Leland Sundries

“Elegy” music video at the Staten Island Tugboat Graveyard

video from Saturday in Brooklyn

Video of show-closer “Giving Up Redheads” from Union Hall in Brooklyn, Nov 6:

1629 miles

This was the November tour leg route:

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tour diary: leg two, part two: Atlanta, NC, drive to Indy

Driving Through Bourbon County, Kentucky in the ’91 Volvo, we listened to an NPR interview with Keith Richards. It’s amazing how quick the last few days have been but we’ve gone a long ways. We seem a long way from Birmingham, but that was only a few days ago.

Atlanta and we arrive at the house where we’re playing a private party. Our gracious host Marisa had set up some Mexican beer and a few candles. It was a wonderful night with no PA and no pretensions. Singing without a mic felt great. Steve LaBate’s set was fantastic and I particularly enjoyed his second to last song, introduced as a “Catholic guilt song.” Taylor was mesmerizing. You could have heard a pin drop during “96 Crayons.” I joined him on harp for an exuberant “Damn Boy.” After the show, Marisa lit a fire pit in the backyard but running out of wood, so we broke down an old futon frame and tossed the logs in the fire.

Headed towards Asheville the next day, we were excited to get into the hills and mountains of western North Carolina. Taylor turned me on to a kooky country singer named Jerry Reed and was singing along and playing air guitar on the steering wheel (the YouTube video is below). The whole region reminded me of northern Vermont, especially the town of Marshall, NC, where we set up for another show without a PA or mics. Taylor, sound-checking, inadvertently started the show when a few guys sat down to listen and we spent the night tossing songs back and forth: some originals and some standards like “St. James Infirmary,” “High Heeled Sneakers,” and such. I tried “High On The Plains” in open G and we all played on most of each other’s songs for a small but appreciative audience. We stayed up in our host’s cabin and played music well into the night, with a pause now and again to look at the stars.

Yesterday was the longest drive. Enjoyed watching Taylor get into some Collins Kids tunes and “Beast of Burden” from the NPR interview with Keith.

Mike mentioned that he could hear some of Taylor’s slide sound in the Stones’ “You Got To Move” and I asked him if he listened to any Mississippi Fred McDowell. He says not much and that most of his slide influences are sub-conscious. Same with my harp, though his slide playing’s on a whole other level.

Magic City

Flew into Birmingham Sunday and tour headliner Taylor Hollingsworth picked me up at the airport. My old acoustic guitar made it, a relief after hearing some friends’ stories about guitar/flight mishaps. Taylor picked me up at the airport and we headed for his practice space to pick up his amp. He practices in the old women’s locker room of a defunct iron furnace. The rusted machinery landscape is like his playground. He’s the only band out there. We got some soul food and then geared up for the show: a costume contest/Halloween concert at Rojo; a hometown show for Taylor but a whole new state for Leland Sundries.

Taylor’s got a beat-up, no name acoustic that he carries without a case, put a humbucker in, and raised the action enough for slide playing. He usually tunes it down a whole step but sometimes puts it in open D or even open C. We set up our gear then sat up at the bar until show time. He’s got a new one called “Lost in Mississippi” that hits the spot. He sings about goats and Otha Turner.

I played the Leland Sundries set in Birmingham dressed in a strange clown getup with a red tinsel wig and ‘70s thrift store pants. Taylor and his fiancé Kate dressed as ketchup and mustard respectively. I think the Sundries set went pretty well and Ketchup took the stage, dueting with Kate on a few songs and singing a few solo. Michael Shackelford backed him up on a snare drum. A few beers later, Mike signed on for the tour and I’m glad about it. He’s a really complementary musician and fills out Taylor’s sound and might play on a few with me as well. He’s got his own Birmingham band called the Grenadines. It didn’t take long to realize that Taylor is his own man and an open hearted and genuine guy with uncommon musical talent. (Costumes: Lindsey Lohan and her bag of cocaine beat out get-ups from Where The Wild Things Are and beat the two guys from Weekend at Bernie’s in the costume contest.)

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