The Year of 100

IMG_5210Since 2004, I’ve been keeping track of all the concerts I’ve attended. To be honest, those early years, there are probably some gaps, because I wasn’t so serious about it. But in the last 5 years or so, I’ve been mildly obsessed with tracking who I’ve seen and where I’ve seen them, and what my “show count” is for the year. The number has always landed somewhere between 50 and 80 – not too shabby for someone who holds down a full-time job that has nothing to do with music.

In August or so of last year, I was doing my monthly update and realized that there was a distinct possibility that I could set a record for myself if I stepped up my concert game a little. The number? 100 live shows. Could I do it? I was pretty sure I could.

Now, there are rules to my madness. For example, festivals only count as one show, no matter how many sets I see during the event. If I did that, I’d be halfway to 100 by the time the Rock Boat was over in January! Plus, at festivals, you end up moving around too much, seeing only part of a set, etc. I only count something as a show if I specifically went there with the purpose of seeing the artist play – so, if I’m hanging out at a bar and there’s a band playing, that doesn’t get counted. You get the idea. Hey, we all have our rules. NPR’s Bob Boilen keeps count, of his shows, too. But he counts every band he sees as a show. So if a show has 3 acts, that’s 3 shows. (For the record, he saw “506 shows” in 2015.)

What this new “goal” did for me was it forced me to broaden my horizons: go see new artists, acts that I didn’t know at all, and others that aren’t typically the type of music that’s up my “power alley.” Some of those new acts I enjoyed, others I didn’t love quite so much, but I listened with an open mind.

And I did hit 100 shows. 101, officially. (You can see my full list here.)  I’m kind of proud of that number. I realize there are people that go to a lot more than I do, but for someone who doesn’t work in the music industry, I think 101 is pretty solid.

There are definitely highlights worth noting. Like that time I flew to Indianapolis to see the OPENING band because it was the only chance I had to see Mighty Oaks on a short U.S. tour (they’re from Berlin). Or that time I forced Rodric to drive to Atlanta and back with me on a weeknight so I could see Alpha Rev. Or going to see The Brothers Landreth on a whim because Stu Larsen had talked about them, not knowing a single note…and falling weak-in-the-knees in love with them. Or driving to Jacksonville to spend a day at the CleanWater Music Festival, put on by Flagship Romance, and being blown away by Israel Nash. The Dirty Guv’nahs farewell shows. There are literally dozens more that I could talk about.

Who did I see the most in 2015? SUSTO takes that title. Saw Justin and his band of compadres 8 times this year. Watching them come into their own and start to get recognized for their incredible talent has been one of the highlights of my year. Furthest traveled? The Rock Boat wins that contest almost every year. But that Mighty Oaks show in Indianapolis was a close second. Most visited venue? The Evening Muse, hands down.

But the most common question I’ve gotten is… What was your favorite? Normally, I have a pretty cut and dry answer to that, but this year, I have a hard time choosing. I mean, any Quiet Hounds show always sits at the top of the list. But that first Brothers Landreth show was pretty phenomenal. Then there was Rainbow Kitten Surprise, who shattered my expectations and made me feel so alive. That Butch Walker show was pretty darn powerful. Then there was the Counting Crows concert…and we all know what they mean to me. My biggest victory was getting Christopher Jak to play a show this year, and my…that man singing could never be short of breathtaking for me. Oh, and Great Peacock…who I barely knew, but went to see to support a friend…completely rocked my world. I think, though, if I had to choose, it would be a tie between The Mighty Oaks at The Deluxe in Indianapolis and be Noah Gundersen at The Visulite Theater in Charlotte. Both of these artists’ music has come to mean so very much to me personally…and seeing both of them was really emotional for very different reasons.

Of course, because I’m an overachiever, I am ready to do it all again in 2016. In fact, I’m going to try to exceed it. So, 2016 is the year of 125. Who wants to join me on my crazy adventure? Keep up and keep me accountable…

Here’s to more live music in 2016!



Shawn Fisher & The Jukebox Gypsies

Took a drive tonight to see a new band…kind of on a whim. Haven’t taken a little road trip on a week night in awhile. So glad I went. GREAT set by Shawn Fisher & The Jukebox Gypsies, a band out of Jacksonville, FL – and how much does this gal love a four-guitar aural assault? Straight up rock n’ roll.

Seriously, these guys played to a crowd of maybe 30 people like there were a thousand people in the room. Super energy and passion for what they’re doing! And holy crap, they covered “Rock and Roll” and knocked me out of my seat. *This close* to being the best cover of any Zepplin song I’ve ever seen.

If they come to your town, free up some calendar time and go see ’em. Here’s a little preview of the full band (not the best sound on this video, but you’ll get the idea – thanks to the gal who posted this to YouTube):

And really, who doesn’t love a band with a sense of humor? (You can get the full band version of this one on iTunes, kids.)

Watch out for these kids, gang. I predict you’ll be hearing their name around sooner rather than later!

The Rock Boat Recap

Every year, I come back from my annual rock n’ roll adventure on the sea with great intentions of writing about the experience…and every year, I fail. Epically. I think I have decided that it is relatively impossible to explain it to someone who has not experienced it. Take 30 artists/bands – most of them amazing – add many of my closest friends, a dash of margarita (and other beverages), the sunshine, and Caribbean air and you’ve got a recipe for something magical.

It was a terrific lineup this year and I feel like I saw more shows this year than I ever have before… And, oddly enough, spent more time with more friends than ever before. Rather than try to sketch out a day-by-day, I’m going to tackle my highlights (these are not in any special order):

1. Finally seeing Green River Ordinance live. After two years as a fan, the ultimate high point of TRBIX was getting to see this amazing quintet from Texas on stage. They were everything I knew they would be and more… It was such a treat to chat with them and get to know some of them, too. They are all such great kids, especially that J Whiskey fella. 🙂

2. Scott Feil’s Fan Club. Seriously, Scotty has got to be the most loveable…and loved…guy on earth. And his friends are all fantastic people. Erinn, Cory, Liz, Sujka…it was awesome spending time with you! And Scott, of course. Darlin’, is it possible for me to love you anymore? I’ll be eternally grateful to Will Hoge for bringing you into my world…

3. Aslyn. I’ve always managed to catch pieces of her sets on the Boat and last year, finally managed to work in a full set. This year, three of them. Aside from having a phenomenal set of pipes, there is no singer out there who I think captures the range of emotions women go through in a truer way. I can’t stop listening to The Dandelion Sessions.

4. Tonic. Back together. On The Rock Boat. Need I say more? “Mountain”…TWICE! Kevin’s shout outs to CW on his drum kit were a touching tribute to a musician who left us too soon.

5. Carbon Leaf…in particular, covering “Livin’ on a Prayer” and the whole entire Boat singing along at the top of their lungs. I got up the nerve to talk to Carter (3 double margaritas in) on the last night. Still can’t get near Barry without going dumb.

6. The rest of the Boat FINALLY getting how amazing Sam Thacker is. And Stephen Kellogg saying (about “The Last”) “I wish I’d written this song.” Yay… Sammy’s rock star is shining bright!

7. Lee and Peter. So glad I met these two fellas at The Heyday show back in October. Spent lots of time with them on the Boat… Happy they are my neighbors in Charlotte. Lee… breakfast at Panera soon!

8. Time with “my girls” & Mr. P. Michelle, Gail and Marc..I adore you all. Thanks for understanding me and being just as crazy in love with the music as I am.

9. Trevor Hall & Tyrone Wells. Both new for me, both wonderful. Can’t wait to get to know their music better!

10. Chocolate Melting Cake. Most likely better than sex.

11. Emerson Hart. This man’s live performances leave me speechless every time. There are very few musicians whose songs touch me in the way that Emerson’s do. And live…he is just so dynamic. Sujka called it…Part concert, part comedy show, part Dr. Phil session. All wonderful.

12. Gareth on board. The only person who can instantly make me smile just by walking into a room.

13. PAVE THE WORLD! I’d lost my voice by night two…Michael Tolcher was rocking it in the very crowded, very smoky casino bar. No way that he was going to hear me hollering. So I begged Lee to yell my “Pave the World” request. Tolcher: “You know what, I’m gonna do that for you!” The only thing that would have made it better would have been Christy singing along next to me. “The aliens are coming! What? The aliens are coming….Pave the world!”

14. Hanson sing along. On the last night, at Aslyn’s show, a Hanson and his wife ended up standing next to us. Aslyn asked the girls to sing one part, while the boys were to sing another. And that little Hanson sang along, smiling the whole time. Was nice to see one having a great time without being hounded by fans.

15. Wideawake and The Kin singing together. Scott Leger with Aussie brother harmony? Quite possibly perfection in music.

16. Katey and Scott airport time. I only get to see my friends from Birmingham once a year, and we’ve made hanging out on flights to and from TRB a tradition. I can only hope that when and if I meet my Mr. Right, we have as great a relationship as Katey and Scott do.

17. Inauguration. Watching Barack Obama become the 44th President of the U.S. was going to be emotional for me no matter where I watched it. But watching it in a room full of people who shared my pride in the moment was nothing short of beautiful. Applause every time they showed Obama or Biden. I actually teared up. There’s no place and no other people with whom I’d rather share the day…

There’s so much more, but nothing that I write can do it justice. It’s truly the most amazing experience every year. And despite losing my voice, getting an average of 3-4 hours of sleep a night, and spending ENTIRELY too much money…it’s SO worth it. BEST.VACATION.EVER.

Bring on Rock Boat X.