Photo by Mark C. Austin
When Drive-By Truckers' frontman Patterson Hood
walked into the Music Farm in Charleston, S.C., thursday afternoon, he'd just risen from an 18-hour slumber. And he still felt like hell.
"I don't know what it is," he told me, "I can't seem to shake this thing. I'll start to feel better and then the next day, I feel like shit again. It's been like this for three weeks now—running a fever off and on. My plan tonight is to put on some layers and sweat it out."
Later, during the show, I saw something I've never seen in all the times I've witnessed a Truckers performance. Hood was so weak and exhausted by the end of the show that he had to sit down and let guitarist Mike Cooley finish out the night with his own songs. And this from a man who never gives less than 110 percent onstage. Something was obviously wrong.
The next day, Hood was so sick when the band arrived in Washington D.C. that he wound up in the hospital. Down with walking pneumonia on the second day of the band's "Righteous Path" tour, Hood was forced to sit out last night's show at the 9:30 Club.
Cooley again rose to the occasion, as he and the band played through his rich contributions to the DBT catalog. According to bassist David Nickel of opening band Bloodkin, the sympathetic D.C. audience didn't seem to mind at all. "The crowd," he said, "was kinda pumped for a Cooley show."
Hood, who's still resting and recovering, will miss tonight's show (also with Bloodkin) at D.C.'s 9:30 Club. He hopes to be well enough to make tomorrow's gig at Mountain Stage in West Virginia, but for now he's wisely taking it a day at a time.
Always a good sport, before the Charleston show, Hood soldiered through a 30-minute interview for Paste about the band's recent collaboration with Booker T, Potato Hole, and his forthcoming solo album, Murdering Oscar (and Other Love Songs), a schizophrenic affair with half the songs written in 1994, when Hood was at the height of indie-rock bachelordom, and the other half-penned in 2004, when he was beginning a family.
Hood also mentioned that the Truckers were working on songs for a new record, and that they seemed to be splitting into two categories. He said that the band was thinking about possibly turning them into two separate projects, one that might be accompanied by a graphic novel.