So here’s how it goes: I keep on promising to write, and more stuff keeps happening. Who wants to read a 10,000 word post?
Instead of boring you with the minutia that I typically generate, how about a quick rundown?
Memphis: awesome. Greg Humphreys was my road buddy. 24 hours of driving never went faster. Greg and I penned a modern classis, “Shelby I Told You”… keep your ears peeled for that one on top 10 country radio. Or just come see us at Shakori the weekend of April 20th and we’ll play it for you.
I met countless amazing people, songwriters and musicians at the Folk Alliance conference. For me, the big takeaway was that there are myriad ways to write a good song. It’s exciting to know that your life’s passion doesn’t ever really stop evolving. There’s no way to exhaust the options as a songwriter.
The other FAI takeaway is the strength of the folk community. I met artists and promoters from all over the world, people who maintain friendships across continents. A lot of these artists travel relentlessly. They cross paths on the road and form a sort of nomadic community, coalescing at festivals and conferences like FAI. They do everything they can to support each other.
On the way to and from Memphis, Greg and I stopped in Nashville for a dizzying 48 hours. Highlights? The first night we bar hopped on Broadway. We gave every bar 5 minutes (at least) before we went to the next one. Our focus wasn’t on chugging beers. It was on listening to music. Even on a Wednesday night, there were killers in every bar. The music is less homogenous than one might think. The players are agile and ferocious. Seems there’s no way to ever too good at your instrument… it’s a life’s work!
We also made a stop at Amy Speace’s house for the Nashville Song Salon. Monday nights songwriters get together to swap works-in-progress and offer feedback and constructive criticism. I LOVE this. I wish every song I write could go before the jury this way! Getting a glimpse of other songwriters’ processes and work is also a treat.
Back home in NC, I took a quick breather before we made it to Last Band Standing in Raleigh. We had a great time and witnessed some amazing music from LiLa, Mipso Trio, and Big Something. We won both the can drive and the audience vote (thanks guys!), but my guitar failed at the beginning of the set and we never really got to rip into it the way I like to. Oh well – guitar’s in the shop, and I won’t be traveling without a backup again. If you ask me, it’s a relatively easy way to learn a hard lesson. Take care of your gear! Have a spare!
Onward and upward… we had a gorgeous St. Patrick’s Day at the Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Day Festival (hi guys!), and the next big thing was Suwanee Springfest in Live Oak, Florida.
Suwanee. I almost feel like I should reserve a new post for this. You’ve done enough reading, right?
SUWANEE WAS AMAZING.
Two big reasons:
1.) Beautiful place, beautiful people. The folks who make Suwanee happen work magic. The audience is delightful. Spanish moss hangs from massive tree limbs and you can dip your feet in the river if it gets too hot… does it get much better than this?
2.) MUSIC. Wow. My mind got blown a couple times over. Let’s hear it for Greensky Bluegrass, the Emmitt – Nershi Band, Great American Taxi, Justin Townes Earl, the Infamous Stringdusters, Larry Keel, everyone! Wow!
We arrived on Friday afternoon, played a sweaty set at the Campground Stage, then hit the Porch stage for a late-night show. Among the audience members was a Luna Moth who danced on stage with us, weaving in between instruments and players and generally making me feel like a million bucks. Thanks, Luna.
After our set, we proceeded to stay up for 48 hours playing music. When I get home from music festivals I often experience a deep, inexplicable sadness (in addition to relief upon showering). I realized the other day that this is because, at home, no one will play music with you from the hours of midnight to 9 a.m. Is it not normal to want to sing “Chocolate Jesus” at 5 a.m.?
Suwanee Springfest was a veritable musical playground. I certainly hope to catch my friends from Greensky Bluegrass and Leftover Salmon again soon – Salmon, I’ll see you at Shakori. Greensky, when will you bring your magic back east?
The last week has seen me home safe. Saturday we played at the Pour House with the Morning After for their album release show. Thanks for having us guys, and way to go on putting out a killer album! We had a fantastic time. Jack is an unparalleled sound guy, the crowd was just right, and getting to see the Morning After was a treat.
And now… a weekend off. Whew. I cleaned my room. I’m about to go clean out my car (if you pray, pray for me. I may not make it out alive). I met a great mechanic who says he can put door handles back on my Volvo’s back doors for $75. Woot! Now it won’t be a glorified pickup.
Taking my electric guitar to the shop, poking around for an amp, looking at deals on vans. Enjoying rain on the creek and the wildflowers blooming in our yard.
Thanks to all my travel buddies for the last few weeks. It has been great. I’m just about ready to do it again… Let’s go!