You know, Sean and I hadn’t returned from tour for but three days before I left town again for a couple of weeks. California was a blast as expected, but that bitch goddess LA took my voice from me. At least, that’s how I want to play it. This is probably just seasonal allergies mixed with a dainty touch of Angeleno smog that has had my throat royally fucked for the past week or so. But, I’m not one to dwell on things like this; I managed to eke out a decent headlining set at Gaslamp in Long Beach last week despite my vocal chords threatening to go on strike with the start of every new sentence. But more on that later, I need to rewind this and thank the appropriate people who made Sonic-Simon 2.0: 2 Sonic 2 Simon (aka Escape 2 Alabama) so much fun! Roll that beautiful mental, meta-physical bean footage:
Sean and I set out in our sweet, sweet rented car for Atlanta on Thursday, March 17th, marking the one-year anniversary of the night we started the first Sonic-Simon tour in (you guessed it) Atlanta. We were originally scheduled to close out the night at our friend Ian Aber’s much-lauded weekly Hot Mic, but the “Tyler Sonnichsen” curse struck the venue and the management decided (that week) to re-purpose their backroom venue. Tough break for Ian, and minor inconvenience for us. Fortunately, we called upon a Miracle – WILLIAM MIRACLE (GET IT HIS NAME’S MIRACLE), who lined up special long guest sets for us at the Hangar, one particular mic I’d been wanting an excuse to hit for a long time. We had a lot of fun. A handful of Atlanta comics (including longtime Knox veteran and video impresario Ben Dongarra) actually hung out and watched our set, too, in addition to the healthy Thursday night crowd. It was in an actual hangar! That serves as a bike shop during the day and absolutely nobody secretly lives there. Anyway, special thanks to William for hooking us up! We retired (hmyes) to my good buddy Evan Valentine’s place, and stayed up surprisingly late and caught up as he wrote his piece about X-Men Apocalypse for Comic Book.com.
The next morning, we shoved off early for Montgomery, Alabama. The night before, right after we pulled into Atlanta, Vern Moody, one of the head honchos of Capital City Comedy called me to tell me that the Sanctuary double-booked that Friday night. Obviously, he and his associate Trey Brown were not pleased. This was the first time the normally reliable, burgeoning DIY/BYOB venue had double-crossed them, and given Montgomery’s relatively small size and lack of dispensable ASAP venues (Knoxville endows me with that feeling often), Trey and his housemates set up a house show for us! Kurt Keller, local comic and beard-growing enthusiast, brought his brand new PA, they filled the house up with their friends, and for the first time in house show history, actually started at a reasonable hour!!!! (No, I am not making that up). The few inhibitions Sean and I had about doing a house show faded away quickly as we had the most fun we probably had onstage all tour, and sold a shit-ton of merch. If you don’t believe it, our sets are now officially posted on my bandcamp page! Read (listen) it and weep (laugh).
I should also mention that it was raining like a complete motherfucker basically all night, and it still didn’t keep those Montgomery kids from packing Trey’s living room. Trey noted that this may have been a one-time deal for that house, as it was technically on the market and their landlord got a bid on it that afternoon. Considering how close the house is to where Flea Market Montgomery once stood, who wouldn’t want to be in on that piece of Alabama history? It’s just like (living near a) mini-mall!
Anyway, we followed our friends The Prices back to their town in the driving rain, white-knuckling the whole way. If I had to pick the single nicest part of the whole tour, it was probably hanging out with them in their nice new home and getting fantastic nights of sleep. I know you all probably came here looking for tales of debauchery from the road, stories about Sean and I getting lost under mountains of hookers and cocaine, but the reality is far from that interesting! We are too frightened to solicit hookers (though we respect them as independent sex workers) and we can’t afford cocaine. We’re also both men in relationships back home, so no comedy groupies for us! Also, we’re both kind of repulsive and don’t have the charisma necessary to pick up women on the road. But that’s neither hither nor thither, to paraphrase Baron Vaughn. Anyway, a nice place to stay with great friends would have made up for even a bad show or two, which fortunately wasn’t a problem we needed to compensate.
On Saturday, after brunch, we headed down to Mobile, one of my very favorite cities in the American South. Sean hadn’t been before, so I was excited for him to see the French-style architecture and have some of that freaking-delicious Cajun sausage they have at the Blind Mule. The show started at 8. The crowd was somewhat thin, but our openers Wiley Farrar, Ryan Jetten, and Nom de Plume were all a blast (particularly Norm, with this particular joke about Kindergarten graduations. He came in from Pensacola, where he performs and co-hosts the Comics Talk Comics podcast). This made my third time headlining or co-headlining that bar, and it always feels like home.
Perhaps the best part of the night came in the form of the touring bands, Elysian Feel and Snailmate, from New Orleans and Phoenix, respectively. Over the years, I’ve gotten used to performing in front of impatient bands who talk through the comedy and pretend like nothing happened onstage before their show. This was the polar opposite of that. Both bands hung out throughout the whole show, laughed their asses off, and the members of Elysian Feels even gave the comics props during their music set. Sean and I had a 2+ hour drive after the show, so we wanted to hit the road, but the bands were both so good, it was impossible to leave. The comedy show and the venue reminded us why we enjoy being comedians, but the night in general made us (speaking on Sean’s behalf here, but he’d probably agree) grateful to be artists supporting and being supported by other artists. Make sure to check out Elysian Feel and Snailmate if you can.
Alright, home stretch.
We slept in at our friends’ place (again, nice accommodations shine brighter than gold when you’re touring), and headed up to Huntsville, stopping off in a dead small town with exactly one Hardee’s to feed the locals. We took obligatory photos in front of a place called the Rocktagon then continued our drive up. We pulled into Huntsville around 7pm to post up at Maggie Meyer’s and get some work done. It was Sunday night in a growing yet still heavily decentralized city, so we decided to hang out and say hi to some locals before the show. Matthew C. Tate, geek king of Huntsville, set up a special show for us on what’s normally just Nerd Nite at the bar. The show began at 9 (after The Walking Dead, of course), and was a nice conclusion to a fun little tour. Daniel Kolle was easily the best-dressed host we had all tour, and Duell Fuckin’ Aldridge, Tate, and Shane Justice all delivered great opening sets.
Funny story about my history with Shane Justice that I’m finally glad to have an excuse to write here: we met very briefly in 2011 around the DC open mic scene. Shane had moved up to manage a Starbucks (or something) in suburban Maryland, and he decided to come down to the 11th Street Lounge mic one Monday night in Arlington. He wore a Teenage Bottlerocket shirt, and because it was an open mic, I couldn’t resist riffing about the band during my set. We hit it off, though we’d only have one or two chances to see each other before I left DC that summer. The following year (I think… my timelines are messed up), Shane moved back down closer to his family in Alabama. We lost touch but stayed connected on Facebook, occasionally commenting on each other’s statuses AS YOU DO. In 2013, I moved to Knoxville and I realized that he had been doing comedy in the Huntsville area. I noticed his name on a handful of regional shows I got invited to. However, it took until a few months ago, when J.C. Ratliff organized an evening of comedy with four of Huntsville’s top comics at the Open Chord in West Knoxville. Ironically, I had been down to Huntsville for Epic Comedy Hour in May 2015, but Shane (normally a patron of that amazing, amazing show) couldn’t make it up despite his best efforts. But now, on a soggy night out in the abyss of West Knoxville, we finally met up again. Fast forward a month, Shane is featuring for me and Sean on an Alabama tour. He told me after the show that this small-world comedy connection was one of his favorite “life” stories. And he even had the courtesy to wear his TBR hat. Small world, indeed, and RIP Brandon Carlisle.
Anyway, yeah, Sonic Simon 2016 is a wrap, and neither of us has really had a chance to dig into funds/expenses yet, but I think we almost broke even? Holy shit, we almost broke even. We also forgot to record our mileage, but the rental car company probably has it in their database somewhere. At any rate, it was easy to get from city to city and gas was stupidly cheap. God Bless the American South (for those specific reasons). I’d rate this tour (albeit short) a success, and Sean and I managed to go another road trip without murdering each other. Who knows, if he still lives in Tennessee, there’s always a chance to fully consummate our hatred of each other next year!
By the way, we still have a couple copies of our sweet-as-hell tour poster and a handful of motivational bookmarks if anybody wants one. I’ll give it to you for a couple bucks or if you flash a winning smile.