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Tennessee Road Trip, Pt. II

Nashville songwriters in the round was great fun last night.

We had guests Thom Schuyler and Fred Knobloch, who it turns out somewhat began this tradition years ago. I was in the dark about this significance, but my compadres knew. Thom did a great song about Hummer ownership, and Fred and Tim picked a song they'd written for Delbert McClinton.

Even without these guys, I found myself completely mesmerized by Kim, Tim and Bill's songwriting. All three of them are so versatile and have such deep catalogs. And they're all really articulate on the guitar as well. I listened on the way to Nashville (it's a few hours from Durham) Bill's Slide Show collection, Kim's 1999 album Glimmer and Tim's Soul Season--very VERY different from each other stylistically, but you can see where the circles overlap.

I played a few songs from the Holsapple & Stamey record, a Drifters' song and a couple others that I can't recall right now. Every so often, I noticed that I was gripping the top of the guitar for dear life, and that my shoulders were neatly tucked up under my earlobes. Too much coffee on the ride out? Possibly. Nerves and Nashville.

I'm going back to Nashville on Sunday to see if I can write a song, but today (Saturday, Valentine's Day) I'm playing at the Time Warp Tea Room in Knoxville, behind which I'm sitting at the wheel of the parked van/bedroom/dressingroom, listening to songs from the new album in relative quiet and typing this. "A loooonnng... time coming."

The Time Warp I described in an old blog--it's a English racing motorcycle-themed coffee shop that also offers live music like me (and Tim Lee tonight!) There are old bikes parked throughout, the walls are papered with ads and articles, posters and signed photos and the mantle is festooned with old fuel tanks in various states of damage. There is a bike between me and the piano tonight; maybe I can sit on the saddle as my stool? Doubt it. S'okay, I wasn't going to play piano anyway.

I played the Richard Thompson song "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" last time I was here and probably will again, because if not here, then where? I saw a huge poster of the Vincent line. The first picture of a Black Lightning that caught my eye featured the rider, completely horizontal from the handlebars back. That just says 'fast'.

It is my sincere hope that some people show up for this tonight. There is the distinct possibility that they won't, as it is Valentine's Day and money's tight and I'm not usually a lovers' destination unless you're having a break-up.

The nice thing about a solo gig (vs. a songwriter klatch) is that you have enough time to acclimate yourself to your surroundings. Last night, we four basically sauntered in, said our hellos, plugged in our guitars and started going around with an audience in the room. Tonight, I will stand in front of however many people are there, not really up from them either as there's no stage at the Time Warp, and I will ease into it gradually.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

My five-year-old was sent to my bottom drawer to distribute the Valentines' Day chocolates to his mother and sister this morning under my directives on the phone. Everyone was given their Whitman samplers (Hershey's Kisses for the one-and-a-half year old) and he was a happy aide-de-camp for his dad. I miss them, even found myself choking on a tear today which has never really been the norm. My gigs have always taken me away from my children, and I've been lucky enough that the little ones (and my Smart Wife) have dealt with that reality very soundly, I think.


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