Albuquerque, N.M. – Into America’s Great Southwest, we hit New Mexico this past Saturday. It went like this:

5:30 a.m.: The road from Denver to Albuquerque wakes me up in the middle of the night… or morning… or whenever it is that I’m sleeping. It is so bumpy and winding, and I’m just swaying all over my bunk. I imagine that we are rambling through mountains, and get anxious that we’ll topple down one of them. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that there aren’t windows in this middle part of the bus.

1:30 p.m.: We’re on the fair grounds. Tonight’s gig will be the earliest, as well as the only outdoor, show we’ve done. Will the hours of setting up lighting and LEDs be worth everyone’s time? Will the show translate to this crowd? Is everyone involved, from crew to crowd, going to be satisfied? Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, Markus and KhoMha are on the bus, talking about their upcoming week away from the bus tour. Markus has gigs in Singapore and Malaysia, and KhoMha is playing Malaysia and Australia. “Do you need anything? Do you need music from the tour?” Markus asks, always willing to help the rising star under his wing.

Markus disappears to a hotel for the day, leaving me to write more about “my” tour. I spend my afternoon working in a makeshift office – “prodo,” according to our tour manager –which is set up in a different space every night on tour. I think this setup makes him look like the greenroom shower secretary.

4:30 p.m.: The weather is beautiful, but it is putting us in allergy hell. I walk around the Expo Center, just through what must be sheets of pollen in an otherwise lovely breeze. It’s a perfect day for a picnic, and soon we will have a chef cooking us chicken and broccoli on a hibachi behind the busses.

7:30 p.m.: KhoMha takes the stage during sunset, after spending all afternoon listening to music and preparing for his set. “Tonight, I will play ‘pretty.’ I’m going to play for myself. I hope they will like it.”

9:00 p.m.: Back in “prodo” during The M Machine’s set, one of our drivers comes in with an assessment of the crowd. He says there’s an EMT on-site… “But if something happens, it better happen right in front of him. He makes me look skinny!”

Markus enters for an interview and another meet-&-greet. Some fans have brought us delicious enchiladas, beans and rice, as well as a large cake in the shape of a (decapitated) unicorn head. I hope that the cake inside is as tasty as the decoration is skilled.

11:25 p.m.: I have spent the majority of the night inside the bus, miserable from allergies, working and watching KhoMha pack for his mini-tour. I finally take a quick walk around the event before it ends, stopping at the back of a crowd that is so incredibly responsive, and the expression on Markus’ face is indescribable. I feel happy and proud for him.

“Love Rain Down” is at its peak, and I feel like I’m hearing the song for the first time, and the visuals were definitely worth setting up today. It feels like it was produced for this moment, for this night underneath the desert stars, in a city that has always had one of the most amazing crowds. One minute with them, and I’m flooded with their positive vibes. “Feels like the desert in need… Let your love rain down on me….” Don’t tell anyone, but I was holding back tears. And I wasn’t doing a very good job of it.

Midnight: “What a night, huh? If it’s like this when we’re ‘home’ in Phoenix, it’ll be a dream come true.” Indeed. It’s so hard to impress those from whence you came.

I wash a butcher knife, and we head back to the greenroom to take care of a certain cake….