Road Blog: Saturday October 22, 2022 - Cincinnati, OH
October 22, 2022
Saturday morning hit pretty hard after the late night and heavy partying in Marion at John Brown's on the Square. Jacob was the designated driver after the show, so he practiced some moderation and felt fine, but Gabriel and I were dragging ass, as they say, and we had a nine-hour drive staring us down – 5 to get to Cincy, and another 4 to get home after the show. Jake kept his spot in the pilot’s seat and we headed north through Illinois, then turned east, into Indiana, across the Ohio River, into Kentucky, just north of Louisville. We got onto I-71, past the scene of the fatal 1988 crash near Corrollton where 27 people died after a drunk driver in a pickup truck going the wrong way crashed head on into a repurposed school bus carrying a church children’s group. The collision wasn’t too bad, but the axel of the truck flew off and penetrated the gas tank, which then caught on fire, and in no time the bus was engulfed in smoke and flames. Chaos ensued, a cooler in the aisle impeded the way, and the results were tragic. It is the deadliest drunk driving accident in US history. I remember when it happened, and I always take pause when we pass that site.
On a lighter note, it was a beautiful drive with blue skies and beautiful colors as the wind whipped the changing leaves over the interstate and into our windshield. It wasn’t long before we merged onto I-75, through Florence Y’all, across the Ohio River again, and into Cincinnati. We listened to the new Tay Tay album and I thought that most of the songs seemed pretty good, but the monotone, flat, lack of any diversity in the production from song to song got pretty old pretty quick. The spacey synthesizer bed with a soft, tight drum track and these layered vocals is all cool and fine, but after a few songs I was just looking for something different. I’ve no doubt it will do well for her.
We pulled into Fretboard Brewing Company around 5pm. It’s a really big place that sits in an industrial park northwest of the city. It’s a huge room with a bar along one side and a big, pro stage with a massive lighting truss and full-size PA against the back wall. Some breweries are brewpubs that have music, some are built to have concerts. Both can be really cool, but this was the latter – a legitimate venue with real production that could host a show for several hundred people. I talked to the manager, Amy, for a few minutes and made sure to express our gratitude to her and the team there for supporting live original, music. She was really nice and fully understood where I was coming from, and the whole staff there was really great to us.
We met Alan, the sound engineer, who was the main tech dude for the likes of "Bootsy" Collins and George Clinton, traveling the world with them for over 30 years. Word was that Bootsy lives near the brewery and comes in for some BBQ from time to time. Alan was a charachter – clearly knew what we was doing very well, and had no shortage of stories about traveling around with the Parliament/Funkadelic crew. We also met Cage Willis and his band. Great dudes from southern Illinois and Indiana who were playing after us. A lot of “have you played that place in ? You should!” type of stuff. Contacts were made, and I think there’s gonna be a time we cross paths again.
We set up and ordered some food from Smoked Out Cincy that’s attached to the side of the brewery. The pulled-pork with horseradish-aioli sauce and bacon pieces was really great. That’s one I’ll be trying at home next time I smoke up a pork butt. One thing for sure, we ate well on this tour. I called TrooperGirl22 who’d been down at Eastern Market all day partying with her friends, and we had a nice, short chat before I was beckoned back in for soundcheck.
We went on at 7:30 to a decent, but distant audience. There were people watching and engaged, but they were back more towards the bar, many eating, some coming and going. Distance aside, it was the last night of the tour and we weren’t gonna leave anything up there. Jake, hopped up on energy drinks and frozen beer and tequila margaritas, was shot out of a cannon and did everything he could to reduce the distance between our audience and us. I struggled a bit early, my head and fingers not entirely aligned with the mechanical memory that comes so naturally during a run like this, but I found my groove a few songs in. After our set we sold a little merch, loaded out, and got one last round.
Cage Willis & the band went on at 9:30. They play a groove-based heavy Southern Rock that was locked in and heavy. He’s a hell of a guitar player and singer, and he’s got a really solid rhythm section behind him. Great band and great tunes. He’s got a guitar rig that runs straight into the PA with no speakers on stage. That is a really foreign concept to this old-school punk rocker, but I have to say it sounded great, and my aching bones can sure understand the appeal of not lugging around amps!
We were digging their set and hated to leave, but after 30, 40 minutes we hit the road and headed north. Big thanks to Alan, Amy, Cage, his band, and everyone at Fretboard Brewing Company for having us – it was a wonderful way to cap off the tour and we can’t wait to come back!
We decided to drive home after the show because we weren’t able to find an affordable/acceptable place to stay in Cincy, and given that it was an early show and the last night of the tour and our own homes and beds were beckoning…well, it just made more sense. I took the wheel and Gabe was navigating/shotgun. Jake put on Thin Lizzy – Live and Dangerous and chased down an airplane bottle of Fireball with a beer as we careened north on I-75 towards Michigan.
The drive was long, but honestly easier than the shorter drive from Tuscaloosa to Oxford a few nights earlier. The boys were in good spirits, and we had some great conversation that kept me alert and awake. Some Diet Dr. Pepper and a steady intake of berry flavored Hi-Chews kept my blood sugar spiked, and when it came my turn on the stereo I cranked Pyromania, and that didn’t hurt either. We crossed the Michigan line right around 1am as Gabe played The Hentchmen, and the van immediately started bouncing around on the terrible, patched up, cracked up, broken, busted, and worn out roads. Nothing like driving through a dozen other states to help you remember how utterly shitty our roads are here in Michigan. We landed at my place around ten to two, unloaded all the gear into my basement, said our goodbyes and called it a night. TrooperGirl22 rallied and we had a nice chat before I finally came down from the drive, the Diet Dr. Pepper, Hi-Chews and Def Leppard, and crashed hard around 3am.
What can I say about the last week and half? 10 shows in 10 days in 10 states, 15 states traveled total. We met some amazing people and saw some old friends. We ate some great food and saw some amazing fall colors. We traveled mountains, hollers, swamps, woods, cities and cotton fields. We played bars, tents, brewpubs, restaurants and rock clubs. Ears ringing, bones aching, heads cloudy and tired, but this has been the best of all the runs we’ve had. Morale is high, the band has never sounded better, and we can’t wait to get back out there….but….it’s good to be home. One more run this year, down to Knoxville and back, sandwiched between a couple Ohio shows the weekend before Thanksgiving. More about that later.
THANK YOU for reading, and THANK YOU to EVERYONE in Cleveland, Catonsville, Salem, Raleigh, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Tuscaloosa, Water Valley, Marion, and Cincinnati. And THANK YOU to Jake and Gabe for being awesome in every way. Much love to all involved in any capacity. xx