Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Looking back at 2011 through the rear view mirror.

We've had a great year and we want to take a few minutes to look back at some highlights.

But first of all, we want to just say a huge "THANK YOU" to all of you.  So many of you have done so much for us through the last year (or two) and it never stops amazing us.  Like I've said before, you make the great days even better, and the rough days worth it.  

Winter 2011
River Runs Thursdays in Raleigh NC
We came out pretty strong, hitting new markets through VA and even up into Maryland.  We were in "workhorse" mode, going to new venues where people had never heard of us before, and just hoping that 10 or 20 people show up. Or sometimes there would be 70 people there and we would just hope that 10 or 20 would pay attention to us. These are interesting gigs that every band experiences. There is such a big difference between playing all of our favorite places through NC, where we know so many people on such a deep level, and then going to a new town where we only know each other. These are the times that really strengthen the bonds between us, and where we really get to know each other.
Whitey Morgan and the 78's

One of the highlights of last winter  was our Thursday residence at the Pour House in Raleigh that we dubbed "River Runs Thursdays."    The first one was with the great band Whitey Morgan and the 78's.   We didn't know what to expect from them but they blew us away.  Real country music is not dead, it just went underground. Check them out!

We also had our first show at the OBX Brewing Station in the Kill Devil Hills/Nags Head area of the Outer Banks.  Little did we know at the time, but this venue would be one of our very favorites by the year's end, and a big reason for this is some important people in the BDL family live here; Robert and Cindy Via and John Mebane.  We love y'all.

Robert Via (L) and John Mebane

And of course one of the biggest changes for us that winter was the addition of the one and only Brian "Chasper" Horton.   I remember meeting Chasper on a cold winter day in Winston and there were two things that stuck out about him to me, other than his great drumming: he loved motorcycles (immediate bond since bikers stick together), and on the other end of the spectrum, I really liked that he had been in his high school marching band.   This meant that his fundamentals were solid and he understood music on a deeper level.  He not only can feel it, but he also knows how to count it, and there are times where both are extremely important.

Spring 2011
When we first started this adventure in the late summer of '09, Daniel had a favorite saying: "The Sun Shines on This Band!"   And this came true for our set at the Shakori Hills Festival.   We have been wanting to play this festival for some time and with the help of some energetic fans petitioning the board we were not only invited to play but given a main stage slot on Friday.  Everything was perfect...except the day turned into a total washout with a classic southeastern spring-time rain.  As we were setting up on-stage the rain started to taper off, and by the time we started playing the sun actually came out!   We watched as people started coming out of their tents and down from the woods and before we knew it we had a HUGE crowd in front of us.  And then for some reason, when we were finished, it started raining again and rained for most of the day.   You win some and you lose some, and that day we definitely won.

And speaking of family, we were honored to play the wedding of some special people in the BDL family: Richard and Jennifer Clowers. 

The ceremony took place under their "Home Tree"

We also started our BDL contests with a picture from this wedding.   A fellow Spartan, Kristi Washington Haas, won the best caption contest of this pic with, "You bet your ass I can ride this bull for 8 seconds."    New contests are in the works as we speak.  One might even involve baby pictures!

Summer 2011
The highlights for the summer included playing the main stage of the great southeast festival Floyd Fest and, of course, recording our second album "Let It Grow" in Asheville, NC with our producer Aaron Price.  

Our festival season included (links are live recordings) the Blue Ridge BBQ festival, Trail Days, Grover, Fishing Camp, Mountain Sports, Camp Barefoot, High Country Music,  The Getdown, Deep RiverBristol Rhythm and Roots, Front Porch, Mountain Jamboree, and  Center City Park Greensboro

                                                              Dream Walker at the Getdown Festival

And then there was the best night of the year: our CD release party at the brand new Ziggy's in Winston-Salem, with the great Jim Lauderdale opening.  
Breakin' Jimmy's Martin playing with Jim Lauderdale at Ziggy's!
Have you ever had a night that you didn't want to end?  Well this was it for us.  I remember walking off the stage after the encore thinking to myself, "I wish I could do it all over again, right now."   This was everything we have worked for.   All the hours of practice, all the gigs that no one came to, all the stressful deadlines, all of it had built up to this, and it was all worth it. 

Some of the best pickin' of the night took place backstage!  This is hot. 

Fall 2011
As we were winding down our year we decided that we were going to put more effort into our charity work than ever before.   We partnered with Breakin' Jimmy's Martin, which is easy to do since Ashley and I play in both bands, and with the help of some fellow Love Bussers, we had a toy drive, a food drive, and played two nursing homes.   There is no doubt that this will be a large part of our future.  Every single event was both fun and special, but it also made us want to do even more next year.

Our most successful blog of the year detailed our trip up to New York City, but also featured the great writing of Stacy Jones and her "Sparta Experience." 

The Halloween Costume Ball in Raleigh was a blast.  Here is the audio recording.   One of the biggest surprises of the night was Kristi Boyt, Amanda Lewis, Jenny Oram, and Gretchen Ross dressing up as the elements from the song "Sweet Water."  For the first time we were able to see one of our songs "come to life."
Gretchen and Amanda as Flowers and the Sun.  

Kristi "Red Molly" Boyt as Fire

Jenny Oram as The Angel
Another highlight was our annual Sparta Thanksgiving show.  Our hometown means the world to us and this is always a fantastic show!
Two special guests; Davis and John Paul Smith.
Like father, like sons!
We were honored to find out our album placed #2 in the Regional bands for our favorite radio station WNCW.  We were also the second highest regional band (not touring nationally) in the top 100 countdown, coming in at #33.   "Thank you" to everyone that voted for us.  

That is just a few highlights from our very busy 2011.  Again, we want to thank all of you for making it possible for us, and we are honored and thankful that we can be in your story too.    

If you have made it this far then you are a true fan, and we want to know what your favorite BDL moments of 2011 were.  Write them in a comment, and help us spread this around so everyone can enjoy the love.   

Brian and BDL

*Photos courtesy of our photographer, Jenny Viars at Dancing Lemur Photography.

We would LOVE for you to help us out with the street team activities. If you'd like to help promote an upcoming show, email and we will set you up with everything you need. We've got great e-flyers, widgets, and other tools you can use to help promote online, so if you've got Internet access, you can help! If you want to hang up posters, hand out flyers, and talk to real people, feel free to print up the digital posters. And of course, we'd also love your help over at the merch booth! Check out the list of places we could use help spreading the love.

01.12.12 - Martin's Downtown Bar & Grill (Roanoke, VA)
01.14.12 - The Pour House (Raleigh, NC)
01.20.12 - Blue Bourbon Jacks (High Point, NC)
01.21.12 - The Palm Room (Wrightsville Beach, NC)
01.26.12 - Casbah (Durham, NC)
01.27.12 - The Evening Muse (Charlotte, NC)
01.28.12 - Westville Pub (Asheville, NC)