(This is the first part of a sequential tour narrative).
As some of you may know, I have been hired to play bass for Tim Easton on his tour supporting his new album Porcupine. I thought it would be fun to write about the tour so here goes.
Tim flew into Austin Wednesday night and we headed out for Ohio the next morning. By the time we got on the road it was 11am and we didn't really stop until we ate a late lunch in Little Rock. Sam Brown, our drummer to be, told us that we needed to have a soul food lunch at Kitchen Express and I'm very glad we made the effort. I had the two piece dark meat fried chicken plate with stewed okra and green beans with two glasses of sweet tea. Oh yeah. I grew to love this type of southern cooking when I lived in Tennessee and eating it welcomed me back into a part of the south that I haven't visited in awhile. At the same time, I felt like I had successfully made it out of Texas, where the tea is not always sweet and the soul food usually has some annoying Louisiana-infused theme. Not that I dislike coonasss cuisine, I just like to eat it when I want.
Anyway, back in the van with Tim behind the wheel for the first time. We spent a lot of our time in Arkansas bonding over the Beatles. Listening to anthology tracks mainly. It was dark by the time we crossed the Old Man and though Tim had some Alaskan friends in Memphis that night, we decided to keep going. Barely ten miles east of Memphis on I-40 we were welcomed to Tennessee by some of its finest troopers. They pulled Tim out behind the van, asked him our business and then asked me for a corroborating story. They took me to the back of the van where Tim and I signed a waiver that allowed them to search the van. While officer #1 searched the van, officer #2 told us about how much he likes Jimmy Buffett. Once it came out that we were musicians, I guess the guy thought we would like to discuss the musician he most respects. He claimed that though he had been a fan for thirty years, that he wasn't a parrothead. Right. Thankfully he wasn't a dickhead either because they let us go with no tickets or anything. I guess a couple of clean white boys a breath of fresh air after their arrest of a guy with a firearm earlier that evening.
We decided to drive all the way to Nashville and we made it with time enough to drink at three different bars on the west side of town. The Goldrush, The Villager Tavern were both near Vanderbilt while the dingy basement pool hall that ended up being the most fun of the three was more towards Berryhill where we were gonna stay. I had driven most of the way and as thanks, Tim got me thoroughly hammered. He played some pool with some crazy locals and I just hung out, happy to be in Nashville again. Our crash pad for the evening was Alex the Great, the studio where Porcupine was recorded. We spent a few minutes trying to suss out Way Out West but were too spent and crashed out.
In the morning, Robin came over and caught up for a few minutes before we left. Tim played me the Al Kooper Christmas album that had the J & H Productions bit on it. Incredibly funny stuff. That record also had the Buddy Rich yelling tapes which is also infinitely entertaining. We cruised by the Gibson showroom to pick up a backup electric guitar for the tour. It turned out to be a sweet Epiphone Sheraton that may end up being Tim's main ax on this tour. After a bagel sandwich and coffee at Bongo Java we hit the road for Circleville.
The drive through Kentucky was awesome because it was such a beautiful day. Even though there weren't any leaves on the trees due to it still being early in the year, the scenery was exceptional. As we drove through Louisville I spied one of the coolest skateparks I've ever seen. It was all cement and the kind of thing I dreamt about as a kid. On to Cincinnati where I spied the Roebling Bridge but was too far away from it to get a good photograph. Once in Ohio, we called ahead to the restaurant connected to the venue so that our free dinner would be ready for us when we got there. We were running a little late and at this point we were both a little loopy but also very excited about the three piece jams to come.