Thursday, October 18, 2007

Day 6 & 7: Tennessee's a brother

Knoxville, Tenn. - Well, we've been on the road a week and we aren't crazed yet. Better yet, we've been in Tennessee two days and I'm still enraptured with the state. It's got beautiful rolling hills, nice people, good whiskey, and (somehow) a low profile. In fact, we staved off road madness during the seven hour drive from Virginia Beach to Johnson City by being enthralled by the pure beauty of the mountains. Good stuff.

We got into Johnson City in fairly good time, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the club was a mix of Austin and Denton, Texas. Pretty familiar. We got moved from our original venue The Acoustic Coffee House (where we were never supposed to play acoustic and whose shirt I actually ended up buying and am currently wearing; also we got some minor press out of the matter) to the conjoined larger club, Next Door. Best of all the set was broadcast live over the Internet, and apparently we got a decent recording out of it. This would be absolutely joyous news if we played half well. We didn't. This was by far our worst performance of the tour thus far, where everything was played slowly and sloppily. All captured on digital sound recording, of course. Our show tonight in Knoxville is actually being recorded, too, it appears, so hopefully we have a couple tracks from each night that we can salvage and package into a "Live from Tennessee" EP or something. That's wishful thinking, though. Anyway, I was most shocked at how liberal Johnson City turned out to be. The entire place was covered in picketing signs and next to the stage was a giant papermache George W. Bush mannequin, and not for the purpose of revelry. I asked the meager crowd if this was par for the course, and they said yes, Johnson City is generally liberal. It's near East Tennessee State University, so it has that Denton vibe to it. The downtown area reminds me of Old Town Lewisville, near where we grew up, a once glorious small town downtown that hasn't updated since the 1940s. Either way, it had a charm that I found immediately attractive. Today we learned that the whole city was a planned endeavor. Interesting that it has a sort of "settled and left alone" feel to it, in that case. If we tour this way again, I'd be all for playing Johnson City again.

SET LIST: You'll Be Crying Soon / On the Lam / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Golden Fleece / Debts / Six Hours / It's Gonna Be Alright / Loose Lips / Shotgun Wedding / Shine A Light

Now the greatest part of the day was that Bruce's excellent girlfriend Jan, who celebrated her birthday on Monday, bought BOTH bands hotel rooms near Johnson City. We tried to make the most of it by purchasing some celebratory alcohol for Bruce's big day, but by the time we got back to the hotel (we didn't leave the club until after 1 a.m. because of an impromptu jam with random players, led by Jeff Katz), most of us were so beat that no hard partying ensued. Instead, we quietly sat around and only raised our voices to weigh the pros and cons of hot button issues: abortion rights, universal healthcare, gun control, the death penalty, and of course, the success of the Celtics and Red Sox. At one point, Matt was so heated about the Sox that he stood on top of the bed and screamed down at Bruce, quite literally condemning him from on high. Scott, meanwhile, hit the bed early after being worn out by a Long John Silvers meal that knocked him out (see above). He ate there again for breakfast/lunch this morning and during the course of the meal, stopped eating, grabbed his chest, and said, "Oww, my heart." Then, he began eating again. No lesson learned, I suppose.

After a lunch stop for the rest of us at a strange little diner in the foothills, Scott drove out to Knoxville. I've never been to Superdrag's hometown before, but it is quite cool, too. It's small and again has that unupdated industrial feel, but I find that intriguing for some reason. We arrived at the club early, called the Corner Lounge (down the street from what I would consider the "other UT," University of Tennessee not Texas), where the owner told us we may be too early. Fine by us, because we can entertain ourselves at music stores and pawn shops. Now, we're back at the club, enjoying our first Shiners since Virginia, free Wi-Fi, and an escape from the Tennessee heat. I'm pretty excited about the show tonight, not just because this is a great venue and totally pro-bands, but because Ed the owner told us that Don Coffey Jr. might have a few folks coming out to see us. If all goes well, this could be our most well-attended show since New London, Ct. We'll have to wait and see, as there are no guarantees. But I believe Ed mentioned that most, if not all, of the door goes to the bands, and they have a fairly loyal clientele that consists of mostly local musicians. This should be a good experience. We haven't even played here and I'm dying to come back.

I feel kind of strange being here in the south, as I'm not sure what we are. Yes, we're a band touring from Boston, but we are out with a country act and we ourselves are considered country. I still have a Texas driver's license. It's tough to explain to the locals. Yesterday, at a liquor store outside Johnson City, Matt and I tried to explain ourselves to a kind female clerk who was interested in the band. She herself had quite a southern drawl, which I always feel makes me talk with a bit of one. Anyhow, as we were leaving, she surprised me by trying a very odd version of a Boston accent, the usual, "Pahk your cah in Hahvahd Yahd" thing. Matt and I stood there, unsure of how to respond because it was so unexpected. Then, Matt said, "No, because then you'll get towed" and he walked out. Strange situation we're in.

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