Some of the most striking images on this tour are the dirtier, more beat down areas. We spend a lot of time in the middle of the land, but there are still so many little corners and hubs that are still untouched. In Okmulgee, OK we set up camp just outside of town at Okmulgee lake. It's just a fun word to say. Okmulgee. Saxapahaw, NC. Sexypahaw. That's a fun one too. Four syllables or three? May never have known of either's existence if it wasn't for this tour, and I can now say that both were beautiful and a little mysterious. Before Oklahoma there was a whole lot of Texas, too.
Most of the bugs out in the middle are prehistoric and monster like, and we've basically been a rolling, living rainforest ever since camping in Oklahoma. Beasts will fly randomly out of cabinets and from under bags, as we scramble to shovel them out windows. Not all of them go peacefully. We are traveling in an unmistakeable Grenade RV this time, and it came with this guy. Andy. Legend in the making.
A few years ago I was in a theater production/musical called Lonesome Traveler, and one of my characters was the folk legend, Woody Guthrie. As we rolled into Tulsa, OK, I spotted a big mural of the man, and his famous guitar adornment. Turns out it was the Woody Guthrie center, a little museum dedicated to the man and his music and art. I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside, but it was well worth the $5 admission. Original lyric sheets, sketches, correspondence, rare recordings... along with a choice selection of his original instruments. A Woody hall of fame. Damn cool.
I found the irony of this image to be the most striking shot I got in Tulsa.
Early on, in St. Louis, the unthinkable happened. The grenade proved to be too tempting to some assholes and someone broke in after we loaded out post show. Low lives. Stealing from the working man. All kinds of personal property, memories, music, etc. It was fucking heartbreaking, and after being stolen from twice in 6 months it was almost unbearably maddening. Even knowing about the infamous racket of thieves that steal from bands in that city, and taking all the steps we could to protect ourselves, we couldn't prevent it from happening to us, again. UGH. After giving the report to the local policeman, (who took his sweet time and was full of opinions) we picked ourselves up somehow and rolled on, heading to Nashville for a 3 day stay, which proved to be healing and even a good bit galvanizing. Shot some arrows, hit up Jack's barbecue, caught up with friends, and filled the rest of the time with music and beers. Adam and I even came away with new instruments, and for such a good price that it almost felt like we were the ones who were stealing. Buying a new instrument, and not spending two months of pay on it is one hell of a healing feeling. When we shoved off for Atlanta, we were full of fresh energy.
Truck stops, cafes, rest areas, hotels.. These become our daily routine. I don't miss them much, or at all when I'm home, but occasionally there is a diamond in the rough, and it's a form of excitement that's hard to explain. An oasis, if you will. You likely wouldn't notice it on my face, but a classic Americana scene always tickles my fancy.
We're in Pittsburgh tonight, and in the Northeast until about mid-May, when we hit our first big festival of the year. Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, AL. It's a big one, and we've got a killer slot on Friday night, right before the freakin' Foo Fighters. Hot damn.
In Saxapahaw I was walking down towards the Haw river, and I passed a woman walking up the steps. She mentioned that she had found a 4 leaf clover while down by the bank. I mentioned that I had never found one myself, so she promptly gifted me the clover and wished me luck on my journey. She smiled as she recalled how when she was a child, her father had offered her and her siblings a quarter for each one they could find, and so they would get creative on gluing extra leaves onto 3 leaf clovers to try to get those quarters. Then she laughed and kept walking. A literal random act of kindness. They're like boosters, rare and refreshing. I put it safely in Tropic of Cancer to live until I get home.
That's Beau Kuther, the drummer for Smallpools. He literally went out on a limb with those white pants. Good, mellow hang down by the river with a few of them before the Saxapahaw show. Skipping rocks and such. You learn more about guys you're on tour with when you get moments away from the stage and the bustle and buses. Good dudes.
It's been a bumpy ride so far, literally and figuratively, but as we get our tour legs under us and hopefully most or all of the bad luck out of the way, it's really starting to get good. And we're only two weeks in. It's been so great to meet all of you, and feel the love for this band. Perspective. The reason we're out here. Thank you for the kindness.
The new Alabama Shakes album is blowing my mind right now. Best thing I've heard in a long time. Check this out, if you haven't yet. I'm hooked.