I know what you’re thinking. (Or at least I think I do?) It has been way too long since we’ve chatted. Let’s see, what have we missed… So much fun that it won’t fit into one tweek. It was a summer complete with boatloads of musical marvels, many miles logged in the Econoline and plenty of stories to tell!
It is great to be back home, from what turned out to be an awesome trip. Dubbed “The Gator Nate Only Child Family Band Southern Americana Tour 2012” (quite a mouthful, now try to put that on a coolie-cup), one stop was better than the next, and so on. “Playing it by ear” was sure the theme of this adventure. Very slim planning was done for the excursion, but there were a few definites. Play, write, listen to, and learn as much music as possible, spread my original songs to lots of new folks, and seek inspiration from the natural splendor of Southern (not to be confused with South) America.
Northern Florida, The Atlantic Coast, Appalachia, The Smokeys, Cherokee, Pisgah, Chattahoochee and Nantahala National Forests, the New River and Nolichucky Gorges, Ocoee River Valley and Joyce Kilmer State Park were all awesome places that drew me in. One of the things I really enjoy about the Southeast region of the U.S. is that most of the larger cities are in close proximity to state parks, national forests, gorges, lakes and rivers that allow camping . Having a cozy cot in my van means no sleeping in stiff, starchy, short beds and stinky, overpriced motel rooms on my “at-least-annual” tour, now in its fourth year. So generally, at the end of the night, I’ll pack up the E350 with the guitars, the drums and stage props, and head to an “off-the-beaten-path” campground in search of a spot with a rushing stream, a hootin’ owl and a campfire. Believe it or not, this actually describes where I stayed on quite a few of the nights. Unfortunately there were a few nights I had to settle for the ol’ “park and snooze” at the local Wal-Mart. (Every city and town in America has one and it’s free). Just hang the night’s sweaty shirts over the windows and your sure to get a good night’s sleep, especially if the weather’s nice, and the security guard doesn’t hassle you.
My first “real” gig of the tour was Jack’s BBQ in St. Augustine. Friendly locals and rocking ribs! Caught up with some old friends, met some new ones, converted a few “Gatorheads,” and even had a few follow me to the festival in Nashville. But we’ll get into that leg of the trip later. Folks wanted to dance and raise cain, and by golly, Gator Nate was there to help ‘em do it. “Doin’ it” lasted quite a while, and I didn’t leave Jack’s till 2:30 AM, which normally wouldn’t be bad, but tonight (or this morning, whatever you wanna call it), I had a 14 hour solo drive (after playing four hours) ahead of me. Red Bull, Mountain Dew, Coffee, Stacker2, nothing was gonna get me to West (by God) Virginia before tomorrow evening. Even if that did work, I’d have to put on another four hour fiasco of funk rockin’ fun. Wow, this is gonna be a long night. But nobody put me up to this. Besides, IF somehow I actually made it through the drive, and the show, there would be three days of relaxation in one of my favorite places on earth. The New River Gorge.
History says that It was named the “New” River because at the time it was discovered, there was only one other known river in North America, hence the “New River,” as opposed to the “old”…I guess? Something I look forward to all year is whitewater rafting in West Virginia, as it is always nice and warm, even in the colder months, since it is one of the few rivers that flows from south to north. Over the last three years, I have gotten to know some quite interesting raft guides, coal miners, musicians, fishing guides and bartenders in Appalachia. My buddy, Danny is a West Virginia native and a self-proclaimed “hill-billy.” He is also the president of the “Gorge Gatorheads” (hey, Jimmy Buffet has Parrot-heads, why can’t we have a cool name for our supporters?) Danny and his pals were front and center for the show in Fayetteville. They were all excited to hear the “Wild, Wonderful” song, off my new album, about their stomping grounds, and the mention of a few names.
Although the drive was arduous, the show was well worth the sleep-depravation. We had a nice local turnout and even had some friends from out of state show up. After the show was a 13 hour nap in my cozy cot. You won’t hear any complaints from me about 45 degrees at night. The place I play, Cantrell’s Pub, is also Cantrell’s Campground and Cantrell’s Rafting Company, so I don’t have to go far to camp, drink or whitewater raft!
Next stop Asheville, Nashville and Cherokee National Forest. To be continued next tweek…
Nate Augustus is a native “Florida cracker” and a singer/songwriter from the Marco/Naples area. His band, “Gator Nate & The Gladezmen” and his “One-Man-Band” can be seen at many local venues. He has released multiple albums on his record label “SwampSong”. For more info on Nate and his musical doings, go to www.Gladezmen.com or facebook.com/NateAugustus His latest CD “Gator Nate Augustus-Only Child Family Band” is available on CDBaby and Itunes.