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Audio: Birdfoot Musicians Taking Flight: "It's just a nightmare"

Birdfoot Musician 5

Joe Magar on the infamous Birdfoot lounging couch

"So traveling with a bass is a pretty terrible thing. It's so bad that I opted to drive here from Baltimore rather than fly because flying with a bass is just a nightmare. There's the expense of it. It's not cheap to take that thing and check it. It's oversized. It's overweight. The risk of damage is very high.

If it's not major damage it's a ding or scrape that has happened while you've been in transit. When you get there and the flight is over, now you have to get that thing in a cab. The hard case--the trunks--that the bass goes in are tall, and the lightweight ones weigh eighty pounds with the bass in them. That's the lightweight. So it's just a real hassle.

And then you have to deal with the big, giant trunk the whole time you're anywhere. Yeah, it's a nightmare.

They actually lost my bass once. They found it pretty quickly, but that first twenty-four hours when I got off the flight--connecting through St. Paul, Minnesota back to Baltimore--I got there and the bass didn't. They were able to locate it rather quickly, but the only thing worse than breaking it is losing it. How do you loose a bass? It's so big. But it was a quick connection, and it didn't make it, but by the morning we knew it was in a warehouse in St. Paul. It came a day or two later.

It's terrifying, and I don't know if you feel the same way, but your anger threshold changes dramatically when you're in an airport. The things that would be totally fine if you aren't in an airport just make you so much angrier in an airport. I think more than being afraid you get really angry.

The first time I had them mess with an instrument at an airport was when I was a teenager. I was coming back from going to play in a summer festival. My dad came to pick me up from the airport. This was a long time ago, so the rules were much more relaxed. He came into the baggage claim to wait for me. When I got the bass they had done some damage, and I remember my dad seeing the look on my face and saying, 'Why don't you just have a seat, wait it out, I'll go and deal with this.' Because  you just get angry in an airport, and it's always awkward because the guy standing there didn't lose it.

But I don't even drive a big car. I drive that little Ford Fiesta. Seats go down and the bass slides right in."