the restrictions placed upon
it circa 1970 for many young
people who were redefining personal expression in the United States.
After moving to Kansas City
in 1968, Brewer and Shipley toured often over a particular stretch of
highway through northwestern Missouri that connected numerous small college
towns, including an early date at the
Missouri. That route became known as their "Tarkio Road". It
was a mother! Along with its share of hair-raising tales of
encounters and nosy police, slapstick mishaps and bad sound systems, the
troubadours also found
Tarkio Road is a mother
acceptance for their songwriting talents and took advantage of the otherwise
friendly midwestern climes to hone their music.
"Our music has always been
somewhat autobiographical, reflecting our own experiences at the time,"
explains Brewer. "Our first three albums are like mini-time capsules in
retrospect. Vietnam was still raging, and a lot of social unrest. We were
experiencing that along with a lot of other people.
"There was a town in
Missouri called Tarkio where we used to play, up in the northwest corner of
the state," Mike explains. "We played a lot of colleges in Iowa,
Nebraska and Kansas and it seems like whenever we had to play one of those
colleges we had to take this highway that we wound up calling Tarkio Road."
Tom picks up the narrative,
"We'd just come back from living in California, so essentially we glowed in
the dark. We had the long hair, and they weren't used to seeing a lot
of long hair. We were just a couple of hippies, in the heartland.
Some of the folks could be rather nasty. Tarkio Road - we'd drive it
at night; we'd be trying to get out of Nebraska, back to Kansas City, it
took exactly one tank of gas to get from Tarkio to St. Joe. The good
news was you could usually make it, slipping into the gas station on fumes.
The bad news was the gas station was a truck stop, and the guys there wanted
to take you apart."