We’re going to start keeping you updated regularly with the Uncle Lucius Road Blog, written by Jonathan “Jonny Keys” Grossman. This is the first of many, and they will be chronicled on the Road Blog page of our website. Enjoy your reading!
Whew! Another dizzyin, rollicking, caterwauling weekend behind us here in Lucius land. The last stretch of road has been breathtaking and heartwarming. A brief roundup:
After a concerted push the past few months in Texas, everybody was pretty pumped to get out of Dodge for a spell. A day-and-a-half’s drive brought us to St Louis- Uncle Lu in the Lou- for a reunion w/ some of our favorite folks and a sweet gig @ the Old Rock House. Situated in an early 19th century building, the House is an ideal venue. Great stage, great sound, fine lines of sight, and some pretty good homemade chow to boot. Some of our buddies from the Gramophone stopped by as well, that venue has been our home away ever since we first made the trek to the river city.
The next morning plied us away from our downtown digs for an early drive to Chicago. We arrived in plenty of time to situate ourselves @ the Scherer’s house. That their name is homonymous w/ ‘sharer’ is no coincidence, and their commitment to joie de vivre would inspire my affection even without their effusive generosity. Jamie and Jason hosted all seven of us comfortably, their living room a sea of inflatable mattresses. Freshened up, we headed west to Berwyn, to the very excellent FitzGerald’s. It was a superlative night, really enthusiastic audience, as always the Chicago crowd knows how to have a good time. All our favorite local folks were in the house for a proper reunion. We left with promises to return soon, which we hope to keep in quick order.
Further north the van then trekked, winding through the heart of the Midwest into Rochester, MN, the town that healing built. Rochester is a one-trick pony, but that trick is the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, whose facilities basically encompassed downtown. We were fortunate enough to play @ the Mayo Civic Presentation Hall, part of the sprawling convention center, through public funds. Among its other strengths, Rochester is a city committed to the arts. It was quite a scene, dodging a state wrestling competition that was taking place elsewhere in the facility. Everywhere were intense parents and their overwhelmed kids. Some Wisconsin homies made the trip down, including Dave and Doreen from Hudson, who deserve a special shout for bringing Mike’s baby Cara Dee a bunny and some pretty new shoes. The hall was gorgeous, a sit-down audience for our rock n roll (much to Jason Scherer’s chagrin!). We’re certainly hopeful we get to make the trip again, in the best of health of course.
Like true believers, we were up and out of our comfortable hotel beds @ 3:45 the next morning for a colossal trek south to Tulsa. If ever was a venue worthy of such a trip, certainly it’s the legendary Cain’s Ballroom. The Grand Ol’Opry of Western Swing, the house that Bob Wills built. Legendary shows literally too many to count, though the walls tell of many. We were blessed to have a raucous house for our very first headlining gig, that old barn was rollicking and rocking all night long. A nice homecoming besides for Nigel, as many of his family and friends showed up to welcome their boy back to town. We shared a fine evening @ his parents’ house, joined by the Scherers and the Ballsers from Dallas, w/ an air rifle shoot-off before the sun went down. For the record, I attempted to fire that thing like a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, to much amusement but little success.
Our opening act for this four gig run was the terrific Parker Millsap, a young Oklahoman whose musical prowess and emotive depth belie his tender years. Seeing him every night was a real pleasure, for besides the great show you got the feeling you were witnessing the beginning of something great. I particularly enjoyed a brand new song of his, which explores some of his friends’ experiences growing up gay in a small town. We were very fortunate to share the shows w/ him, and expect nothing but great things for his career. If you want to hear some great new music, check him out!
After a brief swing home for the guys, and a brief New Orleans trip for me, we reconvened in downtown NOLA for a Weds night gig @ the Howlin’ Wolf. What we expected to be a low-key middle of the week affair quickly mushroomed, as a series of buddies surprised us. Friends from the Old Town Pub in Steamboat Springs mingled w/ some devoted Austinites, Matt and Sarah, along w/ Rock and Mama, who drove all the way from Beaumont just to celebrate her birthday with us. A good crew of locals came out to support the opener, Kid Carsons, who had some cool sibling harmonies and a nice vibe. We were honored to have our buddies Sons of Fathers in the house, on their way to a Florida gig, as well as William Clark Green, a gentleman troubadour. Looking around the sidewalk scene after the gig, I was truly touched to see how good folks come together for our shows, a diverse crowd who, despite maybe not having met each other, never give the air of strangers. As often happens in New Orleans, we left w/ a sense of beauty and possibility, of serendipity and sweetness. We know what it means…
The quick trip to Gulf Shores, AL was a pleasant reprieve from the wild city, a laid-back affair playing an afternoon gig for a nice crowd of local folks in lawn chairs. The city offers free concerts downtown, adding to the already plentiful musical offerings there, w/ the annual Lulu Fest and Hang Out Festival only the tip of the iceberg. We once more filled up on great seafood before we hit the road, only able to gaze longingly at the bumper car/ water park/ carnival complex located just out of reach across the street.
Though NOLA gets the reputation, many parts of Louisiana know how to breathe deep and enjoy life, and Alexandria is no exception. Our first gig at the newly expanded Spirits was simply awesome, the place is a dramatic improvement over the formerly confined quarters, the sound system is right and the only thing left unchanged is the rabid enthusiasm of the locals. Lee, the owner of the joint, pulled out all the stops, sitting stage side all night long and playing the devil on our shoulders, tempting us w/ libations. We likely succumbed, as my memory becomes a little disjointed at this point. One of these times, we’ll play Alexandria and remember it the next morning!
Saturday was truly overwhelming, and left me speechless more than anything else, but I’ll attempt to explain. Some old friends of the band, some good hearted, purely intentioned, selflessly generous folks, got together over several months and organized the very first ReULion, a festival devoted to Uncle Lucius. They found a perfect piece of land just outside Longview, TX, invited some great folks, and put on a celebration far beyond any of our expectations. It was a joyous affair, inspiring beyond measure, and everyone in the band only hopes we may continue to live up to the kind of love we’ve been so fortunate to receive. I get chills thinking about it now. Not that they require recognition for their efforts, but a brief list of very special folks, not exclusive by any means but certainly worthy of mention: many thanks to Joey and Shannon BonDurant, Kathy Metcalf and Linda, Rick Morris and family, ………
All for now, thanks very much for reading. Though it can be hard to leave so many great places along the way, the curse of the road is its blessing also: there’s always more just around the corner. Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.
Heads up, nieces and nephews. Our show on Thursday, April 3 switched venues to FitzGerald’s in Berwyn. If you already bought tickets, don’t worry – we’re working with the old venue to make sure you’re taken care of. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, get them here now.