Well….we are driving through the Smokey Mountains again. The drive from Knoxville TN to Asheville NC has become very familiar but it never ceases to amaze with its mountain views, winding country roads and deep green and blues. Part of me always wants to jump out of the van and grab a mountain bike and disappear on the single track trails for a week. But alas, we are on tour and I doubt my manager could explain my “Into The Wild” itch to the club promoters. The American Heartache tour is in full swing. In early September there was a sort of “pre release” warm up run that got us ready for the big New York City kick off show. We headed up to The Chicken Box on Nantucket Island for a pair of shows to shake off the rust and get the band tightened up for the road. We certainly took advantage of the location. Despite the forecast of a hurricane hitting the Northeast we managed to dodge the rain and got in some beach time, fishing, and even some mountain biking. The shows were a ton of fun. The club is really the only real music venue on the island and the place was packed to the gills both nights. The locals and weekend warriors were ready to rock out and hit the dance floor so we brought out the high energy rock and roll sets each night. After an extra day at the beach and an impromptu set of originals and covers at The Summer House which featured Jon Solo on piano along with Jamie and Brian singing to the patrons (drinks in hand), we loaded up the gear onto the ferry and headed to The Big Apple.
We decided to kick of the release tour for American Heartache in New York City. It is the quintessential music industry town as well as the city we have been calling home for the last few years. We had a bunch of press and photographers out for the show which is important for the album’s release. It is always sort of nerve wracking to be under the microscope but it helped document and promote the event and it lends a certain amount of legitimacy to the whole thing. We were hoping the New York fans who have always been devoted and supportive would make it our for the big release. New York…you never disappoint! The crowd kicked ass! The Mercury Lounge was packed and full of energy for the new music. From the downbeat of “Can You Hear Me Now” until the smoke cleared on “Working Man” we knew you were with us! It was nice to see all of our good friends and hardcore fans in the house as well as new faces and new fans which always makes you feel like you’re making progress. We were able to hang and talk with everyone in the front bar for the rest of the night which was really great and not something that always happens in the hustle and bustle of New York. I got recruited to sit in with The Breakfast for a song which was a lot of fun considering I had never heard the tune before. I always like getting thrown into the fire. We talked about doing an Allman Brothers tune but I’ve always preferred flying by the seat of my pants when sitting in with other bands. Just let me know what key we are in and off we go! Thanks guys. After a few more conversations and CD signings we headed off to bed in the city that never sleeps.
To start the American Heartache tour the band played 4 concerts and 2 radio interviews/performances in 3 days. After the great kick off in New York City we made the drive up to Burlington in time to perform a few songs from the new album and talk a bit with Tony at WBXM about life on the road and the new album. Tony’s a sweet guy who has been in the business for years and is obviously a huge fan of all music. I played American Heartache and Working Man solo with an acoustic guitar. A driving rain put a bit of a damper on the night in Burlington but we rocked Nectars none the less and it is always good to see Jocyln and Karen and their crews in the house! We got up early the next morning to make the drive down to the Wormtown Music Festival in Greenville MA. This is our second year in a row performing at this festival. After an apparent wash out at the festival the night before there were more ominous skies threatening our set as we drove down. Someone was smiling on us because as we pulled in the skies cleared and we played a rocking set (if I do say so myself) to an energetic crowd! Daytime sets have always been a funny thing for me. We are generally up late every night after shows so performing during the day usually takes a bit extra to get up for. It is also tough to get the vocal chords nice and warm in the afternoon but for whatever reason Wormtown wasn’t a problem. It is always nice to play outside under the blue skies and be able to take it all in. The amps can finally get turned up to 11 and people are generally loving the day time vibes. Great crowd! Dancin fools, old fans, new fans, and just a general sense that everyone was actually listening and enjoying and getting involved with what we were doing. We finished our set on the Main Stage around 3pm and after a few CD signings it was back on the highway to get to Boston in time for sound check.
Boston has always been a special city for me. I spent some “formative” years there during college. I made a lot of great friends as well as studying and playing a ton of music around town. Boston is the first city where I actually played shows in clubs and toured with a band so it holds a place in my heart. Despite the Boston Red Sox/Fenway Park traffic we made it to Café 939 in time to load in and sound check. The Spring Standards were soundchecking as we got there and I was blown away. They are a relatively new band but they have a really original thing going on. 3 piece. 2 guys. 1 girl. A kick drum for him a snare drum for her. They all trade around on the bass and guitar and they sing their ASSES OFF! It was really great to hear this band and they couldn’t have been nicer. It is always refreshing to hear a band that can actually play and sing and write killer SONGS as well as being really unpretentious. The road does funny things to a man. Anyway, check out the Spring Standards. After soundcheck I conducted another radio interview for Tufts college radio. Great interview! I’ve done enough of these to know when you’re dealing with someone who has actually done their homework and listened to your album and read your bio and drawn up some really interesting questions and when your not. Drew absolutely did his homework. Great questions and a really nice guy. I ended up playing an acoustic version of American Heartache to wrap it up and then it was showtime.
Café 939 is run by Berklee School of Music and as you would expect it has a kick ass sound system. It is a medium sized room and the fans are always amazing listeners. It is a room that keeps us on our toes. The Boston fans came out in force as usual and even though we had woken up in Burlington Vermont and played a festival in Western Mass that afternoon we were ready to rock! The hour set included Up Down, American Heartache, Working Man, Home Movies, Don’t Do Me That Way, Diamond Plate, Yesterdays News, Garden of Thieves and Hold On Tight. I thought we sounded tight and the fans must have agreed because they gobbled up copies of the new album and the American Heartache T Shirts.
A huge thank you goes out to all the fans for making the kick off to the American Heartache tour such a success. It was great to see such responsive crowds in so many towns filled with old fans as well as new fans who saw us for the first time. We can’t wait to keep rocking the stages for you. Stay tuned for the updates from the Southeastern leg of the tour!
Try everything, Jamie