Editor’s Note: In Tour Diaries, local bands write to report back from wherever their tours take them, for better or for worse. In this edition, Tara Terra recaps the first half of their tour.
Embarking on our first tour as a band, we congregated to attempt the challenge of fitting seven people in a minivan. Our first show, originally set to be in St. Louis, was cancelled so we used our first day to travel to Nashville and pick up Boswell and Joey on the way from their familial obligations. We met up with Boswell in Effingham and then relied on Spotify for sanity as we dealt with traffic to get to Lambert Airport (and debated whether The National are good or not), where Joey had been stranded for hours at a terminal playing Rollercoaster Tycoon and drinking $6 airport beers (he survived; it’s a miracle).
Our car is officially pro-The National, and Boswell does a great impression of them if you were curious.
We arrived at our lodging location with some family friends where we surprised Emily with the task of making homemade hand-cranked ice cream to celebrate her birthday. Cookies and cream — her flavor of choice! So, even though we didn’t get to play on her birthday, she had a pretty dope time.
Our morning in Nashville was an absolute blast, partially due to our awesome tour at Blackbird Studios (Mark Rubel, formerly of Pogo Studios, was our expert tour guide). We got to witness some of the most top-notch recording equipment/spaces in the world and one of the largest microphone collections. So, naturally Colin was geeking out, and so were we. One day maybe we’ll get to record in such an awesome space, but for now, our basements and (the amazing) Earth Analog will have to do.
Later, we walked around and had some real Tennessee barbecue. And dared each other to eat entire containers of hot sauce. No one was up to the challenge.
The show itself was…surprisingly successful. Many of us (Emily, Colin, Nick, Bos, and Ray) have never toured before. We sort of expected a dingy bar show with maybe two or three patrons, but the High Watt was packed. It’s an upstairs venue in Mercy Lounge, and even on a Monday night the room was full of awesome vibes.
We got a fifteen minute set — fifteen minutes, you ask? Why only fifteen? Because there were so many bands we couldn’t even count! The short sets added a lot of variety and gave us such an awesome preview of Nashville’s local underground talent. We’re thinking of bringing the short-set showcase idea back with us to C-U!
We met a bunch of extremely talented and nice bands: Tomás Gorrio, Lauryn Peacock and our new friends Bears & Company. We shared wisdom of the road and good times. Check them out at thebearsandcompany.com, we’re hoping to work with them in Kansas City and C-U very soon!
After a quick meeting at a business co-op (free coffee!) and a chance run-in with our bros from Bears & Company in a Nashville parking lot, we hit the road for Johnson City. Nobody in the band was too familiar with the area, but our short drive through the downtown confirmed our silent hope that tonight would be one of our weirder shows. Johnson City was a dense collection of brick facades and taco joints separated by three and five-way intersections. I was instantly reminded of Canton, Ohio — fairly deserted, but with plenty of opportunities to make art and meet some interesting people. And we definitely met some interesting people.
Our venue for the night was The Acoustic Coffeehouse, a decent-sized space that served coffee AND beer with a full dinner menu. It was one part heaven, one part Red Herring. We loaded the gear, ordered some burritos, and readied ourselves for the other acts of the night.
The first band, Angwish, opened up with a few snarling “corporate-rock killing” jams. They were currently between drummers, so the MC from the second act, Valore, joined in on djembe. She then proceeded to absolutely slay her set, a combination of rap and spoken word that resonated with everyone in the band.
Our second set of tour was significantly dialed down, but our energy was unaffected by the lack of volume. The intimate feel of the venue and all of the opportunities for crowd banter made for a laid back show. We walked out to patio and proceeded to meet the fine folk of Johnson City.
All three acts and the majority of the crowd swarmed the patio as we took some pictures, swapped some tour stories, and consumed some beverages. The many personalities of Johnson City joined us in the revelry and showered us with hospitality in the form of tips, laughs and free beer. All in all, Johnson City turned out to be one of the hidden gems of Tennessee, and another memorable show.
We set out from our illustrious accommodation at the Red Roof Inn in Johnson City and found ourselves riding through the Appalachian Mountains on our way to Atlanta, Ga. to hit up Smith’s Olde Bar for a show with Caryn Womack, a country singer who calls Atlanta home. The drive was beautiful, until we got to South Carolina.
I can’t make this shit up — after merely five minutes in South Carolina, we saw a massive warehouse flying five different Confederate flags as well as a woman holding one out of the window of her car on the interstate. That’s dedication. It seemed like she may have seen our license plate and was waving it to thumb her Southern pride in our Yankee faces, but the jury’s still out on that one.
After getting the hell out of South Carolina as fast as humanly possible, we made our way to Atlanta where we immediately had to load our gear up a massive staircase (think Mike N Molly’s, but in the rain). Even so, the venue was insane and run by some of the nicest staff I’ve ever encountered at a live music venue. At this point, we were famished beyond no return and made our way to a fried chicken shop where we had the best chicken and waffles in the world. Guaranteed.
It turns out this show was our opener Caryn Womack’s birthday show, and she succeeded in bringing out a really good crowd. By the time we hit the stage, the crowd was ready to party, and some of our songs even made them get up and dance in front of the stage. All and all, it was a phenomenal feeling to see a room of people feel our music, especially in a city where we knew no one.
After the show (and after engaging in the bar’s $5 all-you-can-drink Sierra Nevada drink deal), we drove to Joey’s aunt’s lakehouse just south of Athens for some much needed rest and relaxation. Atlanta was definitely a dope spot, and while we’ve heard good things about Athens, as well, the ATL will always have a special place in our hearts. Maybe next time we’ll be able to get 2 Chainz on a track.
Check back with us in the coming weeks for part two.
Photos courtesy of Alleya Weibel and Christy Lerman Hunter.