I have states on my mind tonight and I’m missing every one of them. We’ve been off the road for the past couple of months, taking a well-deserved break after three years of hitting it hard. We were also hoping to be able to get most of our new record done during this time, but I came down with the Nashville Crud, a wonderful mix of allergies, bronchitis and the plague. Needless to say we are itching to get back to singing for all of you, in the studio, but more importantly, on stage. I wrote recently of the kitchen table and how perfect a space it has been to make music around. As comfortable as the kitchen table is, I long for the imperfection of the road and the exhilaration of casting our music back out into unfamiliar rooms.
So I have states on my mind, broken up and reconnected by the famed white line that has been the true companion to all those cramped midnight vans, high mileage clunkers and enviable bus’s that have always delivered the music makers. The riptide pull of far off stages, new fans to win over and all that lies beyond the million-mile windshield is an addiction I am more than anxious to enable. I have loved every venue in every state we have played. To be honest, sometimes I have loved leaving a certain venue more than I’ve loved arriving at that venue, but every stage holds a place in my heart. We have reached out beyond our Volunteer borders in all directions, seeking the pleasure of new company and the relief that comes from an unexpected soft landing.
Upstate New York is first in my thoughts tonight. The Adirondacks loom large with challenging heights and inspiring vistas. So much of our music comes from and returns to the wilderness. The forever wild places, especially the mountains, seem to enrich the weary soul of a traveler unlike any other destination. The foothills and valleys further north, with their Amish pace and open doors have been some of our most favorite kitchens, concert halls, radio stations and new-found friends. We have played songs around the kitchen table with the Adirondack’s most favorite son, rode the carousel animals at one in the morning in Saranac Lake, as well as a snowy chair lift to the heights overlooking Lake Placid. We’ve played basketball in the top of an old barn, drunk beer in a tavern full of water from a late spring rain and snow-melt, and made music in a beautiful gorge-side living room overflowing with people.
Texas and Oklahoma, the birth place of my mother, my father and me respectively, has brought great challenges but exciting inroads in our careers thus far. We’ve felt the warm waters of the Texas gulf coast wash across our toes, played the “Big D” and drunk a Shiner Bock in Shiner, Texas. We’ve baked ourselves to a crisp in the kind of sunlight that only exists in two hundred mile stretches of tumbleweed and we have walked the darker shadows of Dealey Plaza and the razed Mt. Carmel. We’ve picked the wildflowers that paint the Arbuckles of Oklahoma, walked the streets of my hometown of Chickasha and quietly visited the grounds of the Murrah Federal Building beneath midnight stars, after our show at the Blue Door.
Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, Pennsylvania and all the rest, hold memories that I want to remember forever, but look forward to replacing with many more. We have ridden a blow-up Whale, an under-inflated shark, a ridiculously tall Ferris wheel and many undulating beach bar stages, all without spilling a single Bushwhacker. We have played in the same theater where the Liberty Bell was hidden as it was ushered out of Philadelphia on it’s way to Allentown by Washington’s army. We’ve walked the famous Exorcist stairs of Georgetown, sipped Whiskey on Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail and tested every late night truck stop bathroom for a two-thousand mile radius.
So I have states on my mind tonight. And I have a restless heart ready to load up the guitars, crank up the John Denver tunes, share some cramped van space with my friends and play music for you until I drop dead from it all. I guess you could say that as of now, the road is my current state of mind.