Who would have thought that a 3 week  hiatus near this sleepy little Oklahoma college town, would lead to some of the highlights of our 2010 tour.  The finicky air-bag system (and missing warning light) on our vintage Airstream motor-home caused us to miss a couple of scheduled events back east.  Fortunately, Stillwater’s name is NOT indicative of the local scene.  Livin’ Loud heroes KICKER Audio and legendary purveyors of fine food and fast times ESKIMO JOE’S are both headquartered here!  The gods have once again smiled on our misfortune!

Firstly, the aforementioned ESKIMO JOE’S happened to be prepping for their week-long, 35 year anniversary celebration.  As fate would have it, the powers that be at Joe’s have AWESOME taste in music, and have tapped Zeppelin faves JONATHAN TYLER & THE NORTHERN LIGHTS to help kickoff the week’s festivities.  I have a longstanding pact with JT, that states; if we are within 100 miles, they should consider the Unleaded Zeppelin THEIR tour bus.  TIm at Joe’s was nice enough to carve out a parking space next to the venue, so we dropped anchor there for a couple of LATE nights.  EJ’s owner Stan joined us the first night, to help kickstart the week with an epic after-party that had the NO JUSTICE boyz tapping out early!  Our pals at Budweiser kept all the participants sufficiently hydrated throughout our stay!

JT  and crew ripped the (removable) roof off the joint on Tuesday, and proceeded to do the same on the Airstream afterward.  Country crooner & Stillwater alum KEITH ANDERSON dropped by and tipped a few with the fellas before jetting off for a gig in New York.  Roger D., Kicker’s global marketing whiz, and ex-EJ’s GM, stopped in to validate the proceedings.  Always a pleasure to kick it with my favorite 20-something bluesy southern rockers.  Run, don’t walk to the closest Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights won’t regret it!

A quick glance at revealed that Rock & Roll Hall of Famers (and my FAVORITE band) ZZ TOP was slated for a rare, small venue appearance at the legendary Tumbleweed Dance Hall in Stillwater, later that week.  The heat index was off the charts as ZZT’s crew loaded in the same equipment that had rocked London’s O2 arena just days before.  Multiple tour buses were stuffed into the backstage area of what is one of the nicer outdoor facilities we have encountered.  No room for the Airstream, so we posted-up just outside the backstage gates and began sweating.  Newly-minted friends from Eskimo Joe’s and Kicker joined us to escape the sauna that is Oklahoma in July!  That Little Ole Band From Texas did not disappoint, as everyone in attendance seemed genuinely excited to be in the presence of rock and roll royalty.  After the show, we retired back to a much cooler Airstream for the post-gig debrief and re-hydration marathon.  Billy F. Gibbons, himself joined us shortly after, and laid down an hour and-a-half’s worth of the finest yarn-spinning the Unleaded Zeppelin’s walls will surely ever encounter.   You didn’t hear it from me, but look for a Rick Rubin produced ZZ Top album to drop sometime in 2011...

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