Monday, June 27, 2011

Flipflops & Rest Stops 2011 Tour: Tennessee

Nashville has a Parthenon.

These were lurking in the soundhole of my guitar.

Eric & Laura's fish pond

detail of light fixture in a tasty Nashville sushi bar

It's been a fine couple of days in Tennessee. I've been in to the Chattanooga Aquarium before, but this time I got to play next to it! It's probably the closest I'll get to opening for the sea lion show, so I'll take it. I was totally chuffed when a busload of fifty teenagers was dumped in front of the stage. I quickly pulled out the good songs and tried to look as cool as possible. It turns out they were a concert band from Shoreview, Arkansas that had been performing in town. I wish them the best and hope I can hit Arkansas next time around!

We spend the night at a motel in Cleveland which made me feel like I was in an episode of The Wire. At some point there had been some serious violence involving the microwave and it smelled of moldy weed and urine.

Our two days in Nashville didn't come with fine weather, so we spent most of it chilling indoors with my fine host Kiernan McMullan who is an incredible singer/songwriter himself. He showed us the sights in his minivan (the vehicle of champions), and we hit some tasty restaurants along the way. We also made friends with his roommate's stray beagle Steven Beagal who is in need of a loving home if anyone out there wants this sweet dog.

The gig at the Bluebird Cafe went well. The crowd and performers who swayed towards the country genre were warm and receptive to my rocky/folk/pink think I do. The featured performer was a dude named Fred Wilhelm who writes songs for a living. His tunes have been cut by Faith Hill and Randy Travis, and while country music doesn't generally perk my ears, I have to say Fred Wilhelm is a phenomenal writer who knows his craft. His inspiring words really spoke to me and verbalized a lot of thoughts I've had about why the hell I do what I do. A few things I took away from Fred:

1. Songwriters are not articulate people - I can't tell you how much this hits home. I really hate public speaking. Interviews often make me feel like an idiot no matter how much I prepare. It should be the easiest thing for someone who takes so much time to craft words, but when it comes to conversation I'm a poor communicator. A song is my way to thoughtfully and creatively relay my views.

2. If you don't enjoy the process, you should get out of the business - Fred writes over 100 songs a year. You probably aren't going to be famous. You probably aren't going to get rich. It's a long hard road, and if you aren't finding joy in the craft of writing then you are probably wasting your time. I do it because I'm compelled to do it. It can't tell you how often my crummy day is turned around just by singing for people. I'm driven (literally these days) to perform.

3. Graduate with your class, and support your fellow talented performers. The cream will rise to the top, and you can be part of that. It's so hard to leave the ego in minivan. I'm a tender flower often on the defensive constantly pressuring myself to prove my worth as a musician. The lesson of supporting others is something I've been slowly learning, often by watching the graciousness of people in my life. I am so grateful for them!

Anyhow, I'm still thinking on a few things, but this post is far too long. You are a trooper for getting this far, now go get yourself an ice cream cone with rainbow jimmies.

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