Unplugged and In the Wind

Unplugged and In the Wind

Posted by Team Motorcycle on Jun 28th 2016

In all of my motorcycle camping excursions, one thing had been missing; a guitar. Riding a vintage bike hundreds of miles, taking refuge in a state park and sleeping in a tent; it would only seem natural to knock off a tune at the campsite at days end. How in the heck do I carry a guitar on a motorcycle, though? It’s difficult enough to pack the necessities on my chopper. My mind was made up though, and I was determined to figure out a way to hop on my scooter with a guitar.


After a little research and a few phone calls, I worked out the details with luthier, Greg Reszel, of Distressed Guitar in Indiana. Reszel immediately got to work customizing a Gretsch Jim Dandy for my trip. We started with the Jim Dandy model due to its compact size. Boasting a 24” scale and light-weight construction, the design is likened to the parlor guitars of the 1930s through the ‘50s. Greg fitted the axe with a K&K pickup and a bone nut and saddle turning an otherwise budget-friendly, entry level guitar into a true gig-worthy performer. Aesthetically, he distressed the finish and added a vintage pinup girl playing card on the lower bout, giving the guitar a unique, one of a kind look. The instrument also has a fitted back-pack style bag making it the perfect six-stringed companion to take on a motorcycle. Heck, I was even able to get my clothes and other essentials in there!


With a few gigs booked, my tent and sleeping bag secured across my headlight and my Gretsch on my back, it was time to hit the road. Starting out riding solo through the Catalina Foothills of Tucson, I met a couple on the street that was kicking off their wedding anniversary with a ride through the hills. We rode side-by-side for several miles before splitting off in our own directions, with another 95 miles to go for the first gig in Tempe.


I pulled into Tempe at 6:30 that evening and my buddy, guitar player and Master Luthier for Acoustic Vibes Music, Bernie Lezotte, joined me on his bike. Bernie had packed and strapped a Journey Instruments Overhead collapsible guitar to his sissy bar, and we headed over to the Shalimar Country Club for their Open Mic Jam Night. After serving up a few Stones and Waylon Jennings numbers to a small but responsive crowd, we spent our last night in civilized accommodations - margaritas included - at Bernie’s digs in Tempe.


On the agenda for day two was a ride up to Prescott, by way of the White Tank Mountains. Although a few extra miles, this route is much more scenic, bringing you up to Prescott the back way. We set up camp at the White Spar Campground in the Prescott National Forest before heading into town for a bite and a brew. Bellied up at the Palace on famous Whiskey Row, the burgers were savory and the beer was cold on this 100-plus degree day.

Without a booking for the day, we decided to head back to the campground and play tent-side. The family camped beside us punctuated each performance with applause as we sang tales of wine, women and wrong. The kids kindly brought us warm, scratch-made peach cobbler that they and their mother had prepared over their campfire. Under the cover of the night, our jam session was interrupted by a pack of wild boar roaming through the campsites. Thankfully, they were of the friendly variety.

The next morning, we packed up for a short 40 mile jaunt to our gig at Tommy Rocks in Jerome. Tommy Rocks is a small, kitschy music store with autographed memorabilia, instruments, accessories, t-shirts and records. Located in the heart of Main Street in Jerome, the store is host to weekend patio concerts featuring acoustic performers entertaining shoppers as they stroll the art walk and shops.

Pulling into town early, we started with breakfast and Bloody Marys at Bobby D’s English Kitchen. With time to kill, we meandered up to the Gold King Mine Ghost Town where we broke out our guitars and threw out a couple tunes that would surely conjure up any lingering spirits. Jerome itself is a legendary ghost town known for having many a brothel right there on Main Street.


Next, we headed to Upper Jerome Park where we entertained picnickers and park goers’ street musician style as we worked up a couple new songs for our set. Nimble fingered and ready to go, we moseyed over to Tommy’s to get it done. Set up on the patio with an incredible view, Tommy Rocks’ is a fantastic venue for acoustic music and art. Although we were scheduled to play for two hours, we s topped after our first 60 minute set due to the extreme record-setting heat of 110 degrees. Not only is that kind of heat unusual for the town that time of year, but it’s not ideal for guitars and guitar players!


In the late afternoon, we made the decision to cut the trip short in lieu of a shower and a day off out of the heat. As we descended from the elevation, the temperatures only increased. We were welcomed to Phoenix by a sweltering 121 degrees; also a record for Phoenix on that day. Aside from the unbearable heat, the trip, the patrons and the guitars were a success. We set out to capture the essence and spirit of vintage Americana; motorcycles, music and sleeping under the stars - and we did.