Life on the Road: A Touring Band’s American Adventure [Vol 1: Montpelier, Vermont]

Once upon a time, there was a group of friends that loved making music together and became a band.  Almost three years later, Big Tree has found itself performing all over the country.  Having played over 150 shows, we’ve seen a lot of places.  But the best part about touring is meeting new people in each location and the adventures we have with new friends

Let’s begin this story with one of our favorite places to play a show.  Actually, one of our favorite places to go ever. Vermont is a magical place full of changing seasons and wood houses.  It’s full of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet with the most sparkling eyes you’ve ever seen (we’re convinced there’s something in the water).  It’s full of fresh foods and beautiful music and young people that act old and old people that act young.  You’ll find all this and more in Vermont’s capital, Montpelier.

Earlier this summer, we had the pleasure of performing right in the middle of this fine city.  Now, when I say we are a band, I mean it.  We wear flannel.  We don’t always smell that good.  We harmonize and play ukuleles in our van on long drives.  We have a vegetable-oil-powered vehicle.  We love each other and we fight all the time.  We can drink more beer than a discount beverage store can provide, and we can laugh at how cliché we are.  On this beautiful June evening, we rolled up to Montpelier a little disheveled (it’s a 5 hour ride from our old home in Brooklyn!) and ready for anything.  Since we had a little time before our show, we thought we’d dip our asses in a crick.

I’m about to share with you a well kept secret.  If you ever find yourself in Vermont, don’t tell anyone I told you this.  A short drive away from the city center is a magical place that the locals call “The Pots.”  There’s no address, and it doesn’t exist on a map, but any local will point you in the right direction.


We parked our van a ways away on the side of the road and hiked up to find an opening in the woods to climb down to the sound of running water.  Once we shimmied down to the river’s edge, we came upon a magnificent display of nature at its most playful: waterfalls upon waterfalls upon waterfalls each collecting in a small swimming pool!  The force of the water smoothes the rocks to make for very slippery water slides from pool to pool, creating a natural water park.  But be warned: it’s much easier going down than making your way back up!

After a “refreshing” (more like freezing) late afternoon dip, we made our way back to town to our favorite local spot, The Langdon Street Café. This establishment is not to be missed.  With live music almost every night and a staff and menu more pleasant than summertime picnic, this spot shines with all the best qualities of Montpelier.  The ceiling is covered with posters of past performances and touring musicians.  The walls are lined with bookshelves full of teacups and board games.  The lighting is always perfect night or day, and the smell is always delightful.  If you’re there during the daytime, get a yummy coffee and a sandwich, or some local kombucha.  If you’re there at night, ask for a Dufresne, an original beverage made of oatmeal stout on tap with a shot of espresso. YUM!

After playing a fun show that steamed up the windows and shook the tea cups, we took advantage of that good ole’ Vermont hospitality and followed a new friend to their house where they had enough room to put us up.  Turns out he may or may not have dug up a dead body and keeps the skull in his bedroom according to local lore, but he treated us just fine.

In the morning, we went to one of our favorite breakfast spots, Coffee Corner.  This local diner is right off of Main Street, and a great place to sit by the window and watch everyone going by.  We sat at the community table and talked about werewolves with a stranger, and ate delicious omelets and pancakes.  After stuffing ourselves, we took a walk around town, checking out some music at the awesome Riverwalk Records and following the train tracks over bridges and streams.  With 28 shows to go and 5 weeks of tour ahead of us, this was a morale booster and a place full of energy and inspiration.

If you’re not in a touring band, you’ll still like Montpelier!  Check out some of the links below for Big Tree’s favorite local spots.

Kaila McIntyre-Bader is a freelance writer and a musician splitting her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and New York. Born and raised in San Rafael, California, Kaila received a Liberal Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Kaila lived in Cuba for four months, taking Biology, Spanish, and Opera Singing classes while learning how to smoke cigars and stay up all night. She has backpacked through Europe, traveled through Central America, volunteered for the Amigos Program in Panama, and toured extensively across the United States of America with her pop band Big Tree. When she’s not working as a waitress or teaching flute lessons to children, she is wandering the world and faithfully reporting back to readers all of her secrets and adventures.