SW Tour Diary #3- The Major's Cabin

Wow...I'd better finish up this blog soon because every night I don't means one more day I have to write about which means this will soon approach novel length...  Hey kids!  This tour has been quite a non-stop whirl-wind.  We've played a show just about every night and haven't stayed in a town any longer than that.  We've covered in two weeks as much ground as we covered in three on the last tour.  I love it!  Living in San Francisco, you spend a good portion of your time waiting for buses.  When you're in a hurry to get to your final destination you're faced with two choices: either wait for a potentially late bus or start walking.  By waiting you run the risk of the bus never arriving and by walking of course you face the chance that as soon as you leave the bus stop, the bus will come and pass you by.  I always elected to choose the latter of the two.  It drives me crazy to ever stand and wait for anything.  Always gotta keep moving forward...

We flew out of Austin last Wednesday morning to Nashville.  It was another Aloft Hotel gig like the ones Ricky and I had done in Richmond, Green Bay, and Harlem the month before so we got the luxury of a plane ride and a day off from the van.  It was the first day of December which means for me the first day of listening to Christmas music!  It's hard to keep up with what day it is while on the road, let alone what time of year it is so the Christmas music was a good reminder that we are indeed entering the holiday season.  We met up with Paige at the Nashville airport.  I'd been back to Nashville a few times since moving, but this was really my first time in Franklin which is where I did most of my growing up.  It was Paige's first time back too since her self-imposed exile many years ago, so it was pretty surreal for both of to be back especially do a show.  We took a cab from the airport to the hotel where we were set to play exactly two hours later.  We'd done enough of these by now that the Aloft hotel room was starting to feel like a home away from home.  The people at Aloft are extremely hospitable and treat us like rock stars.  I'm trying hard not to get too used to it...!  I had invited literally everyone on my Facebook friends list from Nashville to the show so I wasn't quite sure who would show up.  The answer ended up being a mixed bag of people from all different parts of my life in Nashville.  It literally felt like that old show "This is your life!".  A handful of my dad's old industry friends showed up as well as my sister Corey's best friend from elementary school, the pastor of my old church, a few fans Ricky and I had made when we'd played in Nashville on our last tour, and maybe most surreal of all, my third grade teacher who beamingly told me that this was me fulfilling the potential she had seen in cute little me so many years ago!  The show went really well.  The one weird thing for me about these Aloft shows is that since I was the "Project Aloft Star" winner, they're the only shows we do that are basically my show and not shared equally with Ricky or Ricky and Paige.  I do plenty of shows that are just me, but having Ricky and Paige just there to back me up feels a bit odd since they are unbelievable songwriters who I am literally still in awe of even after all this time every time I hear them perform.  They did get to do a couple of their own original songs which was cool.  Ricky was not feeling well after the show and went straight to bed so Paige and I along with my old friend Robby and a few of his friends who had come to the show all went over to enjoy the thing I probably missed most about Nashville, Carrabba's Italian Grill!

We had an early flight the next morning back to Texas (Ricky and I to Houston and then Austin, Paige to Charlotte, NC and then home to Houston....go figure!).  Austin felt familar this time around which is the great thing about traveling frequently.  Because of Ricky's diet (basically allergic to food) we've gotten a really insightful survey of the Whole Foods Markets across the country and the one in Austin where we had a late lunch that afternoon was actually the first one ever established so for Ricky in particular, it must have been like visiting Mecca!  We played our show that night at Cherrywood Coffeehouse where we had played last tour, thankfully indoors this time.  A man came up to me as we were setting up and introduced himself as Jared Bourgeois saying that he had a twin brother named Adrian Bourgeois who had recently died so when he had seen my name, he felt compelled to come!  There was also someone in the audience who revealed themselves to have the last name Berger so Ricky and I ended up performing for family we never knew we had.  It was a fun show and the crowd seemed to dig it. 

After the show we drove four hours to my grandfather's house in Dallas.  I love coming back to that house.  There aren't too many things that remain constant throughout life but Goomba's house is one of them.  It's not like I've even spent tons of time in it, the odd Christmas every couple of years, but for some reason it's a frequent location in my dreams maybe just because some semblence of my genes has been floating around in and out of that house for the past almost forty years.  It's always great to see Goomba although he was sick this time around and unable to come to our show.  Opening Bell Coffee was one of our favorite venues to play on the last tour it was great playing there again.  We got to reconnect with some of the people who had come to see us last time we'd played there and met a few new friends, not least the fantastic multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter duo that played after us, Stephanie Briggs and K Phillips.

We got up early the next morning to drive to Argylle, TX to visit with Claire Parr, the woman who had put on Live In the Vineyard and her husband Bob.  The Parrs and I are hopefully going to be doing some recording together in February.  They're wonderful people and it's really encouraging how much interest they've taken in wanting to help my music career along.  We drove from there for Houston to play a gig at the venue that Ricky and I had probably been most curious to check out: Super Happy Fun Land.  Super Happy Fun Land certainly lived up to our expectations.  Racks of dolls, vintage clothes and huge stuffed animals were scattered recklessly about a graffiti covered warehouse, like a giant playroom from the psychedelic era.  Paige came and played a set with me (her second show of the night) which was great as always and a much tighter set than Nashville.  A true highlight of this year for me has been getting to start performing with her again for the first time in almost six years and hopefully that will continue into the next year.  The entire audience was comprised almost of family: my uncles Bruce and Brian, aunt Ilda, cousin Jerry and his wife and kids, and Paige's mom were all there. One of the only exceptions was actually a couple who had seen Paige and I perform in Napa at Live In the Vineyard so that was kind of cool that they remembered enough to come out to see us almost a month later.  After the show, Ricky and I stayed the night at Brian and Ilda's house and got to leave the next morning with a bag full of cousin Jerry's freshly baked bread, another highlight of the tour!

It was time to start heading west again and after a stop at yet another Whole Foods Market (which has been fast becoming a favorite dining place for me as well), we drove three hours to San Antonio.  This gig was at a venue that couldn't have been more different than Super Happy Fun Land but was equally as colorful.  While Super Happy Fun Land had been vast and spacious, GIG as this venue was called was cozy and intimate and had the feeling of a very hip living room with lighting that only a professional photographer could have set up which is exactly what the sound guy and venue owner, Ruben, happened to be.  The performance space looked great and the sound was incredible...only problem was that there was no audience!  Ruben said that he kind of had expected this since it was a Sunday night and that area was usually pretty dead on weeknights but he had liked our music so much that he was willing to give us a chance.  Ricky and I and the other performer on the bill traded off songs nonetheless and with the professional lighting, we actually got some pretty cool looking video so long as we quickly turned off the camera in time to not capture the lack of applause.  A few people showed up at the end but truth be told, I was a little grateful for the lack of an audience given the fact that by that time Ricky's sickness from the beginning of the week had passed to me.  Ruben was gracious enough to actually let us sleep the night at the venue which had its fair share of relatively comfortable couches.

I was grateful to have a day off just to travel the following day and save my voice a bit.  It's impossible to take for granted how big Texas is.  There's something inspiring about driving west too.  You feel as though you're chasing the sun and you can literally see the shadow of the coming night spreading it's blanket over the vast landscape as the horizon fades from orange to purple and finally to deep dark blue.  We'll catch the sun one day.

I've been reading one of the most fascinating books I've ever read, "Sophie's World" which I can't recommend enough and haven't been able to put down the entire tour.  About fifty pages away from the end of the book I made the alarming discovery that I had left it at the Mexican restaurant we had eaten at two hours earlier so it was absolutely imperative that we hit a Barnes and Noble the following morning in Las Cruces to pick up a new copy.  Disease, famine, and natural disaster pale in comparison to the tragedy of losing an engrossing book you are fifty pages away from finishing (I just finished it tonight, literally one of the best books I've ever read).

The show tonight in Albuquerque (where the towels are oh so fluffy!) was strange to say the least.  It was at a Hookah lounge for one.  I'm not really sure what Hookahs do but hippies and hipsters seem to like them and here at the Orchid Chamber, the usual suspects were seated around the room in circles of pillows smoking Hookahs and playing video games.  Also there was no sound system so it was a great opportunity to put those vocal lessons of how to project into practice.  On the other hand not having to stay in one place locked behind a microphone was really liberating and the last two songs were performed practically dancing around the room.  I think that may have finally gotten their attention.  We're driving now to Flagstaff where we'll get a short night's sleep before driving eight and a half hours to San Diego in the morning.  That's all for now...but then a video is worth a thousand words right?  So I've got plenty of those to entertain you with next time you need a procrastination fix:

From Opening Bell Coffee, Dallas, December 3rd, 2010

"The Lost and the Free"- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJVpkHNKH2M
"Love Be A Child"- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ9PHrpFbV8
"People To Be"- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26Jj7ITiYuU
"My Sweet Enemy"- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icLE8F_jlho
"Long Way Home" (new song!  Kudos to Dad on the title...;) )- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBmyaXAmcb0
"Juniper"- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdnc7z0c8vk

From Super Happy Fun Land, Houston, December 4th, 2010

"Time Can't Fly A Plane" (w/ Paige Lewis)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VekaXkuu1VE
"Dream On" (w/ Paige Lewis)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_DFmil9LyY
"Still Life" (w/ Ricky Berger)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moq8WucDrzI
"Everybody Knows It Was Me" (w/ Ricky Berger)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GL00fojWE_w
"Stingy", "Parachutes" and "Handle With Care" (w/ Ricky Berger)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh9SieMEEE0