Five years ago, the New Orleans-based bluegrass band Truckstop Honeymoon was on tour when Hurricane Katrina struck. They lost their home in the Ninth Ward and their community was destroyed. But Mike West and Katie Euliss didn't let that slow them down. They stayed on the road. They eventually settled in a place about as different from New Orleans as you can get: the semi-rural university town of Lawrence, Kansas.

Mike West and Katie Euliss of Truckstop Honeymoon are in the studios of member station KANU in Lawrence, Kansas. Welcome, Mike.

Mr. MIKE WEST (Band Member, Truck Stop Honeymoon): Hi.

HANSEN: And welcome to you, Katie.

Ms. KATIE EULISS (Band Member, Truck Stop Honeymoon): Hey, there.

HANSEN: Hey, there. So of all the places in the country, why Lawrence, Kansas?

Mr. WEST: Look at a map, where's the farthest point you can get from any coastal area in America?

Ms. EULISS: No hurricanes to worry about in Kansas.

Mr. WEST: Absolutely not, just very compact circular winds.

HANSEN: And compact circular winds, I think we call them tornadoes.

Mr. WEST: Yeah, only take out a small-sized town.

HANSEN: Yeah, but you write a song, "Kansas in the Spring," "sitting in the basement with the family, listening to the sirens sing."

Mr. WEST: There are many surprising similarities between the Midwest and the Deep South.

(Soundbite of song "Kansas in the Spring")

TRUCKSTOP HONEYMOON: (Singing) It's another beautiful day in the middle of Kansas in the spring. Sitting in the basement with the family, listenin' to the sirens sing. And there ain't no place that I'd rather be, I tell you it's a funny thing. I love New Orleans in the summertime and Kansas in the spring.

HANSEN: Oh. So, Katie, why did you decide not to go back to New Orleans?

Ms. EULISS: Well, the gardening wasn't any good after the backyard filled up with most of the industrial canal.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEST: Well, now. Come on, the squashes really took off.

Ms. EULISS: Well, we had a bumper crop of cantaloupes after the flood. But, you know...

HANSEN: Yeah. You couldn't eat them.

Ms. EULISS: No, there's other minerals that are better for the children than lead and arsenic, and things like that.

HANSEN: I have another - an earlier album of yours. The new one is called "Homemade Haircut." But I want to refer to an earlier one. There's a song you do called "Mardi Gras in Kansas."

Mr. WEST: Yes, indeed. Well, you know, we moved to Kansas from New Orleans. Neither of us is from the Midwest and, you know, it was some severe cultural adjustments we had to make. And one of the adjustments we were not prepared to make was giving up Mardi Gras.

We spent our first year in Kansas, and let the first Mardi Gras go by uncelebrated and our children looked mortified. You know, 'cause after Christmas, that's what they look forward to - Mardi Gras. And they all got dressed up and ready to go out and hit the town in Lawrence, Kansas. And we had to explain that...

Ms. EULISS: It just wasn't happening.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEST: No. No. It was freezing rain and you know...

Ms. EULISS: It was kind of bleak.

Mr. WEST: Yeah.

(Soundbite of song, "Mardi Gras in Kansas")

Mr. WEST and Ms. EULISS: (Singing) Mardi Gras in Kansas, ain't like it is in New Orleans. There's no marching bands, no daiquiri stands, no hookers and no drag queens. No tourists falling in the gutters, as they put their margaritas away. Mardi Gras in Kansas, it's just another Tuesday.

Mr. WEST: But after that we just promised ourselves we would not let it happen again. So, in fact, we have actually started a Mardi Gras parade here in Lawrence, Kansas - a very tiny but beautiful one.

HANSEN: You've established yourself there. I mean, you even call your studio the Ward Nine Pickin' Parlor?

Mr. WEST: The Ninth Ward Pickin' Parlor, which comes from the Ninth Ward in New Orleans. And that's what it was called when it was in New Orleans, so now it's now the Ninth Ward Pickin' Parlor in Kansas.

HANSEN: And that's where you recorded the new CD.

Mr. WEST: Yes, indeed.

HANSEN: I mean, you start off with the title tune, "Homemade Haircut." And I was curious - I mean, I wondered if this was a song about frugality or fashion.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. EULISS: One equaling the other, at times. Ever since I was a kid, I always liked to cut my own hair. And it was an empowering thing to just get out the scissors, look in the mirror and get chopping and see what you end up with. And usually it makes for a - I dont know, a new outlook and a new look.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. EULISS: And it doesn't cost you a dime, and it gets you that spring back in your step when you need it sometimes.


Mr. WEST: And as I remember, shortly before we wrote that one...

Ms. EULISS: Yes, our six-year-old went upstairs and gave herself a homemade haircut. And it reminded me of so many that I had had in my life, that my mother so gently said: Let me just straighten that out for you a little bit.

HANSEN: Do you think you'll ever go back to New Orleans permanently?

Mr. WEST: That's - no. I - we...

Ms. EULISS: Maybe when we're elderly or something.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WEST: Yeah, it's hard to justify with the kids - you know, 'cause we lived in the 'hood and...

Ms. EULISS: We don't have to worry. Like, if I send Mike out to get milk at 10:00 at night for the morning, I don't really worry so much that he's going to get shot on the way there or back. Or just the stress of living on the defense, sometimes when you live in a more edgy environment, I realized when we moved here how much energy I was spending on that. When I came here, I realized I didn't have to look over my shoulder constantly. It was okay to just take a walk with the kids. And you could pretty much trust that the ice cream man was selling ice cream.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. EULISS: And, you know, most times the dogs stay in the backyard. And, you know, it's just a little more relaxing.

HANSEN: But that's kind of the revelation you had after you moved.

Mr. WEST: Yes.

HANSEN: So I'm thinking if there was no hurricane, you probably would still be living there.

Mr. WEST: That's the weird thing. It's one of the changes we may never have chosen to make. You know, 'cause it's not just - if it was just me and Katie, it'd be like whatever - we love it, we've dealt with it before.

Ms. EULISS: Go listen to hot jazz at three in the morning, no problem.

Mr. WEST: Yeah, man. You can't beat it. You know? But to make that choice for me and Katie and our four kids is nigh impossible. Nigh impossible. You know, we live in a, you know, a great town, we tour...

Ms. EULISS: And we still got chickens in the yard.

Mr. WEST: And we still got chickens, 'cause Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas lets you keep chickens, which is important.

HANSEN: Ah. You have your instruments in the studio there, and you're going to end with a tune from "Homemade Haircut." And it actually harkens back to everything you've said about what's happened in your life. It's called "Accidentally," and it talks about how good things can happen when you don't exactly plan for them.

Mr. WEST: Yes, indeed.

HANSEN: And you are going to play, so why don't I just say here is Mike West and Katie Euliss with a tune from their CD, "Homemade Haircut" and it's called "Accidentally."

Mr. WEST: All right, three, four.

(Soundbite of song "Accidentally")

Mr. WEST: (Singing) Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. How'd he do it?

Mr. WEST and Ms. EULISS: (Singing) Accidentally.

Ms. EULISS: (Singing) And how did Kellogg make that very first cornflake? He made it...

Mr. WEST and Ms. EULISS: (Singing) ...accidentally. Oppenheimer found LSD like Isaac Newton found gravity. Like I found you and you found me, we found ourselves with a family. None of this was planned but that's all right, some of the best things in life happen accidentally.

Ms. EULISS: (Singing) I've often heard it said an Egyptian invented bread. How?

Mr. WEST and Ms. EULISS: (Singing) Accidentally.

Mr. WEST: (Singing) And everybody knows the first ice cream sold was made how?

Mr. WEST and Ms. EULISS: (Singing) Accidentally. Albert Hofmann found LSD like Isaac Newton found gravity. Like I found you and you found me, and we found ourselves with a family. None of this was planned but that's all right, some of the best things in life happen accidentally.

Mr. WEST: (Singing) Aww, hup-hup. And Nobel, he made Gelignite, Silly Putty, that was James Wright. They were both made...

Mr. WEST and Ms. EULISS: (Singing) ...accidentally.

Ms. EULISS: (Singing) And the Slinky and cellophane, and radioactivity to name but a few...

Mr. WEST and Ms. EULISS: (Singing) ...they were accidental, too. Albert Hofmann found LSD like Isaac Newton found gravity. Like I found you and you found me, and we found ourselves with a family. None of this was planned but that's all right, some of the best things in life happen accidentally.

Mr. WEST: (Singing) Some of the best things in life happen accidentally.

HANSEN: Mike West and Katie Euliss are members of the band Truckstop Honeymoon. They joined us from the studios of KANU in Lawrence, Kansas. Our thanks to the engineer there, Jason Slote. Mike and Katie, thank you very much.

Mr. WEST: Thank you.

Ms. EULISS: Thank you.

Mr. WEST: (Singing) A-one, a-two, a-one, two, three...

(Soundbite of song "Daddy Don't Play")

HANSEN: You can listen to songs by Truckstop Honeymoon at

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.