We stepped into a true college bar, right across the street from Clemson. It’s one of the top 40 college bars according to Business Insider, and the place proudly displays a plaque to prove it. The whole place is decorated in wood which is decorated in graffiti scrawled onto any surface possible using a sharpee, knife, or pen. At the bar the largest text reads “Were (sic) those drunk bitches that signed a wall.”
We’re served gin and tonics in a plastic pitcher. On one side, it’s decorated with the bar logo. On the other is an advert for a DUI defense lawyer. I’m called up at around 10:45 and I’m the first to sing. It’s the first time I’ve opened a place up – not even the KJ sings first. Feels weird, but at least I knock another state off the list. It’s to the point where I can feel the end. Only 16 more to go.
The next guy comes up and sings Tom Sawyer. He looks exactly like a guy who would sing Tom Sawyer from 1982, 1992, 2002, and 2012. His skinny arms and greasy hair thrash about during his air drum and guitar solos. He sounds great. Then no one sings. For a long time; instead the KJ fills the silence with music. Then the singer gets back up on the stage to sing some Boston and performs beer guitar during the instrumentals. I get up again and sing some more classic rock. We sound like a generic radio station I listen to when I’m in the car.
Slowly, others start to get into the action. There’s some Back Street Boys (just like last night), some country, but mostly it’s classic rock. Men singing classic rock – solo, in pairs, and groups. Other than a woman who sings along with the Tom Sawyer guy, I’m the only female who gets up there. Finally the KJ (also male) sings. There’s a mad dash to the books to get in a song during the last hour of the night. Kids half my age singing the songs I grew up with, but never a woman solo, at least not before 1 when we left.
The police come in – two of them – even though the bar is pretty quiet; classes start tomorrow, which I would have thought meant a packed house, but apparently these students need to make it to class on the first day. The two uniforms spend some time in the booth next to us but I can’t really tell what’s going on. My guess is underage drinking and ID checking. They leave alone. I see the guns and worry about someone getting shot; it’s just that time of year. Of America.
A country boy with a can of Busch Light takes the mic and sings Patience with a southern twang. Ball cap pulled over his eyes, blond curls peeking through. Black t-shirt and jeans. He sounds good and I know I would have had a crush on him during college. I was always a sucker for a good voice.
My last song is Pinball Wizard and a drunk college kid gets up on stage with me and asks if he can sing too. I say yes and up he stumbles, beer in one hand, trying to share my mic. I provide him with his own. Not sure if he doesn’t really know the song, or if he’s too drunk to really sing, but it’s fun sharing the stage. At the end, he says “We could go on tour. We’ve got something good here.”
- Location: TD’s of Clemson, Clemson, SC
- Miles traveled: 288
- Songs sung: Heartbreaker (Pat Benatar), Separate Ways (Journey), Pinball Wizard (The Who)