by Michael Todd
Along with his acoustic guitar and road supplies, Jeremy Messersmith is packing spiced nuts and bow ties in his tour vehicle. He's leaving Minneapolis today and driving to dinner in 11 Midwestern cities.
In exchange for potlucks in Marshall, Minn., Madison, Wis., Decorah, Iowa, and yes, Omaha, among other dates, Messersmith is playing music for his meal ticket. The guest list is secured for eight of the 11 stops, but with just a handful of hours left to buy tickets — midnight's the cutoff time — Omaha's house show on Tuesday night has vacancy. Messersmith hopes you're into spiced nuts and bowties.
Hear Nebraska called Messersmith this morning as he bid farewell to his hometown. Along with the Midwest leg, Messersmith will set off for the West Coast and later the Eastern seaboard. Read on for details about his supper club, which came about as a cure for the worst parts of touring.
Hear Nebraska: I see many of your dates on this Midwest leg of the tour are sold out. Can you start by saying how much room is left at the Omaha show?
Jeremy Messersmith: I think the Omaha show is about half-full. We had to add that date late since one of our hosts in Lincoln dropped out. It’s about half-full, and today’s the last day to get a ticket for it. We lock out the date on Tuesday.
HN: How did you connect with the house show hosts around the country?
JM: Well, I spent a bit of time touring over the last few years, not a lot, but enough to build up an email list in all these cities. When I decided I wanted to do a tour, I just sent out an email saying, “I’d like to do some house shows. Is anyone up for hosting?” I had a bunch of responses, so we set everything up that way.
HN: Tell me how the idea of a supper club came about.
JM: Well, I just sat down and tried to figure out how I could tour and get rid of all the things that I hate about touring (laughs). That was playing at 2 a.m. in a bar for five people, bad food, sitting around in a dingy greenroom for several hours, soundcheck. All the boring, monotonous parts of touring that take up most of the time. I thought why don’t I just do house shows and why don’t we make them potlucks. I’m a bit of a foodie, and I do all the cooking at home basically, so it just made sense.
HN: And I understand you made some of the food for the tour?
JM: I made some food. It qualifies more as snacks since I can’t really cook anything when I’m on the road, but I did make a bunch of spiced nuts. They are pretty yummy, I won’t lie.
HN: What do you hope a more intimate house show with a pot luck will do for your music?
JM: I think music and food go together. I think every restaurant virtually has music going while you eat. Food is one of the great pleasures in life, and so is music. I hope that overall, it will make for a more memorable experience for people, being able to eat something delicious, have it be more of a relaxed environment and hopefully, hear some good tunes.
HN: I like that you sell handmade bowties along with your other merch. How many did you make for the tour?
JM: Well, I didn’t make them (laughs), but I did go pick out the fabric and stuff with a local clothing designer here in Minneapolis. I kind of commissioned her to do a small run of bowties.
HN: So you’ll no doubt have a collection for sale in Omaha?
JM: Unless the Marshall, Minnesota, folks buy a 100 bowties (laughs).
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. He will wear your bowtie. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.