Road Blog: Wednesday October 18, 2023 - Tuscaloosa, AL
October 18, 2023
We left our dive motel in Terrel, Texas (pronounced like Darryl, not tear-elle, as my Texas friends quickly pointed out) at an early 9am after a late, rambunctious night in Dallas with a daunting 8+ hour drive staring us down. I took the wheel and did the drive without any issue. We hit the Louisiana border at noon and the Mississippi border at 2pm. Crossing the Mississippi River into Vicksburg was alarming. The river is so low that there’s about 100 or more yards of sand on each shore, exposing what should be underwater in normal times. I’ve crossed this river more times than I can count and I’ve never seen it this low. When SlugBug toured in the 90s we played Saint Louis on the heels of a great flood, with the water about 2 steps below the foot of the arch. This is the polar opposite. We gulped down some Arby’s along the way and saw a nearby combo mobile-meth-lab-BBQ-joint-used-tire encampment in the adjacent woods. Hell yeah, Mississippi! Gabriel was intrigued (about each element), I was scared.
Anyhow, it was a beautiful day, the drive was pleasant and spirits were high. The boys napped a bit and we cranked all sorts of tunes – James Brown, Big Thief, All. I cranked Grim Reaper’s See You In Hell album that I ripped from vinyl last week for just such an occasion. Not sure Jacob was impressed but Gabriel didn’t seem to mind. As we crossed into Alabama I put on a Jason Isbell playlist I made of my favorite stuff from his solo albums and got the feels a little bit connecting some of those lyrics into my own life and the people around me. Something about listening to “Alabama Pines” while you’re actually driving through Alabama pines… Good music does that. Roadkill sightings included a fox, a deer, an opossum, a raccoon, and a couple armadillos. Gabriel got eyes one armadillo looking to cross the freeway, most likely adding to that toll for future drivers.
We checked into our dive motel on the south side of Tuscaloosa a little after five and were surprised to see the accommodations a good couple grades up from our normal dive motels. The two suns even shine on a wamprat’s ass some of the time I guess. We’ll forgive them for only having decaf in the room, settling for some nice, clean beds and space to stretch out. No time for dallying though, a quick splash of the face and change out of the civvies into show gear and it was off the venue.
We played Druid City Brewing Company last year, almost to the day, and had a great time. Sunday through Wednesday is always tough on tour, so you set expectations accordingly and just hope for the best. A small handful of people is often the best you can do, and frankly we over-achieved in Austin and Dallas earlier this week. We were greeted by a couple familiar faces and bellied up to the bar for food and pints. Operations have moved since last year, across the street. We weren’t playing on a cement floor in front of the beer vats now, it was a legit band room with a killer PA, a stage, lights, and cosmic murals ceiling to floor. I got what amounts to their meat-lovers pie with all sorts of beef and pork on it, and added raw onions. Great thin-crust pizza! The red IPA was Jake and my favorite. I called TrooperGirl22 while the boys were finishing up dinner and got caught up about what’s up in Michigan and it seems like the world is still turning above the sweet tea line.
We loaded in and sound-checked. My gear is in varying states of falling apart so I did what I could to do as far as some maintenance, but I really need some serious time to deal with it. The nut has fallen off of my Orange ABY switch – it’s been stripped since we left but not it’s just gone. My Wampler Paisley overdrive pedal is fading in and out at random. I zip-tied it into place but it only helped a little so I will try replacing the patch tonight. And one of the nuts holding my guitar stand is missing so the bolt is barely hanging on. We’re gonna try to get to a Home Depot today to get that fixed. Can’t have your guitar stand falling apart.
On a more optimistic note I’ve clearly rounded the corner on my emancipated tooth antibiotic-induced digestion issues, which is something I’m very grateful to have behind me, but I snagged my already torn-up fingernail and ripped a corner of it off, leaving some exposed flesh beneath and a little spur of hard skin that sends a sharp pain through my hand whenever it comes in contact with anything. It seems a little better this morning, but holding a pick was a bit of a challenge last night.
We played for about an hour and a half last night. There weren’t many there, but we did have some bodies in the room and a few more coming in and out throughout the set to check us out. It’s a LOUD room, and they seemed grateful that we offer up free earplugs at our merch table. Not much else to say about that – these weeknights are what they are and you just do what you can. Bo and his staff (and patrons) at Druid City are some of the friendliest around. They all remembered us from last year and were so welcoming. One dude was so pleased with his skulls tee shirt he got last year – he said he “wore the shit out of it” and it still looks great. Thanks for carrying the torch dude! Can’t find a better place for a weeknight show, and we’ll certainly be back if they’ll have us.
I drove back to the dive motel, which makes sense after brewery gigs as I’m not a big beer guy. It was abnormally early – not even 11pm yet – so we fired up some tunes, poured a whiskey, and hung out for an hour before crashing out. I got a solid 7 hours of sleep, which was needed and welcome. Lobby coffee now, and some bookwork before we head out. Three more nights – Memphis, Lexington, and Akron. Super excited to play Growlers tonight in Memphis with The Eastwoods and Orion Overstreet. Jake’s already talking BBQ again, and I’m half hoping to get a peek at the Lorraine Motel if it’s convenient, but I haven’t told the boys yet so shhhh.