The Plan: Drive my friend, classical guitarist, Andy Wygant, to Tipp City, Ohio where he would be performing a concert in the city’s Hotel Gallery. This concert would help him to raise money for his expenses while studying abroad in Brussels. Not the most exciting sounding of road trips, but you’d be surprised.
We were to meet at the Stab N’ Grab, or as non-southern Cliftonians call it, the Stop N’ Go. And by “we” I meant Andy, myself, and our friend Austin who decided to come along just for the ride. The appointed meeting time was 4 p.m. and they were late.
I shut off the engine of my 2008 Chevy econobox and went into the store to waste time and money while waiting for my comrades-in-travel to arrive. Upon entering, I noticed that behind the counter stood Stab N’ Grab’s iconic clerk with his bald head and long red beard. The look on his
face very rarely resembled the cartoon depiction of his person posted in, around, and outside the store. That’s false advertisement right there folks.
Grabbing three Snickers and a bottle of water for the road, I left the shop with my driving survival kit and headed back to my car. It wasn’t long before Andy and Austin showed up. After some friendly greetings we tossed our belongings into the car and I distributed my recently purchased candy bars equally before hitting the road.
With merely an hour or so of road-time between Clifton and Tipp City, the drive went by unburdened by boredom, bathroom breaks, and bothersome questions like, “Are we there yet?”
Rolling into town with the various small businesses and old style lamps lining the street, you get a peek at the community and artsy vibe that permeates Tipp City.
After finding a place to park, we exited our vehicle to survey the small friendly town of Northern Dayton. Although alien to Austin and myself, Andy had lived in and around Tipp City for most of his early life. So while we took in the atmosphere, Andy hustled and bustled to the Tipp City Hotel Gallery.
The former hotel, now an art gallery, is owned and run by Steve and Sally Watson. After having sold all of their possessions, the Watsons purchased the historic hotel and turned the old three-story building into a beautiful art gallery where one can purchase just about anything contained in the maze of long hallways filled with rooms of candles, pots, pans, photographs, frames, tables, blankets, and more, all taken care of and created on a regular basis. The Hotel Gallery is also home to music, both the performance of and the listening to. The gallery’s Tippacanoe Room, named after the city’s old name, is the home of the gallery’s events.
Living in Tipp City for 5 years, Andy played at the Hotel Gallery weekly for tips, beginning his career as a performing guitar player and befriending the Watsons. Now he had returned for what might be his last concert in Tipp City ever.
We were welcomed into the various connected shops, starting at the one of the Hotel Gallery, a jewelry and accessory shop, working our way through art rooms and clothing stores until eventually entering the Tippacanoe room. It was a long room with walls covered in brightly colored carpets with designs that crisscrossed, wrapped around, and intertwined lines of fabric into beautiful tapestries. The covered walls caused the sounds in the room to dampen, leaving you feeling like you were in a recording studio. We went straight to work setting up mics, recorders, and amps. Although classical guitar sounds best unaltered by electronics, the crowd of mingling middle-aged listeners would need the assistance in the packed gallery room.
The concert went well, the wine flowed heavily, the hors d’œuvre flew off the table, and the music was fantastic as always. Despite living with Andy and hearing the same pieces played six hours every day, the concert atmosphere brings each piece new life. That or it was the wine and/or the bourbon I brought in. Hey, they said byob.
Our stay at the Hotel Gallery ended with the congratulations and well wishes to Andy, conversation about our own art, music, and selves, and a tour ending with a backyard bonfire, witnessing a working water well that was over 100 years old, and listening to the sounds of trains traveling off in the distance.
After saying our goodbyes to new friends and acquaintances, we headed out for a night of pizza, laughs, and reflections. The trip to Tipp City was actually quite fun after all. I got to hang out with friends, check out a new town with a cool community and a fun vibe, and I got to listen to great music with free wine. Who can complain?
Video evidence coming soon