Streaming "LIVE" from The Honkytonk
“If you build it, they will come”. The famous words whispered to Kevin Costner in the beautiful movie Field of Dreams. A vague and faraway voice telling Kevin’s character that it’s ok to follow his instinct and his heart. “People will come.”
Similar to Kevin’s character, once the notion of building a Honkytonk in our house was realized, it HAD to be built. It set imagination on a collision course with reality and there was NO stopping it. Even though it didn’t really make sense, I mean who turns a bedroom into a fucking bar? Answer: Me and Nat. We didn’t have to money throw around at a Honkytonk. What were we thinking? I don’t know. But we both knew it was gonna happen. And as it turned out, thank goodness it did.
The Merle Haggard “Footlights” table
The idea originated when our kids got a bit older and started having friends over. My wife and I had nowhere to go. We were banished to our bedroom watching movies on our phones. So I thought since the third bedroom wasn’t being used anymore, we could put a tv in there and make a nice little area to hangout when the house was infested with kids.
Well, the idea slowly evolved and before we knew it, we were adding a stage and lights, and speakers, and a bar, and a fridge. It was glorious! I thought maybe someday I might be able to do some live performances in a place like this. Hmmm.
I had never planned any kind of build before, but we measured twice and we agreed that there was enough space (even though it is a tiny room) and we went for it. I bounced the idea off a friend of mine who is very skilled in carpentry and he, Bill Schmidt, was excited to help bring the idea to life.
Bit by bit and piece by piece the room turned out EXACTLY like we planned it! It was spectacular. Neon signs, LED lights everywhere (well over 1000 lights) even a fog machine. The walls were filled with album covers, and some memorabilia that I had…and BAM!
View from the Microphone
The Honkytonk est. 2017
IT was the perfect place to rehearse my music, watch a game, have a beer and shoot the breeze. But it was NOT a “Mancave”. Everyone was welcome here, even those who probably thought we were crazy for building it in the first place. There was nothing but love allowed in this room! It became such a beautiful part of our lives and we just couldn’t wait to share it with people. It was dark, but perfectly lit. It was small, yet, somehow just big enough. Lord knows, I love a dimly lit room and you couldn’t tell if it was 11am or 11pm when you were in there. It was timeless and it was awesome.
If These Walls Could Talk
They could tell lots of stories, those walls. From the honest tears of grown men listening to life changing songs on Youtube, to the tears of pure joy that are shed when friends get together and raise a few glasses. Those walls became filled with so many gifts from people that there was almost no room for anything else. Custom made honkytonk signs, posters, lights, memorabilia, framed and signed lyrics from artists, signed albums. Also, the most beautiful sliding door given to me by my buddy DT and an awesome fibre optic ceiling that was painstaking but so great! Thanks Alan!! It was so cool to look around that room and feel everyone that left something on those walls. To this day, I can tell you where and from whom everything in that Honkytonk came from. I will never forget walking in and feeling the walls vibrating with energy.
The “C” Word
Shutdowns and Meltdowns.
What a fucking disaster. We musician types were certainly among those who had their jobs pulled out from under them. We all lived it, I don’t need to explain the mental, physical and monetary hardships that we were all faced with. Suffice it to say, they were the hardest of times for everyone.
I started seeing various musicians popping up on Facebook “Live” feeds. Some local weekend ones, like me, and also some famous ones sharing their talent for free with as many people as they could gather. A few weeks went by of watching these artists entertain the sick, the locked down, the sad, and the lonely people. People like all of us, who were toiling and feeling very worried and uncertain about the future.
My wife started planting the bug in my ear that I should throw my cowboy hat into the ring and see what happens. I was reluctant. What if I sound bad? What if I look bad? All my usual self-doubt stuff coming into play. We decided Friday, March 22nd, 2020 would be the day we fire up The Honkytonk and launch it into cyberspace.
One of my favourite shots from the HT
We Have Lift Off
To the best of my recollection, the first song I played was “Lucille” by Kenny Rogers. He had just passed away and I remember how much more sadness it brought to those days. During the writing of this blog, I went back to revisit the video of the first livestream and I was surprisingly quite overcome with emotion. It was the start of something very special in mine and Nat’s lives. Songs were born, The Hardest Working Woman in Country Music was born, and lifelong friendships were made. I never thought in my life that choosing to sit on a stool and sing songs for a living could actually make a difference in people’s lives. But I’ve had enough people, strangers and friends alike, tell me that I helped “get them through” and all I can say is, “right back atcha”. It was a very symbiotic relationship.
The Little Room That Could
For the next two years or so the livestreams continued and the support that we received from around the world was simply overwhelming. Sometimes I would open my front door and there would be gifts and thank you cards. People were not choosing their words lightly, either. We had the most beautiful things said to us and it kept us going and it changed our lives forever. We owe so much to that little room.
We built it, and they came.