The Bus Driver Tour is a nomadic collaboration among the folk singer/songwriters Paul Lee Kupfer, Dan Freund, and Ian Thomas, who split their time between Montana and Knoxville. It’s an odd enough name for a band (it comes from the group’s first tour together, back in 2011, in an old school bus) but it’s even odder this spring, as the trio has toured the South in a 45-foot boat, mostly along the Tennessee River and the Tennessee–Tombigbee Waterway that runs along the Alabama/Mississippi border.
The tour ends this weekend with group’s scheduled arrival back in these parts after a winter in Montana. They’ll celebrate with a show at Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria in the Old City on Saturday, April 19. More shows are scheduled in early May before the group heads back north.
“Dan, Ian, and myself met at different times while touring through Montana,” Kupfer writes in an e-mail. “At the time, Danny was living in Montana, I was living in Nevada City, Calif., and Ian was in between Asheville and Knoxville. Ian was put on a tour with Danny and then I hung out with them while playing a show in Asheville, and we all hit it off and kept in touch—since we all were used to touring as solo performers, we had a lot in common.
“After that, Ian and I started playing a lot together in the South and eventually found ourselves back in Montana with Danny opening up for us, and we just started all playing together. Originally we found ourselves in a lot of backwoods kinds of places and we had an anything-goes kind of mentality. So the band was born out of that kind of idea, positive energy and camping, you know.”