Dearest Friends and Fans,
With just a moment to catch my breath here in Shreveport, LA, we are off tomorrow to cross the Blues Highway for the last of the USA shows this summer in Mississippi, Alabama and North Carolina. Then it’s off to Oslo, London, Brussels (Wespelaar), Germany and The Netherlands!
The tally on the World Tour so far is 26 days, 3900 miles (by van), 6 (BIG) States, 12 Cities, 15 shows. There has been little time to reflect and I’m just trying to soak in the beauty of my own country and its people, its diversity,
and the history of each place we visit as we move down the road. From here in Shreveport, and from the highway toward Jackson, I did make a little time to look back over the past three weeks and share it with you below.Thoughts from the road…
We are about to cross the Blues Highway through Vicksburg, Mississippi (in the car now on the way to Jackson). I am in awe of how many facets of my own country I have just experienced for the first time. It’s fitting that this tour kicked off on July 4th (in Avon, NC) on our holiday celebrating the free and independent American spirit! Seeing the USA from the inside of music clubs and backstage and band houses from North Carolina to Texas sheds a unique light on this American spirit.
Without a single exception, every venue we’ve played has been run by folks who have dedicated heart, soul and personal finances to creating a space where music (particularly Blues and Roots music) can be enjoyed, appreciated and nurtured. One experience stands out: Springfield, MO. Weeks ago, I did an interview on US97 FM (a Clear Channel station, no less) with the Club Owner, Dr. Bob who (don’t call him a DJ!) hosts a fantastic radio show each week (#1 in the time slot). When we arrived in Springfield, Dr. Bob told me that, as opposed to the days when the Nathan P. Murphy’s was a top Jazz venue and a stopover for all the acts coming trough and from Kansas City, he finds it challenging to move people out of the radio zone and get them into the club for live music. This is especially true for acts new to the area. We saw that in evidence with our numbers that Wednesday night. Dr. Bob and I both kept our head up, and held up our respective end of the bargain. The audience of about forty responded as if my mom had prepped the room: “Ok, Everyone. Cheer REALLY loudly, buy lots of CDs, and say astonishingly nice things after the show!”
I left Springfield feeling that I’d connected deeply with a brand new audience, and also with the club owner, who continues to work his fingers to the bone and adjust to the times to keep great quality live music coming his venue and to develop and nurture acts his audience has never heard before. This feeling persisted through the entire tour from Indianapolis, to Kansas City (where we got moved to the big room to open for Buckwheat Zydeco!), to Tulsa, Oklahoma and finally, San Angelo, TX, a dusty West Texas Town where the venue, Sealy Flats, abuts The Blues Inn where the owner, Rod, has named and decked out each room for a famous Blues Man. I couldn’t see any of the rooms because they were full the entire three-day visit, but if the band house was any indication (the shower-head is a trumpet, vintage records and show posters decorate the walls, and common items like a sink or a lamp are redesigned to be incorporated into a piano or snare drum) the Blues Inn and Sealy Flats are a must-go destination if you’re anywhere close to West Texas. Rod gets major acts coming through because the hospitality to the bands is out of this world. We will return!
It was in San Angelo that Erik Boyd and I met up with Eddie Turner to transform a chance meeting/idea into a new and exciting collaboration. Erik and I met Eddie 2 ½ years ago at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. All of us were judges and I’d checked out Eddie’s music and story prior to attending. He’s an award-winning guitarist and band leader and I just TOTALLY dug his sound. So the year after we met, I asked Eddie via email, “Do you want to sit in with us for a tune or two at the Blind Raccoon Showcase?” It was that appearance and just two songs together that have led to us meeting up in Texas for two club appearances and a festival, and now the prospect of a budding project of a “New Power Trio” sans drums! Look out world. The Turner, Thien, Boyd trio is comin’ atcha!
So the highway marker says we are passing by Tallulah and Vidalia (Louisiana) and I guess it’s about 15 miles to Vicksburg and crossing the Blues Highway (Hwy 61). Even as we make our own history, we must always look further back and on the experiences of those who came before us. That’s what I intend to do now!
Signing off and, as always…
Rockin’ peace to ya,