2016-02-13, Sandhills of Nebraska
9am Saturday February 13th and we're driving west through the Sandhills of Nebraska towards Colorado for a gig tonight at Pikes Peak Brewing in Monument, about 60 miles south of Denver. Sarah has Dickey jamming on the stereo, our coffee cups are full, the road stretches out under a grey blanket sky. The snow creeps in drifts off the fields edging up to to the pavement.
Last night was our first show for the tour, we played at the Kinkaider Brewery in Broken Bow, Nebraska. Pretty fascinating place, they named it after the Kinkaider settlers from 1904 when the U.S. government granted a million acres of land to pretty much anyone who would settle in the area, 640 acres per parcel, $14 each. A line stretched the length of Broken Bow of people applying for the parcels as granted by the Kinkaid Land Grant. These people became known as the Kinkaiders.
We veered of I-80 at Grand Island and headed north to Hwy 2 which took us 60 miles west to Broken Bow and then 70 miles beyond on Hwy 92 towards North Platte afterwards. I never knew Nebraska had such beautiful hilly countryside. The Sandhills are gorgeous. Who knew? I highly recommend taking the back roads between North Platte and Grand Island next time you drive through Nebraska.
The Kinkaider Brewery folks treated us so well, just a wonderful bunch of people. The brewmaster Dan let us in early to set up, he was just finishing a new batch and had found a leak in one of his barrels. Their jalapeño ale and Porter were both delicious and all the beers had great names tied to historical events and figures from the area. Devil's Gap, Settlers, Dan Wiser, etc. super fun. It was a good crowd, a parking lot full of pickup trucks, a bar full of cowboy hats. The guy who booked us was one of four co-owners and it turns out he's a bit of a grocery store magnate in the area, with stores in Lincoln, Broken Bow, and several other towns nearby. He sent us to his store to get dinner from the deli and we wound up buying fresh vegetables, black beans, salsa, and a can opener instead, which Sarah turned into a spectacular microwaved burrito dinner back at the motel. Breakfast too. We stayed at the Big 12 Motel, a classic park-by-the-door-and-unload-all-your-gear style roadside motel, with a coffee pot, fridge, microwave, fantastic water pressure, firm mattress, and a real key, not the credit card style of the corporate chains. Heaven really, for a couple low-maintenance travelers.
The gig itself was super fun, we hadn't played in three weeks and we felt like we were shaking the rust off, cleaning out the pipes again to get the blood flowing. Played a few new songs including "Kitchen Door" and "The Winner Is" for the first time. The amps sounded great in this room and I stuck with the Epiphone with the new Fishman pickup from Rauen Guitars for the whole show, not quite used to the the sound yet, but I like it, it's a little punchier than my old pickup.
We've just driven back into the Central time zone on our way from Denver to Kansas City. We're spending four nights in Kansas (and just across the border into Missouri) for the Folk Alliance International Conference. People keep saying how sorry they are that we have to basically drive 1200 extra miles to go to this conference, and yeah, they're right really. But hopefully we make some friendships and meet some people who can help us with international tours. With gas at $1.49/gal right now and Edna getting close to 40 mpg it's only a $45 surcharge in the short term. We did decide at the last minute last night to pop for a motel room with a kitchen for 2 nights in KC, but even that was only $110 total and the home cooking and extra sleep will assuredly be worth their weight in gold. Big shout out to all of you who donated to our road fund to make this possible. We're incredibly grateful and we have some new songs and videos on the way for you in the next week or so. We've already written and recorded three songs in the car, hahaha, yes. The passenger plays ukulele and the driver tends to write most of the lyrics.