I want to take a little time to thank you once again for following our tour. I used to document my adventures much more thoroughly, and I realize after getting back into the blogging rhythm that I miss it. It forces me, in a way, to dig into every experience and extract the goodness. It’s always there if we choose to look for it. I probably wouldn’t be looking as hard for it if I didn’t have a blog to keep up with. So thank you for reading and sharing your comments with us.
Also thank you to the kind hosts that shared their stages, homes, cabs, food, and lives with us. You folks are the backbone of independent music tours. Without you it all falls apart.
Last but not least I want to thank my tour partner, Sara for her fabulous work. It was such a gift to have a professional photographer capturing these moments with images that don’t need words to accompany them. Her touch gave this little blog a lot of class, I believe. Please check out more of her work here.
If you’re an artist thinking about collaborating with a specialist of a different medium than your own, do it! It can be a great learning experience for all involved. Never hurts to see past your own nose for a little bit.
I will continue blogging in the future. Perhaps on Music Seen, perhaps somewhere else. Wherever it may be, I hope you’ll continue to follow along and share your thoughts with us, too.
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Susie Markland runs a concert series out of her house in Gambrills, MD. Wait, she does what? Yes, she really does this. Her basement has been converted into a mini concert hall, complete with five or six rows of chairs, lighting, and a P.A. system. When she hosts a concert, she begins by serving food to the guests upstairs while the artists check sound below. When it’s show time, she herds the concert goers down her red carpeted stairs to the listening area. They find a seat, she introduces the first artist, and off they go.
I first began experimenting with house concerts in 2006 when I hit the road as a full-time musician. I quickly fell in love with the format, because it offers what so few other venues offer an audience and it’s performer: a chance to interact.
At many venues across our country owners seem to think it is enough to set up a musician in a corner, turn up the volume, and go back to whatever they were doing before the guy with a guitar showed up. Thousands of coffee shops, bars, restaurants, book stores, and other businesses seem open to the idea of “having” live music, but very few want to actually facilitate a human connection.
This is what happens so easily at many house concerts. The performer is often in a small space only feet away from the audience, who are usually crammed in close in these “just-so” seating arrangements. Everyone is up in everyone’s business. This can be uncomfortable at first, but after a few jokes and some good songs everyone relaxes and opens up. It’s this unique level of vulnerability that makes house concerts so rewarding for both audience and performer. As a listener, you can hear every lyric, every guitar part, every nuance of the performance. As a performer, you are able to have confidence that those quiet, subtle nuances won’t fall on deaf ears. A songwriter has the freedom to perform, and a fan has the freedom to listen.
My pal ellen cherry performed a set Sunday afternoon as well. Please check out her music here. If you sign up for her mailing list, she’ll send you an MP3 of her song “Maryanne.” It’s chilling. She totally killed it today.
Until you’ve experienced a good house concert you can’t fully understand the power of this kind of intimate performance. If you’d like more information on house concerts in your area, or if you’d like to try hosting one, please email me at email@example.com. You don’t even have to host me! I’d just like to tell you more about them. They’ve been a saving grace for many an independent songwriter.
Thanks for following.
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Driving from Charlottesville, VA, to New York City costs around $30. $30 in tolls. This does not include gas, wear and tear on your car, or food. If you decide to go out to eat and have a couple of drinks with friends once you arrive, you will probably spend another $40. This does not include cab fare or a Metro card. If you decide to take your own car instead of public transportation, expect to pay another $10 in parking. And if you drive back to your friend’s apartment, be sure to not park on the side of the road where they will be sweeping in the morning or you will be fined, towed, or have a boot put on your tire.
Oh, and welcome to New York.
My older sister and my best friend both have lived in New York for a few years now, so I have made it a point to book tours to The Big Apple twice a year or so. This allows me to get in a good visit with each of them. If they didn’t live there, however, I’m not sure how often I would visit.
The trade off seems clear: if you’re willing to do battle with one of the world’s hardest cities, you may be rewarded by the realization of your dreams. People move to New York every day because it is where so much is happening on such a high level. Art, music, dancing, fashion, business. All these fields have a home in the city that never sleeps. But as Rosie Thomas asks, “If this city never sleeps, does it mean that no one dreams?”
It stands to reason that for every dream realized in New York, thousands—maybe tens of thousands—die. Perhaps they die because the dreamer can never get it together financially. Or maybe like the shepherd boy in Cohelo’s The Alchemist, the dreamer is distracted by a lesser, more attainable achievement and ends up settling for a while, the mist of his original dream dissipating into the noisy sky above. It seems a dream is all at once more safe and more vulnerable in a city like New York.
I’m thankful that my livelihood affords me the chance to visit far away loved ones, and the fact that I’m an independent artist means I can book tours up the east coast any time I want. And don’t get me wrong, New York is without a doubt one of the singular most exciting places I have visited. However, my fondest memories of New York City have one crucial commonality with my fondest memories of anywhere else in the world: they were made in the company of people I love.
Thanks for following.
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Dylan played at The Garage tonight - located in Charlottesville, VA. (photos for that will be posted Friday). This town is home to the gorgeous campus of the University of Virginia. We got to stay with Sam Bush, the booking agent for The Garage. He lives with two other guys in “The Blue House”(see photos below). Today Sam, Dylan, Anna, and I took a 50 mile drive south to Swoope, VA to visit Polyface Farms. It was a very cool place to see. Very modest farm doing honest business, and raising healthy, hormone free animals. -Sara
Polyface Farms pictures
Look at that goose yelling at the dog!
This was the restaurant we ate at after the farm. I had hamburger steak, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, two biscuits, and an unsweetened iced tea.
Dylan with Sam and Anna on the way back to Charlottesville, VA.
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Ramon “Boot” Arreola, owner of Frets & Necks SC Guitar Repair and Luthery in Hartsville, SC, loves his job. If you ask to peek behind the curtain that separates the storefront from the workshop area, he’ll gladly give you the grand tour and even show you what he’s working on.
Sara and I were lucky and happened to visit Boot while he was working on his latest guitar, a cherry and sitka spruce beauty dubbed “The Old Western.” You can view more of his work here: www.bafergusonguitars.com
Day one and two of the Music Seen tour will actually not involve much music. At least not much performing. But in my experience this is typical of a tour in the days leading up to “go time.” As much as I plan and prepare with booking, sending press releases, and updating Facebook, the last few days leading up to a tour always seem to be a flurry of activity. Neglected necessary phone calls, oil changes, and those pesky blog entries :)
Yesterday began with a 4-hour round trip to the airport in Charlotte to pick up Sara. Upon returning to Hartsville, I gave her a quick tour of several of my favorite spots/people in town: The Midnight Rooster, Frets & Necks, Gardner’s Feed Store, and Flossie Mae’s to name a few. Then came vacuuming the car, printing a thank you note, double-checking on lodging arrangements, and finally a last minute rehearsal in my bedroom. Packing waited until this morning, as per usual. I suppose I’d be pretty bored if all I had to do was practice singing and playing guitar.
Day one was also a reminder to me of the home I’ve found in Hartsville. Sara remarked this morning, “You’re a small town guy.” I haven’t thought of myself this way too much, but the community I’ve found in this tiny town halfway across the country from my birthplace clearly has had a profound effect on me. This was evident as I showed Sara this town, my town, I thought in my head. I’m proud of this place, proud of my friends. Humbled, thankful, and grateful as well. So while touring is still a love of mine, it also means leaving this place, these people that I love. I find these days that I look as forward to trip home as I do to the trip far away.
Above are a few photos from Day one. To see Sara’s favorites go here.
Thanks for following. Now on to Charlottesville.