Just got back from a little jazz listening hang at Bar 4 here in Brooklyn, where I got to talking with my friend Tommy about the road. I tend to spend a vast majority of my life driving, as a result of my job as a tour manager, and my most recent stint with Jon Cleary found me behind the wheel of yet another Econoline. Its become a point of pride for me, the ability to cover absurdly long distances by myself, and I wear it as a badge of honor of sorts, at least in the sense of being able to name my most ridiculous drives (NOLA to NYC and back 2.5 times, a couple of Denvers to NYC, Dallas to NYC, etc.)
For this tour, I could have skipped the Louisiana shows, shipped gear and just done a little northeast run, but I had some CDs I wanted to listen to, and I wanted to go south and spend some time in NOLA, so I chose to take on the drives. Here's what I learned this time around. In keeping with my personality, I'll start with the bad news....
I'm a cruise control guy, I like to stay at one consistent speed (there's something to be said for consistency, right?) and its that habit that leads me to my first 2 complaints.
1) Numerous drivers across the country aren't into consistency of speed, and therefore, I found myself a victim of the "I'll pass you, slow down, you pass me, repeat" game, especially in Alabama. That game is so much more fun when one drives after a Maple Leaf show, fails at finding a hotel in Mississippi and starts logging their 9th hr behind the wheel with no sleep.
2) However, that game has nothing on what apparently passes for the new Virginia-wide sport of "almost passing", Having someone living in yr blind-spot? Not that much fun. Having someone living in yr blind-spot when yr driving a 15 passenger van, even less fun. Just pass me for fuck's sake.
3) Ok, on to the good news. Having driven out of NOLA 3 times, I'm starting to get used to the fact that there's gonna be an accident very near me somewhere around Slidell. Three trips out on 10 East, 3 near misses, two of them on 2.10. I'm getting good at avoiding trouble. (Knocks wood.)
4) Mississippi as a state has been much maligned, and rightfully so. However, I'm perfectly content to drive north on 59 as the sun rises, so much so that I had to stop and take it all in. Most of 59 is tree lined, and the country morning just smells so fresh. I also had to pee, but that's just between us.
5) People south of Philly suck at snow. I got into northern VA just as the storm did, and while it only dropped 2-3 inches in that part of the country, it wreaked havoc with the driving conditions. I'm lucky that I grew up in the snow belt, where 3-4 feet in a day was a common occurrence. However, when I left my hotel in VA in search of food, and got 500 feet in 38 minutes, literally, I figured driving in bad weather was a skill best showcased at another time.
6) Favorites. I have 'em, and yeah, I play 'em. For the first installment of what I figure will become a regular feature of this here blog, I want to concentrate on my favorite truck stop CD: "Covered by the J. Geils Band". As Acer wrote "Most people under the age of 35 don’t really know how awesome the J. Geils Band was back in the day," and I couldn't agree more. This collection features exactly what you want from good driving music, up-tempo covers played by a killing soul review at the top of their game. Many of the included tracks were recorded live, an extra added bonus for me. Get it for the "House Party" and "Believe In Me", stay for the "Raise Your Hand" and fall in love with a surprising "Truck Driving Man".