Travellin’ Light

Jessica Pavone
Answers 20 Questions About Life on the Road

Jessica Pavone
Jessica Pavone                                                                                                     courtesy of Jessica Pavone

Jessica Pavone is a Brooklyn-based string instrumentalist and composer. She is best known for her membership in Anthony Braxton’s Septet and Twelve+1tet, and for her work with two Braxton associates, brass instrumentalist Taylor Ho Bynum and guitarist Mary Halvorson. Her other activities as a player span the ‘60s soul music-inspired The Pavones, …No Way to Say Goodbye, a string quartet, and improvised viola solos (the latter represented by a Nowaki CD). Pavone has received grants to compose from the American Music Center and commissions for chamber music works from the MATA Foundation, Till by Turning and The Eastern Winds. Since 2000, she has documented her music on her own Peacock Recordings imprint, which was recently awarded a grant from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording Program. Further information about Pavone and Peacock Recordings can be found at:

What is the most difficult airline to deal with in terms of instruments and equipment?

One that won’t let me bring my instrument on the plane.  That only happened to me once, flying Continental. I just went home and caught a flight the next day and borrowed an instrument at the destination I was headed.  I find that I get hassled about my instrument more often flying domestic than international.  

Which airline has the worst economy seating and food?

You call that food?

Which airport is craziest for making connecting flights?

Frankfurt Au Main.  But that can just be because I had a crazy experience there.
It’s a big airport.  Any airport that is big is a pain in the ass.

What is the most important thing you ever forgot to pack?

My music.  I didn't realize it until five minutes before I was supposed to go onstage.  I pulled it off though.... slick

What is your worst lost baggage story?

I was flying the day of the liquid bomb threat in England in August of 2006. For some reason I had to fly to Lisbon via Frankfurt, Germany, which already was ludicrous.... but when we finally got to Lisbon, our bags weren't there. We had to wait on this line, for about 4 hours to even talk so someone about it because all these flights from England has been rerouted and there were mobs of people with missing luggage. Taylor Ho Bynum and I were the lucky ones who stayed at the airport while the rest of the band went to the hotel.  There was no food or water in the baggage terminal, and this was after a 7 hour flight to Frankfurt and then another few hours to Lisbon. I was totally zonked on sleeping pills. After all that, everyone’s bags showed up except for Taylor's and mine.  I had to spend the weekend in Lisbon with no luggage.  The promoter felt bad for me after two days and bought me a pair of underwear.

What country hassles musicians the most at customs and passport checks?


Which city has the worst cab drivers?

Italy, but you gotta love it.

What is the best hotel that a presenter has provided for you?

I stayed at a really nice place in Philadelphia in the fall of 2005. I was in the presidential suit or something.  The place was bigger than my apartment.

Do you travel with a laptop or a PDA? If so, how many times a day do you check your e-mail?

I do not travel with a laptop.  I have enough shit to carry around.  I am usually not that concerned with my email when I am away.  I put an away message up so if anything important comes, they know I'm not blowing them off.  I do however check if there is a computer around.  So maybe that is once a day or every other day.  

Do you listen to music on the road? If so, what device do you use?

I listen to my iPod, just in the trains and planes.

Do you do your own laundry on the road?

Not usually.  I am never away for more than a week and I tend to repeat my outfits.  I don't have the patience to care that much about how I'm dressed when I am traveling, but try to look decent for the gigs.  I usually wear stretch pants when traveling and have a few dresses packed for the gigs.

What is your most nightmarish sound check to date?

The Moers Festival.  Fun hang, but there was no sound check.
They threw us on the stage ten minutes before we were supposed to play.
I couldn't hear a damn thing.

What is the scariest food that has been laid out for you backstage?

I am a picky eater.  Things I think are gross, and that most people don't, like olives.... YUK

What are your three favorite venues?

I love playing at Jazz em Augusto in Lisbon, Portugal. The sound is amazing and it’s outdoors. I also really like De Singel in Antwerp.  Nice vibe and nice people.  I have always had a good playing experience there, great sound and good people to talk with afterward.  Its also a short walk back to the hotel.

Which cities have the best restaurants for late after-gig meals?

I'm not really much of a late night eater

Which cities have the best after-hours sessions?

I don't go to after-hours sessions.  I usually go back to the hotel with the band and play cards.

What is the best city that closes down too early?

I had one of the best times of my life out dancing on a day off in Chicago which closes its bars down at 2am!?

What is the best locale to have a day off?

Somewhere that is not a city.  The more rural the better. I live in New York City so I am always looking for something completely opposite when I go away.

What is your cure for jet lag?

I take sleeping pills.  Lots of them.  I like to be completely knocked out for those red eyes.  

What is your best tip for the novice?

Eating weird food and lack of sleep are the death of you. Try hard to stick with something that is similar to your regular routine.  Buy food at grocery stores whenever possible. Recently, I've been doing yoga in my hotel room, even if just for 15 minutes.

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