The merch table and the tip jar will forever be characters in the performance of a traveling band. You’ve heard us all before – subtly, humorously, and creatively reminding you that those few extra bucks in your pocket (I do take credit/debit now, btw) will go a long way in getting us down the road to the next gig. First and foremost, we want you to take the music with you: Buy a CD, listen to it in your car, pass it on to a friend. To me that’s the biggest of wins, and that’s one big reason we contend for your extra dough beyond what you may have already spent on pints and a cover charge.

The other big one: Gas money. I don’t know a traveling musician who hasn’t found him/herself in a lonesome pub on a tiny stage trying to ignore the cold reality that if ten bucks doesn’t make its way into that tip jar, tomorrow night’s gig in the next town won’t be happening.

But last weekend at Doe Bay, Reetz and I didn’t need gas money. We needed gas.

Doe Bay is a retreat/resort on Orcas Island (one of Washington’s San Juan Islands) and it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I’ve had the pleasure of playing a few weekends there this year and it’s always very much worth the drive up I-5 to Anacortas, the ferry ride through the San Juan Islands, and the drive around Orcas to this meca. But this time we were running a little late for the ferry, so we passed up a few gas stations in favor of making it to the Doe Bay Cafe in time for open mic the night before our first show of the weekend.

When we arrived, my smarty-pants dashboard informed me that I had 8 miles to empty. How far to the nearest gas station? 12 miles.

The open mic was a blast as always. The local talent on that island is a real treat. Reetz and I played a few songs and joked about our math problems and wise-cracked that while most musicians ask for gas money, we’d really appreciate some actual gas.

The following night during the set break of our show, local musician and new friend Corey presented us with a milk jug of beautiful unleaded gasoline. It was touching to say the least. Hospitality is not dead, and karma keeps making her rounds. I love that stuff.

Mike Surber Band at Doe Bay

Corey to the Rescue!