“Welcome Home.” Last entry from room 521!
You know, the whole spirt of this adventure has changed with almost every city we’ve visited. I still say “we” although I left John behind in Muscle Shoals yesterday and have begun my gradual journey back up north. John it’s like you’re still here with me homie, “Road-Bros” forever.
One of the original intentions for this trip was to get the first 25 copies of MY CLAIM TO FAME (LP) signed by the band. The initial run of 300 are gold foil numbered and I offered the first 25 of them to investors. As I rounded up everyone safely, it reminded me how each of their personalities brings a different dynamic to the sound and feel of this record.
Of the people I haven’t previously mentioned:
Seeing Marie Lewey and Cindy Walker again was simply divine! I tell them each time I see them, how glad I am to have worked with them and how lucky I am that I can open up the session files at any time, solo them out of the mix and hear their angelic voices coming back at me. Especially on “The Saddest Picture of Me.”
Clayton Ivey makes me laugh so hard! Just listen to the beginning of “Parking Lot Romance” and you can hear that it actually starts with me laughing after something he said in between takes. Clayton who shows up this time in a sleek red corvette and says “well a man’s gotta have his toys you know”. I burst out laughing yet again!
Brad Guin has stepped into the limelight in the last few months like no other! He’s the sonic force of an organization called Operation Drumstick that is feeding out of work musicians who are directly affected by COVID-19 cancellations and such. They’ve literally planted a farm behind the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and I think that’s astounding and I’ll encourage you to read more and please consider getting involved.
Then there’s Bob Wray, or “One Bad Apple Bob” as I call him affectionately. Bob opened his house to me not once but, twice this trip! Making me fish tacos and taking me out on his new boat each time. When he gets out into the middle of the lake he blasts “Political Funk” and we both get gassed! Justin Holder told me that he randomly sends a text message that only says “Political Funk.”
Then there’s Will McFarlane who started this all. Will and I met 10 years ago this summer and I told him on my first night in town: “Will look at all the mutual friends we have in common on Facebook and please know how much it means to me to have added all those great people in my life because of you.”
Again, ”Welcome Home.” The journey continues.
Over my last few days I have been pollinating this town with MY CLAIM TO FAME records and CDs. I stopped to see my newest friend David Hulsey at Muscle Shoals Record Shop not once but twice and left with some amazing additions to my collection including a 45 of Babysitter by Betty Wright that I’ve been looking for diligently. David was kind enough to take me to Champy’s for lunch too, see I told you I’d visit there again before I left. Much love, David!
Then Bob Wray told me about Bunyan’s BBQ and the infamous “Slaw Dog” that I had to try. It was down-home man, real southern BBQ, highly recommended and the nice lady behind me in line did too! Told the gentlemen clerk that it was my first time and how I would be mentioning it to you here, he was genuinely honored and I gave him a copy of MY CLAIM TO FAME as well.
Another “must-stop” in the Shoals area is Ricatonis Italian Grill for the pizza bread, only this time with Kellony and Jason Kristof who are an adorable and inspirational couple with a tremendous backstory,and they’re truly some of the best company you can keep in the area. Jason’s a total gent and I’m not saying that because he’s 6 foot 7, we totally hit it off! Kellony has been an absolute angel throughout the development of MY CLAIM TO FAME and the launch of Move the Needle Music. She’s been there for support, encouragement and helping me get the word out there!
Which brings me right up to my last day/night in Muscle Shoals. My last show was in the first week of March and then we went into lock down that following week in NY. I released a bunch of cover songs in March on my YouTube channel from my home studio thinking it was something to keep folks engaged leading up to the release of the album but, after that I gradually stopped playing and dreaming. However, after traveling through seven states and remembering what really makes me tick, I asked Charles Holloman if I could have use of his studio East Avalon Recorders for a few hours to flesh out any newfound inspirations or ideas.
Before really digging in, John Gifford III (who willfully accompanied me) hit me with this brilliant example that he learned from Jerry Phillips son of the late Sam Phillips (Sun Studio). He pulled up the stopwatch app on his phone and started it. He said: “those seconds are passing you by and you’ll never get them back. Look at how fast the numbers are scrolling. You can’t even see them!” That image hasn’t left me yet. I suggest you give that example to yourself.
In closing, this has been so much more than escaping cabin fever or promoting a new release. What it’s really been about was soul searching in all the places where my soul comes from. From the Tennessee River to the Mississippi River, from the recording studio to the record store and from the hearts of the same people who inspired me to make music in the first place as a young boy collecting records. We are all “RECORDED” together at this time and place in history.
I hope that you will follow along on my Instagram as I’ll be posting pictures for weeks to come, I hope you will follow me on Twitter because I need followers, I hope that you will like me on Facebook where I talk about music and music only but, most of all I hope that you will listen to MY CLAIM TO FAME and be excited for what the future holds for us all. Thanks to Jill Kettles and all the folks at American Blues Scene for their time, energy and entrusting me with this platform to share with you.