December 10th, 2018
Today marks the fifth day I’ve been on the road with Justin Osborne, Jordan Igoe, and Van ‘The Good’ Robinson. Myself included, this stretch of acoustic performances has the SUSTO crew slimmed down to four. The purpose of my being here is to act as a weed smoking, van packing, fly on the wall tasked with writing about the experience of being on the road. While here I’ve been helping load and unload the van before and after shows in exchange for my meals which allows me to save my dollars and cents for more pressing issues like records, state shaped key chains, and when the weed and cigarettes run too low to manage.
A very good question was asked last night while the four of us sat in the van beside the hotel, passing around two joints that Jah had provided. “Matt Harrison,” Justin said to me over the music and through a laugh, “how did you get here?”
Shit, I thought, unable to keep a straight face, that’s a good question.
It wasn’t all that long ago I saw SUSTO perform for the first time during spring in Winnipeg while they were on tour with the Lumineers. A few months later, in August of 2017, I finagled -lied- my way into an interview with Justin. I pitched the idea of coming on the road with him as a writer in a letter I gave him along with a copy of an article I’d written about & I’m Fine Today. I signed off the letter with my contact information and the lines I cost nothing and I stow anywhere.
I saw Justin and a few members of the band standing outside the venue after the show that night. I thought of going up to say hi but I felt there was a good chance we’d meet again some other time. A premonition or perhaps something much less, you be the judge. It’s just a thought I had as the car pulled away down Osborne Street.
Conversations from last night come back in random spurts. “I don’t know how you did it,” Justin laughed, his eyes lost in a smile, “but you’re part of the SUSTO family, now.”
“How was the Charlie Horse Doctor?” I asked Jordan once I’d crawled into the van and thrown my bag in the back.
“It was a very passive approach but it was very relaxing” she said through sunglasses in the rearview mirror.
“How do you feel?” I replied, curious about what exactly she meant.
“Very hungover” was all she said.
That checks out, I thought to myself, looking back to last night when her and Justin had two shots and a half empty bottle of booze -tequila for him, whiskey for her- sat in front each of them. Times this good are sure to come at a price. It’s a good thing they’re professionals.
December 15th, 2018
East 16, Mile 121, Georgia
We met in Chicago, the centre point between our two cities. Everything between there and here has been about good music, good people, and guten tag. At every stop is another beautiful or deeply historic venue and another group of interesting, unique, and open minded people. I’m lucky to be chillin’ in the van, singing along to the tune of the day or makin’ one up as we go.
There’s nothing I can point to that shows the moment I became just another buddy on the road. What I have instead are the pieces of a picture painted in words. Moments caught in the moment. 10 days of rolling into somewhere and out to anywhere with my shithead friends.
December 10th, 2018
The operating strategy for the day is to smoke a joint and make friends with the local wildlife. Luckily, there’s a nearby park with a tribe of obese squirrels who can be hand fed. “I’ll run to the bank while y’all are connectin’ with the squirrels,” Jordan says as we pile out of the van, armed with saltines and wonder. Just another day on the road with Justin, Jordan, and Van the Good.