Tour Retrospective February 2024

February 28th, 2024
battery, contra, music, tour
Last week Kingfisher went on tour, driving down to DC and back. It was a pretty good time!

We planned the tour for the kids February vacation in case they wanted to come, and Lily decided to join us. Alex Deis-Lauby was calling, and she came with us as well. Getting the four of us, a keyboard, and all of our stuff into a sedan would have been difficult, so we rented a minivan. In general I'm a big fan of renting cars for tours: they price "same drop-off location" rentals with unlimited mileage and assume most people won't drive that far. We paid $422 for a minivan for a week and drove ~1070mi, which at the 2024 IRS rate of $0.67/mi would have been $714. Plus you're in much better shape if it breaks down.

Another advantage of the minivan was we had room for a microwave. Or, as Cecilia called it at every opportunity a miCARwave:

I have a pair of lead acid batteries and an inverter which can do 1kW and is good for about 500Wh. This is a small microwave that draws a little under 500W. This meant we could have hot lunches and dinners while still eating grocery store food out of a cooler. Mostly we used it to melt cheese onto tortillas and pasta (that I'd cooked the morning we left), usually with tomato sauce. By the last day of the tour everyone else was sick of starch with tomato sauce and melted cheese, so Sunday lunch they bought pizza instead.

Over the five days we used 267Wh, or about 36min of microwave time, which is a little over half the "this doesn't reduce the life of the batteries" capacity:

If we'd needed to use more, though, we could have plugged them in overnight somewhere.

A few days before we left there was supposed to be a big snowstorm here, but it went to CT instead. Luckily we drove through CT, and got to play with what was left:

Cecilia and I often read aloud in the car, and we've been reading Unsong. We got through about ten chapters, ~1/8 of the book. It's a speculative fiction book looking at a world which runs on kabbalah and puns. Let me know if you want to borrow a physical copy?

We brought along a bunch of different games. Lily's pretty new to Dominion and we taught Cecilia how to play. Unfortunately our first game had Witch, no good trashing cards, and I forgot to bring us down to 20 curses, so it was a pretty frustrating game. Well, frustrating for everyone except Lily who was the main Witcher and cackled "curse you!" a lot.

She also taught a lot of people how to play Go:

And sat in with us for a set or two most nights:

The dances were a lot of fun, and I feel like we played well. It was especially exciting how many people came out twice or even three times, several of them saying they hadn't been planning to come but wanted to dance to us again!

It was also really nice to be visiting places I hadn't seen since college, especially the Bethlehem dance. The potlucks were as good as I remembered, and several people told me how it was great that we used to drive vans up from Swarthmore to the dance. It's also interesting thinking how many people from that group are still involved: aside from me, Miranda Weinberg and Laurie Tupper are playing dances, and Miriam Newman and Michael Karcher are calling. Someone found a picture of Miranda, Laurie, and me playing together from I think 2006:

On Saturday, second to last day of the tour, I whacked my hand into a bannister on load-in and got the first two fingers pretty hard. I played that dance, unfortunately a double dance, with my first two fingers taped on my right hand:

When people asked how I was doing I enjoyed saying I was "about 80%" and bringing my taped hand into view.

I was worried I'd fractured them, but the next morning it turned out they were ok:

By that evening they were still not great, but I was able to play the last dance of the tour with all ten fingers! Which was much more fun.

It's much easier to travel with Lily now that she's almost ten, but the dances did go a bit after her bedtime. Sometimes she stayed up the whole time, one dance she stayed home with my aunts Anne and Kathryn in Philly, and other times she slept on stage:

Unfortunately she wasn't able to get to where she was sleeping in, and while she napped a bit I do think she ended up underslept. When we got home she was very excited to see the kittens again, but couldn't stay awake to play with them:

This isn't something I do to make money, but it's still good to see how it worked out. People generously put us up after each dance and fed us breakfast, so our main cost was travel and a bit for food. I earned ~$1,125 from the dances, or an average of $224/dance. This was higher than I expected, but some of this was that one dance was a double dance, and also we were lucky enough to play for a bunch of larger-than-usual crowds. We paid ~$640 for travel, of which 2/3 was the rental and the rest was gas and tolls, and one dance reimbursed us $75 in travel. We also spent ~$20 on groceries. After expenses, this comes to earning $168/day, similar to the Free Raisins in 2014.

We also sold 17 CDs at $15/each, enough that during the tour we broke even on our CD expenses! We also sold 14 shirts, and have 35 to go before we break even there. Let me know if you want one!

We'll be doing this again this summer, traveling with Harris Lapiroff and playing:

Jun 27 Rochester NY
Jun 28 Pittsburgh PA
Jun 29 Bloomington IN
Jun 30 St Louis MO
Jul 1 Cincinnati OH
Jul 2 Indianapolis IN

We don't have a dance booked for Wednesday July 3rd: are you somewhere between Indianapolis and Boston and want us to play for you?

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