Greetings from somewhere in North Carolina, not to be confused with South Carolina, or, as the Sammies sometimes call it, "North Carolina, Jr." The scenery is constant, like the background on one of those Road Runner cartoons where the same three rocks and shrubs pass by over and over, only here it's a never-ending succession of churches, kudzu, gas stations, deflated barns, firework stores and discount cigarette stores, often in this same building, which is a lot like putting a knife store next to a marriage counselor, which is to say: not the best idea. But the drives through here and Virginia and the rest of the "real South" are always my favorites of the tour, unless that drive happens to be between two and five in the morning and you're listening to Pat Benetar, drinking coffee a trucker made himself at a 24-hour gas station with recycled grounds on an after dinner snack of Taco Bell and Krispy Kreme. If the drive happens to be like that, you feel like there's a few dozen grnomes in your stomach having a gang fight.
It's much better today after some sleep, a homemade breakfast, and coffee that didn't remind me of a Liquid Plumber commercial. We're on our way to Wadesborough North Carolina, childhood home of our erstwhile tourmates, the abovementioned Sammies, to play at a venue they've rented out since, apparently, Wadesborough is not known for a bustling music scene. I always enjoy going to somebody's born-and-raised hometown with them: you get a good perspective on anyone that way. Plus, North Carolinian country-ness is far more interesting than, say, Fresno. No offense Fresno. You do have some amazing stucco chinese restaurants.
Since we last spoke, we've been to our nation's capital and Virginia for a total of three shows. Washington was Washington, which is to say, a perennial favorite. The crowds there are always exceedingly enthusiastic and the beer is always exceedingly free. I saw my godfather there for about three minutes, though it was late and he was sloshed so, that explains the three minutes thing, I guess. I'm always at a loss when I talk about D.C., since we never seem to have any problems with anything there (knocks fake wood on dashboard) and we always feel so happy afterwards. After all, what's more synonymous with dependable and universally lovable than Washington D.C.?
The next evening we found ourselves in Fredericksburg Virginia, not to be confused with Fredricksburg Virginia although, truth be told, I might have already confused that. It's always a strange proposition traveling to a new place for the first time, playing a venue you've never been to, praying there are at least a couple other bands there so you won't be playing only to a bartender who's chewing out her boyfriend on the phone during your set. Sometimes you get lucky; sometimes you play to that bartender. We didn't play to that bartender in Fredericksburg though. For one thing, there was no bar. For another, Fredericksburg was, quite simply, fantastic. We played in a venue built in 1790, which, if you're keeping score at home, means it's 14 years older than America itself, and we played to a room of kids who weren't afraid to dance around, have a good time, and not throw things at our faces. Plus, the local band, Rocky's Revival (great name by the way) were one of those bands where all the kids are like sixteen years old and just rock the hell out and end up making you feel like you should be eating dinner at 4:30 and giving out hard candy to the neighbor's boy. If exploding bass amps, corroded batteries, and Canadian border extortion are the unhappy surprises of the tour, Fredericksburg ranks among the happy ones.
Last night was a bit odder. Instead of an ex-antique shop built when John Quincy Adams was knee-high to a grasshopper, we played in a six-month old restaurant cum venue in Norfolk. We played for our dinner, like some old tyme tap dancer, and stomped around for the Sammies. The sound onstage was a wee bit screwball so I'm going to assume we played exceptionally and then interrupt anyone who says anything contrary.