Hunten, etc. - 12/14/2011

When I wrote in my journal last, I was experiencing the euphoria of the band being recognized by the IBMA for Album of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year. You can't stay up forever. If I walked around constantly with the grin I've seen in pictures of me after the awards show, I would expect someone to rightfully smack me. Dad said, "You look drunk" when he saw us holding our trophies on the front page of Plattsburgh's Press-Republican. I definitely wasn't, but I was high on life. 

Like I said, those highs don't and can't last, and while I haven't been as high, I have been happy. We entered our traditionally quiet time of the year, musically-speaking, not long after IBMA. Even though we haven't been on the road much lately, I still feel like I've been going a hundred miles per hour with the responsibilities of being a father, husband, and son, and that's a good thing. We have been doing some renovation around the house, and my very able brothers-in-law continue to make me feel inept at anything other than music. I try my best to help, but I notice they send me to Lowe's a lot and that maybe my best help has been to stay out of their way. I did do a decent job of painting the kitchen and diningroom, according to my father-in-law.

Leigh left for South Dakota for a pheasant hunt and a show with some red-hot pickers/hunters on Thanksgiving weekend, so I booked a solo show at Dick's Country Store and Music Oasis in Churubusco, NY, my old stomping grounds. It seemed like a good idea when I booked it, but as the day approached, I got cold feet. "What have I done?" I complained to Corina. "You'll do fine," she assured me. "They will love you." I had been playing music my whole life, but I had never done a solo show. It was just me, my guitar, a new beard to hide behind, and my fancy Tom Horn-style cowboy jacket I bought in Nashville a few years back. When kicked into my first song, I was taken aback by how lonesome it sounded. I'm used to the BOOM of Mike's bass, Leigh's hammering guitar, Joe's steady rhythm chop, and Clayton drawing that bow along with me. It was just me and I was afraid it wasn't enough. By the third song, I felt confident enough to try a new one I had written with Joe Newberry. Some of the people stood after the song. What a feeling! They asked for it as my encore as well, something that has never happened before. I had high hopes for the song after it was written and they are higher now. Kelley joined me on stage near the end of the show to play a few of his mandolin originals. I doubt there are many better feelings than sharing the stage with your son. I enjoyed the evening and would try it again, but it didn't compare to being up there with the band. I love the power of picking in a bluegrass setting.

I have worried about the journal being too Eric-centric, but Leigh has no interest in sharing his thoughts at this point. So allow me to brag about my first buck. I bought my license a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning because my twelve year-old, Kieran, kept bugging me to take him hunting. He sat with me a few times last year at the foot of one of Leigh's tree stands on our property in the Town of Clinton and we never saw anything but a few crows and a squirrel. Still, he listed "hunten" as one of his favorite activities on a poster I saw at his school on Spaghetti Dinner Night, so when my wife suggested I take him, I did. After four hours of sitting in the woods together on the same day I bought my license, I harvested a seven-pointer that dressed out at 150 pounds. I also received a gash above my eye from looking too closely to the scope before I pulled the trigger. I am no big hunter. I had only ever seen one other buck in the woods and missed him when I was eighteen. I was not prepared. I just thought it would be nice to hang out with Kieran for the day. I had no rope, so I had to drag the deer about 300 feet through brush and across a stream. I had no truck nor any cell service, so I bottomed out three times with my 2001 Oldsmobile driving from camp to get him. And yes, I picked him up and stuffed him in the trunk. I walked into Mom and Dad's kitchen and with my bloody face and asked them to come look in my trunk. I think it was one of the shocks of Dad's life. Leigh has shot plenty of bucks. A few days later, Dad said, "I'm proud of you." I said, "Proud of me? I'm not. That was luck. I'm proud of Album of the Year. We worked for THAT." Plus, you don't cut your head open making records. Well, not usually.

I received more congratulatory phone calls that night than after the awards show. Heck, I didn't get that many calls after either of my kids were born. Corina is so sick of me talking about it, but it really is nice when a totally unexpected and positive surprise pops up. I will never forget that day and I know Kieran won't either. We'll have to try "hunten" again.