Country & Western Friends Koetz 1982 e.V.
Country & Western Friends Koetz 1982 e.V.
I touched down in Dublin at 10am Ireland time. I managed to sleep maybe two hours on the 8 hour flight over….even though I can fall asleep ok on planes, it just ain’t possible to stretch out for a nights rest. So you basically forgo an entire nights sleep flying over. I try every time I book a European tour to give myself a day to recover, but without fail I end up with a show that night. Usually as long as I can catch a nap before showtime I’m ok. However, I had a radio taping lined up for RTE radio in Dublin, so after getting my rental car, and trying to find out why my old UK Vodafone wouldn’t work, It was time to head out to try and find the studio. I stopped at a payphone and called the guy at the station, trying to get a street address to enter into my trusty TomTom. They do not like to give street numbers in Ireland for some reason. A town and road name is about all you’ll ever get outta somebody…so there ends up beingalotta driving around. I found the studio and grabbed a bit of lunch and we went in and taped our segment. Sandy and Aidan at RTE are wonderfully nice folks. However, I had a 3 + hr drive South to make it to a show in Dungarvan that night.
At some point on the drive down I realized I was in no condition to keep driving. I was just wore out and having trouble keeping my eyes open. I finally found a little store / petrol station to pull into and just threw the seat back and crashed. When I came to I realized I had passed out for an hour. I went into the store and bought a coffee and some more water and a snack. I had made a calculation that I’d rather go without supper and play hungry than tired…or worse…not make it there at all. With my phone still not working and no way to phone the B & B I was booked into, or any way to call the promoter and tell him I was running late, as I got closer to town I just started pulling into petrol stations asking if they knew where the place was. I found it and dashed in and changed clothes quickly and got directions from the couple who ran it on how to get to the venue.
After circling the city centre a few times, the promoter flagged me down as I drove past and I was finally on homebase. I went in and did a quick soundcheck and grabbed a glass of white wine (fearing with my lack of sleep + jet lag I was asking for a migraine) and hit the stage. It was a lovely audience and I was thankful there were folks there….it was exactly the kind of listening crowd I love to play for. The previous 24 hours had been rough, and it was nice to just get up on stage and sip wine and play my songs…..by far the easiest part of my job. Afterwords, the chef at Nude Food, the venue, made me an amazing plate of pork with potatoes and veggies and salad..and I washed it down with some more white…and as she predicted, I passed out dead to the world when I got back to the B & B.
“Quarter till Eleven!!!!” was the thick-Irish-shout that rang outside my room. I had told them I’d take breakfast at 10:30, but was still in my comma when she woke me. I grabbed a shower and went downstairs for my full Irish breakfast. Ordering it was a huge mistake. When she asked me the night before I was so hungry it sounded just right. But I woke up so jet lagged and comatose that I wasn’t too hungry. I only craved the coffee. I do admire an Irish breakfast, but in this case I was no match for it. I did eat my eggs, the sausage, a wee bit of toast, some of the bacon and just poked at the beans. I wanted them to think I made an honest effort at it and it wasn’t for waste.
I only had a 2.5 hr drive over to Carrig-on-Bannow for my next gig. My TomTom would’ve taken me much farther, but I’d been told by the promoter that there was a ferry I could take in the town of Passage East that would shave off an hours drive. It was pouring down rain as I awaited the ferry. The waters of the Bannow Bay were so choppy that I had begun to rethink my decision. The words of the chef at Nude Food returned to me “What? That old piece of Cardboard of boat?”. It looked worse than it was, and it was my Virgin voyage on a ferry as it were. I got to my destination and with still no phone or internet access….just plopped down and took a nap. I awoke and grabbed some food at the only joint in town and went over to the pub I was to play at. It was a long night….the kind you don’t get through without some drinking. This was the kinda Irish Pub I like to drink in more than play in. By myself that is. Maybe a sassy side-gal on fiddle or somebody crackin’ a snare drum would livin folks up…but not designed for singer / songwriters. All the same, very nice people. I slept the sleep of the dead.
I had about an 8 hour drive to the North the next day and really regretted not cutting myself off much earlier. Unfortunately I’m quite the night owl. So no matter how tired I am, once it hits after 10pm..I’m wide awake. Been that way since I was a baby. And what helps you fall asleep, does not help you arise. I made it to Limavady and set up for my show and grabbed some food at the pub/hotel I was booked into. Limavady was quite a town and had alot of history….supposedly “Oh Danny Boy” was written right across the street from where I played. It was a small room, but mostly full and a really great listening crowd. I was wondering if anyone would show right before showtime…but they filed in last minute. I was so tired afterwards….and once again drinking white wine to try to avoid the dreaded migraines…but the pub owner had a really good time too…I mean a really good time…and would not allow anyone to stop drinking. The drinks just kept stacking up in front of me. Became hard to keep up…and thank God I wasn’t drinking Whiskey that night.
Something’s wrong here…
I awoke early in the hotel room. I looked around startled that all my shit was gone. Then I realized I was in a queen bed….and was quite sure my room had two singles. I got up and grabbed what clothes I had taken off and walked out into the hall….and staring across from me was room #2, my room as it were…and entered. I had apparently slept in room #1..whichmust’ve been left unlocked. So I took a right instead of a left and was too out of it to know the difference. Luckily nobody resided in room #1 that night. I slept a few more hours in room #2 and then some woman started banging on the door trying to get me up and out. I decided to save the surprise that I’d messed up the beds in two rooms.
I really by this time had pushed myself to the brink of exhaustion. About 30 mins outtaLimavady, I pulled over and took a little nap…and tried to regain my color. Jet lag, hungover, exhausted, depleted of all life force…whatever you wanna call it…I’d hit the wall. When I came to and got to Dungiven I found good coffee and some food and was back on my way. I had turned what was supposed to be a 2 hr drive into a 4 hr journey…but I eventually made it toRathfriland.
I was staying with the promoter and I found time to lay my head down for about 30mins…never falling asleep, but certainly resting. I quickly showered and we drove over toCastlewellan for my show that night.
This was probably my favorite show of the tour. I was opening for a lad named John Spillane…from Cork…and though were nothing alike, it was nice to just come out and play 45mins and sit back and let someone else do the work. I grant you, my pay was less….but another two hour show woulda been the death of me. When the glass of wine I had hit my belly there was a primordial shout from my tummy that this was unacceptable….so I took it easy that night. A few late night beers back at the house with some leftovers would be my only vice this eve. There was a rather large crowd and just a great venue and great people running it that night. I can’t say enough about the experience. And I picked up a Cork saying “Fair play to you”…or as Mr. Spillane says; “Fair play to me”.
I slept in on Sunday…my day off. Got up made coffee and eggs at the promoters house….then took a big fat nap. I finally had internet access and a ton of emails to catch up on and found out my buddies Tom Mason and Phil Lee were playing about 13 miles away. It was last minute and we already had dinner plans with the promoters family and by the time wewoulda made it the pub woulda been closed. I thought we might cross paths in the Netherlands the following week though.
Monday we rode into Belfast and I did a live radio show with U105. I finally got my bloodyVodafone working again. Seems they deactivate it if you don’t use it within 6 months…but this is information they failed to grant me the multiple times I called. My being in the north and in the UK (where I got my phone) helped. I found a music store and paid 27 pounds for a E harp to replace mine that had blown a reed…unfortunately they didn’t have my brand…but beggars cannot be choosers eh? That night we rode into Rathfriland and I did another community radio show to promote the Bronte gig.
Tues I mostly tried to get my Germany and Holland itinerary straight. I also attempted to wash clothes…but apparently put them on some sort of overnight wash that would’ve gone on for days and days….Jennie, bless her heart, had to look up the manual to figure out how to stop it. It was a new washer / dryer for the beautiful new house they’d built…and I apparently set it on robo-death-wash-machine-mode.
The Bronte show was a small crowd….it was a Tues night in a small Irish town after all…but its one of my favorite places to play in Ireland. Hell, not just Ireland..anywhere in the world. It’s an old Church and where the famous authors, the Bronte Sisters’ father preached. Creepy Wax Figures and all.
Currently it’s Wed night. I drove to Dublin and turned in my car and checked into a Hotel with an airport shuttle. I’ve had a nap, a good Irish Salmon dinner, some good wine, and a few Jameson’s…neat. Tomorrow I fly to Germany to meet my guitar player for the rest of the tour. I’m sitting in the hotel lobby finishing my Ireland blog and reading from my friend Paul Elmo’s forthcoming book; ‘The Little House of The Devil’. There are several tunes dancing in my head from this week….demanding I put pen to page. Time to go…
*(originally posted as a blog on MySpace 11.29.07)
9.26.07 Fultson Manor School ~ Sittingbourne, UK
Alex and I flew into Gatwick airport and drove to Sittingbourne, UK. We had a gig that first evening there at the Fulston Manor School. Once again, making the same mistake I did back in the spring, I flew in on the day of the first show…which meant I didn’t get any sleep. I had a short nap at the hotel and that had to do. But I was happy to be back in England. We met up with my label mate, Jeffrey Foucault and the show promoter and had dinner and were off to the show. When we were setting up our gear at the school, there was a class going on at the time. And I had to laugh, because I’d substituted at schools here in Nashville off and on over the last several years…and here I was across the Atlantic, setting up to play in what’s the equivalent of a high school. (side note: that kids in Nashville used to either tell me I looked like a skinny Jack Black or Jesus when I had long hair and a beard). They had taught some of the kids how to run the PA system. Which, while not perfect I guess…it was hard not to be envious and laugh at the guys. I would’ve killed to be able to run sound and drink beer when I was in high school….at the school mind you…for traveling musicians from another country.
After the show we all (kids excluded) went back to the headmaster’s quarters for a drink. I specifically noted in my journal that the wine we were drinking was called “Bishops Finger”. Nice sense of humor the Headmaster had (more so than any principal I recall growing up). We talked about politics, schools, paddling, caning (which led to the discovery that many schools in the UK were having to drive to Brighton to buy canes at sexshops since they’re harder to come by..no joke.).
9.27.07 The Green Note ~ London, UK
My return to London was much smoother I’m happy to say. A recently purchased TomTom (last time rental car company ran out of them) and a co-pilot made it much easier this time around. Not to mention I drove all over the city for 4 hrs last spring. I met up with a friend (thanks Susanna) who was nice enough to take me up on the London Eye and see the city before our show. So this time; Parliament, Big Ben, the Defense Ministry, Westminster Abbey…..all weren’t just road signs that meant I was once again headed the wrong way. It was nice to spend a bit of time in London not so rushed….though it seemed a tad surreal this time around.
We played the Green Note that night and the club was lovely. The show was sold out and the crowd was wonderful. The wine went straight to my head since it was a vegetarian restaurant and we had tapas for dinner…but I’d later scarf down some chicken falafels out on the street to make up for it. Immy, the promoter at the Green Note treated us great and my first show in London didn’t disappoint. It was nice to see some familiar and friendly faces of folks there at the show.
9.28.07 The Park and Dare Theatre ~ Treorci, English Wales
We drove all the way across the island and over part of the Atlantic sea bay on the way into Wales. I was excited since I didn’t get to see Wales on my first trip to the UK. I felt like I stepped right outta Braveheart…….the hills and villages were so scenic. We were put up at a spot called the Baglan Inn. And it was straight out of a ghost story. There was a pub with good stout beer downstairs…nice and smoky…and were the only ones staying upstairs in the Inn it seemed. I was trying to play tricks on Alex since he seemed a little spooked about the place (and his last name is McCollough to boot), but once I noticed there was a child’s bed and a baby crib in my room…I felt like the joke was on me. I likely had the creepiest room. After what had been several hours of driving on very tiny and windy roads all I had was a pint of Newcastle and some cheese nips to tide me over since breakfast early in London….so I was about to starve. We got some fish and chips from across the street from the Theatre and ate em upstairs with our pints….and though not glamorous…it did the trick.
The Park and Dare Theatre had a magnificent 3 level room upstairs…..and John Prine’s posters were up all over the place. Apparently he was playing there real soon. One of my friends, Dave Jacques, who played bass on my first record, plays with Prine….and I asked him about it when we got home…cause I knew they didn’t put Prine in the Haunted Inn. And they didn’t. We were playing in the smaller room downstairs and it was a good night. I met several people who’d been following me since my first record came out here in 2004….way before I’d been picked up by Rounder Europe. I couldn’t resist drinking a glass of Jack Daniels from Lynchburg (down the road from my hometown). I met a guy who’d tried to help bring me over to the UK to tour back in 2004….he apparently lived abroad delivering ships, which fascinated me….considering I’m a typical southerner…scared as shit of sharks when I go to the beach even. And there was talk of a Welsh Prince who supposedly discovered America long before Columbus (not to mention the Vikings and Japanese). (look it up by the way…and you’ll see he supposedly intermarried with Indians who have descendants in America).
Back at the Baglan Inn we all had a few more rounds downstairs in the pub………and after hearing it over and over, I got into the habit of saying “Ya Dopey Bastard!” to Alex all that week in an English accent. It’s contagious. The bartender told us of the saying in Wales “If it’s cloudy, it’s raining. If it’s not, it’s fixing to.” and later he gave some good advice to a drunk Welshman at the bar; “Don’t Vomit!”. Back upstairs with the ghosts though……..our drama wasn’t through. Alex came knocking on my door late that night…and he’ll swear it’s that his heater wasn’t working…the bed sheets weren’t washed…(I just pretended mine were)…etc, etc. And when he reads this he’ll be pissed off I told everyone…but he was scared shitless. And he wanted to come sleep in my room. So with me in the big bed…him in the little child’s bed…and the crib empty (never piss off baby ghosts)….it was lights out.
9.29.07 E’nt Shed ~ Bedford, UK
Back in that spring’s show, </SPAN>Bedford was a blur to me. I’d been in my rental car for 12 hours driving …much of it in downtown London….and had barely got into town in time to make my gig. This time I’d cruised into town on a 3 or 4 hr trip…splitting driving with Alex and in a pretty damn good mood. Bedford is actually a lovely town…very scenic downtown. Alex, Jeff and I had a great meal at a nice Indian restaurant before the show…….and the show itself was great. A good crowd was there and that always makes it nice. We went out afterwards with the show promoters, who are some of the nicest folks I’ve met in the UK, and had a great bottle of Venlo at a bar nearby. The bar owner looked just like Keith Richards….and they spun great rock n roll records all night long….and probably the best olives I’ve ever eaten in my life. Too much fun.
9.30.07 The Musician ~ Leicester, UK
Luckily Leicester (Roman name) was a short drive. All those good times meant some tired fellas on this day. It was nice to get into town and crash. The Musician was a really nice club..and the sound was great. There were posters on the walls from my friends Rod Picott and Will Kimbrough from back in Nashville…who must’ve been through recently. After talking about it for several days….Jeff, Alex and I finally learned a song to do together during the shows and we did a version of Neil Young’s “Out On The Weekend”.
I specifically remember standing outside on the street and seeing a red fox run across like an alley cat or stray dog would back home. Weird.
10.01.07 Birmingham, UK
We had a tough go finding a restaurant close to the venue here……..there was a “cutery” next door…kinda like a “Perkins” or “Lubbys” in America. Either way the show was good and we all headed back to the hotel bar for a night cap. And there was a very entertaining Indian fella working the bar (and for that matter the only one working the front desk) named Manji. He kept pouring Jeff and I the wrong drinks…and repeating things over and over…and confusing where we said we were from. He insisted on calling me ‘George Dickell’ and Jeff ‘Chicago’. I assume my name came from TN, but were still not sure where he got Jeff’s from. But there was no persuading him. And finally Jeff turned to me and said…”Dude, I think this guys wasted”…which turned out to be true. Manji was pouring two drinks for himself for everyone he poured us. There were a few Welsh construction workers still in the bar…who were a bit tired of Manji’s act…and us…and we were quite entertained. He kept pouring everyone more beers because he didn’t want anyone to leave…and I don’t remember anyone paying for anything either. Manji said he was a Sikh…but he didn’t have a beard, a sword, or a turban…..and he certainly embraced the ways of the West and the tenants of alcohol that’s for sure.
While Jeff and I were still up and jabbing about music and God knows what…..Manji passed out cold on a couch over in the corner of the lobby…and then in the middle of our conversation…we heard a loud thud, which was Manji hitting the floor flat on his back, arms and legs flung all over the place. We were already laughing pretty damn hard…till a guy came into the hotel lobby trying to check in during the wee hours of the night. We informed him a passed out Indian bartender was the only one working…and we went to try to wake him up. This is probably the hardest I’ve laughed in ages…as Manji was in a coma. When he finally came to, he jumped up asking if we needed to check in. We left him with the new guest. After I went up to the room still laughing, Alex went back down to grab something he left in the lobby and he said Manji was solemnly sweeping up glass around the bar. I hope that guy didn’t get fired.
10.02.07 Komedia, UK ~ Brighton, UK
The drive down to Brighton was a long one…and the late night with Manji had me moving pretty slow. However, Brighton always restores my spirits. The show at Komedia was a great one to end the UK leg on. We had a great meal (Duck) and great wine at a nice restaurant across the street from the venue…and it seems the beautiful women in Brighton are on par with London. One last stroll around the town late that night and it was time to try and catch a few winks.
10.03.07 Ancienne Belgique ~ Brussels, BE
We jumped up at 4am on about 3hrs sleep and after one rental car ride, 2 taxi cab rides, 2 trains and 3 countries later we were at a soundcheck meeting back up with Jeff in Brussels. A bit of sleep on the Eurostar train was the only rest to be had….but we shook the cobwebs off best we could …but once we got to the Ancienne Belgique it was hard not to be impressed with the place and catch a second wind. While we took trains all the way into Brussels, Jeff had driven back to London and then flown to Amsterdam to meet up with his band, who’d just flown in and then drive down to Brussels. We all got to hang out and have a great meal before the gig and the venue was one of the more impressive places I’ve played at. (there’s a video on youtube of Alex and I playing a song from that show at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zq2nHpGmwIQ ) The sound of the room was truly amazing. (there are plenty of great pics as well by lovely and amazingly talented Belgium photographer, VK Red also at: http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=8882317&albumId=1217549 ) Vk was nice enough to show me around Brussels after the show. I got to see the historic town square and the statue of T’serclaes and statue of the little boy who supposedly pissed on the town when it was on fire (or something like that ?) And one of my favorite bars of all time (right up there with the now closed ‘Sportsman’ in Thomas, WV) is now the Poechenellekelder..it was like a scene right out of a 40’s movie…..And there’s a reason Belgium has such a great reputation for beer. And I think that coupled with a lack of sleep was enough to give me a whale of a hangover the next day.
10.04.07 013 ~ Tilburg, NL
We had met back up with my friend Karen from Rounder Europe who books and manages my tours in Europe and Alex and I rode back to Tilburg with her (where she lives) and our show was that night. Karen and her boyfriend Yappi hosted us that night, so we got some good home cooked Dutch food. The sound at the venue, 013, was really exceptional. I had a conversation with one of the sound guys afterwards and he was saying he’d been listening to my records that week to study for how to run sound for the show. Any venues or sound people reading this, please take note of how serious Europeans take the quality of their sound. This is something that doesn’t happen that often in the states. Since Jeff and Alex and myself had been doing ‘Out On The Weekend’ together…we now were joined for that one with Jeff’s full band; Ahnad, Goody, & Zach. After the show, all of us (plus Karen and Yappi) went out for beers and to throw darts all night. It may’ve gotten a little competitive, but hey…I love me some darts. Alex and I cut out early with Karen and Yappi to try and get a few extra winks of sleep….but ended up staying up till 5am listening to records all night (they have quite the collection).
10.05.07 The Paradiso ~ Amsterdam, NL
This was kind of a Hell day on par with all the trains/cabs/busses from Brighton to Brussels. We had to catch a few different trains (lugging around our luggage, guitar, amp, and that damn big ass pedal steel) and basically barely got to The Paradiso just in time for our soundcheck. It was a long grueling day, and don’t get me wrong, the Paradiso is amazing. And I was happy to be there. But it was one of those walk in, do your thing kinda shows. That room is quite incredible…..and the show was sold out and so we didn’t hang around much afterwards…as it was too crowded to really watch. After us and Jeff’s band there was a later show with Old Crow Medicine Show…so all told, I believe I spent about 5 hours of my life in that green room that night. And at least half of that was everybody playing these guitars made from fruitcases…some friend of Jeff’s.
One random side note…….I actually ran into a buddy from back in East Nashville at The Paradiso. He met me as I was walking up on stage that night. And I’m sure I looked surprised to see him there…but I was so spaced out that day already..it didn’t sink in how random it was.
We all went out and hung out on one of the squares in Amsterdam that night…..taking it all in.
10.06.07 Take Root Festival ~ Groningen, NL
Alex and I pilled in with Jeff and the rest of his band and we all took off to Groningen. At one point I remember laughing at the fact there were 6 Americans crammed into a turquoise van with Holland plates barreling down the road listening to Don Williams. Why wouldn’t we be? I had played the Rhythm and Roots Festival at the very same hall back in the spring…in fact, the exact same room in that hall. So it was kinda surreal to be right back over here again so soon in the same spot. Groningen is a very beautiful city….and I’m happy to go back anytime. I saw a split second of old Nashville pals Hans and Kyle, who were there that night playing with Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez. I’d done several shows with Carrie and the guys back in the spring in France and Holland..and we’d shared the labels van…and I don’t think I’d seen any of them since. I had a little time to take in a bit of several shows with a friend (Hi Sara); Chip and Carrie, Son Volt, Chuck Prophet, and Southside Johnny. We actually headed back to the hotel and a reasonable hour as we had to get up early and make an early show in Ottersum.
10.07.07 Roepen ~ Ottersum, NL
Back in Ottersum. And back at the same old hotel I had my bizarre experience last spring with Kevin Kinney and his band. Yikes. Sunday afternoon shows at roepan are really a lovely experience. It’s such a beautiful place, that old church is absolutely amazing. The promoter and the entire staff are so kind to you. And there’s always a great meal and great wine….all things I love on a Sunday. We met up with a buddy of Jeff’s here too at this show, named Hayward Williams…really cool guy and he had his band with him as well. After the show Alex and I got up one last time with Jeff and the guys and did our “Out On The Weekend” version. They all had to leave right after the show to get back to Amsterdam for an early flight the next morning. It was sad to see the guys go after having so much fun together and hanging out so much. We all quickly said our goodbyes, as Alex and I had to play one more set later that evening…and Jeff stuck his head in and gave us one last salute. I’ll have to say, by sticking around…I got treated to a bowl (actually two, Alex was afraid) of truffle soup. I see what all the fuss is about!
When we walked back into the hotel lobby……..one of the guys from Hayward’s band was blasting “Purple Rain” on the piano in the lobby and most of the guys were singing along. We stayed up with em a bit for beers and some tunes….and then lights out.
*side note: can someone tell me why Holland has commodes with the little shelf or ledge in them? This just seems all wrong to me.
We decided there’d be no more train hoping with all our gear………we got a ride to a rental car company and I slapped the ole visa down and that was that. We were now back in control of our own windshield time for the first time since the UK. After a quick trip to the record label’s office to pick up some more cds and stuff…we went on into Amsterdam to spend our first day off of the trip. Alex and I had some incredible Indian food….sipped some wine…took in the city…and just tried to chill out. Much to my surprise when I walked down into our hotel lobby…there was Heyward standing there. Of all the hotels in Amsterdam….there he was. Weird. The next day we got up and had a killer uitsmeiter (egg burger) and had time to go to the Van Gogh museum before heading out of town. The song “Vincent” kept running through my mind and I thought of an old friend from school and how much she loved that song..and thought how much she would love the place.
10.09.07 Lage Vuursche, NL ~ In The Woods
Short easy drive, wonderful hosts, great wine and a great meal. This was the way to get back on the path to feeling rested. For this show…the first one without Jeff or his band……I threw out the set list Alex and I’d been mainly going off of. I played a bunch of new songs I’d never played and some covers I’ve never played (and barely knew). Sipping Four Roses whiskey back at the hotel bar by myself…I said a toast to my Dad and Grandpa and called it a night.
10.10.07 Theatre ~ Oss, NL
It was a nice short drive to Oss….so we had time to browse around town for a bit. This was our last gig of the tour and it was the theatre in Oss with Dale Watson and Claude Diamond (who lived close to where Alex grew up). Claude and his wife Polly were really sweet people…..and he’d recorded his first album at age 65 and now here he is touring Europe. Strange world we live in eh? We drove back to Amsterdam that night after the show as Alex had an early flight. We had to drop our stuff off at the hotel first…and come to find out…it was on a street you couldn’t drive up to. So Alex stayed with the car while I made about 5 long ass trips lugging all our shit down tiny cobbled streets amongst all the partiers. By the time we got the rental car turned in and took the train back to our hotel it was 3:30am…and then we realized we were practically staying in the Red Light District. So a quick tour to satisfy Alex’s curiosity (I’d been here before). I helped him get his stuff to the train station at 6:30 the next morning then I went back to the hotel and entered into a deep coma.
10.11.07 Amsterdam, NL
I strolled around town and just generally enjoyed not having to rush anywhere. I ate, drank…wrote songs in my hotel and chilled out. Turns out the hotel was pretty nice and conveniently located after all. It had freaked me out a bit the night before thinking I’d picked the wrong spot to be in alone. But Amsterdam looks a bit different during the daytime. At night it can get a little crazy. Well…at this point…my journal turns from professional to private entries…so suffice as to say, I had a lovely time before heading home the next day.
Knitting Factory ~ New York, NY 7.11.07
I got up at 4 am and called a cab for a ride to the Nashville airport. I was asleep before the plane took off and slept the whole way. The wheels touching down woke me up….I had thought it was turbulence. Another cab ride got me to Manhattan and I hoofed it to Soho. I had a to pull along a suitcase w/ cds and clothes and my guitar on my back and I was starting to work up a good sweat. Luckily it was getting ready to rain. I was able to drop my cds, luggage and guitar off at the venue after they opened later in the day. But my show wasn’t till much later.
I hadn’t been to New York since the August right before Sept. 11, 2001. It was very strange to think of all that’d transpired in those six years. I was working a fulltime job and playing out at a dive bar in Murfreesboro on the weekends trying to hone my chops and try out songs for tips and free bad draft beer. And I was driving to Nashville about 2 or 3 nights a week playing writer’s rounds and trying to pitch my stuff around. I’d gone to NY with my best friend on vacation, since neither one of us had ever been to the ole big apple. We weren’t able to cram everything we wanted to do into that one trip. So the last day…after going to a Yankees game…we took the subway down to lower Manhattan. We had gone out to Battery Park and taken some pictures in front of the Statue of Liberty, gone out over the Brooklyn Bridge and done the same thing….with the Twin Towers in the background. We had walked up to the entrance to the Towers and it was late afternoon on a Sunday and it didn’t look like we had time to ride up in them. We had tried the same thing at the Empire State building a few days earlier…and when we realized it would take waiting in line for hours….we decided our short time was spent trying to see as many other things as we could. We had a conversation with a middle aged black lady who was the security guard that afternoon about the towers and time it took to go up…etc…etc.
After finally getting my bearings about me I wondered; should I? Do I have time? Do I want to? I hoofed it on down to Ground Zero. Appropriately it finally started raining. It made me sad, nostalgic, tired, and wet. I thought of the security guard we talked to that day. You couldn’t really see much with the fence up around it…and I had started to get really hungry. So much of this job is just about surviving. Very simple, basic needs become laborious tasks on the road. Where to eat? Where am I going? Where can I use the bathroom? What am I going to spend my down time doing? After veering off course for a bar I was told was “cool” (no longer there it turns out), I found “Souths” right down the street from the venue. There was a friendly bartender who made generous pours. I think Europe had made me forget how beautiful the women are in NYC. Sitting at the bar and watching it pour down in sheets on Church Street, I finally felt some relief. I’m so used to watching thunderstorms in the south. Where rain on the tree leaves has a particular sound, and lightning lights up the sky for miles. Here it’s odd to watch it pound the streets and fill up the gutters. And when it does thunder and lightning, it seems it’s not so far from the tops of the buildings. And you can’t see past the rows of high rises in front of you to know how much light it put off.
It was a light crowd at the Knitting Factory that night. So light in fact, the other band wasn’t even there. Actually, some of the guys in Last Train Home missed a flight somewhere along the way and got re-directed because of all the bad weather. Needless to say, traveling in and of itself is a task. Front man Eric Brace and his sweetie Mary Ann did make it up to the show and we just swapped songs for a few hours and had a good time. Mary Ann’s niece was nice enough to make sure I took the correct subway to get back up to 46th street and my hotel (cheapest one I could find). I figure I walked about 5 miles that day and several of them in soaking wet jeans and carrying luggage and a guitar. When I finally did get to the hotel I fought off the urge to pass out. I got outta my wet clothes and put on some shorts and flip flops, dry t-shirt and a cap to cover the fro that had sprouted on my head, and I hit Times Square, which turns out was just around the corner.
This is the point in many of my stories where things take a turn for the worse. I have been known to not go to bed when I should and let that last drink or bar get me into some trouble. But not this time. The air and my dry clothes felt awesome in the New York night and I helped myself to a sheeshkabob from a street vendor. And then for good measure, I had a hotdog too as a toast to my old pal Todd. He who infamously had eaten five of those suckers in one day (in addition to three very square meals) as we walked the streets the last day of our trip six years back.
Apparently my hotel was just down on “Little Brazil” street. And after my Spanish-Mexican eggs and heurros rancheros the day before…..I figured Brazilian was a good next move. The waiter spoke Portuguese to me thinking I was Brazilian. Which is funny, because my brother-in-law is actually is Brazilian. I do have dark eyes and dark hair…and had spent 2 weeks in Florida touring, so I was sporting an unusually good tan for a writer/musician. However, my Southern “Huh?” reply gave me away. I recommend the Copacabana Salad with Shrimp.
Earlier the night before a guy at the bar was bitching because the show said 8pm and it wasn’t till 9pm (will some folks ever figure this out?). “And now they went and added an opener” he exclaimed to his buddies. He seemed to think I worked at the venue as he nodded at me for my approval. He seemed to be frustrated enough to tell it to a total stranger. So I didn’t ruin his story and tell him I was the opener. Or that my booking agent actually booked that show.
So there. I’ve played New York.
*(Originally posted as blog on MySpace July 3, 2007)
Europe Tour – Spring of 2007
After all the trouble I went through getting my passport, (which involved paying for two of them, paying for it to be expedited even though it took 2 months, 5 trips to the passport office in Nashville, and ultimately calling my state representative)…..and trying to figure out how to cram 3 weeks worth of clothes in one manageable suitcase (answer: you don’t, you just wear the same things over and over)……It was nice to finally take off for Amsterdamn to actually play music.
April 19th Bergen Op Zoom, NE -Crossroads Radio Show
8:15pm show time in Holland was the equivalent of being up for two straight days with about a 2 hr nap. Not to mention jetlag hadn’t even set in yet. The show was great and the promoter Jos van de Boom has been a very supportive person of my music over the years. Not to mention being a great guy. It was nice to finally meet him. It was one of those in and out shows, so unfortunately we never got to spend much time there. Because judging by the map, it looked close to the sea. I think my guitar player (Dave Coleman) and I were still very unaware of what time schedule we were on, because we stayed up until 5 a.m. with our hosts drinking beer and playing records (Dutch and American) and talking about politics (Dutch and American). I also did an interview with a very nice journalist named Wim Boluijt for Heaven magazine (www.heaven.be).
April 20th – Amsterdamn, NE – Plein Theatre
I feel a little silly admitting this, but I cannot drive a stick shift. I’ve never owned one, and with the exception of maybe driving a buddies home on the back roads after he’d had too much to drink, I’ve hardly even tried to drive one (that was eons ago). So when the record company said the van we were using was a stick shift, it meant whoever was coming to play guitar with me was going to have to know how to drive a stick. Between the van and being turned out on our own for the first time on the roads of Holland, we were just proud to find the places we were going. We had a short stop over in Hilversum to do a radio interview with Paul Harvey (no, not that one) before driving onto Amsterdamn. And I’ll have to say, I wish American radio stations would give you a bottle of wine as a gift for doing live shows like they do in Holland.
The crew, the meal, the wine, etc was all great at the Plein Theatre. I saw my buddy Rod Picott’s and a guy named Malcolm Holcombe’s (who I’ve played some shows with) posters up on the walls. Nice to see some friendly faces when in another country. The theatre had great acoustics, you didn’t even need moniters. And I also got to meet Fabianna Dammers, who opened the show. She was a student at the Conservatory there in Amsterdamn, essentially studying to be a singer/songwriter. Which I think is cool, but it’s weird thinking about going to school to do this. I know there are music schools in America, but I doubt anyone there could teach you how to really write a song, book shows, produce your own records, tour manage yourself, lead a band, etc, etc. But I’m glad they’re trying to in Holland. Sandra and Luciano from Lucky Dice put on that show….they are big supporters of roots music over there and do great work. Got to see a little bit of Amsterdamn that night, but we had to roll onto Utrecht for the Blue Hwys show which meant once again going to bed at 5am.
April 21st – Utrecht, NE – Blue Highways Festival
Festival lineup was: Chip Taylor, Ollabelle, Bo Ramsey, Po’ Girl, Hacienda Brothers, Shooter Jennings, Kevin Kinney’s S.T.A.R., Joe Ely, Pieta Brown, and others….
I’ll have to say this was one of my favorite shows in Holland. I was told there were up to as many as 550 people crammed into the upstairs hall where we played. I don’t know if that’s true, but it was certainly packed and the crowd was incredible. To play an acoustic show to that many people was an amazing experience. I’m told the recording of the show sounded really good, so I’m looking forward to hearing it. I have a buddy from back in Manchester, TN (where I graduated High School) who had a few friends there in Utrecht that came to the show. So once again, small world. Here were two people who’d been to Manchester, TN visiting (Bonnarroo of course). I caught parts of the other acts shows, but it was hard to see everything. It was the first time I’d seen Kevin Kinney in ages and they were great. I’d never seen Bo Ramsey live before and he was a super cool cat just like you’d expect. And I caught the last song of Po’ Girl and have to say that lead singer is about the most adorable thing I’d seen in a long time. And judging by the crowds reaction, they thought so as well. And I didn’t see Chip Taylor’s set, but I did run into him at around 3:30am in the hotel with my hands full of some late night Uthrecht junk food. And the funny thing about that is, the last time I ran into Chip was about a month before that at SXSW in Austin, TX at about 3:30am in the morning standing in line at the “Whataburger” to get late night junkfood.
*Clip of this show are at: http://video.google.nl/videoplay?docid=2489645600667013646
*Interview after the show at: http://video.google.nl/videoplay?docid=4108703415941151067
April 22nd – Ottersum, NE – Cultureel Podium Roepaen
OK, so I can officially say I’ve been to Germany now. I was only there for about 30mins on the road to Ottersum, but I’m still counting it. The couple who ran the bed and breakfast we stayed in there were extremely gracious and they had the most amazing garden. It was interesting because their English wasn’t as good as most people in Holland, so we mostly just drank wine and asked simple questions of each other…but they were super sweet folks, they reminded me of my grandparents. This was also my first experience w/ the semi-hard boiled egg in the little stand they give you for breakfast. Wasn’t sure what to do with those things. But Ottersum was just a tiny little town (not unlike Woodbury) close to the German border, and it had that small town charm. The venue was an old church that had been converted to a music hall and I probably took more pics of that place than anywhere else just because it looked so amazing. People tried to make me a preacher when I was a kid…so it does make me chuckle when I find myself singing and telling stories in churches. We opened this show for Kevin Kinney and his band S.T.A.R. They sounded great and I actually got to listen more than at the Festival the night before. I also have to admit to a party foul….we were all hanging out later that night and something seemed to come over me that made me a wee bit unsocial…so if any of you guys are reading this…sorry bout all that. I was not myself all of a sudden that night. It must have been something in the water…but I still had a good time!
April 23rd – Eindhoven, NE – Meneer Frits
I was told that the reason Eindhoven looks so much newer than the rest of Holland cities is that it was completely destroyed during WWII. Apparently the Americans reclaimed Eindhoven, then moved on and left it unguarded and the Germans came back and bombed it too pieces. The venue in Eindhoven was a wonderful room. The sound was great in that room. And it was a good looking crowd and they were so attentive and appreciative (like all Dutch audiences). Ad (the promoter) and some other friends we met at the show joined us for drinks and some great conversation at a little bar down the street. The name now escapes me, but it was the perfect kind of little bar. And the hotel we stayed at had a staircase that was so narrow and steep you could barely tote your luggage up it. And for some damn reason, Dave must have thought there was a fire on my face. Because otherwise I can’t explain why he would take the fire hydrant off the wall and hose me down with it. Maybe he was seeing shit. I quickly put him to bed after that one. And apparently the ‘no parking’ sign in Holland is similar to our “train crossing” sign here. None-the-less…they ticket your dumb American Ass all the same.
April 24th – Leiden, NE – LVC
Leiden is one of those cities (like most actually) I wish we’d had more time to spend in. Such a beautiful town and as always, we were in and out like a bank robbery….or a rock n’ roll show. Actually, to be honest….we got there early enough to see some stuff. But between the constant on-the-go and the late nights…and the jet lag we’d been putting off…we both finally just crashed like zombies. I don’t know if you’d call this place a hotel or a bed and breakfast….but it was ..once again…narrow and steep…3 flights of stairs…..you basically get out the clothes you need and leave your suitcase in the van rather than fight those damn stairs. They did have a freakin sauna there though. Perfect for sweating out all those toxins! The show in Leiden was the closest thing we played to an American rock club. There were two bands after us (one of which, my friends Ollabelle..whom we hadn’t seen since the Blue Hwys Fest) and Patricia Vonne (whom I just rain into in Austin, TX recently..where they live) it was actually not bad to just do a short set and be done early for once. And Hans (promoter) had one song request, which thankfully I could oblige….since he was gracious, just like all the show promoters in Holland..and he ordered amazing korean take-out food for the bands. I have to say Dave did a fine job all week, particularly in Leiden, of dodging all the bycylers. They are fast and furious and swarming around the streets like bees. It’s like when you get to level 7 at Galaga or something. Almost can’t get away from those damn things.
April 25th – Deventer, NE – Burgerweeshuis
Deventer was one of my favorite towns as it turns out in the Netherlands. All the towns were great..and I’m sure it’s random why you had a better time in one town than over the other. Could’ve been your mood, how much sleep you had, the gig, the food, the waitress, etc. We were pretty worn out by this time, but the city had a certain vibe to it that kinda rejuvinated us or something. I didn’t see many overweight people in Holland and now I know why. If they werent on a bike, they were walking there asses off! Which we should probably do more of here in America, but shit’s so spread out here. If you say you have to drive 2 or 3 hours to another town people in Holland act like it’s a road trip from Hell. That makes me laugh, because we routinely drive 8-10 hrs here and go play a show…if it’s under 5 hrs thats awesome..if it’s under 3 hrs it’s like a cakewalk…we may even drive back home after the gig no matter how late it is. Now granted in America I can read the road signs and don’t spend 45 mins driving around town once I get there looking for the right street. But the hotel in Deventer wasn’t too far from the venue as it turns out. And I have to add….the waitress/bartender at the hotel there was the spitting image of Elizabeth Hurley. And I know us songwriter’s are a bit prone to hyperbole, but this is not an exagerration.
The Burgerweeshuis looks like I imagine the Davidian’s compound in Waco, TX used to (except several hundred years older…like everything in Europe). There is a huge door that opens up and has the big wooden latches like they used to keep King Kong out of the village. And the van barely…and I mean barely ….could squeek by into the main courtyard where we left it parked (I’ll come back to this later). There are a few different rooms they put shows on in at Burgerweeshuis (which i never learned to pronounce…but I did enjoy all the Dutch girls giggling everytime I would ask directions on the streets to get to it). The smaller room where we were playing that night used to be Mother Superior’s room when The Burgerweeshuis was an orphanage. And I have to say, the sound was incredible for a room that appreared to be just another pub. A strict town curfew meant we had to shut down the music promptly at 11pm….so there was plenty of time for drinking more good beer here. And it was one of the smaller shows we did in Holland, but I had some of my best times hanging out there that night.
The next morning we found our van in the compound surrounded by babies. Yes, very odd I thought too. Apparently one of the rooms there is used as a classroom for young mothers who aren’t ready to handle motherhood yet. And there are more mature ladies there who keep their infants while the young mothers are in class. And they just happen to have them all sprawled out on the lawn around the Rounder Van. As if that wasn’t odd enough…once we got outside the gates we ran into another roadblock. A huge tour bus pulling a trailer behind it had gotten jack-knifed in the streets trying to pull into the venue. Apparently it was hauling a heval metal band from Sweden (I’m not making any of this up)……but they had the only way out blocked to all traffic for a solid hour. This was an hour we would desperately need later in our drive to Paris!
April 26th – Paris, France – Pomme d’Eve
Ah Paris in the springtime. This was the longest drive we had all week. From North Holland all the way through The Netherlands and through Belgium and into France. They have these marvelous TomTom’s to navigate. We took to calling ours TamTam since it clearly had a female’s voice. We found a sticker in the bed and breakfast in Leiden that said ‘TamTam’ so we stuck that on her. Maybe she didn’t think this was funny, and she decided to take her revenge in Paris. We kept her off most of the ride in Paris on the account of the cigarette charger didn’t work in the van and she would only stay charged up so long. About an hour outside of Paris we called to say we were almost there (after a short shake down my French border patrol agents–apparently driving a van with Holland plates is a sure-fire way to get searched). But not long after hitting the outskirts of the city, the good ole TamTam went dead. I had jotted down the info off the screen earlier just in case this happened…but not actually thinking it would (my OCD came in handy here). Add to this the fact that our cell phone quit working and you have a nice disasterous receipe. The sem cards you buy to top off minutes on the cell phones over in Europe I guess are handy. But with my phone being in Dutch, I wasn’t ever sure if I dialed a wrong number or it was out of minutes…it all sounded the same). So the next several hours were a frustrating experience. We circled Paris stuck in traffic trying to find our way into downtown. And it’s such a massive city…very gorgeous, but hard to appreciate when you’re lost and about to miss an important show (and what’s with those crazy ass motercycle guys whipping in and out between cars?). We spent most of this time just stuck in crazy traffic…for if you missed a turn and thought you should go back the other way…you usually were out 30 mins to get back to where you were. And I suspect more people in Paris can speak English than they let on. For asking directions was a dead end here…unlike Holland where they were eager to speak English and helpful. Eventually…we got out of the crazy rush and stopped at a bar and I got some wonderful directions from some guys and used their phone to call the venue and explain what happened. The show promoter exclaimed we saved his life, as he was about to go get his guitar. We were only ten mins away.
We pulled up into the venue a bit fried from the whole 10 hrs in the van (3 of it lost in traffic with no phone). I changed clothes in a closet and went straight down into the club and tuned up and we literally started playing the show. I took a big cold beer and a shot of whiskey up on stage with me. It was SO nice to just be playing and be out of that damn van. “Time To Pay” is one of my most agreesive songs, and we lead with that song for our set…to be honest, we had all sorts of aggression/tension to get out of our system. After that, we could laugh about it. Cause playing is easy. The easiest thing musicians do is play. The million other things that got them there are what suck…but it is what it is. And the moments you get to play makes it all worth it. The room was a 12th Century former cellar of an old church. And they’re basement was a 10th Century room according to the bartender. The ceilings were the old arched stone and it was quite an amazing little room. There was no room hardly to stand…capacity was about 75 and she was full. There are certain limitations sound wise that come from playing a stone cellar….but the vibe more than made up for it. It was so damn hot onstage, we hadn’t eaten since that morning, and had been crammed in that van all day….but yet somehow that show was one of the more memorable moments I had in Europe. The crowd was so great…and we were happy to oblige them with a few encores. It’s amazing to me that I actually got requests from the audience in Paris during my show. I wasn’t even aware I’d ever sold a single record in France. So what had started out to be a nightmare, turned into a charmed night for me. And then I was happy to sit back and toss a few back and chill out and listen to Carrie Rodriguez and crew play (she’s a great singer, and plays the fire out of that fiddle). It was the first time I’d really gotten to see her play and ironically she was playing with two of my friends from Nashville (Hans was playing guitar and Kyle (who’s now in Boston) was playing bass). I didn’t know Carrie and we talked for two seconds between sets…but she asked me to get up and sing an ole Merle Haggard song with her at the end of the night (“Today I Started Loving You Again”). Even though I’ve never performed that song (those of you who’ve seen me know I hardly do any covers at all)…..it just happened to be my favorite Merle song…so I was more than happy to get up and sing it with her. I’m not much of a harmony singer, so I hope I didn’t slaughter it.
Herve (our show promoter) was such a nice guy and we all went out for some late night food on the streets of Paris….mainly cause everything else was closed. Herve and I go back a few years. He emailed me on ebay when he saw me bidding on an old Eric Taylor vinyl record that was out of print. And after a few emails we ended up trading some cds back and forth. And I’d forgotten all about him till I got an email from him saying he’d gotten my record from Rounder Europe and had booked a show for me and Carrie. He was quite shocked to hear of me after all those years I believe. It is indeed a small world.
April 27th – Venlo, NE – Perron 55
With the TamTam charged and now me and Dave plus Carrie, Hans and Kyle all crammed into the van we were on our way. I love Dave like a brother, but after a week I think we were both happy to have some other people to talk to. At some point after you travel with someone so much, you just don’t have any damn thing else to say to each other. It’s not that your mad or sick of the other person…you just dont have anything else to say you haven’t said already. Except maybe….”pull over i gotta piss”. ….or “I’m hungry…are you?”.
I’m told that normally at this time of year it rains alot in Holland. We didn’t see one drop and it was hot as blazes the entire time, which I’m told is also unusual. It was good though to get to Venlo early enough to chill out some before the show and cool off. After our show Dave and I both jumped up with Carrie and crew at the end and did a few encores. We sang “Today I Started Loving You Again” and I remembered it a bit better this time through….and we played along for another one of her songs. It was a fun ending to the show. A few of us gathered in the hotel bar for a late night drink……and I didn’t notice till I was back at the bar eating breakfast the next day, but they had “Four Roses” whiskey behind the bar. My Grandfather used to drink it and it wasn’t made for a long time, but has since made a small comeback. I’ve only seen it one other time and that was in Kentucky where it’s made (for $30 a bottle nonetheless). So as I whoofed down my favorite Dutch Dish, the outsmeiter (sp?), essentially what we always called an ‘egg burger’…two sunny side up eggs on toast, I really wasn’t tempted to try the whiskey so early in the day….not with my eggs anyways.
We bid goodbye to Carrie, Hans & Kyle an our ride picked us up and we were on our way to Groningen.
April 28th – Groningen, NE – Rhythm & Blues Night Festival
Festival lineup was: Hacienda Brothers, Shooter Jennings, James Hunter, The Jeff Healey Band, Kimmie Rhodes, Los Lobos, Kevn Kinney’s S.T.A.R., Ollabelle, David Chiders & others…
Well….I haven’t mentioned her yet, but Karen Proeme who put my tour together and works for Rounder Records, did an amazing job. And it was so nice to meet her and everyone from the label in person and find out how nice they were. And Karen was nice enough to come and pick us up in Venlo and take us to Groningen after we gave the van back to Carrie.
And when we got all checked into our dressing room at the festival I couldn’t help but get a kick out of having my dressing room beside Jeff Healey’s. When I was in Jr. High School and that movie with Patrick Swaze came out “Roadhouse”, that was about the time Jeff Healey had become famous for “Angel Eyes”…..I have quite an imagination, …but I never imagined I’d be in Holland playing at a festival with my dressing room right across from the guy. Funny World.
The show was good……..it was our 10th show in 10 days, and Dave and I were pretty locked in musically by this time…but there was definately a sense of relief knowing we were gonna finally have a day off following this show. There is a recording of this show (as well as the Blue Highways show in Utrecht) that I hope sees the light of day sometime. It was recorded by NPS Radio Station, where I also did a late night interview with the lovely Elisabeth van Scherpenzeel (http://www.omroep.nl/nps/output/studio6.html). It was also good to meet David Childers from North Carolina, who I’ll be playing some shows with later this year…he also had an old acquantence of mine from Nashville, Duane Jarvis with him playing guitar. Funny how you have to go to the other side of the world to run into people from Nashville.
April 29th – Queensnight in The Netherlands
After finally catching up on some sleep in Utrecht, ….Dave and I went down to the Canals downtown in Utrecht for some good food and wine. The city was abuzz for the holiday…and apparently orange is the color you are supposed to wear for the Queens Holiday. Growing up in Tennessee, this basically just reminded me of a Saturday in the Fall at a football game at UT. Basically everyone was wearing orange (except nobody wore camoflouage here ;-). I think Utrecht is really one of my favorite cities, not as crazy as Amsterdamn, but still alot of stuff to do. We grabbed the train into Amsterdamn and met up with our friend Fabianna (who opened for us in Amsterdamn) and tried to live it up on more night before we had to leave Europe proper.
Queensday in The Netherlands we would be traveling all day. Dave’s flight back to American was an early one………mine was later and a bit more complicated. I got up and took a cab to the train station….took the train to Eindhoven….then took a bus to the airport…..and then flew into London. I had never been to England….so late that night after getting my rental car (wrong side of the road!!!!) I took off for Ipswich where I had a radio interview the next day. Getting around with one other guy who’d never driven in Europe with a GPS was work enough..though we managed. But now I was on my own…and the rental car company had NO gps units to rent (this would prove to be fatal later on). I made it to Ipswich late that night after a few hours of being freaked out driving on the wrong side of the road in a semi-automatic (I paid for an automatic!) car in the middle of the night……..I only had to stop and ask for directions a half dozen times in the middle of the night. The nice older gentleman working at the front desk was nice enough to open up the bar and let me purchase a big pint of Newcastle to take what was a serious edge I’d built up on my drive into town. All things considered, I felt good about myself at this point.
May 1st – Norwich, UK – Norwich Arts Center
I made it to the radio station……..it wasn’t a smooth process……driving on the highways i was fine…but the cities were tough to manuver solo for my first time in the UK. I was doing the radio show with Ollabelle, and we were doing the show in Norwich that night together…..so I was able to follow them (and their GPS!) most of the way into Norwich.
The show in Norwich was a good time though. The room had a huge ceiling and I felt like my voice echoed forever. It was a nice crowd and they were very supportive. I was once again amazed to meet people who already owned my records. Unfortunately my cds didn’t catch up to me there (wouldn’t have them till Bedford the next night) so I hope all those good folks were able to find them online. And since we had some time before the show to work a song up…I got up with Ollabelle and sang Hank Williams ‘Wedding Bells’. They are such a great band!
May 2nd – Bedford, UK – Ent’ Shed
I got up at 7am and hit the road as I was supposed to do a radio show in downtown London at the BBC with Bob Harris. However….this proved to be more than I could handle. Driving in downtown London with only a road atlas (oh, and my cell phone quit working that morning) made it a long day. I was late and missed my interview and frustrated and FRIED from trying to navigate in downtown London….(I am NOT a fan of the double decker buses)….and my interview with Bob was one of the things I was looking forward to the most on this trip, as he’s supported my music for several years now and I got to meet him briefly in Nashville last fall……We artist’s have a tendency to say ‘yes’ to everything were asked to do, because we want to make everyone happy and do all we can to promote our music responsibly. But there are times we overextend ourselves and commit to things that aren’t always reasonable time wise. I now know that even if I’d made my radio show that afternoon on time, I couldn’t have gotten out of London in afternoon traffic to make it to my load in time for Bedford’s show. So as disappointed as I was about the radio show, I had no time to cry about it cause I had to make it to Bedford. And this was something all new to stress about now. However, somehow…I managed to make it back out to Bedford that night for my show with Ollabelle. I literally pulled up and asked someone to parrallel park my car for me and walked in and plugged up and tuned my guitar ….got a beer and a shot of Crown Royal from the bar and started playing. This was after 12 hrs in my car with no food or water (the guys/gals in Ollabelle were nice enough to save me a plate from the dinner I missed that I woofed down after my show)……..I only got out once at the BBC to apologize for being late…use the bathroom…and then get back on the road and try to figure out how to get OUT of London. I’m a Leo by birth, and were supposed to be a proud lot…maybe I just thought I could do all this by myself. Or maybe I was just a dumbass and didn’t know any better…either way……it was soooooo nice to just get to Bedford and play my show. Mike the show promoter in Bedford was nice enough to help me get set up with a phone that DID work in the UK the next day before I headed on to Brighton. Crisis of confidence behind us.
May 3rd – Brighton, UK
I went down to Brighton a day early to spend my day off. I had a friend in London I was going to go see originally on this day……but after my crazy ass experience trying to drive in London (for which I’d receive a $100 congestion charge in the mail after I got home…apparently the gift that keeps on giving) I decided to haul my ass onto Brighton and just chill out. I’m glad I did. Brighton is a gorgeous town and I had a room overlooking the sea………and I just freaking crashed for several hours once I got there. A nice restaurant with a sweet waitress, good wine, and some roasted guinea fowl….and I was back to good. That and this little thing they call Absinthe (just a little bit will do ya) ….I was back in my hotel room watching the British election results….I was out cold by 11pm and didn’t move till the next day when a loud ass seagull was raising hell in my window I’d left open. I wasn’t sure if he was coming in my window or not so I had to shoo him away and get up and pull the windows down partly.
May 4th – Brighton, UK – Red Roaster
Finally feeling alive and rejuvinated in Brighton…………I did two radio shows that afternoon, and then had some good ole fish n’ chips and then headed to my show. There was a local band, The Leadheads, …and another local artist, Laura Jane Kauffman who opened the show. Shaun, the show promoter, was a very gracious man and I really enjoyed the show there and getting to know him. I also got to know Del who works PR for Rounder Europe in England and has been a great big help to me over there. I’d been nervous about the turnout for the show, but was happy to see a decent audience. A guy came up to me afterwards and said he’d been waiting to see me play a show there for three years now…and that I didn’t dissapoint him. God bless that man. It really is the little things that keep us going sometimes.
May 5th – Brentwood (Essex), UK – The Seaxe
As much as I loved the Dutch breakfast….I quickly became used to the English breakfast as well. It looks like it will give you a heart attack…but it’s good stuff. I tried faithfully to start out each day with one of these though. I never could get used to the damn baked beans and french fries they serve with it though…….I eventually figured out I could substitute some mushrooms and tomatoes, which some of you may think sounds gross, but I’m now a BIG fan of that with my eggs, toast, bacon and sausage links.
This show was one I played with Corinne West…and kinda like Bedford…it’s what I think of as a true English Pub. Ian Flavill, the show promoter, was a very kind man and I’m glad I got to meet him by doing the show. Unfortunately for him though, he offerred to guide me to my hotel….and it wasn’t anywhere near where it said it was on the map……so we went back and forth up and down the highways late that night….I don’t think he minded, but his lovely wife and two daughters might have…haha…however, this was VERY fortunate for me…because I NEVER would’ve found it on my own. If you live nearby and you have trouble finding it… think how much trouble a hick from Woodbury, TN is gonna have.
May 6th – Newcastle – The Cluny
Well, I already knew I loved the beer they made in Newcastle. But it’s a looooong drive up there from the London area. But I eventually made it. I believe it was some sort of holiday in the UK and the roads were packed….but I eventually made it and met up once again with Ollabelle for another show. The town looked like alot of fun…but it was an in and out kinda deal as usual for me…..I’d love to go back to this town sometime and kill a few days. The crowd was great and it was nice to end the tour this way. And ironically I met someone who’d seen me play in Nashville years ago……small world once again. I will say though, the accents in Newcastle sound very Scottish to me…I know it’s getting up that way North in England.
May 7th – London
I drove all day long to go back to the outskirts of London near Heathrow airport………..I took the tube into town and met up with my old friend Leona from Nashville, who was finishing up her semester there at the University…had a nice dinner, caught a few sites…and then it was back to the train and to the hotel. I got up the next day and headed to the airport and was very glad to be going home. I love Europe….but I realized on the flight home that I’d been gone for 21 days….and that’s the longest I’ve been on the road…or away from where I call home at anytime in my life.
But I can’t wait to go back….
2006 ~ Were You There?
As 2006 wound down, as always, I became a little nostalgic. And I realized how many of you guys I met out there on the road this year. Anyways, here are a few highlights from 2006.
January 6th 2006 – Belcourt Theatre (Townes Van Zandt Tribute Show)- Nashville, TN
As amazing as that show was…not just performing, but getting to listen to everyone else. The after party was even more memorable. Weird, but memorable. Those of you that we’re there know what I’m talking about.
February 2, 2006- Poison Room – Cincinnati, OH
Cold as Hell……..ran into an old friend. made a new one.
February 3, 2006 – Red Line Tap – Chicago, IL
Damn it was cold. It hadn’t been that long since I’d been in Chicago, but things had changed quite a bit. Felt like exorcising old ghosts. Which we all must do from time to time. But damn it was cold. And snowing like Hell when I left the next day. Whoever that was, thank you for letting me crash at your place. Sorry about your cat.
February 23, 2006 – The Grey Eagle – Asheville, NC
Chris Knight was great. I hadn’t seen him play in ages….and it was good to hear him with just a guitar again too. The folks at the Grey Eagle were extremely gracious. And my ex’s parents fixed me dinner. Who woulda thunk it? All is forgiven.
March 17th, 2006 – The Underground City Tavern – Springfield, IL
It’s always good to see Brian and the folks at UCT. It was St. Patty’s Day so everyone was extra festive. I got to team up on this show with my good friends Last Train Home. I had knee surgery two weeks before this show, so luckily I have a little brother who was willing to chauffeur me around that week. Thank ya bro.
May 6, 2006 – Piney Woods Performances – Conroe, TX
I seem to have a SERIOUS THING for Texas Beer. And I don’t discriminate, I love ’em all. Cheers! And got to meet a lovely lady from Louisiana on the way to the Lonestar state.
May 17, 2006 – The Basement – Nashville, TN
CD release show for “Drink Ring Jesus” record. The Coalmen were great as always. Chelle Rose was great as always. Gotta love The Basement. They do it up right. One of the more memorable nights in good ole Music City of 2006.
May 27, 2006 – The Down home – Johnson City, TN
This place has become one of my absolute favorite places to play over the years. Ed and company are great. And I ALWAYS have a good time in Johnson City. And this was no exception. And it’s been fun getting to know Mic and the High Score boys. So much fun we decided to have them back me up on the fly for part of the set that night. So if you saw that show you definitely saw the High Score boys flying by the seat of their pants. And whoever’s whiskey bottle that was stashed across the street. Thank you & Damn you.
June 15, 2006 – Dave’s Taverna – Harrisonburg, VA
I followed two beautiful women through a graveyard after midnight. This sounds made up. But it’s true. There were witnesses.
And “someone” in my band learned that you can’t do handstands on tombstones. Especially old ones. They will fall over. And you will be cursed. Though I hope for his sake that said curse has been lifted.
I’m not sure why they threw us out of the Super 8 so hastily that next morning. Hell, we weren’t even there but a few hours. And usually hotel personnel are so polite. Ya know, with it being a service industry and all. But not that dude. Check out’s at 11am…Get your shit and get out. So much for a little late checkout for the guys in the band. Sheeeeesh. I did write them a spirited email when I got one of those “How did we do?” follow up surveys the next week. Funny thing is….I was still in the shower and missed most of the fireworks. It seems Paul and Willie we’re exchanging verbal jabs with the staff while I was trying to wash away a bad hangover. The music store with the ukuleles made up for it. Ukuleles make everyone happy.
June 16, 2006 – Ashland Coffee & Tea – Ashland, VA
This place has become a regular stop for me and I couldn’t tell you a better place to play a show. Kay and Co. are always wonderful to us. I truly love playing here and seeing everyone everytime I come through.
Willie solved our late night conundrum about whether to cure our late night munchies with Wendy’s or Taco Hell. He decided on both. He took the Taco Bell bag with one hand with his half-eaten Wendy’s burger in the other. Weird looks from the cute little girl at Taco Hell that night.
The time I was here before that………..all I had to eat was an apple Steve Wedemeyer gave me. Pretty good damn apple though.
June 17, 2206 – The Anvil – Greensboro, NC
R.I.P. Dear Anvil : Great People, hope they start another club.
I love my friends “The Everybodyfields”. They are sooooo good. But that’s not why I love them. We have sooooo much fun is why I love them. I met Sam at Merlefest when he and I were finalists in the songwriting contest. And that’s also where I met Kathy (who first booked me at the Garage in Winston-Salem, NC). And she is like some kinda honorary member of their band in my mind. Anyways….I keep running into these guys all over and we keep playing shows together randomly…and viola’ …..Now I add them to my list of friends in Johnson City, TN (Rob Russell & The Sore Losers, etc, etc). And on top of that, Jill’s singing is the reason I met my ex-girlfriend. So even though I lay the blame for that relationshiop/heartache ever existing squarely on her shoulders, I hold no grudge. I still love her. Jill, that is.
Big thanks to our “secret pharmacist” who supplied us with some freakin’ great cough syrup…….and suddenly………everyone in the band had a bad cough. Though in retrospect it didn’t mix well. Also note to self: Don’t start one big band tab at the bar. Stick to what’s in the green room. That shit gets outta hand too fast. It’s like we all think it’s not ours when it’s all together.
I saw the sun come up in Greensboro. And I’m not sure why. Except to say I wasn’t the only one still up. It says it all when someone in the band says his heart was hurting, but he was too afraid to speak up and ask if anyone would take him to the emergency room. By far the longest ride home from North Carolina I’ve ever had. If it weren’t for the Bojangles biscuits, I don’t think any of us would’ve made it. I slept for two days when I got home.
June 25, 2006 – Westside Cafe – Frederick, MD
Well, thanks to the most torrential rainfall MD has seen in 20 yrs, attendance was not what we would’ve all hoped for. But Steve and everyone at Westside are great. And I have to say, if you’ve ever got a day to kill around Frederick, do it. Stroll the same streets the Union army marched down on their way to the battle of Gettysburg. Also, if you have as thick of a Southern accent as I do, remember to speak slowly and repeat your order till they understand you at the coffee shops there. “Ice-coffee” for example, must be very hard to understand.
June 27, 2006 – The Purple Fiddle – Thomas, WV
A dead day in my schedule landed my in WV for a day off. It was gorgeous…but it rained the whole time I was there. However, I was able to get some writing done since I was the only soul in the little old house I stayed in. And I re-watched “Last Of The Mohicans” for the first time in ages. Natty Bumpo Rocks! Oh yeah, and there was also this awesome old bar down the street called “The Sportsman”. I think Crown Royal was $1.50. And it was my downfall. That and the jukebox. I kept old school George Straight and Bob Seger blaring all night long (I’m told Steely Dan isn’t allowed in there). And I played any and everybody in pool. And I’m pretty sure I saw the Mothman.
June 28, 2006 – Starr Hill – Charlottesville, VA
Such a beautiful town. And good to see an old friend again.
July 29, 2006 – Bluesboro – Murfreesboro, TN
The day after my birthday and my first show in Murfreesboro in ages. It’s funny because I went to college here and worked there for several years after school. And I have alot of family there as well as friends. So this felt alot like a homecoming show. That building usta be called “Jonathans” and was my favorite watering hole back in college (along with the ever-surviving “Campus Pub”). But Rob and all the guys and gals that work at Bluesboro are always great to me and the band. I think waitresses have gotten prettier since I was in school there. And until someone builds a club in Woodbury or Manchester (don’t hold your breath), this is the hometown show.
July 14, 2006 – The Halo – Johnson City, TN
I’m always happy to play a show and hang out with my mates in JC. Rob Russell & The Sore Losers are my boys, and we always have helluva time. And this little spot in Johnson City has to be one of the coolest bars I’ve ever been to. I see why the call it the Halo. Every one of those gals behind the bar seems to be a neon angel of some sort. Take your pick. You’re bound to fall in love with one of them. Or all of them.
Aug 5, 2006 – Kudzu’s – Memphis, TN
Good to see Nancy Apple and Co. as always. I have alot of very near and dear friends in Memphis, and always have a good time there. And any place with the name “Kudzus” will always tug at my heartstrings.
Aug 19, 2006 – Mucklewain – Harriman, TN
This whole festival was a blast. Joey and Co. really outdid themselves. Of course playing at noon leaves waaaaaay too much time for a guy to wander around a festival in East Tennessee. And I tried to play a trick on my buddy Paul by tempting him with two beautiful East TN gals (who unbeknownst to him had been put up to their tomfoolery by moi’…but like a good boy, he held firm). So somewhere deep into that Mucklewain night I finally bit the dust in a tent shortly before the sun came peeping up.
Aug 24, 2006 – Tasty World – Athens, GA
It’s always good to be back in Athens. Especially when I get to play with my buddy Dodd Ferrelle. I’ve made alot of good friends over the years down there. And I made a few more this time as well.
Sept 8, 2006 – Tunes At Twilight – Cape Girardeau, MO
Well what must have been my first live TV appearance (KFVS-12) was made interesting by the fact I had to be there at 5:30am in the morning. But Mr. Underburg (who incidentally kept me up and forced me to drink his fine bourbon) made sure I got there on time. I think there’s a copy of this floating around on Youtube. The show that evening was very pleasant. It’s a much bigger town, but it reminded me of Woodbury for some reason. Maybe it was the fact I was playing outside on a Gazebo Stage in front of the Courthouse. But don’t let this quite little college town fool ya. I’m told when the bars close a taxi service will take you across the river to the bar on the Illinois side, where “the” bar stays open later.
Sept 13, 2006 – The Evening Muse – Charlotte, NC
I always love playing at The Evening Muse. It seems I’ve built up a good bit of history at that place in a short time. Maybe my North Carolina shows just seem to be more eventful than others. I don’t know. It had been years since I’d seen Bruce Robison. He’s always been one of my favorite country songwriters. He’s got that kinda laid back smooth country style that always reminded me a bit of Don Williams, albeit with a little Texas Two-Step thrown in for good measure. Anyways, he and his band we’re very gracious to me. When a man’s traveling around solo he spends a little too much time alone. And the shows themselves are the only time for any interaction. So many thanks to Bruce and the boys for the whiskey and the company.
Sept 14, 2006 – The Purple Onion – Saluda, NC
Return trip to one of my favorite places around. Everyone there is always so good to me. I crave their food. And I always have a good time. And it’s close enough to Asheville to see my friends there too. New and old. One of my better nights in 2006.
September 15, 2006 – The Garage – Winston-Salem, NC
I love the Garage. And I really love the bar across the street. But weird things always happen to me in Winston-Salem. There’s the ex-gf thing. The Jehovah’s Witness Conference thing. Now the disturbing late night text thing. I dunno. Maybe somebody burned a buncha witches in Salem, NC too, like they did in New England. Freaky.
September 24, 2006 – Eddie’s Attic – Decatur, GA
It’s always good to see/hear the Little Country Giants again. And the new folks at the Attic (Bob), as well as the old (Eddie) are very gracious to me. And over the years I’ve made some great friends in Atlanta (hello Kerry and Tiffany)….and my long lost son; Rocket, the dog, resides there as well.
Sept 16, 2006 Rodi – Gastonia, NC
Damn that is one cool place. Their food goes right up there with “The Purple Onion”. My two freakin favorite places to eat out on the road. Everyone who works there is so damn nice. And without their company, I woulda been one bored dude in ole Gastonia that night. They made me forget Tennessee lost to Florida by one point that night. Also, I think I’m undefeated in Pool in Gastonia.
Oct 19, 2006 – The Basement – Nashville, TN
I’m always happy to share the stage with my buddy Mack Starks and The Coalmen. And me and the band used this show as a way to try out all the new tunes on the new record (Spring 07 release?) ………and we we’re even graced by Miss Jody Haynes who make all those harmonies sound so great on the record.
October 26, 2006 – Dave’s Taverna – Harrisonburg, VA
A special thanks to borrowing Elvis’ gear to go parasailing……too much fun for me. Though they say it killed him. But I did get a little dehydrated. Thank you for the water Chop.
October 28, 2006 – Family Wash – East Nashville, TN
After an 11 hr ride home I managed to stumble next door to the Family Wash for the “Music From East Nashville” Cd release show. And I played the more traditional version of “Drink Ring Jesus”, not exactly the remix on the compilation record. Kinda hard to do that without a DJ.
Nov 10, 2006 – Corner Lounge – Knoxville, TN
Damn that was fun. Mic Harrison and the High Score boys once more. Probably the best show we’ve ever done in Knoxville. And there’s some video of that trip floating around somewhere. Funniest line I’ve ever heard someone say before he answered his phone in the van: “Ok, everyone act like 100 children just died!”
So here’s to seeing you guys in 2007…..