Road Blog: Friday June 16, 2023 - Huntington, WV
June 16, 2023
Yesterday morning we checked out of our dive motel in Youngstown, Ohio and headed over to C's Waffles Family Restaurant for breakfast. I texted my awesome sister Kristen a happy birthday while we waited for our food. I had the Deluxe Mess, which seemed appropriate, and it went down pretty good. Various forms of cured pig, onions, peppers, cheese, and two eggs over-easy over home fries, chased and preceded with about a half-gallon of coffee. What could go wrong, right?
Jacob took the wheel and put on TOOL: as we headed south towards the Ohio River. I dozed in and out a little bit on the back bench for a while, but it was hard to get any rest on the winding county roads and with all that caffeine racing through me. I started to feel a little funny, and then increasingly slow, as we flew through one small Ohio town after another, until I had to be that guy and request an emergency pit stop at a Sheetz in Circleville. Let’s just say it wasn’t pleasant, but I felt a little better for a while. Something was still off, but it seemed the worse was over. We listened to the new Janelle Monáe , John Salvage/New Twenty Saints , Bad Company, and Eddie Spaghetti for the rest of the drive.
We crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky and arrived at our AirBnB in Ashland, figured out the overly-complicated door-unlocking mechanisms, took a few minutes to get ready, and got back in the van to head into Huntington for some food. I was hungry, but still queasy, and we were short on time. We crossed back over the river into Ohio, drove east about 15 miles, then back again over the river into Huntington, West Virginia. We were backlining drums and bass rig, meaning all the bands were using our stuff, so we had an obligation to get there early and set up, even though we were playing second. We really wanted to get something decent for dinner, and there were options, but when it came down to it we just didn’t have time, so we opted for the made-to-go menu at the Sheetz convenience mart across the street. It’s basically a step just under fast food, but when you need it, you’re glad it’s there. Readers in the northeast can compare them to Wawa. I got a beef burrito, which seemed logical, but in hindsight might’ve not been the smartest move.
THE LOUD sits on 6th Street on a corner in a quiet city neighborhood. It used to be called the V-Club and we’ve played there a few times, but the VC didn’t survive the pandemic and it changed hands. The inside is quite different now; the square bar in the middle of the room is gone and now sits on the left side, facing the stage. There is cool painted wall art and murals everywhere, and some nice high-top tables off to the sides with the same open floor and great stage at the opposite end. While I loved the V-Club, the changes are all for the better and it’s a really nice room – a great place to play and see a show.
After “dinner” I walked down to the Cabell County Courthouse, found a nice bench in the park behind it, sat down, and called home to get some sympathy for my ailments. TrooperGirl22 was eight miles in to a 20-mile bike ride and just happened to stop for a minute as I called. She questioned the logic behind the Sheetz burrito and told me about the goings on at home. As we were wrapping up, a possibly homeless man sat at a nearby picnic table and poured a small bag of peanuts in the shell on the ground about 15 feet away from me. Like sharks around a whale carcass, the squirrels started to circle, one by one coming in to grab one. As I walked around the courthouse I saw similar piles of peanuts on window sills, stairs and sidewalks, each with its own swarm of squirrels circling.
Back at the venue I was feeling pretty rough again and sticking strictly to water. While the boys talked to the other bands I rested in the green room behind and above the stage, with its own private bathroom. First up was Chocolate 4-Wheeler. Dude had shoes that lit up in various colors and blinked as he danced around. Their guitarist had some really tasty licks and the woman singing had some great pipes! We went up next and played our best set in a few shows to a very thin group of observers. In a smaller room it wouldn’t have been as rough, but empty big rooms eat at your psyche a bit. We never phone it in, though, so we left it all up there and got off after 45 minutes, the shortest set of the three bands. Friendly Fire played after us – nice guys, great tunes and harmonies, and a fun, lively show.
After our set I was starting to feel better and even got half a drink down before we loaded out. I had some great conversation with Levi, the door guy, who has ties to Michigan, and kind of reminded me of Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P. He was very good to us, knowing that it was a rough night, and really helped to make the whole thing palatable. It was pretty clear that I was the designated driver, which I was happy to do, so I got us back over the Ohio River into Ohio, east about 15 miles (two bunnies sighted) and back to our AirBnB. As we pulled into the alley where we parked, a curious female white tail deer meandered around, Gabriel grabbed a quick photo with my phone, and we left her alone. We had a quick nightcap, talked about the show a bit, and crashed out around 3:30am.
This morning I was up at 7:30, as usual. I tip-toed past a sleeping Jake on the couch and made a cup of coffee in the Kuerig and worked on the blog. I went for what was intended to be a good, long run but quickly turned into a walk-run as we’re basically in the mountains and there was a steep climb between the house and my destination – Ashland’s Central Park. As I rounded the corner on that ascent I saw the deer again on the side of the road, eating a tree at the top of the hill on someone’s property. Had to be the same one right? She seemed to recognize me from last night and we had a moment. I took a detour through The Charles and Betty Russell Park Hiking Trail, down the backside of the mountain/hill, though a neighborhood and came out at Central Park. I checked out the fountains and the sensory garden, took a much-needed leak in the public can, and made my way back up the backside of the mountain and down again, and back to the house. It felt great to get some steps in and get the heart going, feeling much better than last night, and cleansing my mind from the bummer show.
We’re grateful to Heath , Levi, Sam, and the good people at The Loud for having us. Hopefully we can try it again and hope for a better outcome. We love the venue and the people and the city! Tonight we’re in Circleville, Ohio at Tootles Pumpkin Inn. It’s 2 sets starting around 9. New venue for us so hope to see ya there. Last show `til September!