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Back on the Boards: KG Update, 18 June

Hi friends,

I feel like I haven’t touched the ground since hitting the road a week ago Friday–Mr. Robert Earl Keen was right, re: “the road goes on forever,” though I’d argue at this point that it really just goes round-and-round, a circle that closes back in on itself at the intersection of Where-ya-goin and Where-ya-been, instead of some kind of dreamy infinite line, though it is true that one does encounter beautiful new things along the way. (Yes, friends, it occurs to me as I write this that I am indeed describing two versions of infinity.) And the second half of that phrase, “and the party never ends” is to my mind very wishful thinking on this beautiful morning in my hotel room in Hanover, VA; the party does certainly end, earlier than one could ever imagine twenty years ago, whether you’re looking at the clock or the calendar. I feel damned lucky to be able to do what I do, even with a knee that’s hurting like it shouldn’t (due to my return to running, argh), and the miles on the body, soul, and van on this trip alone going up into the low 4-digits. The shows have been great fun–Todd Snider‘s crowds are receptive, and always quiet/polite (though I have a bit of illumination for those few front-row conversationalists: we can hear you quite clearly, even in the middle of a song). But all the people I’ve met in these towns are definitely folks I can get along with well. Touring solo is a bit of a grind–because yes, you are indeed: solo! Driver, tour manager, roadie, guitar tech, merch salesman, and oh yeah–a performer on the bill! I load all the gear into the hotel after the show, so that I (theoretically) sleep better without worrying about the van or its contents disappearing in the night. It is at these times I am very grateful for elevators and luggage carts. But: the positive affirmation I’ve received along the way has been overwhelming, and I’m grateful to all who’ve come out to the shows and listened to us play, and especially to Todd and his team for having me on these shows.

I’ve been trying to change the set a little from night to night; in the last couple I’ve closed with “24 Diamonds,” an older song I wrote as an elegy for my friend Joel Rundell, that I used to play live all the time, but had set aside for a while. That’s one that my right hand is still re-learning, apparently–but hey, there’s nothing like standing up in front of 300+ people and going for it, ha ha. Maybe tonight I’ll get it right like it used to be, not so long ago. Or better . . . .

Tonight Todd and I are playing Norfolk, VA–check the tour cal for details–show starts a little earlier, 7:30pm; on Thursday we’re in Charlotte, NC. Then . . . I turn right around and head back north, playing two trio shows (with Ron Eoff and Marco GiovinoSaturday and Sunday: Saturday in Rochester, NY at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, and Sunday returning to the wonderful Nelson Odeon, in/near Cazenovia, NY. Then, we turn back around, and go home. For a little while.

Happy birthday to my mom and her twin sister, my aunt Sandra! They are celebrating together with their sister, my aunt Barbara, and this makes me happy.





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June Tour Begins: Throwing the Long Ball

photo by Barry Gilbert; 6/7/19

“Throwing the long ball”: that’s how Billy Joe Shaver described it metaphorically to me once, outside FitzGerald’s in Chicago some years ago–I’d opened for him and his band, and apparently they’d driven all the way from Texas for just that one show. Since then, I’ve taken to expanding the use of the phrase to indicate any drive between shows which is rationally questionable/dubious/”heroic” . . . and so it goes:

I-64 East, East of East St. Louis, 6/7/19

Last night we had a great time playing Night 3 of Twangfest 23, at Off Broadway in St. Louis–a nice way of starting what is my June 2019 odyssey (though hopefully there will be no sirens nor shipwrecks involved). A friendly and large crowd greeted us as we kicked off the proceedings with a 42-minute (I was told) set–just long enough to get warmed up, ya know? Like getting to “2nd base” or so with your girlfriend in high school, while parked in some isolated (so you thought) location, and then a cop knocks on your steamy window . . . Rockinitis interruptus! But, (ahem), back to the music: we had a lot of fun . . . before packing ourselves back in the van and driving back to Nashville last night, getting back at about 2 a.m.

I’ve got about 3 hours left to get myself together for 15 days out on the road; I’ll be playing with Ron Eoff and Josh Hunt this evening at the Americana Day festivities over in Watertown, TN, going on at 7 p.m. Looking forward to this; thanks to my dear friend Jim Sherraden for putting my name in the hat for this festival. After an hour or so of rendering the rock n’ roll, I’ll climb in the van with my co-manager Nick, and we shall point the landsled northeast–destination: Pawling, New York. A 14-hour drive from Watertown. On Sunday, June 9, I have the pleasure of opening a sold-out show for my friend Todd Snider there, at Daryl’s House Club, going on at 7 p.m. EST. I have a hard time believing this is happening TOMORROW. But I guess I’ve got some time to get my head around the idea. Just for fun, kids, I think you can stream the show on YouTube. If and when I find those details, I’ll post them on social media. Or you know–go ahead and Google!

I don’t mind the overnight driving, when I have to do it–there is an odd, ethereal peace out there in Interstate-land–less traffic (though some of what’s out there tends to weave a little more than in the daytime), fewer humans at the truck-stop, and hopefully no large animals making a sudden move at the wrong time, towards the other side of the road and that proverbial greener grass, etc. Last night the ride home was kinda pretty–the glow of light from the occasional pocket of civilization/commerce (not necessarily interchangeable terms, of course) illuminating the swirling cloud-cover overhead, making the sky a steady-moving silver-gray ceiling. I had the Waze app guiding us along, and noticed that Cookie Monster from Sesame Street is now one of the voices you can choose, to announce your appropriate directions and warnings. Therefore, bring on the comic relief, num num num . . . .

Since my time’s limited today, I’ll keep this one short, but I’ll stay in touch along the road. Check out the tour page for info on where I’ll be and when. And please do come out if you can, and say hello, why doncha? (the distinctly Iowa voice of my dearly departed mother-in-law Pat, creeping into my head there in that last phrase) Quite a few shows with Mr. Snider, some radio station visits, and a couple of band shows to close things out, with Ron Eoff and madman drummer extraordinaire Marco Giovino–at the Rochester International Jazz Festival, then the fabulous Nelson Odeon. Then the long ride home from Cazenovia, NY, with Ron. This is gonna be fun!




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