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"Inside the Box"

CMAFest 2015

Another CMA Fest has come to an end here in Nashville, TN.  Estimates say that some 80,000 people flooded the downtown area for concerts, exhibits, meet & greets and more.  Heat and humidity kept the crowd somewhat subdued, but overall I believe that everyone had a great time.

We played five shows over the course of the week with Saturday being one of the best shows we've ever played and our venue was packed!  People from all parts of the country and every corner of the world came into The Second Fiddle to hear our little band play songs from artists like Clint Black, Brooks & Dunn, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Marshall Tucker Band, Eric Church, and a little unknown artist by the name of Mark Box!  Folks were dancing and singing along, tipping the band, buying CDs… it was great!  And when it was over, we split up the tips, packed it up, and I went to the swimming pool.

I thought about the highlights of the week. Exile played at the Hard Rock and I was blown away at how incredible they still sounded and how they pretty much "owned" their audience with songs they made popular more than twenty years ago.  Probably the biggest highlight was from a guy known more for his songwriting than his performances.  Jeffrey Steele played 3rd & Lindsley with his band and I will tell you this… NO ONE in their right mind would want to follow one of his shows. He plays his hit songs, while mixing in some of his favorite bands and influences.  During his song "GONE" (recorded by Montgomery Gentry), he might break into U2 or Zepplin, or THE WHO even!  What he does is an art and he leaves nothing on the stage.  I had a chance to be a part of one of his songwriting boot camps a couple of years back and on the way home from his show Friday night, I told Michelle he should do a performance boot camp because very few people can do what he does on stage.

LOWLIGHTS… Sometimes I feel like we as artists are raising a bunch of foul mouthed, non-responsible, self indulged, alcoholics.  In the last few years as the party songs have ruled the airwaves, it's become more and more disappointing. Honestly, if it weren't for drinking songs, country music wouldn't be music at all. We've built an industry on songs of drinking and heartache, but as of late, it's turned into an all out flood and it's still hard for me to accept. Sometimes I listen to the radio and I wonder if songs about drinking, getting drunk, or partying is all we've got.  As a songwriter, is that really all we have to say?  Is that really what it is to be from the country or be a country music fan?  I don't know when the fad will end…probably as long as the money keeps rolling in, but at some point, we as artists need to do more with our artistry.  We need to write songs with substance and some meat to it.  The word on the row is that the next horizon of popular songwriting will be more of a physical platform (getting jiggy with it).  I guess we'll have a bunch of drunk parents. Haha  Nashville can do better and they should do better.  Thank goodness for some of the female country artists that are still putting great songs out.  As you can tell, I have a very strong opinion on this subject and I could probably go on for a few days on the matter, but I won't…at least not today. haha

THE HOMELESS / TRANSITS:  I really don't know how you get there.  How do you find yourselves on the streets with nothing, asking for handouts? How do you go through the garbage cans looking for leftover foods / drinks? How can I justify spending $100 on a ticket to see a favorite artist and walk past a mother and child sitting on the corner with a sign that reads "homeless anything will help" and look the other way?  It's getting harder and harder to look past them.  Obviously there are some out there who are just looking for a free pass…maybe more than not.  I usually don't give them any money because who knows where it's going, but I've given some and just hope that they use it for something they actually need and not blow it on beer or drugs, but that's not my call or decision I guess.  I've bought a few meals in the past which guarantees they'll at least get something to eat, but I always go home thinking to myself, what does it take to get that far down?  I don't know and I don't want to know and honestly, I'm not sure that my mindset would ever allow me to get that far down.  Something in my "Billy Joe Box" (my daddy) DNA that says, do whatever you need to do.  Sweep the floors, work 3 jobs, whatever it takes to take care of yourself and your loved ones, that's what you do and you never give up or quit.  It's strange to me and I don't think I could ever understand it unless I actually got there, so I guess I just keep on walking and helping out a few folks and maybe even talking to them a little and let them know that they actually matter and are not just existing?  I don't know… but I do know it's hard to see someone on the streets knowing that at the end of the day, I'm going home to a loving family and a comfortable bed.  The homeless were everywhere during CMAFest.  Hard to figure…hard to watch.

THE FESTIVAL ITSELF… incredible!  Some of the artists that normally play downtown hate it… actually will rearrange their schedules to be out of town that week, but not me.  I love it.  Bring it on country music fans. I'll play for you!  Hopefully I'll be on a bigger stage for CMAFest 2016!  That's the goal.  If you've not been to the festival, go ahead and get tickets now and start drinking a lot of water and loading up on sunscreen because it's guaranteed to be hot again next year and maybe bring a few bucks for the homeless you might walk past on the way to the stadium.  It might help more than you realize.

 

 

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