Month: May 2012

On the road again…

Well, it’s been a busy, exciting, and extremely fulfilling month, to say the least. I went on a solo tour from Nashville to Washington, D.C., met some amazing people, wrote some new songs, played some cool shows… and then caught up on my sleep 🙂

I wanted to do a quick recap of my tour, along with some lessons learned along the way, because 6 days on the road taught me as much as I’ve learned in the last year!

Day 1:

Packing. Advice for any future trips I or anyone reading this may take: Pack the day before. I mean, I had the whole day to pack and I still felt like I was forgetting things. Luckily, I am a compulsive list maker so I think I have everything I need!

I’m also pretty sure I should win an award for my  mad car-packing skills. I drive a little 2-door Chevy Cavalier with a trunk that, although it is bigger than it appears, is still pretty small. However, I managed to fit into my car an entire PA system, including 2 speakers, stands, mic stand, mics, cables, and mixing board; boxes of CDs, a suitcase, a travel bag, a guitar, blanket, pillow, cooler, and bag full of snacks… and still managed to fit me! I may be exaggerating a little as it really wasn’t that hard once I did a little rearranging… but still. Advice: take up puzzle-putting-together if you have a small car and plan to travel with a lot of stuff 🙂

I got to the venue in Knoxville, The Well, which I have to say is owned and staffed by some of the friendliest, coolest people I’ve encountered at a new venue in a long time! I had arrived pretty early because I wasn’t sure what to expect from the traffic in Knoxville, and had planned to wander around town a little bit, but I ended up just hanging out at the venue until the show. If you are a band with any kind of following in that area, you should definitely check this place out. Great sound, great food, and great service!

I split the show with a new friend, country singer Leon Thomas. He brought quite a crowd with him and we rocked the joint for a couple of hours. I think everyone had a great time, and I really appreciated getting to play for and talk to everyone there!

Line up at the Well in Knoxville!

Day 2:

I left Knoxville this morning and got on the road to Roanoke. I took my time and made a few stops along the way… First stop was Bristol, home of the Bristol Motor Speedway AND the location of Ralph Peer’s historic Bristol Recordings. If you are not a super giant music history nerd like I am (and I suspect most of you are not, lol), the Bristol Sessions were where The Carter family and Jimmie Rodgers had a lot of their songs recorded for the first time. Pretty cool stuff!

Historic Site of the Bristol Recording Sessions

Bristol Motor Speedway

That night I had a really fun show at Froth Coffee Shop in Roanoke. This was a really cool little coffee shop that is still fairly new, and is run by a brother and sister! The food, coffee, and people were all wonderful, and I had a great time playing to fun crowd!

Lesson learned: There are nice people willing to help you out everywhere you go! Case in point- the only part of my PA system that I was nervous about dealing with while on the road by myself was the fact that the speakers are a little heavy, the stands are kind of tall, and I’m pretty short… luckily, one of the owners was nice enough to help me get them set up! I know it sounds simple, but it was just a really nice gesture that I definitely appreciated!

Day 3:

I had planned to spend a little time in downtown Roanoke exploring in the morning, but the universe had other plans for me. In the 5 miles from my hotel to downtown, I ran over a big wooden something in the middle of the road that I couldn’t avoid, and ended up taking my car to get inspected just to make sure nothing was wrong with it as I still had a lot of miles to cover on my trip. While my car was getting checked out, I did get to walk around the square, where they were setting up for a farmer’s market and a lot of restaurants and shops were located. I stopped for lunch at a great little Italian place, and by the time I was done with my pizza, I had a call from the mechanic that my car was done and everything was fine! I absolutely love my little car, and this just made me love here even more 🙂

Lesson learned: Even if things seem like they are about to completely fall apart, there is always a solution. Stay calm, take a breath, and find a solution. Also, smart phones really are great when you need to find a repair shop in a city you’ve never been to before!

Once that debacle was over with, I got back on the road. I think this was my favorite day of driving, and I got to see a lot of beautiful scenery.

Mountains!

I got into Washington DC right around rush hour, and boy was I glad that I was heading into the city and not out- the traffic was insane!! Luckily I didn’t have much to deal with until I got into Alexandria, where the venue was located, and the only challenge there was navigating the street-parking.

There was a great turn-out at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in Alexandra, and the barista told me that a lot more people stuck around for this show than usually stuck around for an entire set, which really made me happy! I met some really great people and had some great conversations about music in between sets. I also had an amazing coconut mocha drink… I definitely recommend stopping into this coffee shop if you are ever in the DC Area!

Day 4: 

I took Day 4 off and spent it with one of my closes friends, who lives in Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C.  Yay!

Day 5: 

As sad as I was to leave my bff behind, I was excited to get on the road for the last show of my little mini-tour! I only had a couple of hours to drive today, which was good because this was the worst day weather-wise. The NorEaster blowing through the East coast was causing a lot of rain and really cold weather, so it was a pretty dreary drive. (And I swear I saw some snowflakes! yuck.)

I got to the venue in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Artful Dodger. This was a very cool little coffee shop lounge. I had a lot of fun playing to a small but enthusiastic crowd with Jeremiah Prophett, the host for the day. After we got a chance to talk and trade stories about life in music and all of the adventures that go with it.

Lesson learned: Even if the crowd is small, play your heart out! The people there were so appreciative to hear the music, and you never know who in the room needed to hear something you had to sing that day!

Day 6: 

I got up and on the road pretty early to get back to Nashville. It was still rainy for the first part of the drive, but as I got closer to Tennessee, the sun came out and it warmed up outside. I had a lot of time to reflect as that day was by far the longest drive yet, and I was so happy with the experiences I’d had on the road! I’d been apprehensive before I left since I wasn’t sure what kind of people I’d meet, how the shows would go, or if I would have fun being on the road by myself. It turns out I had nothing to be worried about though! Big lessons learned: There are great people to meet everywhere you go… yes, you have to be careful and smart and have your wits about you when you are by yourself, but this trip really reaffirmed my faith that people are generally good, and there are friends to meet everywhere you go! I also learned (or re-learned, as I had already known this about myself) that I can definitely do things by myself (although it is definitely nice to have help!).

 

 

Thanks for reliving my journey with me on this blog, I know it was longer than I usually write! Stay tuned for lots of exciting things coming up. First, a showcase at the Listening Room here in Nashville this Friday at 5:30 PM! If you are in the area, I’d love to see you there 🙂

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