The Front Lines on Tour East
Sam, Mitev, Phil, Kier, Steve, Kevin, and Bruce pose the morning after in Buffalo before getting in the Shalom-mobile for another leg of the tour.
To save money on our self-supported 1981 eastern tour, we stayed with many friends and family. We drove an extended Dodge Sportsman van that Phil and I had bought from the Council for Jewish Elderly. It had "Shalom" stenciled on the hood, painted over, but still visible. Thus, we dubbed it "Shalom-mobile." We were already using it to transport the band and its equipment to and from gigs. With luggage, extra equipment and extra people, we attached a U-Haul trailer for the tour.
To begin, we drove from Chicago to Buffalo. At every state line, we performed the ritual of imitating a victorious track star leaning forward to break the finish line tape. By my count, we crossed state borders 22 times (including DC, not really a state). We went through 12 states plus DC. I can't remember if we crossed into Canada to visit Niagara Falls, though I think we did. (I've been twice since then, so it gets confused.) I probably recorded the mileage somewhere, but according to MapQuest (whose map appears below), it was over 2,700 miles.
We stayed at Steve's friend Peter's house in Tonawanda (Buffalo) on the way there (and back). From there we drove to Worcester, outside Boston, and stayed in Shrewsbury at Steve's grandfather’s house before the Boston gig. After Thursday night playing at The Channel Boston, we drove to Phil's sister's farm in Reading, PA. We had Friday off there before playing Saturday night in Philadelphia, and I think we went to play the horses, though that might have been the next year, while "wood-shedding." But to make our Sunday night gig in DC, we had to drive all night (after the Saturday night gig) from Philly to DC. The few of us awake got to see the magnificent Mormon Temple looking like the Emerald City of Oz at dawn. I think Sam was driving and I had to navigate, being the expert on my DC hometown.
I don't know how we all fit in the house. My mother (Jody) cooked a load of fried chicken for us before the Cellar Door gig. Upon meeting my sister Mardi, age 12 at the time, Phil said "she looks like a miniature Kier!"
From DC, we went to New York City for The Ritz, and split up into smaller groups since we had many friends there. Some of us stayed with Phil's brother Steve in Manhattan. I think I stayed with my high school friend Gabriel, whose family had moved to Brooklyn, but I can't be sure. After that, it was on to Buffalo again to play the Continental. Detroit may have been the only place we had to pay for a motel.
The 1981 Front Lines Tour started and ended in Chicago. Chicago is point A as well as J, and Buffalo is point B as well as H.