Day 6: Continued
Charlotte, North Carolina always brings a certain friend to mind. A friend I'd really love to see on this trip.
Rodney was just a dude. He played in a lot of bands in Charlotte and worked at music venues. Hell of a guitar player, and also specialized in pedal steel. It seems like everyone in Charlotte knows Rodney. I met Rodney touring with my last band years ago. We were playing Charlotte and didn't have a place to stay. He was running sound at the venue that night and he said we were welcome to crash with him. So we did. Every time we went to Charlotte after that, we would stay with him. After the shows, we'd go back to his place and drink beer, put on some vinyl, and hangout in his tiny place. Maybe fix frozen pizzas, because he would usually make sure he had some for us to eat. He'd break out his special hot sauces from his hot sauce collection. Always a fan of spice, Rodney also pickled his own peppers, and was sure to send a few jars off with us when we left.
There's really no way else to put it, Rodney was the coolest. And the kindest. He never had to let random band dudes stay at his place, but he did. He would say he knows what it's like being on the road and not having a place to stay. It always touched me. Left its mark. And in those acts of Rodney's, and those moments like that between people, is where I think I find God. Or that's what God is. Simple acts of love and kindness, done for no other reason than just that.
I'd love to tell Rodney that. But I won't be seeing him this trip to Charlotte.
Rodney got cancer a few years ago. Despite all his friends raising funds for his medical bills, he did not beat it. After his funeral, there was a parade through the streets of Charlotte. Going from venues he played and to some of his favorite places. People played music, too, a somber but proud jazz funeral. I watched the video of it on YouTube and cried. It's inspiring, really. To leave a mark like that on all those people. Just from being good.
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES • 81° PARTLY CLOUDY
Day 7: DC
Durham NC to Alexandria VA
I've always had a blast every time I've visited Washington, DC (or the DC area, I should clarify, since we are playing in Alexandria tonight). I love DC. The museums, the memorials, the monuments. How do you get a statue made out of you? That's how you know you've “made it.”
But what I love the most about DC is the imagination it evokes in me. Fantasizing the violent adventurism and unseen misconduct. For example, the guy behind you in line waiting for coffee is an international spy who could kill you with his bare hands in the blink of an eye. That hot wasted girl at the bar is some Congressman's daughter who's about to go and OD on coke. The dapper middle- aged gentleman next to you on the hotel elevator? Oh, that's just a senator going to strangle some tranny hooker. And the dude in the lobby with the oversized duffle bag is in charge of disposing of the body.
Everybody, everywhere. In DC.
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES
Alexandria VA to Charlottesville VA (beautiful drive)
Show last night at The Birchmere in Alexandria was alright. I thought we played great. Really sweated it out. But the crowd and the venue were a little weird. Can't put my finger on what it was.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES • 73° MOSTLY CLOUDY
Charlottesville VA to Raleigh NC
Played the Jefferson Theater last night in Charlottesville. Gorgeous venue. A very small and multi-tiered theater. Charlottesville has got some charm, too.
I found some gifts there to take home to loved ones. Some small goldstone skulls for my girl (she'll like that), and a goldstone turtle figurine for our dear friends, the Tortugas (thanks for always watching our dogs). I passed by a massage parlor and thought, what the heck? A little “me” time, huh? So it was great, but I left my little bag of gifts in the parlor. Dammit. By the time I realized it, it was too late and there would not be anything to do about it. Dammit. You try and do something nice for others, but then it's cancelled out by trying to do something nice for yourself.
The frustration sometimes...
I thought our show was great. And the crowd did seem into it. Usually after our shows, people are camped out by the merch table. Buying stuff, wanting autographs, buying you drinks, taking pictures. That kind of stuff. Yet there really wasn't much of that at all. So then you get to thinking. What's wrong here? Did we not just fucking kill it up there? Could you have been better? Then you dwell. How much better do you have to be? The crowd is going absolutely shit-house crazy for Ryan Bingham (which they should, he's incredible), and his drummer is currently god's gift to rhythm. Then you remember you lost those gifts at a massage parlor. Then you have a laugh and make certain you bring everything you got next time (and also don't lose anymore gifts). Because If you lose your heart out here then you'll lose it all.
So, Raleigh tonight. Gotta get after it!
I-64 E, MAIDENS, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES • 70° SUNNY
Day 10: Jillian's
Raleigh NC to Columbia SC to Charleston SC
Show last night in Raleigh at the Lincoln Theater was much better. The crowd was... warmer.
Got up early today to make a radio performance. Driving post-show now from Columbia to Charleston for a morning radio performance. I talked to my mom yesterday, my wonderful mama, for Mother's Day, and she said she thought we had a day off today - because the show in Columbia was not on our website calendar. I told her no days off til it pays off.
Tonight was weird and fun and silly. We played a free show that a radio in Columbia was sponsoring (so technically not part of the Ryan Bingham tour). I guess we were trying to get in good with the radio station, and I think we did. However, the weird thing about it was that it was held at a place called Jillian's. Jillian's is a fine place, but for a rock show? Think Dave & Busters with a band playing on a stage. Wait, that's a little grandiose. Imagine an Applebee's with some pool tables and a few arcade games and a band playing way too loudly on a tiny makeshift stage. Like that.
Although it felt a little awkward, it was a blast. There was really no pressure you can tend to feel at a “real” show, so we just cut it loose at times and let the pieces fall where they may. The small crowd that was there was really into it and appreciate, and everyone who worked there was very sweet. Plus, free food and drinks and games! Definitely indulged in our share of pool, ping pong, air hockey, skee ball, and video games. Can you blame us? So many activities.
I-26 E, SAINT MATTHEWS, SOUTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES • 55° CLEAR