Today at work I was told that from now on I can only leave to play gigs if I take vacation time. This is a problem. I don’t get 100 vacation days a year. My supervisor told me that if I bring my “A game” to work everyday, and if I get all my hours in every day and every week, then this situation can probably be finessed, in the future. There are two “ifs” in that last sentence, a “probably”, and an “in the future.” That’s not good.
I didn’t quit my job today, and I won’t tomorrow. But if it comes to a head, I’m going to have to. My life is my music, my family and my writing, not data processing. Stepping off a ledge, putting my trust in God and the help of my friends, may be what I’ll have to do. And maybe very soon.
There are four things in this world I’m good at: writing prose, writing songs, entertaining, and being funny. That’s it. And here’s where I need your help.
First of all: gigs. With the exception of when I’ve had booking agents, ALL my gigs have come from friends and fans who have approached ME wanting me to play their town, their favorite club (or at their house). In 28 years of playing music, I have never once cold-called a nightclub to get a gig, it’s all come to me, from friends and fans. So if you’ve ever wanted me to play a gig where you live, and am willing to help me hook something up, or put me together with the right person, now more than ever is the time when I need your help. If you go to house concerts, please mention my name to the host. If you’ve ever thought of putting on one of your own house concert, I’ll guide you through the process and give you a hell of a show.
Secondly: writing jobs. I’ve done a lot of writing of different types over the years and I’m good at it. I’ve written ad copy, brochure copy, radio comedy, magazine articles – and I’m currently a columnist for the East Nashvillian. I’ve never had the free-lance gift of pitching stories to an editor, BUT if you know what you want to have me write, I’m really good at that. Any and all leads to work like that would be heartily appreciated as well.
I have a new manager and booking agent, a really good guy named Bill Hutchison. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can get in touch with him, or me, whichever makes you most comfortable. I want to get to a point where he handles the business for oragnization’s sake, but he’s mainly looking for stuff way in the future, though, like three to nine months out. I’m looking for a MONTH from now, TWO WEEKS from now, tomorrow if you know of an opening.
If you want to help, please message me here or – better yet – email me at email@example.com. (Not firstname.lastname@example.org, as that address is down right now). And just to show how brazen I am, here is my personal cell number: 615-604-2837. Call after 4 central. If you get the voice mail, I WILL call you back.
I’ve been for a long time wanting to create a career where I work exclusively on my craft. I came up with a prayer a while back that goes like this. “God, give me the smarts to spot opportunities, give me the gumption to go after them, give me the work ethic to do the heavy lifting, give me the tenacity to stay in the saddle, and give me the faith and optimism to believe better things are on their way. Show me the door Lord. That’s all. Just show me the door. I’ll take care of opening it.”
This may be that door. Thank you very much for reading this and thank you in advance if you can help me, provide me leads, connect me with people, anything and everything that might help. Show me the door, and I’ll never forget your helping me in my time of need.
I love this video we just posted of me and Nathan playin Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times.” The recording is horrendous — we were very loud and overloading the laptop microphone — but I like it. It’s very rock and roll. We did this video to document something that winds up being barely audible: Nathan’s mimicking John Bonham’s kick drum triplets. If you listen to Zeppelin’s original track, the bass drum work is incredible. You’d think it was a double-kick drum (two pedals) but it’s not. I wouldn’t say Nathan’s got Bonham’s facility with it, but he’s doing it!
What can I say? Some dads take their kid fishing. This is what we do. Now if anybody in the Nashville area has a teenage rock and roller wishing to jam, let me know. I’ll keep jamming with him, but I think he needs to jam with some kids his own age too.
I took him on the road with me two weeks ago to Ohio. That was the first time I’ve done that. He’s never said, but I think he had a blast. Many people knew him from my doting stories and featuring him in the Monday Morning Cup of Coffee. He even gave an autograph.
Some day, maybe he can do the driving. Remember, that’s what people pay me for. The show is free.
Green and Pleasant Lands (Even in Winter)
By Tommy Womack
Time moves a lot faster nowadays. It’s symptomatic of being an adult of course. When you’re a kid you can take it. It’s even fun. What would Christmas have been without the tortured waiting day after day to rip open the packages? It didn’t seem fun when it was going on but of course the anticipation made it all so exciting. That’s part of being a kid. But when you’re 50 years old, like me, if time went by that slowly, you’d go insane. The reason I’m going on about this is because I was in Amsterdam a week ago trying to figure out where my suitcase was, and that feels like it was yesterday, and seven days before that I was in Manchester, and that feels like the day before yesterday. The week before that? Silver Bridge in Ireland – and that feels like the same day as Manchester. Time isn’t marching by, it’s sprinting.
Another European trek has come and gone. And again I’m left to wonder whether it will ever happen again. I know to “never say never” but I also know that it has to come to an end sometime. When you consider the state of the economy – here, there and everywhere – it wasn’t a bad trip at all. It didn’t make me rich, but it didn’t totally tank either, and artistically it was fantastic. So, if I had a brain in my head, I would just pull my Mr. Showbiz hat down hard on top of my head and tell you that it was all fantastic, never better and a solid portend of trips to come. But that’s not my style. I tend to be more honest in my writing and performing than I am in my real life, and here is one of those instances. The truth is that it was pulling teeth to get these gigs. I’m solidly indebted to Bob Paterson, Ben Reel and Joanna Seraris for pulling these dates together. (And to Jim Soars for publicizing them.) It wasn’t easy, and it’s not because of me necessarily; it’s tough to book and promote anybody right now. Maybe not Justin Bieber, but let’s see what happens when HE’S fifty.
Enough of my soporific whining. My web czar, Cincinnati Steve, asked me to blog about the European tour and so here I’ve gone off crying into my navel for a page or two so far. Joe Elvis would box my ears if he read this. The trip was great. Ben Reel is a tremendous talent. (benreel.com) And he was a great host too. We made a great team. As the promoter in Macclesfield said, we’re chalk and cheese, but for some reason it all went together as if it was designed to be. It was like the rapport I enjoy with Will Kimbrough – two different artists who go together like the old Reese’s commercial where the train carrying chocolate ran into the trolley carrying peanut butter. Ben has a voice very reminiscent of Roy Orbison’s, and songs akin to Springsteen’s “Tunnel of Love” period. Every night I would start things off with “Play That Cheap Trick, Cheap Trick Play”, he’d then play “Heart Just Won’t Heal”, and from there we’d play it by ear. I handled most of the humorous moments and he handled the “He’s a good singer!” moments.
A tremendously interesting thing for me, living at Ben’s for a week while we traipsed around Ireland, was the history of the area. Ben lives right on the border with Northern Ireland. (You tend to travel in and out of Northern Ireland on the curvy roads where he lives. There are no border signs.) He’s lived in the same house all his life and was an eyewitness to The Troubles, the strife between the Catholic Ireland and Protestant UK-subject Northern Ireland. Where he lives, near Silver Bridge and Crossmaglen, was a hiding area for IRA members, who once commandeered his house for its own uses. He saw a bomb go off when he was seven. He once had to see British troops camped out on the hillside in front of his house. It was the Wild West then, and it still is. To this day that land is “bandit country” as I heard more than one person describe it. There are no cops in that part of Ireland. None! (An “unpoliceable” land, as an acquaintance in Belfast dubbed it.) I asked Ben one night, “If there are no cops here, what happens when someone commits a crime?” Ben replied “They’ll probably get away with it.”
The Belfast Songwriter’s Festival suffered from some unfortunate issues of that troubled time that still simmer. Apparently, a Union Jack had recently been hoisted above the City Hall and this didn’t sit with some youthful constituents, who ran rampant in a destructive and newsworthy fashion. These shenanigans put quite the crimp into the Belfast tourist trade, which the festival has traditionally drawn from for its audience. Belfast is still a fraught city. There are still long high walls that separate different neighborhoods, and there really are places where the streets have no name, and if you’re there and don’t know the name of the street you’re on, you should probably leave. (I got a sinister whiff of that four years ago on a solo jaunt here, when I sought out a pub on my own not far from my Holiday Inn. I had been enjoying a Guinness and talking with some young fellow when I guess my Kentucky twang gave me away. A bearded man about my age a few feet away looked stonily at me and said “You need to leave now.” The music was loud, so I leaned in and said “Excuse me? Did I hear you say I need to leave now?” He closed his eyes and nodded and then looked at me with a blank look of a hit man, like he could strangle me and then have a nice cup of tea. I left.)
Galway was a wonderful town that I wish we’d had more time to explore. Castleblaney was loads of fun. Dublin was a fine time. And then a week after I’d arrived, we took the ferry over to Wales and headed to Manchester, where John Smeathers treated us to a fine Indian meal and I got to reunite with my old friend Paddy Bradley and his wife Chris, and got to see Jayne Blake, who may be my #1 fan of all time. (She saw 3 gigs on this trip.) By the way, I ate like a king. Ben’s brother in law Paul is a world-class cook. And the Thai meal in Macclesfield was out of this world good.
London was very nice. The Green Door gig there had a trait we’d experience at every date in England: the fact that the amount of people who showed up was always at least slightly MORE than I’d steeled myself to expect. I mean, we were never turning them away from the door, but we never played to an empty house. Wait. Scratch that. Swansea at the Chattery was a bit of a wash, but the folks there were so nice that we had a really good time anyway. And, as I’ve discovered in England, there is no situation that two or three or eight cups of tea won’t make a little better.
It was great to see the whole extended family of Dawson and Annie Smith in Leicester, and I am forever indebted to Jeff Goff there who presented me with a 1964 pressing of “The Rolling Stones No. 2” in by-god mono. Leicester may have been the peak gig of the trip, in fact. But Beer was fun too. It was a town like you see in picture books, right on the English Channel, and we did a nice podcast with the promoter, Alan West. And yes, the name of the town is Beer.
In Macclesfield after the gig, I remember having a “moment” shall we say, a moment where I realized, hey, I’m enjoying myself! These people all have wonderful stories, I’ve been sleeping in 200-year-old buildings, walking past castles that stood when William the Conqueror mounted a steed, idly coming across Stonehenge without even looking for it, discussing world affairs in an Irish pub, and that’s not an Irish-styled pub in Nashville, but a damned straight-up real Irish Pub, with Irish people in it and everything. This is cool! Beer was cool! These gigs are cool! There was a time when I despaired I would never come play here, and now here I am – again! – somewhere I never thought I’d get to, and I’m not only enjoying myself, but I’m sober and happier than I’ve ever been on a trip here before. Life is good. That was a nice moment. It’s always nice when you have a little flash awareness that you’re right in the middle of what will someday be a fond memory.
The last gig in Holland was in Westwoud and Ben and I had a backup band, his friends The Haarlem Boys, and those boys were good. They had a great handle on my tunes and the crowd loved us. The only bummer was my luggage was in Dutch limbo. My bag had been checked by KLM through all the way to Nashville the next day, in disregard of the fact that I was staying a day in KLM’s fair native land, so I had no merch to sell. These things happen. The more important thing was that my beautiful still-brand-new Recording King guitar with its Seymour Duncan soundhole pickup flew coach with me all the way and sits unblemished in my bedroom on its stand right now, where I can gaze at it lovingly. (And just did.)
So I made it home and slept for lord knows how long. The day after I got home sort of didn’t happen. And now it’s a week later and feels like I got home, yes, yesterday. Time sprints on. If it didn’t, I’d go insane. And I’ll put the finishing touches on this blog and think about how I may never get to see those blessed lands again, just like I once thought I’d never get to see them at all.
An afternoon of great American Roots Music at Bailey Park in East Lansing. A family friendly event, with music, food, facepainting, a playground for the kids and more!
The line up of major acts this year is: TOMMY WOMACK, HARPETH RISING, BILL BYNAM & CO, & MARTINE LOCKE TRIO!
Saturday, June 2, 2:00pm-8:00 pm
East Lansing Bailey Community Center Park, 300 Bailey Street
*Bring chairs and blankets!
*Free parking in Bailey subdivision and at Community Center.
*Rain location: Bailey Community Center Gym
Rising from the icky depths of the lyrically, vocally, and harmonically abject “A Songwriter’s Prayer,” a 40-year-old Nashville lifer finds solace in a forgotten WTF he wrote at 28 and by age 44 comes up with a bunch of new ones about bad jobs, fluorescent lighting, and low-grade cigarette, beer, and Xanax dependency. The climax would be the proud admission “I’m Never Gonna Be a Rock Star” except that the climax is the seven-minute must-hear “Alpha Male & the Canine Mystery Blood,” a world-historically unromantic rocker about rock after 40. Also crucial is “Nice Day,” about his boy and his wife and a friend’s swimming pool. It won a prize. A MINUS
Tommy Womack: Now What! (Cedar Creek)
Reflective without wallowing in might-have-beens, his nasal drawl weary and at ease with itself, he’s an established failure who’s calmed down considerably for a pimple on Dylan’s ass who believes the best thing about ADD is that it never bothers you too long. “90 Miles an Hour on a Dead End Street” is no advertisement for chianti just as “Pot Head Blues” is no advertisement for cannabis. In one strong song, he feels the heat of an old flame on a checkout line and is so glad the burns have healed. In several other strong songs, he pitches woo wifeward. A MINUS
Tommy Womack – Now What! via Music News Nashville Posted on April 7, 2012 by Dan Harr (Read more articles and post comments via Music News Nashville) “My last record was called, ‘There I Said It’…a record about being washed up and hung out to dry. [My new one] is about what happened after that first record gave [...]