Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
After 20 years in a Honda Odyssey mini-van (we’ve burnt up two) we’ve graduated ourselves to a used Mercedes Sprinter. It has been a great balm for all those miles ahead and behind. Recently it was in the shop for a broken bolt that cost $2100 to replace. Be careful what you wish for.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
We have started to stop at grocery stores for food needs on the road. If we’re lucky there will be a Whole Foods and everyone can fan out and assuage whatever culinary desire it is that strikes them at that time. Getting 4-5 people to agree on a type of food is sometime almost impossible. A decent grocery store can take care of that and get you down the road.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
Once I played down that youthful exuberance that used to break a couple strings a show, I have begun to make it through without a problem. In the early days it was unintentionally made part of the show and we most likely owe our win of the 2004 Rocky Grass Band Competition on a string replacement mid-song during the finals.
John (mandolin/fiddle) and I will replace full sets about every three shows unless there is an outdoor summertime humidity fest thrown in there. Thanks to the kind folks at D’Addario for supplying us with strings for the past ten years.
Where do you rehearse?
Before we added a drummer last year, being all acoustic we could practice wherever we wanted. In the early years we would drive from our home in Raleigh to Chapel Hill and try and make a little money by rehearsing on the street. Now that we need a little amplification we practice in an old abandoned tire factory on the outskirts of town that still has electricity for some reason. We know a guy that used to work there and he’s copied off a key for us. It’s creepy.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
I’m afraid I cannot and perhaps will not answer this one.
Describe your first gig.
When I was probably 14 years old my three piece band played a friend’s party. It was above the garage and full of kids who didn’t really get-it until we played our last few songs. All of a sudden it turned into a real sweating-dancing-for-real-party and became my reason for being for the rest of time. We ran out of tunes and played our last song twice. I’ll never forget it.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
The last real job I held was selling foreign auto parts at a local independent shop. It was a great job for the time although I would come in late almost every day after my band Stillhouse (with Greg on pedal steel and keys) practiced. Luckily the boss there was a jazz drummer who still gigged and he let me slide.
How has your music-related income changed over the past 5-10 years? What do you expect it to look like 5-10 years from now?
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
That Uncle Sam will let you buy whatever guitars or pedals or strings or microphones or whatever musical crap and you can write it off on your taxes. Good to know!