Road Blog: Friday March 25, 2022 - Marquette, MI
March 25, 2022
Our long day started moments after I posted yesterday’s blog when I got a text from my friend Joe in Marquette that we may as well sleep in because the Mackinac Bridge was closed again. My heart sank. The bridge is the only way to get from the lower to the upper peninsula of Michigan by car unless you go around lake Michigan or Lake Huron (through Canada), and neither were options for us, stuck in Traverse City. We had a gig in Marquette that was in jeopardy. The issue was that above-freezing temps were causing built-up ice to melt and fall off the towers, potentially impaling travelers below. It’s reasonable that they’d want to avoid that. It could open in an hour; it could open the next day. We had no idea, and as time went on, the likelihood of making our show was shrinking.
Our plan was a quick pastry from a coffee shop on our way out of town, but now we had ample time to waste, so we opted for a nice breakfast at a diner called the Green House Cafe Traverse City , suggested by Jonna. The home-made corned beef hash was heavy but just what the doctor ordered for these weary eyed travelers looking forward into the unknown. We meandered across the street to Eugene's Record Co-op, a cool basement shop with a small, well procured collection of albums. It was also a small venue space and recording studio, and we jokingly considered booking a session if we were stuck south of the UP. Anyhow, Gabriel picked up a record and they’ve now got our Candy Coated Cannonball LP in stock, so stop in and pick that up TC!
We headed east and stopped at RPM Records, a much bigger store, and a lot more bins to thumb through. We were each tempted by a few things but left empty handed. We agreed that we should get to Mackinaw City and belly up to a bar somewhere and wait for the bridge to open while we collectively did the math on what the latest time would be where we could still make it in time to play. It was completely out of our control, so we were bummed, but we had no choice other than to just roll with it. We took back roads and surface streets north and east through the northern lower peninsula, making efforts to stay off of I-75. The last thing we wanted was to be stuck on the freeway for 10 hours.
We stopped for a quick pee break behind an old, abandoned restaurant in the middle of literally nowhere, then turned north for the last push into Mackinaw City, constantly checking the bridge’s twitter feed and hilariously stupid conspiracy theory comments attached to it. I was driving, doing about 15 over, though a very rural area of farm fields when I spotted a huge bald eagle sitting on a mound to the west. I stopped the van and heard an audible groan from the boys as I turned around and declared that we had to go back and see him (her?). As we pulled up, he lifted his head from whatever he was eating and looked at us and flew away, majestically, into the blue sky, circling low around the field a couple times before disappearing into the trees. “Boys,” I said, “That there is an omen.” as I turned the nose of the van north again.
We were surprised that Mackinaw City wasn’t too crazy. There were lines of cars waiting to get onto the bridge, should it ever open, but we got parking near our dive bar of choice, and a table and a round of Keewenaw Brewing Company Widow Makers with little effort. Just as she set our beers down, the word swept through the place that the bridge had just opened. I was sure to quickly mention the good omen of seeing the eagle, but I’m not positive the boys were convinced that was the reason. People rushed to close their tabs and out into their cars while the bar maids shook their heads at the urgency to go sit in what was sure to be a two-hour traffic jam. Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” played over the speakers and Gabe and I weren’t in such a hurry that we couldn’t quickly discuss the guitar tones. But this wasn’t a vacation or a quick social visit for The Tucos, we had work to do, so we pounded our pints and got in that line. Getting from the bar to the bridge took about a half hour, and getting over the five-mile long bridge probably another twenty minutes. It was my turn with the stereo, so inspired, I put on Whitesnake’s Slide it In record, and Jacob did his best to take in the constant innuendo of the title track and others like “Slow `an Easy” and “Spit it Out.” This kid’s exposure to classic rock, hard rock, and metal has some gaps, and I’m doing my best to educate him.
We made it over the bridge intact, turned west on US-2, and now had an actual ETA. There was no way we were going to make soundcheck, but we’d be there in time to play, close to our scheduled start. We stopped for gas and tried to get some texts out around shotty cell signals, and high-tailed it north on I-77, then west on M28 across the Seney Stretch – 28 miles of perfectly straight, flat highway with zero civilization or variation. There were deer everywhere, and morale was high, grateful that we weren’t spending our Friday in that Mackinaw City bar listening to Whitesnake.
We arrived at the Ore Dock Brewing Co. around 7:30, a half hour before showtime. We hadn’t eaten anything since corned beef hash in Traverse City, that seemed like ages ago. We loaded in, got set up, said hello to a few friends, and got on stage around 8:15 – not bad, only 15 minutes late after the adventure we’d had.
The Ore Dock is a big, square, stone room with a large bar in the middle and a corner stage against the back wall. In the front of the room, on the opposite side of the bar, my friends Geoff and Jon were hosting their pop-up record store, and business seemed to be booming. Geoff was all smiles, spinning the house music, and he winked as he put on The Replacements – “Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash” before our set.
We went on to a thin but steadily growing crowd that became downright respectable a few songs in, then tapered off a bit as last call approached. We played two sets, finishing up at 11 on the dot. One of my closest friends and high-school punk rock band-mates Tim came up and sang a couple songs with us, and that was an awesome, special moment. I saw many faces I haven’t seen since the before times, too many to list – some who traveled greater distances than we did to get there. I love you all!
We threw the guitars in the van and dropped them off at our AirBB and hoofed it a couple blocks downhill to my favorite Marquette dive bar – Remie’s Tavern. Seemed most of my friends had had enough by that time, but Stacey and Joey and Super Dave all made it out. We went through a few rounds and Jake had them cook up a frozen pizza that was a godsend at 1am, 14 hours since our last meal. We hiked back up Third Street, a tough climb on a good day, and back to our AirBB, where we crashed out pretty quick.
That, my friends, was a day. We were so happy that we made it for the show. We really didn’t think it was going to happen. And here we are – no travel today! Just a lazy morning around our nice AirBB, probably a pint over at Blackrocks Brewery, a legitimate dinner, then we’ll do it one more time tonight at 8pm at the Ore Dock Brewing Company! Hope to see everyone again! And hope those who couldn’t make it can tonight – it’s been too long! Xx