All Dogs Go On Tour, Part 6: Where we battle Canada, Hank the III, and a bunch of auto mechanics, and finally our shoes get licked.
We missed our first show when we couldn’t get into Montreal. The immigration officer said, “If you try again to cross the border today, you will all be banned forever from Canada.” That seems like overkill for a bunch of dudes that dress like dogs, and being banned from a country actually seems much like an interesting braggers right. But despite the cool story I’d have to tell at American parties, we surrendered, turned around after two hours of waiting and arguing with Canadian customs and we drove a few yards over to the American customs officer and answered his questions. The only part of us that managed to cross the border and stay in Canada was our muffler that fell off while we were being interrogated. We sat in the van while the guy decided whether or not to let us back into America. He asked, “How long were you in Canada?” and we looked at our watch, “I don’t know, two hours?” We joked about the possibility of being stuck in no man’s land, unable to go to Canada, and unable to get back in to the States. Much like Tom Hanks in Terminal.
But I’m way ahead of myself. Last time we were headed to a state that is not to be messed with. Texas is much like its own country and I enjoy it quite a bit (although the Texas police have given me and my comrades much trouble on former tours). We had two shows in Austin both at different Alamo Draft House locations. If you are not familiar with this particular brand of theater, you will be soon. The Alamo Draft House is quickly taking over American cinema, which is, depending on your perspective, good or bad. No comment.
In Denton we played for very few people in a little rock club where you had to literally become a member of the “club” to drink in order to loophole around the dry county laws. The promoter put us up and did an excellent job as the tech for our show (despite falling asleep in the middle of the show), and all in all we had a great time, then moved on to Houston.
Super Happy Fun Land is a super happy fun place. It’s also a bit scary. Once a cash register repair factory, the place has now been converted into a living space/concert venue/movie theater and filled to the brim with millions of strange kitsch, including doll collections and giant lawn ornaments and statues. They even have a bunch of movie theater seats from a closed down AMC theater. We talked for hours with everyone and smoked some pot a nice fan slipped us. We even used an apple because we had no paraphernalia and because it’s still really fun to do it that way (on a side note, we are not maniac drug addict monsters, and are actually very nice house guests (one of our fans/hosts was nervous to house us after reading a few of these diary pieces, so please don’t be concerned if you plan to house us because we mostly like to sleep).
After Houston was a little place called New Orleans you may or may not have heard of. It’s maybe my favorite city in this country, and feels like nowhere else. Our show was fun, although lightly attended (we still haven’t figured out how to get people out to our shows there). Then, though we were exhausted, we of course went out on the town. At about midnight our plan was to get a few drinks and hopefully see some live music. Then we were dancing, then we were walking around the streets drinking out of plastic cups and then we were dancing again, then it was six o’clock in the morning. Then came the absolute worst hangover I’ve had yet on this tour. You won again New Orleans. You always do.
Then came Mobile Alabama where we were to play in a tiny art theater. I stopped in a little dive bar to try and drink away my hangover, and in the local throw away I noticed that Hank Williams the III was to be in town that night. This troubled me because his show would take people from our show (being that Mobile is very small) and because I’m a huge Hank the III fan and would have loved to see him play.
Anyway, when I walked over to the theater, I noticed that not only was the Hank show on the same night, in the same town, it was directly across the street from our theater. There was a line of punk rockers and metal heads, and good o’l boys around the block, and I could hear the grandson of Hank Williams sound checking. Split in half and kind of wanting to take the night off, I powered through our set up and our performance and then we put on Doggie Woggiez which I knew would run for an hour. I went outside and listened for a moment and heard one of my favorite songs being played right next to me, and after a moment of frantically OKing it with the guys, I raced across the street, bought a ticket and a tall boy and rocked out to Hank for 40 minutes. Then I raced back to the theater, and we did our outro performance. After we finished I looked up at the guys with puppy dog eyes, and they were nice to enough to clean up our gear for me saying, “Get back over there you old hillbilly!” And so then it was back across the street where I caught the last half of Hank who was in the middle of his stoner rock portion of the show.
A lovely couple put us up that night, and I was pumped up from the first live music I’d seen in months. The two wonderful dudes were nice enough to smoke us out, and they let me play their piano late night to ride out my hyped up high and calm down a little before sleeping. In the morning we said goodbye to the fellas and their huge and adorable dog and their southern hospitality.
Despite the surreal and unexpected concert of the night before, it was business as usual once we hit the road. Our hood wouldn’t open, and that is a problem for us, because we need to constantly feed this old engine oil. No oil change places would repair our hood mechanism so we had to go to a Ford dealer. After promising they could without a doubt have us in and out in four hours, they ended up dicking us around for three fucking hours, only to then change the story completely and claim an inability to even fix the van that day, let alone by the time they had promised. I won’t say who, but this bit of bullshit drove one of our tour dogs a bit insane, and he proceeded (in the parking lot of the dealership) to pound on our hood with his fists and yank on it, while actually cackling like a madman, until he miraculously managed to pop the hood himself, at which point he wagged his tail at the dumbfounded mechanics who stared open mouthed as he barked at them in celebration (literally barked) and added the much needed oil to our poor engine, no thanks to those losers in the garage.
We drove to Florida excited to not have given any money to the jerks, but quite worried about the state of the van. The hood problem was our primary concern, but we were also having terrible brake sounds that should have been fixed as we’d already paid good money to brake mechanics in LA and Austin. Alas the sounds just grew worse with each repair and there was no time to stop before our show in Tampa. This is life on the road.
We pulled up to the venue in Tampa and had to immediately start unloading the van and setting up the stage. I had only been standing on the sidewalk for about a minute, trying to take in my surroundings for a second before getting to work, when I was approached by a young stranger. He was a little skinny guy that looked to be in his early twenties, and I imagined him to be homeless because he was carrying lots of plastic bags. He said hello, and seemed friendly enough, so I explained what kind of show we were traveling with. Then seamlessly and casually he moved the conversation over to my shoes, asking if they were DC’s. I looked down thoughtlessly and said, “Yeah, they’re comfy,” or something like that, and he asked if he could see the tread on them. This all happened quickly and I thought nothing of lifting my shoe up so he could get a better look at the bottoms, I assumed he was some sort of aspiring cobbler or something. But when he went in for a closer look, he gently took a hold of my foot and proceeded to lick the bottom of my shoe from toe to heel. Then he stood back up and stared at me with a shit eater’s grin on his face. I was speechless for a few seconds and stared right back at him, a little scared as to what was going to happen next and then I said, “You’re kind of a weird dude, huh?” And he replied, “I like to go to shows.” The other guys were around, and saw that I was talking to the guy, but none of them saw the actual lick. For some reason I neglected to warn any of the guys as to what might happen. Perhaps I was still in a state of shock and trying to make sense of the scene, or maybe I didn’t want to be the lone guy who got licked by the shoe weirdo. So, needless to say, I stood by and calmly watched him do the exact same thing to two more of us. He just went up to them smiled and talked for a bit before complimenting their shoes, asking for a closer look, and then bam, a sloppy lick all the way up the bottom of a sneaker. All the guys reacted in a similar way, half shocked, half grossed out and feeling, I don’t know, slightly molested even? Anyway, apparently the shoe licker is famous in Tampa.
I’ve already probably spent too much time talking about the shoe licker, but that was the most interesting thing that happened there, although the show was plenty of fun. Now I’m sitting here in the van, headed for Toronto. They stopped us from getting to Montreal but they did let us in for Ottawa and Toronto. Also, despite being denied physical access to our Montreal show, we managed to get a hotel room in America, move the beds, set up our stage (amp, fog machine, lights, projected dog images) and skype our live performance to the venue so they could project it for the audience before playing our movie. So take that border patrol. You can use the internet to research us, but you can’t stop us from using the internet to perform in your country without a work permit (I do love Canada, I just hate guards). This tour will be done soon, and I will be back in the states soon. So, keep America warm for me, hopefully they will let us back in.
Brian Kamerer is a writer and a musician and a lover of dogs. See the tour dates here. Read Brian's fiction here and check out Brian's music here.