Editor's Note: Smile Politely is bringing back tour diaries, in which local bands report back from wherever their tours take them.
It’s Day 5 of our trip. We’re in Birmingham, AL crashing with some friends from the Steel City Jug Slammers. We drove in yesterday from Jackson, Miss., about three and a half hours, and shared a show with the Jug Slammers. They are a Jugband. They feature any combination of: banjolin, 4 string banjo, 6-string banjo, guitar, washtub bass, kazoo, and jug, sometimes 3-jugs at once. They recently won the Minneapolis Battle of the Jugband, and were just featured on Prairie Home Companion, check them out. The show was fun despite it being a dry party (the bar did not get their liquor license in time and was banned from being BYOB). Now, waking up in our friends living room in a house full of half-awesome-half-broken instruments, we find ourselves with a rare day-off and the forecast is for rain all day. But that's fine.
In the last 5 days we’ve put just shy of 1,300 miles on the van, and performed 5 shows. This is our 4th time hitting the road for 2+ weeks away from home and we’ve already had some great moments. We started with a string of shows in Illinois, warming the stage for national acts The Jeff Austin Band and Here Come the Mummies. The second night playing with Here Come the Mummies in Peoria was packed with folks ready to have a good time. That show had over 1,000 people at it, the largest crowd we've played for. A highlight of those shows was hanging backstage with a gang of mummies, trying to play an instrument, their invention, the Cowbelt. Google it.
After our night in Peoria, we had about 10 hours of driving and an early soundcheck the next day in Jackson, Mississippi. We decided to split up the drive, knocking out a couple hundred miles at night before getting a few hours of sleep in southern Illinois and then finishing with eight more hours of driving. By the time we pulled in, we were far enough South to leave our jackets in the van. It was warm, we were on the road, and it was time to load, so despite soreness, and that gross feeling that comes from sitting backseat all day, we switched into go-mode and made way for a great show. There were several other bands on the bill, including Buddy and The Squids, Mississippi’s only instrumental-surf rock band. It was a classy venue, great sound, soft-lighting, lots of seating, a disco-ball. 'Twas a romantic Valentine's Day with Bones Jugs. We sold some merch to a cute older couple who were secretly buying each other little gifts from our case. Our set was short, only 45 minutes, so we stuck to our guns and delivered all the hits. No ballads, just the hits. The sound system was nice and clear so the crowd really tuned in. In addition we had an awesome host in Jackson, warm showers and clean towels, cots, and the whole treatment, even a dish of candies from Korea and South America. Sugar.
Now we find ourselves in Alabama kicking it with the Steel City Jug Slammers and figuring out what to do with a day off, mostly like relaxing, napping, eating, emailing, reading some video games, noodling around on instruments, indulging in some fresh aero-pressed coffee*, and perhaps a trip to the local flea market to scout out jugs. In a few more days we’ll be in Louisiana for shows in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and LaFayette, then we’ll head over to Texas. Still lots of miles ahead of us so we’re pacing ourselves, doing our best to be eating healthy, staying hydrated, and getting as much sleep as possible. So far our spirits and health are holding up and the shows are going well. The name of the game is to do our thing, keep our eyes on the road and the rest will take care of itself.
Always more info on our website and Facebook page, feel free to drop us a line with any questions, comments or concerns. Let us know if you want to hear about anything specific for our next tour diary!
P.S. This week, we, along with our friends at Urbana Basement, have released videos of the C-U Folk and Roots kickoff party at Krannert from Novemeber 2014. We are joined by the American-Songster himself, Dom Flemons. Enjoy!
*We always travel with grinded beans from Columbia Street Roastery, special thanks to Erin Erdman, the coffee queen. Oh, if you make her acquaintance ask to see her Bones Jugs tattoo.