Back in February, I was slated to perform in Omaha, Nebraska at the Barley Street Tavern as part of my 11-day/10-show Tornado Tour. Then the snow came. And it came hard. And the show was cancelled.
Two months later, with snow STILL coming down (in May!), I finally had the privilege of playing at the Barley Street Tavern. Little Marais and Michael Todd opened the evening with their beautifully written songs, and my set followed. Many thanks to the audience for being so attentive and friendly, Justin for engaging in good conversation from behind the bar, and Dane for working his magic at the sound board. The next time I’m in Omaha- while on tour or not- I’ll be grabbing a drink and seeing live music at Barley Street Tavern. So glad this evening wasn’t snowed out!
Nearly every venue I’ve played over the years has treated me exceptionally well, and Barley Street Tavern is no exception. But it is extremely rare for a typical venue to put touring musicians up in hotel rooms. In fact, since January 2013, just one venue has put me up for the night in a hotel (and I’ve played 46 shows within that time). Since I usually make between $60-$90 at each show, I definitely can’t afford that luxury. However, free lodging continues to find me through the wonderful online community that is couchsurfing.com.
Here’s how it works. I post a request in a city where I need a place to stay, and different hosts reach out to me if they are able to offer me a couch, futon, or guest bed that evening. I’m then able to look over their references and either either approve or deny their offer. If you think this sounds scary or unsafe, I’ll have you know that the most wonderful people I’ve met this year have been couchsurfing hosts. Although every host I’ve stayed with has been incredibly accommodating and welcoming, my hosts in Omaha were a cut above the rest. Here’s a recap of my 24 hours in this wonderful couchsurfing city:
My Greyhound bus arrived downtown at 7am yesterday, and my first host (Penny) picked me up right from the bus station. She invited me to work from her home, nap all day in her guest bedroom after my overnight bus ride, and eat all of her food while she was at work. When she got home later in the afternoon, she made a fantastic home-cooked meal for me and a friend of hers before before driving me directly to the front door of the Barley Street Tavern. Later that evening, a different couchsurfing host (Jillian) came to my show, snapped several photos at the show (including the one above), let me crash on her futon, and then drove me back to the Greyhound station this morning at 5am. Two different strangers- both going out of their way to support me and help me feel right at home in a city I had never visited before.
If it were not for couchsurfing.com, I couldn’t afford to tour and wouldn’t be able to share my music with so many different audiences throughout the country. If you doubt that there are still good people in this world, you’re dead wrong. They’re all around you- and they’ve probably hosted couchsurfing musicians just like me.