On the Road with Sad Fish and Loudermilk and Moon
You know you are getting close to the Florida-Georgia state line when all the motels are priced at 69 dollars and the rest of the billboards are either advertising strip clubs or Jesus. It is as if the billboards are preparing you for your own imminent departure from this world. They are pleading for the very safety of your soul as it crosses from one plain to another. Just remember Jesus knows when your pants grow.
Loudermilk and Moon and their alter ego Sadfish ride in two cars with a U-Haul towing their equipment, hopes, and dreams. Gainesville, Florida is going to be the longest trip on the tour and the sun has been baking our pale white bodies on the black leather seats in Lyle Balde’s whip the red dragon. Lyle is the timekeeper for the psychedelic outfit Loudermilk and Moon.
Closing in on Georgia’s southern border, we took a bathroom break at a gas station and southern souvenir store named plantation house. The venue, about a quarter of the size of a Wal-Mart, housed books on northern aggression, mama’s home remedies, your grandma’s half-assed pottery and authentic handmade moccasins. While everyone slowly filtered out, Lyle and I sat listening to slow jams and conversing. After loading up, the red dragon decided it had had enough and would not turn over. Eventually putting the two cars nose to nose for a recharge, we made our escape back onto the open road.
Right around exit sixty-five, we passed our first stars and bars flag flying proudly over the interstate. This served as another reminder of the southern resistance to progressive change. This is a place of flat green pastures, orange groves, bigots, lakes, rivers, fast food, swamps, alligators, preachers, ordinary folks, rebel flags, zombie Jesus billboards, wide open skies and Adcock Peaches. It is going to be a long psychedelic trip to heaven’s waiting room and back.
Sad Fish is a psychedelic, Brazilian surf-rock band lead by Arthur Cabral who grew up in Brazil absorbing samba music from a young age. Sean Conlon holds down the bass as the cosmic clown troll. Emma Rubenstein brings the beats keeping time and Chris Mcgrath provides secondary guitar to fill out the upbeat surf party sound. Loudermilk and Moon stand as a stark difference in musicality with softer more drawn out songs. Chris Mcgrath, the guitar player, and songwriter towers over his co-conspirators at six foot seven inches while gently leading them through intricate stops and starts. Balling Lyle Baldes keeps time along with Emma Rubenstein on d’jembe and Abigail Popwell on a conga. Cabral trades in his guitar for a McCarntey like bass and Peter Flamming holds soothing sensuous notes on his clarinet.
At 9:30 pm, the picturesque southern downtown sprinkled with palm trees and a cool breeze started to fill with the chatter of excited inaudible white noise. The sidewalk was littered with people as the line stretched around the corner. Smelling of too much cologne, cheap whiskey, and testosterone, the excitement was palpable. It was boots and bikinis a.k.a. lady’s night at cowboys, the redneck bar next door to where Sad Fish and Loudermilk were soon to be playing. Hundreds of people expectantly waited outside in their cowboy hats and boots ready to get drunk and line dance. Meanwhile, next door at Hardback cafe there were faint murmurs of dissident talk about life, love, traveling and Chomsky, a stark difference in scenes to say the least.
At roughly 10:30 pm, Sad Fish took the stage with their signature blow up fish and beach balls floating amongst the small yet invigorated crowd of ten-thousand adoring fans in the tiny intimate venue. No one could stand still once the rumpus began. It was like a beach party for the soul where everyone let their inner beach freak out to play. Loudermilk to the stage by storm brings their sensuous soulful melodies to Gainesville’s already moist climate. Fans went crazy climbing rafters and jumping on stage just to come close to the heart of the infectious rhythm section. Then Gainesville’s own Duchess took the stage to their adoring local fans. Overall, it was a great night for music. Aunt Debbie Conlon then presented us with a gracious and beautiful offer, a place to stay for the night and good rest for all.
Written by Stephen Wilkins (@damngladtomeetcha)