This week began badly for Houndmouth. The Louisville quartet woke up after a gig in Springfield, Mo., where they had opened for the Drive-By Truckers. A thief had smashed into their van and stole its GPS, an iPad, a Blu-ray player and personal items, including clothing.
“They took my favorite yoga pants!” keyboardist/vocalist Katie Toupin laughs with a true yogi’s lightness. For a touring band, such thefts are terrible and extremely inconvenient, she notes. It’s happened to several of their friends’ bands. “Not to point fingers, but it seems like every single one has been in Missouri,” she notes. While the band’s gear survived, presumably too heavy to take, the thief went through dirty clothes and selected favorites, leaving some behind.
At least the thief had good taste in clothes. Toupin and business partner Addie Mills are behind a new store, Bermuda Highway, which will open at 811 E. Market St. on Nov. 8, coinciding with the annual NuLu Holiday Open House shopping event. Their music-themed shop will focus mostly on men and women’s clothing, new and vintage.
“I don’t like stores where you have to go in and look through 8,000 vintage things to buy one thing that’s cool. So the vintage is just unique pieces that are all cool,” Toupin explains.
Vintage band T-shirts will be a specialty of Bermuda Highway, which took its name from an early My Morning Jacket song. “It’s my favorite My Morning Jacket song. It’s obviously a tribute to my friend Jim James,” says Toupin. “He’s been a big brother to our band from the very beginning. So I really loved the whole idea of it … And the line in that song, Don’t let your silly dreams / Fall in between the crack of the bed and the wall, is incredibly fitting for doing something kind of risky,” she laughs.
So she wasn’t inspired by the previous line, Your ass, it draws me in like a Bermuda highway?
“Your ass — yeah, it’s a clothing store, so it works either way!”
James wasn’t the only two-decade music veteran who helped inspire them. Houndmouth met Jack White and his Third Man Records crew in July at the Newport Folk Festival. “I fell in love with them as people,” Toupin says, “and I really loved the idea of just carrying their products, mainly. Also, not to compete with other local record stores. I’m doing a niche sort of thing, so everybody’s winning here.”
While the Nashville-based Third Man’s roving record truck has popped up in front of NuLu neighbor Please & Thank You, what the two shops do will be very different, as Bermuda Highway will only carry all of Third Man’s records, as well as their offbeat knickknacks.
Keeping with White’s penchant for surprises and his celebration of objects, the owners will present an artist-curated section in the store. In December, Dr. Dog guitarist/vocalist Scott McMicken is “actually making these special records, and hand-making clothing and all kinds of things, art, for his section,” says Toupin.
But each month will be something different. “It’s this open format for them to have a presence — a direct, exclusive relationship with the fans out of the store.” Some bands will also play in-store sets.
Houndmouth’s week went on to include a day spent doing tasks like fixing their van’s windows, followed by their debut at Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium — “a huge thrill,” says Toupin. On Halloween, they joined the Drive-By Truckers for a show in that band’s hometown, Athens, Ga. After tonight’s Charlotte performance, they’re done for 2014.
Bermuda Highway began taking shape this summer after Toupin decided to stay in Louisville instead of moving to Nashville. It seemed like a way for her to give back to the community that has given her so much, she says.
Toupin and Mills met at General Eccentric, where Mills worked with Toupin to pick out clothes for Houndmouth tours. While Mills will run Bermuda Highway during Toupin’s tour time, Houndmouth’s three-month break means fans should be able to see plenty of the musician at the store for now. And possibly her bandmates.
“The boys in the band just talk about how they want to steal clothes from me!”