Blah Blah Blog...

I know it's been a bit. Much longer than I would have preferred to wait to type out another one of these little monsters, but life has a way of throwing you curve balls when you least expect to have to hit one of the tricky little bastards. Sometimes, you think you might be ABOUT to get thrown a curve ball, but then the spirit of old Dizzy Dean himself descends from on high, temporarily switches spirits with the man on the mound, and cooks up a good old fashioned Spaulding, Oklahoma-style Knuckle ball, right down the old chute and strange as crawfish flavored potato chips.  Instead of even ATTEMPTING a swing at the warbling ball, stumbling through the air like a vagabond on the tail end of a college-level bender, all you can do is fall to the ground and hope it doesn't drop down from the air and bean you hard enough to put you in some crazy Dead Zone type coma situation. In addition to damn near getting the shit knocked out of your face with a baseball (which truly has happened to me before and is most certainly NOT a pleasant experience) you now have lost ten years of your life, all of your friends have forgotten about you, and you've obtained the ability to see the future based on tactile response, but it's also driving you slowly but surely out of your goddamn mind.


It's fine.  I do so love our little hypothetical jags off into nonsense land from time to time.  I apologize for using that particular device so soon, but I'm still getting used to putting words in proper order while trying to maintain a cohesive line of thought. Every since Skinner shed his old monkey suit and the world as I knew it blew all of it's gaskets at the same time, I just haven't been able to hear the word machine like I usually do.  It tunes in from time to time, fades in and out like a weak radio station being slowly but surely swallowed up by a stronger signal.  I try and reach out for the bits that have been bobbing their way to the surface, but it isn't pretty.  As soon as I grab hold of an idea, my brain turns it loose in favor of worrying about things that are completely out of my control, which throws me off track, which results in shitty lines, which results in a most bitter and gut wrenching sense of frustration and apathetic melancholy.

 Apathetoly? Melanchetic? Fuck man...you see what I mean?  Stupid.  Senseless. Pointless.  There's so much happening that there's no narrowing down the important things.  They all just wash out with the bath water, one big wad of shitty self expression bound for a gravity fed sewer drain buried far beneath the streets of whatever city I happen to be flushing all-too-real lyrics down the crapper in.  So, since I can't write songs, I'm going to blather on and on and on about  how shitty things are and how lame everything is and Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, when will he shut the hell up??  

This is exactly what I'm trying to avoid.  So I'm going to talk about the Skinner show a bit.  Then probably something else.  Then I'll probably get frustrated and trash this whole damn thing just like I did the last three I wrote.  Fear not.  They weren't good.  At all. You didn't miss anything.

Skinner's memorial was an extremely fitting tribute to a an amazing human being and an even more amazing songwriter.  I scooped up Biggie from his most recent crash pad in OKC and we proceeded to drive a considerable distance out past Drumright into essentially the middle of nowhere.  There was virtually no light pollution, the stars were as bright as I can ever recall seeing them.  Skinner was EVERYWHERE.  It was exceptionally Law.  The Skinner face is on track to become one of the most easily recognized symbols among independent country-ish type Red Dirt & Texas country, and I think that's fine and damn dandy.  I hope the Skinner's decide to keep making and selling shirts and koozies and records and anything else they want with Tom's gloriously happy face all over every last bit of it.  It's so great to see those stickers pop up when we're out and about.  My favorites are the ones Mac used to stick over the baby koala's face on the Koala baby changing stations in a few random truck stops now and again. It's the same way with hearing his songs in random places at random times, a phenomenon which has occurred far more frequently over the past few months than it ever has before. I was in the Black Whale Pub for Scott Morgan's open mic Tuesday night show and heard a guy covering Blind Man.  Apparently his grandma was a huge Skinner fan, which I thought was an incredible vehicle by which to be introduced to Tom's music. I always seem to hear it right when I need it, which I'm damn grateful for, as it's sometimes the only thing that can bring me out of the recent mess of lows and instill within me that inner glory that comes from remembering a really great Tom Skinner joke and his own subsequent follow up laugh at whatever wise he'd just cracked.  King of the Jungle indeed...

I played Nickel's Worth of Difference with a pretty rockin' little put together group that included Bob Livingston on bass (legendary) Fullbright tickling the ivory's,  Biggie on harp, and Roger Ray on pedal steel.  I was emotional. It was thick. It was palpable. It was comforting.  It was a lot of things.  Our second tune was the Return of the Grievous Angel, a Tom Skinner favorite from the catalog of his hero Gram Parsons.  Back when we toured the Midwest with MMB on a fairly regular basis, this tune was in our setlist and usually got played damn near every night.  If he was feeling good, Tom would always be around to catch us play that good old song which we share a mutual inclination towards, and he always told us we "did a damn fine job with that one, boys!" in that rising crescendo and signature fall that only Tom Skinner's voice sounds like.  It's one of Biggie's favorite GP songs as well, and it was good to have him at my right. It was fantastic. I can't do it justice with words right now.  Maybe later.

We're on the road, in the van as I type and my body gets magically transported through space and time to the magical realm of Tupelo, Mississippi. Actually, Tupelo was yesterday.  Today is Athens, Georgia.  This little lapse in time brought to you by me getting frustrated at working on this for many hours off and on during the drive and only being this far into the blog...and skip ahead again to the end of the run, as I simply couldn't write anything that I felt was even close to entertaining enough to publish. So let me try and get back on some form of track with this smoldering catastrophe of a blog entry.

We had a blowout somewhere in NC.

The show at the Blue Canoe in Tupelo was well attended, and the crowd was in exceptionally high spirits by the time we kicked off the set.  By the end of the show, there were more than a few folks that probably should have taken cabs home but everyone seemed to have a good time.  We loaded up and headed out that night with Haystack at the wheel who proceeded to drive us all the way through his favorite football team's home state of Alabama (Roll Tide I believe he'd say) until we finally ended up in Athens, GA at the Lumpkin Street Station.


It was my first time in Athens, so I spent a good part of the day with my headphones on, alternating between the "Cell" audiobook by Stephen King and every single John Moreland song available on Google Play...the mention of which should be accompanied with an aside...

Streaming Digital Music services are essentially slaughtering the concept of making money off of selling your music.  Last I checked, each time someone plays a song from our album on any one of these digital streaming sights, the financial compensation that we are awarded usually amounts to somewhere around an eight or a tenth of a penny.  Yes, that's correct.  If you could physically slice a penny into eight or ten different pieces, we would get one of said slivers for each song streamed. Since it's barely even possible to physically slice a penny into so many pieces without some extremely complicated machinery, I think that's bullshit. However, it's the way of the world and there's absolutely nothing that you or I or Taylor Swift can do to stop it.  Being a band that's reasonably low down on the national totem pole, if we tell these streaming sites to kiss our asses, their give-a-shit meter doesn't even register a slight twitch.  They don't care.  Why?  Because we aren't worth diddly compared to the mega stars and the giants with their platinum records and platinum visa cards.  So yes, I do subscribe to a streaming music service.  I can listen to damn near anything I want at any given time of the day or night, and since me musical interests are quite varied, it's a really good deal for me. I'm resolved to the fact that we'll make our money on our records by selling them at shows and that's simply how it's going to be.  Even since the release of Down the Hatch nearly four years ago, the industry has undergone substantial changes that have dramatically effected where our revenue stream comes from and how fast it's flowing, but the one thing that's not going to change is our performances.  We've always been a band that survived on touring, and that's how we're always going to survive. So do I feel guilty about being a member of a streaming subscription music site?  Fuck no, I don't.  It's awesome. Anyway...

NOW.  I'm sitting in Ira Cavendar's trailer at Big Steve's Lost and Found campground on the Guadalupe river.  We finsihed the show in Athens, drove on  to Valdosta, Georgia, (where we rocked hard and drank free whiskey) then to our three dates in North Carolina.  The guys at Lucky's Burger and Tap in Ashboro were fantastic as always and we had a nearly full house for most of the evening.  In spite of their self-deprecating decor (the place is plastered with "celebrity" quotes about how terrible the burgers are) the food is great and we always get properly taken care of.  Had a nice hotel and ended up playing songs with Haystack and Chief in the van until the wee hours of the morning. From there it was on to Belmont for the "Between Two Rivers" Music Festival.  There were a whole slew of North Carolina fans that made it out to this show.  It was a very relaxed vibe, lots of folks in lawn chairs with stiff drinks and enjoying the show.  There was a VIP tent with an open bar, a decent bbq trailer, and some really kind people that took great care of us.  It was in said VIP tent that I experienced a true first in my reasonably well-lived 32 years on this earth...

I finally met another B-r-y-o-n in real life.  Other than my dad, I've never met another person with the same rare spelling of my first name.  Oddly enough, his last name was Collier, my grandmother's maiden name on my dad's side, also spelled the same.  We're currently looking into any and all possibilities that we're related somewhere down the line, but so far it looks like one giant coincidence.  We jawed about people calling us Byron, the pitfalls of being in the media, and the strangly unique personalities and characteristics shared amongst Bryons/Bryans/and Brians.It was enlightening and an odd stroke of coincidence that someone who shares the spelling of my first name also ended up being a huge Quails fan.  Whodathunkit? Finally, we headed on to the last stop of the run, Uncle Buck's All American Pub and Grub in Salisbury, NC

Buck Salutes

If you haven't kept up with any of our previous east coast/southern runs, allow me to introduce you to Uncle Buck.  Uncle Buck is a one eyed, bad ass former combat veteran that is the owner and proprietor of Uncle Buck's All American Pub and Grub, a venue which currently sits way up at the top of the list of places I truly enjoy performing.  The first time we ever played in North Carolina, we got a call a few days into the run from our booking agent who informed us that this random bar owner (Uncle Buck) had sent a message to our Damn Quails facebook page offering food, moonshine, some gas money, and a place to crash in his "Man Cave" for the evening if we could see fit to work his bar into our already tightly packed tour schedule.  As we have a taste for adventure AND moonshine, we decided we'd give it a shot, regardless of the possibility that "Uncle Buck" could be some kind of mass-band-murderer attempting to lure another seven victims into some kind of underground torture cave.  Luckily, he and his wife Judy turned out to be two of the coolest and most hospitable souls on God's green earth.  This is our third time playing Uncle Buck's and we'll be playing there for as long as we're still playing music.  We drove in Saturday night after the Between Two River's Music Festival and stayed at Buck and Judy's new place on High Rock Lake.  We spent the next day eating breakfast burritos, sampling some of Buck's new moonshine flavors (Strawberry and Plum being personal favorites) swimming, fishing, and enjoying Buck and Judy's company.  It was a much needed lull in the hectic seven days straight of touring, and the show that night was attended by a select group of true fans that truly and honestly cared about the music we were making.  It was a perfect show to finish out the run and we left in the same state we always do...bellies full and smiles on our faces.  Thanks Buck and Judy, you guys do so much for the bands that you host and your bar is a shining example of a truly fantastic place to perform.

Roots and Branches with Ray Wylie Hubbard

After riding in the van from Salisbury, NC all the way to my place in Shawnee, I proceeded to unpack, repack, shower, change, and head towards New Braunfels for a radio spot on Roots and Branches with Ray Wylie Hubbard.  It was a phenomenal night of music and talking about songwriting and I had a blast getting to hang with an Okie icon of his stature and good taste. Tomorrow I'll head to Plano for Matt Hillyer's live radio broadcast, then I'm taking a night and hanging with McClure down in the old Boohatch.  We've got some songs to hash out and knives to wield and I'm looking forward to checking out for a day.  After that, its our record release show in OKC at Wormy Dog on Saturday August 29th, followed by the release at Gruene Hall Sept 4th, Eagle Mountain Lake at Boondocks on Sept 5th, hosting unhappy hour at Cheatham Street Warehouse (sans a Canadian-bound Charlie Stout) and then leaving for a few weeks to head up North and back East.  Be sure and call your local stations and request "Just a Little While".  It all helps.  Thanks for suffering through this post.  More to come