Thursday, July 11, 2013

BDL in early summer '13 - From Mountain Tops to Islands, BIG Festivals and Keller Williams

Hello All You Big Love Bussin' Daddios!

We just kicked off our big summer tour yesterday.  I know I'm more excited about seeing MT, WY, and SD than anywhere we've been so far.  We'll be posting pics, and I will do my best to get a travel blog posted on one of our days off.

If you have any friends in these places, please let them know we're on our way!
And don't forget our new album is now available on iTunes!

I wanted to give a recap of our summer so far, before we really get into the Western tour.  The highlight of early June was playing in Johnson City at the Blue Plum Festival with Keller Williams sitting in on the groovy disco Grateful Dead tune "Shakedown Street."  But for me, the behind-the-scenes story of how we got to that point is just as cool, and it is the perfect example of how one person can make such a big difference to a band like us.  I'm not sure where Teri Dosher saw us first, but several years ago we realized we had a new "super-fan," as we like to call them.   She would drive several hours with her daughter Zoe and come see us play, buy albums and t-shirts, and be generally very supportive, positive, laid-back and happy to be in the moment.  Teri started lobbying the owner of a great venue in Johnson City called "The Down Home" to get us a gig there.  It took a little while, but the owner, Ed Snodderly, finally got a date settled, and we came to play our first gig for him.  We had a small crowd that night, mostly all Teri's friends, but Ed just loved us.  Our manager, Tom, always reminds us that sometimes when we go to brand new places we're basically there to play for the owner.  Because when an owner of a venue gets behind you then it becomes much easier to build a crowd in the market.  That night Ed Snodderly became a new fan and then gave us a prime slot at the Blue Plum Festival, right before Keller and the Traveling McCoury's.  So as we're standing onstage with an American Jam Scene legend playing "Shakedown Street," in the back of my mind I'm thinking about how we got to this point, and how everything we do is an accumulation of everyone around us.  Never underestimate the passion of a single fan. 

In the middle of the month we headed to Goat Island off the coast of SC and played a party/celebration-of-life for a friend of ours who passed away earlier this year in a scuba accident.  It was a really beautiful day in every single way.  We've talked about Keith several times, and Joey wrote a really great fan of the week post about Keith.
**[If you're interested, I actually wrote a more detailed post about the experience over on Lonesome Banjo Chronicles.]

The Blue Ridge BBQ and Music Festival in Tryon, NC is another example of how much it helps to have festival and venue owners and promoters behind you.  Benton Wharton (think of all the huge shows at Pisgah Brewing near Asheville) has been a BDL fan from the very beginning.  This festival usually has very established and national names as headliners, like Donna the Buffalo and Acoustic Syndicate.  So to be able to jump up to that level in just a few years is really cool for us!

We also just had our first Ocracoke Island experience.  This place is just magical, especially when you have great venue owners like Red and Ashley of Gaffer's.  Could this be a possible NYE destination for the Love Bus?? Hmmmm.....we'll see!

All of this leads us to this past weekend, which I think might have been one of the most fun weekends in BDL history.  It's rare that we get to spend a full weekend traveling with friends and family, but everything worked out for this trip.  Scott and Joey's wives, Karen and Beth, were able to travel the whole weekend with us, along with our good friends Cassie Gold, and Travis and Jenny Viars.

We started at the Whitewater Center near Charlotte, NC.  This has turned into one of the coolest places in the entire state.  They've built a new festival-style stage on the "island" and are now hosting regional and national names in music on a continuous basis.  Once again we got to jam with Keller Williams.

As we escaped one of the two epic bursts of thunderstorm that day, we had one of the best backstage moments ever, as the girls decided to perform for us.

BDL friends and Family

In some ways it was a "Spinal Tap" weekend.   We went from playing for almost 8,000 people at the Whitewater Center near Charlotte, to driving high up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern VA to a tiny little mountain lodge and resort (some of the scenes from Dirty Dancing were filmed there) to play for about 40 people.  But sometimes the most random nights turn out the best, and we finished early and were able to just enjoy being together on top of a mountain for a full night of nonsensical ninja shenanigans.  Just one of those perfect nights with good friends. 

Then there's The Big What.....

I don't know what to say about this festival.  There are some experiences that are almost beyond words and this is one of them.  Our brothers from the band Big Something, along with Jeremy Bell and the Possum Holler crew, have worked their butts off to make this one great experience.  I don't know of any other festival that has tapped into the burgeoning NC music scene on such a deep level.

We wanted a BIG surprise for the festival, and we realized that covering a Big Something song in front of Big Something at their very own festival would be perfect.  So we learned one of their most popular songs, "Amanda Lynn," and the looks on their faces when we played it was priceless.   One of them came up to me afterward and said, "moments like that are why we put on this festival!"

Casey Cranford jamming with us
Our good friend Ross from the band Mama's Love played part of the set with us on keys.
Wild Wooly What in the Woods!  (Kevin James photographer)

We ended the weekend playing for our good friend Brad Edwards.  Brad was one of the first to sign up for our Sunday Afternoon parties that helped with our "Live At Ziggy's" project.   Of course, being the awesome guy that Brad is, he used the party to raise money for the Alleghany County 4-H.   If there was ever a couple that embody everything amazing about Sparta, NC, it is Brad and Susan Edwards (below).  They put community and family before themselves, and it is because of people like this that Joey and I will always consider Sparta "home," no matter where we go.   
Brad and Susan Edwards
Thanks to everyone for jumping onto this crazy adventure with us!

Brian and BDL