2017 was a bit of a different year for me. I’ve worked nearly non-stop my entire life starting at age 14. Within the past several years of my music career alone I’ve released 8 albums, 13 songbooks, nearly 90 pieces of sheet music, and toured/played shows spanning the continental US.
But I felt for the first time in late 2016/early 2017 that I needed to slow down a bit in my work life and enjoy other parts of life a bit more and not be so focused on work all the time. I still had a life of work, just intentionally a bit less of it. I took a sabbatical, got a bit of the wanderlust bug and did some traveling to some places that I’d never been to before, connected with people I hadn’t seen in years and spent more time with friends and family.
Here is my 2017 Year In Review…
For 5 years in a row, I have always gone on work or business-related trips, but they always seemed to coincide with my wife’s birthday. So, in 2017 we decided to go to Hawaii to celebrate both our birthdays! Neither one of us had ever been. The worst part about Hawaii? Actually getting to Hawaii. Very long flights. But once you’re there it’s absolutely stunning! I have a full run-down of things we did that I highly recommend…but that is a whole other blog post!
On Valentines Day my wife and I had a romantic little lunch at a place in East Nashville called Rose Pepper Cantina. Plate of tacos in the shape of a heart. So cute. I’m a foodie!
Travelled down to the Atlanta area and played an intimate and private house concert for some fans and their friends. It was a blast! But they are not lying about that traffic…
Travelled to St. Louis to visit family and friends. My brother and his wife had a baby earlier in the year and I got to meet him for the first time. He is too stinking cute.
I also met up with my friend, Dave, that I haven’t seen since high school. We caught up on old memories and what each of us has been up to since we last saw each other. Back in high school I played guitar and Dave played drums. Lots of funny memories. Dave was a bit of a prankster. He used to untune my guitar when I wasn’t looking and then hand it to me and ask me to play something. Realizing it was out of tune I would then spend the next 5 minutes tuning it while he laughed at me.
Every year in Gulf Shores, Alabama there’s a music festival called Hangout Fest. It was my second year attending and featured some really great acts- many of which I’d never seen including Mumford & Sons, MGMT, Weezer, Major Lazer, Phoenix, Twenty One Pilots, Band of Horses, Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Rós, Chance the Rapper, among many others. All right on the beach. It was a great way to kick off the Summer!
Another first was getting to see the rugged and wild beauty of Alaska. My wife and I took the teenager on Summer vacation for an Alaskan Cruise.We got to see humpback whales breaching, in the rich waters off Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. We also experienced dog sledding with the dogs that train for the Iditarod, and enormous glaciers calving off and splashing into the ocean with thunderous effect. Glacier Bay National Park was incredibly beautiful.
For our 10-year wedding anniversary, we went to the Great Smoky Mountains. The same region where we got married. Rented a log cabin in the woods, went hot tubbing and grilled outdoors. Rode the Moonshine Excursion on the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad in Bryson City, NC. A perfect little getaway weekend.
I attended a music business conference. By the end of it, my brain was swimming. A lot of info to consume in just a few days, but well worth it. So great to see so many indie artists succeeding!
I performed at the Grand Old Opry and my album ‘Beyond Cloud Nine’ won album of the year at the EPR awards! Big month. Special thank you to all the fans that voted and the board of EPR for recognizing me. Also had the opportunity to host another house concert and meet so many great people.
After 12 years I ended up selling my Yamaha C2 piano that I’ve composed nearly all my songs on and upgraded to a Steinway D. I’ll have this piano for many years and many more songs to come.
I finally got to take a much-needed break to unwind a bit from the year. Not much activity, and grateful for it!
Performed in 5 different cities on the west coast. San Francisco, Emerald Hills, Los Angeles, San Diego, & Phoenix.
The first show was in San Francisco… note to self, don’t travel all day and then play a show that night, it’s exhausting. There’s always wacky things that happen when I go on tours but this one was particularly wild. About 5-10 minutes after we arrived at our venue in downtown SF there was a random shooting. Fortunately, we were safely locked in the venue and it was 2 hours before our performance. Cops swarmed the street, blocked it off and arrested the shooter. I don’t think anyone was seriously hurt, thank goodness. Keep in mind this is the same part of SF where it says on the wall ‘this is not a urinal’ But crime and a seedy neighborhood didn’t stop the local fans from coming out to see a show. We ended up having a really good turnout for this venue and a great show. All worked out in the end.
The second show was in Emerald Hills, hosted by a fan named George. My second time playing in his space to a packed house and he and his lovely wife are such great hosts. It was a joy and an honor to play for fans there. We had an extra day to hang out in the bay area so we explored some historic and nostalgic areas of SF including Haight Ashbury, and a tour of the infamous Alcatraz Island.
The third show was in sunny Los Angeles. I’ve performed in this city before as well. It was so great to see some of the old familiar faces and some new fans. The owners of the venue we played at are wonderful, kind and generous people, and, of course, have impeccable pianos to perform on.
The fourth show was in San Diego. Man, oh man, did we have a great turnout that night! I think all the artists on the bill that night performed exceptionally well and the SD crowd was great. They came out in droves and we sold the place out.
We then spent a day in Sedona just hanging out with some colleagues/friends. That place is so Zen- peaceful, and quiet. The weather that time of year is just superb.
The final city of the tour was Phoenix. Another great city where fans came out in droves. They nearly cleaned me out of merch I had left and I traveled home lighter than when I began. It was also a full circle moment that night for me as solo piano artist Jim Chappell showed up for the concert. I have to admit it was a bit intimidating for me meeting him for the first time. This is someone I’ve admired and listened to since the 90s, and here I am performing my music while he sits in the audience and listens! I don’t think I have been that nervous since my music juries in college when I performed for a grade. After the show, we hung out and talked a bit. I was honored that he would take time out of his busy schedule to attend.
So that brings us to December. As I write this I’m gearing up for a couple of fun intimate house concerts in the middle TN area. Plan on staying low key for the rest of the year. Might go back up to St. Louis to visit family/friends.
Hope your 2017 was everything you hoped it would be.
Warmest holiday wishes and cheers to a prosperous 2018.