Tour Diary #5- Repost from June 3rd, 2010

 *Note: I wrote this blog about a week and a half ago. Then my computer broke and I've had very limited access to internet between now and then which is why this blog covering the events of two to three weeks ago is just going up now. Consequently, some of the references to time now have a week and a half or so added to them...

I have finally reached my breaking point. After so many years of swearing to be the exception to the rule that all musicians are eventually driven to excess and substance abuse by the grueling days and sleepless nights oflife on the road, I too have falen prey: yesterday morning at a roadside gas station, I am ashamed to confess, I purchased and consumed… a Red Bull! I know this will be a let down of character to all my legions of fans (that’ll be the day!) who look to me as an example of clean living and a disappointment on the level of the time I was driven to drinking three whole shots of espresso in order to stay up all night to finish a college paper. I am obviously blazing through my twenties on a wing and a prayer to Keith Richards, but let me try to give some exposition as to what led me to such a dire place…

We left Dallas for Houston the afternoon after our show at Opening Bell Coffee. Before we hit the road for good, my dad had set up a meeting for us with an old friend of his, Claire Parr, who used to work for Geffin and now worked independently promoting artists and planning music festivals. She was extremely friendly and seemed impressed when we performed for her in her home recording studio.

Despite the fact that I have two uncles who have lived there my whole life, this was my first trip to Houston. Ricky and I played a show set up somewhat at the last minute at a place called BFE Rock Club which we kind of figured even going in may not have been the best fit for us. It was the first venue either of us had ever played where smoking was allowed inside and the band we opened for played primarily Journey and ACDC covers. I was expecting Spinal Tap to come on next. My uncles Bruce and Brian and my aunt Ilda were in the audience, none of whom had ever seen me perform live before, so that was a treat to finally get to play for them.

We stayed two nights in Houston with Brian and Ilda. Brian and Ilda have a pet wolf. Yes, it’s actually a wolf. It’s the sweetest thing you’ll ever meet—I could hardly get it to stop licking my face—and I’m told it doesn’t exactly make for the best guard dog as it’s first instinct when company comes is to run and hid. It does howl at the moon though which definitely leads to a bit of inquisition from the neighbors (to whom my aunt and uncle insist it’s just a huskie). They also have a rottweiler, a German Shepard mix and two parrots and it’s one of the parrots who is actually the attack animal. Coco the parrot will literally make off with your finger if you get too close and it has been known to trick the dogs (wolf included) into sticking their unsuspecting snouts too close to the cage.

While in Houston we visited my cousin Jerry’s bakery where we helped him roll dough for the next morning’s bread sale. Jerry offered me the chance to start a pizza parlour with him and while the offer sounded enticing, I told him that at the moment I was pursuing other career objectives… It did however lead me to have a dream that night in which I was offered the Presidency of the United States and turned that down so as not to have to give up my music career (although I was almost enticed by being told that I could build a recording studio in the White House).

We had one last Austin gig to play Saturday night at Cherrywood Coffee, our first and only outdoor venue on the tour, before leaving Texas all together, and after one last overnight stay in Dallas at Goomba’s house, it was off to Nashville. For those who don’t know, my family and I lived in Nashville (well, Franklin, right outside of Nashville) from 1994 to 2002. We left just before I started high school so while it was a place I recognized and knew well from my childhood, I had never really gotten to experience it as an adult, and once you’re in charge of driving yourself and getting your own food and such, you do notice different things than you may have as a kid.

We pulled up around 4am Monday morning to the house of another very old friend and frequent music coconspirator of mine: Robert Sebastian Mogan. I met Robby when I was twelve and he was fourteen and a mutual friend of ours convinced him to temporarily and reluctantly be our band’s guitarist until we could find someone who actually liked our music and he could find a better band. Naturally, we’ve been friends ever since.

We had four shows scheduled in Tennessee that week, but our first appearance in Nashville was at the famous Bluebird Café open mic night. I honestly wasn’t too impressed with the talent there on that particular night, but I suppose once you have the reputation the Bluebird does, everyone wants to play there! After the open mic we all drove to Robby’s friend Robert’s house…or I’m not sure the word “house” does it justice! We only saw the basement, but it alone included a movie theater, a spa, a Star Wars themed cantina, and one of the nicest recording studios I had ever been in. The four of us stayed up late, well into the next morning sharing songs with each, something that felt particular good for my soul and spirit.

Our first official show of this particular leg was the next day at a church in a town called Smyrna just south of Nashville. We opened up for the Lost Dogs at this show, a “supergroup” of four incredible singer/songwriters, one of whom was Mike Roe. It was cool running into him on the other side of the country and also cool to perform a show using a grand piano for once as opposed to Ricky’s keyboard…nothing against Ricky’s keyboard and I think she would agree with me. The crowd seemed to really like us and I dare say we made a few new fans.

After a few days “off”, we performed a show at Ugly Mugs that Saturday, a newer venue in east Nashville. The following night we played a benefit at 12th and Porter for victims of the flooding that has been happening over the past week. The whole time we were in Nashville, I saw no trace of the flooding that has displaced countless amounts of people from their homes, but everyone seemed to have been affected by it in some way or another. Chris Rodriguez, a Nashville musician and family friend whou I had coffee with that week, told me that his guitars, along with Vince Gil’s and Keithh Urban’s, and Ben Folds’s piano that were kept in a musicians’ storage facility were all destroyed. Robby, Robert, Ricky and I, the only one of the group whose name didn’t start with an “r”, performed in classic Nashville “in the round” fashion, reprising onstage what we had shared a a few night’s previously in Robert’s studio. Some old friends I had seen since I left (thanks Michael and Katie!) came out and it was great catching up with them.

My dad had set up another meeting for us, this time with Whitney Daane of Kobalt Music Group. We performed for her and her assistant in her office on Music Row. She got on the phone immediately afterwards with several contacts of hers around town telling them to meet with us. One of the wonderful things about Nashville is that industry people are everywhere and most of them are some of the nices people you’ll ever meet. They all know each other too so if one of them gets excited about something, they’re libel to tell all their friends as well. Whitney was no exception to any of the above and set us up the next day with meetings with Patrick Clifford of Ten Ten Music, Leslie Roberts of BMI and Jesse Willoughby of ASCAP, all of whom seemed really interested in our music and eager to help in anyway they could. It’s really humbling to know that so many extremely talented artists who don’t have a dad in the industry don’t even get their foot in the door. So hats off to Dad and his connections!

Our last Nashville gig was at a little Greek restaurant called Zavos on the second night of a new weekly showcase put on by Dsam Ashworth. Sam’s parents and my parents go back about thirty years or so (Sam’s dad is singer/songwriter/producer extraordinaire, Charlie Peacock) and Sam had actually been a ring boy at my parents’ wedding when he was a wee lad. Our dads played countless shows together back in the day so it seemed very “circle of life”-ish for the two of us to finally do one together. Sam is an amazing singer/songwriter and he invited me at the end of his set (well I kind of invited myself!) to sing Roy Orbison’s song “Crying” with him. After the show, Ricky, Robby and I hit it off with the bartender, David Gehrke, whose day job we came to find out is drumming for the ultra groovy band, the Silver Seas. Everyone we met who had help to offer us was offering it, which was extremely encouraging and inspiring. We got very little sleep that week, but our nights and morning were full of conversation, music and every thing you could want out of a tour.

We met again the next morning with Patrick Clifford who had with him to listen to us Robert Ellis Orrall, another great singer/songwriter and old family friend whose sons I had gone to middle school with. It’s always nice to play for someone again who hasn’t heard you since you were fourteen!

We had a long drive to Virginia that day as our stopover point before heading to New York so naturally in typical Ricky and Adrian fashion, we didn’t leave Nashville until 8pm to make the eight and a half hour drive that with stops and all got us into Charlottesville, VA around 6am the next morning. The sunrise we drove towards into Virgina was quite apparently the same one that had inspired the whole bit about “purple mountains majesty” and you really couldn’t blame the original English settlers for wanting to conquer a place so beautiful. We slept for four hours on the floor of an apartment set up for us by a girl named Kirsten who I hadn’t spoken to since third grade but who recently reached out through Facebook wanting to know what she could do to help with the tour. Then at 10am it was time to hit the road for New York. This is when the Red Bull happened.

Quite a bit has happened since all of this… Between my computer breaking and not having access to much internet, I’m a little behind on blogging. More to come soon...

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