Thursday, August 16, 2007

Indy to Oshkosh: On the Road With TDA

Here's what it's like to roll with Those Darn Accordions: Wake up way too early to the sound of a cell phone alarm. Drive to the Indiana State Fair. Set up your gear. Sweat a bit. Look at the new copies of Squeeze Machine in sunlight for the first time.

Load onto the stage. Marvel at the stage manager's "fun is corntagious" fair shirt. Eat a hand-dipped corn dog. Play three sets, with the temperature steadily rising. (If you're the bass player, screw up a couple of songs -- in the best parts!) Eat a ribeye sandwich. Load off the stage, sweating mightily.

Get in a rental car. Drive toward Wisconsin. Get some coffee at Starbucks. Just before you get out of Indiana, have a nice dinner at Red Lobster (drink three more cups of coffee). While exiting the restaurant, notice the gusting wind and the far-off lightning. Notice that the storm rages between you and Wisconsin. Start driving.

When the torrential dowpour begins, pull over along the highway to endure the worst rain-and-hail storm you've ever seen (imagine 100 angry monkeys with golf clubs and a firehose beating relentlessly on your rental car for 10 minutes). Shriek in disbelief as the hailstones, some of which are just about as big as your fist, slam into your car. Question the state of the windshield of your rented Impala and, in the end, praise the inventor of safety glass. Drive very slowly for a long time, dodging downed trees and miniature lakes that have sprung up in fast lane.

Stop just over the Wisconsin state line for some vending machine "cappucino." Inspect the welter of dents on the rental car and relish the opportunity to perform a real-world test of the "automatic" insurance coverage your credit card gives you.

Keep on driving.

Get to Oshkosh, only to discover that the hotel bar is closed. Walk up the street to Screwballs Sports Pub, 216 N. Main St., Oshkosh, (920) 651-1515, to enjoy a late-night New Glarus double header. Revel in beers that go from half-price to free. Thank proprietor Brett Jungwirth profusely, and promise to drop off a copy of Squeeze Machine. Type yourself into a frenzy as you get psyched to play with Tower of Power and David Sanborn at Waterfest, and plot your revenge against Erin the overachiever.

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