Greetings from Montana.
It’s been a busy last six weeks or so since Indiana got out of school for the summer in mid-June. Since then, we’ve been doing a lot of traveling—some business, mixed with a good bit of pleasure. First we drove to the Food Independence Summit in Ohio for most of a week, then we went on a tour bus trip with our whole team to the Modern Homesteading Conference in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and finally on to here in Livingston, Montana where I will be part of two songwriter shows at the Music Ranch this Friday and Saturday night with Jimmy Fortune, Paul Overstreet, and Thom Schuyler. A few days after that, we will begin the long drive back home in Tennessee.
I’ve been coming here to Montana each summer for the last five or six years, and besides being a wonderful time to recharge, it’s where, and when, I take time to re-evaluate the past year (August to July), and prayerfully begin thinking about plans for the coming one.
Last year one of the big things that came out of our time here was my decision to take a year off the internet, which was a big deal (even though now that we’re only two weeks away from that year ending) has been surprisingly easier than I thought. And so this year, as we turn the corner and head into the last half of July, some clarity for this coming Fall and Winter is already coming into focus. A couple of those ideas I like to take a moment and share here in this blog post.
SONGS OR STORIES
After a nine-month hiatus from doing concerts at our farm, I’ve decided to start back again with weekend shows beginning in September (on a Friday & Saturday night), and also in October, November, and December. But even though I will be doing two shows per weekend, they won’t be the same kind of storytelling.
Each Friday night of this series will be a night filled with Songs. I’ll share the music that we’ve written and recorded through the years, along with some of the hit songs I’ve written and lots of others that you might have never heard before. But on each Saturday night, I’ll be doing something completely different. For the first time, I’ll put the guitar down and instead, spend the evening sharing Stories. Some will be intimate stories I’ve written through the years in memoirs, or in my blog, and some will be other things I’ve penned, thoughts, or just observations from the life I’ve lived and the story God’s given us so far.
Evenings of storytelling without music, is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. And earlier this summer in the travels I’ve been on and events I’ve been speaking at, I began experimenting with doing them, and I have to admit, the experience for the audience—and for me—has been profound. There is something about the power of stories told by the people who’ve lived them. They have a way of touching us all deeply in ways that almost nothing else can.
These weekends will give me the opportunity to share two parts of storytelling that I love: the songwriter/singer side of me… and also the author/writer part, which I’ve never had the chance to share live before. Although different, they complement each other and I think for the folks who decide to come for both nights, I think will be a unique, life-giving experience for all of us. The dates for the “Songs or Stories” concert series are September 8 & 9, October 20 & 21, November 17 & 18, and December 14 & 15… and you can get tickets through our web store HERE.
One of the reasons I haven’t done any shows at home since last year’s Christmas concerts is because I couldn’t. For a while there, earlier this year, I began to wonder if my performing days were over. In early January, after performing at the Opry at the Ryman, my voice began to hurt. Not just singing, but at times speaking too. I thought maybe I had somehow damaged it and it needed rest, and so I decided to take the next six months or so off, to see if it would heal. But by April, it was still painful to try to sing more than a song or two… and even doing that, hurt.
I finally broke down and went to the Vanderbilt Voice Clinic in Nashville in late April, and after running a series of tests, they found that I had in fact injured, not my vocal chords, but a spot close to them, and prescribed a steroid inhaler that would in time, help my voice to heal.
I was still struggling to sing and talk much at the Festival at our farm in early June… but thankfully by the end of the month, I had turned a corner and have since traveled to the events in Ohio and Idaho where I’ve performed 90-minute concerts and my voice is pretty much back to normal. Now here it is mid-July and I’m looking forward to singing (and speaking) this weekend, and even more so at the Songs or Stories events starting in September.
MULETOWN IN THE ROUND Season 2
The other thing that has come out of this summer’s downtime, is the decision to begin filming a new season of the popular RFD-TV songwriter series Muletown in the Round again. If you haven’t seen it or heard of it, or been to a taping, it’s like the Bluebird Cafe, but a little more down-home. Here is a video sampler with some highlights from Season One.
We taped the 1st season and a number of other shows at our Marcy Jo’s Muletown restaurant in downtown Columbia in 2020 and 2021. But starting in September (the Thursday before my Friday and Saturday shows), we’ll be taping the new season in Homestead Hall, our concert venue here at the farm. The first series, Paul Overstreet hosted, but this time, they’ll be hosted by Wynn Varble. He will be hosting the shows and each tv taping will be held the Thursday before my concert weekends… Sept 7, October 19, November 16, and December 13.
I’m guessing these shows/tv tapings might sell out pretty quickly, so be sure to get tickets HERE while they’re still available. If you want to make a weekend of it, you can buy tickets to all three for a discount. Of course, you can just purchase a ticket to the songwriter show and tv taping on its own if you’d like. No matter what, I think the shows this Fall are going to be a special time that I’m personally looking forward to.
I’m also looking forward to getting back to the farm soon and harvesting all the tomatoes, okra, corn, and other things that have been growing while we’ve been gone, and just being home. As beautiful as it is here, I know Indiana is ready to get home too. She’s having fun in Montana, but pretty much asks everyday, “Papa, is it time to go home yet?”…