Last week I took a much needed vacation to visit family who I don’t get to see as often as I’d like. On my trip, a moment of reflection brought me back to this time last year. I had just released an album I felt very proud of, and found myself preparing to play a 2 hour set with a full band for the first time ever, headlining a concert series at the Missouri Botanical Garden. I knew this would be the biggest show yet, but I had no idea how big. Getting the band up to speed on 2 hours of mostly original music proved stressful, but going into it I felt pretty confident. Two hours before the show, people started flooding the lawn in front of the amphitheater, snatching up prime spots for the evening. My stomach jumped. Despite playing hundreds of shows, I found myself a bit nervous. Some people think that if you’re getting up on stage to perform, you’ve conquered any semblance of stage fright and completely bask in waves of attention. That’s not true for me. I still get nervous. Not all the time, but I was pretty nervous that day. July 3rd, 2013. I wasn’t prepared for over 10,000 people to show up. Not one bit.

Nerves do funny things. I’m sure they tickled my voice a bit. I forgot a few lyrics. I started one song in the wrong key, but the band stuck right there with me. After a few songs I was able to settle in and put those nerves in their place. I’ll never forget the encore at the end of the night, singing Neil Young’s Homegrown to a sea of excited dancing people proudly waving flags against an orange and purple sky. What a truly amazing way to end a night, nerves and all.

Welcome to my journey.

(Photo by Nate Burrell)