Road Blog: Wednesday October 19, 2022 - Tuscaloosa, AL
October 19, 2022
The boys stirred around 10am yesterday, each of us still on a high from the great show in Atlanta the night before. I’d already made coffee, written my blog, and re-organized our tee-shirt buns that were a disaster after merch sales at The EARL (that’s a good thing, but still a bit of a chore!). Jacob has been tasked with finding breakfast restaurants when we travel and he’s pretty much batting 1.000 so Gabriel and I just go with whatever’s proposed. Yesterday it was the Thumbs Up Diner, which seems to be a bit of an Atlanta institution. I’m a big fan of shrimp and grits with a couple eggs, over easy, on top so I got that. Gabriel got the friend catfish and eggs. The shrimp and grits was really good, but I tried Gabe's catfish and wow - it was amazing, and now I have to go back and get it one day.
Jake drove the three hours out of Georgia, into Alabama, to Tuscaloosa. We weren’t able to find an acceptable place to stay in Tuscaloosa, and it was an early show, so we instead scheduled a drive after the show to get to our next stop in Mississippi. That’s not a super fun thing to do after a show, but the upside is that the next day isn’t a travel day so you have an extended period to just chill, get caught up on things like rest, work, whatever else might be beckoning. We hit a bookstore that Jake wanted to check out first. TrooperGirl22 is always telling me that we need to take Jake to some bookstores because god knows we take him to enough record stores and when I talked to her later she was genuinely disappointed that he left empty-handed. Next we stopped in at The Guitar Gallery and met a good dude there who knows some of the same people I do and had a good chat. I strummed on a 1975 Guild acoustic that had a nice price tag on it, but a new guitar, especially an acoustic, isn’t in the cards at the moment. They also had a beautiful late 70's P-bass. We stopped at CVS for a couple supplies we’ve been trying to procure for a few days and they had Jujyfruits buy 2 get 1 free. I was gonna get one, then I decided – hell, may as well get two, and, well then I get a free one, so I’m pretty well stocked.
With still a couple hours to kill we bopped around downtown Tuscaloosa for a bit and checked it out. There wasn’t a whole lot going on – a lot of traffic and a lot of people in Alabama Tide gear. We had a beer at Black Warrior Brewing Co. and I liked their rye IPA but they didn’t have it in cans. From there we hit OZ MUSIC and I picked up a rare Lesley Gore 2xLP and a great looking Olivia Newton-John covers album (weren’t they all, though?) and they’re now carrying out music there so if in Tuscaloosa stop in – it’s a great store, friendly people, and The Tucos are on the shelf!
Behind the record store sits Druid City Brewing Company. My friend Matt Patton got us connected with the owner there, Bo Hicks, who goes way back with DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS, Alabama Shakes, Lee Bains + The Glory Fires, and a lot of the other great music that’s been coming out of this state over the past couple decades. Bo greeted us with a bit Alabama smile and welcome and we immediately felt at home. This guy is what it’s all about. He’s not shy about the fact that hosting live music, especially small touring bands on weeknights, isn’t exactly a money-making adventure for places like this, but he knows how important it is to support and nurture this crazy small-time level of rock and roll. His attitude is just refreshing and genuine. What a good dude.
As we poured out of the van, stiff and road-worn to the max, a lady ran up to me and said “Oh I’m with the band but I forgot my trombone!” and gave me a big hug and immediately started snapping selfies. “This here’s the district attorney!” she said as she introduced me to Hays Webb. “How long you boys in town for?” he asked with a light grin as we shook hands, almost like Brian Dennehy in First Blood. He was really personable and I told him how we’d spent the day supporting the economy in his city and he, like the rest of the south, cursed me for bringing the cold weather with us from Michigan. We talked with the selfie-lady about the time she was in the Alabama marching band and lined up on the wrong side of the field during a halftime at a Tide game on national TV and in front of about 100,000+ people in the stadium and that it was the most embarrassing moment of her life and still haunts her to this day decades later and why she’s now called “Wrong Way.” I didn’t tell him that I’m a bleeding-heart liberal, didn’t seem necessary, he was funny and personable and it was a really nice chat.
We got some food at Sitar Of India, a restaurant near the brewery. I got goat vindaloo and it was really good! It’s been a while since I’ve had Indian food, and even longer since I've been able to find goat on the menu, and these guys did it right. Back at the brewery we set up in the brewing room – a very small concrete cube. When I asked about volume concerns, the sound guy said not to worry, Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires played in there, so I new we had plenty of decibels to spare.
Before we went on this pleasant woman introduced herself to me. It was Sally, the wife of my friend Ted, who I went to high school with in Marquette, Michigan. (I don’t think either is on FB). She was in town for some family stuff and somehow, I forgot to ask, knew that we were playing. We’d met briefly in Marquette several years ago (2012?) and it was just super crazy to meet again in a completely different part of the country. We had a great chat and it was awesome that she was there!
We went on around 8:30 and the sound was surprisingly good in that weird little room. These guys know what they’re doing and how to make a “non-venue” really work. There weren’t a ton of people, but the people there were intently watching, listening, and bopping along. A few came and went, stepping outside for a smoke or into the other room for a fresh pint. We had a great time, played well, and wrapped up around 9:30. Merch sales were strong, conversation with the locals (and Sally) was fantastic, and it was a great “connector” show, as Bo called it. Well, it was more than that for us – southern hospitality is a thing, and Tuscaloosa was very nice to us.
We were on the road by 10:30 facing down a three-hour drive into the darkness of the deep south. We drove through the city and then over the Black Warrior River and eventually crossed into Mississippi. Traffic was very light and the roads zig zagged between two-lane county roads and divided highways. We stopped at a Love’s somewhere in the middle of nowhere and fueled up on sugar for the last push, and landed at our AIrBB around 1:30am, narrowly missing a doe as she jumped in front of the van and into the yard of our house. I drove, I’m a sucker for that kind of thing, and have to admit that I was fading pretty hard near the end, but Jake was a great co-pilot and navigator (though he's not very good at spotting deer in the shadows) and it was great to get to a place that will be our base for the next 32 hours. It’s a really nice house, in the woods a few miles outside of Oxford and about 20 minutes from or show tonight in Water Valley. We each have our own bedroom and bathroom and there is a ton of space. Plenty of room to spread out and rest up for the last three shows.
Thanks again to Bo and everyone at Druid City and in Tuscaloosa. It was a fun night – we met some great people and had a blast. Can’t wait to come back! We’ll see ya tonight at Hometown Pizza Cafe in Water Valley, Mississippi with our pals The Great Dying! Free show, starts at 7! Thanks for reading! xx