Day 13: Lemmons
St. Louis, Missouri
First things first, the Patriots won again yesterday, maybe not with the most amazing display of football prowess, but they eked out a win nonetheless. That being said, I’m not sure what else to write about. Yesterday was a fairly uneventful day. So, see y’all tomorrow…..
Just kidding! Yesterday was such a whirlwind of a day. We started off with our first visit (this tour) to Waffle House, followed by a marathon drive through middle of nowhere northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. (Note to all the travelers out there: Cell service is super spotty throughout that section of the country. I spent 5 hours with out wifi… It was Hell)
When we got to the club Nate discovered and fell in love with Toasted Ravioli. I’m still in shock as to how he had never even heard of them before, but I’m glad he finally was able to experience the fried goodness.
Missouri resident and band friend Stacy brought out an awesomely interesting crew, one of the most memorable being the U.S. Army Drill Sargent John. Towering over all of us at something like like 6’5”, and drinking his beer by the pitcher, John fell in love with the music, with Man on Earth instantly becoming one of his top 3 favorite bands. Having spent many years training in martial arts, he gave everyone some basic self defense pointers. Having had some training myself, he and I talked shop a bit and even wound up doing a little bit of exchange sparring in the parking lot.
Stacy also brought a cake for Stevie G, since his birthday started at midnight last night. Since the next day was a day off, Sunday night was a let-your-hair-down kind of night. We stayed at the pub for a few hours after the gig, helping Stevie G ring in his birthday. (For those of you keeping track, I think he turned 28… Mochello did the math though, so I’m not sure.)
Load out and goodbyes, and Neil deGrasse Tyson to educate us on our way to our sketchy gas station resting place….
Day 12: Juanita’s
Little Rock, AR
Driving through torrential rain is always fun, but when we’re under time constraints it slows us down a bit too much. Our bus treks across the country at a steady 55-65 mph, but heavy rain brings our cruising speed down in to the low 40s. The club was hosting two separate shows, so we had an extremely early load in. Halfway on the trip the weather broke and we were able to get back up to speed, which allowed us to make it in the nick of time.
Juanita’s is a cool midsize rock club. The manager was very supportive, saying that he really wanted to help us build our presence in Little Rock. After seeing the show, he liked us so much he bequeathed to us a new projector, twice as bright as our current one. (I personally can’t wait to fiddle around with it!)
The second show was starting directly after, so we had to load our gear out quickly. Adding to the madness, the rain storm started to catch up to us and the sprinkling began again. At that point it becomes like level 80 Tetris, a mad dash to make things fit before everything gets soaked. Once it was all packed in, we hit the road. It was kind of nice to get out before 10pm. We were able to get a bit of driving done and get a full nights sleep. Successful night in my book!
Day 11: Oklahoma City
McSaltys Pizza Venue
I awoke to the bus in motion. Nate had already been awake researching diesel mechanics so we could yet again try to fix our engine sputter once and for all. We had spent the night at a Walmart parking lot in Denton, TX, and after some heavy Googling, Nate picked out the most reputable sounding mechanic. We pulled into Advanced Auto Care and after a diagnostic we seemed to finally have a solid direction to look at regarding our bus issues. While waiting on the part to arrive one of the mechanics noticed that one of our rear inside tires was flat. When he took the tire off to inspect whether or not it could be repaired, we saw that the outside tire on the same side was any minute away from blowing out itself! Thinking we were faced with another bill of hundreds of dollars for just the tires alone, we were all feeling a bit dejected. The repair shop had an ace up their sleeve tho. They hooked us up with a used tire dealer that only charged us twenty bucks a tire. When the part finally arrived, we were informed that the warehouse had delivered the wrong one. The good news though, was when they tried to attach the wrong part they noticed a wire with a stripped casing that was shorting out, and likely causing some of the issues we were having. So, they fixed the wire, and we were off again, finally leaving Texas behind. We made our way up to Oklahoma City, having no issues with the bus the whole way… (If you’re of a superstitious sort, now would be the correct time to knock on a hunk of lumber, or cross something, or however that works!)
Oklahoma City has a unique vibe about it. One large skyscraper towers above the handful of smaller buildings in the skyline. One of the telltale signs of where we were was when Mochello went into a bar to promo, and was told by the old lady bartender that he should be ashamed of his red hair and embarrassed to go in public with it….
The venue in OKC on the other hand was a Mochello Shangri-La…. A pizza joint. He ordered a calzone, and according to the expert, it was one of the best ones to grace his palate…. Evah!
The headlining band was a Christian 80’s hair homage band. (Take a second, and let that sink in…) They even dressed the parts, and rocked out like the best of them, and it most certainly felt we could have been watching the opening act of a Poison concert, circa 1987. After the show, we packed up and headed toward Little Rock. After a few hours, (of thankfully issue free driving) we found a rest stop to sleep in. Cross Oklahoma off my ‘states visited’ map! Only a few left….
Day 10: Bryan St. Tavern
The day started off still in Austin, with us looking for a mechanic to check out our bus’s electrical system. We found an alternator specialist and after a diagnostic we were told that we needed to either rebuild or replace the alternator. Opting for the new one, the shop did the swap and we were on our way.
For the first time since Biloxi we had full ac, and for the first time in a very long time the bus was producing a proper amount of energy. Things seemed to be solved!
We made our way to Dallas, comfortably cruising, impervious to the Texas heat. We pulled in to the club, well, pub, around 5:30. The Bryan St. Tavern is a truly awesome sports bar. Six different environments are available to you as you watch whatever sport is on the televisions. There is a lounge area, with couches, for that at home feel, the sit down restaurant area, the bar, the pool hall, the rock room with the stage, and the outdoor picnic area, complete with Cornhole. Each area has plenty of televisions, streaming various games. There was a decent dinner crowd there already, and Thursday Night Football helped bring out a drinking crowd.
Stevie G’s Dad surprised everyone with an unannounced visit, as his road trip vacation caught up to our tour in Dallas.
The guys played a double set, as is common at a lot of the restaurant gigs we do. I always like those nights, because it gives me a chance to hear something different. (Although not “Something Better”, because a certain drummer won’t play it… Grr)
After load out we headed out to find a friendly neighborhood Walmart parking lot so we could rest up before heading to Oklahoma. On the highway, our bus started having some of the same issues we had been having. Apparently our troubles weren’t over….
Day 9: Red Eyed Fly
If Austin figured out a way to lower its average temperature by like 20 degrees, I might be tempted to move there. Good food, friendly people, and a thriving music scene make Austin one of my favorite US cities. The unbearable heat on the other hand, does make it loose a few notches in my top 10… (If you ask the locals, we’re just a bunch of ‘pansy ass Yankees’, and ‘the 95° Texas scorcher we’re complaining about ain’t nothin’ compared to the 110°+ days of summer…’)
This was our first time playing Austin when the SXSW wasn’t going on. While the streets weren’t blocked off and packed with thousands of people, there was still quite a bit of wandering foot traffic for a Wednesday night, and the people that we stopped and talked to while out doing street promo were very conversational, many wanting details not only about the music, but also about who we were as individuals. Up north we don’t get that very often, strangers taking a personal interest in our lives. It’s refreshing, and it brings your own mind into a better state. It’s no longer faceless individuals just taking flyers, it becomes talking to potential friends about possibly coming to our party. There was a good crowd for a midweek show, and when the final numbers for the evening came through, the amount of people marked down as there to see us was far more than any of us expected! After the show, we went to a hotel (a chain hotel, without a number in the title) to rest up so we could wake up and have our electrical system on the bus diagnosed. We must have booked a hotel on the wrong side of I-35 because as we pulled in we saw a pimp putting his girls to work at the next hotel over, police at another, and upon opening the door to our room we realized that the moving floor wasn’t heat delirium…. So, we promptly got ourselves a refund, and found a trusty Walmart parking lot with a building that would cast a westerly shadow so we didn’t all spontaneously combust upon sunrise…..