Our first week in Bisbee we signed up for the Bisbee ghost tour, and while killing time in the mid-afternoon after work (we’re currently on a 7am-3:30pm MST schedule) we wandered into the historic Copper Queen Hotel.
There was a band playing, kind of a ragtime outfit with no amplification, and everybody in period dress like like 19th century miners turned to busking. They were called St. Cinder, and they were surprisingly great for how low-key the show was. The only folks in the crowd were us and the next band up, a middle-aged Celtic ensemble. The St. Cinder folks mentioned a bigger show they were playing on Saturday at the Bisbee Grand, and we decide we would go.
The Celtic band came on, and the place started filling up with locals. They were nowhere near as good as St Cinder. In fact they were not fun to listen to, and we left before their first song was over.
We went on the ghost tour led by a middle aged local man named Lee who wore a top hat with a feather. It was us, one other couple from Phoenix, and a woman shadowing Lee to learn how to give ghost tours. Lee walked us all around the back stairways and dark alleys of the main historic part of Bisbee.
I had had a few drinks earlier and so I already had to pee before the tour even began, and once we were well underway I was in the emergency zone. An hour into the tour we finally made it to a public restroom and I had the longest pee I can ever remember having. I was thankful that Lee continued telling more stories to cover up the endless (and audible) sound of me urinating.
The hour and a half tour ended back at the Copper Queen Hotel, and to my surprise the Celtic band was still playing. They had drawn quite a crowd. I couldn’t understand it.
On Saturday after hiking in Chiricahua National Monument we cleaned up and went to town to see St. Cinder’s bigger show. The Bisbee Grand was pretty packed, about 70/30 locals to tourists, many in strange dresses and loud hats. The band had amplification now, and a different drummer, and they just didn’t sound as good as the low-key jam at the Copper Queen.
In the bathroom line I struck up a convo with a local dude around our age named Kyle. He had a Screaming Banshee shirt on (the local brick oven pizza joint). He told me about the weekend events related to Alice in Bisbeeland, which is an annual town-wide Alice in Wonderland-themed cosplay. Now the odd outfits made a little more sense (Alices and Mad Hatters). Mostly I was proud that I had met a local. Courtney and I made a vague goal to somehow get invited to a local’s house party before our time in Bisbee was through, that if we did that we would be officially locals ourselves.
We figured the St. Cinder folks were just passing through town, but throughout that week and next we kept seeing them and their posse around town, the guys busking alone or in pairs, the ladies fetching food. I looked up St. Cinder online and found an Indiegogo campaign to finance them getting a new school bus, in which they apparently lived while perpetually touring. We wondered where they parked that bus, and if they, or the other townies of Bisbee, were at all curious about us as we were of them.