DAY 4: dumb phone, new band, dead van

(From the road journal’s of Nate Houge’s recent tour to Arkansas and back in his 86 Vanagon)

I started the day by burning my fingers on my backpacking stove while heating up water for coffee. Not cool. In fact, very hot. Rearranging the instruments to make room for company I headed for a nearby coffee shop to get caught up on e-mail and check directions to the airport where I’d be picking up Jonathan Rundman. At the coffee shop a little girl sat down next to me with her mother. She was 6. She was into motocross. She had come in to watch a clip of her on the previous nights news. Check it out:–20110930,0,4917184.story

I love meeting famous people. Speaking of famous people, it was time to meet Jonathan at the airport.  Jonathan and I were doing a series of shows in Fayetteville Arkansas thanks to Clint Schnekloth and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.  Because of Kaivama commitments in MN, Jonathan was flying in for the event.  I used my ‘smart’ phone to get directions to the airport. It lied. After 45 minutes of backroads I ended up at a closed road with no marked detour. After another 15 minutes of driving I ended up at an intersection that I later discovered was about 8 minutes from the coffee shop from which I had set out an hour earlier. Grrr… On a brighter note, I had brought along the Jonathan Richman classic, “Jonathan Goes Country.” (A gift from Matt Marohl, thank you once again!) And on picking up Rundman I put it on the Richman track, “You’re Crazy For Taking The Bus” which has the appropriate line, “You take the plane and I’ll take the bus this time.”

And so we headed back in to town to meet up with our host Clint and his family for some delicious barbeque. Then, as we were just about to pull into the church parking lot my vanagon crapped out. (I think that’s the technical term…) I was able to get her into the lot and there was so much else to do I just left her for later.

We met up with our drummer for the night, a local jazz drummer by the name of Steve Wilkes. In addition to his busy schedule in the local music scene he’s also the co-founder of home brewing’s longest running podcast and instructional website, So in addition to talking about music I was able to pick his brain a bit about home brewing and wild yeast breads too. What a fun guy! (Pun intended.)

We set up for a rehearsal. We rehearsed with Jonathan and myself playing the role of each other’s bass player. We tore down. We drove to downtown Fayetteville. We set up. We played a short rock and roll set for the 100,000+ cyclists that had come to town. Not just to see us… but I get to spin this however I want, right? Sweet. We tore down. We drove back to Good Shepherd Lutheran church. We set up. We played a great set to a full auditorium. We tore down. We packed everything into a Sunday School room so that we could set it all up the next morning in the Sanctuary. Practice and two shows. Wow. But what a blast. It was fun after playing acoustic sets all week to plug in the Tele and be loud. It was also fun to pretend to be a bass player for the night. Always a good time.

Back out to the parking lot and the Vanagon started just great. It even got us halfway to our hotel before crapping out again. This time I was able to feather the clutch and accelerator and keep it moving at all of… 8mph? It was a four lane road. And all our biker fans were on it. Thankfully we got to the hotel with a smoking clutch, a worrisome Nate, and a calm and collected Jonathan who talked me down. It was a good night to have a comfortable bed. Jonathan went out to get something to eat. I went to bed exhausted with an alarm set for 6am to get ready for church. And deal with Our Lady of Disrepair. (That’s our Vanagon’s name.)

Posted: October 14th, 2011
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