Steve McAlphabet Motorcycling Music Across America
Week 3 of Motorcycling Music Across America

Week 3 of Motorcycling Music Across America

When I came through Colorado Springs two years ago, my intention was to see the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun at the Cherokee Mountain Zoo. I was shooting a documentary about my relationship with Will Rogers after playing him in my local community theater and creating my own one man show based on his writings. As the only person in history to have spoken at both the Democratic and Republican conventions in the same year, I felt, and still feel, that America needs to remember a bit more of what he had to say.

My tour of the Shrine with three people involved in its preservation was at 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning on my last day of my Colorado Springs stay. So the day before I also had time to ride my motorcycle to the top of Pikes Peak and get to know my couchsurfing hosts, Carol and Marty. This year, not only did I just get to screen that documentary at the Will Rogers Memorial Museum last week, but I also got to stay with Carol and Marty again.

The first night, I took them to an open mic at O’Furry’s, where I played In The Air Tonight and You’re The One That I Want, after which I was grateful that one guy pointed out that he’d never heard anyone cover that song before. And then I left them with Every Little Thing and passed out a bunch of stickers. The second night, Carol and I went to an open mic at the Buffalo Lodge hosted by the Black Rose Acoustic Society, and I played my originals On The Road, which I wrote 22 years ago down the road in Breckenridge, and There’s A Way.

The Buffalo Lodge is literally a hotel meant for the crazy people who like to bring their bicycles to the highest elevation they can find and then ride uphill as much as possible. Colorado has more bicyclists than I think I’ve seen anywhere, and it’s one of the last places I’d ever want to ride a bicycle. Not only would my thighs hate me for it, but this state also has the worst roads in the country that I’ve seen so far. But it’s still a fun place to play.

When I stopped for gas on my way out of town the next morning, I gave my rear tire some attention and I noticed how much tread I’d worn off since I bought it last year in Fort Wayne. I decided to replace it in Denver, and completely unloaded my stuff at my host’s place when I got there. After over a dozen phone calls, I rode a half an hour to buy a tire, strapped it to the motorcycle, and then rode another half hour to the place that would put it on, because of course they can’t be the same place.

During the time it took to change the tire, I went for a walk in a nearby park to watch the water. They called to ask if I wanted to replace the inner tube, but since I was really only worried about the tread, and since I am rather frugal, I opted to reuse the inner tube I had. The next morning, the tire was flat again, and I spent the first few hours waiting for another tow truck before spending the rest of my time in Denver on foot.

My first night in Denver, my host Paul took me for a ride in his VW convertible to my very first couchsurfing meet up. Paul is an ambassador among couchsurfers, and it was very fun to meet a dozen or so that gathered at the Mercury Cafe. I even got to play their grand piano for a little while.

After dropping my motorcycle off to fix the tire for the second time, I spent the afternoon walking down Poet’s Row, checking out the Capitol building, and listening to podcasters obsess about the presidential debate. I also happened to receive a newsletter from Randal Roberts, an incredible artist I met a few years ago at the Gratify festival, and who happens to live in Denver. I reached out to him and he let me know that you was probably going to an art opening in the Santa Fe District, so I spent some time exploring the various art galleries in the area. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to actually meet with Randal, but I do have a couple prints of his that will one day hang on a wall again whenever I get one.

After picking up my motorcycle the next morning to ensure that the tire was safe, I packed up my things and headed to Boulder. My host Erica was rather busy with a project so I went to Pearl Street. I found free motorcycle parking on the outdoor mall and set up my typewriter next to it.

After typing a page for myself, I moved my setup to a better location and brought the guitar to play a few songs. I let a seemingly homeless guy sitting on the bench near me pick a few songs from my cards, and he offered up some whistle solos for a few of them. I’m still not a great fan of busking.

I saw a few people mouth the words to the songs I was playing as they walked by, but in the 20 or so minutes that I played, nobody dropped any money into my guitar case. Some magicians who normally perform there were about to start a show so I moved again.

I sat down on another bench near an amazing violin player with a beautiful voice and was awed at how few people gave him any money. Busking can be very demoralizing, but it is still one of the funnest ways to be completely unappreciated.

Nevertheless, putting up my “pay what you want poetry” sign, I had three people ask for poems in the next hour or so and made 35 dollars. I sure am glad I brought my typewriter with me. I only made 10 percent of what I’d spent on my motorcycle in the previous few days, but at least it was a move in the right direction.