Road Blog: Friday April 21, 2023 - Charleston, WV
April 21, 2023
Charleston, West Virginia
After my walk, befriending of the great blue heron, and run in with the Dayton Police yesterday, we climbed back into the van and headed to our favorite Dayton breakfast joint – the Hasty Tasty Pancake House. This place has been around forever, and we’ve been having breakfast there since our earliest shows in the city. Gretta met up with us and conversation was great over eggs, crispy hash browns, biscuits and gravy, bacon, and sausage. We had a couple nice local ladies take a shot if us under the sign, and it turns out they are rock and roll fans and promised to come the next show in town!
Jacob took the wheel and Gabriel was riding shotgun as the previous night’s revelry started to catch up to me, so I assumed the fetal position on the back bench, seatbelt latch jabbing into my ribs, and did my best to doze on and off between potholes, lane shifts, accelerations, and abrupt traffic slowdowns. I played the new Winery Dogs record and Jake seemed to dig it. It was a bit proggy for me at first but continues to grow on me with each listen.
We stopped in Jackson, Ohio – a strange, little podunk town – for gas, as we were on fumes and heading into the Appalachian foothills. The sign said Gas next exit, there weren’t no gas station, so we turned to our trusted GPS Karen Jacobsen - The GPS Girl, who directed us to the “Marathon Convenient Store.” Gabe and I found this ironic, because not only had we never seen a “convenient” store, but it wasn’t convenient at all, nestled 4 miles of the damn highway. Gabe wasn’t impressed that the clerk had to look up the price of his Gatorade in a hand-written notebook as opposed to scanning a barcode, or even looking at the price-tag staring her in the face from the cap of the bottle. Convenient, our ass. I resumed the fetal position and actually got a couple Zs in before we landed at our AirBnB in some tiny little holler outside Charleston.
Libby and Al met us in the driveway; an older, nice looking, clean-cut West Virginia couple clearly not expecting the movie-monster looking trio shaking off the drive (and hangovers) to greet them. They quickly warmed up and we exchanged brief but cordial pleasantries before we ascended to the above-garage apartment that would serve as our base for the next 18 hours or so. It’s a quaint little joint, with nothing but two-prong plugs and early 1970’s era furniture. I again took the room in the back and quickly bonded with the resident stinkbug who served as my roomie for the duration. His name is Larry, and like his neighbors in the house across the driveway, he wasn’t exactly sure what to make of me either, but after a brief, awkward get-to-know-ya period, we got along fine. For the third time of the day I assumed the fetal position and actually got a short nap in before calling to check in with TrooperGirl22 back home. Her day started with an unflattering photo of her aging punk-rock husband raising hell with his bartender pal Tyler in Dayton, but she’s otherwise holding her own 7 hours to the north.
Last night was my turn in the driving-home-from-the-show rotation, and that was just fine by me. I took the wheel as Gabe played The Boblo Islanders EP on our way into Charleston. We were hoping for pizza and beer at Pies and Pints, one of our usual restaurants, but there was too long of a wait, so we went to this Greek themed sports bar next door called Adelphia Sports Bar & Grille. I got the gyro mac and cheese that was pretty great and we shared some fried feta.
From there it was a short drive to The Empty Glass. We’ve played here now four times, and it’ been hit and miss for us, but always good, welcoming people and a good stop when we’re in the area. We said hello to Davey And The Midnights, a band who were late to jump on the bill, from Indiana via Los Angeles, and Justin Shaw Steele, a local dude who was previously local but has since moved a ways out. Davey went on around 10pm and played a great set of, how to describe them? , Americana, blusey pop maybe? I heard some Boz Skaggs, Chris Stapleton, and Leon Russell flavors in there. They had their shit nailed down – just locked in and synergized, great dynamics, harmonies, and groove, and great songs and vocals by Davey. We really enjoyed the set and look forward to listening more to their record when we get home. Justin went on next, just he and an acoustic guitar and a stand-up bass player. He plays a self-described hybrid version of “trailer-park bluegrass-country” (or something close to that…) that’s not quite bluegrass, not quite country, but elements of both. Dark, character driven songs that take place in the hollers he grew up in, mixed in with some of the best, most hilarious between-song banter we’ve seen in years. Really enjoyed it and hope to cross paths with those cats again too!
We went on around midnight. It’s a late crowd at the Empty Glass, and it probably peaked towards the middle-end of Justin’s set. We had a decent room that was thinning out near the end, and played a set that we collectively agreed was ok. We’re not firing on all cylinders for some reason – and we’re probably harder on ourselves than the audience are, but we have room to improve. Hopefully we remedy that tonight in Lexington.
We wrapped up, sold some merch, mingled with some locals and our new friends in The Midnights, and loaded out. I got us back to the AirBB without incident while Gabe played the killer ep by All Over The Shop – a great Detroit band he and I saw a few weeks back. We had a nightcap and some conversation before crashing out, and I slept hard for a solid 5 hours. It’s a grey morning in the mountains around Charleston, and the boys are starting to stir. I’m on my second cup of off-brand Kuerig coffee, and texting with friends in Minneapolis and Los Angeles as they are covering my Record Store Day list while I am unable to get to a store early myself.
Tonight we’re back at The Green Lantern Bar in Lexington, which is sits at or near the top of our favorite cities to play. I’m excited to see my Kentucky friends, and hoping for a great show before we head home tomorrow. Hey Kentucky we’ll see ya tonight! xx