Road Blog: Saturday May 19, 2018 - Dubuque, IA
May 19, 2018
It was an uneventful drive from Iowa City to Dubuque through rolling hills, forests and farmland, under sunny skies. Patrick played a Jethro Tull record and spent the next couple hours apologizing for it, but it didn’t make him feel guilty enough to decide against Steely Dan on his next turn. I didn’t mind either record so much, to be honest, but Gabriel wasn’t impressed. We found ourselves on a winding, hilly, rutted country road in Illinois, east of Dubuque, that reminded us of some of the Kentucky adventures we’ve been on. Eventually we were in the small town of Hanover, Il, down the end of a short street, and at our Airbnb. It’s a beautiful three-level house sitting on five acres just off the Apple River. There were birds and critters everywhere, and a nest of baby robins on the porch, mouths open, waiting for their mother to return with a giant earthworm to share. Pat went for a walk, Gabe crashed out, and I went for a run through the town and up the river, through an old cemetery, and back. Afterwards, Pat and I played a game of chess while we watched the royal wedding replay and made snotty, condescending remarks about all of the goings on there. I got Pat’s queen early and eventually cornered him into checkmate. Prince Harry looked bored AF and ready to get to the next item on the agenda.
After a shower, a little downtime, and a call home to TrooperGirl22, I watched the Preakness Stakes (great race!) and we jumped back into the van and headed towards Dubuque, past the birthplace and original home of one Ulysses S. Grant. We got Mexican carry out from a little Mexican grocery store called El Paisano and ate it at a picnic table at a nearby park. There were families gathered and kids running around playing – a nice scene to enjoy our meal. Gabe and I got burritos and Pat got tacos. They were pretty good, but I’d probably go with something other than the carne asada next time. From there it was over to the venue.
The Lift is one of our favorite rooms in the country. The owner/sound engineer/talent booker Aaron is one of the nicest dudes in the business and always takes care of us. It’s also a cool room – housed in the basement of an old mattress factory, with rock-brick walls, two long rooms – one for the bar, one for the bands – and a small patio that looks over a train yard and the bridge across the Mississippi. There was a happy hour show wrapping up with a dude named Eddie playing traditional Irish music. Pretty soon the other (headlining) band The Life and Times showed up. We introduced ourselves, talked a little shop and road stories, discussed gear logistics for the night, and helped them load in. Their singer used to be in SHINER, a reputable Kansas City band from the 90s with an impressive touring and recording history. TLAT aren’t exactly a perfect fit with us, but those nights are usually more interesting and unpredictable, and we welcome the diversity anytime. Before long some familiar faces showed up and we were soundchecking and getting ready for the set. Eddie came up and we talked some Pogues, The Jam, Queen, Thin Lizzy, and Rory Gallagher. He’d seen `em all. “Loved the foogin Jam I did, mate, great foogin band. I saw Thin Lizzy too, but nothing compared to Rory Gallagher.” I told him about The Jam - Mr Clean 12" I picked up in Iowa City and we debated if it was also the B-side of Down in the Tube Station at Midnight or not, which it wasn't, but I'm not sure he was convinced.
We went on around 10 and played for an hour to the best room we’ve had in a while. It was steamy as hell and we were working hard up there. My guitar rig has never sounded better and we were locked in pretty good. One dude was having a bachelor party and felt it necessary to get up on stage and help Patty with some backup vocals on a song he’d never heard in his life. His buddies half-tried to pull him back. Eventually he stepped back down, threw a mock karate kick at a complete stranger, knocked the full pint glass out of the other dude’s hand, spilling beer all over him, and sending the glass to the floor where it shattered all over. Poor, inebriated, future husband didn’t know what to do. I thought he was gonna get dropped right there, but the soaking wet guy used some restraint and just walked away.
After us The Life and Times played a great set – a bit noisier and wall-of-soundish than us, but still some great hooks and energy for sure. Nice dudes too – thanks for the backline guys! We were enjoying some drinks and conversation with the locals, including Emily, a friend & musician we’ve met and played with on previous visits, and got filled in on what’s new with her band, A Few Blind Mice.
By midnight it was pouring rain and lightning like crazy. We loaded out, said our goodbyes to everyone, and hit the road back to the AirBnB with Pat at the wheel and a torrential downpour pounding the van. Back at the AirBnB, momma robin was back with her babies, wondering who these annoying idiots were coming in at that hour and stirring shit up. I told her not to worry, we were done partying for the night, and she would not be disturbed. She seemed relieved. Lights out around 2:30am.
This morning our hosts brought up a plate of warm, fresh lemon poppy seed muffins that were pretty much awesome. They were really pushing the golden oyster mushrooms and rhubarb and encouraging us to take bags with us as the stuff grows rampant on their property. We politely passed on the rhubarb but took them up on the `shrooms, not realizing they were going have to go down the hill to actually pick them, and hit the road. As usual, I took the captain’s chair for the long drive, as I have the heaviest foot in the band, and we headed towards Chicago. I thought the skies were going to yield to the sun, but the opposite happened and we forged through a holy-hell rain until the Chicago skyline was in our rear-view mirror. We listened to Soundgarden, The Jam, Mozart - Composer, Aimee Mann, and Cheap Trick (as we passed through Rockford, logically). We made it to the Dexter, MI carpool lot in six hours, damn impressive if I say so myself, split up the mushrooms, filled up our cars, and said so long for the next couple weeks while take up civilian life again until our next run to upstate New York in mid-June. It’s nice to wrap up this run in Dubuque with a good show. Thanks for reading – see ya in June from Rochester, NY! Xo