Road Blog: Thursday September 19, 2019 - Akron, OH
September 19, 2019
We left Gabriel’s house in Dearborn, MI around 2:30, headed south on I75 into Ohio, then east on I80 towards Cleveland and Akron. The drive was smooth and uneventful as we listened to The Who, Raphael Saadiq, and the Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo, in honor of Gram Parsons, who died on this date in 1873. We hit an Indian BBQ place called Choolaah right by our hotel in Beachwood for dinner before we checked in and it was awesome, sorta fast food, but made to order and really, really tasty. I’d go back in a heartbeat. After a little time to chill at the hotel we pointed the van south and headed to Akron for the show.
We parked in front of Annabell's Bar & Lounge and walked a block over to a record store called Square Records that we’ve been to a couple times before. They had some cool stuff, including an original pressing of the first Social Distortion record, which I passed on because I already have it. Bob left empty handed, but Gabe and I each picked up a couple things before he demanded I get him out of there before he spent too much money. We headed up to the venue to get the lay of the land.
Annabell’s is a smaller, narrow place with a bar running up one side, hi-tops on the other, and a stage the size of a postage stamp just off the front door. There is a bigger club with a good stage and PA downstairs, but due to some scheduling issues we were to play upstairs. It was a drag, but the logic was that we’d be more likely to play to more faces upstairs, make a little better pay, and hopefully sell some merch than if we were downstairs, hidden from the drinking crowd, with the overhead of the big room. I couldn’t argue with that, and everyone working upstairs was beyond friendly to us, so we smiled, ordered drinks, and agreed to make the best of it.
Before long my pals Tad and Bruce showed up. They’re Cleveland-area guys who have been supporting us in this region for years now, always with a beer in hand, a CD in the other, a Tucos shirt, and a big smile. It was great to see them again and get into a deep discussion about the evening’s setlist. Shortly after that Scott arrived. Scott is another good friend I’ve known for a few years who lives in Canton, OH and is also really supportive in the area. He goes to more shows than anyone I’ve ever known, and he keeps of video blog of interviews with the bands he’s seen. We did a (third) one after our set and had a few laughs. I’ll share it when he gets it online.
The Family Act went on first. They are a new band, a 3-piece, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and bass. They played and sang really well together and had a good crowd out. Their singer plays in a local band called Time Cat. The only other time we played Akron was a few years back when we did a short run with our pals Those Crosstown Rivals from KY and Alone At 3AM from Cincinnatti. We ended the run at a house show a few blocks from Annabell’s. It was and interesting night to say the least, and during the course of last night I would meet 3 people who were there, including the singer of The Family Act, who was playing with a different band in the basement that night.
We went on around 11 to a room that wasn’t packed but wasn’t empty either. It took us a couple songs to adjust to the small stage and low volume. I went with one small amp and Gabe stripped his set down to about 2 drums. Once we settled in and found our groove we had a good time, playing everything we knew that Scott and Tad wanted to hear. After our set I stayed up and did solo versions of “Josh” that they both requested but the band hasn’t played in forever, then I did my song “Hallmark Holiday” which was an The OffRamps song that The Tucos haven’t played since our earliest shows. We had a couple drinks, sold a little merch, loaded out, and Bob drove us safely back up to our hotel in Beachwood. Annabell’s is a cool place with a great staff – they were super nice to us and we hope to get back there soon!
We’re off to Athens, Ohio now, where we’ll play at Jackie O's Brewery tonight. This is an early show – 6PM, playing `till 8. It’s a new city for us and we can’t wait!