Thursday, October 3, 2013
It is seven 7 am on a Friday morning I am wondering why I am awake this early. This is the music industry after all. Why would anyone willingly get up that early? With coffee in hand I go to meet up with the members of Roadside Libby as they are about to embark on this four hour drive to Lewisville, TX for Western days. Lewisville Western Days is a two day event that features live music, food, beer, and various vendors from the area. It consist of two stages each day. The first stage featured Zane Williams, Mark McKinney, Randy Rogers Band, and Casey Donahew Band. The second stage which featured Roadside Libby also hosted Shane Smith and The Saints, The Damn Quails (who unfortunately got rained out) and varied array of local and handpicked bands chosen to be there. Did I mention it was four hours away?
That is a long way for any one to drive with no guarantee that you will have a crowd, merch sales, or even fun. Roadside Libby founded in 2008 consists of members lead singer Andrew Van Winkle, bassist Jack Van Winkle, lead guitar player Chris Brady, fiddler Frank Martinez, and drummer Chance Gonzales. With one goal in mind for the guys to play music they can be proud of and win over some new fans one song at a time. It goes back to a grass roots way of doing things. There is no agent, no manager, or record label pushing their music or buying ad space. This is all on them. Yes, you can find them reverbnation , ITunes, Ourtracks, and Lonestar music just to name a few places. As of today they are ranked number seven on the reverbnation country chart. They have a little over 800 fans on Facebook and 2400 on reverbnation. It is a constant everyday drive that this band has to stick together and give it their all each show after show. Touring more than two hundred days out of the year, they are seeing as many miles on the road as bands like as guys like Brandon Rhyder, The Damn Quails, etc. The guys are currently planning on the work they are going to put into their next release. An Ep featuring about six new songs the band as a whole has been working on. All while still booking shows, rehearsing, and some in the band holding down day jobs to keep the dream rolling.
Four hours in the backseat of a van isn't glamorous. It's kind of boring to be honest. Town after little town all look the same. Traffic in Austin and Dallas is brutal. While in some ways it can be as dramatic as it is portrayed in almost famous, for the most part is a bunch of dudes just going out to do what they love. Play music and have some fun while doing that. On a good day you make some money to pay the band and put some gas in the van. On a bad day, you may not have enough for dinner at Whataburger.
As the gates opened on the first day of Western Days the guys set up shop. Some folks listened, nodding their heads to the music. Others meandered around as they went to the beer booths and various other booths. I have been to my share of festivals that feature lots of live music, but the set up here was tad bit off. They had most of the bands I wanted see going on at the same time. Usually the stages have alternating sets so everyone can have a chance to hear who they want. Zane Williams and his full band were on at the same time as Roadside Libby. I did sneak over to see the competition on Friday. For the most part the crowds on either side weren't all that different. As the guys came off the stage some of the folks in the crowd came up to the guys to tell them their thoughts and shake their hands. We stayed to listen to Shane Smith's set and then left to prepare for another day and another show.
The next day arrived as dark ominous clouds surrounded the city of Lewisville. Sure enough not long after we loaded in the van the rain poured down. With not much to do but hurry up and wait to see if the band could even go on, we did exactly that. We all in the group wanted to see The Damn Quails play their set before us. Unfortunately with mother natures plans the quails were cancelled. The guys once again would play the same stage and because of the rain would essentially be the first band of the evening. Some of the familiar faces from the day before would be there again but today was different there was more traffic coming in the gate. This meant more of a crowd coming by to listen, dance, and have a good time. All in all some cd's were sold both by hard copy and ITunes. More than a few people from town asked if the guys would be back next year. With a days work done, we went off to celebrate the weekend and take part in the western days activities.
Sunday morning came with out much fan fare. We pulled out of town and made the long trip back to San Antonio. Few things I learned on this road trip...Costco pizza is delightful...why did no one tell me this before? Texas roads are long and seem to never end. While the guys may not be selling out stadiums they are one of the good guys in this business. That's not something you see every day. Especially in this business, where nothing is ever what it seems. As we pulled in to San Antonio everyone was ready for home. For me I will be off this week in search of new music to check out. For the guys of Roadside Libby they are preparing for another round of weekend shows. To do the process of unloading gear, sound checking, playing for three or four hours, reloading the gear, and driving home once again. As the REK song says the road goes on forever...
To see where they will be next click here.