Road Blog: Saturday January 19, 2019 - Columbus, OH
January 19, 2019
We met at my house at 10am and headed south on I-275 towards Ohio in a raging blizzard. It was the first big snow of the year and you’d think it was the apocalypse the way everyone was carrying on, but we had our guitars and Lynyrd Skynyrd on the stereo and we weren't going be deterred. We also had our new bassist Bob in tow, and he was probably wondering what the hell he'd gotten himself into as he climbed in the van. The drive to Columbus was terrifying. There were cars and semis in the ditch the whole way. Just north of Findlay, a Honda sedan right in front of us went into a spin, flew into the median guard rail, ricocheted back into the expressway and barely missed us. A few minutes later we got caught in some slush and started gravitating towards the ditch, but Gabe eased up in the gas and kept us on the pavement. Literally about 10 seconds later, a semi coming at us from the south started fish-tailing and flew into the ditch just as we passed. Somehow we crossed from snow into rain, and conditions improved greatly. Gabriel did a great job and we were glad to be able to relax a bit. We got a kick out of a post that the Detroit Cobras cancelled their Columbus show because they didn't want to travel in that weather. Can't blame `em, I suppose, but we made it
Our show at the Rumba Cafe was bumped up to a matinee the day before because the downtown area basically shuts down when there's a snow emergency. There's no public parking near the venue and the street parking is forbidden when that happens, so they can't have shows in those situations. I wasn't happy about the change, but I trusted the judgement of the bar owner and the other band, Colin Gawel & The League Bowlers, and went along with it. We loaded in, ordered a round of bloody marys to take the edge of the drive off, and got set up. CG&TLB showed up and we met those dudes who were all super nice. I've known Colin, who used to be in Watershed, for a couple years, and it was a thrill to finally share a bill. People started filling in and it was great to see my pal Micah from Two Cow Garage and talk life, music, travel and gear for a bit.
Rumba Café is a medium sized venue, a big square, concrete room with a bar running along one side and a full-sized apartment green room upstairs. We played there a few years ago - the owner Todd has always been really nice to us and we liked the room, but the show was brutal and I'm surprised they let us back into the building. They've since greatly improved the stage and sound system and it's even better now. We went on a little after 4pm to a decent crowd, especially considering the weather. It was a little strange at moments, being Bob's first show and the middle of the afternoon, but we played well, got a good response, and had some fun. Near the end of our set our pals from Lansing The Stick Arounds, who were playing across town later, pulled in and stayed for most of Colin's set. Colin and The Bowlers went on shortly after us, wearing their bowling shirts and playing their amazing sounding Telecasters, and delivered a fantastic set that ended with about a half-dozen Cheap Trick songs. Colin and I have bonded over Cheap Trick from the start, and they had me up to sing "California Man," which was a thrill. They also played the WATERSHED song "Hey Lydia" that I played guitar on a couple years earlier.
Bob was excited to learn that Marcy Mays was there. She was in Scrawl, a Columbus-based band active in the 80s and 90s that Bob and I were big fans of. I mentioned them in a blog post on Pencilstorm that I'd written about my history in the Columbus music scene but I've never met them and it was cool to say hi. Turns out she's a huge Cheap Trick fan too (they covered "High Roller" which was how I originally heard of them). We had a nice chat with her, sold some merch, watched Colin's second set, loaded out, and headed over to our hotel.
We checked into our hotel, changed shirts, grabbed a quick sandwich in the lobby, and ordered a Lyft over to the Tree Bar where the Stick Arounds were playing. The rain had turned to snow, and it was a little slick, but still not the crazy snowmaggedeon that was predicted. We ordered a round and checked out the first band, the Harvest Kings. They were cool, with great guitars and songs. Up next were The Stick Arounds who played their normal, super-solid brand of Michigan powerepop rock and roll. As the drummer from The Harvest Kings was tearing down I noticed "Scrawl" stenciled on her drums, and sure enough, it was Carolyn O'Leary, their original drummer. Crazy that in one night, at two separate bars, I met two members of the band I loved 25 years ago. We had a nice long chat, and it quickly turned to Cheap Trick (notice a trend?), and the many times we'd seen them, how we're both big Daxx X Nielsen fans, and other sorts of things that Cheap Trick fans talk about.
We said goodbye to our friends as Dream Police ironically came on in the bar, cashed out, and got a Lyft back to our hotel. Our driver, Jedadiah, seemed friendly enough. He quickly started telling us tales of his youth in back-woods Ohio, how he tricked his mom into signing emancipation papers when he was 16, then spent his days and nights playing "cops and robbers and smash up derby" in the woods with his friends. They had three rules, he explained, making sure he had my undivided attention: #1 – Always clean up your mess. #2 – Don't kill anyone, and #3 – If you kill someone, go back to #1. So thanks, buddy, nice chat.
What a day! With the insane drive, early show, meeting 2/3 of Scrawl, all the Cheap Trick talk, singing with Colin & The League Bowlers, and finally our homicidal Lyft driver. Just wow. This morning I was up at 6am, tossing and turning, and getting restless. We'll meet The Stick Arounds for breakfast then hit a nearby guitar show, which makes TrooperGirl22 very nervous, before we drive to Indianapolis to play or wonderful friend Amy's birthday party at The Melody Inn tonight.
Thanks especially to Colin for making it all happen. Means more to me than he knows.
Thanks for reading. Xo