GRATITUDE JOURNAL – Phil, Aaryn & Dylan

THE NEW INVINCIBLE CZARS – Dylan Younger, Aaryn Russell, Phil Davidson, me.

I’m writing this entry from the road on the best tour I’ve ever had.  I’m grateful beyond words for this but it’s not going to stop me from using some to express it.

 

There are several factors contributing the greatness of this tour.

 

A big one is the fact that we’re mostly playing venues/towns we’ve played before and setting it up and doing it has been easier than any ever before from a logistic standpoint – even the dates in Canada (and getting in/out of Canada.)  This has eased my mind and attitude on the road a bit. I’m not scared of our imperfections pissing off promoters.  They already know and like us and know that we’re pros.

 

Another factor is the audiences. I don’t know that we’ve played for more enthusiastic, responsive audiences than on this tour. Thank you if you’ve been among them. I’ve met a lot of really cool folks out here.

 

We beat our old single-night merchandise sales record – old record in Buffalo, new record also in Buffalo. That’s pretty awesome!

 

Mostly, though, it’s the line-up. I’ve taken to calling it The New Invincible Czars: Aaryn Russell, Dylan Younger, Phil Davidson and me.

 

I’ve never had as much fun on the road. Set up and tear down has never been so easy. Everyone knows how to set up their gear, the PA and how to troubleshoot. We’ve never powered through challenges (broken window, a few long drives, lack of organization and some unfinished planning on gigs and lodging by me, truncated load-out times, etc.) as well as this tour. We sound good and instead of little mistakes coming into the music, they’re more like intentional improvements.

 

For the first time, everyone wants to be on the tour. Everyone’s getting along. Everyone sounds good. I look forward to every single night. Ideas are accepted, considered, built upon. It’s the most functional team I’ve ever worked with musically.

 

Phil and I have been playing in this band together for 12 years. This tour almost didn’t happen but Phil had faith in what we do and in me. He’s always been flexible. He’s always taken my crazy ideas into consideration and sometimes followed me down rabbit holes when I’ve wanted to take an ill-advised risk. I guess there’ve been enough of those that turned out ok to keep him coming to practice. Thank you, Phil, for standing by me all this time.

 

Aaryn is a real road warrior and one of the most pleasant, fun people to tour with. One of the best moments on the whole tour was listening to …And Justice For All in its entirety with Aaryn riding shotgun as I drove. It’s been a long time since there was someone in the band who has many of the same favorite albums as me. Aaryn is supportive and appreciative at all turns. He’s connected, talented, flexible and has added more than just his musical skills to this tour. Thank you for joining the ranks, Aaryn.

 

It’s particularly hard to express my gratitude to Dylan. He drove down from Minnesota to do this tour without really knowing much about me or the band. He took a BIG leap of faith and I hope the rewards have been worth it for him. I feel incredibly lucky that I stumbled upon him in one my darkest hours. He’s taken on the very difficult co-star role (next to Phil) and done it masterfully and surprisingly quickly. When most people would’ve said, “good luck with all that,” to a desperate stranger,  he was friendly, supportive, willing to do tough work and enthusiastic. Thank you for taking this risk, Dylan.

 

All three of these guys have brought their A-game to this tour. They’ve brought every bit of fun, musicality and enthusiasm that they can. That is the best any bandleader can ask for. Thank you, guys, for joining my on this journey and for all the great moments, shows and lessons for me to learn.  If this isn’t nice, what is?

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