My Favorite Gigs Of 2009
2009 treated me pretty damn swell, so here’s a laundry list of some of the highs:
- I spent 22 of the first 26 weeks of 2009 on the road
- Played 107 shows
- Slept in 137 beds, 2 airports and 6 cars
- Flew in 36 different airplanes including 8 flights that crossed the Atlantic Ocean
- Grandpa Walked A Picketline spent 6 weeks in the top 5 on the Americana Radio Chart in the USA and peaked at #4
- Grandpa peaked at #2 on the Euro Americana Chart
- Spent about 20 minutes wondering what in the hell Americana is
- Was asked by 4 strangers if I was a member of the Bottle Rockets. I was asked this question 7 times in 2008. I’m now answering that I’m their idiot, bastard cousin from just outside of Festus, Missouri
- Finished a new record that will be released this April
- Met a lot of friendly people
Stupid crap that pissed me off:
- The jackass that decided he was going to bootleg shirts with my face and name on them on Ebay. Luckily, he designed a terrible looking shirt, so maybe no one is buying
- Hotels with a 10am check out time
- Hotels with chest high shower heads and/or no hot water
- Black Pudding
- Flights that charge for extra baggage
My favorite shows of 2009:
These shows stand out mainly because of the audiences. I included a little description of each gig to give you a glimpse of my life on the road. They are listed in no particular order.
“It ain’t always easy to have a good year.” -Amy Lashley
April, 5th: Amen, Netherlands -Café de Amer
This gig took me a little by surprise. I was told that it sold out well in advance and they turned a lot of people away for the show. I had never been to this small town and I’d never even heard of it, which made it all the more special to sell it out. I want to thank Sandra and Luciano from Lucky Dice for getting the word out about this gig and the rest of the tour. It was obvious after a couple of songs that this was one of the best gigs of the year. The place was run by beautiful people who have a genuine love for music and are doing everything they can to provide great entertainment for the people in their community. The people in the audience were even better. I wanted to rent a bus and drag them along to every other gig of the tour. The venue has a tradition that I’ve never seen anywhere else. One member of the audience is chosen to go sit quietly at the side of the stage during the show. At the end of the show, this same person walks out and gives the artist a formal thank you, on behalf of the audience, for the performance. It was a beautiful gesture. I was humbled to be treated so well by strangers while I was so far from home. That’s a tradition that I hope spreads. I’m happy to say that I’ll be returning for another gig this October.
May 2nd: Kilkenny, Ireland -Kilkenny Rhythm & Roots Festival
I actually played three sold out gigs at this festival and they were all top notch, but the first one stands out to me. I played in Selby, England the night before and had to play an early gig the next day in Kilkenny, Ireland at around 1pm. I announced on stage in Selby that I needed a ride to Manchester airport after the gig and was curious if anyone would give me a lift. It was about an hour drive. Paul Thomas stepped forward and drove me to the airport. He’s a good man and I’m happy to call him a friend. I got to the airport at around midnight. My flight to Dublin was scheduled to leave around 7am and I was afraid of missing the flight, so I slept in the airport. I might have slept two hours tops. The next morning I flew to Dublin and was picked up by a driver and traveled for 2 or 3 hours to Kilkenny. I arrived just before the time for the show. I had no shower or sleep and was completely worn out. I’m not the nervous type, but I was really worried about not giving the people their money’s worth. The audience was unbelievably energetic and about three songs into the set, I felt wide awake. It was a beautiful gig and it was all because of the energy of the people in the room. I spent the next three days hanging out with my friends in Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and Hillbilly Casino and playing gigs. I shared a ride back to Dublin with Caroline Herring and felt like I’d met a long lost friend. It was a wonderful weekend to say the least.
May 16th: Newcastle, England -Live Theatre
Early in the afternoon, My friend Ian Richardson treated me to my first ever English Football game (soccer in the USA), and I played a sold out show at the Live theatre that night. I’ve been to more pro sporting events in the States than I can count, but none of them came close to matching the energy of that game. It was beautiful to hear twenty thousand Geordies singing as one. The gig that night was fabulous. Newcastle is the first place I ever played in the UK and Graham Anderson (the promoter) was the first person to invite me over. It was great to play for my Geordie friends and to take a walk down the Tyne River and across the Tyne Bridge. I remember sleeping with the window open and breathing the fresh air of the North Sea. The gig felt like a homecoming. Graham and Bob Paterson (my wonderful booking agent) decided to spend the day at the Cricket match instead of Football. I have absolutely no idea what in the hell is going on in a Cricket match. I’ve watched it in hotel rooms and I’m totally fricking lost. I’m glad I chose the Footy.
May 18th: Glasgow, Scotland -The Twisted Wheel as part of Glasgow Americana Festival
While traveling, I’ve always tried to partake in things indigenous to the area. I spent the afternoon at the People’s Palace Museum learning more about Red Clydeside and John Maclean. I asked some people later that night at the (sold out) gig about Red Clydeside and had an honest conversation with an extremely rowdy audience. Kevin Morris deserves a big thank you for taking care of me and putting on a first rate festival.
June 20th: Leicester, England – The Big Session Festival
I was told by the stage manager that there were 5,000 people in the audience. I’m sure 99% of them had never heard of me and were there to enjoy rock bands and pop music. That didn’t stop the entire crowd from singing along and demanding an encore. I could get used to that. Later that night I was invited up onstage by my friend, Billy Bragg to sing a song with him. I even met one of my East Nashville neighbors, Diana Jones, backstage. I had spent the week leading up to the show touring with Billy and playing shows that should be added to this list, but there is only so much space. I decided to roll that whole week into this show. It was a great way to finish off a week of traveling with Billy, Grant Showbiz and Andy James.
September 27th: Belfast, Northern Ireland – The Black Box as part of The Open House Festival
The events leading up to this gig were similar to the Kilkenny gig. I played a Blues festival in Ramsbottom, England the day before. After the Ramsbottom Festival, I took a train to Liverpool and arrived around midnight. I had an early morning flight to Belfast, so I tried to sleep overnight in the John Lennon Airport. It was the most uncomfortable airport I’ve ever been in. There was nowhere to sit, so I laid down on the cold concrete floor and did my best to get some rest. It was nice seeing the lyrics to Imagine written out on a huge wall. I doubt that would happen in any American airport. The next morning, I flew to Belfast and went straight to the gig with no sleep and no shower. I was worried once again that I was going to put on a terrible show after people paid their hard earned money to get in. The sell out crowd was once again fabulous and after three or four songs I was wide awake and having a great time. I’ve heard stories about how great it is to play to Irish crowds and I’m here to tell you that it’s all true. The Kilkenny and Belfast gigs couldn’t have been any better. It was hard to get to each of these, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat if every gig was this much fun. I went to my hotel after the gig and slept for 12 hours.
December 15th: Decatur, Georgia, USA -Eddie’s Attic with Caroline Herring and Jim White
This gig was the brainchild of Caroline. She had met Jim and I at the Kilkenny Festival and decided we should do an in the round kind of gig at Eddies Attic. I’m glad she thought of it because it turned out to be a special night. I think that all three of us agreed that it was one of our favorites of the year. Eddie and the staff were amazingly generous and made us feel more than at home. The room was packed with people and the vibe was electric. I thank Caroline for bringing most of the crowd and for doing all of the heavy lifting.
Thanks for giving a damn,