Styrenes Tour – Day 7

Six sets into the tour, one of my earplugs came to an ignominious end in the toilet of a dive bar in Nashville. The tiny 25 dB attenuating filter came loose as I took it out and hit the floor with a preposterous rebound you couldn’t duplicate in a million tries. Tick, tick, plop, off the floor, the rim and into the water. It taunted me by floating at the surface despite the flush, and for a moment I thought about fishing it out, but couldn’t quite get there. Better to take it as some kind of cosmic nod that I’m either not in Kansas anymore, or yet. I’m on a down and dirty tour with a down and dirty band, playing in a down and dirty dive which is likely the both worst and coolest venue of the trip.

Betty’s Grill was a blast. Not really, fortunately, but it was fun as hell, let’s say. We arrived with Blues Brothers-like trepidation at the roadhouse look of the hand-painted signs and poster by the door prohibiting handguns. The Bob’s-Country-Bunker edge was dulled a bit by the Lady Gaga pumping on the jukebox, but a gassy smell inside with a roomful of smokers started a short and lively debate on the subject of canceling the gig. We were assured that while it’s an aesthetic problem, it isn’t a gas leak, rather a sewer-gas problem. Besides the air quality, the amps and PA, and in fact all the electrical equipment at Betty’s, including all the neon beer signs were plugged into one 14-gauge household extension cord. We stayed, we played, and we lived to tell the tale, though it would have been a reasonable choice for going up in a ball of sloppy rock combustion. Good fun, with an excited and attentive audience.

Best burn of the tour to date: The booker put a friend up to announce the Styrenes’ merch table over the PA after the set: “Support some music that’s older than you.” (He did buy 3 records himself, Paul is quick to point out)

When I saw the opening band CYOD set up I realized that it was a side-project of the great producer Mark Nevers, with some other Nashville guys and William Tyler and Tony Crow (who uttered the meaningful sentence: “There’s that propane smell here again”). All great musicians, but I was sort of blown away by their high energy noise rock—I’ve only heard them all do pretty quiet stuff. This set was definitely the best pairing with us of the tour so far. I met William and Tony in NY a couple years ago, so it was cool to feel like we were playing with friends; likewise the booker/host, Chris Davis and his girlfriend Emily made us a real nice home cooked meal of stew and brown rice at their cottage in the-woods before the show.

O. Henry Goes Swimming
Nashville’s Quality Inn writes its own scene of the developing story. There was a Pool Closed sign on the gate, but I decided to see what it looked like on the deck, and found a full pool of inviting blue sparkling in the 80 degree 10 AM sun. Called the desk to ask, and the attendant passed me on to the manager after I asked in vain when it would be open, since we were checking out anyway. He told me graciously with his Indian accent that they were awaiting an inspection. If I were seen swimming in there, even once before this inspection, they could be barred from opening the pool for the entire season. The arcane red tape reminded me of India again. Seems like an act-ending plot point.


One Response to “Nashville”

  1. tekla Says:

    Just so you know there is one empty seat here at the central command post and a glass of warm chai waiting for your return. Enjoy the small town mind of the middle states and relish in the beauty of the simple life. LA has it’s claws out and is waiting to eat you. Well, only if you let it. The monster lives in us all. See you in May and in the meantime loose yourself to the muse.

    PS Please check my blog! Please check my blog!

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