By: Joey Huffman
6:00 a.m. – I’m in a passenger van pulling a trailer full of equipment somewhere between Saint Louis and Iowa. I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep so now I’m watching a beautiful sunrise. Or is it watching me? Like God’s own flashlight it shines on me and calls me out. It says you should sleep at night when all is quiet and I reply when all is quiet is when I’m most creative. It replies saying your getting your days and nights turned around and I reply I think that is the point.
I don’t need the sun to make me feel guilty. I have had my fill of guilt. I just set it down like a load of bricks and I was free. Besides I’ve discovered that if you throw rocks at the sun for long enough it will eventually go away…for a while. I feel the energy and creativity creeping in when the darkness falls like an old friend.
Keith Richards once confided in me the truth about sleep. We were both playing a Willie Nelson tribute show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. I had just walked into Keith’s dressing room and we hugged and exchanged pleasantries. I apologized for missing a chance to hang out with him that afternoon. I explained that I had been up for three days and I had to crash (This is obviously during my drug abuse phase.) Keith didn’t miss a beat and just said to me, “Sleep…It’ll creep up on you mate.”
Nothing had ever resonated so strong or rang so true than that one single statement. Then Keith laughed that signature laugh that is a cross between a belly laugh and a smoker’s hack. Keith and I have a bond. We both love what we do and are lucky enough to get to do it as a trade. I believe that Keith as well as I would endure the harshest conditions just to get to play a gig. I’ve traveled by tour bus, flown first class, business class and coach. I’ve been ferried about by limos and taken cabs. I’ve ridden in vans pulling trailers and I’ve driven myself with a car full of equipment and all manner of travel in between just to make the gig. The show must go on. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I’m happy to tour in a van just like the old days. I happily give up the creature comforts just to play the gig.
I might also note that I’m playing dates with Burns & Poe, and those are my traveling mates in the van as I write this. They are a new country group that have a record and a single being released this summer. Keith Burns (Trick Pony) and Michelle Poe (bass player in Hank Jrs. band) are an excellent musical pairing. I believe in this band and that’s why I travel economy and stay in Super 8 motels. I believe in the songs, musicians, and promoters they have working for them. There are hits on this record and it needs to be heard and that’s why we travel like we do. It’s going to take a little time and a lot of hard work for it to happen but it’s looking pretty good so far. I would say that I’m going back to my roots…and that’s a good thing. Please check them out at their website.
If I may digress, if I were homeless and lived in a refrigerator box under a bridge on Ponce De Leon Avenue I would find some sticks and beat on the side of my box to achieve some form of musical gratification. That’s how visceral music is to me. It’s more than a passion…it’s a life. I love music. I love to play it, I love to listen to it and sometimes I’ll slow dance if the mood hits me. I listen to music everyday. I learn something new every day. It will continue like that until the day I die. Of course I’ll produce other artists and get into scoring film but I’ll still play live and I’ll still make records.
12:30 PM: We arrived at the venue and were pleasantly surprised. I’d say the room would hold about 1500 people. The stage was big and the local crew was really easy to work with. I needed a rare part for my Leslie Cabinet and they came through like champs. Setting up and sound checking gets me excited about the gig. I’ve been doing this for thirty years and I still get excited at what might happen at the gig. I try to stay positive. I believe positive energy attracts positive energy. You have to pay it forward. Recently I was complaining about my back hurting when I ran and a good friend of mine said,” Love to learn the pain.”
I thought about this at great length and I have to agree. It’s empowering and it puts the power back in my hands. I truly did learn to love the pain and it eventually went away.
Well we take the stage in a couple of hours. I’ll keep you up to date as to any craziness or mayhem. We are headlining tonight so we get to play 90 minutes. The more the better I say. I’ll keep you guys posted. I’ll probably do another blog after the show because that’s when all the good stuff happens. More Later. J~