Road Blog: Thursday October 12, 2023 - Champaign, IL
October 12, 2023
Gabriel Doman and I met at my place on Thursday morning and loaded what gear and luggage we hadn’t loaded after practice the other night into the van and headed west towards Ann Arbor to pick up Jacob. I cranked The Cars Anthology as Gabe drove in and out of rain squalls and construction zones until we hit the Indiana border. See ya in 11 days, Michigan. I had a major, traumatic dental event last weekend and had my #26 incisor yanked from my skull with great, unpleasant force on Monday morning, so I’m doing this run with a big hole in my face. I’m trying to do all the right things; staying up on my meds and not mess with it and stay away from the JujyFruits, but we weren’t even past Jackson when one of my stitches came out. I didn’t panic because it wasn’t bleeding or anything, so I texted my super cool dentist Dr. Natalie Henke and she said it’s cool just be careful so the show goes on. She knows what’s up.
The drive through central Illinois is not an exciting one. We wondered what they do with all the dry, dead corn stalks they’re mowing down with their giant machines. Certainly more than Halloween decorations. We listened to The Posies, Mammoth WVH, Ultraviolets, and Charles Mingus before putting on locals Titanic Love Affair as we headed into the city center of Champaign. We had a couple hours to kill so we stopped into the venue and said hello the manager and the crew and did a loop around town on foot before settling on dinner at a nearby bar and grill. We got sandwiches and beers, did another lap, got a coffee, took a photo with Humpty Dumpty, and headed back to the bar for load in.
Barrelhouse 34 is a non-venue with a deconstructable stage and rented, mobile pa system and sound engineer. It’s a long, raw, exposed wood building with high-tops along one side and a long bar along the other. The stage is set up in the big window facing Main Street, not far from where the old High Dive was, where TrooperGirl22 and I saw The Bottle-Rockets many years ago. We loaded in and waited for the staff to finish the stage assembly. I could tell it was going to be a bit so I went for another lap to get a little quiet before the show. “Hey Loser!” I heard from a passing car. My pal, and former mayor of Champaign himself Don Gerard was driving by, his little dog yapping and jumping around the back seat. A quick, passing “See ya up there” and he was off.
Joe Murphy is a friend who I’d met in Yorkville at The Law Office a couple years back, just coming out of the pandemic, if memory serves. He not only helped to get the word out about and posters up for the show, but brought a crue of people, including his lovely wife Kim, friend Chad and several others too numerous to name (but I love you all!). Don Stopped in and caught a good chunk of the show and we made a few new friends too. Our pal Daryl from DeKalb made the trip in, always appreciated! Erik, the colorful and salty sound engineer, fresh off a heart attack a couple weeks ago, got us all dialed in and we went on a few minutes after 8pm. The bar was hopping all night, a little fluctuation at times, but no complaints. People were hollerin’ and we had a great time.
Drinks were flowing and the conversation was splendid, but after our set the bar started to thin out, we said goodbye to our friends, tore down, loaded the van, tipped the bar staff, and headed south. We’ve got a hell of a drive ahead of us today down to North Little Rock, where we’ll play the Four Quarter Bar tonight, so we got an hour+ behind us last night and made it to Effingham where we crashed. I cranked Black Sabbath – Volume 4 to help Gabe stay awake and the drive was relatively painless. Champaign was awesome, just as it was nine years ago when we last played there. Thanks to Joe, Kim, Chad, Don, Emily How , Cody, Juan, and so many people how made it memorable. See ya tonight Arkansas! xx