Bus call was set for midnight at the Krogers parking lot. Myself, Byron Cumbie, Jeff Allen, Jimmy Yeary and our driver, Greg, loaded up the "Hillbilly Hotel" and made our way down to Athens, Al, where we would be picking up Mike McGuire and Jim Seales. We got to Athens around 1:30 am and after loading Mike and Jim's gear onboard, we proceeded to ride those white lines to the cajun country of DeQuincy, La. We would be playing their annual Railroad Days festival. It was almost a 13 hour drive down but on the bus the time flies by quick.
The usual suspects stayed up till around four and I awoke and climbed out of my bunk at 12:30 pm to a gorgeous sunny Louisiana day. It wasn't unbearably hot but it was quite warm and the humidity made itself known to all who stepped off the bus for too long. Mike, Jim and Jeff took off to the hotel, while Jimmy Yeary, Byron and myself stayed behind. We figured we would go to the hotel later in the day after our soundcheck.
I hung out in the front lounge watching tv for a while and then decided to wander around back stage. There was a great cajun band playing, complete with squeeze box and horns. Their female singer really commanded the stage and was quite animated. After they were done, another band started up on a second stage playing their own cool brand of zydeco. I thoroughly enjoyed both acts.
I wandered back to the bus and asked Jimmy Yeary if he knew where the restrooms were. He said we were supposed to tell a staff member and they would escort us out of the backstage area and around to the front. He said they took him into the old railroad museum where a man at a desk gave him a key to the ladies restroom . This was not to be used by the general public. So...I told a staffer I would like to use their facilities and they pointed me to the same building. I walked in the museum and there were tons of tourists and locals milling about. I spotted an elderly gentleman sitting at a desk and approached him with my request. He looked up and said, sir we don't have a restroom for men in here but there are many porta-johns around the premises. I told him I was with Shenandoah and that our lead singer had just used this restroom and the staff told me he would accommodate me. I politely explained that I really did not want to stand in line , in the heat, out with all the audience, a long way from the bus. He looked up at me with an exasperated expression and repeated that there was no mens room in there for the general public. I went through my story once again but he would not turn over the bathroom key. I left feeling a little perplexed and slightly annoyed but resigned myself to a hot seat in a steamy porta-potty. One of the staffers spotted me coming out of the museum and asked if I had been taken care of. I informed the nice lady that I had been denied the coveted air-conditioned bathroom that our lead singer had just recently been privileged to. She was horrified that my mission had been derailed and immediately wanted to confront the man and force him to give me the key. I told her that I really did not want to bother him again...that he must have his reasons. lol I told her I would just find a porta-john and that it was really no big deal. She was not having any of that and found me a nice private restroom upstairs, above the very room the stubborn man behind the desk resided. :)
Four o'clock rolled around and we loaded in. Once the stage was set, we had to take a 30 minute break while another band played on an adjacent stage. When they got through we would start our soundcheck.
We had some technical problems regarding the monitors but when we finally sorted through the rough spots, all was fine. Around 5 pm they served us a wonderful meal. Under a tent set up backstage, was an amazing array of delicacies that would keep us busy eating for quite a while. The brisket, ribs, cajun sausage, pork tenderloin, cajun rice, shrimp stew, green beans, bread and banana pudding did not fail to impress. I filled my plate to the brim and headed to the bus to eat where it was nice and cool.
After eating I decided I would like to go to the hotel and get cleaned up since I had sweated so much during the humid soundcheck. It was then I found out that the hotel was a good hour away. I did not have time to get there, shower and get back in time for our meet and greet before the show. So..I washed my face, changed clothes and put on a hat.
The seven-thirty meet and greet rolled around and we took pictures with VIPs, fans, the mayor and other important folks out by the bus. I was wearing my usual Alabama cap and several wanted me to take it off and wear an LSU cap instead. Of course they were kidding...except for maybe a couple of them..:) After we finished with the meet and greet, we got on the bus and waited till show time.
Shenandoah piled off the bus at around 5 till 8 and made our way to the stage. The announcer told the audience a little about us and then we kicked off the set with "Janie Baker's Love Slave" and we did around an 80 minute show for a tired, hot but enthusiastic audience. Immediately after the show we were led to the autograph tables, where we did the usual picture taking, t-shirt/picture signing with the fans. Once that was over and the bus was loaded, we waited for our bus driver to be brought back from the hotel where he had been sleeping all day. The chef who had cooked up all of the great food for us earlier, brought tons of food to the bus for us to chow down on for the trip home. There was so much food it was hard to find room to sit. We did however appreciate all of the fine Louisiana hospitality.
Once we were reunited with our driver, Greg, we pulled out of DeQuincy, along with a full police escort and made our way out of the city limits. I would like to thank Byron Cumbie for all of his hard work.. We all missed Bart Barlettano, who is on the mend from his broken tibia and fibula and wasn't able to be with us. We are still missing Mike Folsom, who is also on the mend from a serious arm and hand injury. Kudos to Jeff Allen for his great bass work who has been taking Folsom's place with us. I also want to thank the police who did such a fine job backstage, especially officer Darrell Marler. I enjoyed meeting his wife, Kendra and his lovely daughter, Brooke. I hope Brooke enjoyed her tour of the bus.
We dropped MIke and Jim off in Athens around 10:30 am this morning, on our way back home and made it to the krogers parking lot by noon. Home again safe and sound...Another country music adventure had been had by all.
Down the Road_ Stan Munsey