Road Blog: Wednesday October 21, 2015 - Jacksonville, FL
Road Blog – Jacksonville, FL
October 21, 2015
It took us about 7 hours to get to Jacksonville, Florida from Athens, Georgia, with a stop for some decent Georgia BBQ just south of Macon. Patty did the driving and Gabe navigated and co-piloted while I sat in the back, got some shitty-almost-sleep, and texted friends in Boston and back home in Michigan. Just as we hit Jacksonville we got word that the local headliner was backing out of the show. This is a big setback for a little band from Michigan who’s never played Florida before. We count on the local bands to help promote the show and get their friends and fans out. Now, with virtually no notice at all, everything was up in the air, and with 7 hours driving behind us and another 9 hours of driving today, there was a lot at stake if the show fell through.
We did our best to stay positive as we checked into our AirB&B, called home, and tried to figure out what was next. I had a driving need to go see the ocean. We were so close, and being Midwesterners it’s not something we get to see often, so I mustered up the troops and we headed east. There was some groaning and eye-rolling, but the Atlantic called. After a foiled attempt to locate a record store, we made it to the Jacksonville Beach Pier, paid our $1 each, and walked out to the end. It was great to breathe the salt-water air, see the surfers and fishermen, and listen to the waves. I love the ocean.
As we headed back to the van I got a call from the promoter of the show and it was time to figure out what to do. We had the option to keep the show at the Burro Bar, but it’s a bigger place with more overhead (sound, security, etc) and with the locals bailing on the show, there was a risk that it could be a bad night. He arranged for another option, if we wanted it – we could play at a smaller dive bar called The Shantytown Pub. It’s a real dive bar, he warned, so not the glamourous, amazing stage, sound and lights some bigger places offer, but there would be people there, so we’d have faces to play to, and we might sell some merch. We’re no strangers to dive bars, and nothing is more depressing than a big, empty room, so we agreed that it was a better option. We grabbed a couple burritos for dinner and headed over there.
The Shantytown Pub certainly is a dive. It’s a tiny room with a big patio out back, a small stage and a DIY PA. There were cockroaches the size of mice scurrying about, and it was warm as Hades in there. Some people call it Hell, I call it Hades. But – it had its charm - it was certainly punk-rock, the people working and hanging out were very nice (and super cool to take us in on short notice) and they had a good beer selection. We felt perfectly at home!
We loaded in and set up, slammed a couple beers, and played a decent set to enough people to make it worthwhile. We’ve traveled further to play to worse rooms – that’s for sure. I wouldn’t call it our typical set - it was super raw and tight and sweaty - and great for all those reasons. It was very rock and roll, and a hell of a lot of fun.
After the set we sold some merch and chatted up with a couple of the locals. There were 2 guys in town on business from Edmonton (Cam and ?? - drop us a line guys!) who stumbled upon the Shantytown and were the life of the party – buying us rounds, taking photos, buying merch and talking rock and roll (and hockey) into the night. They are great dudes and we had a blast! In the end it was a super fun night and the good people of Jacksonville took care of us just fine. Back to the house and a few hours of sleep before an early van call.
7:15am hit pretty hard, but we had a long haul ahead of us to Huntsville, Alabama and it was my turn to pilot the Loser-Cruiser (as our Canadian pals christened it late the night before). I’m no stranger to long drives and took the challenge in stride. We hit the Georgia line by 9, the Alabama line by 1, and (with the time zone change) our hotel in Huntsville at 3:30. 8 ½ hours, including stops, with Patty co-piloting and Gabe grumbling about my selections in the music rotation. Time for a little chillin’ before an early load-in tonight at Humphrey’s Bar in downtown Huntsville where we’re playing 3 sets, starting at 8pm.