St. Louis, MO – “Soundtrack To The Best Time of My Life” -The Firehouse – June 16, 1999

$6 Bucks
Go Carts
Mini Golf
And cheap wine discreetly sipped from straws in jumbo White Castle plastic cups.

It was cold when we arrived in Missouri and windy. The mini golf range was our scenic view from the middle of the nowhere motel. After checking in, we opened a bottle of wine and settled into a room swathed in overtly floral patterns. Chris Delucchi, visibly enchanted by the mini-golf course, started pointing out some of its quirkier features—“Look at those rainbow flaming lights!” he exclaimed with admiration. “Those water fountains gotta be dyed blue.” “Are those plaster dinosaurs?” Soucy asked, moving closer to the window. Kenny joined in, “That’s the greenest astroturf I think I’ve ever seen.”

Perhaps it’s an indication of how low our standards of a good time have fallen but suddenly we were chomping at the bit to play a round. We poured our freshly decanted wine into super-sized cups left over from lunch and headed across the parking lot, ready for a late-night adventure.

I was delighted by how seriously Brian McRae took his game. He positioned his feet with precision at the top of every hole, claiming the direction of the swing was “all in the feet.” He’d hit his lime green ball and stroll to it like it were a hot girl he was pretending not to notice at the bar. He’d monitor the wind, line up his next shot, and then fold his arms and wait patiently as the rest of us laughed hysterically, hitting our balls haphazardly into bushes and fountains. We were the last group to finish before closing time, and I think the mini-golf employees were glad to see the back of us.

The day was hangover gray when the phone rang the next morning. A bouquet of bright yellow sunflowers in a makeshift water bottle vase nearly blinded me. They tottered threateningly close to falling onto a sleeping Delucchi in the next bed over. It was Brian in the next room, calling to see if I’d go rollerblading with him. He remembered something before he hung up and called so loudly into the receiver I could hear him from the other room: “Sal—my friend asked if we wanted to open for Lynard Skynard this weekend? It would mean hanging out in Missouri for an extra few days but I think it pays well…(hehe)” he laughed nervously. Brian does that. He laughs nervously when he’s unsure of how someone will react to what he’s saying. I imagined the four of us up on a tall outdoor stage at high noon playing to Lynard Skynard’s brawdy crowd (in Missouri no less) and the whole southern, beer-drinking, “Sweet Home Alabama,” sunburn-ness of it gave me heartburn. “So…(hehe)… What’da’ya think?” Asked Bri. “Let’s think about it.” I said, “I mean, I don’t wanna let you down but I’m not sure Lynard Skynard’s our market.” Brian paused, perhaps imagining the same heartburn-inducing visual and replied “On second thought, that’s a terrible idea… (hehe).”

Wheels on, I rolled into the hallway and skated down the red-carpeted isle to the elevator. I hit complimentary breakfast in the lobby, thinking I’d just grab an untoasted bagel and an orange when I discovered it—My new favorite thing. It sat unassumingly on the indelible, beige, mica, linoleum countertop—An automatic mochaccino machine!!!!! All you can drink, all-day, all you have to do is press your desired cup size, your preferred strength of coffee, slide a paper cup under its lip and hit “start!” Over the course of the day, I took advantage at least 50 cups of complementary mochaccinos. Brilliant invention! What will they think of next?!?!?!

Our blade was desolate. We kept mostly to the flatness of “paved paradises” (parking lots) and side streets. The area of Missouri we were stationed in felt soulless, as though even the breeze was afraid to breathe there. We trekked into St. Louis for lunch and ended up at the top of the St. Louis arch. Even though it was pretty cool up there, we all agreed it wasn’t worth the hour-long line.

The Firehouse is an old fire station. Its rugged brown brick walls are beautiful and strong but unfortunately, they make for an echo chamber of a venue if the show’s not packed to soak up the sound. Our show was NOT packed. Apologetically, The Firehouse’s owners, Christian and his wife Kaylene, let us know we were competing with Dave Matthews Band and Chuck Berry on a Wednesday night, no less, and a home team baseball game was just down the street.

The green room was hot and downstairs. I hung my dress on one of the pipes off the low ceiling and sat in a deep yellow chair. My dress rocked on it’s hanger. I Watched some fruit flies case a freckled bunch of bananas in a silver bowl and sipped camomile tea an anonymous employee had brewed and left for me. And in that moment I thought to myself…

This is truly the best time of my life.

On our way home now, speeding along as eagerly as horses heading back to their stable, Kansas stretches out before us—a long, flat, windy place. Over these 9000 miles, we’ve listened to so much good music. If we were to make a compilation tape of this tour, it would definitely include:

  1. John Hyatt – “Come On Baby Drive South”
  2. Black Crows – “Remedy”
  3. Liv Taylor – “Olympic Guitar”
  4. Lucinda Williams – “Car Wheels on A Gravel Road”
  5. Meshell Ndegeocello – “If That’s Your Boyfriend, He Wasn’t Last Night”
  6. Eric Erdman with The Ugly Stick – “Nine Planets”
  7. The Brooklyn Funk Essentials – “Creator Has a Greater Plan”
  8. G-Love and The Special Sauce – “My Baby’s Got Sauce”
  9. Staple Singers – “Love Comes in All Colors”
  10. Donny Hathaway – “Jealous Guy”
  11. The Brand New Heavies – “Make Sauce”
  12. Cymande – “Brothers On The Slide”
  13. Iris May Tango – “Hairdomagic”
  14. Ben Folds Five – “Magic”
  15. Looking Glass – “Brandy”

STB would like to thank the following for making our “Flying V Tour” of the East Coast so damn great:

Big Hand Todd, Dan Beach, The underage dancing girls from Minnesota at The Port O Call, Gary Jones, Kipp, Charles at Harbor Docks for all that phat food, “Big Time” and “Re-run,” Of course: Eric the “Bird Man,” Melba and Mary from the Waffle House, “mom” from Madison, “Hot Po” Tader, I.Q, Peggy, David Starr from Arkansas, “Missy”: Chris’s Mystery girl from Shuba’s, Kim Kelly in Tuscaloosa, Alex Taylor for housing us in Northampton, “Smithy,” Livingston and Maggie Taylor for all of their unbelievable support and loving advice, “The Bubble Man” who ever you are, Ian Selig and Val for up all night in Tribeca, Nimi, Heidi, Cat, and Mikol, Dr. Len and Diane at the Raptor Trust, The kids at the Walden School and Marji and her family (thanks for the chocolates, flowers and “gingew beeww”), Jeffery, Sean Pocock and Mary Jane Rumley, “The Gloms” who probably don’t know who they are, Brint and Liz Anderson… Yummmm food, music, and “one boot playin’ on the porch board,” DJ Image (The parking lot attendant in NOLA), The Porch Board people at Enroute Music, Howard @ Blue Note for the J-45, Jason for the beautiful flowers, Josh for the Safe House, Kate Faccia (thanks for leaving me in Boulder alone!!!!!), “Disco” for supplying Kenny with the cup….(next time bring two), The Paramount for supplying us with our mascot “The un-kind Bud”, Shuckers, All those people who “looked like a chicken to me!”, Those of you who stuck us with the fat ass tab at Walker’s in NYC, Reid’s Ginger Beer, “Key’s to the Trailer,” Laura back in Boulder for everything, Those of you who gave us hours of listening with your CD’s, Ariel, P.I.M, Those cool phone interviewers, Thai Joe, Beccini contestants #5 & #7 From the Windjammer, Gene O’Brian, “Pelican, Pelican, Pelican”, Amityville, all of our parents for their support, Mel, Heidi Wild and Brandon, Nisa, Dave our tow truck driver, Michael White and Mary, and thank you to I-70 headed us West as we speak.