Mile Markers

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

In the decade Red Wanting Blue has spent touring the country, the band has encountered enough bizarre circumstances to provide hours upon hours of wild storytelling.

For every stroke of luck - like finding a sweet bike at a Marquette thrift store - there are a dozen setbacks. Just last week, they had to spend an afternoon driving 20 miles per hour on the South Dakota freeway to get the leaf spring on their trailer fixed.

"Stuff like that always seems to happen," singer Scott Terry said. "If it was just you by yourself, it would be diabolical ... But there's something about being with the band where it always seems to be all right and works out."

Life on tour has not been a life of rock-star glory for Terry and his ever-evolving cast of bandmates, but it has been rewarding nonetheless. The allure of "the circus life," as Terry put it, is the theme of the band's eighth album, These Magnificent Miles, to be celebrated with a show Friday at Newport Music Hall.

Red Wanting Blue has always inhabited the same pop-rock realm as Matchbox Twenty and Our Lady Peace, but These Magnificent Miles continues the band's recent infusion of balladry and, every once in a while, a pinch of country. "Where You Wanna Go" could even be a Rascal Flatts hit.

No matter how they've tinkered with the music, the band has retained a devoted audience through years of do-it-yourself touring and promotion. Terry still hangs fliers himself, and the band continues to tour and release albums without label support. They like doing things this way, but they don't insist on it.

"By no means am I trying to be the poster child of independent music," Terry said. "We're not saying screw the record labels. We're not doing any of that, man. We're a rock 'n' roll band. We travel around. We do the best that we can."

A Magnificent Detour

Perhaps no tour story is better than the one Terry recalled from two years ago. When Red Wanting Blue's van broke down in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the tow-truck driver towed their trailer at no extra charge.

Stranded, they ended up at a party, where the owner of a cab company offered them a ride to a lucrative gig at Montana State University in a cab known as the Tiki Taxi. Nine hours later, they arrived late to Billings, but the university let them play the next night instead.

On the way back, the Tiki Taxi broke down in the middle of Yellowstone National Park. They resorted to an open-mic night in a nearby small town.

A local musician there offered them another ride. So they hopped into his beat-up GMC van with his dog (half-wolf, half-Siberian husky), and he drove them back to Jackson Hole, smoking weed and drinking beer all the way.