"Bertha" - By Daisy Stribing
Finding the appeal in driving 70 miles per hour in a loud bus packed full of gear may sound difficult, until that bus finally crests the top of the Allegheny mountains and the noise fades away, and suddenly all you see is a striking vista. For about 15 minutes, you ride along the ridge of the mountains, a straight drop down on either side. It almost seems like a miracle this giant, heavy beast even made the climb to begin with, but you couldn’t be happier that it did because nothing beats this view. You then descend back into the trees and wait to arrive at The Purple Fiddle for a weekend of music and friends and really good food.
This is the typical experience when travelling with PA Line in their bus, Bertha. Many
hours spent, hoping to get a cellphone signal so you can entertain yourself during a lull, stopping for gas and cleaning out all the snacks they have to offer, having Mandatory Jazz Time when the moment seems right, or trying to stop mic stands from impaling you on a sharp turn. Bertha has been (no shade to the guys) the most reliable and durable
member of PA Line since she joined the family. She, like us all, has had her mishaps; a flat tire in the Poconos, fell into a ditch in Woodstock, a frozen battery in Saranac Lake on New Year’s, running out of fuel in Ottawa, hitting a pothole and losing the breaks in
Binghamton, replacing the wrong battery 3 different times, and almost burning out the breaks driving down a mountain in West Virginia. Nevertheless, she has always pulled through and has guided us to our destination in mostly one piece. She has always
provided us shelter and sanctuary and always seemed to be the unofficial headquarters of PA Line.
The memories I carry from my time spent in Bertha play in my mind like a movie, the music playing over the speaker propped on the dashboard acting as the soundtrack. Only in a movie would you see a tan short bus driving through the Lincoln Tunnel, full of musicians blasting every “New York” themed song they can think of, on their way to play
an open mic at Freddy’s in Brooklyn. Or later that night, when there were five of us sleeping in different directions on the pull-out couch in the back of the bus, full of pizza from Luigi’s (yes, THAT Luigi’s, there were pictures everywhere.) Maybe then the movie would jump to a flashback of us hanging out behind The Forvm during a day long Battle Of The Bands on the hottest day of the summer with new friends in and around the bus, beat boxing and making music together. At some point, the movie would come back to the bus climbing that mountain in West Virginia. The picture would open to the horizon all around, trees going on forever, and the highway snaking ever closer to the sky. This wouldn’t be the end of the movie, not even close. Bertha isn’t done showing us all the places we can go.