -
Benefit for Parkinson's - covering tunes done by Linda Ronstadt!
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10/7 Columbus, OH -
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10/8 Cambridge, MA - BIRTHDAY WEEK (ok, it’s the 11th, but still…) SHOW

Kaïa Kater opens.
10/14 Schenectady NY -
10/27, 10/28, 10/29 Harrison VA, Richmond VA, Hamilton OH -http://www.themilkcartonkids. com/?page=tour


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Twenty Dollars

Do you mind? Here’s the weekend. I swear this all happened in the last 96 hours. It’s a long one, please be forewarned, and there are no animated vegetables involved, but here you go:,

It’s been a very interesting $20

Thursday I flew into Dallas and started my drive in a Kia Forte (just another little compact - more on that later). Did a show with Paul Reiser at this wonderful little theatre in Ada OK. We both murdered our sets in this liberal arts school in this pretty conservative farming town of Blake Shelton's birth. Afterwards I spoke to a couple of young women who were show/stage managers who were discussing one of their cousins who at 7 years old had given his life over to Christ. I asked if they were devout. "Most assuredly" was the answer Then I asked what they thought of the election to be as it currently loomed. One shook her head and said that she was all for Rubio, but went to a Trump rally in OK City as she felt it was her duty. She said she cried the whole 90 minute car ride home. Her friend shuddered and concurred.

Very interesting, not what I expected.

Back to the hotel the theatre put me up in - it was the top floor of a Chocktaw-owned casino hotel. Easily 1000 square feet (my actual house size now..), done in black and white, the bathroom the size of my first apartment, in which I could have pooped, bowled, and shot pool at the same time where there the second two of those amenities present.

The next day, which I had off really, I drove to just outside of Houston to play a few tunes for this great fan Heather and her husband Blue and friend Amanda. Heather just got diagnosed with recurrent stage 4 colon cancer, so I have the night off, so I knew that her husband would give me $20 for gas and they’d get Chinese food, so I drove the 6 hours listening to The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. A good audiobook, Chinese food, $20, some laughs, and Chinese food? Pfffft. Wild horses…

So hanging with them, both sci-fi fantasy enthusiasts, avowed Atheists, one to the right of Ghengis Kahn working as a post Air Force Secret security now for a subsidiary of ex-Halliburton, the other a liberal vet technician instructor, I asked about politics. They smiled and said , “Meh, we’re reasonable people. We reasonably discuss everything. Then we don’t discuss it any further.” And I wish I was ever ever ever in love with anything or anyone as these two are with each other. I’m in awe of their courage. I go to leave, her husband hands me $40. I say no, this is not what this is about. He says yes. I say, emphatically again ‘NO’. Now, we had been discussing the various forms of martial arts he knows because of his work. He steps back a step and looks me in the face. I wonder what still beating and quivering body part he will quickly extract from my torso and show to me before I hit my head on the couch whilst I close my eyes for the last time, and he says, quietly “Do I have to get you a payment stub for what I actually make a week?”

So im driving a belly full of steamed chicken and vegetables with $40.

Very interesting. Again, not what I expected.


The next day, after finding a Chinese buffet for breakfast - my weakness, harder yet trying to be low carb - Siri sent me 4 hours towards the next night’s show in Paris Texas. Motoring on a “lesser”, way lesser back backroads highway doing about 80 in a 65, I get pulled over by a Sheriff and his deputy. Me, all windows down, wallet in my lap, car off, hands at 10 and 2 (just like Blue and I talked about), no time to pull my hair back so it’s like you know, no the $40 should NOT be sticking up out of the wallet yes, and he comes to the window:

“Good afterneeuuuun, Sir”. He was wiry, lined faced, smiling all the time.

“Good afternoon officer. I guess I was going a little quick?”

“Yessir, we had you doing 81 in a 65 - that’s a little fast for here.”

My audiobook is still blaring, so I asked “Yessir…uh, may I turn this off at the source so I don’t lose my place in my book?”

“Sure. Nothing hazardous or illegal in the car?” The other deputy is already looking closely in the back.

“No Sir, just tools of the trade - the guitar, CDs, and a few changes of clothes”


“What kind of guitar?”

“Santa Cruz - Tony Rice model.”

His eyes open wide.

“The Tony Rice! I’ve played some bluegrass myself! I’ll be right back…”

So there goes my $40 and then some. But I’ll live, and the strains of Deliverance are playing less quietly in my head between my ears.

He comes back to the window. “Please slow down, and good luck on your gig tonite…” Hands me back only my license and the car rental contract. Waves.

Not what I expected.


100 miles later on a rumbly rough road, the road grew rumbly-er and rougher than it really should be. Smoke out of the back finally told me that I had shredded the driver side rear tire. I pull over to a little gas station after nursing it another 1/2 mile. I go into the little store to ask the husband and wife if it is indeed ok that I perch there a bit to fix my tire.

They say “Sure. By the way - who was Wallace’s running mate in 1968?”. I’m hoping this isn’t an answer or get out kind of question, then I see them both behind the counter with half-glasses, the paper, and two crossword dictionaries. I buy a pair of work gloves so I can protect my nails. Hey, I’m a working man, and no I do not play everything with a pick!!

“Lemme think on that while I honk on this tire…” I say.

I come back out and open the trunk, pulling out all the “tools” and the baby carriage wheel that is now to be my friend for at least the next 50 miles. I say tools loosely, as most of you know that that jack is fair but the wrench and the jack arm are but a foot long or less - it’s as if leverage is a swear word and concept in Japanese. So I jack up enough but not too much (yeah, went too far and had to jack back down) so I could loosen these 6 bolts, I got one done.


I’m about to grunt and cuss when the random sweet stray girl dog wanders up for affection (see pic).

“Whoosa good girl? You? YOU? Who cares that I’m 65 miles away form a gig with showtime in 90 minutes about to put on a tire on which I can only do 50mph? You don’t, you, don’t…whoosa gooood girl!!!”

A Texas State trooper zooms up next to me. Oh dear, I need to now to go for my license and registration twice in the day.

"You have all you need to do what you need to Sir?”

“Yessir. Thanks for checking in”.

“Call us if you run into any trouble”. He looks back at my friend Whoosa Good Girl, rolls his eyes, and speeds off.

Out from his truck while getting gas comes Lonnie (the one with the hat). “You need a hand, Sir?”

“Uh, thanks, if you have a grownup tire iron that’d be great”.

“Why don’t you go step on the brake while I work this end, sir? No, I don’t mind. I’m Lonnie.”

I go mash the brake, simultaneously getting that $20 out from the fanny pack. With a grunt, Lonnie undoes the last bolt.
I go to shake his hand and hand him the $20 and I see he’s cut himself pretty good. Nothing is said about that, he just shrugs, but he draws his hand away from the $20 bill.

“Sir, that’s not necessary”

“Lonnie, I see what you drive, and you have to feed it…”

He shrugs kinda sheepishly and takes it. “ So let’s finish...”

As we get to work jacking the car up with this toy jack, up pulls a minivan and a fellow steps out.

“I think I have what you guys need”.

Out comes a pneumatic jack, car is up in the count of one one thousand. Lonnie and this fellow say a friendly hello, shake hands. He’s - wait for it - Ricky Nelson.

“And my wife’s name is, I swear - Peggy Sue.. So you play? What's in the box?”

"Santa Cruz" I reply.

"Seriously? I play a little country...." Who'd make this up?

“How long you known Lonnie?” I ask

“Just met here just now”.

I handed Lonnie the donut, he hands me the GoodShredd tire which I just dump into the trunk. Lonnie spins each lug nut back on, alternating across from the last nut tightened, textbook. I’m in the back door other side opening the box of CDs and pulling out a few and handing them to each. Ricky Nelson lowers my car. We shake hands all, I’m $20 and a few CDS lighter in my pocket, we take the pic and I drive off.

Again, not what I expected.


The gig was tremendous, my endorphins making for a great 2 sets to about 28 people. The owners are magnificent. She was just wry and fun, he was fun too, albeit seemingly a little laid back or high in his just-a-beat-late but clear responses to my queries over the phone and at the show.

Come time to get paid, I say to these folks,

“Before you cut that check, this is bread cast upon the waters - please make it for a bit less as you took a beating tonight - I am expensive and I know this only works even barely if the room was full, and I want to come back...”

He pshawed me and handed me the check and waked backstage to tidy up. I stood a teeny bit indignant again, when his wife piped up once he was out of earshot:

“Look, ours is not only a great little venue, but it’s our opportunity to see you great performers without driving 2 hours to the nearest main city, and we get our neighbors and friends to help pay for it! Plus that scar and slow you see on him, well, its a slow growing cancer, but, so we want to have our favorite performers here now while we can host the way we like….”

Not ever what I expected


I never get the insurance plan when I rent a car. So I figure correctly in a late night phone call that the rental company was going to charge me for the tire, the tow truck, and the time that the car was out of service, as they would NOT fix it there for me to drive, rather they’d tow it in and give me another. That’s gonna be hundreds.

So Sunday morning, off to Walmart, the mile away, the enemy, the gun carrier, the place with horrible hiring and import ideals, the Liberal Anti and Uncle Christ of shopping stores. Yessir hypocrite I am, as Sears was too many miles away on this donut and didn’t open till later, and my flite was at 6pm. I’d buy and apply this tire and write it off later.

I get to the counter and there’s a woman who says “Next” and I step up. We head out to my car, and I show her the tire in the back like we’re looking at a body in Pulp Fiction.

“Lord, hon, what’d you do to *that*?

“I didn’t know it was me till I smelled the smoke. It was a rough road. I was in denial.” She buckled over laughing.

“Well, we have the tire. 68 dollars plus balancing.”

“Jana, (on her name tag), do we have to balance it? It’s not my car, plus I think I wouldn’t mind a little jiggling for hundred miles or so.” I do a goofy little Janet Jackson hip dance with my tongue out. She is holding on to the counter, crying with laughter, as is the other woman behind the counter.

Women. I counted 7 mechanics, and I mean with greasy hands mechanics, including Jana. I also counted 3 women, and 3 Black people. All Mechanics, working on cars. I dunno, maybe probably paid less or what. But diversity like I’ve never seen before in the shops near my house up here.

When I got home, I got this note in my Facebook messages:

"Thank u for being the highlight of my day.
Hope your trip went as planned.
Thanks again,
Jana Short”.

Not in the least what I expected


So I check in to fly home on JetBlue and the two people checking me in ask what was in my case and I tell them it’s a guitar and they ask what I play and I say guitar and they laugh and then I give my pat folk comedy pop jazz answer and say the are welcome to some CDs but the bag is about to go around the corner on the belt to the pre-aircraft netherworld and she stops the belt and drags my bag back to me with this great grin so I pull out a few copies of CDs and no wonder the IRS has audited me 5 times but still I hand them to these co-workers and they thank me and I go to board my plane.

I come home to this message:

"On behalf Jetblue Airways in Dallas Ft Worth we wanted to thank you for flying with us today Mr.Vance Gilbert. It Is really exciting your passion about music. Music is something that never ends and remains forever no matter the time. Hope you had a great experience flying back to Boston with us. Take care! Isa and Dfw Jetblue team! :)

And later:
"Great CD... love moonlight in Vermont a classic! Nice voice... Wish you the best in your career!

Thanks again."

No. Not. Expected.


Lastly, I drive from airport parking to my house, walk the dogs at midnight, and open my mail after my 4-day absence. There’s this guy in Minnesota that wanted an address to send fan mail to me, so, warily, I sent him my address. He guaranteed "I'm not a crazy stalker who will show up at your door...happy to send through your agent or to a PO Box.”

So I open this note. Amongst the writing; “The ticket price did not reflect how much joy I felt…I just wanted to send along a woefully small token of appreciation for what your artistry has meant to me….” And more.

Taped to the other side of the card, I swear to God, is $20.

Maybe I need to raise my expectations in/of/about/people at large. Maybe we all do.