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You can always count on summer in Florida to be hot, muggy and at the risk of grossing myself out, a bit moist.  If you don’t hate that word, I don’t know if we can be friends.  However summer also brings about a change in my mind.  The beginning of this season seems to feel like the start of a marathon…. make a strong first few steps and slowly slow into a race pace.  As you get through the half way point, turn the screw a little, and then a little more.  By the last quarter mile or less, you should be in full out, “Run from the 5-0” mode.

For me, I started summer off on a strong note, on tour!  For 10 days my buddy Josh and I went out on the road to share some music in folks living rooms.  It was everything I could have hoped for and a little bit more.  It began on June 22nd at LkldLive, so we shall as well.

Dean Johanesen is a modern marvel of dedication to his craft.  Never have I seen someone who can teach preschoolers, play a three hour lunch gig 50 miles away, then drive an additional 60 miles to play a 45 min set, without ever messing up his hair.  What a guy!  He opened the show with Jason “Cornbread” Baker, central Florida’s fiddle heavyweight.  Their set was exactly what was needed, light hearted banter set between some really great songwriting.  Dean has an amazing ability to capture the spirit of music from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s without ever losing him.  You know exactly who is playing when he begins, and he’s a mesmerizing talent.

We left Lakeland at 12:45am on Thursday to head off to Nashville, IN, which the music locals like to call, “Music City North.”  15 hours later we met up with our songwriter host Cari Ray and bill buddy John Gilmore at the Chateau Thomas Winery for load in and sound check.  A quaint winery that sat less than 50 people in the live room would be our first tour stop.  After some much needed dinner, we began the evening.  Songwriters rounds are fun for me because it’s not just YOUR show.  3 songwriters sit on stage at the same time, each introduces a song then performs the number, then the next songwriter goes.  It gives you a chance to hear 3 different writers with 3 different stories, and it gives us the chance to be listeners and performers almost simultaneously.  I can only speak for myself when I say, I absolutely LOVE this layout.  After the show, Cari showed John, Josh and I a field of fireflies in the fog.  I loved that she described it to me by calling it a fireworks show.  It was a beautiful quiet moment where we were just experiencing a gift from nature.

The next day was supposed to be a show in Indianapolis, but due to some scheduling mishaps, we ended up having it off.  So we went to Nashville, TN for the day to relax and rest… and ride some bikes!  Josh brought with us 2 road bikes on this tour and we were really excited at the prospect of going out for a ride.  So we found the map for the Music City Bikeway and set out to take on the 13 mile trek.  Unfortunately, going up a steep incline and changing gears at the wrong time, I sheared through the derailleur.  The bad news being that we were down a bike, the worse news being that we were 5 miles into a bikeway that was NO WHERE near a municipal road.   As Josh biked back to get the car, I set off (bike now on my back) to find somewhere where he could pick me up.  Tour 1 Brian 0.  We dropped the bike off at EastSide Cycles who thankfully had an extra derailleur in stock! Afterwards we met up with a friend of Josh’s for dinner and retreated back to the house for a much needed early nights rest.

I’m just realizing how long this is…. we’re gonna kick it into overdrive for the next few days…..   3… 2…. 1….

Sunday we played in Floyds Knobs IN, but it’s really Louisville KY (look at this map and tell me I’m lying, John).  It was an AMAZING show at Jelley’s Jamroom.  It’s the second time I’ve had the pleasure of performing on this stage and it gets better every time.  The crowd, the venue, the sound (CATFISH!).  I even got to see some old friends from FSC there!  It was a privilege to share the stage that night with Josh Logan and Danny Flanigan.  Ending the night together on a few group covers!  Check out this video of a song I wrote with Jody & John called “A Better Place”

Monday we recorded strings for Paramore’s Jeremy Davis…. at MICHAEL FREAKING MCDONALDS HOUSE!  As a fan of music of any genre or year, this was a pretty momentous deal.  Please excuse the fan-girling, but that dude is an amazing musician, songwriter, singer, producer, everything.  It was a pretty rad.

Tuesday, we picked up the bike from EastSide and tried again.  This time we got all the way out and turned around to return, stopped for water and Josh fell.  He was okay, it didn’t look too bad, just banged up his elbows, so we said, “Lets put these away for a little and try again on flatter land…”  His elbows were still very much hurting him when we got to the house concert that night, more on this later.  Our host Sabrina was a great ambassador for us, she’s created a beautiful space to experience music.  Wednesday morning we left early to head over to Knoxville and WDVX’s Blue Plate Special where we were joined by Nashville band Julie Christensen & Stone Cupid.  Here’s the video of that!

Thursday we found ourselves in Charlotte, NC at the home of Trina and her lovely family.  This was a really fun show for us, it ended with us playing Johnny Cash’s “Cocaine” on cello & violin which was really cool.   Leaving Knoxville on Wednesday we were informed that our show in Asheville for Friday had been cancelled.  After initial scrambling, we set to social media to help out and fortunately landed a gig for Friday night at Ashevilles Habitat Brewing.  We also added another performance there Saturday night and were invited to perform at The Bywater over in the River Arts district.  Asheville came together and it’s entirely YOUR fault…. so thanks 🙂

The next day I flew out to Chicago to meet family and Josh left for Florida.. thus ending this leg of the Coming To Your Home Tour.

OH WAIT!  Josh’s elbows…. we found out a few days later that he actually fractured BOTH of his elbows.  Now he’s wearing these arm braces until further notice.  I am still blown away by his strength.  It cannot feel good to play violin when you can’t fully extend your arms.  GET WELL SOON BUD!

That’s plenty for today.  I’ll finish up another blog for the rest of the month soon.  Give your eyes a break and go take a nap!  Thanks for following along, here’s some photos for your enjoyment….

Be well.

-Brian