We leave the frozen confines of Joplin, MO. and head due west towards Wichita, KS. This day I get to go on a few roads I haven’t traveled on. It’s funny, I’ve been doing this since the mid-80’s, traveling on the road and playing music that is, and I always get a kick when I get to travel on a new road and see what the lay-of-the-land is. Of course I could choose to travel different roads all the time but it wouldn’t be the most efficacious with our travel schedule so it has to fall under the pre-set routes to the future gig. That makes it more fun for me. It’s a gray day and it’s also a travel day so we’re not so pressed for time. Kansas can be quite the picturesque horizon. One of my favorite views or evocative horizons is actually on I-35 as you go through Chase County between El Dorado and Emporia, KS. When you pass the sign telling you you’re in Chase Co., and if you look all around you in a 360 degree view you’ll notice the obvious absence of trees on the entire horizon. Trees are there but as a very small quantity and usually lining a water source such as a meandering creek or of the like. It’s truly awe inspiring. Especially when you see the prairie change in color due to seasonal changes; very evocative. It is said that back in the days Indians roamed these lands up to the early mid-19th century, the grass was so tall that to view the horizon one had to stand on your horse. It’s truly one of the great grasslands and prairies still out there in the contiguous US.
We arrive in Wichita and we go to our prospective rooms and chill for the night. Hey, we’re in close proximity all the time, it’s understandable that we each require time to ourselves or ‘me’ time every day. We’re up the next day and we have a TV show to do on the local CW network affiliate. We’re once again doing an acoustic performance and since the gig we’re doing is for a charity organization- Honor Flights, with their cause going towards paying for Veterans of Foreign Wars air flights to go back and visit the vet’s location where they served duty and or fought in combat. It’s a really good cause for these vets and one that my good friend Brock has been involved with for years. He takes passion and pleasure in providing for the vets. So for the TV show I chose the song, The Ballad of Kohima Ridge, which is about an actual engagement that happened between the British and Indian forces fighting against the Japanese Imperial Army back in 44’ in Eastern India just outside what was then Burma. There’s a monument there that was erected for the men who fought there and in a tribute towards the army that carried the day, the Allies, the monument says – ‘For your tomorrow, We gave our day’. When I read that I thought, ‘there’s a song right there’. As we’re setting up for the show there’s the usual camera angles and attachment of microphones you go through and this time we’re just in a separate studio so once the daytime talk portion of the show was done then the host’s came over, Brett and Sierra, they came to our side and we did just a quick little chat, introduced the guys then it was show time. Kohima has some rather high vocal parts to hit and so naturally I wasn’t in top form for being so early in the day for me, 11 am-ish, but we got through on emotion and from all accounts I’ve heard it was OK.
We go back to the hotel and relax a bit then it’s down to the gig. Our show is in an venue named the 150 Loft and it’s located down in this revitalized entertainment section in downtown Wichita. We set up and hope for the best for a good crowd to make us feel good about our drawing power in Wichita as well as for the cause towards the Vets. When we arrive at the venue before our gig, the place is comfortably full and it’s a gratifying sight. We kick into our show and I can feel that I’m starting to regain my playing legs. Confidence is growing and my fingers and thoughts and ideas are starting to initiate too. I have such a long way to go musically that it’s not even funny. My Goals Beyond will always be ahead of me and it’s always where I’m trying to get. I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying to reach it. When I did a show with Tab Benoit last year Tab was wanting me to go out and hang with them to go and bowl, yes really bowl with pins and everything, but CDG had to leave a bit early and I’ve learned that it is best to get your rest on the road to help give me the energy to expend myself as I do every gig, and I told Tab I couldn’t cuz’ “I have to go practice because I want to get as successful as you.” Tab looked at me with his celebratory après-gig cigar clenched between his teeth and as he shifted his weight to his other foot and took a drag and cocked his head sideways towards me he said, ‘Chris,…(exhale), to get successful as me you gotta’ stop practicing’ in his wonderful Southern Loo-siana drawl. He’s something else that Tab. We both had a good talk that night. But alas, I still practice every day and it’s just something that I know I’ll be doing for the rest of my life so long as I am physically able to. The metronome is part of the soundtrack of my life.
The gig was fun and we now turn our sights towards Topeka for our return to Uncle Bo’s.
Watch Out, Here I Come.