"Tour de Southwest" aka "The Beat, The Bass & The Garner" aka "Homemade Vanilla Tour"... call it whatever, this tour was pretty damn fun. After a busy week at home, it was time to get the hell back in the van. Set out with Texas-born-and-raised songwriter and leviathan of lexicon Garner Sloan, who aside from only owning one pair of pants, is a hell of a songwriter and doing pretty well for himself, considering he just picked up a guitar for the first time only a few years ago. But still, only one pair of pants.
After a 'sendoff' show in Austin, we started out the run in Garner's hometown of sunny, beautiful Coleman TX, at the legendary Buggy Wheel. This is the same venue where, during my first gig there a year or so ago, I witnessed a middle-aged drunk couple stumble out of the back entrance while embracing passionately. The man, ever the charmer (and not noticing a few of us standing nearby), then says to his lady in his best good-ol-boy-west-TX accent: "baby, get up on the hood of that Mustang and lemme eat your pussy". Go ahead, try saying it out loud without cracking up, I dare you. So anyway, the Buggy Wheel gets weird sometimes, but at least they've got shuffleboard. Also, Garner's parents loaded us up with sandwiches and road snacks.
Spent the next week or so winding through tiny towns in west Texas and New Mexico. Alpine was great, Marfa was better - rolled into town without a confirmed gig (long story..) and no place to play. After wandering around for a spell, Garner decided to go chat up a group of old Mexican guys drinking beer and watching football under an awning in a vacant lot. Best decision of the day. They called themselves the 'woman haters club' ("we actually love women, we just wanna get away from our wives. don't tell our wives that"), gave us some beers and food, and THEN... when we found out the gig we thought we had was canceled, one of their crew got us hooked up with a small beergarden venues across the street, AND offered us a place to stay. (For those of you playing along at home, that's going from no gig and homeless to having a gig and a place to stay within about an hour. The kindness of strangers is never more apparent than when one is on tour.)
Terlingua was amazing, as always. I think that's all I need to say about that. Hiked through Big Bend on our day off, found a hot springs, Mitchell and Garner swam to Mexico across the Rio Grande (which was actually quite un-Grande). Followed a few days later by a few-days stay in my other favorite middle-of-nowhere drunken-hippie-weirdo town, Madrid NM (what's that?! Touring to 2 of my favorite spots twice in one month? They call that living the dream, folks). Great show at Mineshaft, very drunken day off which included an hour show on Madrid's new indie radio station WMRD, and a hike up to the creepy awesome graveyard and scenic overlook.
The next week took us up to Colorado, starting with a badass luxury suite in Breckenridge (too bad the gig was lame... actually, nah, the cool digs were worth the lame gig. 10/10 would do again) and ending up with a few shows in Ft Collins. The great thing about playing Ft Collins is that Mitchell's family always shows up in droves, and they're all rad people. Such was the case on Wednesday at the Tap & Handle, and again on Friday at Swing Station. The other good thing about playing Ft Collins around Thanksgiving is getting a fantastic Thanksgiving feast with Mitchell's folks. The only real downside was Mitchell's decision to take his old-timey bike out on the ice/snow around 3am, which I guess is all relative to how your scale of 'bad idea' to 'adventure' is calibrated. At least he got a bitchin' purple leg bruise out of it. Oh, also.. snow. AHHHHH snow is the worst, and there was lots of it.
Heading back east, we enjoyed a Saturday night at the luxurious Ambassador Hotel in Salina, Kansas. Never heard of Salina, Kansas? That's right, you haven't. The weather was gross and no one came out to the show, BUT, at least there were no DUI checkpoints on the walk to our rooms from our gig in the hotel lobby bar. Fun game for the night - table of 4 was seated right up front, already hammered as we were loading in. So, we made it our goal to get those folks to buy enough drinks to make up for the bar was spending on the band. We figured that way, everyone wins. Well, almost made it... the venue was paying us $300-something for night, and their bar tab came out to $280. I'd say that'll work, and we got a ton of free drinks in the process. See? Win-Win. Headed eastward to hit our old favorite The Westport Saloon in KC, including all the standard rowdiness that we've come to know and love from that venue, plus a Monday off (bowling, haircuts, and the usual day-off activities ensued). We then had our buddies the Haymakers on the bill in Wichita, and also managed a lifetime first of being cut off at a sushi bar (from food, not booze) before the show. It was the first and only time I've had a waitress deliver our (admittedly gargantuan) meal, then return a while later with nothing else to say aside from "Holy shit, you guys are cut off". Maximum fattitude, achieved.
Finished the tour out with shows in OK and DFW. Killer bahn mi at a food truck in Tulsa, and I totally dominated (and spent all my quarters) on the WWF Royal Rumble arcade game. I know you're jealous, and listen, why don't you grow up? Our friend and local fiddle legend Kirsten joined the band for the last two shows in Dallas which was a welcome addition to our surly/smelly trio of road-worn dudes. During the final set of the final show, Adairs Saloon was overrun by a Holiday Pub Crawl - 30 drunken santas, quite a few attractive elf ladies, several suits made of christmas lights, and one amazing duo with some pretty accurate 'Wet Bandits' costumes. Couldn't think of a better way to wrap things up.
After the last show, Mitchell and I had about 4 hours downtime before we had to catch a flight to Indiana, but more on that in a future post. Cheers!
11/11 - Hard Luck Lounge, Austin TX
11/13 - The Buggy Wheel, Coleman TX
11/14 - Railroad Blues, Alpine TX
11/15 - Planet Marfa Biergarten, Marfa TX
11/16 - High Sierra, Terlingua TX
11/18 - Stalight Theatre, Terlingua TX
11/19 - Si Italiano Bistro, Las Cruces NM
11/21 - Mineshaft Tavern, Madrid NM
11/24 - Beaver Run Resort, Breckenridge CO
11/25 - Tap & Handle, Ft Collins CO
11/27 - Swing Station, La Porte CO
11/28 - O'Malley's, Salina KS
11/29 - Westport Saloon, Kansas City MO
12/01 - Barleycorn's, Wichita KS
12/02 - The Fur Shop, Tulsa OK
12/03 - Red Brick Tavern, Norman OK
12/04 - All Good Cafe, Dallas TX
12/05 - Adair's Saloon, Dallas TX