I've found myself in the middle of a six day run. It started off with some excitement. I arrived to the first venue and asked about live music for the evening and the person I had inquired with let me know they weren't having any live music that night. An answer that caught me off guard, being I was scheduled to work that room that night. In the last show of the run, I was given an introduction after my set break. In an attempt to help shift focus back on me for this listening room experience, one of the employees nearly demanded that everyone stop talking and listen, stating that they work hard to bring in great artists that deserve to be listened to. Great artists and not just, in his words, "Joe Schmoe and the Dick Suckers" before promptly walking away from the microphone and leaving me in the wake of this...most aggressive introduction. To cut the tension in the room, I reintroduced myself into the microphone at the beginning of the second set. A reintroduction as, you guessed it, Joe Schmoe of Joe Schmoe and the Dick Suckers. Fortunately, that got a laugh and allowed everyone to relax a little. Six shows in just as many days, bookended by two very memorable experiences. I believe that to be the longest streak of shows I've had. When Casey Joe Collins and I did the "Western Dust" tour in May of 2021 we played eight shows in nine days with the day off being after the fourth show. This personal best won't last much longer. In June I've got a tour out to North Carolina and back which will provide me with nine shows in a row, and a total of twelve shows in thirteen days. This job looks fun, but it's not for the faint of heart. But, I digress. I'm working towards the tail end of a longer run of shows. I've been able to drop in at home from time to time, but there's been a fair amount of time spent in hotels and killing time in coffee shops. With scattered focus, I'm continuing to write each of the five novels I've got in the works. I hope they become novels, anyhow. I started writing a trio of western novels ten years ago, none of them are anywhere near completion, but I feel an obligation to write them as my home office is filled with my grandfather's collection of Louis L'Amour novels and novellas. I'm also working on a crime drama, tentatively titled "Devil's Den" which also has some elements of horror. Lastly, is "Cross Family Colors". Another crime-driven-family-drama that I am wildly excited about and can't wait to share it once it's completed. I just have seven chapters left. Then rewriting, proof reading, edits, proof reading again. It's going to be a while. Coupling that with writing songs as often as I can, I am happy that coffee shops across the country allow for such freeloading. In my defense, I do get an oat milk & honey latte and some sort of baked good at each one I visit. Though that's more of a fuel and less of an impulse buy. This transaction of a few dollars worth of much needed caffeine and sugar for hours of WiFi and seat occupation doesn't seem to end in anyone's favor but my own. There was a Caribou Coffee in Rochester, Minnesota. On the same day, and just a few hours later, it was Jitter's in Mason City, Iowa. A couple of days later, I'm at The Coffee Belt in Muscatine, Iowa. However, these aren't the beans you're here to read about.
I didn't realize until now how bean-centric my life has become...
Skinny's Barbeque is a great little joint. It's inside of the Pearl Plaza in downtown Muscatine and it's operated much like the traditional barbeque joints of the south. You place your order and it's plated as you stand in line. You pay. You get your tray. Fill your own drink. Get your own sauce. Find your own seat. It's a small prep kitchen and a smaller staff, but the three people working that small kitchen have barbeque figured out. The brisket nachos were delicious, as seen in the picture below, but again, we're talking about the beans. To start, this was a serving size I can get behind. No small Styrofoam cup. Not a dollop on the corner of your plate. This dish was served up hot in a cardboard boat filled to the brim. The "Pit Beans" were made up of at least three different types of beans and all of them were cooked to a perfect consistency. They were cooked in a sweet sauce that had a slight tang on the back end and hint of smokiness. This bean recipe had plenty of sauce to keep the dish from being dry, but not so much that they became sloppy or soup-like. You could eat these things with a fork and not spill. If there was a downside to these beans, it would be this. While the beans were cooked down well, there was no additional meat or vegetables to be found in this side dish. With all of those beans cooked to tender, the complexity of the dish was...uncomplex. Having the chew of some hunks of pork or brisket would have gone a long way to making this dish more dynamic. The addition of cooked bell peppers or onions would have also helped in this regard. That isn't to say these ingredients weren't in the "Pit Beans", I just didn't find any in my serving.
Ratings (On a scale of 1-5)
Total Score: 11
For what it's worth,
Cheese Delight from Awe'z Sandwich Shop in Mason City: 5