Wednesday, October 2, 2013

On the Road with Daddy-O Grande of Los Straitjackets

We're pleased to kick off a new series here on the Vintage Roadside blog featuring interesting people and their road trip stories.

You may recognize our first guest, Daddy-O Grande, as one of the masked members of Los Straitjackets. Let's turn up our copy of Jet Set, get comfortable, and enjoy a few of Daddy-O's stories of the road.

Vintage Roadside: What's your earliest road trip memory?

Daddy-O: The first road trip I remember was in 1963 when my family moved from Memphis to Minneapolis. My dad was driving his '62 Ford Galaxie 500. I don't remember the driving part too well, but the colorful motels we stayed at along the way always stuck in my mind. I ended up totally hooked on road travel, unfortunately something my family didn't seem to enjoy doing. Once I became an adult I pretty much never stopped.

Vintage Roadside: Being a full-time musician all these years how many states have you been to so far?

Daddy-O: Every state except Hawaii, that's on my bucket list. I've played gigs in every state except Alaska, Hawaii and Wyoming.

Vintage Roadside: You probably feel the same way us in that it's impossible to pick a "favorite" state to road trip through. But, if someone asks you what state they should plan a road trip to what's the first one that pops into your head?

Daddy-O: I like driving through Wisconsin! Wisconsin has an abundance of giant fiberglass animal statues on the side of the road, not to mention the numerous cheese shops and bizarre tourist attractions. The Wisconsin Dells are a real treat.

Vintage Roadside: You've done a lot of travelling over the years but if you had two weeks, unlimited gas and no schedule where would you head off to?

Daddy-O: I've always dreamed of driving the entire length of the Pan-American highway, from Fairbanks, Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina. Unfortunately there's a gap at the Panama-Colombia border that's impossible to cross. That trip would take more than 2 weeks though.

More practically, sometime soon I'm thinking of taking a trip through Monument Valley and up to Yellowstone, two places I've yet to visit.

Vintage Roadside: One of the joys of a road trip is experiencing mom and pop businesses. From roadside attractions to tiny restaurants in the middle of nowhere it's these places that we always seem to remember years after the trip. Sometimes the ones you really remember though are the odd ones. We've stayed in the Clown Motel, visited a telephone museum, and eaten in places where it's best not to ask when the last time a health inspector stopped by. What are some of the places or things that stand out from your travels?

Daddy-O: There's been more than one barbecue restaurant near the Texas-Arkansas border that reminded me of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, there's no way I could remember names. 

I'll never forget the wonderful "Snowflake Motel" I stayed at with Beat Rodeo outside of Detroit somewhere, a tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright. 

I'll always remember my car breaking down in Pennsylvania and discovering the nearest town was an Amish community called Intercourse.

Intercourse, PA. 1986

Also, I can't drive through northern Wisconsin without having a meal at my favorite Norwegian restaurant, The Norske Nook in Osseo.

Vintage Roadside: Ha! We've eaten at a few places like that too. Are you a fan of roadside attractions?

Daddy-O: Mostly unusual museums.

There was a time in the 80s when it seemed like every city in the south had an Elvis museum, I stopped at many. I saw Elvis' Chest X-Rays at one in Gatlinburg, TN.

Elvis X-Rays on display

When I stopped at the Credit Union Museum in Madison, WI the lady at the front desk was surprised I actually wanted to go inside. They had to actually unlock the doors of the theatre for me so I could watch the multimedia presentation on the history of debt.

The Tupperware Museum in Kissimmee, FL was my favorite though. Featuring the ideal Tupperware kitchen and a cross section of an RV to demonstrate the use of Tupperware while camping, as well as the history of Tupperware parties and food storage through the ages. An attempt to increase attendance by changing the name to The Tupperware Awareness Center failed, and sadly the museum no longer exists.

Vintage Roadside: Are you a souvenir guy? Ever bring home something really unique?

Daddy-O: Mostly from other countries, mostly homemade. I have a Zapatista rebel doll from Chiapas, Mexico.

Daddy-O's Zapatista Rebel doll

Vintage Roadside: Many people out there, including ourselves have clocked miles listening  to Los Straitjackets. We've got to ask - what's next for the band and where will people have a chance to see you and the band again?

Daddy-O: Health issues prevent me from touring full time with the band, and they like to tour more than I'm able, so I do an occasional easy show and let them do all the hard ones. I'll be performing three stadium concerts in Mexico with Los Straitjackets in November 2013. That's all I'm planning on right now. Look for the Halloween themed "Mondo Zombie Boogaloo" that's just been released, and a collaboration with Deke Dickerson to be released next year. Also next year, I plan to release two new solo projects I've recorded in Mexico.

Daddy-O in the studio in Mexico

Vintage Roadside: Before we let you go do you have another memorable story you could share with us?

Daddy-O: In October 1995 Los Straitjackets were touring the gulf coast and we played a show in Pensacola, FL and stayed at a hotel on the beach that night. The next morning a hurricane warning evacuated the town and we searched for and finally found a bar with a TV so we could watch the OJ Simpson verdict. From there we drove to Biloxi, MS to play a big outdoor festival opening for Blood Sweat & Tears. Because of the impending hurricane, BS&T cancelled and few people attended. Instead we played on a huge stage for about 15 people who came to see Blood Sweat & Tears. It was our first year of touring, we were completely unknown, and the audience was very surprised. Later that night, the hotel we'd stayed in at Pensacola Beach was completely destroyed.

Vintage Roadside: Thanks so much for spending some time with us Daddy-O, it was a pleasure to hear a few of your memories and stories from the road! Now, to get into the Halloween spirit we're gonna head over here to pick up the new "Mondo Zombie Boogaloo."

To keep up with Daddy-O please visit his website here. And, for all things Los Straitjackets you'll find the band's website here.

All photos courtesy of Daddy-O Grande and/or Los Straitjackets.

Until next time,

Jeff & Kelly