I awoke at the co-op with a slight pain from sleeping on a hard floor. Sam gave Andrea and Amelia a ride to the highway. Sam later said it’d taken “longer than expected,” and that he’d had to “take a few entrances and exits.” Or something; I translated this as they twisted his arm into driving them up the road a bit. I took the idle time to shower.
We left the co-op and hit a grocery store for some produce, went to a post office, and went back to get some coffee at the same place as the day before. They had been planning on going to Graceland, and I was looking forward to it also. Until Max told me it was $32 to get in. I politely let them know I probably wasn’t going in. They drove me to Sun Studios instead – they’d been last year. I got in free by giving a CD of a band that I wasn’t in, that wasn’t Wizard Rifle, but rather was a really shitty band from earlier in the tour. I think they were called Versa.
Sun Studios was interesting, obviously. The actually recording area was kept as it was. I didn’t know Ike Turner created rock n roll. The music they allowed us to hear was beautiful. The downside is that the only song they played in its entirety was some U2 & B.B. King piece of Shit. There was another part that was a museum, which, in my opinion, was a little touristy. Just being priggish.
When they picked me up from Sun Studios, they were bummed out about Graceland. It was “underwhelming” said Sam. It was a very strictly guided tour. They’d heard that all his suits and guns were hung up on the walls. Apparently those exhibits had been taken out just days before. I felt slightly fortunate.
It was a long drive to Texarkana. First things first – we crossed the Mississippi and immediately passed into Arkansas. I thought we were going to Texas, but Texarkana – funnily enough – is a town that has an Arkansas side and a Texas side, and our show was on the Texas side. Our drive was long and relatively dull and consisted of the entire state of Arkansas (Little Rock pictured immediately below).
We pulled in after nightfall to The Road Map, which actually seemed to be on the outskirts of town. At first we thought there must be some mistake. It didn’t look open, much less like a venue. But sure enough, it was the spot. It was a huge biker bar, and we found three people in it – just three people – and the place was somehow so filled with cigarette smoke that I could hardly breathe. And it was only to get worse.
The promoter Josh showed up with our food and supplied the beer. He said the place was very generous, and it was true – apparently the fellas were getting two pitchers each. Josh explained that one of the band had dropped off the bill because someone had broken their hand, which sounds incredibly painful! The remaining band was… something else. A group called the Mutha Load who had been around in some form or other for about 20 years, and had been playing the same set of songs for about that long, although they’d gone through some variations. And they were fronted by someone who we had to see to believe – a man named Gator.
Gator entered and everything I’d heard was true. Super southern, super immitatable. I was also pretty sure he was retarded, either by birth or by birth or some sort of self-abuse (maybe chemicals, maybe blunt-force trauma). Anyway, I won’t soon forget him, and his interesting inbred drawl of southern whitey-bonics. And the Mutha Load’s music is something else.
I had a nice long talk with Sarah, which couldn’t be beat. Then I had to go sling merch while Wizard Rifle played. As the evening had unfolded, it turned out that they had to go first – Mutha Load’s drummer was running late. He worked at a Mexican restaurant. And it was Cinco de Mayo.
Wizard Rifle’s set was fairly slipshod, with something going bad with the guitar in the first song, and some very noticeable flubs throughout. And yet, I sold almost $100 of merch, maybe more. People just kept coming up almost nonchalantly, and yet with genuine enthusiasm. And I realized something interesting; something that makes me a totally priggish, stereotyping, culture-shocked Union soldier. What I realized is that although these folks were easily the epitome of southern stereotypes – almost every last one of them – they were also some of the most genuine people, and generous with their money. None, save one or two, had seen or heard of Wizard Rifle before, and yet they shelled out more than any other stop on the tour. It just goes to show you.
It took awhile for the Mutha Load to start. Gator kept walking up and yelling at me in a near-incomprehensible slur about how I was dressed for success, and look at this mothafucka right here, and something to the tune of: “I’m all into equality n shit. So why do they get black history month, and they get Cinco de Mayo…? I mean…” to which I responded: “You want a white history month?” as he simultaneously said: “Hey, I ain’t a racist or nuthin!!” Yip yip!
So Mutha Load played and it was Gator screaming like a little child or a grouchy ogre while his one-legged guitarist (with a camo prosthetic;; who I think was Gator’s brother) played incredibly good guitar, along with the rhythm section who I don’t remember as being remarkable. The genre was southern metal, with a lot of Down in it.
We loaded out during part of their set, but caught the end of it. The Road Map was so full of cigarettes that I couldn’t even take it anymore. Gator bowed his head into my shoulder and said, “I’m sorrryyyyy.” I asked for what. “For goin on soo late.” I said it wasn’t a problem, and he smiled big. That was the last I saw of Gator.
We followed Josh to his place. I found out the next day that we’d crossed over to the Texas side of Texarkana. Josh’s townhouse was very nice, and there were people there drinking and smoking and talking as drunks are want to do. Josh proved himself the salt of the earth (for the first of a few times) by being a cine expeditionary – namely by seeking out controversial films. I hadn’t come across a cinephile in awhile.
And he made up a damn fine sleeping situation, right there in the living room. Damn fine shower too. And ultimately, this is one of the finest shows that I was around to witness.
-for Saturday May 5th, 2012