Avant Garden – Houston, TX
When I showed up to Avant Garden, a hidden little house in the bustling Westheimer Blvd. area of midtown Houston, the venue owner told me “The only people that’ll be coming to this show are the ones that come out to see you. We don’t promote our shows.” Sure enough I didn’t see any of the show posters hanging or flyers I sent. Probably should’ve checked the dumpster I parked by.
The amazing thing about this tour has been the support I’ve been shown along the way by the strangers I meet and most of all by the friends and family along the way. If it wasn’t for friends and family this trip would’ve not been near as successful. My friends in Houston showed up for the show and made what could’ve been an awful night into one of the most fun nights of tour. Thank y’all for coming out and filling the tip jar and buying CDs and shirts. I will not usually discuss the pay I get from venues on this blog but it was such a ridiculous amount for the people that were there I have to say it. $18. No I didn’t miss a zero or exaggerate. For 3 hours of playing, using my own sound gear, and providing customers they gave me $18. If it wasn’t for the awesome people I brought to their “happy hour” the night would’ve been bad for them and for me. I don’t know what was in the “green drink” Scott bought me before the show but it was much appreciated and needed.
I’ve played many pass the hat and tip jar only gigs (even a couple on this tour) and I don’t have an issue when we agree to those terms ahead of time. But I did all the promotion I could to make the night successful for them and they made no effort to bring people out. Alright, off my soapbox and if that is the biggest complaint for my first tour then that’s pretty damn good. I couldn’t ask for better people to share my music with. Huge thanks to my in-laws for putting us up and taking this scraggily musician golfing.
Georgia and How far is a Mississippi mile?
Somewhere in Mississippi Lindsey and I were going to stop for a bite to eat once I-12 intersected with I-20 to head through Alabama. The car said “70 Miles to Empty”. I asked Lindsey how far until the intersection of the interstates and she said about 20 miles. Well I thought we would stop there for gas and lunch but as the miles kept dropping on the mileage and we got to “20 Miles To Empty” I knew we weren’t going to make it to the intersection so I started looking for gas stations and Lindsey had out her phone with the “Road Ninja” app (do not recommend). She said the closest gas station was in 21 miles. Not good. I didn’t understand how the math added up that we were only 20 miles from the interstate intersection 50 miles ago and still had 20 miles to go. AC was turned off and all phone chargers were unplugged (as if that would do anything). We coasted down hills and upset the truckers who were passing this slow Ford Focus that was just praying to get to Meridian, MS. Well we hit “0 Miles To Empty” on the car and luckily the car didn’t immediately stall. We coasted into a truck stop rolling right through a stop sign getting off the interstate and making it to the pump without the car ever dying.
After getting fueled up we headed to Powder Springs, GA just outside of Atlanta and were greeted by all the Georgia family. I ate so much great food courtesy of Lindsey’s Nanny and I still got a couple of those cheddar biscuits getting warmed by sun in foil on the dash as I write this.
I’ve been seeing the revitalization of small city and town downtown communities all over the country first hand for a couple years now. I don’t know what all the driving factors are but people are moving away from the big box stores and restaurants and buying local. This (in my opinion) is the right direction for the country to be headed. Greer, SC and next door neighbor, Greenville, have both seen this revitalization and it has been great for giving both local and touring independent artists a place to play music.
The Stomping Grounds Café has all the pieces in place. They have great food, local beer, clientele, and staff that likes Robert Earl Keen Jr. After I finished playing a version of “Road Goes On Forever” they requested “Merry Christmas From the Family”. Even though it is March, I still did my best playing it for them. The crowd there was great and a huge thanks to Tammy and Greg for putting us up and bringing their friends out to the show. Right now we are heading up I-85 to the final show of the tour at The Electric Maid in Takoma Park, Washington DC. If this reaches any of you in the area in time to make it I hope to see you there. This will be a great show to end what has already been a great tour. I’m moved by all the love and support we’ve been shown along the way.