Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?
I have a Mercedes Sprinter that I bought empty and had built out with bunks about seven years ago. It served me really well but it’s getting into its later years and as soon as I paid it off, the problems started. I’ll probably rent for this upcoming tour.
I haven’t had any crazy stories with this vehicle but all of my previous ones had some doozies. My first touring van was a 1983 Chevy conversion van that I bought from a Crystal Beach used car dealer. It lasted all of one tour and it broke down so many times on that run that AAA revoked my membership.
How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?
It’s not easy. We try to put things on the rider that are good for us and can travel well. We have a refrigerator in the Sprinter so we can store fruit and drinks. It takes real commitment and advance planning to stay on the healthy side – especially if you’re touring in areas that still view ketchup as a vegetable.
How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?
I haven’t broken a string in years. I used to break at least one a night – usually the G string and the local music store didn’t sell individual replacements so I went through a fortune buying a new set every night but only using the one string. I play a better guitar now than I did then and I guess I’ve figured out how not to hit it in a way that breaks the strings.
Where do you rehearse?
I don’t really have one.
What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?
I had one that I wrote before I learned guitar called “Misspent Youth”.
I was down at the pool hall on the bad side of town
my buddies and me were just fooling around
telling tall tales, smoking, playing quarter a ball
when in walked a man with a joint in his hand
an old cue-stick and a dirty head band
he walked on over and leaned up against the wall
he had mud covered boots and a daddy of a beard
and we knew right away he was a man to be feared
cause he looked like he’d been living in that pool hall all of his life
Well he must have weighed close to 300 pounds
and he made all sorts of strange bodily sounds
and someone told me his pit bull killed his last wife
He racked up the balls and began to play
and a half an hour later was still shooting away
the fellow he was playing had slowly started to turn green
Well he made a hundred dollars in the time I was there
and I couldn’t do nothing but stand and stare
for I knew this was the greatest man I had ever seen
Describe your first gig.
My first gig was playing “No Woman No Cry” at a drag show beauty pageant in Arkansas. It was only one song but afterwards a guy I knew told me I “had something” and that encouragement was huge for me.
What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?
My last day job was probably as a waiter. I had a ton of different day gigs and I can’t say I remember liking any of them.
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?
It hasn’t really changed all that much. I still make most of my money out on the road touring. I hope in the future I can balance that out with the publishing side. Having a home life, writing songs, and making records, with the occasional run of shows feels like a better balance.
What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?
Being drunk doesn’t make you sound better.