I left Tuesday morning, August 15th, heading for Lexington, KY about 9 am. After feeling like I was NEVER gonna git outta West Virginia I finally arrived to town about 6 pm. I met my friend Scott Luallen, singer for Nine Pound Hammer, down at the club and we headed straight to the liquor store. I got a bottle of wine and he got a 12 pack of Tecate and some Jose Cuervo pre-made Margaritas and we went from there to the golf course, at which, I proceeded to kick his ass up and down the fairway. We stopped at a Mexican joint, Clamato for drinks afterwards and then went home to pick up his wife, Amber. The three of us went to another Mexican joint, Jalapenos for dinner and I got some wacky red snapper thing that was wonderful. By then it was late and we headed back to their house and watched some episodes of “12 ounce Mouse”. Scott does voiceovers for one of the characters. It’s on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network.
I laid in bed late the next morning in a slight bit of pain from all the drinks but it was great not having to drive or do anything until TheYayhoos showed up for soundcheck around 7 pm. Scott and I went to his favorite place for lunch, a place called Hattie's, and you oughta hear Miss Hattie reel off them vegetables of the day! Whew! And then, just as he’s telling me that Sam Bowie (famous for being chosen BEFORE Michael Jordan in the NBA draft) eats there a lot, the guy walks in. Damn, he’s tall!
So later I met the guys down at The Dame and we did the usual, soundcheck and then dinner. It had been a while since our last Yayhoos show but it seemed like only days since I’d seen’m. We fell right in with our usual van jive and catching up on our personal lives down at the heavenly Denny’s on Newtown Pike. The show was a lot better than I thought it would be, none of us had really forgotten too much. After some car trouble (some damn belt kept flying off!) we finally pulled away from the club and got back to the lovely Quality Inn around 2:30.
Thursday morning we dropped off our cars (Dan and I drove to Lexington to start the tour from there) at Scott’s house and headed to Newport, just an hour and a half away. Southgate House is a really old place, visited by Andrew Jackson back in the day if that tells you anything about its age. But it’s most famous for being the birthplace of Brig. Gen. John Thompson, inventor of the Tommy gun. Jerry Lee Lewis and the Big Bopper also had played there. I really like the opener, The Kentucky Struts. Four guitar players that didn’t get in each other’s way, they sounded like The Band’s “Basement Tapes”, which is a good thing in my book. Not many folks there, but we gave’m their money’s worth, almost 2 hours of rock ending with an acoustic version of Neil Young’s “Helpless”.
Friday morning came too early as we had to leave at 8 am for a noon radio show at the Nation Public Radio station in Louisville, WFPK. The host of “Live Lunch” Michael Young and the folks there were cool. Drums and amps were waiting. A few quick adjustments and a check of the mikes and were ready to go. We usually don’t do noon but this was different. It was just as important if not more so than the gig. We rocked that bitch too (although Roscoe had trouble keeping it together because of a dude in the third row with mayonnaise all over his face) and in the process Dan blew out his voice. Keith and I kept our sunglasses on as a public service to those who were trying to eat.
We got to the hotel and most of us crashed. We went to one of those chain places for dinner, Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Outback Shithouse or one of them sumbitchs. Afterwards we went to..da da da daahhh!!..WAL-MART!!! Keith got a shaving kit that I wanted to beat him up for (it was pretty cool and he kept rubbing my nose in it!) and I went to the pharmacy and got a couple of Clif bars that I later lost for a few days. Coming out I wanted a water and after having gone through the line already I decided to get one in the machine outside. I put in my $8 or whatever it was for bottled water, I’m waiting…..still waiting…I hear it! Bllbllbbmmp! There it is!...a damn DR.PEPPER!! Bitch! I did not want YOU! I wanted a water! I was f-ing pissed! I started cussin’ about it and a lady walkin’ by sez, ”Ain’t that a bitch!” so I just handed it to her and she was all like "Damn, thanks!".
We got to the club (Headliners) and there were 3 bands. The line-up for the show was El RooStar, Bodeco and then us. Bodeco was great. I’d seen’m a few years back when the OakTeam played with’m at Sparklefest. I loved’m then and just as much this time. My man Gene on drums laid down a fat-ass backbeat and the guy up front, who’s name I didn’t catch, looked like he had never played guitar in his life. It was like he was looking at a Mel Bay book as he played but he sounded awesome. Simple can be awesome. Remember that.
Well it was our turn and Dan’s voice was nowhere to be found. He looked for it in a glass of Maker’s Mark but it wasn’t there. This was Dan’s second “wild sip” of the year. He struggled through the show but we all played well and I personally had a great time. Driving over from Evansville way was my friend, John Holcomb. He’s a writer (Amplifier, Harp) that’s always been kind to the OakTeam and the Yayhoos as well as my very own self personally. But we had never really met face to face, only exchanging Emails for…hell, years. It was great to finally hang with him. We sat together, shaking and grooving to Bodeco.
We did our Waffle House thing on the way to the Mucklewain Festival we were to play on Saturday. It rained a lot that morning and we were kind of hoping that the bottom would fall out so we could take the day off with pay and let everyone get some rest, especially Dan’s voice since he sings 70% of the songs. But we got there in plenty of time, despite getting a bit lost, and the rain held off for most of the rest of the day with just a few sprinkles here and there. The people putting the thing on were to say the least...a bit unorganized. They never returned calls or Emails so we had to kind of find our own way there. At the gate, Dan hopped out to see where we were supposed to unload. We were on the side of the road and there was a steep dropoff beside us. Just as I was telling Dan to be careful he took a tumble. Next thing I knew he was on the ground and Roscoe's side mirror was broken. Huh? What the hell?
Our set was fun but maybe disjointed. I started “Bottle and a Bible” in the wrong tempo and needed Dan’s guidance to even remember the damn thing. It was a plenty hot and sticky out there and when we were done I was actually able to TAKE A DAMN DRANK! which I had been too busy to do since leaving home. I was finally able to drink the wine that I had bought in Lexington as I walked around and checked out some of the other great bands.
Miraculously, we made it back to the hotel and at a descent hour too. The next morning we left Oak Ridge for Nashville at straight up noon. We were staying at the Days Inn there on Broadway so there was no real hurry to get there (it’s a bit skanky!). Soundcheck was at 6 and it went pretty well. It was a little loud, but what the hell. We practiced a couple of the Neil Young songs we had to do in Bethesda on Wednesday. “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” was ready for public consumption so we pulled it out for the encore that night, completely tearing the roof off of the place after a very energetic show without a setlist. We started the night with “Comes to Me Naturally”, Big Al’s classic, and never looked back. Speaking of Big Al, (and I realize I’m jumping around a bit chronologically but..) after soundcheck he met us at Las Palmas for some Mexican food and just to hang out and catch up. It was good to see the ‘ol boy. He’s doing great and is getting ready to go back out on the road (which he HATES!) with Vince Gill (who he LOVES! ..for doing so many of his songs). So anyway! After the show we celebrate Roscoe’s birthday a little more by going to The Boundry and visiting our favorite bartender, Tim. He keeps the music coming. When he’s not pouring drinks, he’s over there with the I-pod dialing up some Replacements, Ray Charles, The Beatles or something else for us to rock to. It’s a cool hang out.
We drug Keith back to the hotel with us as we all (minus Dan who lives there) crawled back on our knees drunk. When the morning came Keith was not in his room. He ended up going back out and hangin’ with former Bottle Rocket, Robert Kerns. It was 2 crazy bass players on a mission and they must have achieved said mission cuz Keith was feeling rough the next day. He slept all the way (getting up for only one pee break) from Nashville to Raleigh, 9 hours. Grace and my younger son, Nathan picked me up at the Red Roof and we took the “AutoBunn” (the new Raleigh to Bunn expressway!) back home. I had tons of laundry to do as most of the gigs were really hot and my clothes were full of sweat! Yuck!
The gig in Raleigh had a lot to live up to if The Yayhoos were gonna be as good as they were in Nashville. But we had my buddy Jac Cain running sound so our monitors were a LOT mo’ better than they had been at The End. Grace and the kids came but I didn’t get to see much of them, being grabbed and pulled aside by the hometowners. I think we really hurt some feelings that night. I got the impression that a lot of guitars and drums were being exchanged the next day, from bands that had decided to give up and other musicians that were inspired to try harder. It was a pretty awesome show and I received a lot of Emails declaring us the Champs.
Wednesday morning my Dad came by and gave me a ride. I had to meet the guys in Wake Forest and we were to continue north to Bethesda. Keith didn’t look well. He had been over to Slim’s after the Pour House show. That place always guarantees a hangover. We went over to Applebee’s and had lunch before continuing on and he had a couple of quick glasses of red wine. That was the last we heard outta him until the Fort Lee, Va. exit headin’ over to 295. He staggered a bit heading into the Burger King for a pee and we were a little bit worried as to whether he would be able to muster up 15 minutes of rock that night.
The Neil Young Tribute was an easy enough gig, pick 3 songs and play’m. We got the royal treatment. They gave us a parking spot right beside the stage, great food, cold beer and waters, hotel rooms and some moola! It was a beautiful night and the crowd of well…a LOT! (maybe 3000? I don’t know) showed their love as all of the acts did their thing. We finished the night with “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World”. We was loud! But I think they were ready for it. Most of the songs before us were pretty quiet, some even used strings, cellos, violins and shit like that. My buddy, Parthenon Huxley, who does the Jeff Lynn part with ELO came up to me after the show. I had forgotten that he lived in Chevy Chase now with his wife and daughter. It was great to see him. He said he was leaving soon to go play Russia. Good luck, man!
I had gotten a pretty good case of chiggers back at the Mucklewain thing and them bastards would NOT die. I took a walk the next morning to the pharmacy for more clear finger nail polish to smother them with. I was having a rough time with them suckas that day and kept the truck smelling of polish on the short ride from Bethesda to Arlington.
We got to our rooms and it felt like we were in the BAD part of town. All of the rooms looked gutted, with furniture and mattresses thrown out into the breezeway. After some Chinese and a nap, we headed to soundcheck at the Iota. We love that place! Just down the street there’s a Whole Foods for us hippie types AND an Apple Store for us geeks. Plus the people there are cool, and it has usually been packed for us, as it was to be this night also. It was another “freelance” gig in that we did it sans set list. We would just call the next song out at the end of the previous one and jump right into it, something we had done since Nashville. What a blast! Someone brought up Jager shots and after them I felt like I could do no wrong. “Everything/Anything” was especially good. I think that was in response to how bad we had played it in Raleigh (but that just made it funnier!).
DC to Cleveland is a good 6 hours so van call was 10 am. Roscoe and I had a room beside a WWE Smackdown/Crack Party that was going on until about 6 am. They were screaming, hollering and partying like there was no tomorrow. I just threw a pillow over my head about 3 am and suffered through it, hoping not to get shot as I tried to sleep.
Dan drove most of the way to Cleveland as Roscoe navigated and worked on the phone trying to get us rooms closer to the club. The Beachland Ballroom is not really in downtown Cleveland. It’s out a ways and we usually stay at the Hampton Inn on Euclid Ave. but it had been downgraded to a Comfort Inn and we were confused. Anyway, we ended up at a very nice Holiday Inn, though it was a bit more expensive. We deserved it though after stayin’ at that dump in DC.
The show in Cleveland was a bit like pulling teeth but we made it through without embarrassing ourselves. Well, except for ALL of us forgetting the words to (an attempt at) “Frozen Head”. The openers, The Jack Fords were really great. Bobby played his gold top that he bought from ‘Scoe.
So the day we had all been waiting for finally came, Saturday in Wapakoneta, OH!!! On the way outta Cleveland we stopped and ate at one of the worst new chains around, Buffalo Wild Wings. We gave it 8 thumbs down and got the hell out but not before I noticed on one of the TV screens overhead that there was an upcoming "Cornhole Tournament". Hmmmm.....
Ron and Terry have a really cool place out on Old 33 near Wapak and people come from all over to check it out. Rhythm and Brews is a restaurant (pizza to die for!) by day and Rock and Roll Heaven (still serving food) by night. Some really great bands have come through there. We decided to do 2 sets to prolong the fun and so that we could hang out with the locals who are great about buying stuff. The drinks were flowing and I was definitely not having any of that DON’T DRINK AND PLAY jive.
By the second set I was drunk and screwing up left and right, but we all were having such a blast it didn’t matter… even when “Little Bit” fell completely apart! (My Bad!) My friends, Scott Luallen and Brad Scott drove up from Lexington with my van so as to save Roscoe from having to drive us back to our cars on Sunday. They both got pretty plowed and ended up staying up with Keith all night. So needless to say, they were pretty worthless the next day and hard to get up.
We drug their asses outta bed finally about 10 am and the four of us headed back towards the Bluegrass state and I had every intention of making it back to Bunn, NC by midnight. Dan drove my van back to Lexington to save me from driving until then. There, he got in his black Honda CRV and hightailed it back to NashVegas. I still had 9 hours ahead of me. I was NOT going back through West Virginia, no offense but…(Hell, take offense I don’t care!) I just didn’t wanna go there any more on this trip! So I took I-75 on down to Knoxville and then 40 East back home. I was doing OK (although I was still tripping a little from the Jager shots the night before) until about Asheville. I stopped at Moe’s for a fish taco and some unsweet tea. Just before Statesville I hit a brick wall. Well not literally… I just ran outta gas. Well not literally…what I'm trying to say is that I GOT REALLY TIRED!... so I stopped at a rest area and closed my eyes for a minute or 15. I shook myself as I felt my body getting heavy. That was all I needed to make it the rest of the way. After 14 hours on the road, I snuck in about 12:15 am and everyone was fast asleep. The next morning Nathan woke me up with a big hug before heading off to school and I got a kiss from Grace before she left for work. There were no gigs on this day and I was OK with that…..well….for a while anyway.