We played a small, at times awkward, house show in Nashville. Somehow I managed to jump and get my shoelace wrapped around my guitar at the end of the first song. Luckily, I didn't hurt myself. Apparently, during the next song, I got a booger stuck in my mustache. Tessa was kind enough to inform me during a quiet moment in the song and proceed to wipe it off. It was ridiculous! I love this lady. After our set, we hung out around a fire pit in the carport making s'mores. Tyler (Insomniac Folklore) somehow manged to fling a flaming marshmallow off a stick and directly at his nose. It burnt off a noticeable amount of skin. I didn't know this until a few days later.
The next morning, we woke to a phone call saying Tessa's grandmother was very sick in North Carolina. After talking it over we decided she should take an overnight Greyhound out of Nashville into Charlotte, NC to be with her family. It's changes like these you never really see coming. We dropped her off at the station around 4 pm, so we could make our Memphis show. While I was inside saying goodbye, Tyler decided to smoke his pipe in the parking lot. After about a minute, a short burly security guard approached him. The conversation went something like this:
“You're not in the smoking section.”
“I'm sorry, I'll put my pipe out.”
“What are you doing here?”
“We're dropping off a friend.”
“What do you have in your pockets?
“Umm, I have tobacco, some change and a knife.”
“Sir, you can't take a knife on the bus!”
“I'm not riding the bus.”
“Sir, you need to give me the knife.”
“No. I'm not going to give you my knife, I'll go back to my van.”
“Sir you need to give me the knife, this a matter of national security.”
“I'm not going to give you my knife.”
“I'm going to have take you in the back to talk to homeland security!”
At this point I walked out of the greyhound and I asked Tyler if he was ready to go. He quickly said yes and practically ran to the van. This was our last memory in Nashville for 2010.
I've never played a show in Memphis and tonight would be different in many ways from a usual tour stop. The house was a normal punk house, with the exception of the five cases of Ramen they had stacked on top of the fridge. Up first was a bluesy one man band playing his first show. He was pretty good. After he had played for about 30 minutes, he announced that he had one more song, and then he played four more songs, each time he announced it was his last song. I'm very used to bands playing short 20 or 30 minute sets. The last band also played long so I'm guessing it's a Memphis thing. My set was fun and went over pretty well. I haven't toured playing solo for more than two days since 2007 and this week I would be on my own. It kind of felt like I was learning to play all over again and having to see what worked as I went. We asked about a place to stay and they told us we'd have to be out by 7:30 in the morning, so I decided it would be better to sleep in the car at Wal-Mart. I couldn't stretch my legs all night and barely slept. When I woke up in the morning, I could hardly walk. As I was repacking things, I realized that I had neglected to put my seat all the way back which was the cause for my problems. Sometimes I'm stupid.
We hung around Memphis for a few hours to meet our friend Cory Taylor Cox for lunch. After lunch we drove to Little Rock, Arkansas. We stopped to get gas and saw a sign for a BBQ Restaurant attached to a station. Upon further inspection the door to the restaurant contained an amazing sign proclaiming "PLEASE SMOKE! This is a smoking area. If you persist in not smoking you will be required to leave. State Law. No Children Allowed!" Tennessee you are funny.
A few minutes later, we discovered our cigarette lighter had broken – thus disabling our phone chargers and GPS. I store all the venue addresses in my phone so this created a bit of a problem. We went to Best Buy and I had them charge my phone. Then we went to find some place warm to grab dinner. I got a few phone calls over dinner and by the time we were done my phone was dead again. We went back to Best Buy and this time I bought a wall charger. I also printed off directions to the venue just to be safe. We started driving and it took me about 10 miles to discover I was going the wrong way. So much for being early. After we turned around, we drove to the address I had printed out, only to discover the venue has moved and the new renters had no idea where the current location was. Luckily, I had bought my phone changer. We went across the street and I plugged my phone in at a gas station and got the updated info. By the time I got to the venue I was pretty stressed and tired. Since 2007, I've been playing shows in Little Rock, AR. Normally it's a pretty fun and crazy place for us to play. This time around though a few local acts dropped off the day before the show, so I figured things would be small. The night was filled with a few nice sing-a-longs and awkward moments. The highlight was seeing old friends, which was needed.
After our show, we drove to a small town to stay with some friends. On the way, we saw one more sign that ended the day on a good note: "Please, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service, THIS IS A CRACK FREE ZONE Please pull up your pants or you will be asked to leave." Classic.
On the way to to Oklahoma City, traffic stopped due to a very serious accident. A life flight helicopter soon arrived. Curiosity got the best of me, so I walked toward the accident until I found a news reporter who filled me in. A lady had fallen asleep at the wheel and rolled her car about 30 feet off the road. She was not wearing her seat belt and was thrown from the vehicle. Strangely enough this saved her life, because her car caught on fire and was burned to a white ashy mess. After traffic got moving again, I made sure we took our time to get to Oklahoma City. Suddenly getting to the show early didn't seem so important. OKC is a place I really enjoy. My first time through, I spent 8 hours on Easter, alone in a IHOP using the free Wi-Fi. Then through a random series of events, that none of us can quite remember, I ended up meeting a group of friends that I now consider family. Last year our show was in a trailer. It was great. This time we played at Bad Granny's Bazaar. Guess what? Bad Granny's was pretty cool. The back room we played was filled with old vinyl and sexy lamps. For the first time in a while, I felt comfortable playing a solo set. Our set ended out on the sidewalk for a well harmonized sing-a-long.
Kansas has been one of my least favorite places to visit for years, but I'd been hearing good things about the Vertical Violet in Wichita, so we decided to give it another shot. Turns out the Vertical Violet is a haven of warmth, kindness and you guessed it: purple. About 50 people rolled out to the show. The house made enough food to feed everyone a couple times over. Around every turn there was more coffee and all sorts of tasty treats. My set was pretty neat and the floor was good for power slides. I managed to fall and almost face plant a few songs into the set and break four strings. It was a good night. In the morning, they made us breakfast before we had to drive 8 hours to Hannibal, Missouri.
As you enter Hannibal you are greeted with a sign that proclaims “Hannibal is America's Home town.” It seems Mark Twain has more than left a legacy. I haven't read any Twain books in years but he is weaved through just about everything in this town. Before the music started we were treated to a warm meal and it looked like the show would be pretty well attended. We'd never been here before and made the mistake of letting the local band play first. By the time I went on last, the crowd had whittled down to about 10 people. I don't mind playing small shows like this, but I really hate it when most of the crowd leaves and I have to remind myself to have a good attitude. My set turned out pretty good. Tyler sang a few of Tessa's parts and the crowd was very energetic and receptive. The majority of folks had seen me before and I played a lot of requests. After the set, I was informed that Hannibal boasts one certified Mark Twain impersonator and quite a few people who just like to dress up and at times knock on doors and give weird tours. Pretty neat.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and at 2 pm Monday at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Airport I got my wife back. Her grandma's health had improved so we decided it was time to have her rejoin the tour. It was SO good to have her back. That night was about transition. It was Tessa's first night back and our last night on tour with Insomniac Folklore. The show was good.
Our tour with Insomniac was fun and refreshing. It was nice to have another person in our van. I'm sure we'll hit the road together again sometime. After the show, we got a hotel so Tessa could get a good nights sleep. She'd been staying up all night taking care of grandma at the hospital for nearly a week. After a late check out, we headed north to Milwaukee.
We played at Milwaukee's only 100% Fair Trade coffee shop Brewing Grounds For Change. This set might have been the most fun we've had so far on tour, we just laughed a lot. Tessa scared a guy named Zach so bad he screamed like a little girl and we all started laughing. Later in the night Tessa tripped over my leg and caught herself by grabbing the crotch of my pants. She was so shocked she again started laughing uncontrollably. This time she laughed so hard she ended up on the ground and we stopped the song. We were about to restart when the phone rang. It was the upstairs neighbor. They said we needed to turn down or they'd call the cops! We got a noise complaint! Tonight like most nights we didn't use a PA and played 100% unplugged acoustic. In response, we played our last two songs in a playful whisper, eventually we lead all the crowd into the bathroom for a very intimate sing-a-long.
Next we played Ambrosia Co-Op in Madison, WI. Apparently, Madison has a very established cooperative housing movement. The place we played had been around since the 70's. The show was fun. I managed a jump kick near my friend Connie's face and scared her pretty bad. We all got a pretty good laugh and she still loves us so it's all good. Tonight I managed to break four major strings and make good use off all my guitars. Next we're off to play two shows in Chicago. Tessa used to live there so I'm sure we'll stay pretty busy.
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