Folk-blues singer Maria Muldaur’s latest CD is … First Came Memphis Minnie. Her latest tour info is at www.mariamuldaur.com.
You tour in recreational vehicles. Why RVs?
I’ve been using them to tour for probably 20 years. RVs are way less polluting [than tour buses] in how much fuel they use. The buses just sit there spewing diesel. They are much more economical, much more green. But I’ve graduated to a diesel pusher [diesel engine in the rear model] just as the powers that be decided to make diesel more expensive then regular gas.
I love the comfort of having all the comforts of home on the road. The one I have is the fourth one I’ve owned.
Is your RV solely a work tool or do you drive an RV for pleasure trips as well?
I wouldn’t go camping I in it. I travel for a living, so the idea of schlepping a bunch of stuff into a beautiful area doesn’t appeal to me.
I don’t drive it. You wouldn’t want me driving that thing! The guys in the band drive it, or sometimes I hire a driver. There’s a place for everybody. Everybody can get horizontal, have their space to relax. Everything is self-contained. I have a fridge, a full kitchen. We’re able to keep all the health food we need on board, so we’re not dependent on stopping at fast food places. I make chilli or gumbo at 70 miles an hour. It keeps us healthy.
It’s a wonderful way to travel.
Does your RV have a name?
This one is named the SS Queen Josephine. When my dear mother passed away several years ago, the money she left me was what [enabled] me to buy this one. It was a big upgrade, up to about 40 feet. To us, it’s the mothership.
You must have bumper stickers on that thing. What’s your best one?
Let there be Peace on Earth and Let that Peace begin with Me.
Where’s RV Nirvana – the best place you’ve parked or ever hope to?
Gosh. The California coast. We were right in this magnificent idyllic spot on the California coastline, forests, sea and sky, with all the comforts of home. And when we wanted to have a fabulous steak and lobster dinner, we just drove it down the road to town. Then came back and sat around the campfire. The best of all worlds.
Are there subcults within RV people?
There’s a Good Sam network of people. Good Samaritan. You can get insurance and they also have roadside service like Triple AAA, a network of people, sort of a big RV owners club. A lot of the older couples who use RVs, they’re pretty much hooked up into the culture. They meet with each other and go together on [North America-wide] trips.
Are you part of that cult?
Not socially. If I ever retire, I might enjoy that. I just put out my 40th album [and] I probably have at least another five in me. Traditionally, I make them in the winter when it’s too cold and treacherous out there to do any serious touring. I stay home and create.
In the summer and fall, I tour behind it, especially in the fall. The big heat of the summer is over and it’s the Indian summer everywhere we go. We’re sort of socially more in a group of travelling musicians. We don’t stop in campgrounds and socialize with the retired couples, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Motorcyclists on the road give each other a little low-down, by-the-hip wave of acknowledgment. Do RV aficionados do something similar when passing one another?
No, just a wave, nothing very arcane or mysterious.
Is there one top-of-the-line RV you particularly lust after? The Rolls-Royce of RVs?
A Monaco Dynasty. They have those big slide-outs. A new one of those deluxe ones probably costs $125,000, if not more. I’ve been accused of having severe RV envy when I see some of them.
They sound more like a house on wheels than a vehicle.
And very complex. You have to have someone who knows how to deal with it. It’s not as if you only have to know about all the automotive systems. There’s a pump system for the water, there’s Freon for the fridge, there’s a propane system. It’s like having a house and a truck, and you have to know what’s going on with all of it.
Are recreational vehicles quintessentially American?
Well, they don’t have any in Europe. They have what they call caravans. A cross between one of our maxi-vans and a small RV. You don’t see many of the big luxury liners like you do in America. But, of course, [Americans] overdo everything.
Is that a bad thing in an RV?
Not when you’re in it!