The drive into Nashville was great, in that it was daylight the entire time. I had been driving a lot at night so it was a nice change of pace to be able to see some landscape. Though the rolling hills of Kentucky into Tennesse weren't anything spectacular, it was beautiful nonetheless and I enjoyed the short morning drive. Pulling into Nashville was nothing more then a total mind trip. I had never been but upon entering the city found myself on Broadway, the main drag, feeling a little bit like I had found the perfect amusent park replication of Nashville. Even at 10:30 in the morning, a Sunday, the scene was a bit jarring. Though beautiful in it's own way, I can't believe that the true locals and Nashivlle fixtures care much for Broadway. It felt like the brain child of an imaginative child with an endless pallete of neon colors, catering to the needs of tourists who year after year came and took with them a little piece of some perceived notion of American music history. I wasn't much interested in it.
That being said I of course wanted to play on Broadway, under those same Disney like signs. It was early enough that I found a parking spot and walked into a bar to grab some coffee and listen to some music. I was impressed by the amount of people already drinking at 11am, though it was Sunday and there was a football game...so I guess not so shocking. There was a local musician inside playing cover songs, and at times his own original, and it was great to hear some live music other than my own. Before heading to the truck to set up for my show I went to a few more spots to hear music. The endless amounts of music pouring out from every building was by far the best thing about Nashivlle. As the day continued more and more bands starting setting up, businesses opening up windows, and tourists starting to pile onto the street. I enjoyed a salad with chicken, a Sam Adams (tried a sample of a local brew and it just didn't hit the spot), and listened to these two women play country, pop, and original music. They were fantastic and the level of respect I have for working musicians can't be said enough. I have never truely tried to make a living off music perofmring, mostly due to the fact that to do this one has to take these gigs in bars and pay cover songs over and over for the patrons. It's a true talent to be able and play almost any song on a whim, and play it well on top of that. It really blew me away how hard these performers work and how dedicated they are to keeping music in their lives 24 hours a day...at whatever cost. Feeling inspired and excited to share my own music with the streets of Nashville I ventured back to the truck.
In front of the truck was a bar which when I had parked had the door closed. To my amusement when I returned to the truck they had opeded the door and rolled out a gigantic old barrel that essentially covered the entire side of the truck. It would have been impossible to play under the shadow of this barrell so I decided to leave the parking spot and start looking for another. A good 90 minuets later of circling and circling I was able to find a new spot. This spot seemed perfect as it was in front of a store that didn't have any live music coming out of it. As the day had continued on it was almost impossible to find any real estate on the street where there wasn't loud live music coming from inside out. I parked and was excited to get started. Walked down the street to get some tea for the show and when I got back found a guitar playing standing directly in front of the truck performing. I had to laugh though I was pretty frustrated. Obviously I couldn't set up and play now that he was on that corner, so I sat in my truck hoping he would move on. A good two hours later I realized he had no intention of leaving as foot traffic was getting heavier. Feeling quite stuck I decided to start looking for a new spot. I really had no choice but unforuntately that would be the last parking spot I had on Broadway. Once the football game ended the streets filled up fast and nobody was leaving their spots. On top of that musicians started to appear out of nowhere, setting up on every corner to play. Even some of the homeless took out their guitars and were trying to make a buck. It was actually beautiful, yet at the same time extremely disappointing. Finally around 4:30 I decided that playing a show on Broadway was going to be impossible so I drove across the river and went to grab a beer in a small up and coming neighborhood of East Nashville, that a friend of mine had suggested.
It was the first time on tour that I felt emotionally beat. I sat down for a drink and unfortunately completely went into my head. I started to feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of musicians in this town, which led to an unhealthy routine of comparing my music to some perceived notion of "good music", which led to a feeling of confusion and second guessing of this entire journey and tour. It was a quite classic and very real complete loss of confidence in myself and my art. One personal goal I have set out for mysef with this Meter Tour is to push myself out of my artistic comfort zone and share the music I have, without overthinking, apologizing, or comparing it to others. The grind of performing almost every day in front of strangers and often not getting much back in return is not an easy experience. But the repetition, like with anything, toughens the skin and reminds you that nothing is as important or big as it can become in your head. It's an important lesson to feel and apply to all aspect of life, so sitting in that East Nashville bar surrounded by cooler then cool hipsters...I decided that Nashivlle wasn't going to get the best of me. I went out to the truck, opened the back up and set up. An hour later I had gotten no positive feedback, no tips, and hardly any acknowledgment that I even existed. But...it felt fucking good to play, and I was starting to really feel the songs in a way that I hadn't before. I was getting more comfortable with the material and with performing, and that felt great.
About an hour into playing, from behind I heard the sounds of a percussive shaker. I said outloud "oh that sounds good" and to my surprise I heard a response saying "of course it sounds good". I turned around and saw Jeff, a friend of mine and one of the best drummers I know. Jeff lives in Nashville now and I hadn't seen him for almost 7 years. Unfortuantely he wasn't supposed to be in town that day so I had made other arrangements for where to stay. But to my complete surprise there he was, climbing into the meter tour truck with a "cajon" (a drum beat box) and a big hug. Honestly the night couldn't have ended any better then this. A day that had started out with exciemtnet, then turned to negativity, was now closing itself out with the company of a deep, sensitive, and solid fellow musician and friend. It was great. We catched up on the years, talked about the meter tour, and of course played music for the first time since the "171 Nails..." album. It was special. The night was slow so we packed up, grabbed some pizza, and headed home to share some beers, stories, and scheme about the musical future. Nashville turned out to be true to it's fame....the Musical Capital. One way or another music was made and shared that night.