Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Traffic Hat Trick, Carrots, Opossums, and What Happens in Ohio...(tour 1.19-1.21)

Note: The views expressed in this Blog/Journal in no way reflect the ideas or character of Beau Bristow in such cases as they might tarnish the reputation thereof….and what happens in Ohio, stays in Ohio…

It was a sunny January morning. The birds were singing, the breeze was blowing, the air was crisp….and I was throwing 80 pound pedalboards into 70 pound station wagons (okay, there’s only one pedal board and only one station wagon…singular Beau, singular).

I do it every time. I wait until the last minute and then break my neck getting packed and out the door for a gig. I slept about 6 hours and got up Thursday at 5:30 to go to the gym. I knew that I would pay for it, but it is routine, even ritual, and so I found myself sweaty, smelly, just back from a good workout and running like crazy to get things ready to be at Michael Shoup’s by 10:00 AM. I tore down my gear from my practice room and loaded it in my car in 15 minutes…a new record…for my heart rate.

I pulled up at Shoup’s a full 15 minutes late. (Enter Vince, Paul and Michael)

If you know Vince Romanelli, percussionist and ladies-man extraordinaire, then you know enough. If you know Paul Shearer, then you know quality guiataristry. (Yes spell-check, I know guitaristry isn’t a word…back off…)

Now Paul and Vince were with us to back up Michael ( I haven’t done a tour with Paul ever, and it has been a long time since I have done anything with Michael and Vince. All I can say is…it was a blast.

We began by making plans to paint my car orange to make it look like a carrot…a topic that arose subsequent to our throwing baby carrots at each other in the Mapco parking lot…so much for a healthy snack for the road.

Now there is nothing so entertaining as driving behind Michael and Vince, watching their silhouettes play air drums and sing BGVs (background vocals, for the uninitiated) while going down the interstate (we took two cars, Michael led). I was so intrigued that I failed to react when I saw Michael’s brake lights come alive and dart to the side. The result: a head-on collision with five-eights of a blown big-rig tire. We pulled over to scope out the damage and had to tear off the rubber skid plate from beneath the front bumper of my car because it was broken loose on one side and dragging. To make matters worse, I kneeled to look under the car and suddenly realized that there was skin, bones, and a little bit of stench left of a flattened opossum less than 10 inches from my face…so much for a healthy snack for the road… After cramming the skid plate in the car just behind Paul’s head, we were off again….Traffic incident Number 1.

Now I haven’t seen a study, but my experience has led me to conclude that women are the more prevalent perpetrators of road rage and “automobile aggression” (another new term from Beau Bristow). Maybe it’s due to their tendency to overreact, a product of their increased levels of emotion and lower levels of reason. (See disclaimer at top, and send all hate mail to

I had just entered Ohio when I found myself in the far left lane with a large line of faster traffic bearing down on me. Michael was already in the middle of the three lanes, so I gave my signal and after a few seconds began moving over. Now I was aware that there was a car coming up in the middle lane, but I gave my signal while it was at a distance and slowly began merging. Of course they never let up and as soon as I merged they swerved into the right lane, sped up beside me, and pointed at the front of their car, mouthing that I had almost hit it (and saying other things that I couldn’t make out). Now don’t get me wrong, the girl driving the car was cute, in a fascist sort of way, and I probably should have pulled over, built an altar and slaughtered a thousand goats for cutting her off, but that doesn’t excuse her blitzflickin automobile aggression. Apparently I didn’t give the response she desired for her antics, so she floored it and swerved at my car as she passed. Paul’s eyes were as big as crop circles, and she was closer to me than I had been to the dead opossum….Traffic incident number 2.

(By the way, we phoned Vince, since he and Michael were ahead of us, to have him blow the girl a kiss…they never caught up to her.)

We pulled into the Shoup residence in Beaver Creek, OH in time to eat diner and change my guitar strings (yeah, I know…procrastinator). It was great to stay with Michael’s parents again. They are great…the polar opposite to sleeping in the car.

The show at Wright State was a blast, but I was so tired from a busy week and a 5:30 morning that I was half asleep the whole time. Afterwards we hit a club close to campus.

Now this could easily be counted as traffic incident number 3, but I will save that designation for later. For those who know me, you know I’m not a club kind of guy. Yeah I’ll swing dance, or at least try, and I have made a fool of myself to some salsa at least once, but the typical club holds no interest for me. Nevertheless, I found myself dancing with….well…being danced upon, by a very kind soul who I‘m sure will never remember it because her blood-alcohol level was like 75 psi or something like that. I’m glad Vince, Michael, Paul, and Ryan all got a kick out of it, since they went to the trouble of instigating it…and I’m glad nobody got pictures…

Friday morning Vince had to fly to Arkansas for another gig (check out Michael, Paul, and I played a bar in Dayton that night called the Nite Owl. My guitar still smells like smoke, but the crowd was a lot of fun. It’s always interesting to see the things that happen musically from the stage in front of a bar crowd. You’ll try to play anything…once…and it’s amazing how many choruses to Sweet Home Alabama people will sing with you. It’s always fun for everyone, and nobody cares or remembers how bad it is…

Saturday morning I was up in time to get some work done. I co-wrote a song a few weeks ago with Jaclyn Brown ( and have been working on a demo for it to get to a song-plugger. Saturday I did some mixing for the demo on my Powerbook. (Look for a #1 hit by the winter of 2006.)

After a nap we cleaned, packed, ate, and jetted out for Lexington. I hated to say goodbye to the Shoups and home cooking, but Common Grounds awaited. I have grown to really love this little venue just off of the UK campus. Great coffee, a stage, lights, and a crowd of friends. What more could you want? It was a fun show and I enjoyed hanging out with some of my crew afterwards.

By the time I left for Nashville it was 3:30 AM (Eastern). I hit the Bluegrass Parkway, which was barren at this time of night, and loosened the reigns on the “woman repeller” (Matt’s affectionate title for my tour bus...the 70 pound wagon with 7000 pounds of gear). Now the speed limit is only 65, but I felt that it was flexible since there wasn’t even a headlight in sight…at least not until the flashing ones that informed me that I was going 83 (a physical impossibility for a 70 pound wagon with 7000 pounds of gear…and no skid plate). Fortunately, the officer was merciful and gave me a “courtesy ticket.” Traffic incident number 3.

So I wrapped up my little traffic hat trick, and pulled into Nashville at 5:30 (Central). I was up by 7:30 to play for church….exhausted.

That’s it for last weekend. For this weekend it’s Nashville, Auburn, and Birmingham…...bring it!


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