In 2007, Mike Herrera of pop-punk band MxPx joined guitarist Jack Parker, bassist Marshall Trotland and drummer Harley Trotland in an alt-country side project called Tumbledown. The band recently finished a tour in support of their second LP, Empty Bottle. Parker recounts the second part of that tour for us below:
Deep in the heart of Texas is like a second home for Tumbledown. We’ve played more there than in our hometown, and the shows are almost always packed full of enthusiastic Texans. Frisco, Dallas, Austin and Houston were no exception for our Empty Bottle tour. Over the past three years, we’ve made some great friends touring Texas, and every time we leave it’s with great sadness. This time we were headed to Louisiana, which was unfamiliar territory for us.
Our first stop was in Baton Rouge, right next to where the mighty Mississippi empties onto the Gulf of Mexico. After another stay at a Best Western in town we located the nearest Waffle House in our GPS, and headed there for a good and inexpensive breakfast. When we got to the venue, we were a bit surprised to discover it was a thrift store that had been converted into an all-ages venue. We all agreed it felt a little strange. Since we were so early, didn’t know anyone or anything to do in town, we just ended up hanging out in the parking lot for several hours. By the time the show started we were all feeling a little restless. To make matters worse, Mike had become sick within the last 24 hours with a cold/flu, and was losing his voice. We brainstormed a few songs he didn’t have to sing, and came up with Marshall singing Merle Haggard’s “The Bottle Let Me Down,” and me singing a tune I wrote twelve years ago called “Leave This Place.” Our set that night was a bit rough, but we made the best of it.
The next day we headed to Shreveport, about a five-hour drive. We played at Bear’s Oyster House, and had a bounce-back kind of night! The crowd was fantastic, and our set went much better. It’s a great feeling to play a brand new town and have such a warm reception. Shreveport proved that Southern hospitality still exists!
Next we headed over to Hot Springs, Ark., and met up with Andrew Anderson and our friends Bill and his wife Shea. They took us to a soup potluck near the club to get some grub. There must have been 25 different kinds of soup! We decided we should play a couple of acoustic songs for the people there as a thank-you for dinner. When we finished we headed to Maxine’s for the gig. The show was another success and included Andrew joining us for a few numbers. After a good night’s sleep at Bill and Shea’s, we parted ways with Andrew again and were on our way to Memphis.
For only our second time at the Hi-Tone we had a much better turnout. That club has great sound. The next morning we had a little time to kill so we went to Central BBQ for breakfast (yes, BBQ for breakfast!) then headed over to Beale Street. Marshall, Harley, and I had never been there, so we stopped for a beer at B.B. King’s Blues Club, wandered past the Gibson Guitar headquarters (which sadly was closed), and just took it all in. It’s two blocks of juke joints, restaurants and souvenir shops. Our meter was up, and it was time to hit the road again.
We arrived in St. Louis just after nightfall. We had played there once before, but this would be our first time at Off Broadway. Right away we were impressed with the acoustics of this fairly large room. By the time we went on, the place was near capacity. We barreled through a blistering set, and by our last song the whole place was going crazy. After encoring with a truly “Who-esque” version of “My Generation” we noticed there was blood all over the dance floor. During all the moshing someone had apparently stepped on a broken glass! It was a true rock ‘n’ roll show.
The next morning after staying with some friends nearby, we left for Chicago. After a six hour drive we made it to the Windy City just in time for a band interview on Fearless Radio. After a shaky ride on the freight elevator we had a productive hour-long interview, and then went to the venue. Chicago was definitely much colder than any stop so far but was nothing compared to what lay ahead.
The crowd at Schubas was another energetic one, but not quite like the previous night—there would be no blood spilled this time. Our good friend and label head Keith Underwood was in town, so we went to his shop Taylor St. Tattoo after the show. We had all gotten tats from Oliver back in Dallas, and Harley had gotten a second one this time from Keith at his other shop in Austin. Now it was Marshall’s turn for some Underwood ink. By the time he was finished it was quite late, so we headed to our friend Brian’s to crash. He and his family live about an hour north of Chicago in rural Indiana.
We had the next day off so we caught up on sleep and watched movies all day at Brian’s house. It was a much needed day of relaxation. The next morning we woke up early and hit the road to Minneapolis. Things were about to get icy.
Read Chapter One or stay tuned for Chapter Three.