The Turnpike Troubadours getting back together was a big deal in my world. No seriously, a big, big deal.
The tour was announced. I knew I could not make Red Rocks happen this year. Cain’s sold out immediately. Cain’s is on my bucket list of venues to get to. Red Rocks was on that same list before i saw the Avetts and Sturgill Simpson there a few years back.
Another venue on that list is Billy Bob’s in Ft. Worth, Texas. Billy Bob’s website crashed as soon as tickets went on sale. Another opportunity missed. I was able to snag tickets to the Windy City Smokeout later this year with Turnpike, Willy Nelson, Zach Bryan and Morgan Wade. Excited for that one, but still, I was hoping to tick Billy Bob’s off the bucket list.
A couple weeks later, my sister Lydia came to the rescue. She could get us tickets. It’s true, not all superheros wear capes. Or whatever, I don’t ask what she is into. So, I sit and type this from her dining room just outside of Ft. Worth the morning of the Turnpike Troubadours.
But, me being me, I turned this into a little adventure. I actually left Illinois Thursday morning and drove down. The original plan was to stay a night in Memphis. Gov’t Mule was actually playing at Graceland Thursday. Graceland is not exactly a bucket list venue for me, but still cool. Then Warren broke a rib or something and the tour was cancelled. Okay, I guess I could bar hop Beale Street.
Luckily, I had not booked a room yet, because right after that show got cancelled, I noticed Cole Chaney and 49 Winchester were at Exit/In in Nashville. Another bucket list venue for me. A lot of cool bands have come through that venue. Cole put out my favorite album of 2021. I didn’t really mind that he was opening. So, I went to Nashville.
But first, a stop at Gerst Haus in Evansville, for a KBS Hazelnut and a Self-Righteous Black IPA.
I got a room out near Vanderbilt, not far from Exit/In. As a vinyl collector, I appreciated the wallpaper.
Dinner was an uber ride back toward Broadway Street for Whiskey Kitchen. I had considered Bourbon Steak, but knew they had a dress code and I was going straight from dinner to the concert, so that did not work.
Dinner did not suck. Nashville hot chicken, mac n cheese, EH Taylor Single Barrel and Weller 12. Solid start to a night.
On to the show. I got there before the doors open. Exit/In is attached to a craft beer bar, so not a problem. I found a juicy IPA.
After the doors opened, I immediately made m way to the stage front. It’s what I do. One of the advantages of being 5’6″ is people tend to not mind me standing in front of them at concerts. I made new friends. Turns out they are from Cole’s hometown. “Cole Chaney, ya’ll.”
Cole got about a 45-minute set. Opening with my favorite track, Another Day In The Life, and closing with the one that got him noticed nationally, Ill Will Creek. Cole is a legit Appalachian songwriter with a voice that definitely comes from the foothills. He gets the “next Tyler Childers” thrown at him quite a bit. I try to avoid that kind of stuff, other than using it as “if you like this guy, give this other guy a listen”. It’s a useful comparison in that regard.
As for 49 Winchester. I listened to their last album a couple years back. III checked in at number 13 on my 2020 list. But like I said, I was mostly there for Cole. But I gotta say, 49 Winchester puts on a damn show. As I tweeted out during the show, they are a certified bygawd live damn band. The studio stuff comes across as mostly honky tonk country, but live, they give it a cosmic country touch thanks to Bus Shelton’s guitar work. And Isaac Gibson is a genuine front man. High energy, rawkus, having fun and leading his audience along on a good time jolly ride. I came away from the live show a much bigger than I was going in.
On to Friday. Drive day. From Fairfield to Springtown, Texas is 12 hours, according to the googles. It is 11 from Nashville to Springtown. So maybe Nashville wasn’t exactly on the way.
But first, breakfast:
I’ve driven to Denver a couple of times. I’ve driven to Baltimore. Those all had people with me. This trip was solo. My longest such. And I managed to turn an 11 hour drive into a little over 13. You see, what had had happened was…
I stopped for lunch in Memphis. Rockn’ Dough Pizza Brewery. I got a cauliflower crust Get Lift’d. Dough was a little soggier than Dimaggio’s cauliflower crust, but the toppings were generous. I also had another IPA and a Blue Note 17.
Lunch was solid, but it also set me back. Getting out of Memphis at lunchtime was not quick. And it also put me hitting Little Rock at 5 p.m. Not great timing there either. Two interstate crashes ahead of me later and I hit Dallas around 9 p.m. I gotta say, getting through a construction-riddled Dallas night your first time, without a co-pilot, was not fun. I missed 2-3 turns simply because I couldn’t get across lanes.
After spending 13 hours in a car alone, I would like to give a shoutout to Audible, Spotify, all my podcast friends, and maybe an episode of Knight Rider or two.
I pulled into my sister and her husband’s place closer to 11 p.m. We caught up for a bit. I crashed. Luckily, in bed, not somewhere in Dallas earlier.
As for the Troubadours, to be continued…