My time in Vermont happened because of two kind strangers named Steve. Steve runs a website, Karaoke Across America, where he lists shows around the USA. He does this for free, during his spare time, juggling a full-time job and family. Steve introduced me to Steve – Cowboy Steve – a man retired from the military, who now spends his days living on the road, singing in different states as it pleases him. Cowboy Steve just happened to be back in his home state of Vermont, helping his mother run the local Bluegrass Festival, and said he would help me as well – it’s hard to find karaoke in Vermont. We messaged back and forth about dates, times, and towns. He messaged venues and friends to create an event. Then, it was show time.
We sang in an American Legion Hall, in a large back room with tables and a dance floor. Outside was a tank and sign that advertised Bingo on Thursdays and dinner on Fridays. Cowboy Steve brought his own equipment and friends – some from as far as 40 miles from the north, and 20 from the south. The group was small, but everyone came to sing. So we did – mostly country (modern and old-time), but also Jimmy Buffet, 80s love songs, and even a rendition of “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah,” complete with interpretive moves. During slower songs, a couple would take the dance floor and hold each other. I tried my best to find country songs that I could make my way through and offer my sincere apologies to Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline.
I have no idea what my Vermont experience would have been like without the Steves. There still would have been amazing scenery, delicious beer, and maple-syrup tasting. There would have been karaoke, probably somewhere in one of the larger towns, as opposed to one where the population is under 4,000 and singers need to be imported to make an evening. And the evening would have lacked the community and friendship I felt and still feel. The Steves made Vermont more than about singing; they made it about people going the extra mile for a stranger. Given the general tenor of the US right now, that means a lot.
- Location: American Legion Post #55, Brandon, VT
- Miles traveled: 420 (over two days, and indirectly from Stockton Springs, ME)
- Songs sung: Have a Heart (Bonnie Raitt), Jolene (Dolly Parton), BAck on the Chain Gang (The Pretenders), Walking After Midnight (Patsy Cline), Leather & Lace (Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty).