By Patrick Salerno of Grave Next Door
Day 4: Monday, March 16th, 2020
Our gracious host, Kelly Bric, had opened her home to us yesterday and we’d stayed the night. I woke up with a headache and a sore throat; as I pondered whether I had the virus, Metallica’s “Fade To Black” played in my head. I quickly pushed that negative thought down and locked it away, “Not today Corona Virus, not today.”
As I ate breakfast, I tried to see if there was any updated news on the virus. My brother Tony played with the teens on the trampoline while Kyler and I sat in the kitchen. We said our goodbyes and hit the road. We plan to come back and play a festival that Kelly puts together, once all this virus bullshit is over. We pointed the van towards I-40 that takes us to Arlington, TX: our last gig, the one that hasn’t been cancelled. We’re supposed to play with Freedom Hawk an awesome band.
I called Arlington’s city government and spoke to someone in code enforcement; he was super polite and told me that there were no plans to close bars or restaurants in their city, but he also cautioned at this point anything was possible. The venue doesn’t open until 4pm on Wednesday so it’s not like we can call. That’s the day we have to be there. The bands attitude is positive, we have nothing to lose. We are 9 hours from our home in Grand Rapids, MI and 10 hours from Arlington, Texas. I figured at this point we have crossed the Rubicon and there will be no turning back. After all, the motto of Grave Next Door is “ Audaces Fortuna Iuvat” — Fortune Favors The Bold. We are not going home until we have played every one of our last gigs and honored our commitments or the venues (or municipalities) have cancelled the gigs. Quitting is not in this bands DNA.
Everyone was quiet as we drove the winding, two-lane country road with no shoulder down steep hills and sharp curves. The Grape Ape, our big purple van, was not the ideal vehicle for this; I would rather be driving my sleek Audi through these turns but you can’t fit gear in an Audi! Once we arrived to 1-40, Tony took over driving duties and we were west bound. We are in good spirits, as there is only one show left to get shut down, and if it does we are going back home to finish a slew of songs we are working on. This is a win-win situation for us because we have nothing to lose. Freedom Hawk is a really great band and we can’t wait to see them.
Editor’s Note: As you can see from this IG post today, the band is still on their way to Texas!
The sky has been overcast and the rain pelts the windshield as Sleep’s Holy Mountain blares in the van. I periodically check the Facebook page for Division Brewery and it says the show is still on. At fuel and restroom stops, we are keeping a strict protocol of hand washing; while in the van, we periodically use hand sanitizer and spray our can of Lysol.
We grab a hotel in Arkansas, five hours outside of Arlington. Everyone is emotionally spent from the roller coaster of the last few days, but no one’s angry — we’ve moved past that into the acceptance phase. Tony’s back is sore from slamming into the tree on the rope while playing with the teens this weekend. (Watch here — whoops!) My throat is sore, I have no fever, and I’ve been gargling hot water with kosher salt. Kyler, the youngest member of the band, is holding up well. I’m admiring that he’s not a complainer and he’s all in just like the rest of us. He’s the newest member of the band and we are getting to know him more and more every day. I’m glad he’s here in the band. I get the feeling that touring together during this adversity is bringing us closer together as a band, we are becoming a tighter unit, when the pandemic is over — which it will be — and we have another tour, we will be all the more cohesive as a band, not just musically but psychologically. Grave Next Door is being forged in the fire. We are finding that we are not a fair weather band with fair weather bandmates.
It’s 9:30 pm and we all go to sleep. Haven’t been to bed this early in long time.