A few weeks back we got a phone call from a venue we played last year and then booked for this year’s tour because we liked it so much. “Hi. We just received your posters. They are really good, but we know nothing about these shows. We have something else booked for your Sunday show, and we don’t do music on Tuesdays. Sorry.” Um….ok. Well, long story short, the restaurant was sold and the old owner also owned the bar next door. We got ahold of him (he was the one who originally booked us), and he said he felt terrible and thought the new place would love us, but since they didn’t want us, he would make good on the bookings, even if the new bar he had wasn’t as nice or as highly trafficked.
So, we rolled in 20 min before our show was supposed to start (we FULLY forgot about the time zone change and lost an hour in travel!) We pulled up to the 1872 Saloon, an old flour mill built before Deadwood! This place smelled old and wonderful and so full of history (except for the brand new bathrooms and air conditioning). It was all authentically decorated, complete with fainting couch, old piano, and creaky rocking chairs. Faded pictures smugly grinned at us from the walls and old books stripping off their binding, lounged on shelves. The modern board games looked like awkward teens at a high school dance, leaning on one another, dying to be picked up and played with. The lights were dark, except for some LED stage lights that had been jerry-rigged to the rafters, and the strange glow behind the bar lighting up the dusty bottles and mixing station. The deep, damp wood all around the place was swollen with the evaporated sweat, accumulated over the years from the soaking wet patrons, withering away in the South Dakota humidity, as sticky and old as the memories collected there. Now, Champagne Sunday would play music to compete with the eerie voices of the past, present and future, creating a musical time capsule of songs and stories that the old building would squirrel away for the next 100 or so years.
The night turned out to be magic! Super fans from last year, Heather and her man showed up with friends and kicked the night off for us. Rudy curled up on the red, velvet fainting couch and watched videos, making subtle remarks throughout the night, like “Buy merch!”, “That’s me, I’m Rudy!” and, “My parents are rockstars!” Paul, the owner, got up a few times to encourage the audience to buy our new album and tip us. At the end of the night, he even loaded us up with a dozen or so random beers that were “too fancy” for his clientele! When counting our tips and sales, we came in over triple our projected income for the night so, in the 92° evening temperatures we opted for an air conditioned hotel, with an amazingly luxurious shower and all the cartoons a kid could want. Apparently, the boys stayed up watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse…I wouldn’t know. I was in dreamland, dreaming of the Wild West, barmaids, and old-timey piano sing-a-long’s! Thank you Yankton, we’ll see you on our return trip home!
Addition by Jared: I had the honor of talking to a few of the patrons that night, and I usually started by asking the standard ice breaker questions: Did you have fun tonight? Is this your first time hearing us? How did you hear about the show / what brought you here tonight? After that, the conversation goes where it goes, and that’s when things tend to get interesting. I love being surprised by how heinously wrong my first impressions of people can be, and how rewarding it is to break through the perceptions and get closer to the truth of who someone is. One conversation in particular stood out to me. Big-ish guy, mid-thirties, trucker hat, dirty work shirt, beard, work boots. You can see him, right? Comes up and begins praising our “realness”, how the world sorely needs it, and how much he really needed it. He has an accent. “Where are you from?” South Africa. “What brings you here?” Work. “How do you like it here?”
His response: (thoughtful shrug) “I really appreciate the lifestyle here. They slow down a bit, they have a good way of life. People still respect the law. In South Africa, I’d been robbed twice, stabbed four times, and even shot once. A lot of people here have no idea how good they’ve got it. Sure, there are problems that need to be addressed, but it’s not as bad as it could be. It’s certainly not as bad as it is in other places.”