The first ever Downwrite Tour just ended and now I’m back home in Nashville. I can’t even tell you how good it felt to play these songs out on the road, especially with the mighty fine band that accompanied me. I even got to play a few songs every night with Matt Pryor. How about that.
I wasn’t looking for a tour for myself, but every week I check to see if there were any potential tours for Badboxes. When I saw that Matt Pryor was looking for support, it hit me for the first time in a long time – hey dummy, you should try to do that. I kindly asked Justin Bridgewater (Badboxes’ agent) to submit me for the tour. He did (thanks Justin, I love your style) and I also emailed Matt to submit myself directly to him. When I found myself taking the time to write a list of bullet points detailing how I could contribute to the tour, I realized that it was something I really wanted. Matt responded with an “ok.” (for real, I think that’s all he wrote – haha), and I was left with the semi-good feeling of having semi-locked in the tour, maybe.
The Downwrite Tour, photo by Vince Sadonis, missing is Eric Taft.
After getting the official ‘ok’ and probably doing a flip, I sent Matt an email to thank him. He asked me if I was going to play acoustic by myself like he was. I’m pretty sure I responded with an immediate “hell no”, and I’m pretty sure he responded with a classic Pryor “ok”. What kind of band could I put together with the limitations of touring in my SUV? I asked my best Nashville bud Jon Bindley if he might like to play guitar. He’s an amazing singer/songwriter. I’m going to do a whole special post on his amazingness. He said yes without hesitation – it was perfect timing with his lease ending. I remembered my friend Eric Taft from Maryland (oh yes- a post about him and his studio & music are coming, too) saying that he’d like to play drums on a Blue of Colors tour if that ever happened. I mentioned it to him and he loved the idea, and plans for the 3-piece band were set.
Eric came into town a week before we left to practice every day at Old Man Stanwyck, the house Jon and his roommates were about to move out of (Stanwyck is the name of the street but nonetheless they are crazy people). I didn’t have a PA system, but I knew Eric had his 8 channel pre-amp. We ran our instruments into the pre-amp and out into headphones. Turns out, this made for a much better way to practice. It also made it very easy to track our progress into Pro-Tools for easy review. When we pulled the trigger on mapping out programmed bass tracks*, we had the whole set already mapped out. Easy peasy.
*I was on the fence about running tracks, but Eric convinced us we should program sine wave bass tracks to fill in the sound as opposed to recording bass guitar or something that was in any way flashy. This was actually very easy to do and I think it even made our sound a bit unique.
We packed up the car and here’s what we brought…
- 22 x 16 Kick drum
- Snare drum
- Drum hardware in a duffle bag
- Rack mount w/ 8 channel pre-amp/interface
- Fender Blues Junior guitar amplifier
- Gretsch guitar
- Martin acoustic
- 2 laundry bags full of T-shirts
- 3 personal duffle bags (including Eric’s Zeppelin sized bag)
There were a few other loose items, but this left room for one person to sit in the back. Looking back I wish we had gotten a smaller kick drum, but Eric’s worked fine for the trip and maximized thud.
Two nights before we left we had a nice dinner here at my house. Jon moved out of his house, so he and Eric were both staying here. We drank some wine and had a nice evening. The next morning, I woke up to find my little amazing kitten sick and having trouble breathing. He had been sluggish the night before and by morning he was very ill. He looked as if he hand’t slept. He hadn’t been eating much either. He couldn’t breathe. We immediately made an appointment with the vet. It’s not necessary for me to going to much detail on the matter, but his condition worsened severely over the course of the day. By evening he was gone. Man, I loved that cat. His name was Viper.
Viper the cat, 2013-2014
This happened the evening before we hit the road. I talked to the guys and they agreed we couldn’t leave Amy at home alone after all of that (I’m not implying that she’s not a tough cookie, because she’s actually overbearingly independent). If we could leave the bass drum behind, she could come with us for the first few shows. I borrowed my friend Grady’s cajon and Gibraltar kick pedal. We used this for St. Louis (and, of course, broke it) and borrowed a kick drum from some new friends in the band Via Luna – thanks guys! Also, bands on tour take note – I reached out to C&C Drums, explaining why we had left the kick drum behind for the first few shows. One of the guys from the company almost immediately brought us a bass drum!! We already had one locked down, but how cool is that? I don’t play drums, but if I did I’d play C&C 4 life.
We did 16 shows in 16 days and I’ll never forget them. Shout outs to my dudes on the tour (as if they are watching me read this from a podium on TV)…
Josh Berwanger from The Anniversary did the first ten shows of the tour. His new record is amazing and I love the art (check out the artist’s site here). Josh, thanks for letting me play some songs with you. Are there any videos of that on the net? Can you hear me?
Mark Rose – you are one of the most solid guys I know. Your work ethic and smooth baby making music vocals are inspiring to me. Thank you for listening to my ideas for Downwrite. I’m so happy to be a part of the team.
Bob Nanna – you owe me a phone call. Do you know my number? I shouldn’t put it on the internet, but you can get it from Mark. I think you win most unique songs of the tour. Also most calm dude on the tour. I hope you liked me being around as much as we liked you being around.
Matt Pryor. You’re a legend, man. Thanks for taking us out and saying such nice things about us to your fans and friends. I hope there’s a good video of us playing “Overdue” together, because I want to get that out to Palladia ASAP. Also, you said you’d send me posters for us to hang on our walls. You can find my address on the studio page. Thanks in advance for doing that. You don’t need to frame them, but you can if you want to.
Matt Pryor & Steve Soboslai, photo by Vince Sadonis
Ok, I’ve got to wrap this up because I could go on and on and Don. Below is a full Blue of Colors set, recorded by my friend Alex DiVincenzo in Cambridge at TT The Bears.
So yeah – great times. The best. Comments? Questions?
PS There’s only 3-4 “What Seems So Heavy” T-shirts left if you want to pick one up.
Thanks for reading my little Downwrite Tour recap y’all!
Downwrite Tour Recap / Blue of Colors Full Set was originally published on Modern Short Stories