On our way to Louisville I receive a text from Frauf which says…. Feeling sick. Can’t stop shaking. The van cuts through the snow-filled road as the sun sets and I pass the phone to Kyle. We have a couple hours til the venue and even then we are closing out the event round midnight, maybe he’ll have time to get his sea legs by then.
We fell out of the van around 9:15pm, right around the corner from The New Vintage and in time for Alex Wright’s set. Alex was willing to put us on the show despite having a full event. Alex’s band sounded like a mix of Ryan Adams and John Fullbright (Americana…alt. folk rock). At this point we received a note from Sarah that Frauf would not be able to make the show as he could only stop shaking while underneath a blanket or in a warm bath. When your bass player can’t make a gig an hour before you go on you do two things… get a beer and try to find a super talented & versatile sit-in. Check on the beer. After Alex’s set we fill him in on the situation and he tells us that his bass player Jeffrey Faith would be perfect for this. He says Jeffrey plays with lots of bluegrass and folk bands, can run the upright bass better than most, and does a killer Big Lebowski impersonation. Enough for us! Bass player… check.
We jot down the chords. May 21…A then D I think, Wanderin A and D…, Cold Wind Blowin….I believe that’s C and F. Thank God we only write songs with two chords. Call us minimalists. Some folks stick around for our set, which is very kind of them since we are following the headliner of the night, a Latin American/Folk American band called Appalatin. These guys played more instruments than any band I’ve ever seen. We hurry up and set up our gear. Kyle gets started with a couple of acoustic songs…Bigtime and Morning Light. Then we roll right into our set. I yell a couple dynamic shifts to Jeffrey, but he’s got it. It’s all pretty predictable. Feelin pretty confident we roll into Foxtrot and close the set.
We catch up with Frauf at the Miller house that morning. Wish him well and sleep. Around noon we part ways, we agree that he needs more rest, and we head to Nashville for a show at The Basement with Joel Levi’s band. Joel Levi is probably one of the nicest human beings you’ll ever meet and his band is without flaw. I’ve seen a couple bands that just never make mistakes…and the Joel Levi band is one of them.
A few hours later we arrive at our friends Dorina’s home for some wine and chicken curry. At this point I begin feelin very faint. Wondering if I have whatever illness Frauf was suffering I keep telling myself that they only need me for a couple hours- then I can be as sick as I want. Focus on your breathing and try not to think too much. We get to The Basement. It’s a small dive bar with some seating which creates a great intimate atmosphere. Earlier in the afternoon we asked our friend C.Ray if he would be able to sit in with us this evening on bass, he said he would. We launch into the set. It’s surprisingly difficult to perform for an audience that is sober AND attentive. Not our typical crowd. I nearly stumble over my own boots during the first few songs; can’t tell if I’m shaking from the cold or the illness, if I’m sweating from a fever or my poor effort to create stage presence. It’s a nervous set til about halfway through. When we launch into Til I Die it all loosens up a bit. There’s something about that song that always changes our gears. We can bring the set down or up dynamically, or be having just an awful show, but once we get to Til I Die it all seems alright. Then we rock off Foxtrot and call it a night. Still feeling pretty faint we hit the road again. Headed to Rock Island, IL and Kansas City, MO next weekend.
Want to thank a lot of friends and new friends for helping us this weekend.
-Joel Levi (and band)
-Alex Wright (and band)
-Jeffrey Faith for sitting in on bass in Louisville
-C.Ray Harvey for sitting in on bass in Nashville
-Jerid Miller family for opening your home to us
-Dorina and Jeremy Pope for your hospitality and amazing food!
-Hunter Embry & The New Vintage for letting us play
-Our friends, family, and fans in Louisville and Nashville. It was so great to see each of you. So hard to say bye, but we’ll be back before ya know it.