Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nashville, TN


I finally stopped for a few days once reaching Myrtle Beach, SC. I got the much needed sleep. I relaxed. I ate. Things got back to normal. I spent Christmas morning there but Stephanie & I drove back to Atlanta on Christmas day. We had dinner at my Mom's. It was a pretty good Christmas. VERY different, but good nonetheless. After a couple more days of R&R & running errands, I met the bus last night at the warehouse. We left Atlanta around 11pm bound for Nashville.
Like a normal tour day, I rolled out of my bunk this morning & walked into the venue trying to familiarize myself with the surroundings. After a shower & some breakfast, Coy & I made a trip to Gruhn's Guitars. I traded a guitar for a Calton case & an amplifier. Soon after that we had a couple of hours of interviews with USAToday & Associated Press. Then, we had to do some assorted soundchecks. I was using a new guitar rig on stage & a new guitar for that matter. I spent a little more time on stage than anyone else this afternoon.
Then we had the Eat & Greet. It was a run of the mill E&G. No problems. Shortly after that the band made its way backstage to find the '72 Cadillac El Dorado waiting for Zac courtesy of one Mr. Alan Jackson. It was pretty awesome. Alan ended up singing our duet with us tonight on stage. It was a great night for music in Nashville. Jerry Douglas sat in with us. I love it when he plays with us.
All in all... a great night back from break. Can't wait for New Year's Eve.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Myrtle Beach, SC (vacation)


Although it's listed as vacation, I didn't get much sleep last night. Out by 2:30am - up by 9am. Riding by 10am. My girlfriend, Stephanie, & I headed to see her family. Not much to report. We got there by 4:30pm. Went to see her brother play basketball. Had BUffalo Wild Wings; end of story. I WILL get to sleep in though. Since my schedule has been so crazy for the past few weeks... tomorrow will be my time to buy presents. Kicking Christmas into overdrive tomorrow. 0-60!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chattanooga, TN


After a full night of sleep, we left the hotel for our last show of the run. We left the hotel at our noon check out & had 6 hours to get to Chattanooga. The was no reason to book a hotel in Chattanooga so we had a great deal of free time on our hands. 6 hours to drive 2 hours worth of driving. We hit up a couple of music stores along the was. We also had lunch at Mellow Mushroom. We were just a tad early.
Load in, sound check, & dinner all went by very quickly. We didn't know what to expect regarding attendance. This close to Christmas & such below average weather can only mean bad numbers. Tonight was one of the best attended shows of the whole tour. They were a really good crowd too. Good show. Levi's wife brought his kids to the show from Atlanta. So he rode home with them.
We sold merch, signed some stuff, packed up, loaded out, & I was on the road by 11:00pm. It was a breeze driving that 2 & a half hour drive home. I was in my own bed by 2am. Good tour. Need more rest. I'll get that tomorrow night.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Knoxville, TN (sorta)


I was at the Urgent Care facility in downtown Roanoke, VA by 9am. It took them 2 hours to see me. The final diagnosis was that I am, literally, exhausted. My body was shutting down & unable to get well. The doctor wanted me to stay in bed with no travel (assuming that I'm from Roanoke). But I'm not.
I met Levi at the venue to reload our gear into the truck. We left the gear at the venue over night. Levi went out with Wyatt Durrette to 'hang out' & 'have some drinks.' Little did I know that Levi would return after 6am. Needless to say, Levi was very hungover at lunch today. We discussed the situation & he begged me to let him lay back down. I became apparent that tonight's show in Knoxville was not going to happen. And so it didn't.
Levi crashed again. I filled my prescriptions & grabbed a few winks before we hit the highway. We left Roanoke at 5:30pm. Putting me in the hotel by 11pm - with gas, food, & bathroom stops.
I've done more than the doctor wanted me to do. But driving to Atlanta from Roanoke was NOT an option. Our current plan is to crash here in Knoxville... leave for Chattanooga around noon. Play our show in Chattanooga, then drive home. Doable.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Roanoke, VA


We knew we had a long drive. On paper, it looks to be 6 hours+ (with restroom breaks). We ate before we left Wilmington. I must say we were pretty defeated after last night. Luck would have it, 20 miles from Roanoke, I get speeding ticket #2 in one month. I don't know what's been happening. I haven't been a speeder in years. 2 tickets in 4 weeks. I'm pretty disappointed in myself & feel pretty stupid.
However, if last night deflated our spirits, tonight filled us up again. A full room will do that. Everyone seems to be into it & listening. The Kirk Ave Music Hall is a must for a listening room tour (I'm speaking to you, singer-songwriters). THey really have it going on.
Tonight was good but I still feel like shit. Got a reference for a doctor tomorrow morning. Need to know what's wrong with me. Hopefully, not much... outside of the obvious.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wilmington, NC


Unsatisfying. This morning was fine. We left town around 1pm, but not after a full stop at IHOP. Well needed. The trip to Wilmington was easy. Our hotel is nice. The only thing to complain about is the show. It was rather uninspired. We played to 10, count 'em, 10 customers. It was a bit degrading. I guess it's a gift. It will keep me extremely grounded & make me realize, even more, how lucky I am to be a musician in my position. LOOONG drive tomorrow (6 hours) & I'm still not well. Need MORE sleep.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Raleigh, NC


We got out of the hotel as soon as we could this morning. I didn't sleep well. The solid part of my sleep was between 1:30am & 5am. The rest of the time was on the "wake up every hour" rig. I'm definitely sick. I have no other symptoms other than my fever. I guess my body's trying to get rid of something. Ibuprofen, water, & as much rest as this schedule will allow should take care of it.
Our drive was rather pleasant. Glad we didn't have any suspect weather to drive through. We had lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings in Greensboro on the way to Raleigh. It was welcomed.
Upon entering Raleigh, I noticed a tiny guitar shop on the left side of the street. I pointed it out to Levi & he pulled over. We had a few hours to kill... so why not. As we made our way from the parking lot behind the building to the front door I commented that "there was no way this shop is going to have anything good." Well, I was wrong. Damn near everything in there was good... they didn't have much, but everything was good. It's called Guru Guitars.
Anyway, our load-in was painless. As was soundcheck. We checked in the hotel & by the time it was time to leave for the gig, I was mayor of feverville... achy ass feverville. However, it was musically the best show of the tour so far. I thought I was going to have trouble singing but I didn't. Had my best night so far. Also, the opener was BJ Barham. He's the lead singer of the band American Aquarium. He was AWESOME. He's working on his solo album & it should be out in a few months. I'm definitely getting one.
I am back in the hotel room & both of us are toast. I'm a little more burnt on both sides though. Half way done - 4 of 8 finished. This is a great tour/lineup.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Charlotte, NC


Now that's what I'm talking about. Today was much better. The drive was an hour & a half. This hotel kinda blows, but other than that - today was great.
I've played The Evening Muse many times. It's like the Eddie's Attic of Charlotte. I always have a good night here. I will say that I'm still operating at 60%. Just warn down I guess. I'll get a good night's sleep again tonight - hoping that the rest & Vitamin C will catch up with me.
Tonight WAS great. We had a great crowd & everyone was "with us." NoDa is a wonderful place & I suggest Budreuax's the next time you want cajun in Charlotte.
Semi-treacherous drive tomorrow. I hope we can make it safely all the way to Raleigh. Nighty - night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Columbia, SC


I'm going to have to keep this brief. I am really, really tired & I need to crash.
Levi & I left Charleston at 1pm. We had Home Team BBQ for lunch. Thanks, Reid. It was unbelievable. Maybe the best I've ever had.
The trip was uneventful (just like I like it). The show was good. Every one was very attentive tonight. The top end of my voice was a little tired tonight. I hope a good night's sleep will fix that. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Charleston, SC


I picked Levi up around 10:30am at his house this morning. Our drive was supposed to be uneventful. It proved to be otherwise. A little past Greenville, my 'check engine' light illuminated in my Dodge 1500. Soooo, we pulled over at the nearest Dodge dealership (in Clinton, SC) for a little service. It was a minor problem, so they sent us on our way. We were a mere 30 minutes late to our load in. Levi & I played The Pour House in Charleston, SC. Attendance was a little low due to the unseasonably cold weather here in the southeast. The Charleston folks are a bit more tender than others. However, our set was great. If anything, tonight was a great rehearsal for a larger audience. I'd say that every one who came enjoyed the show, even though the energy was a little lacking. I thank everyone who came & hope that they made it home okay.
We're really psyched about this tour & are ready for tomorrow... after a full night's sleep.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Home (day 2)


Well, all I did today is run errands: breakfast, bank, pharmacy, post office, luthier, Zac's, lunch, warehouse/headquarters, guitar shoppe #1, show shop, & guitar shoppe #2. After coming home, I packed clothes, merch, & gear. I also did some logistical prep for the Clay vs. Levi tour (CVL - & that abbreviation is not for Cape Vogel airport in Papua New Guinea). Not much else to report. I'm gonna need my rest for tomorrow. The drives are relatively short until the last day. But tomorrow is the roughest drive.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Home


Oliver & I made it to the Newburgh Airport by 2am. We checked in our hotel & 3 hours later, we were returning the rental car. The flight was early but it got me home. Zac's guitar tech/brother-in-law, Mikey Mason, picked me up from the airport & took me to the ZBB warehouse. My truck has been spending a lot of time there lately.
After I got home I spent a couple of hours going through mail, emptying the dehumidifier in the back studio, laundry, shower, lunch... I was clean, fed, & in the bed by the time the Falcons scored their first touchdown. I didn't make it through the rest of the game though. I had to force myself to get out of bed at 6:30pm. I had to get a ton of paperwork together for tomorrow's errand-a-thon. I ONLY have tomorrow. Levi & I leave for Charleston on Tuesday morning. I'm going back to sleep now. Good night.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Woodstock, NY


Well... bitter sweet. We had a great drive from York, PA to Saugerties, NY. We visited at Chris Wood's house for an hour two. Then we made our way to Woodstock & Levon Helm's house/barn/studio/venue. Unfortunately, Levon had fallen a bit ill recently. He was very anemic upon an emergency doctor visit. They hospitalized him & he wasn't able to attend his Ramble. There was some magic missing... but a good night was still had by all. I'm going to do everything in my power to get ZBB to do a Ramble.
Oliver & I still have an hour drive to Newburgh, NY. Our plane home to Atlanta is at 7am... so I've written off sleep for tonight. You just got to accept it some times. Hope everyone had a good night out there in internet land.

Friday, December 10, 2010

York, PA


Today was nice. We slept in. Pennsylvania is not very beautiful this time of year on the route we took. I'd imagine that it's gorgeous in the summer. We traveled from Pittsburgh to York. We made great time.
Tonight was the best night yet. I hate to see this tour go. But, I'm glad for tomorrow's show & the fact that I get to go home for two full nights. The comforts of home, or even a bus, would be welcomed right now.
Not much to say because I'm tired & I need all of the rest I can get. Tomorrow starts earlier than I'd like. Good night.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pittsburgh, PA


One could say that we slept in. Others could say that we got the right amount of sleep. I was just glad to wake up this morning. We headed out of Toronto, ON around 10:30am. It was a pleasant ride to the Canadian/U.S. Border. We also had absolutely NO problem getting back into the country. Also, our trip to Pittsburgh was uneventful (just like I like it).
If I feel that I was just in Pittsburgh, it's because I was this past Saturday with ZBB. This was a totally different capacity. This was a make-up gig for The Wood Brothers. They had to cancel it earlier this year. They room held 150 people & they turned away 50 folks at the door. They should play the 400+ seater next time they come around. The room was so small that we didn't even mic the drums. That being the case, we also didn't drag in the in-ear rig that we'd been using. We used stage monitors tonight. I thought it sounded great & cohesive. It was just a great night. Very few bad nights with this show.
Still... I need more consistent sleep. Leaving at 11am bound for York, PA in the morning. Out!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Toronto, ON


Great day. Early on hardly any sleep, but good. We had to visit the FedEx facility & pick up our merch that wasn't properly delivered to last night's venue. Got to see a good deal of Canada from the highway though. We drove from Montréal to Toronto. Definitely different vibes between these two cities. Montréal seems a bit more formal & Toronto a bit more loose. I enjoyed both.
It's been weird being disconnected (phone wise) from the US. Of course, I have internet access in hotel rooms but I'm so accustomed to my smart phone. It's amazing how dependent I am on it. Maybe I should take that as a sign to pull away from it a bit.
Anyway, the gig at The Mod Club Theatre was great. Even on limited rest, the show went fabulously. I really like playing with The Woods & hope that they'll have me whenever it makes sense. I consider my opening set a bonus & The Woods set the real meat of this tour for me.
Back to the homeland tomorrow. Kinda glad. Canada is cool & all but I would like the comforts of home. I also might be a little too loopy to continue this blog properly. Good night.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Montréal, QB


We left Chester, VT this morning around 10am. We had a great drive up to the border. Then it started to snow. It took us about half an hour to get through the Canadian border. I guess we looked rather suspicious. We also got stuck behind tandem snow plows (one in the left lane, one in the right) for 30 minutes. It reduced our speed from 100 kMh to 40kMh. Soooo... we were a bit late. The set up & soundcheck was timely & good. Dinner was great. My set was solid. I feel really good about playing again (my own stuff). Can't wait for the Levi tour.
Tonight's turn out was about 60 folks. That's about what we expected. Heavy snow kept a great deal of people away I'd imagine. Our trip to the hotel was eventful. I'm glad that we have two experienced "snow" drivers in the fold. Chris Wood lives in upstate NY & drives through a good bit of snow in the winter. Our ace in the hole is Christian Dugas. He lives in Winnipeg. They have A LOT of snow where he's from.
My first touring snafu just happened downstairs in the lobby of the hotel. I booked my room at one of the OTHER locations for Hotel Dauphin here in Montréal. It was a $90 mistake. I guess I'll keep a closer eye on it in the future. Pretty embarrassing though.
LOOOONG day tomorrow. & an early one. It's 1am now. 6am wakeup call & a full day of driving, then a show, then a long, early drive the following day. This tour is NOT for the meek.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chester, VT (a.k.a., Day Off)

I drove today. We left Durham, NH (a.k.a., UNH) around 12:30pm bound for Chester, VT (via Concord, NH). We had to ship some merch to Pittsburgh & visit the bank to deposit some $. It was a nice relaxing drive through the snow today.
When we got to Chester our new friend Stephen was here to greet us. I'm still unclear on how we know Stephen. I just know that we are staying in this 130 year old house because of him. This place is pretty rad. Stephen also owns a business called vintageparlorguitars.com. He had 15-20 guitars waiting to hang out with us during our stay. I, of course, bought one: a 1940 Bronson's Radio King square neck acoustic. It's all mahogany, in great condition, you play it on your lap, it sounds great, & he gave me a SMOKING deal on it. He'll be shipping it to Atlanta for me.
Tomorrow brings the unknown of Canada. This will be my first trip to Montreal. Apparently, they got quite a bit of snow today & that trend should continue over the next 3 days. Still, looking forward to new experiences.
Until tomorrow. Must rest up. Over & out.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Newmarket, NH


5 hours to sleep. Today started with a flight from Pittsburgh to Philly. Then a flight from Philly to Manchester, NH. I was doing alright until we loaded in. Then I started to falter. My set was good. I gave it ever last bit of energy I had. Then came The Wood Brotehrs' set. They did well. I played & sang well too, but I was SOOOO tired. It's one of those situations where I played great but looked like I was asleep on stage. In my state you can have one or the other - not both.
I survived. We played the Stone Church in Newmarket, NH. I played there once with Shawn in 2006. It closed down - then reopened under new management. It's a bit different now. Oh well. Day off tomorrow. A full night's sleep tonight. Bring it on.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pittsburgh, PA


It's much too early to feel winded. If this was a marathon, I'd be at mile 3. This morning was great. I had a nice big breakfast & an easy trek to the Portland Airport. The only part of the day that sucked was the almost 4 hour lay over at LaGuardia. The airport was fine but the waiting sucked. I landed at the Pittsburgh airport a little after 3pm & the drive was short to the gig. Once I got there, I didn't have much to do until showtime. I rested in my OWN bunk. It's my home away from home... & since I'm away from home - it was very much like home.
We had a tiny meet & greet around 7:45pm & then had a short vocal warm up. The show kicked off at 9:15pm. It was so refreshing & slightly challenging. We were playing a show put on by the local country radio station to thank the troops. It was all acoustic. I played my Martin all night except for one song - in which I played mandolin. Hop switched between electric bass & upright bass. Zac, of course, played his Taylor classical. That was it: a broken down, acoustic, mini-Zac Brown Band. I had a blast trying to cover no just my parts, but Coy's & Jimmy's. Also, I had to sing Jimmy's part all night so my head was on swivel. Very refreshing to play shows like that from time to time.
I'm back at the Pitt airport about to crash & have another day of travel & playing tomorrow. I love my job.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Portland, ME


Today was easy peasy japaneesey. We left the hotel at noon. Hit up a Legal Seafood before we even got to Boston. For those of you who don't know about Legal Seafood - it's a chain seafood joint in the northeast that kicks ass. It was a little expensive for lunch but it was worth it. A 3 hour ride awaited us. No problems on the road. I even caught a 15 minute nap in the back seat of the van. I listened to Doyle Bramhall II's Smokestack album called "Welcome." If you are a guitarist - you need this record. I bought it new almost 10 years ago & it NEVER gets old.
Since we are very east & very north in Portland, it was rather dark when we loaded in at 4:30pm. The venue was awesome. Port City Music Hall is now one of my favorite listening rooms in the country. This is picture of it> It was a quick set up. Christian Dugas (The Wood Brothers' drummer) & I went to a music store to get some supplies. He bought a drum head & I was in search of tubes for Oliver's back-up amp (which I am playing lap steel through).
Soundcheck was short & sweet. The show was sold out. I was very happy with my set. The Woods kicked ass tonight. I had a blast with my second night on lap steel. Everything is gelling very well.
I am currently in my hotel room at the Portland airport... I need to grab a couple winks before my flight in the morning. More details to come from my December Adventure.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fall River, MA


Most of the United States has no idea where Fall River, MA is. Well... look at the map. It's not terribly far from Boston.
Today started out leisurely. I returned the rental car. We had lunch at Panera & shipped some CD's to Canada at FedEx. Then we drove 3 hours to Fall River from Hartford, CT. The venue tonight was The Narrows Center for the Arts. Really cool room. A converted early century warehouse or factory. Old wood floors. Decent sound system. It was a good night for everybody. I played lap steel on a few songs with The Woods. I also played some new tunes live that I've never played before. THey will be included on the next record for sure.
I like it up here. It's a tad cold (colder weather to come in the next few months). I need to pace myself with better rest. I have a long row to hoe. Pretty easy day tomorrow though... not much sleep for tomorrow night though. Preparation.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Norfolk, CT


Where do I start? The beginning, I guess. After a 1:30am bedtime I was up at 4:30am for shower & a quick trip to the Nashville airport. My 6am flight took off just fine. I landed in Detroit with an hour to spare before my flight to Newburgh, NY. If you've kept up with the news you'd know that the northeast was hit pretty hard with some bad weather. I was supposed to land in Newburgh at noon. We got there but never landed. We actually attempted to land, but 100 feet off of the ground the wind scared the pilot & he pulled up. We ended up being rerouted to Wilkes Barre airport. The Wood Brothers were waiting at Newburgh to pick me up. They grounded our plane in Wilkes Barre & decided to put us all on a bus to Newburgh. Since I had another 2 hours to go after I got to Newburgh, I told the Wood Brothers to go on without me. I rented a car in Wilkes Barre & drove 4 hours straight to Norfolk. I got there an hour before doors. I didn't get much of a soundcheck but that doesn't bother me too much.
I played my then chilled in the dressing room during the Woods' set. I think I'll play with them tomorrow night but tonight I was just toast. At least I got here.
PS. We just heard that we're nominated for 4 Grammys this year. Stoked. Tired but stoked.