Five years ago, the New Orleans based bluegrass band Truckstop Honeymoon was on tour when Hurricane Katrina struck, taking its home and community in the 9th ward. But Mike West and Katie Euliss didn’t let that slow them down. The couple stayed on the road, eventually settling in a place that's about as different from New Orleans as you can get: the semi-rural university town of Lawrence, Kan. They joined Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen to talk about the move and the music that followed.
Of all the towns in America, why did Euliss and West decide to move to Lawrence? They say they wanted to move to a place where the weather wouldn't follow.
“Look at a map,” West says. “Where’s the farthest point you can get from any coastal area in America?”
Though they may have escaped the danger of hurricanes, there is another type of storm that they now have to worry about: tornadoes. West says he’s less concerned with these.
“They can only take out a small-sized town,” he jokes.
West says that their family had to make some severe cultural adjustments in moving to Kansas, though none as difficult as living in a city without Mardi Gras.
"We spent our first year in Kansas, and let the first Mardi Gras go by uncelebrated, and our children looked mortified,” West says. "After that we promised ourselves we wouldn't let it happen again, so we have actually started a Mardi Gras parade here in Kansas.”
Euliss says that the most recent parade brought together around 350 people.
The couple has set up a studio in Lawrence, called the 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor after their studio in New Orleans. It was here that they recorded their newest album, Homemade Haircut.
"Ever since I was a kid I always liked to cut my own hair. It was an empowering thing to just get out the scissors, look in the mirror and get chopping,” says Euliss. “Usually it makes a new outlook, and a new look, and it doesn’t cost you a dime. It gets you the spring back in your step when you need it sometimes.”
Euliss and West have four kids, one of whom recently got her hands on the clippers.
“Our 6-year-old went upstairs and gave herself a homemade haircut, it reminded me of so many that I had in my life when my mother so gently said, 'Let me just straighten that out for ya a little bit,'” says Euliss.
For West and Euliss, their new home is home for good.
“If it was just me and Katie, we'd say whatever, we love [New Orleans]," says West. "To make that choice for me and Katie and our four kids is nigh impossible. We live in a great town, we tour, and we still got chickens in the yard.”