As I stepped onto the Red Coach bus, the driver called me lucky, saying that he had not been alerted of an extra rider and might have left sooner. The bus was nearly empty, which I presume is fairly common. I took a couple seats and laid back - way back - with my feet up on a foot-rest. Not too shabby.
I slept restlessly throughout the five hour drive and sleepily stepped off the bus upon arrival in the outskirts of Atlanta. I called Anais to get my bearings and found my way to the nearest MARTA bus station. I took the bus into the city to transfers to a Red Line train. I stood at the ticket kiosk for a few minutes trying to figure out how to buy a one-way ticket that wasn't exorbitantly expensive. As I did so, a young man had pity on me and tried to help. Finally he just offered to swipe me in. Great!
I took the train to the Midtown station and then got to walking. I had about a mile to go to get to the UPS store.
When Jorge and Valerie left Gainesville on Sunday evening, they did so with a bunch of my stuff in the back seat. So I had him mail it to a UPS store in Atlanta. This was my first destination. Along the way, I stopped in a Starbucks to use their facilities and in a REAL restaurant/bakery to get breakfast - a bagel and cream cheese for $2.11.
Upon arriving at the UPS store, I paid $5 for my package and then headed to Trader Joe's, in the same plaza, to get some groceries for the next couple days. I bought six bagels, which were nearly the same cost as the one I had bought earlier, some bananas, honey/oat bars, and TJ's superfood juice.
I took a seat on a bench in the lobby to eat my breakfast and pack up the items - my camera, beeswax, a book, and t-shirt - that Jorge had sent for me.
Next was my trek to the venue I'd be playing in the evening. It was so long and hot that by the time I arrived around 1p, my t-shirt was completely soaked with sweat. An intern sitting at the front desk showed me to the basement performance space and insisted that I sit and relax, that he would give me a tour of the facilities when I was ready. I kicked off my shoes, lost my shirt, and laid out on a love seat in the basement. Nap time.
When I woke up, he showed me around the building - a not-for-profit community arts space with a library, media computer room, dark room, recording studio, pottery room, kitchen, and community garden out back. One can become a member with full access to all the facilities for only $10 a month! I was flabbergasted.
I claimed a computer in the media room and got to work as per usual. Before I knew it, the show was due to begin. I took the stage first and tried to navigate through a very low energy from the crowd. The response was weak, save the harmonies I could hear during my cover of NOFX's "Linoleum". It was very difficult to gauge the mood in the room. The artist after me had a similar complaint and the energy didn't really pick up until the third band played, a folk outfit from Portland named Run On Sentence. They deserved the better energy, they were great! So too were their touring partners, Trouble in the Wind.
After the venue closed down, I waited another hour for my Atlanta host to arrive. I had met him in Philly at The Fire and he insisted that I get in touch to stay with him in Atlanta. Communication with him turned out to be rather shoddy, but at least I had a safe place to spend the night.
The following morning, he drove me to an on-ramp for I75/85 in downtown Atlanta. I tried sticking my thumb out for an hour or so but decided rather quickly that my efforts would be fruitless. I walked away from the exit rather aimlessly until I saw a sign - somewhat serendipitously - reading: Greyhound Bus Station ^
I took the hint, following the signs to the bus station. Upon arriving, I learned that tickets to Chattanooga were $31, as compared with the tickets to my final destination, Cleveland (TN), which were $47. I knew that Chattanooga would be along the way for Chicken Little, a Nashville-based band I'd be playing with in Cleveland, so I called them up hoping to secure a ride the rest of the way.
We arrived in Cleveland around 6:30, shortly before the show was scheduled to begin. Chicken Little graciously volunteered to go first. An accordion/guitar duo, they were amazing! The crowd responded great to their music and did so for mine as well. Next up were Front Porch Regulars and Local Union, both based in Chattanooga. Their music was much more "punk rock" but they were very supportive, cool, and fun! The crowd loved it. I loved it. Everyone loved it.
SUPPORT THESE BANDS!
SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC!
I rode away with Chicken Little, falling asleep in the back seat of their greasel car. The two members, Dave and Emma, live at the Food Not Bombs house in Nashville and would be putting me up for the next couple days.