Driving into the sunrise on deep sleep deprivation is never easy, but to the experience I don't consider myself a stranger. The biggest driving force keeping me awake was the electric energy I could feel as I was rolling into town. Song idea after song idea, they were coming in faster than I could catch 'em. I did manage to half write a few that I look forward to circling back to when I can settle down enough to put the rest of the puzzles together.
With no planned spot to stay other than at a national chain gym location of which I'm a member close to music row, which works great for showers. I found that plan was foiled from the get-go with "No more than 4 hour Parking" signs posted all-around. I should've known that plan was just simple to be effective but it was worth a shot.
Pressing on, I pulled around back and found a side drive under some trees for shade next to a ramshackle abandoned house... or so I thought...
I sat down and worked on those new songs a bit and up an appetite. Made a quick trip to the Subway across the busy street, ordering the sandwich that MJ always gets for us to share because I was missing her some, and as I was walking back across the crosswalk and nearly lost my life to a ford taurus by about 3 inches and their squealing tires as they tried to beat the light. That'll wake you up.
After a few hours of getting settled in/down and letting my morning coffee wear off I was finally about to drift off for a nap. Then a truck pulled down then drive and over to the detached garage located behind the house.
Turns out, though the house was run down, the garage was still in operation. A, very nice, older gentleman by the name of Robby came over to say "hi" and see what I was up to. After exchanging pleasantries and introducing myself, he let me know that he didn't own the place and would have to check with the owner to see if it was alright if I stayed. Long story short, the owner wanted me to leave the premise for fear that one of the, very healthy, trees may fall on me somehow. Ok cool let's find another spot.
Across the street from the gym I had noticed that there was a church with a rather large parking lot and the back section was pretty secluded. Cool, that'll work. So I just parked back there and unloaded the scooter.
My mother-in-law, Tammy, reached out and said she was in town for a convention and invited me out to dinner with her colleagues. I've heard parking is always terrible and expensive downtown so the scooter was the way to go. Cruised on down to the Acme Feed and Seed and had a delightful evening. Made my way back toward the van stopping at a couple of venues.
I had in my notes that the Commodore had an open mic that night but at the time I arrived they were locking the doors. A lady walking out directed me across the street to a place called The Local.
I sat at the end of the bar and watched as the band on stage played their last couple of songs to a nearly empty room when an enthusiastic woman walked up and told me "That ain't a real Texas hat, my husband is from Texas, so I would know." I said "Well I'm from Texas and the company in Waco that made the hat called it the 'Texas Jack'. So It's about as Texas as it gets." We had a good laugh about it and she introduced me to her husband, Mr. Justin Waylon Spears.
Justin is originally from Rockport, TX and used to play the circuit in Texas for quite a bit with a band called Ricochet and has made his way getting by singing professional demos for writers to pitch. Both of us being South Texas boys we got on quite alright. Justin invited me out a writers round he was singing on down in Franklin, TN the following evening and after a good evening with them I got back to the van and got some much needed sleep. Finally!
The next morning I woke up and knocked out some office work and off again on the scooter to go see if I could possibly meet with someone at BMI about possibly getting pointed in the right direction a bit better but they're closed on Fridays so I'll have to try again next week. However, I did meet a fellow named Skyler that's a audio software programmer that seemed eager to link me up with some of his friends that play quite a bit around here. Haven't gotten the opportunity to make that connection happen yet, but I look forward to it.
Leaving BMI I found a spot called "Billy's Idol Hour" so I sauntered in to find the "Over the Hillbillies" were about to play. Three songwriters, John Scott, Ray Sisk, and "Lizard" Tom Case were doing a round for the afternoon, so I happily set in and listened.
When they went on break Ray, who was running the show, noticed my guitar and struck up a conversation. So I told him who I was and what my plans were in town so he offered me a spot on the stage before they went back on with another buddy of theirs who was in town.
As we swapped a few songs back and forth I could tell the old men were doing their best to go on about their conversations but just couldn't help bending their ear to the songs I was singing on stage and I could tell their conversations changed to low-key praise.
We wrapped it up and before they got back on stage Lizard, who happened to own the previous location came and asked me what took me so long to get to Nashville. "No one has invited me yet." I replied.
He said "Well I'm inviting you, come back and play anytime." Ray chimed in to tell me "You've got the chops to really do something in this town." - Boy that felt good.
After wrapping up there it was time for me to head down south to Franklin to meet up with Justin Spears for his writers round, so I headed south.
I met up with him and Candy Jo in the country chic town at a place called Puckett's, a nice farmhouse style grocery diner and enjoyed the show. He was sharing the stage with three others, Mark, a gentleman from Michigan who's name I can't remember, and Scott Barrier.
Justin and Scott really stole the show! Scott with his energetic well crafted songs and Justin with his awesome crowd work and equally entertaining tunes.
After visiting with them for awhile Justin and Candy invited me back to their place to hang, lay my head, and get cleaned up. Justin showed me a bunch of unreleased tunes that he had recorded and I was just blown away at the production value. They seemed equally as impressed with the Going Places album and we stayed up Jamming and hanging until 4:30 in the morning.
The next day we made our way to the Fox and Locke in a quaint little area called Leipers Fork to nurse our hangovers and listen to a band called "Jack Daniels and the Hard Liquors" a fantastic traditional country cover band. But I'm learning 90% of the people up here are extremely talented, but I definitely feel like I can hang.
Justin and Candy had an event to attend and I had a writers round to get to, so we parted ways but will be linking up again later this week for the open mic back at the Fox and Locke.
I had been asked last minute to do a writer's round at a vegan restaurant called "Copper Branch" that night and, to my surprise, Scott Barrier was in the slot right after me. Sweet! gotta catch back up with him and meet the fellow writers he was with as well. Scott and I are planning to write together when I come back sometime next year.
I was sandwiched between two young female writers, Eva, an alternative style writer, and Ambar, an RnB stylist. It was quite the diverse set, but highly entertaining. They left right after our slot but I stuck around for Scott before heading down to the Ryman to catch up with Mike and The Moonpies, Jason Boland, and Reckless Kelly for their Ryman debut. I was too late to see the show but I heard it was amazing.
I tagged along with steel guitar player extraordinaire Zach Moulton to the after parties and had a great time with the crews until the bars shut down at 3am then headed back to camp.
This was Saturday, so I camped the van that night back at the church I had stayed at the Thursday night with the intention of going to to service in the morning. Sure made for an intense and eventful morning...