Road Blog: Thursday September 20, 2018 - Ames, IA
September 20, 2018
We had a long drive yesterday to get from the Detroit suburbs to Ames, Iowa, so we met at 8am at a carpool lot west of Ann Arbor. Navigating the metro Detroit morning commuter traffic in the pouring rain would prove to be the most congestion we’d see all day. I took the first shift down I94 as the skies cleared, and David took over somewhere around Kalamazoo. We hit some traffic as we skirted the southern suburbs of Chicago but made it through relatively unscathed, eventually ending up on I80 through Indiana, Illinois, and into Iowa. We stopped for coffee at a Dunkin' Donuts Ottawa, IL, where I befriended some locals who seemed to use the joint as their social meeting venue, then we stopped for gas somewhere in eastern Iowa where I got some Korean beef jerky that wasn’t half bad. We listened to Joe Jackson, Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Sloan Music, Queen, Wreck Loose, Neko Case, and Alan Murphy as we passed through endless corn fields.
We arrived at our AirBB in Ames around 4pm CST. It’s a quaint little cottage nestled into a bunch of trees and vegetation at the end of a cul-de-sac near the campus of Iowa State University. There is a bedroom upstairs and two beds in the basement, with a bathroom on each floor, and a bag of Puerto Rican coffee our host warned us to be careful with, on the count of the high caffeine content. I scoffed from the other room as she gave us the keys and left us alone. For the next couple hours we got caught up on calls home, work online, and a little downtime before the show.
DG's Tap House sits on Main street in an area called “The District” in downtown Ames, surrounded by other bars, restaurants, and stores. We got parking a few spots down from the front door, but would incrementally move the van southward, about three times, as spots opened up, eventually perched right in front. You could hear a collective gasp as we walked through the door and saw the massive staircase up to the bar. It was gonna be a brutal load-in up those suckers, but what are you gonna do? We met Rudy, who was tending bar, and arranged for some food for us. Stand up dude who plays locally, and I think we’ll see again. There were a couple girls hanging out too, Claire and Alyssa, and Alyssa insisted on helping load in. She was tiny, but insisted - “I like helping people” – so we went up and down the stairs over and over until our food arrived.
DG’s is a big square room, with a 3-sided bar in the middle against the back wall across from the stage, which was next to the stairs, backed up to the street. There’s a nice green room off the side of the stage, and some pool tables in the back corner. Q'Nels Dovre went on around 9pm and played a set of acoustic originals and covers with a bassist accompanying. He plays in a Des Moines band called GoodcaT. Nice dude, good songs, and he had a good group of people out to see him. We went on around 9, just as a round of thunderstorms came through. Sometimes I get a bit trepidatious about opening with our song Don’t Worry… because, while it’s a good, rowdy opener, it’s on the punk side, and sometimes I like to build the momentum up to it, but Patrick and Dave agreed that “we do what we do” and they were right. We didn’t scare anyone away. We played a decent set, then took a break, met some locals, sold some merch, and played another, shorter set as the crowd thinned out. We met a lot of fun people, including our late-night bartender/manager Summer, who proudly sported a Tucos jersey by the end of the night, and Laura who was there with a friend, hooting, hollering, and dancing all night. We’ve played Iowa a lot, and our first time in Ames confirmed what we already knew – people in this state are welcoming, friendly, outgoing, and generous. It wasn’t a great night, but the people who were there were great, and were fulfilled.
There was a dark cloud in the room as everyone was talking about the murder earlier in the week of Celia Barquin Arozamena, an international student and amazing golfer from Spain studying at Iowa State University. By all accounts she was a special girl, the Big12 golfing champion with several other rewards in the US and Europe, and had a great life ahead of her. A disturbed homeless guy stalked her on the golf course, raped and killed her, and was later found with a bloody knife and scratches on his face. The city of Ames, Iowa State University, and her hometown back in Spain are all in mourning. Everyone we met mentioned it, and it was clear that it had a big impact on the community. We were also reminded of our last run where there was a multiple shooting a couple blocks up from the venue in St. Catharines, and the whole city was talking about it, and the dark cloud permeated the evening. This is real life and death stuff, and while it’s so sad, there’s also something about being in these cities where these things are going down, that it’s important to know about these stories and these people and share them with other people who may not otherwise hear about them. So hug your daughters today, and take a minute to think about what a senseless loss this was.
We loaded out in the rain, down those horrible stairs, and hit a 24-hour grocery store on our way back to the AirBB. It was a relatively early night, we crashed out around 1am, and got up around 7am this morning. I made a pot of that Puerto Rican coffee that everyone was all “watch out!” about, and as I suspected, it wasn’t all that. A damn fine cup of coffee, but it’s no Raven's Brew Coffee Dead Man’s Reach by a long shot. We talked a bit about the night, the show and the death of the local athlete, then Patty went for a run, and I did the same shortly after. We’re heading north into Minnesota tonight for a show at Kathy's Pub in Rochester. It’s a fun townie bar we’ve played a couple times and always a rowdy time.