Road Blog: Friday June 29, 2018 - Newport, KY
June 29, 2018
We started the day hanging in our hotel, watching the news about another mass shooting, and getting in on some free hotel breakfast bar. I went for a short run through an adjacent park and nearby flea market, but it was super-hot and humid, and I was nursing a mild hangover, so it wasn’t anything too intense. We decided to skip out on the local must-see attraction – a massive hardware store “with a full house built right inside it!” as we were told over and over - and hit the road south towards Kentucky. The drive was relatively uneventful. I sat in the back and read a chunk of Waiting to Derail - Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown – a new book about Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown – written by Thomas O'Keefe and Joe Oestreich, a friend who I met through Sue Summers and who plays bass in WATERSHED. The book is a fun read, made even more interesting with regular appearances by another good friend of mine, one Jenni Sperandeo, who worked with the band at the time and turned me on to them.
We made it to Cincinnati around 4 and stopped off at Shake It Records, one of our favorite record stores. I had a nice chat with my pal Travis, who works there and also plays in Frontier Folk Nebraska, a great Cincinnati band. We bought a few records and headed over to our AirBB to check in and chill for an hour before load-in and soundcheck. The AirBB was a tall apartment building right downtown Cincinnati. We parked in a lot nearby lot where Gabriel and I waited as Patrick went to check in and get the keys. Long story short, it was a debacle. The check-in instructions weren’t clear, the host was not communicating, and the room was tiny and smelled like either dog piss, BO, or some combination, depending on which Tuco you’d have asked at that moment. We weren’t happy about it, and we probably could have gotten over all those things, but the provided parking was in a garage that would not accommodate the height of our van. Parking in a lot would set us back a good hunk of change, and more importantly, put the van at risk for thieves. We talked to the garage attendant who told us a couple stories about recent break-ins in the area, and that was enough. We bailed on the AirBB. We’re hoping to negotiate to get some or all of our money back, but even if we can’t, we’re not leaving the van in that setting overnight. We’ve seen too many of our friends wake up to broken windows and missing gear the next morning. We spent ten minutes discussing and researching options, and ended up at a nice hotel in the suburbs, each with our own room (a rarity!), for a great price. Thanks Hotwire! Things were looking up!
We had little time to relax, though, so we dropped our luggage off, took care of a little hygiene, and headed right back into the city, towards the Ohio River and the Bluegrass State. After some intense traffic, a couple wrong turns, and plenty of Cincinnati Reds fans to circumvent, we pulled into the parking lot at The Southgate House Revival, which is an old church that’s been converted into three really cool venues, in Newport, Kentucky. It’s a great place, run by super friendly people, and regarded as one of the coolest venues on our circuit. We tried to grab dinner at a nearby Mexican joint that came highly recommended, but the wait was too long, so we had to settle for some mediocre pizza slices and coagulated buffalo chicken dip in a restaurant that had to be 115 degrees. No bother, we were happy to be there, and before long I got a text from my brother Bryan Minks, who had just arrived at the club – actually on time!
We loaded in and said hello to our pals from Lexington – Bryan Minks and the Kentucky Sons. We’ve got a long history with these boys, and their previous band Those Crosstown Rivals, who took us out on a western/deep-south tour in 2014. I hadn’t seen Bryan in two years, and it was great to get caught up. We ordered beers and hung out, telling war stories and getting all up to date on the goings on in Lexington and Detroit with the music scene, our families, and everything else. These are good dudes, truly some of my favorite people, and it made me happy just to be hanging out. Michael Jett is on the road with them, a dear friend from Louisville who I haven’t seen in a couple years, so we shot some pool and had a beer. Then Arlo McKinley showed up and though I’m not sure we’ve ever met, within literally a few seconds we were talking about KISS and the merits of the non-makeup era of their catalog, a conversation sparked by his Vinnie Vincent shirt. Seemed like we’d known each other forever. That’s Kentucky for ya. We also saw our pal Adam, who plays in Mad Anthony, a great band we’ve played and hung with a bunch, and Sarah Davis, who was bar tending the upstairs bar. She played keyboards in Alone At 3AM, a band we’ve known forever and done some road work with, and who’s records are in regular rotation at my house. Many good friends were part of the cast!
Minks & The Sons went on sometime just south of 11pm and played to a good room. They sounded better than ever – and probably for the first time that I’d ever seen them – not too loud. We played the same room with Those Crosstown Rivals a few years back and the cops came, responding to a noise complaint – a first for that venue. I questioned Minks – “On time AND not blistering loud? Who are you?!?!” He just laughed. “I know man. We picked two things to work on, and it was those two things. We’re still assholes, don’t worry!” We went up next and played a mostly ok set and had some fun. We struggled with the boomy room a bit and were probably a notch too loud, but we were locked in. Arlo went on sometime before 1am and played a beautiful solo set to an attentive audience. His voice and songs are so strong.
There was a strange dude walking around with a red light on his head, shooting iPhone videos of the walls and generally being odd. He’d helped himself to Minks’ beer after his set, already half empty, sitting on the stage and walked around drinking it (who does that?). Somewhere around 1:30am there was a crashing THUD and he was lying face down next to the pool table. The staff came over, got him back to consciousness, and sitting up. Arlo applauded the resurrection and continued with his set. He would soon end up on stage, recreating the crucifixion behind Arlo, and a few minutes later, I was outside hanging with Minks, when Gabe came out and told me the guy had come across my guitars, and felt it necessary to pick one up. That was it – the staff escorted him out, where he bummed a smoke from Minks and headed out into the night. Huge thanks to the good people at SGH for watching out for my gear when I was not.
Arlo wrapped up around 2:15am. We loaded out, said some Kentucky goodbyes, and drove back into Ohio and out to our Hotwire! three hotel rooms where I crashed out around 3:40am. We’re gonna see Arlo (with full band) and Minks and the sons tonight in Huntington, West Virginia, for the Flat Tracker CD Release and BBQ party. It’s the last night of our Spring/Summer tour, and our last scheduled show until September, so it could get weird. I hope so!