My second day in Gainesville was a whirlwind of meeting various people for breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner, or drinks. I did reconnect with several friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time: former Squeaky frontman Harry Monkhorst and his wife Kristin; my very good friend Holly Ray, who was my first roommate in New York; Gary Brummett, who played bass in my old band Eurotoaster and then disappeared off the face of the earth (apparently he was at Durty Nelly’s the whole time–who knew?); another former bandmate Merryl Malter; and the esteemed poet and cookbook mogul Ian Finn. There were a lot of other people on my agenda, but I pretty much made plans on a first-come first-served basis, and I just couldn’t meet up with everybody I wanted to see in one day.
The next day, I was due to meet another old friend, Corey Thompson Kirkland, in beautiful historic Eufaula, AL. At this point, I had put nearly 3000 miles on my 1998 Volvo station wagon since leaving New York on Dec. 1. And the whole time, I’d been hearing a little rumble from the driver’s side front wheel that I didn’t much like, and I planned to have someone look at it when I was going to be in one place more than two days. But as fate would have it, not long before I pulled into Eufala, the noise got worse–much worse. I called Corey just as I was crossing over the state line from Georgia and said, “Okay I’m driving over Lake Eufaula now. But something is seriously wrong with my car. Is there a mechanic in the metropolitan Eufaula area that you can recommend?”
She directed me to Jac’s, where a very nice mechanic named Keith quickly ascertained that I had a bad wheel bearing and that if I’d driving on it much farther, my wheel would likely have flown off the car. So my timing, as usual, was impeccable. I left the car with Keith overnight, and Corey came to pick me up.
Now I should say that Corey is essentially the queen of Eufaula and knows EVERYBODY, and we got royal treatment everywhere we went. The highlight of the evening, though, was karaoke at a dive bar everyone calls “the airport” because the city air field is literally right behind the bar. This is one of those places where, as the saying goes, they like both kinds of music–Country and Western. Here is a transcript of what ensued when I took the stage for my first song.
Host: Next up we have a city slicker from New York City.
Me: Well, I LIVE in New York City, but I’m not FROM there.
Audience member: You talk like you’re from there.
Despite that awkward beginning, my rendition of “King of the Road” was well received.
Next morning, I picked up my car, which was now running much better, and returned to Birmingham. On the way, I called my friend Warren to firm up plans for the evening. Warren and his wife Tia are friends of mine from New York who just moved down here, and I had promised to take Warren out on the town when I got back. I picked him up at eight and took him to Marty’s to hear some bluegrass music. Then we met up with my friend Adam Guthrie at Metro Bistro where we heard an acoustic duo play a few songs. And then the three of us went to Bottle Tree to hear some rock and roll bands. So we pretty much ran the gamut of the Birmingham music scene in one night, and a lot of it is kind of a blur. But Warren seemed to have a good time.