At the beginning of this trip, I did say the first month or so would be hard, and that eventually I would settle into a rhythm. I suppose I’ve been somewhat bipolar my whole life. Might not be a bad idea to get that checked out. Anyway, the last couple of days were a challenge mentally. Today was better.
I exercised and cleaned up at the gym, and then played video games at Starbucks. Typically when I play video games I feel frustrated or depleted at the end, which is why I have pushed myself to quit. I see it as an unhealthy addiction for me, however, today it left me somewhat re-energized, despite inducing the beginnings of a migraine. I’ve been getting migraines with frequency, so that alone will keep me away from video games.
I went for dinner at Linda’s Restaurant, a Mexican café style restaurant that served a delicious plate of carne asada, grilled mixed vegetables, guacamole, pico, beans, and rice. Over dinner I spoke with my lifelong friend Michael Ni, and a guy who took the same kiteboarding PASA course (Professional Air Sports Association), Tom Masterson. Michael lives in Knoxville, his Nashville-based job has allowed him to work from home. He has moved in with a friend of his, Josh Martin, and is trying out life in a new city.
Afterward, I drove downtown to a venue called “House of Rock”. The venue had a bar & restaurant style room in the front. A door to the right of the bar lead to a second room with a fairly high stage that looked like it was designed for singer/songwriters or smaller acts, with a PA ready to go on a Tuesday night. I had heard some drums from a third room that was divided by a garage door. I thought this third room must be for the big shows and they were probably getting things set up for a night to come. Nope. The open mic was in the third room. This was a wonderful spacious room with round tables and bar stool seating scattered about, a high ceiling, a wide bar, and an impressive stage and excellent sound system.
The open mic night featured several musicians and several comedians. I didn’t expect much from the comedians in a smaller town like Corpus Christi, but they surprised me with fairly good crowd control, fairly smooth transitions, and confidence to be successfully spontaneous. I’m sticking around till Thursday to catch two of them performing around the corner as well as a musician I met tonight named Ty Dietz. Ty has a pretty classic folk/country singer/songwriter feel to his music with hints of pop and can play the shit out of a harmonica. We traded CDs and I learned that he had opened for Todd Snider a few times. Todd Snider is the performer Rorey Carroll is opening for, which provided her first chance to perform for a full house at The Ryman Auditorium (my dream). Rorey Carroll is one of the first performers I met at Jackalope Brewing Co. and I quickly had a curious crush on her. I didn’t get to know her well, but I remember her.
I performed three songs and pushed my intensity to a new level. I hushed the room. I blanked on chords for the second song but played through it un-phased and got back to the right ones soon enough.
I distributed CDs. Again, I need to be better about advertising on the mic. I did sell some, but many I just gave away. One guy had his head buried in a notebook his was scribbling on. I offered him a free CD and he declined, but I don’t think he was in the room when I performed. I could tell when I approached him, he wanted to be negative toward me. Maybe because I startled him from his intense scribbling. Note to self, don’t do that in the future. I drove to Walmart to sleep, bought some new colored sharpies for my van hood signing, and in the morning there was a green dick with the words, “You guys rock. Thanks for the road head.” written beside it.
Ty Dietz. Wednesday was the day of Ty Dietz. I was planning to go see the comedians and Ty in different venues today, but after yesterday the right move became clear and today I write this from South Padre Island.
I spent much of the day working on booking. The night started at Executive Surf Club, where the open mic with the most buzz in Corpus Christi is held. Ray ran the sound. Ray was an older gent with long grey hair and a long grey beard and a diligent work ethic. He arrived in a black truck pulling a medium sized white trailer that carried his music equipment. He was a quirky unassuming intelligent professional.
Not long after I slammed down a delicious chicken burger, I saw Ty Dietz. I wasn’t expecting to see him. He stayed for a little over an hour before heading over to set up for his gig at Vernon’s BBQ. I appreciated that he showed up to the open mic event just to support and socialize. He invited me to come to Vernon’s whenever I finish up at Executive Surf Club, and said I could play a few songs over there. He left and a little while later I played my set at Executive Surf Club.
This was my worst performance in some time. First of all, I need a new guitar or need to get the input on my guitar fixed. Signal was going in and out and sometimes distorting terribly. I remained relaxed and composed through these problems and still delivered a competent performance, but I hit some of the worst notes I’ve hit in a while and completely botched a guitar part as if I hadn’t been practicing it the last six months. I guess the positive is that despite what I felt was quite a poor execution on my part, I still received a lot of compliments and made some connections. I talked to a kid that reminded me a lot of Austin Hite. I packed my gear and got on over to Vernon’s.
I still had five beers from the six pack the bartender gave me at Santa Fe Brewing Co., and thought this was an opportune time to inhale one. I drank 3/4s in a minute and dumped the rest out so that I wouldn’t do anything stupid in what was going to be a casual friendly comfortable atmosphere.
Once Ty started playing the patio filled up quickly. He was playing with his friend Joe on a baby guitar.
After a few songs, Ty started playing one that had a really driving beat to it, and I thought percussion would just fill the song out perfectly and really take the atmosphere to where it needed to be. I quickly ran out to my van and brought in my djembe, held it high and looked at Ty to say, “is it cool?” He smiled and nodded so I jumped right in. We jammed. It was great. I had been listening to Ty’s CD so I knew some of the songs, even recommended one to him when he was trying to think of what to play next, and I was very comfortable with the rhythms he played. Ty kept exclaiming on the mic about the djembe performance.
The night rolled on seamlessly. Ty had many other musician friends in the audience and several people took turns on the stage while we took a break. I also got to share some songs which evoked new connections with some of Ty’s friends and fans, and I now have a place to stay with Lorenzo & company on Saturday to enjoy the festivities of Dia De Los Muertos, a holiday that is big in Corpus Christi.
It was getting late and I was getting tired so I shook hands with all my new friends, exchanged numbers, and got back on the road.
On to South Padre Island.