Road Blog: Monday October 16, 2017 - Port Neches, TX
Road Blog – Port Neches, TX
October 16, 2017
We left Dallas around noon. I'm not gonna lie, I was hurting a bit from the late night revelry in Deep Ellum Sunday night. Sleep has been a rare commodity for me on this run, and closing the bar with friends and copious amounts of alcohol was probably not the best decision, but I don't regret for a second hanging with Amy, Jeff and Brooks, who I rarely get to see. We had a 5 hour drive though Texas that was more or less uneventful. It was a beautiful day, sunny skies overhead, and just a hint of autumn in the wind. Sleeping in the van isn't something that comes easily either, but it was a nice drive and I felt better as the day went on. We eventually ended up on a two-lane highway towards the Gulf Coast and had an interesting stop at a gas station that clearly hadn't been modernized in 30 years. We were thankful to leave with our lives and a full gas tank, but it wasn't easy.
We pulled into Port Neches around 5pm and parked in front of Neches Brewing Company for load in. It's a super cool place with a very chill vibe and a friendly, welcoming staff. Everything was super laid back and casual, which we kinda needed at that point. As we were unloading, a couple guys came in and asked "Who is Jeremy Porter?" We shook hands, and one of them was Jeremy Porter too. He's a drummer and he and his pal have a band too. We got a good laugh about that, and I told him about our show in Windsor, Ontario a month ago where the exact same thing happened. That Jeremy Porter was a guitar player, so we're just a bass player away from having a full band of JPs. Crazy.
There was a lot of talk about Michigan since our good friends Jennifer Westwood And The Handsome Devils just played there Thursday, then Gino Fanelli played there Friday and Saturday, so they had Great Lakes State talent for four of five nights in a row. They didn't have food so we had to order some in. Pat took that task on and the place we chose made him install an app to order, which was, of course, a debacle. Eventually we were set up and ready to play, with bellies full of enchiladas and a couple tasty IPAs in hand. It's a smaller room, so volume was a bit of a concern. I usually use a half-stack (four 12 inch speakers) which raised a couple eyebrows, but I ended up leaving half of them unplugged. The sound carried well, and it was a nice PA. We had a couple groups of people show up from Houston for the show, which was really cool – Dave and Robin and a buddy of theirs, and Brooks (second night in a row) with his wife Lauren. So cool of these people to drive a couple hours to see us, and we truly appreciate it! Doesn't hurt for the venue to see us bring a few people in either.
We went on at 7:30 or so to a decent Monday night crowd that split their attention between us and the Astros-Yankees game. Two songs in and the sound engineer asked me to turn the guitar up a little, then two songs after that we had to pull it back after a noise complaint from the neighbors. We were happy to accommodate and adjust, and the rest of the set went well. We took a short break then played another set and called it a night. We had a lot of merch sales – which is always great – and made a lot of great friends there. Everyone at the brewery was so friendly and welcoming – we had a great time. You never know what you're going to get on a Monday, so given that, it was a fantastic night.
After load-out we were back on the road. Our show tonight is in Memphis, but with the early show last night and the long trek to Memphis, we wanted to get a chunk of it out of the way. We drove to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which was a rough three hours. I took the first two and Pat got us the last hour to the hotel. He wouldn't have made it, but listening to King Crimson is like amphetamines for him, so no problem. We hit a bad traffic jam on this huge bridge on I-10 in Louisiana and found an 18-wheeler at the top that had lost control and skated along the cement barrier for about 100 yards and ended up perched vicariously on top of it. There were police, rescue and gawkers for miles. I'd be surprised if no one was killed.
We arrived at our hotel in Baton Rouge and check in was, as expected, a debacle. As that was wrapping up, a vagrant of sorts walked in with a handful of wallet contents and mumbled something incoherently to the poor guy trying to get us up to our room. He took the stack of ID, credit cards, and papers and thanked the man, but the guy put his hand out and asked for his reward. The clerk said, thanks, but there is no reward. The guest's wallet had been stolen and he would return it to them. The guy asked for the stuff back, the clerk said he couldn't do that. It was a standoff and the vagrant was getting agitated. I was getting a little agitated myself, and the boys were in the van outside looking in, wondering what the hell was going on. Eventually, he left a note, used the lobby bathroom (against the clerk's better judgement) and left. We nervously left our van in the hands of the valet, but we took the guitars up to the room, as we always try to do. By now it was just shy of 2am and we crashed pretty hard.
This morning I woke up feeling more rested than I have since we left. I got a solid 6+ hours of sleep in a super comfortable bed and was ready for some coffee. Pat and I went down and got some food, then decided to take the free lobby bikes for a spin. After a couple twists of an allen wrench we were off on the bike path along the Mississippi River. I've only ever just passed through Baton Rouge, so it was great to get out see it for a bit, plus it felt great to get the blood flowing, some fresh air, and a little sunshine. We tooled up the path for a while past the casino and the USS Kidd (DD-661) battleship museum before looping back through the city and the state capitol. By now we were approaching check out so we had just enough time for showers and packing up. The van was safe, which was a relief, but our hearts dropped as the valet backed in to the spot right in front of the hotel and right into a little black Toyota parked behind. BAM! Fortunately, there was no damage to the van or the car, but the manager inside was freaking out and the kid felt terrible,
We're on the road now, tooling northeast towards Memphis on Highway 55. Gabriel is at the helm with Patrick riding shotgun and me in the back, with Lucero playing on the stereo. Just outside of Baton Rouge, in heavy, fast traffic, there was chaos right in front of us as a tire had flown off a car and was bouncing around the freeway. Gabe missed it, but it hit the yellow Camaro next to us pretty good as the guy slammed on his brakes and swerved over. The car in front of us took some damage too, and we were lucky to pull away unscathed. That's two near misses today already.
The tour is half over and we're batting .800 for good shows. That's a great average, especially with solid Sunday and Monday nights. Tonight we're in Memphis at the Hi Tone. We're on the upswing back towards the Midwest. Spirits are high, and it's a lovely day. Be good to each other out there.