They were an original band by week and a cover band on the weekends. Welcome to the life of thousands of bands chasing their dreams on the highways of America. I saw the clubs from the stage, from the soundboard and from everywhere in between. The early years on the road meant you were doing the jobs of 10 for, hopefully, the pay of one. The one job I didn’t mind having was driver. The toughest thing to find was a good co-pilot, someone who can stay awake, engage in conversation and make sure the driver stays awake.
I had co-pilots with night terrors, sleep talkers and instant sleepers. My favorite co-pilot was a drummer with a vivid imagination when he was tired. He would see the road as his computer screen and move an imaginary mouse around, he would break out laughing because The Simpsons were floating around and he would answer questions that nobody asked. His greatest moment was at a truck stop somewhere between Cleveland and Detroit.
It was about six in the morning and I pulled over to fill the tank and get some coffee. Everyone piled out of the van and took advantage of the break to go to the bathroom, get something to eat or to simply stretch their legs. My drummer co-pilot joined me at a table and had a serious look on his face. It looked like he had a secret to share and didn’t know how to bring it up. He kept looking around and really seemed like he was worried he was losing his mind.
“I have to get some sleep, I am seeing things” were the first words he managed. “There are Aberlam Hinkums everywhere and I know they can’t be real. My mind thinks I went back in time, cars are turning into horses and I can’t make it stop.”
I told him he was fine, they are Amish. “Amish, what the hell are you talking about? Now even words don’t make sense to me!” I couldn’t hold it in, I broke out laughing that tired laugh that drains all the energy out of your body and is almost impossible to stop. I explained what the Amish were and why we were seeing them. I pointed to the horse parking signs and told him that I see them too. He was having none of it. He was convinced he was seeing Aberlam Hinkum. Wait a minute, Aberlam Hinkum? How did I let that one slip? I asked him to repeat the name and he said it again. Aberlam Hinkum. Wow.
We were an hour away from our destination and I told him to switch places with the singer and get some rest. He was asleep within minutes of us hitting the road again and I was stuck with another co-pilot who couldn’t keep his eyes open for more than a few miles. Save me, Aberlam Hinkum!