Gotta say, as terrible as engine troubles can be, we have some great luck with breakdowns. We traveled back to the ice lands of the north, where we could be miserable. Where we could be slowly going broke renting a hotel room or paying out the nose for cleaning fees on AirBnB. Instead, we had a blast hanging out with our friends, Shawn and Emma, at the Happy Productions Studios in Minnesota.
It’s been a wild ride since the engine started its demise in Tallahassee. We pulled over to a gas station right outside of Crawfordsville and met Blacky. We spent a week living with him and his family. Neil came to fetch us and the bus. We carted the whole rig north, going from 80 degrees and palm trees to negative temps and drifts of snow. Right away, Shawn and Emma made us feel welcome (pizza and wine always does the trick). Our bedroom for the week was the green room for their Listening Room. Shawn showed me the ropes to DJing and let me run wild with the morning show on their radio station.
On Wednesdays, Shawn does his flagship show, The Happy Trucker Show, where he drinks and plays bluegrass and country and rockabilly. Again, he let us hang out with him—a decision that led to a lot of mischief. I had told my sister, Heather, that I would give her a call. In our state at the moment—not yet drunk, but tipsy—we decided to call her live on the radio. She played along and told some childhood stories. Then, Samantha Grimes, a singer/songwriter did a live performance and, damn, that was incredible. She had some powerful vocals and dark songs—not at all what you expect when someone says singer/songwriter. And her interview skills are top notch—so much so that Shawn had her stick around for the Lawyers, Guns, and Money segment he does with attorney Patrick Moore. We kept drinking. …Then the station crashed.
I guess this happens from time to time. Something in the digital stream just goes ka-put and all the digital stuff stops digitizing and it’s just silence. Which is really terrible when your entire business is making sound. I saw this go down earlier in the day, when Emma and their daughter, Jarah, were in the studio. If you’ve ever been in the hospital when someone codes and the staff all pile into the room and all know exactly what to do—that’s what this was like. Except a little less dire. Emma drops the needle on a vinyl they have on the turntable. Shawn and Jarah stay calm and reboot the system. When the station crashed during The Happy Trucker Show, things were a little messier. Because I was helping. Because I had been drinking. Because we had all been drinking. “Hey, man, throw on a country record,” Shawn said. So I grabbed CW McCall. The listeners messaged and said please for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t flip the record. So I flipped the record.
“Jump on the mic,” Shawn said. “We gotta talk while we do this.”
I am not a talented multitasker. I mean, studies show that most people are actually really bad at it. Shawn and Emma are exceptions. I am not. In fact, I might be incredibly inept at multitasking. You can ask Miracle, who is regularly having to get me back on track after what should be an inconsequential distraction derails my attention.
Again, I had been drinking. Thus began a conversation about me wearing Shawn’s pants.
See, we had not expected to be in Minnesota right now, the negative temperatures and bracing cold. So Shawn, being the gentleman he is, lent me a pair of his thermal lined work pants. In my drunken state, I could not let the fact that I was wearing Shawn’s pants go. It became the punchline to all my jokes.
I’m wearing Shawn’s pants! HA HAHAHAHAHAHA
Meanwhile, everyone except for me is trying to get the station back on line. Live radio is a trip.
The station got back up and running and the next morning I woke up to do the morning show. As it turns out, I love doing radio. I mean, I’ve always loved making playlists and mix tapes. When I was a kid, my childhood best friend and I used to tape ourselves being DJs and now I kind of wonder why it never occurred to me to do this earlier. I’ll be on the radio for one last time this morning before we move along. Feel free to tune in 8-11 a.m. CST.