Road Blog: Saturday June 11, 2022 - Albany, NY
June 11, 2022
After a leisurely coffee at our AirBnB in Rochester’s 19th Ward we drove a couple miles up the street to the The Arnett Cafe, who’s slogan is “Dining with a southern flair.” I got the shrimp & grits in creole sauce with two easy eggs on top. It was awesome – best shrimp & grits I’ve had. Our waitress was a spunky young lady with a Lion King tattoo and the whole meal was just great.
From there it was about four hours east on I-90, through Syracuse, Utica, and Johnstown, until we reached Albany around 4pm. It was an uneventful drive, listening to Drive-By Truckers and The Eagles while I rode shotgun and fixed my tuner that crapped out on me in Fairport the night before. We checked into our dive motel about five miles west of the city and had an hour to chill before we had to get some food and load-in for the gig. Jacob picked out a Dominican Republic joint right near the venue and we were off, stopping at a liquor store on the way for a pint of Bulleit Rye for a nightcap at the hotel later.
We had dinner at Lo Nuestro, a Dominican joint across the street from the bar. I wanted the goat stew, but they were out of goat, so, mildly rejected, I went with the pork-beans-rice-plantains combo. It was good – the pork was a bit salty and dry on the edges, but the inner pieces were juicy and great. The beans and plantains were awesome. I would have preferred the goat, but I got a cool little Dominican Republic flag on a toothpick so all seemed ok.
We loaded into Paulys Hotel, the “oldest tavern in Albany” and said hi to Shane and the bartender (can’t remember your name – sorry!), both of whom I met when I played here in October while on tour with The Wild Honey Collective. That was a fun night, kicking off our run on a Wednesday. We had concerns about the show because we had a solid local headliner who baked off the bill a week ago. When that happens at a bar like this to a band like ours with no history in the city, it’s pretty much the kiss of death. We tried to be optimistic, but did our best to set expectations accordingly. The Tucos don’t cancel shows unless there is an absolute need (like Covid), even if it means we do it with a truncated lineup. Not a good situation for everyone else involved.
The Va Va Voodoos, the opening band, loaded in and we said hello. Singer John is colorful fellow who immediately wanted to make sure that we were all Iggy Pop fans, being from Detroit. We reassured him, and started sharing notes about all of his garage rock favorites and friends. Pretty soon their bass player Jo came in, a fun lady who seemed to sort of equal out John’s excitement with her chill demeanor, then drummer Tony, a tall, quiet dude with Kirk Hammett hair and a “let’s rock!” attitude that was infectious.
The Tucos have had a pretty good run of good shows and we were sorta due for a stinker, and I’m not gonna lie, last night was rough. The headlining band cancelling really hurt, and let’s just say the crowd was thin, and leave it at that. There were a few people in and out, and Jake had some friends show up, but it was a quiet night. Still The Va Va Voodoos kicked ass – great garage rock with reverb-drenched thick guitar tones, slap-back vocals, and nice harmonies by Jo. My fav was a cover of the Dead Kennedys “Too Drunk to F*ck” which is a great song I haven’t heard in quite a while. Their originals were solid too and it was a fun set.
We asked Tony to leave his drums set up, and Jake and I went up and did a bout a half-dozen tunes before calling him up. This dude has never heard us or seen us before, but he was up for jamming, and our drummer Gabriel is back home recovering from a sore leg, so we were glad to be able to rock out a little bit for the first time this weekend. We did some Steve Earle, Paul Revere and The Raiders, Rolling Stones, Del Fuegos, and a couple of our easier originals. Tony did great – falling right in, hitting queues, and keeping it all together. It was the highlight for us for sure, on what was otherwise a bit of a bummer of a night. Still, Shane and everyone at Pauly’s was cool, we sold a little merch, we loved The Va Va Voodoos, and hey, you can’t win `em all. We’ve travelled further to play worse shows.
Back at the hotel we heated up some leftover food, had a Bulleit Rye nightcap, watched a little South Park and crashed out pretty early. I slept like the dead and woke at 7am sharp, tossed and turned for an hour, got up and meandered down to the lobby for a shitty cup of coffee and a call home. TrooperGirl22 is holding down the fort and dreading the hell-like humidity and steamy temps coming our way this week, but otherwise fine. I went for a good, long run through Colonie, NY (“A proud city to be proud of, celebrating our 100th year”) where we’re staying outside Albany, crossing Cook Creek a couple times, scaring a little baby bunny who was just trying to eat some clover for breakfast, and over to Cook Park – a big city park with lots of grass and trees and a couple ball parks. This Cook guy is apparently a big deal around these parts. I stopped into a Dunkin Donuts for a couple medium black coffees and I’ll be nudging Jacob to rise and shine shortly so we can go find some greasy eggs and hash browns with bacon and hot sauce.
Today we head back west for a show in Syracuse at Al's Wine & Whiskey Lounge tonight. We’ll take our time heading that way, hit a recommended record store, get some downtime at another dive motel, and hopefully have a better show. Xx