I’m on I-40W right now heading from Nashville toward Memphis…in the middle of a two-week run of acoustic shows with Meredith Andrews. Gabe’s driving and it’s an absolutely beautiful day outside. Still cold, which I am WAY over this far into the winter season, but blue sky and beautiful nonetheless. This little batch of shows has really been a breath of fresh air on a few different levels. For one, playing acoustic shows – just me and Gabe – is the epitome of what I love about playing live. I tell people all the time that my hope is that these acoustic shows feel more like conversations than concerts…and that has seemed to be the case so far. We’re also intentionally playing much smaller venues for the same reason – mostly crowds of 400-600 or so. The intimacy that can happen in a smaller venue acoustic show is like no other, and in a lot of ways, is what I fell in love with about live music way back in college watching people like David Wilcox, John Gorka, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Shawn Colvin. That’s what really defined the direction that my own live shows went in years later, and I feel like I’m getting back to that now…back to the heart of the things I love about playing music. After all, my first love is writing songs, and I do that in very small rooms on an acoustic guitar. That’s how the songs are born, and in so many ways that’s how I feel they are best delivered. We’ve also been driving to all of these shows, another breath of fresh air, because we’re sort of forced to see the landscape and inevitably we end up deep in conversation rather than sleeping through the night drives on a bus or settling into our seats and into our headphones on a flight to somewhere. We tend to drive a good bit on acoustic fly-dates anyway – it’s sort of our M.O. to fly into a certain region of the country – me, Gabe, and a tour manager – rent a minivan at the airport that’ll hold all of our gear (mostly just all of Gabe’s dang instruments…good grief he plays a bunch of crap), and drive to a long weekend’s worth of shows routed fairly close together. This run of shows was originally intended to be two separate runs, one based around flying into Chicago, and the next weekend flying into Atlanta. But a few extra shows landed in the middle and it just made sense to drive in and out of Nashville. So here we are, driving on a beautiful day, having just wrapped up a good long talk about real life stuff, and now listening to Brooke Fraser. Meredith’s asleep now, in the seat next to me…she flew into Nashville this morning and we picked her up on the way out of town. She’s been another breath of fresh air. It’s always nice to have a female presence around anyway because I think they just soften things a bit relative to a bunch of guys travelling around together. But Meredith’s just a good soul in particular and her heart is genuine and good. And her voice is beautiful and her songs are true. And she likes Bojangle’s chicken and biscuits. She’s from the Carolinas and so is Bojangle’s… so we celebrated that together this morning. So now I have a very full belly, but still room enough to take in yet another breath of fresh air.