Road Blog: Friday November 05, 2021 - Knoxville, TN
November 5, 2021
We left our AirBnB outside of Charleston, West Virginia at 11am and headed south, through the city, and onto the West Virginia Turnpike under beautiful blue skies. We drove through the Allegheny Mountains and the Cumberland Mountains, with the Blue Ridge off to our east and often visible, and the Smoky’s just to our south. Every curve provided a view more spectacular than the last, with peaks and valleys drenched in reds, yellows, oranges and greens as the transition towards winter was in 100% peak. It was an amazing drive through West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee. We listened to Foxhall Stacks, Nancy Sinatra, Scorpions, Swag, Country Westerns , and more. I took the first shift and passed it over to Bob to get us to Knoxville once we veered west and got out of the mountains while Gabriel chilled in the back seat.
We stopped for a bio-break and some quick food at Sheetz along the way. Sheets is a regional gas station/super-convenience-store/made-to-order fast food chain that has a diverse selection and appealing menu. It’s a bit nostalgic at this point, a regional staple like this that we always seem to hit while touring, so I was glad to make the stop. I got a breakfast sandwich which was basically their Egg McMuffin, but I (of course) added guacamole. It was pretty darn good, and I’m glad we stopped.
We checked into our hotel just North of Knoxville around 4pm. It took a while because there was some drama in the lobby. A trucker and his wife were checking in and he was bitching about the vaccine and about how aint’ no one gonna tell him what he has to do, and how his elderly father had both shots and now has COVID!!! “Wow, that’s too bad.” I said legitimately empathetic. “Oh he ain’t got no symptoms, he feels fine. But I ain’t getting’ no goddamn vaccine.” I kindly explained to him that the reason he felt ok was because he had the vaccine. He quickly changed the subject and we talked rock and roll for a minute and the two of them stepped outside and climbed into his rig. He then blasted his air-horn until Gabe went out, and he told Gabe to make sure we ask if there’s any Vols fans in the crowd, because that’ll get `em going. (You may not know but we’re in U of Tennessee Volunteer country, and there’s a big game with UK in Lexington tonight.) Gabe thanked him for the crowd-engagement tip and they headed around to the back of the hotel in their i8 wheeler.
A minute later, while we were patiently waiting for our room keys, the wife of trucker #2 stormed into the office and said, in a thick southern drawl, “You gotta give is 118 cuz he’s already out there bitchin’ up a storm about our rig!” Apparently there’s another regular customer, also a trucker, who’s partial about who can park, and what they can park out back. The wife starts asking us if we play that GRRR GRRR GRRR shit and I said, no, we’re not a metal band. “That’s good.” She said. “My ex-husband was into that shit, and if my husband now started listening to it I’d divorce him too.” Right about then trucker #2, the overseer of the back lot, I guess, comes in, waits for the trucker #1’s wife to leave, then explains to the front desk clerk how there just ain’t enough room back there for rigs. She was very patient, dealing with this drama, and did her best to play both sides. Gabe and I just wanted to get the hell out of that quagmire of highway drama and enjoy the meager hour of downtime we had.
The Preservation Pub sits in Market Square in downtown Knoxville. The street is closed to motor vehicles, but we could park not to far away and unload with our hazards on. It’s a smoking bar, which is a rarity these days, but they have a pretty intense ventilation system. We loaded in, talked to the sound guy Ricky, set up the drums and bass rig, which we were sharing with the first band, and ordered a couple pizzas.
Jon Worthy and The Bends went on a 8pm to a thin crowd, but the room quickly filled up over the first few songs. They had some great originals and sounded fantastic on stage. They played `till 11pm and the room was packed and rocking for most of their second set. I ducked out for a bit to make my rounds and clear my head, as I like to do whenever possible before a show. I walked through Krutch Park, a one block stretch with a cool little man-made stream and some sculptures and benches, then down to the next street over where I had a drink and played a terrible game of Aerosmith pinball. Around the corner I had a Gen-Zr take my photo in front of the Dolly Parton Mural, and headed back to the pub.
We set up afterwards and took the stage just shy of 11:40pm. For the most part we had a great crowd of people dancing, fist-pumping, air-guitaring, and watching. As the night went on, the inebriation level of the audience escalated and there was no shortage of spilled drinks, dancers slipping and landing butt-first on the floor, and requests for the likes of Tom Petty and “Something from the 2000s.” We played two sets and kept the crowd engaged and the drinks flowing, so we did our job pretty well I felt. I had a lot of fun interacting with the audience, jumping off the stage to rip a solo, and explaining to curious, tipsy girl why the black guitar sounded different than the gold one.
Last call was at 2:25 and we wrapped up with our song “Barely All the Time” which seemed like a good come-down, end of the night, piece, but also because our friends Dan and Dawn from Ohio were again in attendance, and it’s her favorite song. That song can clear a room, especially a rowdy one, but people stayed and watched, one girl cried (I’m sure the alcohol had nothing to do with it), and Dawn said it was great.
We squeezed the spilled beer, liquor, mixers, maraschino cherries and lime wedges from our gear, sold a little merch, chatted it up some with the locals, and started dragging everything to the curb at the end of the block. By the time I pulled up with the van, which was parked 3 blocks away, we were mostly loaded out. One of the bartenders found my watch, that someone had turned in (phew!) so I was grateful for that, and for the great hospitality at the Preservation Pub. It was a crazy night, and super fun, and we can’t wait to come back.
Tonight we’re gonna wrap this run up in Lexington, where the Vols play the Wildcats at 7pm. We’re at The Green Lantern Bar – it’s free and it starts around 9pm, Tucos are second. I CAN’T WAIT to see my Kentucky friends, most of whom I haven’t seen in 3 years. It’s always a great time in Lexington. Come on out!!! Xx