Sunna Gunnlaugs

Bebop Laundry

February 16, 2010 12:23 pm | Filed under: Road Stories | Comments (0)
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Tours seem to have some magical appeal to me. Playing music every night with the same band is great. Seeing new places, although sometimes you're only getting a little glimpse, is neat. But when you spend all day travelling, changing trains and hailing cabs you want to pack lightly.

In 2003 I had a tour of Europe with my quartet. I was living in New York and I had bought brand spanking new pants at the Gap before departure and washed them and all. To keep luggage to a minimum I usually wear a pair of jeans while travelling and then have a couple of pants in my suitcase for performing in. This time however, I decided not to wear my jeans during the flight because the tiny metal buttons on the pockets triggered the alarm at the security gate. Unfortunately my bassist Matt Pavolka spilled coffee on me during the flight. I didn't have any detergent and I didn't really have time to wait for the pants to dry. That left me with only one pair of performing pants… the brand new pair. Only, when I put them on in Munich I found, to my horror, they had shrunk down a size in the dryer. I could barely move in them! But it came down to these shrunken pants or the coffee-stained pants, so I opted for the new shrunken pants.

The crowd at Unterfahrt was great and yelled and cheered for us. I hope it was because of the music. In the next town, Esslingen, my hotel room had a nice size mirror and when I put my shrunken pants on I realized how ridiculous I looked in them and blushed at the thought of how I must have looked on stage in Munich. We played in London a few days later, where I found a Gap store, exchanged my pants without a problem for the next size up. What a relief, now I had a clean pair of pants but of course since they hadn't been washed they were too big.

Since then I've learned about "bebop laundry" where you wrap the hand-washed garment in a towel and twist it until you can twist no more…that should get enough moisture out for it to be dry the next morning. I also heard some story about Lionel Hampton just throwing his suit in the bathtub at the hotel and showering on top of it, dancing and singing. Don't know if he put them on wet the next day though.

It would be interesting to hear tour-related laundry stories from people. Can you imagine being Billy Holiday on a bus across the South, wondering how to get her dress cleaned ?

Come on now, share your magic laundry tricks with me.

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