The 2011 That Was 01.07.12
When I was a kid, I distinctly remember doing the math in my head to see if there was a chance that I'd still be alive in the year 2000. It was talked about as if it was so far away - "In the year two thousand..." they'd say. It had that science fiction ring to it. Well, I'm here to say that at the end of the eleventh year after the year two thousand, there's still a lot that's not very science fiction-like about life in 2011. There's a lot that's still the real deal.
2011 had some memorable moments for me. Many of them depended upon what is usually not very memorable - driving. Driving a good deal to play music outside of Indiana was, overall, a great experience. Some of the gigs were loads of fun. Some of them were a complete bust. But in one way or another, they were all worth the effort.
I'll always remember sitting outside, very near the banks of the north shore of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga while playing a "near-busking" gig on a warm summer night, singing a yet to be recorded song of mine with the line, "northern lights, southern drawl, man on the moon above it all." Sitting under the moon with people passing by and being so pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of the people in Chattanooga, I could swear the man in the moon was smiling down on me. I felt lucky to be alive. The long hot drive was worth it for just that moment alone.
I will not forget driving from Arkansas after a very nice show, to a motel in Oklahoma. It was darker than dark has a right to be and by the time I arrived at the motel, it was obvious that that part of the state was suffering from grass wildfires. They couldn't be seen, but they sure could be smelled. The motel was mostly pink, tacky and decorated to the hilt with a 1950's rock and roll theme with vinyl records literally stapled to the wall. Surreal as the decor was, what was even more surreal were the anti-liberal and overly jingoistic signs in the lobby. How quickly rock and roll has been bought, sold and neutered, I thought. I was happy to move on from there, but not so happy the next day to experience the results from the apparent lack of transportation planners employed by the city of Houston. Nice people. Crazy highway system. Perhaps I have a limit on city size. While I enjoyed greatly, a gig in Neenah, Wisconsin at the now closed Rock Island Cafe, I found the toll road around Chicago (a city I've always loved) to be one of the most disturbing drives I've ever had.