Blue Ash, Ohio. You fickle, fickle maiden of Middle America. Blue Sky Riders played one of it’s first shows here a couple of years ago on the Fourth of July. It was a memorable night for many reasons. Bad fashion choices (we were still learning what works for us. I think I wore a short skirt and the front rows could see EVERYTHING.) Bad song choices. (we played an encore we hadn’t quite learned yet so it was a bit of a train wreck) and low turn out (we were so unknown that people didn’t have a clue that they might actually want to SEE the opening act… we were told there would be close to a hundred thousand people in the crowd… and when we walked onstage… there were about fifty people. Fifty people in a field that holds a hundred thousand is not an inspiring sight).  Fast forward to tonight’s concert and see how far we’ve come:

We looked fabulous. We have played enough high temperature outdoor gigs by now to know how to dress for them. The Rider coats stay in the dressing room… Kenny and I stick to vests and Georgia wears something cute and light. We still arrive back in the dressing room sopping wet but we don’t drop unconscious in the middle of the fourth song in the hundred degree heat.

We have honed our set to a lean, mean fighting machine of entertainment. We also know that in an outdoor crowd like this… we will NOT get an encore. So we swallow our disappointment (and our last song), play “Just Say Yes”… and head for the barn. Now I have proven that I am totally willing to humiliate myself at the drop of a high hat to get that encore… but there’s something about an outdoor “crowd” (I use that term very liberally) that tells me when, shy of dropping my trousers, no amount of begging is going to get them to put down their sauerkraut balls and cheer for yet another song.

We had TWICE the audience we had two years ago. That is how famous we have become. We walked out to easily two hundred people. By the middle of Kenny’s set there will be probably 20,000 people screaming and it will sound like a jet engine. Our crowd sounded like a hair dryer. On low. And cool.

Don’t get me wrong. They were very enthusiastic. We had some hardcore BSR fans in the front singing along and that is always fun. By the time we hit the middle of our set we had a few hundred more… just because they like what they heard echoing off the Chili Wagon and sauntered over. By the end of the show we had maybe five hundred. In a theater that’s a good crowd. Out on the surface of the planet Earth… its a little slight.

But we gave it all we had. We sweat bullets. We sang gustily. (“Gustily” is the alternate title of “Another Spring”) We let fate dictate whether we deserved an encore or not. (We did not) We ended a little short because our Michener sized intros got shortened in the summer heat.

I have the feeling that Blue Ash is going to come around again. Next year, I bet we play for half the town and they’ll know every word. (we could guarantee that if we would start playing Beatles covers, as I have suggested many, many times). It is very cool to have a place that we can use as a gauge to check our progress. As long as we keep seeing improvement, we will keep returning to Blue Ash, like a sailor returns to the popular hooker on the choice corner in Amsterdam. The one with all of her teeth.

Disclaimer: I loved everything about Blue Ash. I am not in any way comparing this lovely city to a European hooker. This was simply my feeble attempt to be funny. Ha ha ha. Please don’t hate me, Ohio. I was in Pure Prairie League which started in Cincinnati so I have actual Ohians who will vouch for me.