Yes, indeed, East Nashville, I am on the road and writing to you from a hotel room in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., just outside of Detroit. In a few hours, I’ll be onstage at The Magic Bag with my old pal Josh Rouse, formerly of Nashville, currently of Spain, along with fellow East Nashvillian and my musical brother of the last 25 years, Marc Pisapia, on drums and the fine Spanish musician Xema Fuertes on la guitarra. We’ve been soft rocking our way on a month-long tour from — to paraphrase Steve Miller — “Phoenix, Ariz., all the way to Tacoma, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and L.A.”
Tomorrow, we will be headed to Toronto and on down the East Coast before heading south and home to Nashville. We’ve followed the Steve Miller route down through the Badlands, seeing a big ole chunk of the USA — and let me tell you, Boston and Bachman Turner Overdrive are on the radio all day long in every state of the union. Cheers, fellas. Also, Marc came up with a great slogan for modern country radio, “Today’s country is yesterday’s rock!” Or “Def Leppard with Steel.” CRS, you’re welcome.
I last toured with Josh in 2009. Since then, I’ve been at home, making my living in the studio, with live gigs peppered in. The last time we were at The Magic Bag was about 12 years ago. That show was fueled by Jameson Irish Whiskey, courtesy of the audience who sent shot after shot to the stage. Tonight will be fueled by a Cobb salad, maybe a Miller Light or two after the show, and some late-night Cartoon Network. The road is different at 40 than it was at 30. I like today’s version better. So does my liver.
What remains the same is the thrill and satisfaction of playing for an audience. Making music in the moment with your friends, guys you’ve played with for years. Those shared experiences, seeing the world through music, maybe that’s what creates chemistry — I don’t know. Musical chemistry is fickle and mysterious, but I am lucky enough to share it with these guys, and it is a beautiful thing.
That’s what I’m being reminded of on this tour. Playing the songs each night, getting deeper and deeper into the grooves, the nuances — that is the magic. Back home, I play on records for people, or I overdub a bass part and send it through cyberspace to someone somewhere at an email address, and that’s it. The artist goes out on the road and sells their record (hopefully), and it’s on to the next project.
But when I awoke this morning and began to write, I found myself thinking about Detroit and nearby Ann Arbor. I was thinking about Motown and my bass hero, James Jamerson. I was thinking about MC5, The Stooges, and The White Stripes — all that great music that came out of here and continues to. And that’s when what I really wanted to share with you hit me. My astute observation is simply this: I love music. I love recording, playing live, listening, studying, learning, and enjoying it. It’s what makes me feel normal. It is how I communicate best. It is my art, and it is the art of Nashville.
East Nashville, we have an incredibly vibrant, creative scene in our community. I am truly grateful for the inspiration and the opportunities you provide. And I’m looking forward to getting home and firing up a batch of welcome home marinara. See you around the neighborhood!