Tuscaloosa, AL – “25¢ Beer” -The Booth – May 26, 1999

SALLY TAYLOR, 25¢ BEER, read the marquee—a sign (quite literally) and an omen that didn’t bode well. The boys and I gathered beneath it, laughing and snapping pictures to commemorate the insult. But honestly, I was worried.

The drive from New Orleans took six hours, an hour longer than anticipated, and was punctuated by endless wrong turns down unmarked kudzu-lined backroads that nearly brought us to blows. By the time we reached our creepy motel on the outskirts of Tuscaloosa, Brian and I were itching to shake off some steam. The motel, ensnarled in a sea of urban sprawl, hosted a ¼ mile of frontage road. Back and forth Brian and I racked up miles’ rollerblading, past the IHOP, The Lonestar Steak House, and The big box Kmart as the sun got closer to the earth. Upon our return, I insisted on getting dolled up for the show even if it made us late. I wore my mom’s 70’s black, midcalf skirt and a pair of brown boots, I made the boys wait for me to mend with a needle and thread of dental floss. They each complained we were already late for the gig but once there, they admitted they wished we’d stalled longer.

That marquee, unsettling as it was for any singer-songwriter, wasn’t the only surprise awaiting us. The stage was a precarious arrangement of plywood stapled to 2x4s which quivered underfoot like a trampoline. The bar was eerily silent, save for the Miss Universe pageant playing on the TV over the bar. We bided our time waiting for our sound engineer, by watching contestants glide across the screen in extravagant, feathered costumes, their strained smiles seemingly more cumbersome than their attire.

We were surprised when the sound in The Booth wasn’t too bad and even more surprised when the bar filled up to capacity for our show (or maybe for the 25¢ beer). Being a college town, Tuscaloosa was usually quiet around this time of year, but summer school had just begun, breathing life into the usually dormant streets.

Despite a full house and decent sound, there was no denying our stage was a dental hazard. Any time one of us moved, be it to turn up an amp or hit a drum, my mic stand would swing precariously like a metronome trying to punch me in the face. I managed to purse my lips every time I saw the mic charge me like a drunk sailor. but during the final song, just when I thought I was in the clear, the mic took a swing that clocked me so hard, it chipped my front tooth and gave me a big fat bloody lip. Maybe it was the 25¢ beer, but I managed to swallow the blow and finish the song without missing a note. The guys were impressed.

And that’s show business folks.

Reader interactions

2 Replies to “Tuscaloosa, AL – “25¢ Beer” -The Booth – May 26, 1999”

  1. I was playing an early Sunday brunch, little 2 year old boy came wobbling by, lost his balance and used my mike stand to break his fall. I took a hard hit right in the chops.

    1. Hey Bob,

      Ouch! Damnit. That smarts right? Thanks for identifying man.

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