Thoughts of a Thirsty Troubadour Part 3: Sundays and the Song That Changed My Life
My View From the Sunday Stage
When I started this journey my sole purpose was to make people feel the way I felt when I was sitting in a bar listening to someone sing songs. There was just nowhere else I wanted to be. Back then, it was smoky, it was loud, and it was awesome!
I pretty much learned, or tried to learn, every single song that made people happy. You know what I mean…Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Don McLean and so on. I loved playing these guys and still love it. But also, ever-creeping in my brain, was my love for country music. I always had some country in my bag of tricks but mainly it was classic “pub” songs that I delivered night after night.
As I was getting into my late thirties and early forties I started to give country a lot more attention. Firstly because I loved it but also there weren’t any solo acts (that I knew of) that were playing it. So I dived in…
I became so engrossed with what I was hearing. I was hearing legendary song-writing and melodies and voices. Some of those old guys, you know, the “one named” guys…Merle, Waylon, Johnny, Kris, Willie, George. But also new names like Dierks, Eric and Zac.
The Early Days of Sundown Sundays
The Name and Song That Changed Everything
Back in the day, I used to work construction during the day and then play music at night and Nat was working at ScotiaMcleod. We had young kids and Nat and I simply did what we had to do. Most jobs I worked were in Toronto so it was a lot of commuting and I was playing all over the map. I would get home from construction at 5pm and then shower, and then right back out the door to play sometimes two hours away from where we lived. I’d get back home at some un-Godly hour and then have to wake back up at 530am to start it all again. Hey, I was grateful to have two jobs and you’ll see where I’m going with this.
During a labourer’s strike (I forget the year) I was watching CMA Fest from Nashville. I had recorded it earlier but just hadn’t gotten around to watching.I was kind of toiling at this point. Getting a bit burned out, like every parent at times, I’m sure.
Then this guy takes the stage. Big dude, big beard and super cool low-key demeanor. His name: Jamey Johnson. He proceeds to sing a song called “In Color”. It was(is) a ballad with absolutely beautiful lyrics. It’s sad in a “thinking back” kind of way but fully glorious in a “beautiful life” kind of way with a chorus and bridge that are inspiring. I hope that description does it justice, Jamey. I’m listening to this song for the first time with chills running through me as I’m watching about 60 000 fans singing his song right back at him.
The Decision Was Made
I immediately texted my wife and told her my revelation. I had been SAVED! I vividly remember texting her that 60 000 people can’t be wrong and this is the direction I was taking. I literally did a 90 degree turn and my new mission statement was “People Need to Hear These Fucking Songs”.
The Rest is History
Since that time everything has changed for me. Country came exploding back on the scene and I was ready for it. I was doing deep dives back to the Waylon, Merle and George Jones days and soaking up those beautiful songs. I was playing the new guys…all those songs about trucks and drinking and living the beach life. Learning these songs and playing them from the absolute bottom of my heart, changed my life.
Friends Were Made
Along Came Sundays
Sundays are absolutely magical for me and I’m sure this is not the only time you’ll hear about them in my blogs. A new bar was opening in my hometown and I was asked to play some Saturday nights there. Awesome! It’s a beautiful room, lotsa people and cold beer. Trifecta. The summer was blowing in and I approached the owners with an idea. “How ‘bout I play some Sundays on your patio to help promote my Saturdays?” I told them they didn’t have to pay me much (as it was my idea) but let’s see what happens. I set up my gear the first night. I was playing 7–10pm. I think had about 8 people out there. I did my thing and the night ended, and I made a few fans. Within about four weeks (and lots of word-of-mouth, I guess) the Sundays were Rockin’! Sean, the manager at the time would have to bring chairs from the inside out to the patio…I knew we were on to something! I’m pretty sure this is my tenth straight year of Sundays, I’ve had to switch venues a couple of times but the spirit continues. I count my blessings everyday for the fans and friends I’ve made because of Sundays and Country Music…