Yesterday started off with a "something you don't see every day siting"... a dog riding on a Harley. :-) Lynn and I were traveling to my first show of the day at Elkin's Reevestock Music Festival. It was great to see old fans and friends there but really great to make new ones. One of these new fans, John, also worked with the homeless in Knoxville. John it was good to share tales and stories with you and I look forward to seeing you in Knoxville soon.
My set was on the hillside stage. For the first time in what seems like forever, I did an entire show of just, as my buddy Michael McCloud in Key West would say, my songs. Performing your songs or any song is kind of like entering a beauty contest. When you do other folks' songs you know they're great songs and you know listeners like them. The only variable is how well you play them or how much you suck playing them. Doing an all-original show adds two more variables to the show... are the songs actually good too? It also adds an "unfamiliar song" variable for most of the audience. Several of my regular fans and friends were there yesterday and it was cool to see them singing along to some of my regularly played songs. But yesterday was the first time I've played out songs like "I Like the Rain", "Duct Tape Is Silver" and "Living My Life". Luckily for me the songs were very well received as was the performance. Whew... Those of you who see me often will notice something missing in yesterday's festival performance... my full set of drums.
The word Hillside Stage scared me when it came to rolling up on stage so I reverted back to my cajon drum and Pork Pie Snare combination. Turned out we could have easily rolled onto the stage. Oh well, it felt great to get back to my roots and the more simple setup allowed me to experiment a little. You'll also notice my buddy Jonathon Byrd's old 339 blue guitar that is now one of my favorites. Both shows yesterday were played with no acoustic guitar at all, another first for me for sure. But I loved it. So for the festival I played the 339 straight into my old reworked Crate Club 20 tube amp and it was killer.
This festival was a little different than others I've played for. There were multiple levels of seats and seating. Here's a shot of those who had a very close and intimate concert yesterday while those sitting on the hills and below got more of a festival view. I loved it, because seeing how folks react to my songs helps me perform better and helps me know which songs are really good songs. Thanks to everyone who came out yesterday to see me play. Also thanks to those of you who had never seen the crazy 1-man 5-piece-band show. The smiles and pointing and "are you seeing what I'm seeing" was cool to see and hear.
After finishing my set at the festival and signing a few autographs and CDs it was back in the car to head to Lake Norman for a private party. I'm very confident this internet thing is going to catch on. Last night's show was booked from Hawaii earlier in the year. If was a 60th birthday party with 40-50 family friends there celebrating a really cool guy's big birthday. So remember how I said getting to the Hillside Stage scared me. Well this one should have really scared me, but Lynn and I got the cart out of the car and started down a 100 yard really steep hill that ended up in the lake, which is what I was afraid was where my equipment would end up. But, luckily it did not and ended up on their dock which served as my stage for the show. When I finished my sound check the family started bring out lawn chairs and blankets and lined the hillside to listen to the music in what was more like a festival environment than the festival I'd just left. huh? It didn't take long for those who love to dance to head up on the make-shift dance floor on the dock. That grew and grew during the night until I honestly started wondering if the dock would hold all that weight and wondering if my insurance would pay for my equipment landing in the lake when the dock collapsed. Good thing it did not. It was rocking and rolling but that just helped us have a great time. As James McMurtry says, most of the best times of having fun happen when you're moving
A few more photos from the party:
Tonight I was honored to provide the music for Morganton, NC's Independence Day Celebration Concert and Fireworks. It's always cool to be on a big stage in from of a sea of people... most of them looking at me like, what the crap :-)... Thanks to Gary and the great folks at Morganton Recreation Department for making me part of this. By the way, I spent a lot of my childhood at the Rec center there. Drew and I used to play tennis 8-10 hours a day during summer and I played in all the basketball leagues and pickup games. Plus I coached little league there one summer and we won the championship... still smile thinking about that. Anyway... rambling on. Glad they were able to finally get the fireworks show and concert in. It rained it out 3 times but they just kept trying. Way to go!
Tonight Lynn and I met up with our old friend, Michael "Pegleg" Johnson. We met Mike last year while performing on the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach. When we first got here last year he was lucid, sharp and funny. Over the summer his drinking and anger seemed to get progressively worse. The day we left for the year was sad. Mike actually got really mad and caused a big scene. My CD, Someday I'll Be the Man Again, has 11 songs written about homeless friends of mine. Here's the link to listen to the song Pegleg Mike.
Also pictured in this photo is our friend Ray. Last year we thought Ray was a homeless fisherman from NC's OBX. As it turns out, he was a fugitive on the run from the NC court system. Ray was one of the most likable guys we'd ever met, but we didn't get to see him tonight because he was arrested arraigned and is now serving 20 years in prison. Maybe we made a difference last summer, but it looks more and more like we just made a small dent in the lives of our friends. Here's the song I wrote about Ray... It's called Malt Liquor and Cheap Tobacco
Here are some of the pictures from my summer on the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach, SC.