Hello friends! I just posted a new video of my song, When There’s Snow. The original version is available for download here and even features John Davey on vocals.
It’s been a long month, but it’s also been incredibly rewarding. Rather than sharing some thoughts in regard to my show last night, I wanted to share some statistics from my January 2013 Midwest Tour that brought me to Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, Naperville, South Bend, West Lafayette, Lafayette, Warsaw, Goshen, South Haven, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, and Hudsonville.
- Miles traveled in my 1998 Toyota Camry: 1,553
- Money spent on gas: $281
- Shows played throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan: 16
- Meals prepared, bought, or given to me: 15
- Number of couchsurfing.com experiences (all amazing!): 4
- Rottweiler mixes played with: 2
- Last-minute shows or open mics: 2
- Number of nights spent in a complimentary hotel room: 1
- Snowstorms driven through: 1
If you’re reading this and you want to help support my February 2013 Tornado Tour, I will gladly accept gas station gift cards and Starbucks gift cards as I’m pretty much running on unleaded gasoline and chai tea lattes these days. See you in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa next month!
Last night, I played to an intimate audience at Tip Top Deluxe in Grand Rapids. I ended up playing most of my set from behind the bar, and it was really fun! My thanks again to the owner, Ted, and two of the nicest bartenders I’ve ever met, Sheri and John. Hoping to make my way back there for another show in August!
Tonight, I play my 15th show in 23 days. Although I’m a bit exhausted, I have been overwhelmingly encouraged by all that has happened this month. More than anything, my January 2013 Midwest Tour has reminded me just how wonderful people are and the importance of trusting one another. For example, my couchsurfing.com host left a key for me in her mailbox yesterday and also left me this note (even before meeting me):
Yes, she even offered me Allegra! How sweet is that?! Oh, and Rocco is such a sweetheart. 87 pounds of pure love and affection. Just look at this face: http://instagram.com/p/VH8G6gh82u/
This letter is just a glimpse into the kindness that I’ve been greeted with throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan on this tour. I hope you take a moment to be spontaneous with a stranger or two this week. Strike up a conversation with someone you pass by on the street. Or give someone $5 if they ask you for change. Let’s start trusting one another a bit more by letting our guard down from time to time. Life is too short to live in fear of others and too beautiful to only spend with those we already know.
I’ve been in Kalamazoo for 48 hours and have played two shows. A house show on Sunday night hosted by friends that I met in Lafayette years ago and another house show at No Fun House last night with my good friend Andru Bemis and new friend Alex Quinlan. I’ll be leaving town soon for tonight’s show in Grand Rapids but wanted to write this blog post while hanging out in the Black Owl Cafe (photo). Highly encourage you to stop by if you find yourself in Kalamazoo! Over their radio, I’ve already heard Wilco, The Strokes, Pixies, and Spoon. I know, right?!
Here’s a photo of Andru from last night’s show. He didn’t want me to take it, but I did anyway. And I’m glad I did. Reap the benefits, Internetz! More reflections below the photo.
I met Andru in 2000 when I was still in college. The acoustic band I played in at the time wanted to record a four-song EP, and we heard about a small studio in West Chicago, Illinois called Ground Vinyl Records. Entering a single door in a back-alley underneath a barber shop, we found ourselves in a studio control room with a long-haired gentleman named Andru Bemis. He showed us his analog gear, we talked about music, and he told us his rate (a ridiculous $15/hour!!!). Needless to say, we booked some studio time, finished the EP, and eventually worked with Andru on our first full-length album that we released in 2001. I even ended up playing drums on two of Andru’s albums, Singer in 2004 and Rail To Reel in 2006.
Over my 32 years, different people have come in and out of my life. And I’m mature enough to realize that some friendships will not last forever. People change, people relocate, and people move on. It’s sad to think about at times, but it’s true.
How lucky am I that I’ve known Andru Bemis for nearly 15 years and that we are still connected, that we still embrace each other every time life brings us together, and that we still play shows together throughout the Midwest? Andru has always been there for me and I am confident that we will always make time for one another. His is a friendship that I would never want to live without. My life is better because of Andru Bemis, and it warms my heart to know that he will surely be my friend until the day I die.
The Womack Family Band sound check at Foundry Hall
Last night, I performed at Foundry Hall in South Haven, Michigan with Andru Bemis (photo) and The Womack Family Band (photo above).
HELLA IMPORTANT SIDENOTE: The group that books shows and promotes music at Foundry Hall is attempting to buy the building to keep this amazing venue open and functional for years to come. Please watch their fundraising video and consider donating by clicking here.
Although it is always great to see my good friend Andru Bemis, the best part of my time in South Haven was getting to know the four individuals that make up The Womack Family Band: Haley, Noah, Tony, and Cory. By the time the show started we already had a few inside jokes, all of us backed Andru on different instruments for few of his songs, and we said goodbye to each other by dancing in the middle of the street in the freezing cold after the show. That’s best friend material, right there! I can’t wait to spend more time with them when I tour through Ohio in a few months.
Musically, the Womack Family Band’s live performance is near perfection. Their delivery is gripping, their arrangements are lovely, and their three-part harmonies send shivers up my spine. Friends in Lafayette, Indianapolis and Chicago, I want get this band some great shows in these three cities in 2013. If you want to help, email me and let’s talk about how we can make that happen for this amazing band made up of some really amazing people.
I strongly encourage you to watch this video to get a better idea of The Womack Family Band and the music they make: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gW3Jsn1vJOQ
I thought my time in Goshen would be uneventful. Totally and utterly wrong.
A handful of people who saw me play two weeks ago at The Pool in South Bend came out to see me play at The Electric Brew last night (photo), and they were great people and really fun to hang out with. I sold quite a few CDs and posters, too. After the show, I spent a few hours at a local bar called A Constant Spring where (1) my couchsurfing.com host and I talked music and ways I should attempt to grow and challenge myself musically and (2) I met Jake Miller from Kansas Bible Company. This morning, my gracious host also made me scrambled eggs with avocado, garlic, and swiss! She lives in a really cool house built in the mid-1800’s. Check out the spiral staircase!
Before leaving town, I stopped by a local record store (and music venue) called Ignition where I met the owner, Steve. Several different people mentioned this place last night, so I definitely wanted to stop in and drop off a CD. What a great space and practical mission they have! The next time you’re in Goshen, take the time to stop in and support this business. As a venue (the Ignition Garage), they bring in some really great live acts. Keep an eye on their show schedule. Really looking forward to returning to Goshen later in the year for another show or two!
Off to South Haven, Michigan for my show tonight at Foundry Hall. I’ll be performing with Andru Bemis and The Womack Family Band. Is this real life?!!
The Adorable Boxer/Rottweiler, Whiskey
Last night, after enjoying a homemade meal, a cold Red Stripe, and conversation with a few new and old friends, I played to a handful of people in a living room. I used a chair from the dining room and shared my songs while a frisky boxer/rottweiler named Whiskey stared at my harmonica with her head cocked just a bit to the left. After the show, I had another drink, played with Whiskey a little more, and slept for 10 hours on a comfortable firm mattress in the guest room. And this, my friends, is why I will choose a house show over a venue show ANY day. House shows typically involve good people, good food, cold beer, sweet dogs, and not one “sound system issue.”
In the coming months, I hope to share my music with new audiences in a lot of new cities throughout the country. This is mainly what I spend my time working toward when I’m not actually performing. Unfortunately, some venues are hesitant to invite out-of-town artists to perform since they might not have a strong fan-base outside of the cities they’ve played in before. And honestly, it makes sense as venues are trying to get the most people out to their place. And my name alone won’t pull people out to a show in Chattanooga, Tennessee. An article in a local paper always helps, but what if a local paper or blog doesn’t pick up the story? What’s a solo, independent, touring artist to do? Thankfully, house shows are always a possibility!
A lot of people have asked how they can help me in this new phase of my music career. Honestly, if you really want to help me succeed, I would encourage you to do two things:
- Help me promote my shows! I list all of my shows on my website and on my Facebook Page. If you have friends or family living in the areas where I’m traveling, going out of your way to let them know about the show makes all the difference. Word-of-mouth promotion really works and helps more than you know. Any independent musician will tell you the same thing.
- Consider hosting a house show or helping me find a house show in the cities that I’m traveling to! Take a look at my upcoming dates at shows.mikereeb.com and let me know if you live in one of those cities OR if you have friends in those cities that might be interested in hosting a house show. If this sounds scary, don’t fear! Just shoot me an email and ask any questions you’d like. Even if 10 people come out… and 2/3 of those people donate $5… and I sell even 3-4 albums, it’s worth my time! House shows are also so much more intimate than venues, and it gives the audience a chance to really get to know me.
Thank you again for your support everyone! It means the world. Looking forward to playing in front of your fireplaces and TVs throughout 2013!
Of all the songs I’ve released over the years, I believe that “In A City So Bright” from my 2011 EP Turn Your Ear is the most interesting and unusual for a few different reasons. The arrangement is unique, there’s a time-change, I added a harmony vocal part throughout the entire song, and I will probably never play it live. That being said, here it is. But please, PLEASE- if you choose to listen to it, listen on decent headphones or through a good stereo system. None of that iPhone or laptop shiz. Ain’t nobody got time for that!