Ten years ago, Jon Snodgrass was onstage at former Lake Forest venue The Gypsy Lounge. It was a Friday night on Valentine's Day, and his Colorado-based alt-country band Drag the River were performing to a receptive crowd. Then he–like many who have been drinking–had an idea that sounded amazing at the moment and not so amazing the next morning. Snodgrass announced to the audience that his group would play at the bar every Valentine's Day, and true to his word, they have.
But this year is different, as the Gypsy Lounge has closed its doors for good. Snodgrass and fellow Drag the River singer/guitarist Chad Price had already purchased flights and booked three other SoCal shows around the date, so the duo's gig has been moved to Malone's in Santa Ana.
Here, Snodgrass discusses the past, present and future of his decade-old drunken stage banter.
OC Weekly (Ryan Ritchie): How did the Valentine's Day shows begin?
Snodgrass: One year, we played, and it was a really good, fun night. I was like, “Let's just do this every year.” It was a crazy thing to say, but I said it, and I'm stuck with it, and we've done it. It's sad [the Gypsy Lounge] is closing, but we did it.
Do you feel any relief not having to come to California on Valentine's Day anymore?
It might be nice to be home one of these Februarys. I'm sad that it took this to make that happen.
At some point, some of you must have been in relationships. That's got to be rough.
It's just a Hallmark holiday. Our significant others were pretty excited we were staying home, but then we heard they were going to be open at least through February and that was going to be a good thing. And then it didn't happen. We had a whole tour planned, and we released our holds that we had. That was three months ago. Then a month ago, we heard from Mike [Concepcion, the Gypsy Lounge's co-owner] that things were going to be good, so we scrambled to book shows around it. Then he called and told us it's not happening again.
Have you been on tour for these Valentine's Day shows, or have you come to California to specifically play the Gypsy Lounge?
The first time was on tour. We didn't need to come to California this time. We'd prefer to come when we can go swimming.
Of all the stupid drunken things you've said in your life, where does this rank?
Oh, it's way up there. I remember it annually. I can't give it a number, but it's up there.
Will the Valentine's Day shows continue?
No. I'm going to keep my mouth shut. I mean, it can't.
Is your music catered toward Valentine's Day couples or singles at the bar crying in their beers?
Single. We get asked to play weddings, and the joke is that we're a little more geared toward playing someone's divorce. I think I have one song that's kind of a love song. I just don't write songs like that. Nothing against it.
Drag the River with Jr. Juggernaut and Jackass at the Slidebar, 122 E. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton; www.theslidebar.com. Sat., 9 p.m. Free. 21+.
Also at Malone's Bar & Grill, 604 E. Dyer Rd., Santa Ana; www.malonesbarandgrill.com. Mon., 9 p.m. $10. 21+.