Updated: Aug 21
As dawn begins break I'm facing west from the east side of Idaho, thinking about the eventful release weekend we've had. Down Bone Rd, into Bone, ID, at the Bone Store, in anticipation of my show at Steele 'N Jo's Bone.
My trusty road-dog of 11 years, Dude, lays at my feet watching as the world comes alive, intrigued yet confused as to why there aren't any bones up here for him to chew on. As Meta Jane sleeps peacefully into the morning hours, allow me to tell you about the adventure the last six days have been.
Thursday, August 11, 2023; We awoke atop our mini-mountain off the beaten path in Medicine Bow and continued our journey west. Slowly creeping down the mountain and through the Medicine Bow National Forest, keeping an eye on the health of the JackWagon and it's boiling over coolant problem. Saratoga, WY wasn't too far, MJ had some work calls to make and I figured I could try out some radiator stop-leak while we grab breakfast and tend to the rest of our office work.
After grabbing some home-made gas station breakfast burritos and servicing the van we were on our way and everything seemed to be holding up just fine.
We continued our journey toward Challis, ID and enjoyed the sights as we continued down Highway 80, through Evanston, WY, 'round Salt Lake City, UT, and up to Challis.
Took about 10 hours with stops, but the stop leak held fine and the coolant levels were steady... so far.
A bit of a strange route to take to get there I know, we were supposed to meet with Scotty Cameron in Rupert, ID (if we had enough time) for a radio stop, but as luck would have it, as soon as got to our split off, Scotty called and said his wife was having road troubles and he needed to go help her. I could totally relate in that regard, assured him that his wife was more important than I, and we headed on up. He made up the appointment though, the next morning we had a great phone in interview that's airing this week.
We rolled into Challis with one base plan in mind, camp close to the Challis Roadhouse where I would be playing the "Going Places" album release party, borrow a shower from our friends Dylan & Sarah who were staying in the motel nearby, and have a good time.
Dylan & Sarah have been close friends of mine since The Music Fest in Steamboat Springs, CO in 2016. Writing that doesn't seem like that was very long ago, but those two have watched me grow through many "lifetimes" in that 7 years and I'm honored to consider them as close as I do. Dylan was a groomsman, the bachelor party DD, and the signing official for Meta & mine's wedding. They both do amazing things for the housing impaired in DFW called "Cloud Covered Streets" that you should definitely check out.
Rolling into Challis at about 7pm, Meta and I set up camp at a small park next to the Roadhouse in Challis and started our evening stretch. I knew that most of the people in town were up the road a ways at the driving range for the Braun Brothers Reunion big stage events (Dylan and Sarah included) but from about a half a block away down the hill at a nearby RV park I could hear the sound of a bass guitar groovin' away.
Taking this as an opportunity to get Dude out for a walk, curiosity got the better of me and down the hill we strolled.
We walked into the encampment and the first thing I see on stage is a familiar face.
Sitting behind the pedal steel guitar was the unmistakable long red locks wielded by none other than Sam "Red" Norris.
I initially met "Red" in College Station a few years back during his Aggie days and he was playing for Cash Byers in a band called "Big Valley." He's done a couple of shows with me in the past but haven't gotten many opportunities since he's moved to Austin.
I didn't recognize any of the other faces in the band at first but once the front man, Ellis (formally Landon) Bullard, introduced himself I knew I was in good company. Their bass-player (with the grooves that lured us down the hill in the first place) was Cole Beddingfield, a solid rythmn man from Fairfield, TX. Their drummer was the quiet type, great player, but for the life of me I can't remember his name. (that happens to me way more than it should, but damn it I try).
While they finished up their soundcheck for the evenings activities MJ, Dude, and I sauntered back up the hill back to the RoadHouse to wait for the festival crowd to make their way down to the roadhouse for the "after party" of the first days events for the BBR and boy was it a good one.
On stage was a local cover band, nothing really extraordinary about them but they were a solid enough 3-piece with a drummer as the singing frontman, a bass player, and a lead guitar. All older gentlemen but could play well enough to keep the evenings guests entertained.
Meta and Dude quickly retired to bed and I wandered back down to the RV park where Ellis and his boys were playing to see how it was going. They had that little RV park dancing and singing and the folks I met down there were extremely kind. "Honky Tonk ain't noise pollution" as their van says.
My phone rang and it was Dylan and Sarah asking where we were.
Choosing not to awaken the sleeping beast and Dude (I kid) I met Dylan and Sarah up at the bar to close it down with the rest of the rowdy crew... the new album drops at midnight and we were celebrating.
Release Day 8.11.23
The next morning I was definitely feeling the repercussions of that celebration but I wasn't letting that keep me from continuing on with the festivities as the new album dropped and boy was the world reminding me in all of the best ways!
From the time the album was first sent to the rest of the worlds radio via CDX to the full length of the runtime of the album, I was receiving emails from all over the world about how special and great the album "Going Places" is, one thing in particular that stands out, is that a radio station in Australia was going to start playing "Lullaby" immediately.
Wow! I had debated on whether or not to send Lullaby to radio, but because of it's length, I refrained and sent RoadRunner instead. And, apparently, rightly so.
While I was fielding emails about the "Going Places" album social media was a buzz about RoadRunner. Texas Country Music Magazine had named it "Song of the Week" and Texas Music Reviews released a podcast review video that, may or may not have, brought a tear or two to my eye. - Those boys said a lot of nice things, not just about the song, but about me as a member of the music community as a whole. Sure felt good, thanks gentlemen.
Of course I decided to give the album a spin, if I don't support myself and listen to my music then how can I expect anyone else to?
So as I'm running around getting our morning situated "Going Places" playing in my headphones and I finally get the chance to sit down just as "Goin' Places" starts to spin. Boy did the emotions hit hard on that one.
It's difficult to believe that song was written only a year ago, was recorded, and is now available around the world as I get to celebrate it (at Braun Brothers Reunion no less) as the title track to an album of songs that I have been playing and crafting, for up to 7 years on some. Especially with what the song is about, the whole experience was transcendally poetic.
Speaking of Poetry, allow me to rundown the album for you:
The Anchor - The song that I had been working the longest, inspired by my Navy days, but dedicated to the family, friends, and fans who have supported me along the way.
Cry For Mama - For all the Mamas and Mama's Boys out there. (Co-Write with Jody Bartula)
No Damn Sense - How nonsensical it is to be a broke musician
Fog - Heartbreak is colder than the Rockies in the wintertime.
There's a Girl - Country Funk with a latin groove and it's, you guessed it, about a girl.
Goin' Places - What it means to be a road worn independent musician
Lullaby - It's about life and the things that matter
RoadRunner - an Eclectic Western tale of two lovers
The Toughest Thing - I'll let you make your own associations on that one (happy to tell if you ask, but I'd rather leave that one to your own associations)
West Texas Dumpster Fire - Paints a clear picture of someone we all know, sometimes ourselves. (Co-Write with Wes Barlow and Rio Tripiano; Rio did a pretty good run-down of the song on his socials you should track down when you get done here)
I do have plans to not only push several of these songs to radio, but to also make more videos for several of them too. I enjoy making the videos but there are a million other things I'm doing to further the business side of my music, so I get to it when I can (plus, video inspiration is always easier than execution but neither are simple).
So there ya have it, "Going Places" is out there for the world to enjoy, if they so choose, and I couldn't be more relieved to have these songs out. It is truly an album comprised of my heart and soul and, much like my moods, there's a song for every occasion and this is only the beginning.
I spent the afternoon helping a band I saw loading in to the roadhouse "Casey Sheldon & TruckerGrass" (What a name!) with their load-in and soundcheck. A ragtag group of bluegrass musicians that could play like I wish I could. Very cool down to earth guys with very similar interest to mine, including Moe Bandy, Shel Silverstein, and the vibe as a whole. Met a few nice folks that were with them, a cool cat by the name of Billy Jo that I saw several times later, then we headed up the hill to catch the days concerts on the driving range.
Some artist courtesies were exchanged as we arrived to the show just in time to catch the back half of Wilder Blue's set (whom I affectionately refer to as the Texas Country All-Stars), it's a lineup of the best of the best in Texas with musical precision and captivating harmonies and stage presence, a must see.
Ran into Eric Middleton of Midnight River Choir out in the crowd Shannon and Cody Canada were there, we exchanged greetings then parted ways.
Dylan and Sarah caught up to me and passed me a beer in time to watch a fellow from England by the name of Richard Thompson take the stage... Wow what a solo acoustic artists, a captivating must see. If you like cool music that is.
With my brain only being able to take so much of it I needed to take a lap around the festival grounds, something I often do as I get stir crazy. So I climb to the very top of the grounds and back down noticing that people were giving me strange looks.
This is not unusual, but sure the light blue navajo print jacket I was wearing was a little catchy but it's not like I was wearing my elaborate hat, just a ball cap... It wasn't until I got to the bottom of the hill that I realized the reasoning for the stares...