Well stars and bars Ol’ Bowms, where ya been?! Dang, small internet blog following, that’s a mighty fine question…. when we last left our author/hero he was sick seeking sympathy in Sweden, using bad alliteration, and making poetic references to…
We just unearthed the tour book from the band's very first tour, back in 2009. The itinerary doesn't list all of the dates as it is missing a page; the tour actually began in Nashville, with an opening slot at the Ryman followed by an appearance at Music City Roots and a headline gig at 3rd & Lindsley. We had a standing ovation from a sold out crowd at the Ryman and a decent crowd at the club the next night. At the end of the 3rd & Lindsley show, feeling pretty good about the size of the audience, we went to settle up and got paid the large sum of $5. Not exactly an auspicious beginning.
This was the tour that inspired the song 40 Days. The final schedule included 39 shows in a 40 day period, plus radio performances. We hit the road with five people in a Chevy Tahoe, gear and luggage loaded into a borrowed trailer. It was tight. Our manager pored over the Couchsurfing website to find the least crazy-looking people that we could stay with. (The guy who had a picture of himself and his mom, mostly nude except for the AK-47s and ammo strapped to them? She passed on him.) We stayed on couches, on floors, and once we were even in a cardboard castle. It was November and December in places like North Dakota and Minnesota. It was cold, we weren't making much money, and it was harder than the romantic visions we'd had about our first cross-country tour.
A week in, we were just about ready to give up. One of our band members decided to fly home, and they rest of us considered doing the same. But we knew that if we went home, everyone would know that we hadn't been able to hack it. The local newspaper had written an article about our tour and everyone we knew was rooting for us. We couldn't let them, or ourselves, down.
Within an hour, the decision was made that we'd keep on pushing. A chance encounter with a friend from East Tennessee led to an opportunity to have a Thanksgiving meal and a little respite from the road. It gave us the fuel we needed to continue heading west.
We made some friends and fans on that tour who are still part of this ride today. In Eugene, OR, the producers of a festival we really wanted to play (Pickathon, still one of our favorites) came to see us and ultimately booked us. We played a few venues that paid us hundreds of dollars instead of just a few. We started to see that this might work.
We returned home a tighter band, skinnier men, and hungrier for what we could become. While The Black Lillies existed before that tour began, I think it was that five week period in November and December of 2009 that made this band a reality.
With the exception of Cruz, none of those guys are in the band anymore (though once a Black Lilly, always a Black Lilly - and Tom Pryor will be joining us for a few shows on this upcoming run!). Change has been the only constant. Always challenging, but also always rewarding and an opportunity to grow.
Here's to the next eight years. And thank you to everyone who has supported us along the way. ... See MoreSee Less