It's been a busy week preparing for my 3rd IBC (International Blues Challenge) in 4 years. I have been blown away by all the notes of support from my fans across the country. The Decorate The Suitcase campaign has been so successful I just don't have anymore room on the suitcase to put any more stickers. I had to make the stickers much smaller than we wanted because there were just so many of them. Like I said, blown away! I had three different people make significant donations and want to name the suitcase drum. In the end his name will be "The Daddy Ray Suitcase Drum". A 5x7 picture and name is front and center giving the honor due to such a fine man who meant so very much to one of my special fans.
I also had to turn the suitcase in to a suitcase drum that was consistent with what I've been playing for my shows. The hard part, the design and layout, was easy because I just did what has worked on the tweed case I use on my music cart. In the process I've made two major improvements to the design. First I moved the crash cymbal to the left of my left foot and added a tambourine to the mount as well, giving every hard count on the kick drum a tambourine sound too. Pretty cool. Then by accident I discovered that by only mounting the heel of the pedal for the snare I could slide it in an arc. At first I thought, crap I've got to stop and fix this... but then it hit me, listen to all the different sounds that are coming from the Pearl snare now. Wow. Popcorn pops, deeper sounds in the sweet spot and most importantly, by slide to the right I now have a way with one pedal to create rim shots too. Talk about excited. I know... I'm easily excited huh? But rim shots are a big deal for me and my songs. It gives me a definite verse vs. chorus drum sound when needed. To get this before I've actually had to set up a separate pedal. Now it's simple.
Then there's been the saga of replacing my blown harp amp. I thought it would be simple but it has been a nightmare. Just yesterday I bought two amps locally, one just like my old one... but when I got home both have issues (they are used so that's the chance you take). My long time friend at B Strings in Winston Salem gave me a tube amp Saturday. At first it was feeding back like crazy at stage volumes, but last night I was able to make a few tweaks to it and it sounds great now. So hopefully that's solved, except for taking the two malfunctioning amps back today.
The next few days will be 3-a-day mock shows that we video tape and review. I know I'm anal about this but as one of the judges said in a blog, this is most likely the most important three days of a lifetime for those competing. You guys have been so supportive and Lynn and I believe that anything you do you owe it to yourself and those who care about you to do your very, very best. The hard part now is narrowing down the song list from 8 potential songs to as few as 4. Each of these songs is like a child to me, so it's hard to say yeah that's a great song but it's gotta go. That's part of the process though. Wish me luck! Just 4 days left to complete the preparations before making the 10-hour trek to Memphis. I am so excited and happy. I wish each of you could come along with us. It would make me much less anxious about the opportunity. :-) Much love!