At 7 o’clock on a Thursday night, three strangers in a ’99 Provost bus depart from a South Houston suburb destined for Colorado. Over the next twelve hours they will make stops along the I-35 corridor in Texas and Oklahoma, picking up seven other strangers who also hope to make the pilgrimage to Steamboat, Colo. for a country music festival and some fun in the snow.
No, this is not a reality-show concept sitting on the desk of some TV executive in Hollywood.
It’s a trip that was attended by Nashville Music Guide Executive Editor Randy Matthews who impulsively answered a Facebook post from a stranger needing people to go on the trip.
“I was reading Facebook and saw a post from Texas Red Dirt Artist James Lann,” Matthews tells me. “He was trying to put together a last-minute trip to the MusicFest in Steamboat, Colo. I told him if trip was on, I was in.”
There was some question about whether there would be enough people want to come along, but others saw the same post that Matthews did and asked to come along, and Matthews recruited two others for the trip himself.
“A total stranger, Chad Robinson, from Murfreesboro, Tenn. sent me a text message saying to call him, which I did, and he said he wanted to go along,” says Matthews. “He met me in to Oklahoma City where we were going to be picked up. I also called artist Logan Mac who had recently played at Rooster’s Bar in Okla. with Joe Matthews. We’d only exchanged a few text messages but had never spoken in person when I called him about the trip. I asked if he wanted to go on a ski trip with a chance of seeing or partying with one of the fifty acts. A few hours later he was at my house and ready to go.”
Matthews took over the driving from Lann when they were picked up in Okla., and not long after had to explain to a policeman why he didn’t know who was in the bus.
“I was doing 65 in a 55,” Matthews admits. “He asked me how many people were on the bus, but I wasn’t sure. He said, ‘You’re driving a bus and don’t know who is on it?’ I said, ‘No sir. James Lann put this together on Facebook and I honestly don’t know anybody on the bus other than the friends I just met.’ He let me off with a warning and told me to be careful, and I drove the rest of the way to Denver.”
In Denver, they picked up the last of the party and soon arrived in Steamboat for the festival. And that’s where things get a bit hazy.
There’s some recollection of seeing an acoustic set from Wade Bowen, and there’s photographic evidence skiing and of a Kyle Park performance. Other than that, I can only guarantee that a good time was had by all.
With the exception of a four-hour delay in a Wal-Mart parking lot on their way home—the air lines on the bus kept freezing up—the trip was a tremendous success and one that Matthews and others hope to repeat.
“It was awesome,” Matthews says of their time together. “We partied and sang all the way home. I made several new lifetime friends, and we definitely intend to do it again next year—except next year, we’ll have more busses.”
By Andrew Miller