I read an interview somewhere with RJD2 and he said something like, “it takes as much courage to play in front of 5 people and a bartender as it does to play in front of 10,000”
I have never played in front of 10,000 people so I can’t compare but I can say- playing in front of a handful of people night after night definitely wears on you. I’m extremely grateful though that those handfuls of people we’ve played for have been overwhelmingly kind.
In Amarillo, TX a couple of teenage girls wanted a selfie with me and my signature. In Stillwater, OK we stayed with a group of architecture students who came to our show and bought us beer. At our Tulsa show, a man at the bar who happened to be there through our sound check bought some merch from us and apologized that he couldn’t be there for the actual show because he was making his girlfriend dinner. We stayed with a friend in Kansas City and had some time to explore – we wandered around the Westport area and meandered through the vintage shops, record shops and print shops there. Everyone we met greeted us with big, genuine smiles. Then St. Louis….. But then! The other bands we played with in Nashville were supportive and kind and the next day we wandered into a honky tonk bar and found the most amazing country music I’ve ever heard. In Asheville we played a venue called the Sly Grog that felt like a living room with a bar- the sound guy actually gave me a hug and the guitar player that opened for us invited us to visit the guitar shop he worked at the next day. The family we stayed with greeted us with hugs and showed us around their community garden. We played an amazing venue in Charlotte called The Milestone- we were hesitant about the show only because we thought the fans of the other bands we were playing with would not be into our music. It ended up being one of the better shows of the tour so far and the other musicians were absolutely stellar and supportive. In Chapel Hill I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with family who I haven’t seen much in recent years. My uncle fed us the largest/heartiest meal I’ve had in weeks and stayed til the end of the show- through all 4 bands at this little dive called The Cave. I’m writing this as we’re heading to DC from Roanoke – last night we played with this amazing group of young guys from the band Coif. The show was actually sold out even though the venue didn’t allow booze and we sold more merch than we have the rest of the tour. We hung out with the guys after the show and were blown away by their kindness and generosity. “We just want to be hospitable to y’all and show you a good time!”
And then everyone we’ve stayed with as well! I’ve been averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night because we’ve been staying up with all the amazing people we’ve met through couchsurfing. The couple we stayed with last night from Roanoke– we could’ve talked to them all night. The couple in Charlotte let us walk their goats. The guy in Amarillo gave us a book to read on the road. The kids in Stillwater called a sober friend to drive our car (and expensive equipment in it) to where we were staying because we drank too much. In Tulsa, the couple hosting us stayed up pretty late hanging out with us – we later found out they had to be up at 6AM and we didn’t get to bed til 3.
And then! There’s the friends and family who have met us along the way. We stayed with a friend in Kansas City and got to know his roommate. They both came to our show and he let us sleep in his bed while he took the couch (we tried convincing him we would happily take the floor but he wouldn’t allow it). I also met some old friends of Patrick’s in KC and they exuded the same goodness (for lack of a better term) that Patrick does. In Nashville, we stayed with other friends of Patrick’s who I had never met before. We actually had a day off in Nashville so had a tad more time to spend with them and I’m so glad- they were not only warm and bighearted, we were totally spoiled at their place. They had a separate basement apartment they occasionally rented out on airbnb and they let us stay there for 2 nights.
The only downside to this is not having more time to spend getting to know all these outstanding people. It feels like a blanket in the cold- though some of the experiences we’ve had on the road haven’t been glamorous or amazing, the people we’ve met or already knew and got to spend time with have made it so comforting and worthwhile. “Thank you” doesn’t begin to cover how grateful I am.