Thursday, November 3, 2011

St. Louis and home!

Hey do you guys wanna know who likes baseball a whole lot?  St. Louis!  Yeah Woo!  And guess what,  the last two games of the World Series were scheduled the same two nights we were in town!  And the St. Louis Cardinals were IN the World Series and the World Series was IN St. Louis!  See where I'm going with this?

So there weren't a whole lot of music fans out in the bars while we were there.  The first show in town was at the Crack Fox with Mason Reed and Brown Bottle Fever, and it was awesome and the dudes were super nice and hardly anybody was there.  Seriously a really cool show though.  Here's a Crankshaft shot.

Billy from Brown Bottle Fever was so nice and let us park in his driveway and use his electricity and everything!  We didn't even get back there til around 3, then crashed until around 10.  We woke up super hungry and knew nobody else would be up for hours so we found a Denny's to eat at and use the internet.  We were jerks and stayed til like 130, then decided to go see the Arch.

It is a really impressive building.  Is it a building?  I mean, you can go up to the top of it, and it was built by someone I guess.


So it was super rad from the ground, and Alex really wanted to go to the top.  I'm afraid of heights and claustrophobic but I was like, this is a thing I can do, mind over matter and all that, plus I thought it would be cool to see the city from way up there.  So we bought tickets and went to get in line, where they play you a video and show you how it was built and all that jazz.  That's when I learned that you have to ride in this tiny little car with four other people to get to the top, for FOUR WHOLE MINUTES, and there are windows in the car, so the whole time you're going up you get to look at all the stairs you'll have to climb down if the thing gets stuck and all the rickety metal and old welders that they use to patch the thing back together, probably every day.  I was trying hard not to enter full panic mode, but I thought I was going to barf on that nice other couple.  Somehow I didn't barf, and I didn't even cry, just shook a lot, like a Chihuahua or something.  So then we got to the top and I felt like I might pass out, but I just talked to the people that work up there (there are people that work up there everyday!  and they take that terrifying car up there everytime!) and that made me feel better and I relaxed a little.  I even stopped shaking long enough to take this picture of Alex exhaling a barge!  We're clever.

Then I had to get the hell off that thing and smoke.  We hung around in the park there for a little while longer and decided to go to the venue for that night, Three Kings Pub, which is down by the University.  Leaving downtown we hit a bunch of traffic, possibly due to this:

That is a crappy cell phone pic taken through our bug-covered windshield, but you get the idea.  When we got across town we somehow scored primo parking right in front of the venue, then decided to take a nap for a few hours.  Every single person walking down the street was talking about the game, it was nuts.  And it only got nutsier when they won.  Airhorns aplenty!  Drunk and screaming college kids! Yeah!  We thought this would be a good thing because people would be in a good mood and stuff, but it turns out that almost no one at the bar was into music really, they were all sportsfans.  Go figure.  Alex was supposed to play at 10, but because of the game he didn't go on til 11:15. 

He only played for an hour an a half and still got the guarantee though, so that was cool.  We sold a few cds and a few people got up and danced.  Not a bad show, but not the best way to end the tour either.  After we loaded up, we found a Walmart to park in and bundled up in extra clothes and all of our blankets against the 38 degree night.

Then we woke up at 8 am and made for home.  It was boring and flat and we barely stopped, so no photos.  Eleven hours later, we pulled up to the Crankstead and greeted our frantic Fender dog and the venerable KP .  Then we slept and slept and slept!  The End.

Oh, and come see us on Sunday at the River City in Anoka from 6-10 for the homecoming show!  We missed you!

The road to St. Louis- Mississippi Delta

We had four driving days to cover the 650 miles to St. Louis from New Orleans and decided to take Highway 61.  It was the first time on tour that we actually felt like we were on a road trip because we only drove about 200 miles a day and had plenty of time to stop and look at sweet stuff.  Our first stop in Mississippi was this old town called Woodville and I noticed a little brown sign that said "Mississippi Blues Trail Site" with an arrow, so we followed it and found a marker with a bunch of info about Blues dudes from that town. 

I did some research on my phone and found out that these markers were made and placed all over the state, so we made it our mission to find them.  That night we stayed in Natchez State Park, and before we went "home" for the night we stopped and explored the town.  They have an awesome park right next to the river, and a gnarly bridge!

At the visitor center we scored a map of all the blues trail sites, then we went to the historic downtown and read a few markers.  The architecture reminded me a lot of New Orleans and a shop owner told us that most of the buildings are from the early to middle 1800s.  I would have loved to see more of the town, but we were both feeling sick and it was getting late so we called it a night.

The next day our camping destination was Clarksdale, about 200 miles away.  We stopped for another bass drum photo before we left the park--it was such a pretty drive!

This is a sweet old building in Port Gibson, right by the Rabbit Foot Minstrels Blues Trail marker. 

Then we drove through Vicksburg.  We didn't walk around there because it seemed like everything was under construction.  We did drive along a stretch of road by the river that had tons of murals with the town's history and that was pretty cool.  Also, we checked out the Highway 61 Blues Trail marker. 

Next we stopped in Rolling Fork, birthplace of Muddy Waters.   Here's an old shanty that was next to his marker, brought in from a plantation years ago.

We stopped in Leland and met the mayor while we were reading Johnny Winter's blues trail marker.

Then we walked across the street to the Highway 61 Blues Museum and met Pat Thomas, son of James "Son" Thomas.  He was incredibly nice, very talkative, and a bit loopy.  He played some songs with a dude that drove down from Memphis to see him, then gave us a couple of his cat head dominoes (he's also a folk artist that specializes in cat drawings--that's him on the right). 

Also Alex got hassled for change and a cigarette by a guy pretending to be deaf.  We went and got some Mexican food for dinner then drove the 45 more miles to Clarksdale without stopping.  When we got there we could not find the stupid campground because my phone couldn't find the road it was on.  Turns out it was at the fairgrounds in town, so we drove by and it seemed adequate and then we headed downtown to try to find some music and a drink.  Downtown was deserted.  As we were driving past the third or fourth club that was closed (it was a Tuesday), Alex hollered out the window at this old hippie/mountain man lookin dude that was walking down the street.  He told us that there wasn't music anywhere on Tuesdays in Clarksdale, but he brought us to the Hopson Plantation Commissary, which was open and totally awesome.  I must have been totally wiped because I didn't take any pictures and that place was soooo cool!  Here's the website: 

We talked to him (Ed) and his wife (Tobi) for a while and found out that they're traveling artists/vendors at lots of music festivals.  Tobi is a potter and Ed makes amazing pieces out of old silverware.  Check out his site:  They were parking at the Hopson that night and let us park next to them, which was super awesome and also free. 

The next day we went to the Mississippi Delta Blues Museum and walked around town a little.

This shop is actually named after Pat Thomas' art.

Front door of Ground Zero.

Sweet stencil on the side of a building.

Cool old lamppost.

And the old Greyhound station.  I'm pretty sure it's a museum or visitor's center or something now.

We left around 11 and rattled out of town to St. Louis!
Mississippi Blues Trail website: