Borta bra men hemma bäst—that’s what the Swedes say—“It’s great to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.” “There” being anywhere that isn’t h-o-m-e home. It’s always fun to get away for a while, but there’s a lot to be said for your own four walls.
Or five valleys, for that matter. After three years of playing in Missoula, the Cold Mountain Rhythm Band will hit the road next week on an endless tour that will take them all around the Southeast in April and May, and then the Northeast—just for starters—with no fixed destination except, at some point in the indeterminate future, Missoula. Harmonica player Keith Friedland is certain that all roads for the band will eventually lead back to Missoula, but can you really go home again?
“I think we can,” says Friedland. “We’re not leaving forever, that’s what we want to get straight.” It helps that the band is snugging up negotiations with a booking agent, Friedland explains, which will allow them to focus on the music, rather than the business end of things, and at the same time follow some established channels to new settlements of prospective CMRB fans.
“Now that we’ve got that, I really think we’ll be able to do something that other bands who have left town haven’t done, and that’s be from Missoula, Montana, touring, and coming back here. Every night when we get on stage, we’re from Missoula, Montana.”
“I mean, the music grew up here,” Friedland continues. “People were still learning their instruments when we came together as a band. We’re so organic, man, and being around this town while we were doing it was obviously influential in terms of people and the music that we saw and the music we saw come through here.”
And now, having gotten the touring life last summer, does the CMRB have what it takes to stay on the road for nine, 10 or more months out of the year?
“We’re animals,” says Friedland. “We just want to tour. That’s all we really want. And if this booking agent works out, we won’t really have to move anywhere.”
They’ve still got to leave Missoula, though, at least in the most basic physical sense. Friedland sounds confident in himself and in his bandmates, but that first step is always a doozy, what with the girlfriends and the moving out of houses and apartments and the eight guys trapped in an RV for months on end.
“I’m not sure if I have any fears that aren’t normal for what we’re going to be doing,” says Friedland. “They’re all the same fears anyone has: breaking down, not having enough money for food sometimes, getting sick of your bros. I know there’s gonna be rough times. But we’re a family. We know how to have fun together, we know how to push each other’s buttons. We just know how to have a good time.”
And the hardest part of leaving Missoula?
“Missoula,” Friedland says, frankly. Then, laughing: “I mean, you know how it is here.”
This Saturday’s CD release party will be your last chance to see the Cold Mountain Rhythm Band for a long time. That’s Saturday, March 11 in the Governor’s Ballroom of the Florence Building at 9:30 p.m. $3.