Realizations are hard. Becoming fully aware of something, whatever that may be can be jolting, halting and alarming. It’s usually a cause for growth. A learning experience. When it comes to this music scene, the first realization I had many years ago was that it existed. Once I got that part down, I became fully invested. In my time in and around this scene I’ve seen so many folks come and go. That’s caused another startling realization. This matters to me more than it matters to most people.
To many, it’s just a song or a band or a place to party. To me and a few others, it’s a lifestyle. As vital and important as hunting, fishing or football. We’re not average. We go to more shows, buy/stream more music, share more music and support more artists than the average person. I have friends and family for whom music is just the background noise in the truck. Sure, they love some songs and will even sing along…but that’s as far as it goes.
This past weekend at River Jam provided yet another opportunity for me to see that in action. Up against two of the biggest bands this scene has to offer at the moment, we had a core of folks show up and jam out when we all probably would have liked to have been at the other shows too. We showed up for a larger purpose. Knowing we could see those other bands again, but would never be able to recapture that exact moment of River Jam ever again.
At this point, River Jam is an event that spreads me far too thin and makes me a stressed, busy wreck for several days. Each year I walk away with lessons I want to apply to the next year. Sunday night after it was all said and done I had an emotional release unlike few I’ve ever experienced. Comparing online, digital and social backslaps with who actually showed up to support the bands at the event was striking. For months I heard things like “we’ll be there!”, “can’t wait!” etc. The crowd that actually came out was not proportional to those epithets of excitement. The people that came were beautiful and appropriately sizable in number.
Yet, as I looked around on Sunday, I realized that most of the people there were people I’ve only just met in the last 3 years. Not all, shoutout to the old school people I saw around. Much love! However, it was a heavy feeling of where as I’ve stayed on the train to ride through the Turnpike, Sturgill, Childers, AA, Jinks era…many of my compatriots jumped off back at Ragweed/PG station. I felt like Don Henley glancing over at Vince Gill and wondering where Glen Frey went. I love all my new fighters for good music, but miss my friends.
It’s a difficult thing to wrap your mind around that something means more to you than it does other people. Especially when they communicate that it means as much to them only for you to find out it’s untrue. That’s true about anything. If you’re super into baking and your friend says the food tastes great, yet refuses to try it…that can be frustrating.
Everybody’s got their something though. My something, and many of yours, has always been and always will be music.
My craving and desire to experience new music has never waned. And I hope it never does. Nothing excites me quite as much as discovering a new band or album and sharing it with as many people as possible. Seeing people get excited about all the acts we had this weekend reinforced that I’ll never change. There may come a day when I’m the last one at the bar for the new acts and I’ll try to treat it with as much reverence as my mentor Kent Finlay did. If you’re reading this website, or if you’ve read this far…then you are the same mold. Or were at one time. If you’re the former I encourage you to never change. If you’re the latter, I encourage you to relight that spark and jump in with something you see us or another outlet talk up that you’ve never heard. You will feel more alive than you knew possible.
-Thanks to those of you who came to River Jam. I have a few ideas to flip things around next year.
-As usual, being that I’m essentially now a one man show of promotion, logistics, hosting, band relations, production manager, stage manager, ticket taker, bartender etc I don’t always see everyone and I hate that. Part of my idea for next year is to change that.
-Coby Wier’s enthusiasm and genuine nature were the most infectious and cool thing I saw this weekend. He had a better time than anyone and it rubbed off on all around him.
-After 4 years in a row of it, I’m definitely making sure we’re not competing with a Turnpike show. It’s a losing battle no matter how you slice it.
-We’ve always done a good job of kind of forecasting the next big thing. Two takeaways from this weekend, Jarrod Morris and Garrett Bryan. Morris looks like Clay Walker at age 21 and sings like Aaron Watson. This kid will be huge. Bryan has the stage presence of Stoney, and the style of Fullbright. Bright lights to keep your eyes on.
-Kelly Dearmore covers what some of the old guard are up to these days HERE.
-It’s finally football season. The Cowboys remain a drug I can’t quit.
-We had a garage sale the other day. It was massive. I’m still befuddled by the bartering system at these. Everyone believes they are Rick at Pawn Stars…but over increments of pennies.
–This month’s recommended album: William Clark Green – Hebert Island. WCG returns with his signature style of massive hooks, twin guitars, intensive heartache and rowdy livin’. Full review forthcoming very soon. After several passes through though, it’s evident that Will Green may even inch a few notches up the ladder to national renown.
-“Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” – Mark Twain