We have a new catchphrase here in Natalie Stovall land. It kind of came out of my mouth during a Hank Williams fiddle solo, and now it's the life of the party. It's very rudimentary - you rear your head back, summon up some fire in your belly, open your eyes real wide, and just throw it out there. Whooo! Whoooooo! You can add different vowels to it too, if you like... Whoooaaaooo! It really is a great palette to launch your inner lunatic from. We can barely get through a song onstage without somebody busting into it. It may be particularly obnoxious on some of the slower ballads about misfortune or loved ones...but you can't stop rock and roll. Plus, it makes you feel like Ric Flair. Whoooo!
We had a 4 1/2 hour show last night, and the people down here in cold Panama City Beach FL were troopers for coming out. By the end of the night, you could see your breath. Of course the rest of the world has to deal with this stuff all the time...but this is Florida - people move here so that they never have to see their breath again. We had a lot of fun, and Miguel and Z.P. had new wireless units, so they could roam around with freedom onstage, into the crowd, wherever they wanted. Me, of course, I have a complete fucking rat's nest of cords around my area, with rotating guitars, shit routinely getting tangled up, stands falling, cords coming out of pedals, etc, and it gets worse as the night goes on. It would be easy, except I switch from electric to acoustic consistently throughout the set, and you actually have to stop and think each time you put one down and pick the other one up, to make sure the instrument is following its correct route to the stand. Thinking is OK sometimes, but it's not something you want to do onstage for 4 1/2 hours.
We've had tremendous fun thus far in Florida. There will be some video footage coming soon - footage from us here in the house, I mean, laughing harder than hyenas watching Chris Rock - but last night we were dealt some sobering moments after the show as they were trying to kick us out of the club. The first involved me and my sweet and lovely girlfriend, who's back at home in Nashville. I know how hard it is being away all the time, but sometimes I try to fool myself into thinking that maybe its not so hard for her being in a new city, with a new job, no real friends yet, and just beginning to drive again after a 12 year hiatus. And it is hard - really hard - and like a lot of the important realities in life, it's not something you can just sweep under the rug. She's very strong, and very warm, and I know how alone she feels back there, and she knows how much I know and how I wish I could do something. In Austin I would go on tour for weeks at a time, but she had a community of friends there, and places and things she liked. Here it's different. Everyone knows that being a musician is a full time job, and there are years and years lost to it before you can hope for some sense of stability in your life (if it every comes). It's a decision you agree to when you make the musician pact with yourself. It's like accepting you are bald, or short, or whatever. Things just come with the territory. And as life goes on, you realize your family and loved ones are also your bedrock. And man - it doesn't always match! Reconciling these two situations is not impossible, but often requires a significant amount of work. And there are times - like when people decide to uproot, make new decisions, start anew - when you really have to face it and tackle it head on. We talked and talked, and felt bad and felt better, and life goes on..
Then, as if that wasn't sobering enough, it was suddenly small potatoes to hearing Miguel say, "There was just an 8.8 earthquake in Chile, and I can't get ahold of any of my family". My god! We all stayed up as long as we could to see if he could get through, but unfortunately we'd spent the last 6 hours playing loud music and drinking, and as I tried to stay there until we knew what was happening, I just started to fall asleep in my chair. What good news it was to wake up today and have him tell us he finally heard from his father at 7:30 am, and that everyone in his family was OK. If you're followed this new blog of mine, you know that Miguel is one of the most kind and genuinely good people you can ever hope to meet. I don't know what any of us would have done if the news had gone the other way.
It's not something I can comprehend, but I know I ought to. Tragedies of this nature - ordinary random people, suddenly thrust into most extraordinary of circumstances. As citizens of the world, we are all responsible for each other to a certain degree, and must face these things. People always debate our responsibilities for action, but we owe it to people to try and put ourselves in their position, because it can happen to any of us. And as for Miguel - he's a beautiful guy, and a friend of mine. I'm glad his family is OK.
We have a TV in the house with a few channels, and so in trying to find out what was going on, we all tuned in to that farce of a news medium, CNN. In the face of a BIG story such as this, they pull out all the crucial stops - 3D diagrams, laser light shows, CGI tours of the fault lines and rock beds - it's like watching The Matrix, but with news. Wow - how impressive, CNN - You must be more important than news itself! It's one thing if you're covering the Kardashians, but you can't help but feeling bad about yourself, and generally sleazed out, watching tragedy covered this way. Still - it's all we have right now.
We have the day to rest up for tonight - another 4 1/2 hours of music and sweat. I think there's also some sort of contest involving girls competing for cash prizes and/or free weekend passes to some festival. I don't know how they're going to do it though, it's a little cold for a wet t-shirt contest. But the show must go on. Whoooaao!