Tour Over, Not Forgotten (with Video)

Hi there,

I'm back from the tour of the Southwest and feeling good to be in San Francisco again.  It's been a few weeks now but I'm still processing all the kind people, beautiful scenery and intense weather encountered on the two week run.  Although I had visited many of the places included in the schedule, I hadn't actually played music in any of them prior to the tour.  The shows were all completely different.  Some times there were full rooms and familiar faces.  Other times I was background music in bustling cafes.  I anticipated both.  The challenge is to not let the performances be affected too much in any direction.  That means not giving less because it feels like folks aren't listening and not giving more because it feels like they are.  The truest way to serve the songs is consistency and that's what I was able to work on throughout the tour.

The driving was intense.  Multiple days of 15 hours plus, sometimes through the night.  I checked out a bunch of new music and a few books on tape from the library to keep me company.  That made the long hauls a bit better.  I also gathered a few CDs from artists I shared bills with along the way.  I'm not sure if other songwriters listen to my CDs when we trade, but I always love listening to their albums.  Each one is so unique and I know the amount of effort that goes into recording and producing music.  The most difficult driving night was playing a show in Tucson, getting in my car afterwards (about 8:30pm in night) and driving to Boulder.  That's like a 14-15 hour drive.  The night is peaceful then and the stars in the Southwest are stunning.  The driving starts to get difficult in the late morning but watching the sky lighten and the sun break to the East is inspiring.  The new day holds so much promise and really is wide open.  Seeing the sunrise tends to make me hyper-aware of that.  I love driving so the trek from Tucson to Boulder wasn't bad for me.  The whole Southwest is such a beautiful part of the country.  Feels like the images have been painted in my mind.

One of the most meaningful parts of the whole tour was reconnecting with the people that were kind enough to let me stay with them.  I planned the shows so that I could see and stay with folks I knew in each area.  It's a gift when people let you into their lives.  Everyone's busy with their own plans and struggles.  Catching up on email, through social networks or on the phone are each ways to stay in touch.  But seeing people and actually living with them for a day or two at a time is really personal.  People live the life that makes sense to them and every one of them really is unique.  It's crazy to think about.  Many of the folks I stayed with I hadn't seen for a really long time.  And all that time my life and their lives were carrying on and then just like that we're under the same roof talking about it.  It becomes pretty clear that the gradual changes every day add up to big overall shifts in life.  

Then there was the music.  The sets varied in length from 45 minutes to 3 hours.  That variety was great as it allowed me to get pretty deep into my songbook and play songs I hadn't worked through in a long time.  Playing old songs can be challenging since they are often tied to a certain person or experience in time.  The meaning of the songs doesn't stay the same, it evolves and becomes something new.  For this reason I'll often change the approach to performing the songs.  For example, fingerpicking instead of strumming, adding harmonica solos, changing the rhythm, etc.  Often times this is driven by the energy from the audience or in the room.  It can be a little intimidating to interpret an old song in a new way for the first time in front of an audience but it's also really exciting.  The song then becomes new to me again and the meaning stays relevant.

That's all for now.  Just wanted to get these thoughts down.  The tour was a deep experience and one I won't forget.  Can't wait to get out and do it again. Also, see the video below.  It's from a show I did in San Luis Obispo with Kelly McFarling (thanks for filming the video, Kelly!).  The song is Dear Govinda from the album Winter Midnight.  Hope you enjoy it...




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