Wow! It's hard to realize but this time next week I'll have the car packed, new strings on the Gibson, the harps all tuned and cleaned, Jake boarded and the bags packed and ready to head to Memphis for the third time in 4 years. I can't believe how fast time has flown since winning the Charlotte Solo/Duo Blues Challenge in October, yet at times it seems like its just crawled.
So what have I been doing since then. Well, it's been a busy time for sure. Lots of shows, several fund raisers for the trip, the name the suitcase campaign and lots and lots of practice. I learned the hard way in 2011that it is just as bad to practice too much as it is to not practice enough. Maybe even worse. I worked so hard getting ready for that one that I completely wore my voice out and had very little left when I got on Beale Street. I did great the first night but I was shot by the middle of the second night.
In 2012 I wrote down a "lessons learned" journal after my run to the semi-finals that year. What would I change and what had I done right. I've re-read that over and over during the last few weeks. One item listed is "Don't add any new songs during the last two weeks before the show dummy". I might be breaking that rule... maybe. I have two new songs that are the kind of songs that really accurately define who I am as an artist, "No Second Chances" and "Little Brother's Got A Gun". Both are great stories, unique guitar licks and hot, hot harmonica. So each day I'm practicing those along with my set list I came up with in September. Lynn is usually the first one to say don't add anything new, but loves both of those songs so much that she suggested I may want to consider it. So... we'll see.
Another thing I've been doing is because of my lessons learned journal. "Getting on stage quickly and as simply as possible it Top Priority". So I purchased another vintage suitcase and over the last week have transformed it into a great suitcase kick drum with a snare and crash cymbal. It has a folding velcro covered platform that is actually attached to the suitcase stand and just folds down, making it extremely stable and really simple to get set up and minimizes the chance that something bad might happen to throw me off. We have only 5 minutes to get on stage and start the first note so it's important to make sure I can get setup quickly. I timed it tonight and in less than 55 seconds I was on stage, drums set up, guitar and harp mic plugged in and ready to go. There's a lot going on but I've worked hard to keep it simple so I can replicate getting on stage over and over very quickly. Something may still go south but at least I'll have almost 4 minutes on stage to figure out what and why.
By the way, on Wednesday I'll be adding all the bumper stickers of encouragement that you, my fans, have sent to me. That will be cool and I can't wait to see how the final drum setup is going to look. Having all those bumper stickers on the front of the suitcase is going to be so unique and awesome and I can't wait to see it finished.
To be honest I'm getting nervous but super, super excited. I can't wait to see a lot of my old friends on Beale Street and I can't wait to perform there again. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity that has come my way three times. I am lucky and happy, which makes it darn hard to have the blues. But believe me, I got the blues. A friend of mine from Memphis, who passed away a few years ago, told me something I'll never forget. He said, "Owen... the blues ain't nothing but a thang baby". Tim you were so, so right. The blues ain't nothing but a thang baby!