I’m taking a moment to reflect and recount the events of my amazing last two weeks down South. Bottom line feeling – gratitude. This is the start of my second year of full-time music making, touring the country and giving this career everything I have. I’m discovering that what is at the heart of this life as a lower to middle class musician is:
1) The people. The music lovers who are filled with passion and are generous of spirit. They open their homes to you, cook you a hot meal, bring their friends to meet you, make you feel like what you are doing is important and matters.
2)The experiences. Visiting new places across this grand nation, playing new venues, each with its own flavor, tasting the local cuisine, hanging around for a bit and learning about what a community has to offer. Seeing the love that locals have for their cities, their sports teams — but mostly for the music and how that love unites us all.
No matter what the future holds for me, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have the life I’ve got RIGHT NOW and for all the people along the way who are inspiring and encouraging me. We are in this together.
Making Sweet Music with Ann and Regina McCrary + HORNS!
First stop, Nashville, to record Regina and Ann McCrary and an awesome horn section for the new album. I’m grateful these folks wanted to be a part of my project and am blown away by their talent. It was magical hearing their parts added to the music we recorded in Muscle Shoals with the band last month. They took the album to another level!
A shout out for my producer: Lex Price is the best. He’s talented and dedicated. He’s a perfectionist (in the right way) and is making sure that this album sounds the best it can. I’m lucky to have him on my team!
Shows with Will Kimbrough in Nashville and Alabama
I got to play some great shows with Will Kimbrough, first at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville with Blue Mother Tupelo. One of my biggest supporters, Debbie from Texas, drove all the way to Nashville to see the show. That made my night. Next, we went to Birmingham, AL hosted by a wonderful group of music lovers known as “Small Stages” who got 100 people out and had to turn 50 away. I’m grateful for the folks who let us stay in their lovely home that night, and for the awesome couple who made us breakfast the next morning before we headed out for lower Alabama.
We played the magical Frog Pond Sunday Social at Blue Moon Farm near Mobile, AL, where our hostess Cathe Steele wowed us with her concert series, beautiful grounds, a wonderful place to stay, a hot breakfast cooked over an open fire and a generous spirit.
A Little R&R on 30A in Florida
My husband, Ryan, and I took off from there for Rosemary Beach, Florida, for a few days of rest in a condo that a wonderful guy who lives in Japan offered to us for no cost simply because I’m a musician. Wow.
Down in the Mississippi Delta
Next stop, Clarksdale, MS in the heart of the Delta. We stayed at The Shack Up Inn and met the owners, finding out that we have friends in common.
While eating breakfast in town, we were approached by a friendly gentleman because I had my guitar with me. He wanted to know who we were and he happened to be the owner of the cafe — and a lawyer. He told us there was a meeting going on across the street with a bunch of folks from Nashville and elsewhere about a new movement called the Americana Music Triangle. He thought we’d be interested.
We walked in and met the mayor of Clarksdale, Bill Luckett (co-owner with Morgan Freeman of Ground Zero Blues Club) and we met Aubrey Preston of Nashville who is heading this whole thing up (he also orchestrated the rescue of Studio A in Nashville – where I recorded my last album). He was joined by the head of the Franklin Theatre in TN as well as tourism leaders from four different states and most of the local owners of music related venues and stores. The meeting was inspiring and now we are on board with the movement. I happened to be one of the only artist there and I happened to have just recorded in Muscle Shoals, AL. When I told the group I would be touring with a Muscle Shoals Revue show this summer — the mayor said, “See me after.” I’m now playing Ground Zero on July 15.
After the meeting, we headed over to Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Arts to talk with the owner and music/community organizer guru, Roger Stolle. While speaking to him, two ladies came in the store and all of a sudden they were right next to me telling him, “This is one of the best singers in New England.” I turned and saw two fans from Rhode Island who have been to multiple shows at The Narrows in Fall River, MA, and just happened to be in Clarksdale…with me…in February. Wow. They made my day.
Next, we moved on to Oxford, MS and stayed with the most excellent Allouises — John and Marie. They are from Revere and now live in Mississippi. They left it all behind to move down to the Delta where Marie’s family is from originally and where John gets to play bass on some of the coolest gigs eva (Boston accent)! John made us an incredible meal, complete with homemade pasta and lots of delicious red wine. They put us up for the night in their guest room and then next day we met our our friend (and killer keys player) Mark Yacavone for a southern breakfast before getting on the road to Muscle Shoals.
Back to Muscle Shoals, Ice Driving
The trip from Oxford to Muscle Shoals was slippery — lots of ice on the road — and by the time we arrived in Florence, AL, around 3 pm, everything was shutting down. The roads were covered in ice. Our wonderful hosts Will and Julie Trapp let us come over to their place a little earlier than planned and set up camp in their guest bedroom. They made us soup and grilled cheese (Will’s specialty) and then Will braved the elements to take us over to a venue in town for some music. His ice driving was impressive.
Nashville then Home!
The next day, we headed back to Nashville for a last day with my parents before flying back to Boston. They are wonderful people. Kind, generous in spirit, loving and a joy. It’s so special to get time together as life keeps marching forward. We are making plans to see them more often.
This is a lot. A lot of happenings, a lot of info. When I started this post, I was writing it on Facebook. I wasn’t planning on typing so much, but there was so much to tell. So much to be grateful for. Now as I look back, I see what a killer couple of weeks that was, how much generosity we experienced. It’s easy to walk away and leave a time like this behind too quickly. I’m taking a moment to reflect and be inspired.
I’m beginning to understand what is truly at the heart of building a music career from the ground up — what the true joy is. It’s the people and experiences you encounter along the way. THANK YOU.