The second to last night, we did a show in Atlanta at Manuel’s Tavern. By that time, we had all just gotten into the rhythm and it was a lot of fun. I was talking to Michael Trent from Shovels and Rope, and we were both talking about, when we get to Atlanta, let’s go get tattoos.

And he had something he wanted to get, and I had something I wanted to get. Cary Ann had drawn him a shrimping boat, because they’re with Shrimp Records, their collective down there. I wanted to get this peach on my arm.

We’re on our way to Atlanta and I’m calling around. I’m on my phone looking on Yelp for high-rated tattoo shops in Atlanta. I found a place called 13 Roses Tattoo in Five Points in Atlanta. It wasn’t that far from our venue. And I called up there and I explained to them. “Hey, listen, I’m on this tour and I’m with this band and we have this show and we’ll finish about 10:30, and I see you guys close at 11. I was wondering if anyone would be willing to stay open, maybe we’ll have three of us come by and get some tattoos?” And they agreed. Strangers agreed to stay open for people they’d never heard of before.

And so I had Jose (Ray, the Unchained Tour bus driver) draw the peach for me. Cary Ann had drawn the boat for Michael. We did the show and it was amazing, like a sold-out show. It was unbelievable. And it was about the most rock ‘n’ roll moment. We did the curtain call, Shovels and Rope is playing and we’re just all dancing, and we say thank you, good night. Cary Ann packs up all their stuff, me and Michael run outside, get into a cab, and we leave this sold-out show to go get in a cab and go to a tattoo shop and get tattoos. And we ended up staying there until — it had to be close to 2:30 or three in the morning. Just hanging out with the guy and talking. Cary Ann showed up after she had cleaned up, and Samita (Wolfe), our producer. Our sound guy Isaac (Hammons) ended up getting his first tattoo that night.

Because it was a favor that a stranger was doing for me, I told everybody that we weren’t going to bring the camera crew and all that, just because that would be too much of a hassle. So it was like a quiet oasis in the middle of all this madness that we had been doing. And it was just a couple of us, like five or six of us, just chilling out on the second floor of a beautiful tattoo spot. They had a room with a pool table, and we’re all just sitting around and talking and laughing. Our producer Samita, she’s covered in tattoos. She has a lot of them. She was telling us stories about hers and we were all telling stories about ours, and little Michael Trent had his shirt off. He was so adorable.

It was a beautiful, beautiful moment. And when Shovels and Rope came and played Mercury Lounge in New York in April, I went and I brought my wife. They were playing and Michael told that story that we got tattoos, and he pulled his shirt to the side and I took my jacket off and raised my arm up. And then he played this song from one of his albums called “All Those Words,” and he dedicated it to me and my wife. And it’s this beautiful, slow, beautiful song that made me cry when he played it, and me and my wife danced there at the front of the room at the Mercury Lounge. It was really beautiful.

Those guys are like family to me now … It was such a great experience traveling with them the first time. The first night, I fell in love with Cary Ann, because she’s so boisterous and amazing. And then as the week went on, it sounds silly, but I started falling in love with Michael, because he’s just cute as a button. And then I fell in love with the two of them as an entity together, because by that time I was missing my wife really bad. Seeing the two of them together, they complement each other so well. I love them so much. I love those guys. I’m so happy for them. The success they’re getting right now, they deserve every bit of it, and more.

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