(Jason Lent has forsaken the island paradise of Hawaii to follow us around for a few months. I have happily placed the tour diary in his capable hands. It should bring a new perspective to our ramblings.)
A straight shot south with little traffic brought me into Cajun country. The venue was in the heart of downtown Baton Rogue but that heart wasn’t beating on a hot Sunday afternoon. Very few places were open and even less people were out on the streets. A few miles away, the college campus promised restaurants and record stores but in this heat, a few miles sounded like forever. Behind the venue, a path followed the top of the levee and gave a peaceful vantage of the slowly passing water.
The Manship Theater is housed in a larger arts complex. The curved room extended only eleven rows deep with two single row balconies stacked to the ceiling. Intimate with immaculate sound, it promised a solid night of music. Across the street, the old capitol building stood majestically on a tiny hill. Tucked in a corner of the second floor, I stumbled across the Louisiana Basketball Hall of Fame. It barely filled the small room. Downstairs, an extensive exhibit provided two different perspectives on the work of The Kingfish, Huey Long. The controversial governor and senator fueled his public works and policies to share wealth (good) through corruption (bad) and possibly kidnappings. As I walked back into a wall of thick morning humidity, I realized that I’d probably have voted for him.
After settling in with ‘Misguided Angel’, the show kept gaining momentum and turned into a fantastic set. The room captured every movement of the band. The sound of a guitar pick scraping steel strings on ‘Sir Francis Bacon’ and the murmur of the insect loop on ‘Cicadas’ became voices of their own. Without the pedal steel from the last tour, ‘Cicadas’ sounded more sparse and haunting. It moved into ‘Good Friday’ and ‘Driving Wheel’ to close out a stellar performance by the band. As I walked to the car, I accidentally crossed the water exhibit outside the arts complex and a powerful stream of water shot up my shorts. It was a welcome and refreshing end to an excellent day on a very hot road.