This is my life: I get booked into a place I've never heard of. I get the contract and I skim it, look at the relevant details like the money (I'm being honest here), size of the room, area of the country, if the gig calls for side person-hiring, etc. I trust the good people I have put my trust (and percentage of what I make) into--manager, agent, etc. And I put the date in my calendar and then deal with it when its about a month away, knowing mostly that the details are being taken care of (the sending of the posters, the publicity, the technical stuff, etc.). I travel so much that I tend to forget where I was last week. Tours blend into each other so that when someone asks me "how long does this tour last?" I think that is -- well, as someone said to me once in a really snippy annoying way -- an "imprecise" question. The real question is "how long until you've got a few days at home," as I've been on a tour now for, um, well, since 2002. I can't see a way around it and I like it, actually. Gypsy life suits me. To a point. I love my time at home. I love my dog. I love my house. I love my friends. I love doing laundry (I really do). But I do love travelling. So back to this description of my life.
I get booked to a gig. I know the relevant details. I follow my GPS voice to the place I need to get to for soundcheck. Sometimes, not often, I stay with either the person who booked the show or what is commonly called a "Host Family" (which always reminds me of Foreign Exchange Students). I stay with friends of the person who booked the show who have a good, clean, cat-free guest room. Strangers with big hearts who love folk music or are just generous kind-souled people with a big empty nest.
So. Tonight. I see that I'm staying with a host family in this tiny town where I'm playing a series that I've never heard of for people I don't know. I mean, seriously. This kind of life is wide open for assault. I could show up, play to nobody, and make absolutely no money, have driven 5 hours for nothing, get frustrated and have an awful night. I could find that the hosts are awkward or awful or they have cats hidden behind every door, ripe for my allergies. I could be walking into The Shining. Who knows. Its all a faith-based life here. I have faith that people who love folk music are good people and they have faith that I'm not a drama-laden diva who will trash their homes and drink all their liquor like a let-loose-teen.
Without all the details, let me write this. The hosts? Amazing people. Funny, creative, charming, interesting. I could have stayed up all night long talking about life and projects and learning about what they do and have done. Amazing food. Like truly amazing. Fresh and local and healthy. Great wine. Great conversation. I felt like I wanted to take them home to Nashville with me and make them part of my real life, not just the "one night stand" life I feel like I have. I have this all the time: these one-night-stands where I meet these amazing and cool people and I can't get over how lucky I am to have this life that brings me into their world and allows me to meet new and fascinating people every day. And then I'm onto the next town and I meet similarly extraordinary people in the next town.
I guess what I'm trying to write here at almost 3am when I really should be in bed because I have another town to drive to tomorrow morning, is to thank these people, from Susan from Princeton to the woman who owns the yoga studio in Houston to Neale & Laurie and Sherry & Steve to Mart in Elba, Alabama to all the people who allow me into their lives and tell me their stories and uncork a bottle after the show is over and cut to the heart of the matter. Life is short, man. That's what I think about on these drives. I could worry about this or that that I want and can't have but time will just keep moving on, regardless what my plan is. So its good to stop at the end of the racing night to clink glasses with a stranger and listen to their real story, the one where worlds can collide and we realize the less-than-six degrees of separation we all have to each other.