Singer/songwriters Kenny Loggins, Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman recently formed the new band Blue Sky Riders, and were profiled by Huff/Post50 in February. They are finishing their first album and will be chronicling their experiences as a band in this blog.
Every night at the end of our show (after the panties and the babies stop flying) we tell our audience that we will meet them in the lobby to shake hands and sign CDs. Every night we head to the merch table and hope, hope, HOPE that there will be a few people in line so we don't look foolish and sad. Guess what? Every night we meet a seemingly endless parade of people who have wonderful things to say to and about us and have become fans of Blue Sky Riders!
It's great if they buy something. An EP jacket is sooo much easier to sign our names on than a body part. We have actual T-shirts now too!!! It is terrific to think that they are taking a memory of us home with them. What really affects us, though, are the stories and the well wishes.
Total strangers are telling us intimate things about their lives -- friends and families lost, ambitions forgotten or found -- and all these stories end with them saying that something we wrote or sang gave them a gift: the knowledge that they are not alone, that solutions are out there. Not bad for three-minute songs.
Their stories and handshakes tell us that we are onto something here. We are all professional songwriters. I have a business card that tells me so. It says: "Gary Burr...I make shit up." We know that we have written some wonderful songs for this project. We just never know for sure whether we would TOUCH people with those songs.
Some songs are like glass figurines. Beautiful and terrifying and fragile but only meant to be appreciated from a few feet away for the craft involved. Some songs are a balm. You hear them and you say to yourself, "That was just what I needed." They were never written to be medicine ... sort of like mold on bread actually being penicillin. Who knew? We always do the best we can and then sit back and wait. At the merch table we find out it was all worth it.
All kinds of people come and say hello. We get the people who love Kenny and are so happy that he is finding a new way to be creative and will continue to bring new music into their lives because he IS that important to them. We meet the people who miss that feeling of finding a band they like for the first time and knowing that this is just the beginning of a long ride with the windows down and the radio blasting. We meet the people who want to encourage us. They know instinctively that we have a long hard road in front of us. They give us the encouragement they would give a bunch of 17-year-olds who will be loading their amps into a station wagon as soon as they are done signing.
We meet the new Blue Sky Rider army. They are the ones who are going to make us record a second record whether the first record sells one copy or 100,000. It's the least we can do. They give, we give.
Tonight it's another table, another box of Sharpies we'll blow through, another two or three T-shirts sold and a couple of dozen EPs. A few people will ask us "Where's Kenny?" or hand us Loggins and Messina albums to take back to him to sign. (We have to politely decine...this would severely cut into our fake Loggins and Messina signature memorabilia trade).
We'll listen, they'll talk. Maybe a few of their stories will be in future songs we write. Certainly all of this experience will be in there. You wanna know if the eleven-hour bus rides and the long sound checks and the sweaty shows are worth it? Come out to the merch table and listen and find out why we do this.
Follow Gary Burr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@Garyburr