Monday, August 25, 2014

Our weekend at the Clear Mtn View Music Festival. Tin Foil Hats and all!

Howdy All You Big Bus Lovin' Daddios,

We're just coming off a full weekend at the Clear Mountain View Music Festival, where we jammed with some of our very best friends all weekend long.

This festival wasn't a big festival, maybe 500 or 600 people there, but it is proof that you really do have more fun at smaller festivals.  It is like having a huge private party where your friends can bring their friends and their friends can bring friends-- just like in college, but the cops don't show up at 3am telling everyone to leave.

On Friday we were over at Scott and Karen's house, and the girls (I think Beth was the instigator) decided we all needed tin-foil hats so the NSA, aliens, and Facebook couldn't read our minds. So they made hats for about 2 hours before we headed off to the festival.

So about 3 songs into our set we look out and see heads turning silver...

The great thing about live music is being able to interact with the audience.  Sometimes, when things are going really great, the band follows the audience's example.  

If there was ever a festival with our very best friends, this was it.    

Alex from L Shape Lot

Our good friend Roger Padgett

Ross Bogan who we first met with Mama's Love and now plays with Sol Driven Train

Mark Schimick and Josh Daniel from their aptly named Josh Daniel and Mark Schimick Project.

James Bernabe.  He is making some of the best mandolins around these days.

Joey, Isaac Corbitt and the L Shape Lot boys.  Eric is such a nice guy.

Isaac Corbitt from The Corbitt Brothers Band.

Scott....just crushin' it.

And the friends and family....

Thanks for supporting us, everyone!  See you soon!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

BDL, Yarn, and The Willow Tree

Hello All You Big Bus Lovin' Daddios!

Last Saturday we got to be a part of the Grand Opening night of the Willow Tree Coffee House and  Music Room in Johnson City, TN.  Most of you will know that this new venue has been opened by our good friend Teri Dosher, along with her daughter Zoe (we blogged about it at the end of this post), and it is a big step toward fulfilling their dream of operating a top-notch music venue.  Operating a venue is one of the toughest challenges in the music biz, but I have never seen a place get off to a better start than the Willow Tree.

Many months ago, when Teri was trying to put this night together, she told me that she wanted us and Yarn to play and that she was going to get "300 people to come!" I said, "No way, we can't get that many people to come out in Johnson City!"  But, being the ever-optimist, she said she was going to do it.  So as we were playing Saturday night to about 400 people, both old friends and new, in this beautiful room, I just had to smile at her and say, "You did it."

This shot shows about 1/3 of the huge crowd that came out.
Here is a link to the show recording, courtesy of Jeff Prater.

We decided to go warrior style with some face paint.

Yarn just killed it. They really are one of the best bands playing today. If you get the chance to see them, do it!  Here is a link to their set (thanks Jeff Prater!).

Here's a great video of us playing the classic song "Sugaree" with Andrew from Yarn getting up with us and just laying it down!

Big Daddy Love with Yarn - Sugaree [Grateful Dead] from Mike Nichols on Vimeo.

The highlight of the night was the BDL/Yarn collaboration set.  We just got onstage and went for it.  We didn't really know what songs we were going to play, but in the moment we came up with "I Know You Rider," "Can't Find My Way Home," the great Neil Young tune "Helpless," and lastly "Turn on Your Lovelight" 

When you hang out with Yarn, the party doesn't stop, so after most of the crowd had left Blake fired up a great acoustic jam in the back kitchen. 

Queens of Trouble - Beth Recchio and Karen Moss
See more photos by Jenny Viars from this amazing night here.

Behind the scenes of BDL there is a constant symbiotic force that both has our backs and is also along for the fun ride.  In fact, sometimes I'm not sure who is having more fun here: us or Scott's dad and his "posse." The things they do for us range from cooking great dinners at festivals to filming and producing the entire "Live At Ziggy's" DVD.  But they are not afraid to hop on a plane, along with the "Queens of Trouble" Karen Moss and Beth Recchio, and come down to the Florida Keys and hang out with us a few days.  

Driving from Marathon Key to Key West, with "The Posse"

Here's a video of Gary's Gang, as they romp around the state having more fun than anyone I know.

Thanks for the support, everyone!  We are headed up to Woodstock, NY to record our next album at the great Applehead Studios.  We'll be posting updates as we go, and keep a lookout for our Kickstarter program to help fund this project. 

See y'all soon!
Brian and BDL

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Looking back at 2013, what a great year.

Howdy everyone!

The idea of writing a year-end review of 2013 is a little daunting but also quite worthy, as we’ve had one helluva year.  I asked the ever-helpful Jenny Viars to give me a quick review sheet to work with, and as I was reading through it, I started thinking, “I can’t believe all this happened to us in one year."  We released a live album, made several trips out west, played "Shakedown Street" with Keller Williams--twice, opened for Lukas Nelson, opened for Bob Seger in front of 10,000 people, played a ton of festivals, and made a whole lot of new friends and family along the way.  

Playing to a sold-out crowd at PNC Arena in Raleigh in our opening set for Bob Seger

Instead of trying to recap everything that has happened in our incredible year, I wanted to share a few memorable stories that we haven't really had the chance to tell.

We also have a little something special here.   This video is from our viewpoint on New Year's Eve with a GoPro camera.   So if you've ever wondered what a BDL show looks like from our point of view, here you go!

I listed some of the obvious highlights above, but there are also the not-so-obvious highlights like getting towed off the top of a mountain in Colorado in the middle of the night at zero degrees. I don't think we've told this story yet, so here goes.  It is kind of long, but it is the craziest experience we've ever been through, so hopefully it'll be worth it.  

Our trip to Colorado this past February caught us in no less than three big-ass snowstorms.  Most bands would never be that lucky, but obviously we're special.  We had to drive from Breckenridge to Durango--a trip that should take 6 hours, not 30.   It started snowing on us in the early afternoon, so to be safe we decided we would try out our handy-dandy snow chains on the van. We have a big heavy van towing a big heavy trailer, and at the time we were on some pretty worn out, bald tires.  We knew we had to make it over two different mountain passes to get there; as the roads started to get white, we decided to go ahead and "chain-up" while it was still light out.  We got the chains on and got back onto the road; after about 45 seconds of being beat to death by the chains on the pavement, we decided to take them back off and just go for the first pass.  As we got higher, the roads got whiter, and the sunset was beautiful.  It's an odd feeling watching a beautiful sunset over majestic mountains and at the same time not knowing if you are going to make it around the next curve or not.

The first pass wasn't too bad.  We drove slow, and my love of stunt driving in the snow as a teenager in Sparta helped a little.  (We would actually go out driving in snowstorms and try to get the cops to turn around and come after us, just to see if we could get away.  That was back when they still drove the Crown Vics, not the trucks they have today.  See kids, the stupid things you do when you're young DO pay off!)

We came down into the valley below the famed Telluride and started up the next pass.  It was very dark by this point and these roads were steep and sinuous.  Somehow we actually made it to the top of this pass.  At the peak we stopped again to put the chains back on.  We were about 10K feet up on icy, snowy roads and knew going down was going to be rough.  NC has this wonderful invention called "guard rails" that they place around bad curves to keep you from falling off a mountain.  Colorado has yet to find this advanced technology and prefers to deal with the problem with a technique called "high-angle rescue" with their firefighters.  We did not want to experience this high-angle rescue--or 500-foot-bottom-of-ravine rescue either, for that matter.

We didn't make it very far before the van lost traction and started sliding.  I had two options for the slide -- go left into the ditch, or right off the cliff.  After some pondering I decided left would do just fine.  We got stopped and sat there for a few minutes, allowing the full "WTF just happened" feeling to wrap itself around us.  Heavy van, heavy trailer, and icy roads with a cliff to one side....crap. We called our friends in Durango and asked what we should do, and they laughed at us and wished us good luck.     

This is where things got interesting.  We called two towing services and they don’t answer.  Joey got an answer on the third try and patiently explained the situation.  The guy says he'll come get us and take us to the hotel in Telluride.  Joey tells him we are a traveling band and that we can either pay for a towing bill or a hotel, but not both.   

Towing service owner:  "Oh, I see...well, is everyone cool?"  
Joey: "Umm...yeah, we're cool."
Owner: "I mean, is.   everyone.   cool?!"
Joey: "Yes!  Everyone.   Is.  Cool!"
Owner: "Okay then, you can stay with me."  

Two hours later two trucks pulled up.  One was driven by a good-ole Colorado country boy, and he called his truck "Bull Dog."  The roll-back truck was driven by someone who had very little experience.  After much yelling and cussing from the Bull Dog driver to the rookie we finally got the van onto the roll-back and the trailer attached to the Bull Dog.  The next problem was where to put the five of us.  There wasn't enough room in the tow trucks and putting us back into the van on top of the roll-back would be the dumbest and most dangerous, not to mention illegal, option.  So obviously, that's what we decided to do.  Keep in mind it is literally zero degrees and windy on top of this mountain pass through this whole process.   

Remember the scene in Lord of the Rings when Gandalf is leading the fellowship over the Caradhras mountain pass?  That's what it felt like for a few moments.  

As we climbed up the roll-back and got into the van, the first thing we notice is how incredibly high we are off the ground.  Imagine being in a very tall truck that is stacked onto another very high truck and then riding around icy roads with 500 foot cliffs to one side, because that’s exactly what was happening.  And just to make the entire experience more surreal, the yellow flashing lights on top of the truck were exactly eye level to us and made the inside of the van feel like a disco-rave party. 
We wound our way back down the mountain--and keep in mind the rookie is driving us, not the veteran with Bull Dog.   He was driving fast, too.  Everyone one of us imagined the physics laws that would apply to a van on top of a roll-back flipping off a mountain.  The part of me that loves thrills had to enjoy this, by the very nature of thrill-seeking.  The part of me that wanted to continue living wasn’t so sure.  

We got to the owner's house, a modest mountain cabin up a one-lane gravel road, and they pull the trucks in and both drivers just walk inside and tell us to wait out here.  After everything we’d been through at this point you would think we’d just be relieved, but standing outside this house in the middle of nowhere, knowing that we were at the mercy of these crazy mountain dudes, was not a secure feeling.  It felt like they were in there forever.   Enough time for them to decide how to kill us, bury the bodies, and sell everything they had just scored.  We are not paranoid people, mind you, but dammit, we’ve seen these movies before!  We know how this goes down!  

It was probably 15 minutes until they came out.  It felt like an hour.  But they came out and invited us inside where we met the owner, an older guy who had obviously lived in these mountains for a very long time.  He was a nice laid-back guy, with a well-earned lifetime stoner vibe, and for the first time in about 8 hours we were able to sit down and relax as he and Wookie discussed the finer points of the decriminalization process.   

I slept better that night than I did the entire trip.   We woke up to a snowy wonderland of mountains, tall pines, and deep blue skies.  We got the van hooked back up to the trailer, said our “thank you for saving our asses” goodbyes and slowly went down the one-lane road to the pavement.  Oh the sweet, sweet pavement.  We headed west, out of the mountains, and took the long way to Durango.  30 hours into our 6 hour trip we pulled into our friend’s house and cracked the first of many well-deserved beers.   

When you start your year out like that, everything else seems pretty easy.  

Last week a group of us had a rare Saturday night off, so we headed up to Johnson City to celebrate the opening of a music venue/coffee shop called The Willow Tree.  This place is a dream realized, and we’ve been lucky enough to experience the entire process.  We read about people who just give it all up and follow their heart, but rarely do we see it with our own eyes.  One of the great things about what we do is getting to meet a lot of amazing people: as we play a part in their lives with our music, they become part of our lives as well.  

The chain of events that led to us being there started several years ago when we noticed a lady named Teri Dosher and her daughter Zoe showing up at our gigs in different parts of NC.  They were both very sweet and genuine and just lived for live music.  Through the years we’ve all become great friends, so when Teri decided she was going to follow her heart and open a music venue, we were some of the first people to know and have helped as much as we can through the process.  

As we were standing there on Saturday night watching our friends The Red Dirt Revelators play, I just thought to myself how lucky we are to meet people like this and to be there to witness such big moments in their lives.  There is the business side of what we do, but there’s this whole other side that can’t be put into an accounting book.  Those are the days that keep us moving forward.

We're also really excited to play The Willow Tree grand opening party on February 8, along with our friends Yarn.

If you've made it this far then you're either quite a fan or just bored.  Either way, I thank you.   We are sitting in Florida right now and will be heading down to the Keys here in a few.  I know, I know, tough life right?  It almost makes up for being stranded in the middle of the night on a 10,000 foot mountain top.    

Thanks for sticking with us through it all, and hopefully we'll be seeing you soon.