On the Road with Damien Jurado and Kay Kay

photos and updates by Hayley Young

Day 4: Washington, D.C.

Last night we stayed in a 4 star hotel just outside downtown. Hotwire has done it again. This morning, while the majority of Kay Kay’s members join Damien for his in-studio at Sirius Satalite Radio, frontman Kirk Huffman is downstairs enjoying the perks of the luxury establishment. After a sauna, and a jump in the indoor swimming pool, he is tended to by a young lifeguard who will supply him with cucumber water while adjusting the pH of the hot tub for him specifically.

After check out, Huffman and I wait for the van outside the hotel fountain. The early sun is powerful and the pavement below us is absorbing the heat rapidly.

From here, we drive west to Charlottesville. Sheryl Crow will be playing a large arena show a few blocks away. Our venue is a hookah bar upstairs from the main street of town. The patio will be filled with kay kay members and fans smoking flavored sheesha from large gaudy pipes with hoses attached. After the show, when returning to the van, I will find Jurado laying in the middle of the street, bathed in orange light, while Sarah and a few others chat on the sidewalk. Tonight will be a straight drive through the night; the cool darkness a welcomed alternative to the harsh daylight heat.

Pulling into Asheville at 7am, a weary van’s worth of boys begin to stir. The hotel is letting us check in early. After a nice nap, I join Kyle O’quin and Huffman by the hotel pool. It is here that I will acquire my second sunburn while drinking “margaritas” (aka Gatorade lemon-lime and José) from a Styrofoam cup.

Later, we will arrive at The Grey Eagle, tonight’s venue. When I joined the tour I had talked with Damien and crew about video taping a take-away show. Having agreed, I now have this afternoon (alone) to make it happen. With 30 minutes before load in, I am on foot, combing the small town streets of Asheville on the hunt for a room with good acoustics and a piano. Within 20 minutes and three attempts, I have a key code for a large church, complete with baby grand. While the boys begin their load-in/sound check, I borrow the Jurado’s rental car and head to Radio Shack to purchase a mic cable. When I return, there is a small technicality. The show is to begin at 8:30. It was misunderstood that doors were at 8:30. At this point, it is 8:05. If I am to film Damien at all, I am to do it within the next 25 minutes.

Kyle, Sam, Damien, Terry and Sarah are rapidly piling into the van. Sam races us to the church, as I punch in the key code, we are loading the minimal amount of equipment into the cathedral. The boys are placed, the camera is set, the mic does not perform as we hoped and is abandoned for Terry’s iphone application.

With one take and 5 minutes passed, we evacuate the church and race back to the venue where Sam and Terry join the band on stage. The time is 8:28.

I have no idea how this happened.

Damien’s performance in Asheville will be my final and favorite. The Falling Snow will bring me to tears. During his final song with the band, Jurado will become overwhelmed and fall to his knees with his guitar, playing to the feet of Thomas Hunter. Kay Kay members will reflect on this moment with astonishment and joy. Never have the seen Jurado behave this way before.

My eyes are still red with tears when I join Hunter, O’Quin and Jacob James outside for a beer and cigarette. This tour has been bitter sweet for these boys. Having lost their first trailer and almost their second, resources have been tight. With two weeks and a 16 hour desert drive in their near future, I am still sad to be leaving them.

Tomorrow we will be in Nashville. I will have my final meal in a bar that allows indoor smoking and minors. Hunter, Huffman, Anderson and James will escort me to the airport. I tell them I love them as I grab my bags from the back of the van. At this moment, I will regrettably forget my Saint Bartlett vinyl in the console. Impatience and a desperate need to listen to it over and over again will lead me to purchase a second copy as soon as I return to Seattle.

While in the airport bar, a cover band is playing Jimmy Buffet as I poach power for my dying cell phone. I will call my mother and tell her I am thinking of her while “Margaritaville” travels across the bar’s capacity. In 12 hours I will be back to the west coast and Pacific time. It is hard to fathom that in the morning I will be back at work, photographing inanimate objects and checking my neglected email box. The real world is so foreign from the vista of a Ford Econovan. I receive a text from Jesse Lortz. His band has been on the road with New Pornographers for weeks now, and currently his tour schedule has him just on our heels. During this time, we have been touching base with each other as our independent travels cris-crossed us through the country. I am happy at the thought that he and I will meet back in Seattle with plenty a story to tell.

I love tour.

Thank you Damien, Sarah, Thomas, Ritchie, Scott, Matt, Colin, Nick, Dave, Sam, Jade, Jacob, Johanna, Jacob, Aaron, Kyle, Terry, Patrick, Philip, Kirk, Jason, and the Brothers Ensz for your kind hospitality, spontaneous energy, undeniable talent, and, most importantly, for these stories.

holy shit. what a party.

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One Comment

  1. Susan Wilson
    Posted July 5, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Awesome report. Enjoyed reading this.

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