Read Rich Aucoin’s Tour Diary as He Bikes Across America: Volume 7

Finding country music in Nashville and lost kittens on the road.

Music Features Rich Aucoin
Read Rich Aucoin’s Tour Diary as He Bikes Across America: Volume 7

Back in April, we started following psych-rocker Rich Aucoin as he began the coast-to-coast U.S. tour for his new EP, ‘Hold’—which he’s doing on his bicycle. Read Volume 1 here, Volume 2 here, Volume 3 here, Volume 4 here, Volume 5 here, and Volume 6 here. Aucoin will check in with regular updates from his journey, which is set to wrap up June 29 in Brooklyn.

Volume 7: Memphis, Tenn. to Washington, D.C.

I go back and forth on whether I like to make travel plans ahead of time or whether I like to have a loose idea and just let a lot of things fall as they do. While I’m a huge fan of the website Atlas Obscura and subscribe to their daily newsletter, I didn’t do much research before this tour on what I could detour to see, so coming across something like Billy Tripp’s The Mindfield was quite a pleasant surprise. He’s been building the enormous metalworks structure since 1989. I got to chat with him and pick up a copy of his building memoirs, The Mindfield Years. He was an extremely nice fellow and had lots of interesting stuff to say about philosophy and traveling. He recommended William Least Heat-Moon’s Blue Highways, which I had already downloaded as an audiobook because of Meg Remy’s (U.S. Girls) recommendation in an interview a friend of mine had done with her.

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It’s so lush now in Tennessee. Sometimes it looks like the tropics.

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Lots of hot days on empty roads like this. I don’t think I’ll be on any more interstates for the remainder of the tour, which is great. Blue highways only.

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Getting back to Nashville was exciting and felt like seeing it anew. I have typically stayed with friends on the east side, but I stayed downtown this time because of a morning performance. I went out and experienced Broadway St. in all its glory. For those who haven’t been to Nashville, Broadway St. is like a musician’s utopia with literally every business in a 3-block stretch offering live music. The only catch is that every bar plays pop-country music, so I went looking for somewhere I could find real country music, and found it in Robert’s Western World. There, I saw a 6-piece band armed with a fiddle and pedal steel playing some classic tunes and original music. It was really good.

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There’s a thing called “The Wave,” “The Motorcycle Salute”, or “The Drag” (my personal favourite) which is a signal of acknowledgement between two two-wheeled travellers on the open road in North America. These waves, mostly between two motorcyclists, were presumed to have originated between the most famous two motorcyclists: William Harley and Arthur Davidson. While I don’t see many motorcyclists giving the road cyclist the wave, it does happen, and a lot more of them are open to letting the long-distance cyclists into their ranks with a dropped hand offering of respect. It does feel very empowering when a group of bikers cruises by you on a quiet lonely highway, and the leader and pack drop their hands out in recognition.

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I saw something in the middle of the highway that turned out to be a kitten. I couldn’t figure out where it came from or how it got there, but I ran out into the road and scooped it up before it could get run over and checked nearby houses for help. I found no owner, so I put the kitten in my front bike basket and was about to cycle him to the nearest animal shelter when I ran into some women from Abandoned Angels, Inc. They said they’d help get the kitten its shots and find it a home, so I handed the kitten over and continued on my route.

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I visited one of the many caverns of the area and was able to explore by flashlight, because I was the only one visiting at the time. They bent the rules and turned off the lights for me. Then I finished crossing the Appalachian mountains and enjoyed the longest downhill ride of the tour.

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On the Road Kerouacing again, cycling across the U.S. for Mental Health America. You can pledge support and donate directly to them and get a tax-receipt on my fundraiser page here.

Please check out my music on Soundcloud or on Spotify, and see more photos on Instagram and follow me on Twitter.

Playlist for this section:
1. The Darcys ft. Leah Fay, “Just Here with My Friends”
2. The Arkells, “People’s Champ”
3. Dan Mangan, “Troubled Mind”
4. Terror Pigeon, “Girl!”
5. DYYO, “Do You Young One”
6. OG Lullabies, “Lift-Off Luv”
7. Micah E. Wood, “Feel It All”
8. Florence + The Machine, “Big God”
9. Ellevator, “St. Cecilia”
10. Fake Shark, “Wake Up”

And catch me on this tour:
6/26: Philadelphia, Penn.: PhilaMoca w. Terror Pigeon, The Obsessives
6/29: Brooklyn, N.Y.: Knitting Factory w. Terror Pigeon, Ellevator, Cutters

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