Tour journal for July 28, 2013 — Hampton Beach, NH

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Notes from the Road

Five Questions For: Noah Smith

PHC staffer Kate Swee is on the Radio Romance Tour with Garrison, Fred Newman, Aoife O'Donovan, Sara Watkins, and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band and will update us periodically from the road.

So Noah, what exactly is your new title here on the Radio Romance Tour?
"Monitor Engineer"

And what does that mean? What do you end up doing for the show?
I mix the sound for the people on the stage; in other words, I try to make it possible for the musicians to hear different levels of the various singers and instruments, so they can blend together to their individual liking.

Interesting! How is that going for you so far?
It's been an exciting new challenge that I'm looking forward to learning more about!

Awesome. What about this job is different than what you have been doing?
This allows me to mix in a live, musical environment, in comparison to a controlled, studio setting. Also, I get to work more closely with the band and guests, which is always great.

And of course, just one last question — if you could jump into a pool filled with anything...what would it be?
Water...is that too typical?

 

The Place to Be(ach)

Despite heavy clouds, chilly winds and occasional drops of rain, Hampton Beach seemed to be the place to be on a weekend afternoon. The streets were overflowing with people walking to and from the cold, sandy beaches of the Atlantic. Some were teenage girls, wearing short shorts and sweatshirts covering string bikinis, some were groups of boys with baggy shirts and American-flag-patterned bandanas, goofing around and jumping in and out of the road. Many families were walking around, their arms full of beach towels, folding chairs, strollers and coolers, the parents already looking exhausted while the children yelped and squealed as they dipped their toes in the frigid ocean. Tiny stores sat side by side, boasting signs selling "Rice Necklaces" ("Ever Want Your Name Written on a Grain of Rice?") or Budweisers and "Slush-Puppies," New Hampshire's version of an Icee. Tie-dye boogie boards were lined up for the taking, and beach dresses on hangers swung in the strong winds. It vaguely reminded me of the movie Jaws, but this tiny town seemed to have escaped modernity, with events like "Movies on the Beach," "Sand Sculpting Competitions" and the legendary Hampton Beach Seafood Festival. It was quaint, but in a fun way — a place everyone wanted to go.

A few restaurants advertised fried clams and steamed lobster, but unfortunately we didn't come to the beach to eat — we came to put on a great show at the historic Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom! The venue has been the center attraction at Hampton Beach for more than 100 years. It opened in 1899 and its heyday began in the late 1920s. It boasted the largest dance floor in New England at the time, with almost 20,000 people making use of the massive space on a weekly basis. Amazing musicians performed there, including Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. After many renovations, the Ballroom re-opened in the 1970's as "Club Casino," and when the new owner booked then-little-known names such as U2, his intuition paid off and Club Casino began booking incredible acts once again. In the 1990s, changes were made again in an attempt to regain some of its past glory, and the name was changed back to the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom. I looked around and could see posters of the performers who had graced its stage — Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Simon and Garfunkel, Jerry Seinfeld — and I believe we all felt we were now a part of that impressive history.

The show was packed with diehard fans of the show — a good portion of them having listened to our one and only host since the show began in 1974! The spirit and enjoyment from the audience was enough to boost us into hyper-drive, and we went on to have (in my opinion) one of the best shows on our tour thus far. Sara Watkins' cover of the tender Tom Waits ballad "Take It With Me When I Go" enraptured the crowd and they gave Richard Dworsky and the Shoe Band a standing ovation for the hot instrumental boogie "My Little Pumpkin Pie." Garrison told the Hampton Beach residents a bit more about what has been going on in his hometown of Lake Wobegon, and all in all, we had a bit more than an above-average night. Despite an early show time, we left New Hampshire exhausted, but knowing we only had 8 more shows to go. Our next stop, in the middle of Pennsylvania Dutch Country: Lancaster!

 

Photos from the Show

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