A radio convention in Nashville brings a reunion with friends, but the road beckons again.The last couple weeks have been kind of crazy for me. I was in Nashville most of the week for the Country Radio Seminar. For those of you who don’t know what CRS is, it’s every radio station in the nation under one roof for five days. It’s the craziest thing you could ever imagine, but it’s also really cool.
Because all the radio folks are there, every artist is in town too. It was a great time for me because I got to see a lot of my friends I don’t get to see much. Collin Raye (brother to my guitar player, Scotty) saw me doing press and gave me a big hug. My buddies Cross Canadian Ragweed played at a bar off West End and we all got to check them out. My fellow tour mate Keith Urban played a showcase the night before I did and he ROCKED. It was so good to see all of those guys. You know how you don’t see someone for a really long time and then you see them again and remember how much fun they are? That’s what it’s like at CRS. Add to that constant appearances and radio interviews and you get the idea.
My band got to play the Sony showcase at CRS with Van Zandt (who is made up of part Lynyrd Skynyrd and part .38 Special). I think we did a really good job in the short time we had to work with. I was really excited about getting to play. Those radio folks get to see so many shows while they are in town, I just felt like mine needed to be the best.
After that show was over I went straight upstairs and played a songwriter show with Jon Randall and a host of others. If you haven’t seen or heard Jon Randall you have NO idea what you are missing. His new record, "Walking Among the Living," is one of the best records that has been put out in the last five years. He’s the total package… a great singer, a phenomenal songwriter and one of the best guitar players I’ve ever seen. GO BUY HIS RECORD. He’s one of the few guys that I actually feel nervous having to follow on a stage.
After I finished the songwriter show I headed straight for the bus. I’ve got a really cozy bed in the back of the bus and I flopped down on it and didn’t move an inch until we pulled into St. Louis to meet up with George Strait the next morning. I look back on all those shows that we drove thru the night in an Excursion, a van or this crappy motor home I bought just before "Nashville Star" and wonder how we made it. Life on the road is very tough when you’re setting up all day, soundchecking, visiting radio stations then performing and packing up… it makes you appreciate where you came from every time you stop to think about it.
Anyway, back to the reason I’m yapping -- the George Strait tour. We had a very good night in St. Louis. Sometimes I feel like I challenge the audience. George’s crowd must be used to staying in their seats and watching. I want my crowd to get up and rock and I try and make that happen every night. Sometimes I feel like they look at me a little weird when I tell them to get their asses out of their chairs. St. Louis was one of those nights. It makes my night SO much better when I feel like I’ve gotten through to them, and by "Kerosene" I finally had them up.
Birmingham was a little easier the following night. That town showed up prepared to rock out and they were on their feet as we launched into one of my favorite songs of the set, "Hillbilly Highway." By the way, while we were in catering in Birmingham they had these banana pudding squares in catering that were the most heavenly things I’ve ever eaten in my life. They were banana pudding that had hardened just a little and had some kind of pie crust on the bottom. My tour manager stole a whole pan of them and snuck them into my dressing room. I had a couple girls hanging with me that night and we devoured them and left no evidence. Catering has been absolutely amazing on this tour with George. Concert Kitchen travels with everyone and cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. It would be really easy to gain 20 lbs. on this tour… anytime you want anything it’s sitting right down the hall in catering. It’s definitely a temptation for me, I’m a big eater. Cheetos are my vice. That’s the way to my heart. Is that sad or what?
OK, so this week we start a good run. We will be with George the first two shows of this week in Georgia and West Virginia, then we head to Raleigh, N.C., for a show on our own. I’m REALLY excited about getting out and doing our whole show. You forget what it’s like having five or six hundred people who are only there to see you when you’re out on those big tours.
We get a couple days to relax after Raleigh before heading to Columbus, Ohio, for another show on our own. Then we’ll rejoin George March 2 for the last few tour shows until summer. It’s been several weeks since I’ve made it home, I think Dixie has forgotten what I look like. We’ve got a break in March, but it looks like I’ll be running all over the country writing the rest of my next record. They need to tell you when you sign a record deal that you probably won’t see your house for a couple years. I’m OK with it, I just wish someone would have broken then news to my dog.
Until next time…