Road Blog: Tuesday October 17, 2017 - Memphis, TN
Road Blog – Memphis, TN
October 17, 2017
Yesterday we left Baton Rouge and drove the 6 hours up I55 to Memphis, TN. A couple hours out from Memphis we got word that the local headlining band was dropping out of the show because of an illness. For a touring band in a new city on a weeknight, this is the kiss of death. Of course we understand that people get sick, but we were basically screwed. The other band on the bill was from Ohio, and there was a local singer/songwriter playing first. Without a good local band on the bill it was going to be a slow night. We checked into our hotel, which is actually in West Memphis, Arkansas, dropped off the luggage, and headed into the city.
We loaded into the Hi Tone and checked out the room. There are two rooms – a big room and a small room, with a shared bar/lounge in between, and we were playing the smaller one. It's a cement square with a small drum riser, car-seat couches, and a merch table in back. Smoking is permitted in bars here, which is something we have grown accustomed to not having to deal with, but no big deal. We were providing the drums and bass rig for the Ohio guys so we set up and went to a nearby bar and grill for dinner. They had a great menu and super friendly service so we enjoyed our dinners and headed back to the Hi-Tone. I took a bit of time and called home and went for a walk while the boys went in to meet the Ohio guys and make sure they were squared away with the gear. Things at home are good. My wife is keeping busy managing incoming US Mail packages for Paul, cooking a massive batch of Hot Italian Sausage Stew, and enjoying a quiet house free from the ravages of Hurricane Jeremy.
Speaking Suns are from Yellow Springs, Ohio and were added to our Memphis bill as they were passing through at the same time and needed a show. I spent some time chatting with Jacob, their singer/guitarist, and a couple of the other guys. We were exchanging travel stories, chatting venues and hometowns - the sorts of things that bands on the road talk about. They are all super nice guys and before long Michaela, the solo-opener was wrapping up her set and they were going on. Michaela has a beautiful, strong voice, and nice songs with a lot of space. There's a lot of potential there and we'd like to hear more from her.
Out of the gate, Speaking Suns were super solid. Great songs with a good driving beat and layers of sound. I'm not usually a fan of a three-guitar lineup (unless you're Iron Maiden, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Drive-By Truckers or Diarrhea Planet) but these guys nailed it, with each guy adding something special to the mix. Patrick and I talked about how they had elements of the allman brothers, The Band, Ha Ha Tonka and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in their sound. They played a short set to a more or less empty room and tore down.
We got up next and played a few songs to them and maybe a couple other people who were wandering in and out. We played well and the sound was surprisingly good for the cinder-block room and small PA. We had a little fun and even threw in an obligatory Big Star cover since we were in Memphis, but with the low turnout, there really wasn't much point in extending it.
We chatted a bit more with Speaking Suns, loaded out, and headed back to our hotel in Arkansas. The show was a real drag. It's very discouraging when the local support drops off the bill at the last minute, but things happen. It would have been nice to see some sort of message to their fan base that they weren't playing, but there are a couple of touring bands that could use some faces to play to. Or even a couple of the healthy members show up to support a little, but we've seen this kind of lack of grace before, and we'll see it again. We make it a point to honor our commitments, or at the very least do what we can to help, watch the bands we play with (ie – don't leave early, don't hang in the other room), and do what we can to support bands that are on the road. It means more than most people know.
The saving grace of the night was meeting and hanging with Speaking Suns, who are great guys and a very legit band. I am fairly confident that we'll cross paths with them again, and I look forward to that.
We're off to Birmingham, AL tonight for a show at The Nick Rocks with Marbin. Let's hope Wednesday is better than Tuesday. We may need to overdose on fried chicken today to rally.