Night 4 of The Rock and Roll Highway | Amarillo, TX | Covington Rock

I had asked my new friends at The Mercury Lounge in Tulsa where I should go in Amarillo and everyone unanimously said The Midnight Rodeo.  So when I got back to my nest for the night, after that amazing night of music, like, wow…blow me away night of music,  The Dirty Creek Bandits and Tyrannosaurus Chicken just knocked my socks right off, I googled The Midnight Rodeo to see what was going on.  There was a fella called Charlie Worsham playing.  His website said that he was the opener for Brad Paisley, so I knew he was country and had to be good as I know the name Brad Paisley, I don’t know his music other than its new country but I know his is big.

I love me some honkey tonk, ole classics, rockabilly, western, just haven’t explored new country, outside of the tv show Nashville.  Since I was going to Texas I had to add a bit of country to the tour and I figured it would be fun to pretend I was on an episode of Nashville all night.  I freakin’ love that show.   I reached out to the venue and tried to get a bit of sleep.  When I woke up, I had a message from The Midnight Rodeo saying  if I could make it to Amarillo by 7pm, they would introduce me to Charlie’s tour manager to see about photo permission.   It was a 5 1/2 hour drive and it was nearly 2pm.  No problem. Made it to Amarillo and found the place mostly on time, always on time, on the right time.  The peeps at The Midnight Rodeo are fantastic.  They welcomed me in and Winter gave me a full tour of the spacious dance hall/bar/club.  I loved it.  Texas does it big.  There was a racecourse of a dance floor that went around a bar in the middle of the room, 4?+ bars that were on the outside and a spacious stage.  The place is awesome and at night the lighting gets sexy and there is a lot of smoke.  A lot of smoke.  There were even ashtrays in the bathroom stalls.

This old smoke filled bar is something I’m not used to.

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The ladies room also had a giant comfy sofa and I took a lovely 20 min snooze.  Awesome music and amazing drives leave little time for sleep, so the sofa was a most wonderful surprise.  When I emerged from the ladies room, the bar had gotten packed with dancers and I mean DANCERS!  wow.  Those Texas men know how to spin their ladies around. There was one fella who looked like he was ready for front row at a Slayer concert, I saw him and wondered how his pretty, boot wearing lady convinced him to come to this bar…  Never judge a book by its cover and that long haired metal fella turned out to be the best country dancer in the place.  He swung his lady (and his hair) all over that race course dance floor.  He spun her, he flipped her, he boot scoot n boogied her all night long.  wow.  It was beautiful.    This was their warm up dance.  I forgot to video later due to my whooping and cheering as they flipped by. Yes to the men who can scoot and twirl a lady around the floor like that.

& then it was time for the show!!!   One thing is for certain, Charlie Worsham is an entertainer.  That fella knows how to work a stage.  He made every person in the room feel like he was there for them.  He held hands, he read notes, he sang happy birthday, he even let one girl attempt to play his guitar and he smiled at her even though she couldn’t strum to any sort of rhythm.  He made eye contact with each person there and I could see life long fans forming in front of me.  It was easy to see that he loves what he is doing and he wants everyone there to be as happy in the moment as he is.  Busting out covers of Michael Jackson, Hall & Oates, Ozzy Osbourne & Katie Perry made me grin and he had me 100% when rocked Eye of the Tiger.

After the show, the dj came out and everyone started rocking their way around the racecourse dance floor.  New Yorkers always find each other and I’ve spent so much time in that city with the ole day job that I feel >almost< like a proper new yorker.  There were friends from Columbia and were on an adventure weekend and had stumbled upon this wonderful place unlike anything in our pavement jungle.

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We were all standing and watching in awe when all of a sudden the music took a drastic change and a whole new sorta line dance started happening..except for that one couple doing the outercourse.

I had a great time at The Midnight Rodeo.  If you are in Amarillo, this is the place to go!

 

Night 3 of The Rock and Roll Highway | Tulsa | Covington Rock

I had a fantastic time in St Louis, many thanks to When Particles Collide for letting me crash with them, it was so much fun catching up, they were heading west into Kansas and I was on the road south(ish) to Tulsa.  My head was already running the Steve Martin scene from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels over and over! “Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma!!”

The landscape was getting flatter and flatter but it was still green and pretty.  Beautiful yellow and purple flowers lined the highways.  The best wild flower displays always seem to be in the middle of the highways.  I was loving this drive and then I found the best stopping place EVER!!!

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 The World’s Largest Gift Store in Phillipsburg Missouri. This place was awesome and huge and had a whole other building that just had candy!!!  What more could a road tripper want?  I stretched my legs and wandered around the warehouse of stuff and couldn’t even see it all.  You would need several hours to see everything contained in here!

I had to buy that white hat thought I doubted I would need it for anything till winter time back on the East Coast…  that would be proved wrong later..but for now I confused myself at having to buy a fuzzy winter hat when it was getting hotter by the day on this trip.

I knew I was in the right place when I found the weiner mobile.

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I headed over to The Mercury Lounge for the show and walked in to find a crowd rocking out to the sounds of The Dirty Creek Bandits, the Tulsa band opening for T-Chicken.  I had no idea what I was going to see nor did I have any idea that I was about to listen to the band that made what was soon to become my favorite cd to listen to on the drive.  I jumped into the mix and immediately made friends with a gal named Ashley (Ash’s rule no matter how they spell it, except for maybe the Ashleee’s of the world, and we won’t blame them as it is their parents fault)
The Dirty Creek Bandits are a folk/rock/bluegrass AWESOME mix of sounds.  6 people giving their all and creating cool grooves that you cannot (and do not want to) get out of your head.  I’m still singing ‘One by One’ – I am freakin IN LOVE with that song.  The songs are lyrically driven, they give you words you want to sing along with, while also having a depth and a texture, due to the harmonies and variety of instruments.  Their sound is smooth and tight and the music just rolls over you and wraps you up in hugs.  I <3 them.  I feel like I’m coming home when I listen to their music.  This is damn good stuff.

Next up was Tyrannosaurus Chicken, this was the band that gave me call to be at The Mercury Lounge that night.  I had seen their name in a long list of what was happening in Tulsa that night and had to check them out.  I mean, come on!  Tyrannosaurus Chicken!!??!!  How can you not want to know what is up with that band?  I had listened to about 15 seconds of one of their songs (my allotted time frame to make a decision) and loved the dark, intricate feel of the music.  I was psyched to to see what they were about.  The stage was literally covered in musical instruments at this point.  There were only two people in the band (I knew this from their fb page) but easily enough instruments for a band of 15.  What was this going to be??  I was so excited and so was the crowd.  Here is what I knew about T-Chicken..  The band is made up of of Smilin’ Bob Lewis who plays slide guitar, dobro, dulcimer, keyboards, mandolin, banjo, bass, harmonica and drums; and Rachel Ammons, on the fiddle, cello, viola, Jew’s harp, ukulele, slide guitar, drums and clawhammer banjo.  And they both sing and have two mics each, one clear and one full of effects for vocals.  This was a stage full of instruments and I couldn’t wait to see what they were going to do.

and wow.  wow.  just wow.  I don’t even know how to really describe their psychedelic, rocking, energetic, giddy sound.  They are like the moment you take a shot of whiskey.  They light up the place and you can’t stop watching and you can’t stop pounding your foot on the floor.  Their mastery of all the instruments was impressive as was their taking old standards and making them something new, something almost unrecognizable, something brand spanking and awesomely theirs while also introducing the crowd to originals that are COMPLETELY original.  I’ve never heard anything like them and I was blown away by their ability to introduce me to a new type of music – ‘Psychedelta’ – (one of their fans told me about this new (their) genre of music. 100% fan right here.  Wow.  Tyrannosaurus Chicken you bowled me over with your sound and I just want more, MORE, more!!

I had a blast in Tulsa.  This town and the people here are fantastic.  I made a lot of new friends and people that I look forward seeing again down the road.  Yeah Tulsa!!
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For more sneak peeks check out Instagram.com/AshlyCovington

Night 2 of The Rock and Roll Highway | St. Louis | CovingtonRock

The drive from Louisville to St. Louis was quick and lovely.  The landscape started to flatten out a bit and fields started to take over, leaving the mountains of West VA behind.  It was flat, but not as flat as it would become…  The world would become so much flatter in a few days.  For now the trees still stood high and broke up the fields. 2014-06-26 15.30.14 copy

I arrived in St Louis around 6pm, having slept in that morning.  That 2pm checkout is a lifesaver, yeah Holiday Inn Express!  I am def a loyal IHG member.  I love their service and their hotels.  They take care of their people and HIE’s always have those nifty peanut butter travel packs at breakfast! Sasha & Chris from When Particles Collide showed up moments after I got to town and we had a joyous reunion.  2014-06-26 19.07.47

I haven’t seen them in ages and it was fantastic to get to catch up with this powerhouse from Bangor, Maine.  We headed down to Schlafly and found a fabulous brew pub!  The food was awesome and then we got a tour of the underground part of the brewery by the wonderful Stephen Hale.

Schlafly’s makes about 2,000 bbls. per year!!  Their bars have sixteen taps each that draw the people’s favorites from the firkins in the cellar.  Tubes of beer running up through the ceiling of the cellar to make the people happy.  In another part of the cellar they have an aging room full of wooden barrels just waiting for the right time.  So cool!  Thanks Stephen for such a fantastic tour, your enthusiasm for creating excellent beers is beautiful. We could hear the sounds of the first band echoing down below so we thanked Stephen profusely and headed up to catch The Educated Guess.

They are a local symphonic pop band and wow.  Fantastic hooks, big band sounds and a rock & roll base.  There had to be at least 10 people crammed on that tiny stage and they made a marvelous, celebratory sound.  The Educated Guess are everything that I love about a big band show squashed into everything I love about a pop rock show!

Next up was When Particles Collide, the hard hitting duo from Maine and the reason I was in St. Louis and quite possibly the main inspiration for what I was going to spend the next month doing.  See, we had chatted ages ago about me joining them on this cross country tour but timing and space didn’t work out, though timing and space worked out PERFECTLY for me to meet up with them in St. Louis.  I love Sasha’s comment to me “You are the only person who would say ‘I’ll meet you in the middle of the country’ and then actually do it!”   Ha, yep, I try to do what I say and I love musical adventures.  Because I knew I was shooting their show in St. Louis and in LA, the idea for the cross country discover music tour took shape.

When Particles Collide!  When Particles Collide.  I’ve loved this band from the first time I saw them years ago at Big Sky Works in Brooklyn.  They play with power and purpose.  The songs rock, their delivery rocks, their whole dang show rocks.  Sasha can sing pretty one moment and then almost snarl out the next lyrics while playing her guitar dirty and fast.  Chris is one of those wow drummers.  He hits so fast and hard, you can’t even figure out where those sticks are.  The two of them together, those two people particles colliding, are magic. Rock/Punk Magic.  They don’t let you go from the moment they start and you don’t want them to.  They rock every show right to the edge with their massive sound and I just love them.

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After WPC were done rocking, I noticed the staff running around and taking all the ketchup & S&P shakers off of the shelves in the hallway next to the music room.  ???  Then I noticed the next band rolling in amps that easily could have filled MSG with sound.  Easily.  Stacks taller than the guys.  This was going to be loud.  I asked the manager about the bottles and he said that the last time Fumer played there, every bottle on the shelf broke.  Again, this was going to be loud.  I made sure my ear plugs were snuggly positioned and sat down to experience their show.  Wow.   The bench that I was sitting on was vibrating to an incredible (& rather pleasant feeling) level.  Their set was dynamic and loud, the lead singer gave his all and they created a cacophonic wall of sound.  There was one song that was just the singer/guitarist and it showed an entirely different side to the band, it had an almost vulnerable quality to it that was in stark contrast to the other songs.  Their drummer also removed his pants before the show.  We were confused till he explained that he was tired of wearing wet pants after each gig from sweating so much, so he came up with the idea to just play in his boxers.  ha!  Brilliant!  Though he might have a few oops moments at shows with the fervor that he plays with!!


After the show we had to find the arch for some pics.  duh!  Not so great directions that were given to us lead us right out of the city where we discovered there are NO wrong turns and found the best spot for a pic.


When we got back to the hotel, I googled the next town – Tulsa, Oklahoma and found a band called Tyrannosaurus Chicken.  YES!  I mean, come on.  That name??!!!??  Brilliant.  I had to see what they were all about so I shot them a message and a voicemail and hit the hay.

sneak peeks of the whole tour on instagram.com/ashlycovington

I’m on day 22? but am finding it hard to drive/photo/download/edit/write a blog & sleep all by myself so thanks to everyone for being patient while I try and find time to keep up!!

going back to sleep now.  nite nite.

The start of The Rock and Roll Highway |Louisville, KY | CovingtonRock

When I set out in my brand new rental car (8 miles total on dear Elvira), I had no idea that my spontaneous (due to the fear of flying with my camera gear) road trip to shoot The Wedding in LA was going to turn into a cross country Discover Music Tour.  I was driving because about a week before my flight, I got a dread so deep in my stomach about flying with my gear that I cancelled my flight (refundable) and rented a car (unlimited mileage – woot) and began what I was told was an insane – crazy – boring – horrible – LOOOONNNGGG drive across the country.  Now, I’ve driven across and around the country before and I find it none of those things.  I find it thrilling – beautiful – exciting – unexpected and awesome, course that was doing the trek with people.  I was a little hesitant about covering 6,000 miles solo…

well, mostly solo.  I did have Miss Head to keep me company.  Miss Head is a brilliant roadtrip partner.  She never begs to stop to pee, doesn’t care about being left in the car (..Mike Sag screaming out the windows when Nancy and I locked him in the van that time in Northern Cali – HTFSUAA) and she doesn’t force me to listen to that damn Rihanna song over and over again (love you Lalee, but that cd HAD to be thrown out the window – HTFSUAA-2).  So for the HTFSUAA-3 (How To Fuck Shit Up Across America 3) it was going to be me & Miss Head.

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So I set out!  Late…  cuz I had to stop at The Virginia Moonwalker where Russell filled my car with the music of my friends to keep me company.  Chrissy – Tick, Tock…I am IN LOVE with your new song…I can’t wait to hear how that stuff grows.
So with the sounds of RVA filling the car, Miss Head and I hit the road.  Left Richmond around 8:30pm and drove through the night.  I stopped in Charleston, WV cuz the capital building looked AMAZING from the highway.  There were incredible clouds in the night sky and the moon lit everything perfectly.  I HAD to take a pic. So I jumped off the highway and found my way to the building and started to figure out what equipment I would need to capture the scene.  The beautiful scene was interrupted by fighting cats and suddenly I got sketched out.  The area that I was parked in, didn’t look so great on a 2nd look and here I was, with only Miss Head to protect me and my gear from any troublemakers in the night.  The screaming cats continued to hiss and make such a fuss that it started to get to me.  Now, I’m not one to get easily scared but I am one to always listen to my gut and my gut said ‘go’ so I left and found a Holiday Inn Express (my jam) on the outskirts of town and checked in.  So there I was, in bed at 4am and pissed off.  How the hell was I supposed to enjoy this drive, if I couldn’t stop and make pics of anything I wanted, anytime I wanted??  See, here is the thing that I learned…  Miss Head might allow me to HOV it and look like there is always someone sleeping in the car when it is parked full of my stuff….but she isn’t good at having my back.  And when you are a solo female with A LOT of camera gear, it isn’t the greatest idea to be out and about focused on shooting and not paying attention to what is around. DAMN IT.  This was going to be annoying.  I suddenly wished that there was someone with me.  This was going to be a long drive.
Sitting in bed, pissed off, I pulled out my ipad and googled my next destination.  St Louis.  I was scheduled to create images of a fave band of mine, When Particles Collide, on Thursday.  It was Wed morning at 4am…so there was tons of time to get there.  It was only about an 8 hour drive.  hmmmm….went my brain…..and my eyes saw Louisville on the map halfway tween.  I wondered if there was any music happening in good ole Louisville on a Wednesday night?  Google makes things super easy and found an event called  Wednesdays on the Waterfront sponsored by 91.8 WFPK, the local radio station.  I didn’t know any of the bands but this video that was on the festivals site made me perk out of my pissed off mood.

yes.  That was awesome.  This would be the show.  & this would be how I would get around the country.  I would discover music in each city I hit.  So at 4am, I shot an email to The Whigs and went to sleep.  When I awoke, there was an email waiting for me with a ‘hey! Def come take photos plz!’
and so I hit the road.

Made it to Louisville and figured out where to go, somehow got rockstar parking when 8 lots out were allready full..  wow.  I wasn’t expecting ALL THIS. The waterfront area was PACKED.  People were everywhere, cars were everywhere.  This was going to be a huge show!
I knew I was on the right path….
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It was about 2 hours to show time and I headed over to the stage where I met Billy, the guy who was running things.  The Whigs were at a recording session for a local station and hadn’t gotten there yet so I wasn’t on the list.  He took my name and said he’d get the photo pass ok from them when they arrived.  I decided to walk around a bit to get the lay of the land and noticed two guys who had to be musicians walking across the lawn.  I walked up and said ‘hey, y’all have to be musicians, which band are you playing with tonight?”  They laughed and said “we are with Dawn!”  I introduced myself and what I was doing and they sent me backstage to chat with Dawn about my spontaneous Discover Music Summer 2014 Tour.  She turned out to be as sweet as she is beautiful and later I learned as she is talented.  The lovely songbird had Billy add the blue stars VIP bracelet to my wrist and I was set for the show.

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Dawn Landes was up first and I was excited!  My brilliant 4am idea was about to START. It was all happening.  🙂  I was about to discover some music and wow, discover it I did!  Dawn, in a sweet tasseled shirt and black & gold boot pumps took over that stage.  She got the people settled down on their lawn chairs up and dancing, even with the sun beating down.  It was around 6pm and it was one of those sultry summer nights where the heat from the day is as strong as the sun is still high.  and that sun was still high…
Dawn’s voice lightened the air, her voice!! wow!  Songbird.  She has an album called Bluebird and she is.  She is a beautiful bird who sang and the Louisville night answered, giving sweet relief with a steady breeze.  Her voice is sweetly awesome.  One song would be all bluegrassey swing with her voice rich and snappy and then she would switch to a ballad with a quivering and fragile quality.  She pulled me in right away.  Her backing band was fabulous.  I’m always a fan of a lap steel.

Next up was the reason that I was in Louisville.  The Whigs video had me wanting more and they delivered.  They are rock & roll at its most vibrant, with hard hitting drums and delicious songs that keep you rocking hours later.  Energetically loud and awesome, they bring it. & you can tell they enjoy it beyond measure, that the road leaves them excited and ready to share their sound when they hit each new town.  The rock n roll super trio is a damn good time.

WFPK & the city of Louisville throw one heck of a show.  The first Wed of each month, they have incredible bands play in one of the most gorgeous locations I have seen inside a city.  The stage was right next to the Ohio River with this beautiful walking bridge spanning the two states.  There was a huge lawn area and a food truck row.  Most delicious quesadilla, well worth the 30 min wait in line.  Hollah to Brooke who I got to pass the time with in the drink line, I hope to get back through to see your band on another trip!

I got to chatting with Todd, one of the fab members of security, and Marion from 91.8 WFPK.  They filled me in on the awesome of Louisville and how supportive the city is in supporting music and the arts!  There are a lot of cool things going on in this rich and vibrant city.  The backdrop for the show is the Big Four Bridge.  The bridge opened this past May and connects the city to Indiana with the walking/cycling bridge.  Apparently the KY side was open in Feb of 2013 but Indiana took a while to complete their side…….  Slackin’

The Big Four Bridge was a former railroad truss bridge that was finished in the late 1800’s, at some point in the 1960’s it fell into disrepair and was left to sit without entryways getting the nickname ‘The Bridge that goes nowhere”  until the city launched a campaign to refurbish and restore it and create a walking bridge between the two states.  I will walk it next time, this time I was tired and my camera bag was heavy so I decided to just stay and focus on the music and some more badass music was about to start.

The Old 97’s took the stage and the crowd was 15,000 deep at this point and everyone was amped up from The Whigs and ready to party.  The Old 97’s are a well seasoned machine of awesome ‘get drunk & party’ songs.  They sing the anthems of the boys that drink too much whiskey, get scorched by wild women & left heartbroken with only a bottle and a guitar.  They play the songs of the conquests in towns left in the rear view mirror with an emotional intensity that leaves you aching for late nights lost in bourbon.

Next up –  When Particles Collide in St. Louis.

if you would like to follow the adventure in real time, I post phone shots on instagram.com/ashlycovington  🙂