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  • Writer's pictureThe Rough & Tumble

Bright Morning Stars

We are sitting in a hotel room-- pretty much the fanciest hotel we get all year-- in Wichita. This is our third year playing at the city's beautiful botanical gardens. And every year since our first one, we've been trying to convince our pal from Nashville to meet us here to see it all-- the gardens, the hotel, how kind everyone is, and Joe. Joe is the bartender at the event. Our first year, he asked us our drink, we asked for Jack Daniels on rocks, and then we spent the rest of our evening after the show nearly the polishing it off and meeting Joe and all the loving people he always collects around himself. It was hot, but the stars were bright and we were happy to be in the company of instant friends.

So, of course, we yelled at our buddy from Nashville. "You should have been there!" we said. "It was so fancy and we met new friends!" we told him. "You really missed out!" we tagged on for FOMO effect. The next year as we got closer to our Wichita date, we started working on our buddy from Nashville early. "We are going to get that hotel room again and Joe will be there." Joe would in fact be there. He had already emailed us to tell us that he stocked the bar with a bottle of Jack. Our Nashville buddy didn't take the bait. And as we sat with Joe and his pals the second year, we missed our friend as the rain cleared and the stars showed up again.

This year, we tried the less pressured approach. It didn't work. And last night we enjoyed the company of our Wichita clan as we always do, the grass below us and the stars above us. On our way into the city this time, we talked about our upcoming evening. We talked about our recent show in Manhattan, KS, where familiar faces piled into a room and listened to us play for the third time, as well. We talked about how we always have to play our T-Rex song for them there. We reviewed the other places around the country where we have certain routine-- family traditions-- that we love to show up and keep. And just like with any family tradition, you are always looking around to see who is there, and who is missing.

"I am starting to hate meeting all these new people," Mallory said to Scott.

"Why?" Scott said.

"It makes me too sad, because now I am always missing someone."

And it was true. Any time we drink Jack, we miss Wichita. We miss Joe. And when we are with Joe, in Wichita, we miss our Nashville buddy.

We are getting around to it, we promise.

This week, as we watched our closest star be smothered out by our moon, standing with our Higginsville, MO friends on their front sidewalk, the question crossed our mind, "When will we do this again? When can we do this again?" When viewing the movements of celestial bodies, one can't help but think of their own impermanence in the world and the ways in which now is all we have. And then you start to miss every beautiful moment, some as short as 2 minutes and 9 seconds, and as Regina Spektor sings, "You will miss every toy you ever owned."

This week on Double Americana we're singing "Bright Morning Stars Are Rising," as was suggested by our friends in Higginsville. The history of this song is a little tricky to pin down, but it's a beautiful Appalachian tune, often sung acapella. It's a song that makes us happy to be in the now with our eyes looking forward to those bright morning stars. It gives us the same beautiful sadness of a sunset, the same missing feeling of being with and without the ones you love, and the same hopeful loss of the first morning birds singing as the last stars rise.

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