End of tour.

Chris, Aaron, Ross, Corey. Spanish For 100. ©Ryan Schierling

It was somewhere near The Crazy Mountains in Montana - day 17 - when I began to lose my mind. The air conditioner had just given up the R-134 ghost after 14 straight hours of driving out of Denver and temperatures were climbing. I was moist, sticking to my clothes and my clothes were attached to the red bench seat. I had dim memories of seeing the sun coming up, but that could have been one of at least five other sleepless nights on this tour.

Polaroid pictures secured with duct tape to an overhead rail swung back and forth beneath the blue and brown headliner; a pink stuffed ape wearing a mortarboard sat across from me in the captain's chair, the butt of a yellow flashlight unceremoniously shoved into a break in the stitching in its ass. Where was the Uriah Heep that had kept us going for so long? Everyone was silent, a little lost and glassy-eyed, moving in slow motion. The energy drinks for shift-driving were gone. The ice was melted.

I tried in vain to think of some type of candy that has a crunchy exterior and a chewy center. That's what Horchata, the Spanish For 100 bus, had become - crusty on the outside and moist and tender in the middle. We were bad nougat that was quickly heading south, churning west over mountain passes at 47 miles per hour. I couldn't think of the damn candy.

Instead, I drifted back to the trio of passersby in Bloomington, Indiana that walked past the bus, craning their necks with disgusted looks on bobbing heads.
Man: "It looks like a prison bus."
Woman 1: "It's so dirty."
Woman 2: "I know, isn't it awful?"

In Chicago, the imposing-looking bus was parked in a Ukranian neighborhood near the venue. A local remarked that, much to his amusement, all of the elderly Russians on the block thought we were KGB.

Jamestown, North Dakota was a strange one. The night off, a halfway point between Billings and Minneapolis, started at Applebee's and ended at The Office Bar with Old Milwaukee and shots of what the bartender called "liquid cocaine" - a mix of liquors and fruit juices that went down terribly easily. The grand finale of the evening was Corey walking into the bar at 2 a.m. with his acoustic guitar, slapping Aaron's fakebook on the counter, belting out Tom Petty's "Learning to Fly" and then walking right back out the door.

The delicate balance of road noise and roaring engine fan recalled Bozeman, while waiting outside The Filling Station after hours for the owner to let us back in for a left-behind jacket. A train whistle in the distance was perfectly pegged by the band (and faithfully recreated) as a note that is a blend of C-sharp, E, G, and A at different frequencies - a soothing A-minor seventh chord.

Two shows at Kirby's in Wichita were a special occurrence. Paul fed everyone beer all night long and the packed room kept asking for more, even as the bar lights came on. There were no better bands in Wichita those Friday and Saturday nights, period, and certainly none more willing to give back-to-back blistering sets.

There are more randoms, but they're still lost in a road-induced haze. The only constants I can find right now are the coffee shops, the truck stops, the PBRs and a Seattle band so consistently on top of their live show that one listener called them "anointed good."

Thanks, guys, for another wonderful experience.

I'll call you after I'm over the urge to walk down the street to the Shell station every time I need to use the bathroom.


Denver, Colorado.

3 Kings. ©Ryan Schierling


Wichita, Kansas.

Jack's Coffee Shop. ©Ryan Schierling

There is no Jack. There is no coffee. There is no sign. For 50 years there have only been hamburgers and cheeseburgers, and that's it.

Wichita, Kansas.

Corey; Paul. Kirby's. ©Ryan Schierling


Lawrence, Kansas.

Waiting for death. ©Ryan Schierling

I lost a day to heat stroke in Lawrence, so the only photo I took was with my phone while laying in the grass under a tree. With temperatures in the mid-90s and a humidity percentage to match, water, iced tea, Gatorade and sunscreen did little. The midwest is a formidable beast.


Columbia, Missouri.

Allie and Ashley, MoJo's; Hot ash dumpster, MoJo's. ©Ryan Schierling

We spent a second day in Columbia before heading west to Lawrence. Many thanks to Allie and Ashley for their hospitality and opening their home to us.


Columbia, Missouri.

Ross, severe thunderstorms above MoJo's. ©Ryan Schierling


In between.

Chris, on the road. ©Ryan Schierling


Indianapolis, Indiana.

Load-in at the Melody Inn, Indianapolis. ©Ryan Schierling


Bloomington, Illinois.

Jared; Rick. WESN radio. ©Ryan Schierling


Rensselaer, Indiana.

Jeanette; chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy. ©Ryan Schierling


Chicago, Illinois.

Setlist; Aaron and Corey bringing the rock at The Darkroom. ©Ryan Schierling



Corey, North Dakota. ©Ryan Schierling


Stop, truck stop.

Montana; North Dakota. ©Ryan Schierling


Continental divide - Montana.

Ross and Corey; rest stop. ©Ryan Schierling


Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Waking up on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene. ©Ryan Schierling


Seattle and Spokane, Washington.

Loading Horchata; Itz Nasty Time at Flying J #1. ©Ryan Schierling

We're out of here... Internet access will be limited to coffee shops and Flying J truck stops along the road, so I probably won't spend much time typing at you. Instead, I'll post a few choice photos that seem to sum up the best (or worst) parts of the day. Expect a wordy summary when I get back.

Until then, I'm just going to try to remember sunscreen, eat a vegetable or some fruit here and there, and try not to get Spanished.



Thunderhead. ©Ryan Schierling

In early June of last year, I set out for two weeks with Spanish For 100. They were kind enough to ask me along to document their summer tour, so I packed up my gear, a sleeping bag and pillow, and a fist full of ear plugs.

Now, rock and roll shows (and, more specifically, photographs of rock and roll shows) are pretty much the same no matter where you are in the world - there are clubs of varying sizes; the bands load in and sound check, fans show up and listen to the bands; photographers use all of the tricks in their bag trying to make images that don't look like every other rock and roll photographer; fans leave, photographer leaves; bands load out and move on to the next town. It's kind of formulaic.

That said, I didn't spend all of my energy shooting live shots.

Most of what I found visually intriguing were the things you never really get to see - the moments before and after shows, the long roads, the stops in between cities, decisions and indecisions, the collective exhaustion, teamwork and absurdity that is amplified when you're on tour - and perhaps, disturbingly enough, a certain lead singer in tiny blue swim trunks.

It was an amazing time.

This Saturday, I'll be heading out once again with Spanish For 100, for nearly three weeks of criss-crossing the midwest.

Flying J serenade. ©Ryan Schierling

If you're in any of the following cities, towns, burghs or 'burbs, stop by and say hello, throw back a beer and listen to a band whose sound has been lovingly described as "...Fugazi tackling the Merle Haggard songbook..."

June 15 - Badlander, Missoula, MT
June 16 - Filling Station, Bozeman, MT
June 18 - The Uptown, Minneapolis, MN
June 19 - The Darkroom, Chicago, IL
June 20 - Rhino's, Bloomington, IN
June 21 - I.B.C., Bloomington, IL
June 22 - The Melody Inn, Indianapolis, IN
June 23 - Friends and Co., Charleston, IL (canceled due to flooding)
June 24 - Mojo's, Columbia, MO
June 26 - The RePlay Lounge, Lawrence, KS
June 27 - Kirby's, Wichita, KS
June 29 - 3 Kings, Denver, CO