Richmond “Livingroom Tour” Report

I am in the sun-bathed, bay-windowed alcove of 1720 Grove Street in Richmond, Virginia. There is a fifty-foot statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee just a few blocks away. I am well below the Mason-Dixon Line. I am well into the South.

The Livingroom Tour is hitting stride. I am finally rested, and hydrated, having found a balance between beer, pizza and folk/rock at night, then running, coffee and Gatorade in the morning. I feel so happy, so contented, and so grateful for this time, this process, and these terrific friends I am making along the way.

Last night’s performance was hosted by former-MTV News intern Lindsay Sterling, and her sweet and gracious friends Rachel and Kendra. They live in a beautiful old apartment in The Fan District of Richmond (so named, apparently, because Richmond was designed to “fan” out from its center). The homes here are staggering in their historical beauty. It’s not difficult to imagine the Old South, with its cobblestone streets and gas lamps.

The show was an absolute pleasure. The audience was 30 or so young professionals, themselves grappling with what constitutes home, community, and adult life. Each one of them was attentive, kind, and appreciative, as I am of them. The set was casual and well-paced. I added “Interstate,” having spent now some four days driving south on Interstate 95. And I’m playing “Here Comes Your Man” again, but finger-picking it — I’m not sure if Frank Black would be pleased or disgusted. I think that “Dear Elizabeth” remains an audience favorite, perhaps because it is as meaningful to me today as it was when I wrote it some four or so years ago (and even if I’m still not sure what it “means”).

Afterwards, when this beautiful wood-floored space was emptied of all but Lindsay, Rachel, Kendra and me, I played a few more songs for them, including the brand-new “Christopher Street” (which I’m intent on including in the regular set before the end of the tour), “Whirlwind,” and Lindsay’s request, “Shiver.” Sometime shortly thereafter, I fell asleep on the floor cradling my guitar.

This morning has been peaceful. The ladies went of to work (I failed to convince them to play hookie), and I went running through historic downtown Richmond, and down to the river where the Civil War Museum looks out over Belle Isle. I’m hoping to stop through the museum on my way out of town, as it fits nicely into my recent study of the Civil War (and by study I mean watching the Ken Burns’ Civil War series, but still).

Back home at 1720 Grove, I scribbled down a new song, “Shenandoah,” a very-simple, finger-picked ballad in the key of E:

I will follow you down to the edge of the ocean
I will follow you down to the edge of the sea
I will follow you through the pale Shenandoah
I will follow you, will you follow me?

So next it’s on to Raleigh, or Charlottesville — I’m still not sure. Seems like Jyl and I got our dates confused, so, because Raleigh’s just a short drive from Chapel Hill, I’m going to suggest that we consolidate both shows into just one tomorrow night. Then I can go over to Charlotteville today and hang out with my cousin Luke, a senior at UVA.

Either way, I remain so grateful for and so awed by the terrific community spirit of this tour. I wanted to bring my music into people’s lives in a more intimate way, and I wanted to acknowledge the relationship between singer/songwriter and audience. I couldn’t do this without them. And without you. And I wouldn’t want to.

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