My First Taste of Touring – Nashville and Beyond

A few weeks ago I had my first taste of touring. That’s right, I’m green when it comes to getting on the road. I’ve been playing around New England for the past couple years but as my music career is taking off with the new album, the time had come to hit the road. Kind of important for someone who wants to be a national touring artist (wink).

One of the most obvious places for me to play out of New England is Nashville. My parents have lived in Nashville for the past five years, so I’ve made frequent visits there for holidays, but I’ve never done anything with music. This trip was my Nashville debut. I also visited and sang for the fine people Knoxville, TN and Decatur, GA. My team (it was a team effort) successfully landed me four gigs at great venues!

So I had the gigs, the next challenge I faced was getting my band down there. It just wasn’t going to work – too much coin. I figured I could find a few quality musicians in Nashville : ), so I asked connections down there and started sending emails and making calls. It took a bit of effort to round up players, but with the help of awesome Bony Pony guitarist Nick Nyugen, it happened.

When I got to Nashville, I got together with the new band and we had a run through of the music. I was impressed with how quickly people picked it up. The rehearsal sounded great. We were ready for the first show.

Music City Roots is a live radio program broadcasted from the Loveless Barn (Loveless is an awesome restaurant that I visit every time I’m in town for my favorite, biscuits and gravy!). They get about 500 people out every Wednesday night for a two and a half hour show. The line up usual includes some pretty impressive artists on the show and they make room for emerging artists like me!

It was a great experience to be there and to get to hang with all the other folks backstage. I especially had a great time with Skip Pitts a former Stax player and the originator of the wah-wah guitar lick for the theme for Shaft. He’s a pretty cool cat. He recorded my voice mail message – “You got Amy Black, you dig?” Nice! Also, I got to meet Jim Lauderdale, Guy Davis and a number of other excellent artists.

When it was my turn to perform, the band and I got up and did three songs – “Meet Me on the Dance Floor”, “Whiskey and Wine” and “One Time” to much applause. The band rocked it. They made me proud. The crowd was great. They were really into the music. I got a lot of great feedback afterwards. And the best part is I was invited back to do a full set next time I’m in town.

Next stop was Decatur, Georgia, to play at Eddie’s Attic – a great listening room where people including John Mayer, Sugarland and many others got their start. We were meant to play the first set and another band would do the second, but days before the show, they cancelled. Last minute, my team and the club manager decided to make it a free show – Christmas in July – to get as many people out as possible. It worked! We had 50 very energetic and engaged people out to the show. The room felt nice and full. I took my time moving from song to song and told a lot of stories. The band was tighter now and I must say we rocked it. I have a recording from the engineer from that night and it’s almost good enough to release as a live CD.

Nick (guitarist), my husband and I spent the night with some friends of mine in Atlanta and then the next morning we were off to the next stop four hours away – Knoxville, TN. We were scheduled to do a 12-noon show at the visitor’s center in town. The radio station WVDX hosts a live music program called the Blue Plate Special everyday in front of an audience. I would say there were 100 people there. Nick and I did the duo thing and I got to talk about my music a bit in between songs. Always fun. : )

As soon as we were done, it was back in the car to drive four hours to Nashville for the final show at The Basement. This was my Nashville CD release show. My family worked it pretty hard to get friends to come out. We had a great crowd of 50 people. The Basement is small, so it was perfect. And, my fiddle player, Dan Kellar, from Boston can down to join me for this gig. It was so great having him there! We rocked the house (seems to be a theme), which included friends, family, fans and some industry folks. The word was that everyone loved the music and had a good time. What more can you ask for?

So that was it. There was all kinds of fun stuff in between and some not so fun stuff otherwise known as sitting in the car for hours. Oh, so this is what it means to tour, huh? Driving and more driving. And I’m sure real touring people would laugh at me and say – “Honey, that ain’t touring. That’s taking a drive to the grocery store for milk!” Well, maybe so, but you have to start somewhere. I dipped my toes in the water. There’s more to come.

We’ve got a few overnights coming up as a band – Connecticut then New York City (debut). Yay. I do see what the people I’ve been opening for are talking about when they say the best part of touring is being up on the stage and doing what you love. Sounds like everyone could leave the driving for hours part behind – but it’s kind of a necessity unless you are rich enough to fly!

Thanks for reading – until next time!

Best,
Amy

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