Whew! This last week has been a real roller coaster! Van breaking down, amazing shows, a cancelled show, getting to hang out with great old friends and making fantastic new ones, van breaking down again, etc... I've ended up having to blog about this after the fact, since WiFi connectivity was hard to come by on the road this time.
We left Austin on Tuesday night around 9:30pm and started to head up I-35. Our serpentine belt shredded itself by the time we reached Salado (about an hour out). Not a fantastic start to a tour. Since we couldn't find a 24-hour auto parts store we had to wait til 7:30am the next day and limp the van to an AutoZone 8 miles away in Belton. Got the belt changed in a few minutes and we were on our way again! Unfortunately, due to logistics, there was no way we could make our show in Louisville, KY with that 9 hour setback so we had to cancel that show. That is always a terrible feeling for a band, especially thousands of miles from home.
So, we reached Nashville that night and stopped into watch the Wooten brothers play. They have a jam on Wednesdays and whoever is in town will stop in. We were extremely lucky because all of them were in town, so we got to see Regie, Joseph, Futureman, and of course Victor all onstage together and KILL it! Very, very cool. Of course it got even better when Michael got up and sat in and then Richard did too. We left the jam, elated, and drove through the night (slept for an hour in a rest stop somewhere in Kentucky). We got to Johnstown, PA the following afternoon.
Johnstown, Pennsylvania. What can I say? This is the third time I've been to this town and we've been treated so well every time, that we always look forward to coming back. This time was absolutely no exception. We went down to check out the festival preparations on Thursday night and discussed set-up with all the coordinators and the staging with the sound engineers (always the best idea if it's possible, eliminates unwanted surprises at show time). Went back to the house the Festival had provided for us and slept like babies, really really tired babies.
We met with our small but mighty Street Team the next afternoon and passed off flyers and ST shirts and they went off and did a bang-up job of promoting our shows within the festival. We had a show on Friday night, which happened to be Richard's birthday and his mom and sister traveled all the way for Texas to surprise him. It was a pretty fantastic time and the show was great. We had fun talking to everyone afterward and the Festival got a cake for Richard which we did our best to devour. The show the next day was in the late afternoon and we had a ball again. Chris, Mariah, Richard, and I all got to see Galactic's show from the sidestage. It was awesome. Then I was introduced to Anders Osborne by an old friend (thanks Todd!) and before I knew it, I was playing onstage with him. This was probably my highlight of the weekend. Anders released an album this year called "American Patchwork", I've been digging it since it came out, you don't have it? You should go buy it. Support the artists who make good music! Anyway, jamming with Anders was so much fun, that I'd definitely reuse all my adjectives several times in order to properly describe it, so check out our facebook page in the coming days, there will be pics. (And hey everyone in Texas, don't feel left out, there's talk of an ETB/Anders Osborne show in San Antonio on Dec 3rd at Sam's Burger Joint, maybe more if we can make it happen).
Sunday, we bid farewell to Johnstown again and steered Boss Hoss back towards Nashville. Boss Hoss by this time had become increasingly fond of oil, we had to continually top off the oil (this becomes expensive while driving across the country) and remained ever-vigilant to the pressure gauge. So it looks like I will be fortunate enough to rebuild Boss' motor in the coming months. Yay! We rolled in Nashville around 10pm and went downtown to check out some music. Michael lived in Nashville for 10 years and so we had a fantastic tour guide, I just wished I wasn't so tired at that point. The next day we found that someone had done their best to break into the van during the night. They hadn't succeeded in getting into the van, but they HAD succeeded in mangling up the locks. It is always a horrific feeling as you have the possibilities running through your mind of how screwed you could have been. Luckily they didn't get in and besides, our guitars never spend the night in the van and everything else is too damned heavy to run away with. After we composed ourselves, we drove to downtown Nashville again and went to one of my favourite places on Earth: Gruhn Guitars. We got let into the legendary 2nd floor and saw (and played) some VERY rare guitars. 1960 Les Paul burst with double-white Pickups ($185,000), 1952 Les Paul with the original trapeze bridge ($175,000), and the last amp that Buddy Holly ever recorded with ($80,000+). I played some old strats ('56, '59 maple neck, '65,...) but nothing that really tickled my fancy. We left there and got to see some extremely decent old school country bands and some not-so-decent new country cover bands. That night we played a showcase at Bourbon Street Blues & Boogie Bar. Had a great time, made some new friends and headed back off to Texas...
The next day was a long hot ride home. The van's AC started to weaken by the time we neared Texas and the oil was a continuing problem. Then when we were 30 minutes from home, the fuel pump started to act up. We managed to make it the rest of the way home and I fell asleep almost immediately. Boss Hoss will be getting some much needed maintenance this coming weekend.
Thanks to EVERYONE in Johnstown and Nashville who made us feel welcome, helped us, fed us, drove us around and opened your homes to us. We are eternally grateful and we'll be back to serenade y'all as soon as we can. Hopefully with a van pumping strong AC...