Road Blog: Thursday June 23, 2016 - Iowa City, IA
June 23, 2016
Iowa City, Iowa
June 24, 2016
Rock Island, IL & Lafayette, Indiana
Thursday afternoon started on a high note when Patty arrived for departure loaded up with a ton of brisket and pork shoulder from his favorite BBQ truck in Ann Arbor. We had a small feast, threw the guitars in the already loaded truck, and headed west towards Iowa. The drive was largely uneventful with Patty at the helm, Gabe in the back and me navigating. We made it through southern Chicagoland largely unscathed and pulled into Iowa City around 7PM. We checked into our hotel, scored a couple sixers of some local craft brews for after the show, and headed towards the venue.
We played Iowa City last year in May, at a different venue called Gabe’s. It was a great place, but huge, and we had an early slot so it wasn’t a great night, but we left with an affinity for the city and the people. It’s a lively town, home to the University of Iowa, which is a Big 10 school like Ann Arbor. The Downtown is largely blocked off to cars and caters to foot traffic only, with bars, shops and restaurants.
The Iowa City Yacht Club isn’t exactly a yacht club, though it does look like one from the outside. The bands play downstairs, which is a dark hall with cement floors and giant brick pillars. It has a low ceiling, but a decent sized stage and good lights and sound. They set the drummer off to the side, which is always weird for us to look back and not see Gabe. After load-in we settled in upstairs and ordered brews and sandwiches. We had some great conversation with Bob the bartender-sandwich maker about Michigan beers, Iowa City culture, and the Washington DC and Baltimore music scenes. He makes a hell of a sandwich too. Gabe and I got the Bob Marley, which was chicken with jerk sauce and pepperjack cheese. Patty got the Jerry Garcia, which was brisket and horseradish-cheddar on sourdough.
Downstairs we made fast friends with our bartender Emily, who graciously tracked down a bottle of Buffalo Trace bourbon for us to work on during the course of the evening. She was a sweetheart with a big smile and a heavy pouring hand. The first band – Texas Toothpicks – went on at 10pm and played a great set of country-tinged, alternative rock. We hit at 11 and played to a decent room. Our set was loud and spirited, thanks in part to the new tubes in my amp, and maybe also in part to the Buffalo Trace Emily was pouring. After us was the first show by a band called the MeowCoholics – a cat-themed rock band that reminded me at times of the Pixies, if the Pixies drank more and had an accordion. They played a great set and had a good turnout.
We sold a little merch, settled up our tabs (upstairs and down), loaded out, and got back to the hotel, thanks to Gabe, who played the role of the responsible designated driver. We grabbed breakfast at the Hamburg Inn in Iowa City, which is pretty much an institution there. It’s famous as the home of the “Coffee Bean Caucus” where presidential candidates are voted for by patrons placing coffee beans in a certain jar and has been covered on all the news shows and visited by scores of candidates. The food and coffee was great too!
We high tailed it to Rock Island, an hour away, for our Daytrotter session. Daytrotter is a website that hosts recordings of live-in-studio sessions by bands. It’s been on my list to do for a few years as some of my favorite bands have done it – Drive-By Truckers, Jason Isbell, Lucero, Tommy Stinson, Social Distortion, Jesse Malin, to name just a few. We were met by our engineer and had some good talk about friends and bands we both knew while we set up. They had mountains of amps for Patty and I to choose from and a nice house kit for Gabe. We were set up and tracking in no time. We laid down 4 songs, live to 2-track tape, warts, blemishes and all. It should be released sometime this summer – we’ll keep you posted!
After that, we really had to make some time to get to last night’s show in Lafayette, Indiana. It was a 4 hour drive, plus a 1 hour time change, and the southern Chicagoland gauntlet, which sucked ass and cost us an extra hour at least. We pulled into Knickerbocker’s Saloon around 9pm where we were met by Dusty, our contact there, who, with the rest of the staff, was incredibly hospitable. We were a little fried from the 5 hour race to get there, but we enjoyed some pizza and salads and watched the opening band play a good set of mostly covers, including Laguna Sunrise by Black Sabbath – a highlight for me. Our set went well. We played for about 70 minutes to a decent room who there to listen to live music (an event not as common as you might think). They were engaged and appreciative and it was a good night. Patty and Gabe gulped down a nightcap and I drove us to our AirBB about 10 miles south of the city.
We woke up in a cool decked out loft this morning and are up and at `em, getting ready to head to one of the highlights of our summer – the annual Fun Ranch party. Today we’ll see many of our great friends from around the country and drink and eat and play music at a ranch way out in the middle of rural Kentucky. We can’t wait! But there’s another 5 hours of driving ahead for us.