Friday, April 25, 2008

Dove/GMA Encounters

I played guitar for JACI V at 12:53pm Wednesday which was way cool, because she's a talented legend (who I met when I was in college and she was 14) But I therefore missed my rehearsal with Jeremy Camp at the Doves at 11:30am.  We announced for New Artist of the Year. (Brandon Heath!)

Here are some of my encounters with my heroes:
TOBYMAC: When I packed and left home 6 weeks ago, I wasn't thinking about what to wear at the Doves.  So when it came time to drive to the Grand Old Opry, I realized I had nothing to wear.  Sarah brought up a jean blazer that I bought last year cause it fit so well, but never matched with anything, and all I had with me was my 'stage jeans' that I wore Every night this whole tour.  Denim on Denim and not Quite the same color!  A black button down shirt and black shoes.  Feeling VERY self conscious and about to be on National TV, Toby walks up to me and after a couple sentences of "what's up" he steps closer, lightly grabs my jacket by the buttons and says, "you Gotta tell me where you got your suit!"  He was serious, he loved it and I was no longer self conscious.  By the end of the night 5 people told me they loved my suit!

I was able to tell CINDY MORGAN, the ever gorgeous Songwriter of the Year, that I was her driver for the day when she played at Toccoa Falls back in 1998.   I sat next to one of her friends at the Doves and she asked me, "Were you really Cindy's bus driver?"  Oh how yarns get spun...

I went to see THIRD DAY play at the Wild Horse Saloon on Tuesday night after an event I had to be at, and got all the way down there (7 blocks) and didn't have my ID or my Conference I got bounced from the show.  On sprint back to the hotel I called MAC POWELL to tell him that I tried, I left a message, he called me back to see if he could get me in, but I had already retrieved my items and made it back (out of breath) just in time for the first song.  Great new music!

I was walking to lunch with Dan Hannon on Tuesday and JEREMY CAMP drove by and yelled out the window to me and pointed, but was pointing a little behind me; and since he was wearing shades I could tell he was looking at me...So i didn't readily enter the conversation (forgetting that Dan didn't know him)  He said "Hey man!  We're presenting together tomorrow!" That's when I realized he Was talking to me.  I told him that story Wednesday night, and he was like, "Yeah man, I was like, whatever?" As if I was too cool to say hey.   When in actuality, I think Jeremy's too cool.  And cool he is. 

Finally for today, BRANDON HEATH looked like he thought Jeremy and I pulled a prank on him when we called his name for New Artist.  He texted me today, "Did you see how surprised I was?  I was like, 'Surely he's not playing a trick on me in front of America.'  My hand was shaking!"

GMA week: 5 days where I get to hang out with all my heroes

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tour over! GMA week

Winston Salem, Lancaster and Pittsburgh were a ton of fun, and a great way to end my first tour: in my home town, singing a Penguins version of "Burgh Boy"  (which people erroneously call Bird Boy)  We recorded the last two shows which are available with all their errors at  
The bus pulled back into Nashville at 9:30 Saturday morning, I kissed my wife and boy goodbye as they drove back to Atlanta and I headed downtown Nashville to begin GMA week.  A week full of showcases, interviews and seeing old friends (and making new ones)  So I'm exhausted, yesterday my first radio interview was at 5:30am.   I sang my idea of how Johnny Cash would sing "Watch Over Me", commenting on how hard it is to sing in the morning.  Hopefully it was respectful: I actually liked it better than my real version!  I saw Third Day's show last night, but missed Switchfoot, but I got bounced at the door since I didn't have my badge.  Mac was going to let me in, but I just ran back and got my credentials.  Their new stuff sounds great, as does Chris Tomlin's new material: of course.  So there's exciting new stuff coming out!
Time to run again.  Sarah's driving up and we're gonna catch Leeland tonight at 7.  Dove Awards tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

4th Leg: Cold and Cloudy

Cleveland, Chicago and Fort Wayne.
Cleveland was a great time even though I let it slip that I was from Pittsburgh from on-stage.  Well I said that I was from a town 142 miles southeast and thanked them for letting us borrow Ben Roethlisberger.   One brave man sitting in the back yelled, "Go Steelers!"  I think security ushered him out.   My good friends from Perimeter Church, the Ward's came to the show (they moved to Ohio) and Debbie brought us a care package of home baked goodies (cookies and brownies) and assorted chocolates from a local Chocolatier.  They even included a toy bus for Daniel that has a driver and 4 kids that are spitting images of his cousins Dylan, Jakob, Silas and Kilole!    We actually got lost in the basement hallways of the church: hard to find the stage.  "Hello, Cleveland!"
Chicago was Meredith's home church and as they had a church service that night we had to work around a full stage, but it was a good time: I almost couldn't shower because there was security guarding the bathrooms as it was the one the children use during church, they don't allow adults in at the same time.  But they sent extra security, and I got a shower.  Then my camp friends the Freemire's (45 people came from camp!) brought us 3 deep dish pizza's from Lou Malnati's.  Beautiful.  It snowed big fat snow under the parking lot street light as we walked to the bus.
Fort Wayne was cold, windy and in a Gym!  But we packed as many people as we could in that Gym for our introduction to Fort Wayne: our first visit there.  We'd run out of CD's in Chicago, so our apologies again to you Fort Wayners.  More camp friends, the Harrington's (5 of them) and Cara Deitzman came to see the show.  Cara came to meet Brandon: let's be honest.   ;)  2 people refused to shake my hand because they were sick (thank you).  However I still caught a head cold.   It's mid-April!  the North needs to thaw out!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thank you, Break, and Cleveland.

So I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who comment on my blogs, and those you who read them, but just don't feel you need to comment (which is totally cool)  But mainly I wanted to let those of you who DO comment know that while I may not respond to each and every comment you make, I do read them and your thoughts and words mean a lot to me, even if I don't add my own comments in response. 
I had a great day and a half in Nashville on break, I stayed at the Norman's again.  I had lunch with Mitch (my manager and good friend) on Wednesday, mere hours after our bus pulled in from Florida and spent the rest of the afternoon reading Last of the Mohicans on Bebo's front porch.  Thursday morning Bebo and I drove over to the studio and listened to some of his new tracks that they were mixing.  Bebo fans, you'll want to pre-order this one.  Non-Bebo fans, you'll want to pre-order this one.   It sounds awesome.  Then I went over Jason Ingram's like I told you I was going to, and we finished a song that I started writing.  Don't know what the title will be yet.  It's based on JS Bach's "Soli Deo Gloria" postscript he used on his compositions.  "To God Alone Be The Glory"  I'm pretty excited about the song.  
Then Sarah made Pork Burgers for Bebo, Roshare and I.  (I'll have to give the recipe because they're A Maze Ing)  We raced to the bus by 10pm and now I'm in Cleveland.  How did that happen?  Our driver calmly drove us through last night's horrific storm and I didn't wake up once. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How Texas Smells and Florida Tastes

We played the Clay County Fair tonight south of Jacksonville, FL.  Brandon shot some great footage of he and Meredith you'll have to check out on his myspace page.  Deep fried Oreo's (pictured) were consumed by many, as were deep fried Snickers on a stick.  Scotty rode the Zipper Ride and got pretty sick.  I filmed it.
Now we're on the bus headed to Nashville for a couple days off.  We're staying with the Normans and I'm meeting with Jason Ingram (co-wrote Can't Hide From Your Love with me) to work on a song for the new album.  
So, as promised: I was on a jog in Texas: the home of The Cowboys, big trucks and Dr Pepper.  I smelled something in the air, a familiar smell, but one I couldn't place.  Was it a tree?  A restaurant? A flower?  No: I was smelling Dr Pepper!  It couldn't be...that's laughable.  But for the next 2-3 minutes, Dr Pepper was the prevalent smell in the air, and I had to laugh: Texas Literally Smells Like Dr. Pepper!

From Lone Star to Shining Sea

We spent the last 2 days driving from San Antonio to Jacksonville, Florida with a stop in Biloxi MS.  We stayed at the IP Casino because casino's rooms are rather inexpensive as they think you'll spend all your money at the tables.  But I'm not a gambling man.  So I'll take the cheap rooms.  Sarah and I walked Daniel down to the shore and played in the sand and the shore break; found a shrimping boat on sale for $18,00.00.  I don't know what that means, but it was funny.We all chipped in for a cabana, poolside from 6-10pm so we could watch the Final Four Championship.  It was a great evening: warm, breezy, heated pool, a sliver-crescent moon and a big screen TV.  But the game didn't start till 8:30 we missed the end.  awesome.  Josh is from Kansas though: so he was happy.
Anyhow: as promised: Eyebrows.  I drew a picture of the band a couple days ago and Brandon said he'd draw me.  Then he told the crowd about it and mentioned how I was all eyebrows.  He was explaining how I'm not as mean as I look in all my pictures and with eyebrows like mine: I can't help but look angry.
Then he introduced me as, "Mr Eyebrows himself, Aaron Shust"
Anyhow, we're about to play the Clay County Fair here in Jacksonville.  We have Horses parked next to the bus.  Awesome.
Daniel loves it (pictured here with Reb, our driver) Our noses, however, are not loving it.  

Sunday, April 6, 2008

3rd Leg: Deep In The Heart

After playing Parkersburg, WV on Tuesday we had a day off in Peoria, IL.  I can't remember what we did...I went for a jog, I offered to help an older lady carry her groceries from her car, but I think I scared her and she said no.  So I obliged and kept on running; when she saw that I didn't insist, I think she realized I actually would have helped her, and she yelled out, "Thank you!"  I waved.   I guess I shouldn't run in all black.  We went to Red Lobster for dinner after walking around the mall all afternoon.  Peoria.  Home of John Daker.
We woke up in Omaha: cold and rainy but had some of the best catering ever.  Brisket sandwiches & baked potato soup for lunch and Ribs and Chicken for dinner.  Great ribs!  From there we drove to Tulsa where I've played 4 times now, always a great time and a great crowd...a group of volunteers were going to IHOP afterward and invited us to go, which I SO wanted to do cause I love the Swedish Crepes.  But we had to drive to Howard Payne University in Texas: and while I was talking to Josh and Ben Rector, this guy was standing next to us, I looked over and recognized him, "Daniel Tucek?!"  Daniel was the bass player for One Bad Pig, one of my favorite bands in my teenage years.  We'd never met, but I wrote the band a letter when I was a kid, and he wrote me back a personal note: totally impressive.  I was pretty much star struck.  We talked a lot and he had some great advice to give.  I got a great chance to talk with some people after the show.  People, I truly love meeting you all and sharing life with you!
Today, we closed out our Texas experience in San Antonio!  Perfect weather: hot, sunny and dry.  We ate BBQ from Old Town Grill and it was amazing.  Texas can do Barbeque.  The Show in San Antone may have been one of my favorite: the audience was ready to sing; ready to have fun: great crowd!  
Back on the bus: we're headed to Jacksonville, FLORIDA.   Remind me to tell you about Brandon, Eyebrows and Dr Pepper.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spring Tour: 2nd Leg

Last week we played in Wildwood Florida, about 1 hour north of Orlando.  I did my student teaching at nearby Leesburg HS in college (where they filmed Waterboy) and one of my students, John, was the promoter for the show!  He said when he realized that I had been his teacher, he had to bring me in!  Very cool.  And my teacher, Mrs Elton even left a meeting early to come and catch the show: great little reunion time.   I accidentally played my harmonica upside-down, so now I have a piece of glow in the dark tape letting me know which side is up.   Awesome.   I'll keep practicing: new instrument for me.
Then we drove to Toccoa, GA where I actually WENT to college (Toccoa Falls) and played for their campus preview, where interested High School students get to hang out at college for the weekend.  I played during Campus Preview 10 years early, went I was supposed to open for Cindy Morgan and Satellite Soul, but their management never gave me permission to actually open, so I did a show in the cafeteria and on the green in the center of campus instead.  So 10 years later, I finally got to actually play for Preview and enjoyed playing to a "home town crowd" that packed out Grace Chapel!  My Band said it was the most show they'd ever played with me!  Thanks TFC!
Then we played for a youth convention in Dalton GA the next night, which is always interesting because the people aren't really there to hear a concert: they're there for the conference, so maybe a small percentage even care that you're there.  Which is always a good reminder of why we do what we do: to proclaim the truth of God's love for us: and point to His worth.  And we did that, and the conference attenders seemed to have a great time!  Great crowd!
Then the "Nashville Show"  That's when you play in or near Nashville, if you didn't figure that out.  That's when the people in the "industry" come out (hopefully) to see you.  It's always a little nerve wracking because it's easy to feel like you're being critiqued, but thankfully we work with very loving people that I consider my friends and I was probably the most relaxed on stage as I've ever been.   
We had a day off Monday and Sarah and Daniel and I hung out with Bebo and his family until our 10pm bus call last night.   Now we're in Parkersburg, WV ready to sound check for tonight's show!  Always a pleasure!