I had a lovely time in Tupelo this past weekend, after a quick trip to Monroe, LA to play at a college coffeehouse where I provided a soundtrack by which several students studied for their medical chemistry exams. I did my best not to disturb them, and managed to sell some CDs in the process. On to Tupelo...I was invited to play at the Gum Tree Songwriters Festival as a finalist in their song contest, and I won the Grand Prize - The Smith Vinson Award! Thanks to Keith Sykes who was the judge this year...he clearly exhibited good taste in that regard, although missed the mark by not awarding my good friends Dan Schaefer and Alan Oatley who were, and always are simply marvelous. The three of us are great buddies and had the best of times spending the weekend together.
The wonderful Bill Kapenakas of Vanelli's restaurant (where I have played several times) took great care of us, feeding us Fri and Sat nights, so we repaid him by playing an "In the Round" set at his place Sat night. In my attempt to run sound and navigate the close quarters with 3 people and 3 guitars, I managed to knock my Taylor 615 off the stool that I had CARELESSLY laid it across, It hit the edge of a table on its way down with a sickening *crunch*, and I now have a large crack in the maple right on the top where I can gaze at it as I play. Of course, this was before we even started to play, so I had to just go on...2 songs in, I broke a string, so I borrowed Dan's guitar - promptly broke a string on his guitar too. All of this served to handily knock me back to my pre-Grand-Prize-winning level of humility, which I'm certain is a good thing.
Comedian Brad Tassell was playing Vanelli's Fri and Sat night, and we all hit it off and had fun eating dinner together and hanging out at the festival...he's hilarious and an awfully nice guy...lives in Santa Claus, Indiana. Here's a picture of Bill Kapenakas and Brad being our fans backstage at the songfest:
Of course the trip back was one of the highlights - a crisp and clear day to drive the Natchez Trace with the windows open, doing some hand surfing and trying to avoid being pelted by insects - especially the "hard, pointy ones" which are the worst kind, according to Alan (though at 55 mph, even the soft, rounded ones feel hard and pointy). We stopped several times - Indian burial mounds and several water features. I didn't have to rescue any turtles from the highway on this trip, though I was always at the ready and on the lookout. Here's Dan and Alan in an inexplicable pose by a lovely stream:
So, every time I look at the gash in my beautiful guitar I have the privilege of recalling all the fun, love and hilarity of this weekend. I'll keep it. May all of your wounds come with joyful memories.