I've had some busy days before, but this weekend might have topped all of them. I had 4 shows in 3 days that included 8 1/2 hours on Saturday. Whew! Man, I might be too old for that. :-)
It started out on Thursday night in Kannapolis, NC for the Speakeasy Artist Showcase, where I was the "Featured Performer". My friend, Maurice Brines, who runs this great event brought me in and I was honored to be part of that scene there so close to Charlotte. Listening rooms and crowds are a performing artist's best friend and I'm going to try to do more of these types of venues in the future. The way it works is guys show up, sign up to perform a 20-minute set, mingle and network and then they have a "pro" do an hour long set. The guys performing Thursday evening were all top notch players. It was so cool playing for them in a quiet listening environment. I did all original songs and literally let them steer me from song to song many times. Many of the tried and true songs were crowd favorites including Jakes's song, Duct Tape Is Silver and Time Marches On. But to my surprise a few of my newest songs like Water Does That To A Man, Cruel Heart and Where'd You Learn To Teach Your Man To Cuss seemed to be their favorites... maybe because they are new to me and I put more in to them.
Then Friday night I was the "band" at Ham's of Kernersville, NC. Something normal for me, being hired as a band. What was not normal was performing from 10pm-2am. Wow that was a late night for sure but the crowd and staff were awesome. I made new fans, saw old ones and sold CDs, in an age where they're not supposed to be selling. After tear down and the drive home we got in bed around 4:30. That wouldn't have been too bad, but I had a noon until 4pm show in Charlotte the next day so just 3 1/2 hours sleep.
Saturday morning came early but we were up and driving on time for my Summer Solstice party at Tommy Bahama's of Southpark Mall in Charlotte. This was the second year in a row doing this show for them and this year was a treat for me. It was amazing how many folks just sat around the edges of the store listening. To my amazement the staff there was still exactly the same and were very happy to see me again. Apparently having live music in the store makes the day go by faster for the staff... I guess anything different, any variety adds some spice. My contract with their corporate office did not allow me to sell CDs but I was amazed that I met the CEO of one of the largest limousine companies in US... he came back to talk with me about having my music as part of their regular music in their fleet of cars and buses. Who knew... a limo company spins their own mix of music and I'll be in that mix next month. Pretty cool. My 4 hour show was up at 4:00 and we had to hurry to pack up and head out for the drive to the next show, which started at 8:00 in Summerfield, NC.
Mike and Mary Beth came to hear me several weeks ago at a show in Winston-Salem and hired me to provide music for their annual Summer Solstice party. They booked 3 hours with an option to add another hour if it was still rocking at 11pm. By the time I started this show, the previous 3 shows on top of the limited sleep and driving was starting to take it's toll. They had me on the deck outside... humid, hot and sticky... but as they say the show must go on... so off I went into the first set. By the time I'd played the 3rd song the tables on the deck, which were empty when I started, were now filled. I heard one guy tell his buddy, "I don't know what I thought I was going to do all night here but I know now... my a$$ is staying right here in this seat unless I'm walking over to get a beverage". He lied. :-) He later got up with the rest of the crowd to dance the night away... literally. After an hour I took my first break and they lit what has to be the biggest bonfire around. The stack of trees was higher than their 2-story house and the blaze was easily 100 feet high. To my amazement the woods nor the house was burned down and the fire department did not get called in. Not sure we needed a 100-foot bonfire on an 80-degree evening but it was actually really cool and burned all night long. After a few minutes I started back with the music, with my usual cover of Copperhead Road. They must have liked it because now the deck of filled beyond capacity with most of them dancing. I did a few more songs and then broke out into a foot-stomping, harp wailing version of Mr. Cash's Ring Of Fire. Well that did it... the entire party started what I call pogo dancing... you know jumping up and down like you're on a pogo stick. They sang with me so loud I couldn't hardly hear myself, even though Lynn said you could hear me and understand me blocks away. So I mentioned we were on a deck right? A big deck, but a deck all the same. I couldn't count the folks up dancing, maybe 50-60 or so... on a deck... pogo dancning. It didn't take long for the deck to start swaying and bouncing. It did not fall down but I remember thinking and planning what I would do when it did. Was I going to save my old Gibson guitar, the harmonicas or the Bose. I remember thinking... keep the Gibson strapped on and try to get to the bricks and hang on to them.
Well the deck held and I was amazed that it did. The crowd held too... they never once sat down again and 2 hours later when my 3 hour contract was nearly up I was more than exhausted. I remember thinking, man I did this backwards. I should have had the laid back show tonight and the rowdy one Thursday night. But that's not how it works. I also remember thinking wow, I bet they're going to have me stay at least another hour and I'm not sure if I'll make it. By that time I had performed 14 hours and driving 11 hours in the previous 3 days. My fingers, my legs and my voice was tired. But on cue here comes Mike up to the stage saying "We all want the extra hour... you up for it?" At 12:30 we finished the evening. Two of the strongest guys I've ever seen hand carried my cart loaded with my equipment down the steps off the deck. They didn't drop it but I remember thinking that if they did that would be a sign that it's time to retire. :-) I've played for lots of parties but these guys were just awesome. They danced, they clapped and they sang with me... nearly every song. My last song before my goodbye song (Jukin') was In The Air Tonight. They all circled around, locked arms and belted that one out. I thought, every neighbor in this neighborhood must be here because otherwise the police would be here for sure... it was the loudest I've ever heard a crowd sing. :-) They had fun... I had fun... successful party and show. The guy who said I'm just sitting here all night but ended up dancing for 3 hours said the funniest thing. He said, "Man right now I love you more than life, but tomorrow... tomorrow I am going to hate you more than anyone on the planet. I will not be able to walk tomorrow". I remember thinking the exact same thing about him and the crowd. I could walk yesterday... just enough to walk Maggie and make it back to the couch, where I stayed all day long recuperating.
This week I have two awesome shows. First Thursday night I will be back at the Celtic Fringe as they celebrate with a Tap Take Over. Then Friday night I'm back at Stonefield Cellars as I headline another event there as part of their Friday night concert series. That's the same Stonefield Cellars where Live At Stonefield Cellars was recorded 18 months ago. I plan to record another live show there that I think will be called Live At Stonefield Cellars Again. It will be another fun weekend of doing what I love in front of people I love and once again I'll have to pinch myself to make sure it's not a dream. I remember the advice my Poppa gave me many years ago saying "Son if I were you'd I find me something I would do for free because I love it so much and then find someone to pay you to do it... then you'll be a happy man". I'm a happy man!