Radio Station: WLTE – The Light
Host: Rodger Paxton
Art: That was The Sequel by Darren Hawe and we’re back on WLTE 101.1 FM. I’m your host Art Rodgers and we have some very special guests in studio with us today, Matt and Barbara from North To Port. Thanks for being here y’all.
Barbara: Our pleasure Art.
Matt: Thanks Art!
Art: I’ve been listening to your album, and I gotta say, it’s one of my new favorites, but before we get into that, it looks like we have a third visitor to our studio. Would you be so kind as to tell us who this Little Guy is?
Barbara: This is Tour Cat.
Art: Tour cat? Does he have a name?
Matt: Yeah. That IS his name. It’s Tour Cat.
Art: I’m guessing you call him that because he’s on tour with you… but was he born in the backseat of a greyhound bus rollin’ down highway 41 or something?
Matt: Ha! we don’t actually know where he was born.
Barbara: We found him in DC a few years back while we were playing a show.
Art: You FOUND him?
Barbara: We did! It was a pretty chilly night, and we were heading back to the hotel when we heard THIS little guy meowing from the darkness. And he just started approaching us.
Matt: Normally we’re used to encountering rats in DC not cats, so this was completely unexpected.
Art: I have experienced that very same thing in DC.
Matt: Right! He looked pretty scrawny, but we pet him a bit and he just kept following us and meowing.
Barbara: We felt bad for him.
Art: I bet!
Barbara: It was cold, and he had no collar or anything, so we decided to get him some food. He was apparently very hungry.
Matt: Yeah, he ate a whole bowl of kibble.
Barbara: And then a can of tuna!
Matt: He did! We were surprised he could pack that much in!
Art: And now he’s on my lap…. Purring….So what happened next, you kept him?
Matt: We had to make a pretty quick decision because we were leaving town the next morning and we feared that if we brought him to a shelter, they would just put him down if no one claimed him.
Art: Oh, we can’t have that…
Matt: No. It was obvious he was a well-intentioned cat, so we definitely didn’t want that to happen.
Art: Do you think he was abandoned?
Matt: We think so, I mean he looked like that.
Barbara: You can tell he’s really sweet….
Matt: I was afraid for some reason his previous owner just disowned him and then left him out in the cold. I know that’s a cynical way to look at it, but we felt bad for him, you know?
Art: Of course, that makes sense.
Matt: I mean he’s a really loyal cat. I can’t imagine he didn’t serve his previous owner as well as he’s served us.
Barbara: He probably had one job; hang out with his owners, maybe protect them from the occasional rogue mouse. You know. Be a cat.
Art: He seems like a great cat to me. And I wouldn’t consider myself a cat guy.
Barbara: But when we found him, he was roaming the streets with what I suspect was probably limited marketable skills.
Matt: Especially if he lived an indoor life. We decided, we’d be his friends. So we brought him on the tour bus and us and tour cat have been friends ever since.
Art: Does he LIKE hanging out on the bus?
Barbara: He loves it. At first he was a little skittish, for probably the first 24 hours or so. But then by day 2 he was up on my lap, and I knew we were all set.
Art: Is he a good boy on tour?
Matt: Uh. Normally….
Art: Uh oh.
Barbara: Yeah normally, but last night we hit a bit of a frag.
Art: So Tour Cat’s in the dog house, huh?
Matt: You could say that.
Art: What happened?
Matt: It’s kind of a sad story actually. Normally, you’d think tour is no place for a cat.
Art: I’ve certainly never known of a band to bring their cat on tour.
Matt: Well we left him home last time. He stayed at Barbara’s place because her husband’s there. That way he’d have a bit of company. But apparently Tour Cat was a complete wreck.
Barbara: Yeah, my husband said he barely ate, he was meowing all the time, day and night. I mean, You see how friendly he is, Art. In like 30 seconds he’s on your lap and he’s never met you before.
Art: Very friendly!
Barbara: Well at home he wouldn’t allow anyone to pet him. It’s like he couldn’t fit back into regular society. He would just stare out the window and Meow. Mark would send me videos of it – it was depressing to watch.
Matt: It’s like he’d been trained for tour, you know? And when he’s out on the road, he a good little soldier. Back home he just can’t assimilate. So we decided he HAD to be with us on the next tour. And we’ve been out for a bit now, and he’s been really happy. Purring all the time.
Art: He purrs a lot.
Barbara: He’s a good boy.
Matt: He’s been made for this life and it’s obvious. And just as he’s become comfortable on tour, we’ve gotten more and more comfortable with him.
Art: What do you mean?
Barbara: Well, over time he’s earned our trust, and our trust has naturally increased.
Matt: Right, for instance, at first we were afraid he would run away, so we kept him on the bus, in the hotel, or on a leash if we went for a walk or something.
Barbara: But now he follows us around everywhere. We’ll leave the bus and he’s right on our heals.
Matt: Yeah, he never strays.
Barbara: He doesn’t run away at all. It’s like he’s oblivious to distractions. He doesn’t even NOTICE anything. He just follows where we lead.
Matt: I wish I had that kind of focus. Clearly we’re his mission and he’s just all business.
Art: This all sounds like a good thing, but you said he got into trouble.
Matt: Like Barbara said, he’s earned our trust so now we’ve even been taking him into the venues we’re playing at.
Matt: Yep, he just follows us in and lays down behind us on stage.
Art: That’s nuts!
Barbara: We even keep a heated cat bed with us and just plug it in somewhere onstage. He’ll actually lay there through the entire set.
Art: Does he have his own Roadie?
Matt: Ha! Not yet, no.
Barbara: So yesterday we had soundcheck at the theater in preparation for tonight’s show.
Art: You’re playing the Grand Ole’ Osprey tonight right?
Matt: Right. We’re participating in kind an unusual event for the Osprey.
Art: I was gonna say… normally it’s a country venue.
Matt: Well they have this new expanded culture series once per month where they put a few diverse artists together in one show.
Art: Now I did hear they were starting this up.
Barbara: Yeah, it’s pretty new. I think this might be the second or third one.
Art: What’s it like?
Barbara: The acts kind of bounce back and forth a bit.
Matt: It’s like the old Prism concerts at Eastman school of music in Rochester NY, not sure if you’ve heard of that…
Matt: I went to one in high school, and I think that’s were they came up with the concept. But anyway, like normal we had Tour Cat with us.
Art: On stage?
Matt: Right, and one of the acts performing with us is a group from Afghanistan called Afghan Women Of Peace which is a group of seven or eight woman who sing, play and dance. As Barbee mentioned, last night was the soundcheck. We had to do it the day before because these expanded culture shows are a bit more complex.
Art: What happened?
Barbara: It started off ok. But what we didn’t realize is that the Afghan Women Of Peace use a lot of peace symbolism in their act, including these beautiful snow white doves they trained to fly in formation during their set. It’s a pretty awesome site really.
Matt: But Tour Cat got one look at them and couldn’t help himself.
Art: Oh shoot.
Matt: He tore straight across the stage in the middle of their rehearsal and grabbed one of the poor birds right out of the air. It was awful.
Matt: Yeah, the birds we’re in V formation and Tour Cat got the one closest to backstage. He jumped so high he was actually above it, and then just drone bombed right down, claws and teeth, well doing what they’re designed to do.
Barbara: It was terrible. The bird was screeching; there was blood everywhere. It was pretty gross.
Matt: And All the other birds just flew directly to their cage and huddled together.
Art: So then what happened?
Matt: Well I was on him in just a couple seconds. I eventually got him to release the bird, but it was too late.
Barbara: The Afghan Women were devastated.
Art: I bet…
Matt: We felt terrible, but it’s hard to blame Tour Cat. He’s a hunter by trade, and it’s not like he can discriminate between friend or foe. They all look the same to him.
Art: Right! It’s been programmed into his DNA.
Matt: It is. And it’s probably how he was trained too. There’s bound to be some friendly fire on occasion.
Art: Even with the best intentions…
Matt: But we took immediate responsibility for his actions. Ultimately it was our fault since it was our decision to send him in the first place.
Art: You talked to the Dove’s family?
Barbara: We did.
Matt: We apologized profusely and even offered restitution. I know it sounds cold, but I wanted to at least try to make things right. I told them I’d be happy to compensate them for their loss, but they wouldn’t have it.
Barbara: I think that just came off as a bit insensitive.
Matt: Yeah, probably.
Barbara: It was our intention to try to make them whole, the best way we could, but you can’t blame the Afghan Women for not accepting that. I mean, the dove was like family.
Matt: Right, they trained together for years to get everything just right. So the dove isn’t just their property. They share history.
Barbara: I completely understand this. You hate to see innocent beings get hurt.
Art: Are you still playing the show?
Barbara: We are, but Tour Cat has been banned from the Osprey.
Matt: Even if he weren’t there’s no way we would let him loose in there again. And we’re going to have to reexamine how lax we are with him on tour.
Art: Well that’s just not the story i was expecting when you came in today. I will say this, Tour Cat has definitely been very well behaved here.
Barbara: We appreciate it Art. We try to be positive role models.
Art: On a lighter note, North To Port is playing the Osprey tonight as part of it’s expanded culture series. Thanks so much guys for dropping by. And we hope to see you again real soon.
Barbara: Thanks Art.
Matt: Thanks Art.
Art: And here’s The Colorful Part Of The Scenery by North To Port.
~Matt and Barbee
P.S. If you do end up liking the cut of our jib, that’s great! Please consider sharing us with a friend, writing an iTunes review, and even purchasing our music from Bandcamp. Every dollar and every download makes it possible for us to keep creating our art.