State of the East Coast Tour...

Hi Everybody! I had big plans of writing in the blog every night, but I think I was sadly mistaken about the energy and focus requirements of playing so many dates in new places every night or two…this has been a blast so far, but also one of the hardest, trickiest things that I’ve ever done. Just making sure that I’m where I need to be, rested enough to put on a (hopefully) great show, organized with materials and promotion, etc….there’s a lot to do! Not the beach days I perhaps expected. But it’s all been great, and it’s been wonderful to see and meet so many of you on the road, and I’m learning more than I ever imagined. Here are some show by show updates…

The Melting Point, Athens GA
I kicked off my tour by speaking to Bruce and Steve’s class at the Music Business Program at the Terry School of Business at UGA on Tuesday, Sept 5. The class was so cool – it focuses on how to do all the things that I had to kind of figure out myself in typical haphazard fashion…how to set up a record label, how to work with investors, how to find promotional support and get your legal entity stuff worked out. Such important info and so well organized and presented. I was really impressed. And jealous that I had to read about 43 books about the music business to get a realistic overview that these students were getting in a year long program with two great instructors.

On Wednesday the 6th I played at The Melting Point with host Ken Will Morton playing a great opening set. WES – you are the MAN on sound…holy crap! We used an SM87 instead of a typical 58 microphone and with Wes’s magic hands on the board, I was really psyched with how everything sounded. It was sounding just like melted butter up there in the monitor…lovely. The Melting Point is a gorgeous listening room venue where you’re sure to to hear many terrific artists over the next several months (including Aimee Mann, Shawn Mullins, other fantabulous songwriters). They’ve just begun an “Uncorked and Unplugged” Music and Wine-deal Series on Wednesday nights that Ken Will Morton is going to host. Please check it out if you’re in the mood for a sophisticated venue where you can hear yourself think (and you’ll probably be thinking: damn, this music is amazing!). I got to meet such nice folks at the gig too, btw…thank you to all the people who came up to say hello, bought cds, or/or gave nice feedback – a special shout out to Mike and Chrystie Dekle, Michelle Roach, my dear friend Bruce Burch, and the students from Bruce’s class who were kind enough to come out. Thanks to The Melting Point, Bruce, Troy, Ben, Wes, and of course, Ken Will, for setting up such a lovely gig and inviting me to be a part of it. (As a sidenote, The Foundry Park Inn was a sweet! place to stay and their restaurant, Hoyt House, had THE BEST BREAKFAST ever. They had these breakfast potatoes that introduced me to Southern Cooking in a BIG way…I think they were mashed potatoes, dusted in flour, coated in cheese and then fried on a GRIDDLE. Are you kidding me? They were unbelievable. My mouth is watering right now as I remember them. Ummm, Hoyt House…)

Show at Eddie’s Attic...
We had a great time on Thursday, September 7th at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, GA, the other night. John M opened up the night with a rollicking set and songs inspired by current events and family relationships…then I played my set, starting out with Better Than Anyone and grooving it was cozy and mellow throughout, except for when I told some stories about Goin’ On and Deeper Love that got people a little riled up. Special thanks to Shalom for excellently manning the board and keeping the sound crisp and lovely for the good people listening in this great room. After I played, we all got to sit back and chill to Evan McHugh, whose jazz/alt/pop sound reminded me of a guitar-based Rufus Wainwright (one of my favorites) and a bit of John Mayer with a lot of just his own Evan McHugh thing going on. Very cool. Eddie has set up a terrific room for listening – if you love music and prefer not to be shushing the loud people while someone is singing their heart out, this is the venue for you. Please visit them and enjoy the wonderful writers they bring in. And their hummus plate and sweet potato fries. It was my pleasure to play there – thanks to everybody who helped make it happen and who came out for the show…it was a real treat to have such old great friends there…thanks Jori and Jeff, Jay and Hillary, and Mr. Cooper. It was wonderful to see you. Jay and Hilly – it was awesome to spend so much time with you and Sam too… he’s a rock star in the making for sure!

Smith’s Olde Bar, Atlanta GA
Smith’s is one of those great Atlanta institutions that feels like it’s been there forever (and maybe in some form or another, it has). I’d heard about it a lot before ever walking through the doors, since Julie Jones used to work there and the Coops used to talk about it from time to time. It has a lot of character, and the room where I played, “The Atlanta Room” was totally groovy and comfy, with couches and little tables and a great sound system (and a nice waitstaff that whispered under the music when they brought food or drink or settled up a bill, which I found really thoughtful).

Sean did a great job with the sound…I was thinking about trying to get over my problem with live show recordings (it can be loosely described as – “if the show’s being recorded, you can be sure I sound extra nervous and a little sucky”), but as it turns out, the recording gear wasn’t in the house that night, so I was relaxed, happy, and felt totally plugged in and good about the show. It was AWESOME to see so many familiar faces, including Hilly, FredCoop, Sue and Bruce, Julie and John Paul, Julia and Colleen…you guys were so great to have in the HOUSE, thanks!

A great guy named Rudy Vaughn opened the night…I liked his stuff a lot. Very rhythmic and rootsy – kind of “jamiriquai meets John Mayer”…great grooves and good songs. I invited him to come check out the Durango Songwriter’s Expo in Park City in October…I hope he comes. If you’re a songwriter reading this and want to get some industry responses to your stuff (and a possible opportunity to showcase, etc), please check it out too. It’s going to be great.

The LOW POINT to the night, unfortunately, was when just after my set, my dear friend Jen came rushing in with her friend Joslyn, both of them incredulous that they had missed the show. They’d been upstairs the whole time, for an hour and a half! waiting for me to come on in a different music room. So the signage for the Atlanta room could probably be a bit better…but Jen’s making the trek to the show in Charlotte, so thankfully we’ll get the chance to hang out at a gig after all. Which rocks!

The HIGH POINT was meeting new friends Theresa and Tiffany, who’d come all the way from Thomasville, Georgia, which is 5 HOURS AWAY to come to the show. What cool girls…Theresa said she’d first become a fan in ’99 I think, and had heard about the show through the mailing list. I was so touched. They were heading back to Thomasville afterwards…I hope it was an easy trip and that the miles flew by. Thanks for your devotion to the music, T&T. I’m honored.

After fantastic Atlanta field trips to: Whole Fields, the video store for Entourage — Season One, La Tavola in Virginia Highlands (oh my gosh, the semolina lemon cake was unbelievable), the Cooper couches for a Dane Cook “Vicious Circle” marathon, Jori and Jeff’s terrific new house in Roswell (and Dreamland, lordy!), and the Krispy Kreme store at 11 p.m. one night, we finally headed out on the road for more shows and new territories. So we set out for Savannah, GA for a show at The Sentient Bean on September 11th. On the way, we decided to stop in Macon, GA, for lunch. We decided to get in touch with our Americana vibe and check out the official Visitor Center. Well, Mary Ann took EXCELLENT care of us, and filled us in on all the activities happening in the happenin’ town of Macon. Mark noticed Shawn Mullins’ photo on a poster and remarked that there seemed to be a karmic connection with him on this tour. (And there does…!  Everywhere I’m playing, there are posters of Shawn Mullins there too, saying he’s just played or is playing in a day or two, etc.) So I looked a little more closely at the poster, and it turned out that he was playing THAT DAY for a lunchtime concert that began in a HALF HOUR!! So we grabbed a lunch, got the last two seats in the big outdoor tent, and settled in for a great free show. Shawn’s opener and sideman was a terrific artist named Clay Cook (who co-wrote “No Such Thing as the Real World” for John Mayer – wow – amongst other great songs), and then Shawn came on and played a killer set. Mark and I noticed that it’s an especially fortunate thing when you have three hit songs or more…one at the beginning (his current radio song, “Beautiful Wreck”), one in the middle (“Shimmer”) and one at the end (his monster hit “Lullaby”). What a cool thing to stumble across…there were funny moments throughout, when the longest trains in GA came barreling through behind the stage, but the show was really fun and we felt so lucky to have found ourselves in the right place at the right time.

The Sentient Bean, Savannah GA
This gig was a quiet one, on September 11th, and there was definitely a subdued sense on the day. It seemed that every piece on the radio, on tv, even on the internet news pages referenced the attacks on New York five years ago. It’s an additional anniversary for my family, as it was just a week or two later that our family home burned down that year. But as life-changing and draining as that experience was for us personally, it also brought a totally different opportunity to experience compassion and support from the people around us, which I so hope is one of the lasting elements that resonates with the people most affected by 9-11.

When we got to TSB, there was a great group of “Grannies for Peace” there, singing songs about peace and protest. They graciously yielded the floor to me when it was time to start, and with my white chocolate latte in hand, I started playing for the small but focused crowd. By the end of the night, we’d gotten very cozy and conversational, and the lingerers all gave me special gifts that they had on their person, including a tiny box from El Salvador, an offer of a place to stay in Copenhagen, a demo of a cd in progress, and (the funniest), a used pamphlet guide to the nearby factory outlet stores. Excellent creativity, guys – and I’d expect that from a group of design students like you. Thanks to all the good people who came out and shared the evening with me.

After enjoying the afternoon in beautiful weathered wooden deck chairs on the beach in Hilton Head, SC, it was time to hit the road again. We stopped for lunch in Savannah on the way out at “The Lady and Sons” – Paula Deen’s restaurant (you might have seen Paula making delectable goodies on her show on the food channel). I naively imagined that we’d get a picture with Paula and send it to my sister Susan, who’s also a big fan and great cook and baker. But, umm, as it turns out, this would not so much be the case. In fact, the case would be much more like putting in our names to two harried hostesses for a time to come back an hour and fifteen minutes later for a table. Along with hundreds of other hungry people. We explored the riverwalk area and several cool interior design stores, and made it back in time for our slot. It was WORTH the wait. It all turns into a blur or comfort-food-carbs after the mint lemonade began washing down the “hoe cakes” – griddle fried corncakes that tasted the way every pancake should but never does. And the cheddar biscuits. Oh lord. I’ll stop now. But it was killer. And I especially got a kick out of the t-shirts for sale in the little shop at the exit: “Body by Lady and Sons”. Amen, sister.

Juggling Gypsy in Wilmington NC
Well…the Juggling Gypsy is what it says it is…a creative, free-form space, where artists and members of the community can gather for music, poetry, or whatever else they’d like to express. But it was kind of a weird gig. And the expression didn’t really extend to much music appreciation. But the hookah pipes seemed popular, and the tea was good. I shared the evening with a musician from Orlando named Chris Bell. Sweet guy. It was cool being in Wilmington again…the last time we were there I was in town to be an on-air guest on “Dawson’s Creek” and it was a magical experience. What Mark remembered most from the last trip was the pizza, of all things. So we went out after the gig and found an open pizza place (because prayers as fervent as his apparently get answered) and this morning, dodging seriously torrential rain, we found more pizza. Mark was very happy. 

We arrived in Durham tonight and are psyched to check out this area and explore tomorrow before the gig at the Broad Street Café, where I’ll be opening for local faves the “Bull City Band”. Hope to see you there!

TOMORROW: Playing the Evening Muse in Charlotte, NC, one of my very favorite cities in the South.  I love it there! Hope to see you tomorrow! Thanks! 

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