Road Blog: Saturday October 19, 2019 - Charleston, WV
October 19, 2019
Charleston, West Virginia
We were sad to leave our awesome Airbnb in Kentucky, but the tour rolls on and we had to continue our trek east towards Charleston, West Virginia. Spirits were higher after a great night in Somerset than they were 24 hours prior as we left Birmingham. Gabriel took the wheel, Bob was riding shotgun, and I was in the back. The first hour+ was all surface streets before we ended up on I-64 east into West Virginia. Once in a while we’ll leave the tunes off just to have a little peace. I crashed out in the back for a while, as well as one can back there, and eventually sauntered back vertical. West Virginia truly is a beautiful state, especially in the fall when the leaves are turning. We had another beautiful day, and the scenery was spectacular.
I’m not gonna lie, the boys were not digging my decision to play “Habits Old and New” by Hank Williams Jr. This is pre-Monday Night Football Bocephus, and I’ve always been a bit partial to some of his mid 70s and earlier material, but I’d forgotten about some of the lame and downright offensive lyrics. Gabe was clearly annoyed and promptly cleansed our palettes with “A Hard Day’s Night” and things seemed normal again. We stopped at a rest area in Huntington for a quick leak when Gabe spotted a little stowaway – a small brown lizard in the crook of the door (can you identify Anj?). Truth is we could have picked him up anywhere from Nebraska, Colorado, Texas... who knows? Cute little dude wanted to roadie for us, and we were discussing taking him onto the payroll, but then he saw Bob’s Ampeg SVT head and said `F that` and scurried back into the engine. We arrived at our hotel in Charleston, went out to Pies and Pints Pizzeria for an early dinner and a beer (good stuff!) and chilled back in our rooms for a couple hours before load in. I called TrooperGirl22 from the lobby and went for a short walk around downtown Charleston.
We played The Empty Glass on the last night of the `Above (and Below) The Sweet Tea Line Tour` back in 2016 and it was not a good night, mostly due to competing events in town that night, but we liked the room, and the people at the bar and of Charleston were really great, so we wanted to give it another go. It’s a square room with a low but sizable stage in the back, two rows of tables, roadhouse style, and a bar along the side. It’s got a bit of a dive-bar vibe, but loads of charm, and the friendliest people you could meet. The sound engineer reminds me 75% of my brother in law David and 25% of Dwight Yoakam. We had a quick chat with headliners The Whiskey Daredevils, from Cleveland, who were sweet and awesome to let us use their bass rig and drums, saving the bands and sound tech the hassle of a full changeover, space on the floor of the bar, and us the need to lug that stuff in or out at the end of the night. I had a good chat with their guitarist Hector Hex Mattos about Reverend Guitars, Fender Telecasters, and Peterson Tuners.
We had a couple drinks, set up and sound-checked, chatted it up with some locals, and went on around 10:15 to a great crowd. We played for about 90 minutes, had a great time, got a wonderful response, and left it all up there. At one point I was giving the “buy our merch” spiel when I noticed that the TV on the wall above the merch table had Trump on. I was about to say something snotty, then, remembering I wasn’t in Detroit anymore, I decided to keep my trap shut. Sometimes you gotta take the high road, know your spots, and pick your battles wisely, guys.
The Whiskey Daredevils went on after us and kicked all kinds of ass. They’re kinda rockin, kinda rockabilly, some country-honkytonk in there, a bit of cowpunk – great stuff. They did a song about a Hüsker Dü tee shirt that was really cool – it’s on their new record, which I got, so I’m stoked to hear the studio version. Great musicians, great people, and a super fun band. We’re hoping to work with them again someday, somewhere.
We loaded out slowly, between merch sales, chats with the Daredevils, staff, and patrons, and drinks. Pretty soon word got around that there had been a shooting in the near vicinity and the police weren’t letting anyone go anywhere, and shuffled people off the street and into the bar, so it got really crowded again around 2:30 (The Empty Glass is open late). Eventually we got the all clear so we headed back to the hotel. I devoured half of what was left of my pizza from earlier and crashed out around 3:30am. It was a great night – can’t say enough about The Empty Glass, The Whiskey Daredevils, and the good people of Charleston, West Virginia. We can’t wait to come back!
We had a 10am van call, which hit pretty hard after that late night. Gabe meandered out looking like he’d been ridden hard and put away wet. It was drizzling out, but there was nothing but blue skies by the time we hit the Ohio line. We stopped for some carry out breakfasts at a local chain called Tudor's Biscuit World and got right on the road. As is tradition, I took the wheel and hit the gas. I proclaimed that it would be all METAL all the way home, and it was thus, except when the boys had enough and played their own stuff every couple records. I spun some Quiet Riot – Metal Health, Motley Crue – Too Fast For Love (Leathür Records pressing), Riot – Fire Down Under, and Black Sabbath – Live Evil. The drive was uneventful except for an accident north of Columbus and a flock of turkeys near Athens. The scenery in West Virginia was amazing, with the fog lifting over the Appalachians, all changing colors. We were pretty wiped out but in good spirits after the last two shows were so fun. I’m home now, having dinner with TrooperGirl22, who’s filling me in on the goings on of the last 11 days. I’ll sleep well tonight.
Looking back on the tour now it was a bit of a mixed bag. Logistically it was tough, with too many long drives, which also meant too much money spent on gas and not enough downtime and extra-curricular exploring between shows. We did 4460 miles in 11 days, that’s an average of 405 a day, about 5 ½ hours if you’re averaging 75mph. Of course there’s city driving in there, to and from venues, etc. That’s not the most efficient way to do it and we'll be sure to route differently next time. The longer drives were mostly stacked on the first half, which helped, but still, that’s too much travel time.
On the other hand, we only had two real stinker shows, which is easily the best good-to-bad-show-ratio we’ve ever had on a tour, so that’s something really positive. As always, we saw a lot of good friends, made a bunch more, played some cool rooms, played with some amazing bands, experienced some crazy shit, ate some awesome food, saw some beautiful country, two bald eagles, a massive flock of pelicans, two dead armadillos, a flock of turkeys, the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains, 36f in Kansas City, 90+ in Texas, snow on the ground in Denver, a couple amazing southern sunsets, the Midwest, the Great Plains, the Dust bowl, the deep south, Bluegrass country and Appalachia - 14 states in all. We had beautiful blue skies almost the entire way, and more than a couple really late nights and early mornings.
Big, big thanks to everyone who was a part of it, either in person, or just by reading the blogs. Thanks to the boys - Gabriel and Bob - for going on this crazy adventure with me, putting up with Hank Jr. and the Crüe, and listening to me bitch about getting crapped on by a magpie and laughed at by some hot co-eds for my plumber's butt. We’re home for a bit with a couple localish shows coming up before the end of the year, and we’ll be starting on our new record here in the very near future.
Thanks for reading, be good to each other, and RESIST!!! Xoxo