Acappella Memories: Grounded in Texas

Big RedI have lost count of the people who’ve told me I should write a book about my experiences on the road. I spent a total of 11 years on the road with Acappella. By my best reckoning, I performed somewhere north of 1400 concerts. That’s a lot of stories to tell.

Too bad I can’t remember most of it. And NO, that doesn’t mean I was doing things I shouldn’t have been doing that blotted out my memory. It means I’m getting old too fast. The book may never happen, but I can at least share some memories here in my blog.

Therefore, I will endeavor to share some of these memories, little by little, over the next few months. I’m sure I will get some details wrong, but that’s what the comment section is for. Those of you who know the details better, please correct me.

I-30 Blues

The first memory that comes to mind probably happened in 1990 or so. It was before I married my lovely wife, Sherri. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, we spent a good deal of time in Texas. Interstate 30 runs through DFW and on to the east through the town of Sulphur Springs.

I-30 was our friend, with the exception of a small patch of road just about 10 miles east of Sulphur Springs. For some reason, there was a series of bumps and holes in the east-bound lanes. As the big rigs rolled through, each would bounce and scrape, pushing the asphalt back a little more. It had gotten to the point that there were at least three areas with mounds and gullies numbering 4-6 in a row. It made for a pretty bouncy section of road. Some were so bad you could see the scrapes in the asphalt from the trucks bottoming out as they came down the next gully. It was terrible.

We were still in Big Red back then. She was an American Eagle that we had converted into a tour bus. I’ve got lots of stories about her. Anyway, we knew this section of road pretty well, having traversed it many times. This particular trip must have been somewhat boring and distracting for our driver. Instead of slowing down to our usual 30 mph through this section, we hit it going a full 65 (which was about as fast as that bus could go).

Big Air Projection

It was around 9:00 AM or so and I was mostly asleep in my bunk, about halfway back into the bus. I vaguely remember feeling the impact as we took the moguls at full speed. I remember the scraping sound continuing for much longer than it should have. The lack of continuing momentum is what woke me up.

I was the Road Manager. It was my duty to make sure things ran smoothly. It came as no surprise when the next words I hear from the front of the bus were, “Mo, get up!” I replied, “No!” The response to this was, “Mo get up! The bus is on the ground!”

What? What does that mean?

Literally Grounded

I rolled out of the bunk, which is what I had to do since I had the bottom bunk. Walking to the front room, I can see that we were pulled over (for the most part) into the shoulder of I-30. Cars and trucks are passing us and everyone was sort of looking at me.

I walked to the front door and opened it to inspect the damage. Instead of stepping down from the bottom step onto the ground, a distance of about 18-20 inches for most busses, our bottom step was ON THE GROUND.

As we were running down I-30, we had entered the mounds of death and bottomed out with more force on each mogul. The third one took us out. Both torsion rods blew and our bus literally bottomed out on the asphalt. It was like a plane with no landing gear. We slid for about 100 feet as we “braked” to a halt. Our wonderful driver (Russell Lamb? Gary Miner? I can’t remember) was able to steer us into the shoulder as we threw sparks all over the place.

Needless to say we weren’t going anywhere. And we didn’t. For 3 days.

All’s well that ends well, I suppose. We made some wonderful friends at the Shannon Oaks Church of Christ. They took us into their homes the entire time while the front end of our bus was rebuilt.

Then there was the time that we woke up and the bus was hydroplaning sideways down the Interstate. But that’s another story. Right Pam?


  1. Wow Mo, I hadn’t heard this story. Maybe you could write a bit like this over time and then put it all together in book, ebook, and audio book, very cool:). Tell us more.

    • Thanks Rhonda. That might not be a bad idea. After another 20 or so memory blogs, it’ll be close to an e-book anyway. 🙂

  2. Larry Sparks says

    Oh, do I remember! Larry

    • I bet you do. I seem to recall you were on the phone quite a bit trying to figure out how to help us get that thing repaired.

  3. It’s amazing how many times God’s hand of protection was over thr group during their road trips. I can recall some “breakdowns” myself, and it always worked out OK. Praise the Lord.

  4. If it was before Sheri… was Gary. I remember that trip.

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