Road Blog: Tuesday October 20, 2015 - Athens, GA
Road Blog – Athens, GA
October 20, 2015
Half way between Asheville and Athens we stopped at a rest area somewhere in South Carolina to get rid of some coffee. As we were getting ready to climb into the van for the next stretch we heard a thick southern drawl calmly inform us we were about to enter the “wrooong vaaan.” I thought it looked a little clean, but sure enough, we had the doors open to a different black minivan a couple spaces down from our own. Just a sign, probably, that we’re a little wacked out just past the middle point of this 12 shows in 11 days thing. The old dude took a long pull off his cigarette and barely looked up from beneath his brown baseball cap, clearly not as amused as we were with the situation.
Food negotiations are always fun on the road as we pretend we want to eat healthy but just end up diving into whatever the hell is available, local, and sounds good. Yesterday morning we chose Bojangle’s over Waffle House. It’s a southern fast food chain specializing in fried chicken and biscuits. I wouldn’t put it up there with Popeye’s, Lee’s or Mrs. Winners - the coffee sucked, but other than that it was pretty damn tasty I must say.
We checked into our AirB&B in Athens and felt right at home with a bunch of framed Wes Freed artwork on the walls (Google him!) and a record collection that looked oddly similar to mine, with the Drive-By Truckers catalog, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, Jason Isbell, etc. We each had our own rooms and it was in a nice, quiet wooded area (except for the intermittent impact of acorns falling onto the tin roofs, a loud, banging sound that was actually really cool and oddly relaxing).
We spent a couple hours walking around downtown Athens, record shopping and drinking coffee. We’re such fans of the music scene from this area – starting with REM, then Magnapop and all the way up to Dead Confederate and DBT (who were actually transplants from Alabama). It’s a beautiful college town, not unlike Ann Arbor. I scored James Brown – Live at the Apollo 2xLP, which I’ve been looking for. Still no Bottle Rockets or Dwight Yoakam, but I’m counting on Grimey’s in Nashville to come through on those.
After some chill time back at the house I went to Goodwill to get a new gig shirt because I can no longer stand the smell of the one I’ve been wearing. Patty did a load of laundry and I was able to sneak the old, nasty one in so it should be good to go when needed again in a couple days. For dinner we took the suggestion of my friend Jenn who said Tialoc had the best tacos in town. She was right! Awesome – thanks Jenn! The queso fundido dip was the real treat though.
We loaded into the Lumpkin Street Station and said hi to the other bands and the staff. The bar is a cool, old rock and roll almost-dive with a stage that backs up to the street, and when the bands play they take off the wall panels so there’s open air to the sidewalk and street behind. First up was The Good Graces, from Atlanta, in 2-piece form with Kim on vocals, acoustic and mandolin and John on Tele. She sings like an angel and their songs are really fantastic. Great hooks, efficient arrangements and dynamic delivery. A real pleasure to watch. I bought their vinyl and can’t wait to play it for my wife, who I think will dig it too. We were up next and played a decent set to the thin, Tuesday night crowd. There were some folks coming and going as it was a free show, and the people who were there seemed to dig it. The new tunes are sounding great and we’re playing as tight as ever so it’s lots of fun. After us was By Small Ruin, an Athens 1-piece band consisting of Brian and his instruments – a kick bass drum, a kick-snare, a cymbal, hi-hat, and guitar running into 2 amps. His songs are great poppy numbers with hooks a-plenty. The performance was impressive as hell, doing so many things all at once.
We loaded out, Gabriel ordered a pizza from the joint next door, and we headed back to the house. A couple tunes, beers and slices and we crashed out. Not too bad for a Tuesday night in a new city. It’s cool to check off our first show in Georgia and a city I’ve always wanted to see.
We’re heading south now, towards Florida. Patty’s driving, Gabby’s riding shotgun and navigating, and I’m in back documenting this run. I’ve got a gas station banana and a full cup of coffee so I’m pretty much ok. 4 shows left. Jacksonville tonight.