Behind the Show

erica bryan,, behind the micOur band has been in the midst of some transitions lately. We are looking for a guitar player and a bass player, and while we are doing that I thought we would take it slow on shows until every spot was filled.

However, an opportunity came up for us to open for Old Dominion in Atlanta on Jan 21. Old Dominion is rising to the top very quickly, claiming a spot on the Kenny Chesney tour this year, so I knew this was an opportunity we did not want to miss out on. Since all my effort in 2015 has been put towards this show (and wedding planning), I thought it was only fitting to explain everything that goes into putting on a show when you’re an indie artist.

Step One: Confirm the show.
Once we were told that Old Dominion did, in fact, want us to open for them, I had to send out a text to people that are currently in my band to make sure they could get off of work. Some people could not make it on a Wednesday, so I had to quickly fill their spot with brand new people. I hired a lead guitar player, fiddle player, and bass player just for this show. It was stressful trying to find the best people to do the job on semi-short notice but I think we’re gonna pull it off!

Step Two: Make Sure People Come.
The scary part about playing a show, especially on a Wednesday night, is that you are not positive who will actually be there! So, you have to do your best to promote the show. Luckily the venue helps out in that way and puts your poster up around town. Here is the poster we created:


We also created a Facebook event for this show in hopes that people will commit to attending.

Step Three: Decide the Songs
Once all that was taken care of, I sat down and figured out what songs we were going to play. It’s tougher with all new people in the band, because we are starting from scratch on what they know. Also, I took into account that Old Dominion is a Country Rock group, so I wanted our set to be upbeat to match their energy. Once I picked the songs, I had to make sure I had chord charts for all the musicians and compile mp3′s for them to listen to so they could learn them easily.

Step Four: Rehearse
Next step, once everyone has their music, is to actually rehearse the music together! We have not rehearsed yet, but I am planning on having 3 rehearsals before the day of the show. We will decide on who gets what solos (it’s always a fight between the lead guitar and fiddle!) and even what instruments we are playing! I play piano and guitar, so I’ll have to decide which instrument sounds best based on the sound of the band, or if I can just sing and not play anything at all!

Step Five: Get to the Show and Perform It.
Then, the last step, is to perform the show. This part makes all the other steps worth it– unless of course you have a miserable experience with the sound engineers or break your guitar or any number of other things that usually go wrong–but when the performance actually goes right, it’s worth all the struggle.

So, now that you know how much effort goes into just one show- maybe you’ll be inclined to come out and see all of our hardwork! Hope to see you Jan 21–and if you’re not in Atlanta, I’ll keep you posted on our future tour dates.


2014 Christmas Wishes

musings 250_edited-1Christmas. It’s coming, and in fact, it will be here within a week of when I write this.  Guess I had better be making that list for the Christmas Eve Wally World run.  I naturally thought about writing about my favorite Christmas songs, but then I wondered if I did that last year.  My crack investigative skills revealed that I mused about my favorite Christmas songs last year (    As I write this, Kenny Chesney just confirmed my musing for this week.  I was toying with the idea of compiling a musical Christmas list when KC’s “A Lot of Things Different” came on the iPod.  So here is my Christmas list of all things musical.

  • Another chance to see Glen Campbell at the Ryman – For some reason, I passed on his farewell tour when it stopped at the Ryman.  Wish I had that one back.
  • New music from Eddie Van Halen – Give me anything Eddie.  Transpose the phone book into music and send it out.  Been too long.
  • A Nashville appearance by Sammy Hagar – Sammy is slowing cutting down his touring schedule.  Would like to have one more chance to see him solo.
  • A clear way to store of my family’s music on the cloud and we all have access to it – but keep e-mails, etc. separate.  This is my project for the new year.
  • That year’s worth of concerts at the Ryman they keep advertising on Facebook – The Ryman has become my favorite concert venue and they are getting some great acts.  Of course, I realize I am now old – I don’t recognize the names of acts that sell out two nights there while my favorites wind up on Groupon.
  • Another chance to talk to Charlie Daniels – saw him in the valet parking line waiting for his car at Vanderbilt Medical Center this past year.  My car was there and traffic was waiting on me to get in and drive off, so I didn’t talk to him.
  • An unlimited iTunes card – I keep coming up with these songs to download…..

I realize that I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams, so I am content with just continuing to blog and have you read it – well, except for the Sammy show.  I will not be appearing on your monitor until after Christmas, so I hope that you have a great Christmas, enjoy time with loved ones, and think about those less fortunate.  Also, if you could, please forward the musing to your friends, post to your Facebook wall, or re-tweet.  It is the gift that is cheap and hopefully will make you think occasionally.

Merry Christmas!


Mac McAnally: The Songwriter’s Songwriter music musings zach claytonThe older I get, the harder it is to impress me musically. Call me a music curmudgeon, but after hundreds of live shows, the “wow” moments are rare. A double “wow” took place on Friday March 21, 2014 at the Franklin Theatre. Mac McAnally. If you know about Mac, that is all I need to say. If you don’t know Mac, read on.

Officially, Mac is a singer, songwriter, producer, and a musician. He is the reigning CMA Musician of the Year and that is a spot he has held for 6 years running. His songs have graced the albums of country stars from Alabama to Sawyer Brown to Kenny Chesney and some beach bum named Jimmy Buffett.

zach clayton, mac mcanally,

Zach Clayton and Mac McAnally.

I first learned of Mac at a Buffett show at the old Starwood Amphitheater (sigh). Buffett would introduce “Nashville and Muscle Shoals’ own – Mac McAnally” and they would do a couple of songs together. Over time, I would always see him playing at Buffett’s Nashville shows and noticed that my favorite Buffett songs were those written (or co-written) by Mac. Through the years I was lucky enough to see him a few times:

  • A benefit concert at a mega-church in Brentwood with Mac, Skip Ewing, Paul Overstreet, the late Paul Davis.
  • A Mac only show at the Harbor Docks restaurant/bar in Destin, FL. There were only 30 people there that night.
  • A monthly gospel-themed show called Sam’s Place at the Ryman hosted by Gary Chapman.

I mention those so you can appreciate that Mac doesn’t do major tours or a lot of solo shows. His main gig these days is being a permanent member of Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band.

The setting was the Franklin Theatre in downtown Franklin, TN. It was a very intimate setting with probably only 225 or so seats. The show sold out in less than a week. If you have ever watched VH1’s “Storytellers” show, this was the setting. Before every song, Mac would get introduce the song, explaining the deeper meaning, why it was important, etc. For the majority of his almost two hour set, it was just him, his six different guitars, and a grand piano. Below are the most memorable moments for me:

  • Telling the story of how he met Chet Atkins for the first time and Chet was asking him how impressed he was with a “flutter” he did on the guitar on the second track of side 2 of his first album.
  • Having the set list in his phone which he checked occasionally to see what was next.
  • Telling the story of getting his first gig in honky-tonks making $250/week at the age of 13.
  • Kenny Chesney calling to say that he wanted to record a Mac song. Not a particular song, but any song – “You pick it out”.
  • Buffett hearing Mac’s first album and telling him that he loved it and that it was special. Mac said that became the beginning of not only a musical relationship but a strong friendship.
  • Talking about trying year after year to learn a particular part in Duane Allman’s “Little Martha”, only to learn that it was two guitars. He played this as his final number, perfectly, on one guitar.
  • Bringing fellow Coral Reefer Peter Mayer and percussionist Eric Darken on stage for a few numbers. Darken was in the studio with Chesney & Mac when they worked out “Down the Road”.
  • Having his Facebook followers choose one song out of three to be included in the set list.
  • Mac invited the people in the audience to meet him in the lobby after the show. He said he would talk, sign, and take pictures for as long as it took. He did.
mac mcanally,

Mac McAnally plays the Franklin Theatre, Franklin, Tenn., March 21, 2014.

Well, I guess I have gushed enough about the show. In summary, it was a rare chance to sit and listen to one of the great musicians and storytellers in this town do his work.  He is a true songwriter’s songwriter and a musician’s musician.


For a nine minute primer on Mac, go to:

P.S. For the purists, here is the set list:

  • Blame It on New Orleans
  • Café on the Corner
  • Miracle
  • All These Years
  • Socrates (the song with the flutter Chet asked about)
  • This Time
  • Junk Cars
  • Medley – Old Flame/Two Dozen Roses/Thank God for You
  • Down the Road (with Peter Mayer)
  • Meanwhile (with Peter Mayer)
  • The City (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • (Nothing Like) A Sunny Day (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken) – Facebook followers choice
  • Singing in Your Cage (Peter Mayer solo song)
  • On Account of You (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • Heard It Through the Grapevine (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • Back Where I Come From (with Peter Mayer & Eric Darken)
  • It’s My Job – [my personal favorite]


  • A Pirate Looks at 40 – tribute to Jimmy Buffett
  • Little Martha – Duane Allman song (see above)

The only downside is that with a catalog as large as Mac’s, there are always those left out songs such as You First, Southbound, Changing Channels, Love in the Library etc.

Save a Seat for Faith and Tim

Upon hearing my accent, no one will mistake me for a New Yorker. While I don’t apologize for that, I do make a point to use good grammar especially when I’m speaking with people who ain’t from ’round here. In those same situations, I also try to keep my mouth shut when I can’t add to the conversation. It’s not a vanity thing. It’s just me trying to help dispel a Southern stereotype or two when I can.

honey boo boo 1

No relation. I’m positive.

I have a need to do my part to prove we’re not all related to the Honey Boo Boo family. (I’m fairly sure they have a real last name, but I refuse to google it.) Thanks a lot, Georgia. But I digress.

So let me set the scene for you: Radio City Music Hall, Midtown Manhattan on Christmas Eve morning. We were sitting there waiting for the Rockettes’ Christmas Extravaganza to start when this retirement-age couple sat down next to us. As soon as I heard her talking, I knew she didn’t make too long of a commute to get there. She sounded a little like Carrie on King of Queens.

Radio City Music Hall, second row.

Radio City Music Hall, second row. I can’t wait to tell Faith Hill about these seats!

She struck a conversation with us. They were from New Jersey. We talked about when and where we got our tickets, and how much we paid for them. I found out quickly that I got the special “tourist rate” on the ticket price, but who cares. It’s Christmas, after all; and we were on the second row. Soon, she couldn’t resist; and she asked me the question I’ve heard 5,000 times:

“Where are you from?”


And then right-smack-dab in the middle of of Radio City Music Hall she honestly asked me:

“Do you ever see Faith Hill?”

I didn’t miss a beat.

“No, but she and Tim live in Franklin there on Highway 96 next door to Kenny Chesney. We’ve driven by their house.”

At that point I’m pretty sure she pictured me driving a Bondo’d ’82 Camaro, belting out “Mama Tried” to my Merle Haggard 8-track, blowing the horn at Faith who was Weedeating her ditch while Tim and Kenny sat on a couch on the front porch swigging PBRs and smacking ‘skeeters.

I wanted to ask her if she ever saw Snooki, but I saved that one just in case she asked me if I ever saw Honey Boo Boo. After all, turnabout is fair play. And I’m certain people from New Jersey know that.

That Nashville Moment music musings zach clayton“That Nashville Moment” is a phrase I used to describe when something unique happens because it is in Music City. While I realize that other cities can have their moment, but most other cities don’t have the plethora of musicians that we have here in Nashville. Maybe Los Angeles, but they are all probably to hung up on details like “who is introducing me?” or “does my hair look okay?” for it to happen.

This phrase stuck in my mind because of the recent announcement that Billy Joel was performing in Nashville this March. Mr. Piano Man holds one of my favorite Nashville Moments among those I have listed:

  • After a concert at Starwood Amphitheatre (Nashville’s former outdoor venue), Billy Joel went back to the Vanderbilt Plaza hotel and showed up at the piano bar in the lobby. Rumor has it that he played until the bar closed at 2:00 a.m.
  • Amy Grant was to play a fundraiser for the marching band at the high school where I live. When curtain time rolled around, Vince Gill (Amy’s husband) came out and announced that Amy was sick & she asked if he would fill in.
  • Jimmy Buffett seems to love bringing guests up on stage with him during his shows. During the years, I have seen Jimmy bring Clint Black, Marshall Chapman, Kenny Chesney, and John Kay from Steppenwolf on stage for a song or two.
  • During a recent show at the Bluebird Café, Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) showed up and sang Jaded with the song’s writer who was playing a songwriters’ round that night. During the same week, Tyler also joined Keith Urban on stage at a “honkytonk” on Broadway where Urban was promoting his recent release.
  • When Marshall Tucker (current incarnation) was opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd a few years ago, they brought founding member George McCorkle  out on stage for most of the set.

These are just a few that I have heard of or experienced. I’m sure Billy Joel could find a piano bar in Davenport, Iowa, but let me think that the music vibe in Nashville is what caused him to do it. These are just more examples of why it is important to get out and experience live music. You never know what you will miss. Finest Craft Beers from America’s Best Micro Breweries- 728x90 banner