Road Blog: Saturday May 14, 2016 - Dubuque, IA
May 14, 2016
Yesterday we spent a couple hours chilling out at the hotel, licking our wounds from the debacle in Madison the night before, and gearing up for a show in a city that was home to one of our most fun shows in 2015 – Dubuque, Iowa. Like last year, we were kicking off the evening at a Roller Derby match between the Dubuque Bomb Squad Roller Derby team and their rivals the Quad City Rollers. This time, however, there was a twist. Over bloody marys and breakfast tacos in Madison I was asked to sing the national anthem before the match. In my less-than-game-shape condition, I considered declining the offer, but it was too big of an honor – and opportunity – to pass up, not to mention the publicity and promotion for our show.
I’m not gonna lie – I was terrified. I’ve never sung the national anthem, I had no time to practice, I was hungover, exhausted, hoarse and a bit under the weather from a lingering cold – and this would be a cappella in front of a couple hundred people. But I made myself a cheat sheet and went in and did my best. Now, Whitney Houston I aint, but I didn’t butcher it too bad. I was super glad when it was over, and Gabe, Patty and I each got a beer and settled in for the game. Sadly, the Dubuque girls lost, but they played great and it was super fun.
We headed to The Lift, loaded in, said hi to the support band The Begowatts, from Madison, and grabbed some bar food at a place around the corner. After that, we went to Paul's Tavern – one of Patty’s favorite local townie dives, for a couple Old Styles. They have an amazing selection of taxidermy and vintage beer relics in there, and it was packed with locals drinking away the work week before.
The Lift is an awesome place in the basement of an old mattress factory in downtown Dubuque. It’s sort-of cavernous and dark, and feels very historic. There’s two rooms, each with a bar, one with a stage for the bands. The Begowatts hit shortly after 10 and played a great set of originals. They are nice dudes with some great gear and great chops to match. The room was filling up and they got a really good response – we’re glad we got to play with them and I’ll bet we’ll be crossing paths with them again someday.
A bunch of the Bomb Squad girls and a couple other people who worked the match showed up, and we hit around 11:30. After Madison, we were due for good night, and as usual The Lift did not disappoint. There were some people coming and going, but we had a decent, attentive crowd all night and we had a blast playing to them. We raised a toast and did a cover of Jim Croce’s Roller Derby Queen for the girls and finished up a bit after 1am. We loaded out, said goodbye the Begowatts and the wonderful staff at the Lift, and headed back to the hotel (I was DD, if you’re keeping track) and collapsed. It was quite a day – and Dubuque remains one of our favorite places.
This morning we were on the road shortly after 9am CST. It was a beautiful morning, but we were disheartened to hear there were sightings of snow flurries back around Detroit. We decided, on the advice of our new friend Rhonda, to take a slightly longer route home, through Davenport, then I-80 to the southern suburbs of Chicago, rather than through Rockford, to avoid some nasty construction, city traffic, and ton of tolls, and it proved to be good advice. The 7 ½ hour drive was smooth sailing, to the soundtrack of NRBQ, Red Cross, Bruce Cockburn, Mike Ness, Anthrax, The Outlets, The Monkees, The Last Shadow Puppets and others.
Despite the rough night in Madison, it was a good, fun, run of shows. We got to see a bunch of old friends and made some new ones. Next weekend we’ll wrap up the May leg of the “Above (and below) The Sweet Tea Line Tour” with shows in Canada with our good pals The Mighty Ffud. `Till then….