Thursday, June 21, 2012

BDL trip to CO and a night we'll never forget.

06.21.12 - Local 506 (Chapel Hill, NC)
06.22.12 - Blue Bourbon Jacks (High Point, NC)
06.23.12 - Alexander County Summer Stomp (Taylorsville, NC)
06.26.12 - The Pour House (Charleston, SC)
06.27.12 - Goombay's Grill and Raw Bar (Kill Devil Hills, NC)
06.28.12 - Hoss's Deli (Newport News, VA)

Howdy all you Big Love Bussin' Daddios!

I actually wrote this last week, before the Willie Nelson show, but things got hectic and it never got published.   So, here is some major catch-up work.  We have some local NC shows this weekend so we hope to see a lot of y'all. 

We're a little behind on our travel blog because, well, we've been traveling...go figure.  Things have been going really great lately.  We found out that we're opening for Willie Nelson, which is kind of a big deal; and this past Saturday in West Virginia I got to stand onstage and play with Larry Keel and Keller Williams at the late night all-star jam, which was a huge honor.  

I do want to relay a compliment that we received earlier that day.  We were part of a 3-day festival in Morgantown, WV at a beautiful amphitheater right on the river.  After our 2:30pm slot, the festival promoter came over to us and said he had something to tell us. He said that his sound engineers never compliment anybody....ever.  But they called him to the stage and told him that BDL was the best and tightest band on the entire festival roster, period.   That really makes me proud of all the hard work we've put in, especially with all the change we've had lately. 

Ok, a little catch up time.  

On May 1st, our great friend Scotty Lewis, formerly of the band Jackass Flats, drove from Richmond to Winston-Salem with his drums and a bag of clothes and hopped in the van with us to head out to Colorado.  (The first thing Scott Moss said was, "Sweet!  I'm not the new guy anymore!")   We had a fantastic trip out there and back and Scott put together a montage of photos with music behind them.   I will say that we were welcomed with open arms out there.  The festival promoter told us he predicted that we would sell more cd's than any other band....and we did.  It was a great first trip out west.   

There's one particular evening that I would like to try and describe here, since we're all friends.  Every now and then you'll experience a night where you just run into the most amazing people, all of whom seem to be vibrating on a higher level than your average person, and the hours just fly by like minutes.

We were all hanging out at our cabin after the music finished up on the main stage and talking about how beautiful that part of the state is and how much we enjoyed being here.  After a while Ashley, my friend from college Eric Dahlgren, and I decided to walk down to the late night bonfire stage where a Durango, CO band called Jack Ten High was playing.   The stage was down a hill at a small amphitheater with a large fire pit in the center, since these grounds mostly serve as a youth summer camp (hence the cabins).  As we walked through the woods we noticed that there was no fire like there had been the night before; instead at the top of the amphitheater there were large lights, like the ones that might be used for nighttime road construction.  We had heard earlier that there was a fire ban because of high winds.

As we walked up we immediately noticed that this band was top-notch.  All seasoned musicians who know how to rock and groove with each other, and they were similar to us as they easily combined both rock and bluegrass styles, and they featured an electric banjo and dobro as well.  In fact one of the most amazing moments of the entire night was listening to them take Dylan's "Senor tells of Yankee Power" and seamlessly morph it into Pink Floyd's "Breath."   At that moment, both Ashley and I knew that these guys were kindred spirits.   The three of us found a spot to the left of the stage and just soaked in every note down to the bone.  These guys were amazing!  The lead singer, Russ Crossland, was very tall and skinny with hair bursting out of his hat and shooting down his chest like fast moving whitewater.  His hat was completely pulled down to the bridge of his nose as if it was a sign that he was inside the cosmic world of perfect musical vibrations and had no desire to acknowledge anything else in front of him.  To me he looked like he was from another world entirely.  I leaned over to Eric and said, "I'm pretty sure that guy is an alien."   

The music had us completely transfixed and we started to notice that the single pine tree beside the stage was lit up by the big flood lights up the hill.  This magnificent tree stood well over 80 feet tall and seemed to be dancing with the music that was floating up into its branches. The wind was giving it a consistent motion that reminded me of those tall dancing figures that you see at car dealerships, but instead of moving randomly the tree had a found a laid-back groove that had a deep appreciation for vibrations that were being sent up through the trunk and branches.

As we started to assimilate into the scene around us (we're musicians, the notes come first) we saw that the large fire pit at the base of the amphitheater had a single white glow-stick that was sticking straight up from the center of the pit.   We also noticed a silver fire extinguisher that was laid by the chopped wood about 20 yards away.   Ashley looked at me and we both knew what had to happen.  He walked over and picked up this fire extinguisher and carried it back to the fire pit.  He looked up at all the people sitting on the benches with definitive look of "Trust me.  I know what I'm doing and I will save you all."   He opened up that fire extinguisher on that lonesome glow-stick creating a huge cloud of whiteness.  The hiss of the extinguisher finally stopped and he walks out of the white cloud with the fire extinguisher over his head and throws it down and reaches his arms to the sky and says "You're welcome!" and charges triumphantly into the woods.   This is the greatest story that didn't actually happen.  We played every detail of this story out in our minds until we were falling over laughing so hard about it. 

As the band finished their set and started packing up, a couple of the guys walked over and introduced themselves to us and said they had caught part of our set earlier and really loved it.  One thing I've noticed over the years is that musicians are typically shy people and won't make a huge effort to get to know each other until we've heard one another play.  But after bands have heard each other, and really dug each other, then the vibe is completely spun around and flipped on its head.  You go from mild acknowledgement to near best friends in a matter of moments.  I don't think it's a matter of sizing people up in a snobbish way; I think it's more of a letting your guard down because you've found someone that is so similar in mindset.  It's a pure comfort factor; since a lot of musicians are shy with different levels of insecurities and even social awkwardness, hearing someone play the notes that you might choose allows you to put down your guard and let someone in quickly.  It is a sense of sharing the same life and experiences, and we can be completely honest with one another and have no judgment whatsoever.  

We quickly discovered that the members of this band all have a very deep understanding of bluegrass music and decided to start a picking circle.   In fact, the drummer, Pat Dressen, was a solid mandolin player that knew every single bluegrass song that was called out and would have made Mr. Monroe proud by "playing it right."  After burning through the great Scruggs instrumental "Ground Speed," the banjo player, Hap Purcell, leans over to me and says, "You know, this is always amazing.  You meet someone from across the country and you can completely connect because of Earl Scruggs."  He was exactly right.  How many artists have left such an amazing footprint that can bring complete strangers together to be as tight as brothers in a single evening?  There aren't many, but Mr. Earl Scruggs is on that list. 

One of the more interesting aspects of the night is the cops would charge down through the woods in their 4-seater golf cart, surround the picking circle for about 30 minutes, not say a word and then just disappear.   This happened several times and we could never explain it.  We weren't sure if they were keeping us in, or keeping something out.

We declare this picking circle SAFE!

As hours floated away and the picking wound down, we found oursleves sitting on a front bench with the bass player and moose hunter, Jimmy Largent. (seen in the picture above)  Now we've met some pretty amazing people in our travels but Jimmy was pretty unique.  As the conversation steered into the amazing things of this world, he, with great confidence and wisdom, explained to us that the most sacred item was the tear of a unicorn as it gave birth to a cabbage patch kid.  He also told us the story of the time he met a forlorn unicorn with a flaccid horn.  You see, the vast majority of these animals are very happy and live wonderful lives, but every now and then you might meet one that is down on its luck.   Jimmy told us of all the various things he tried to get the horn to rise back up, some of which can't be repeated with a straight face, but I'll just say he really tried.  But in the end it was of no use.  It was up to the unicorn to find its way.

We explained to Jimmy how that certain pine tree was dancing to their music earlier.  Without losing a beat Jimmy bends over and slaps the ground like a silver back gorilla and gallops over to the base of this tree raising up and takes a huge whiff of the tree.  After a few deep breaths he leaps up and bear hugs the huge base of this tree and tries to shimmy up to the top branches, but after only making it a few feet up he falls backwards and lands on his ass.  As we are laughing at this entire spectacle I think to myself, he's never going to get up that tree.  He picks himself up and starts the entire process over, and this time he just barely gets a few fingers over the bottom branch.   Now this was absolutely one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed in my entire life.  Once he got into the branches he starts moving effortlessly up the tree, never stopping or hesitating on any certain branch.  The only way I can describe it is if you think about the recent Spiderman movies where he climbs buildings with a fluid motion of arms and legs working together and never stopping.  We would lose him every 10 feet or so when the branches got thick, and then he would appear again, moving flawlessly with no wasted motion.  I'm pretty sure he climbed all 80 feet of that tree in less than a minute. We were speechless. 

After he made his way down, we all agreed that that was the most perfect way to end the night and went our separate ways to get some rest.   And as I was lying there, all I could think was that I have to try and share this with everyone.   If you've made it this far then I hope you've enjoyed it.  Both Ashley and I agreed it was one of the most interesting nights we've had on the road yet.  We can't wait to go back and visit our CO bluegrass buddies, and If you make it out there look them up.  Just tell them you know us and they will take care of you, and it won't hurt if you can burn through a tasty version of "Ground Speed."  Thanks Earl! 

Until next time,
Brian and BDL

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.

06.21.12 - Local 506 (Chapel Hill, NC)
06.22.12 - Blue Bourbon Jacks (High Point, NC)
06.26.12 - The Pour House (Charleston, SC)
06.27.12 - Goombay's Grill and Raw Bar (Kill Devil Hills, NC)
06.28.12 - Hoss's Deli (Newport News, VA)
06.30.12 - The Otter House (Fredericksburg, VA)
07.04.12 - Palm Room (Wrightsville Beach, NC)
07.05.12 - Live Bar (Greenville, NC)
07.06.12 - Outer Banks Brewing Station (Kill Devil Hills, NC)
07.07.12 - Ted Constant Convocation Center (Norfolk, VA)
07.08.12 - The Backstreet Pub (Beaufort, NC)
07.12.12 - Martin's Downtown Bar & Grill (Roanoke, VA)
07.13.12 - Altamont Theatre (Asheville, NC)
07.14.12 - The Loft @ Benchwarmers (Salisbury, NC)
07.18.12 - Rapture (Charlottesville, VA)