We drove by this shrine in rural Mississippi, and immediately turned around to get a photo. We were especially confused by the flags that incorporate both Obama’s face and the confederate stripes. What does that mean? It feels ironic in many ways. Still not sure what to make of it.
Thursday, Feb. 25-Sunday, Feb. 28.
On Thursday morning, after staying in the crappiest motel we’ve encountered thus far, we stopped at a gas station to pick up some milk. As we were sitting in the van, enjoying our granola and orange juice breakfast, we noticed a little dog running along the highway, about to enter four lanes of traffic. Nic handed his bowl of granola to Heather and leapt into action. We were able to lure the little dog out of traffic, and then left him with the gas station attendants, hoping he would find his way back home!
As we proceeded toward Jackson, our friend Gillian reminded us of the Johnny Cash and June Carter cover: “I’m going to Jackson…” We weren’t sure what to expect, but Jackson was a surprisingly magical city. There seems to be a group of people there who are committed to making Jackson awesome. They are promoters of community, music, art, and bikes. One of those people is Lizzie Wright, and we were lucky enough to play an amazing show/birthday party at her house. The place was packed, and everyone was attentive during our set. It was a great night.
We were interviewed for the Mississippi Happening podcast as well. You can find that podcast and some video footage of the show here.
From there, we made a couple stops in Texas. Friday night we played at the Fuel Cyber Café in Humble (near Houston), and then Saturday we drove on to Austin. If you’re ever in Austin, we highly recommend Torchy’s “Home of Damn Good Tacos.” We especially enjoyed the Dirty Sanchez, which included scrambled egg, guacamole, fried poblano chili, and pickled carrots. Yum!
We played an awesome show that night in the backyard at the Annie Street Arts Collective. There was a stage made of scrap wood and Christmas lights hung in the trees above the stage. Chairs lined the yard, with a fire off to one side. Dana Falconberry opened the show, and Annie Street residents Some Say Leland closed out the night.
Sunday held a dreaded drive—1,027 miles from Austin, TX, to Urbana, IL. We stopped near Waco to get gas and kolaches at a place called Czech Stop. Hours later, another break found us at Tops Bar-B-Q in Memphis with some college friends. We made it home safely, feeling exhausted and unprepared for the return to our day jobs.
Thanks for following our journeys. We’re currently learning some new songs and will hit the road again at the end of March!
We began our February respite from the cold with a few days in the Smokies near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where Heather’s sister got married. After gaining a new brother-in-law and spending some quality time with family, we drove further south, playing six shows along the way.
Monday, Feb. 22; Cleveland, TN. It was great to see and play with our old friend Rob Alderman in Cleveland. We met him years ago when our former bands (Winter in Alaska for us, Bigger than Dallas for him) played a show together on a snowy, blustery night in Appleton, Wisconsin. And we’ve just kept in touch ever since.
Last week’s show was at a place called Live on First. It’s kind of like a storefront that is being used as a recording studio with apartments in back. People came, and they were really excited about the music. It was a great way to start a tour. Before leaving town on Tuesday, we checked out the famous chicken salad at a restaurant called Jenkins. Sure enough, it lived up to its reputation.
Tuesday, Feb. 23; Birmingham, AL. Our next gig was a living room show in a super cool downtown loft. The crowd was slim, as we were competing with the television show LOST. Even still, our host Bekah was really great, and we got to entertain a handful of people that night. Birmingham seems to have a good vibe. We learned that it is the “Pittsburgh of the South” (both steel cities), and we recounted the city’s history as a battleground of the Civil Rights Movement. The 16th Street Baptist Church (pictured below) was within walking distance.
Wednesday, Feb. 24; Pace, FL. Next we traveled to the Florida panhandle, near Pensacola, where it was much colder than expected. At one point during our drive, we got caught in a line of traffic. Must have been an accident, we thought. But as we got closer, we could see that a car was blocking one and a half lanes of traffic. Apparently, the guy needed to change his tire right in the middle of the interstate.
Many people at Wednesday’s show wanted to talk about the weather—telling us it had been the coldest winter in 50 years, and that people lost their minds. “It snowed in Florida, and people just went crazy,” we were told. We played in the garage at the Chumuckla House, and much like the night before, it felt like we were sharing music with friends.
For two of these first three shows, we called the host as we were driving into town. In both instances, the host said, “After you take the exit, you’ll see [insert name of fast food restaurant]. Pull over. I’ll be there in about 10 minutes.” We would then caravan to our destination. Though this is a practice we’re unaccustomed to, we felt very well taken care of. Thank you, southern hospitality.