T.S. Elliot penned the phrase “April is the cruelest of months.” That was never more true than this past weekend here in East Tennessee. As the temperatures hovered in the upper-seventies and the branches and leaves were pushing their way out into the world with a blush of bright green, yellow and pastel, the winter we refer to as “Dogwood Winter” burnt the landscape with sub-zero temperatures.

It was cold Saturday night too as we were recovering from a two-inch snowfall that surprised us the night before after celebrating Dawn’s birthday at Cafe One 11. Nevertheless, I’d been waiting for this weekend for a while. Since the last gig with Clear, I’m really not sure what will happen with the band because we had a rough time in Damascus and that dampened our spirits and still yet, there’s a casual approach toward the project that is unpredictable, but we had a good time performing at Halo in downtown Johnson City. The girls were dancing…the music was tight and I had one of my first kisses in a while and we’ll just call him “Bull.”

Halo is one my favorite spots in Johnson City and has plenty of character amid Johnson City’s nightlife. It was around 8pm when I arrived and Wille was unloading his SUV on the sidewalk. Greg and Jared just arrived too and we made no haste getting our gear in from the streets. Halo is small, but we had a spacious area carved into right wall of the club just inside the door. Jared suggested that I set up my keyboards on the left of the stage and positioned Lance and Greg on the other side of Willie’s drums. This turned out to be a good vantage point and I felt comfortable throughout the night with the ability to see everyone in the band and most everyone who came in through the front door.

The change in our setup and a small PA helped us focus on the bands sound. That was a real problem in Damascus. Along with these changes, we also had a reawakening of sort earlier in the week with a short reheasal at Willie’s place. We rehearse in his basement in Bristol and instead of fretting/re-rehearsing all of our old songs, the guys started throwing some of their old Clear songs my way including a Grateful Dead Song, “Eyes of The World” and a couple of Blues Traveler songs. That was kind of cool too because it gave me something to listen to over the few days prior and I was looking forward to performing these new songs.

We were in good company tonight and plenty of gorgeous ladies who braved the weather and the Easter holiday to come out and see the band (thanks for making my night Angie, Heather, Julie, Amy, Vanessa and Stacy). We started our first set after 10 and things were great! The best part was watching the dancers in front of the band and it seemed our new attitude and the new songs were working some magic and lossening the decadence among our friends (of course that never really takes much effort). The sound was comfortable and groovy and it was especially gratifying to have a friend keep me stocked with 1800 during the first set.

Now about “Bull.” First of all, that’s not his real name. Sometime during the break before the second set, Jared introduced me to some guy named Tom. He’s the new manager of Lakeshore Marina on Boone Lake and we were talking about booking the band. All of a sudden, a carved monument of human flesh came right up to me, invaded my personal space and looked at me without a smile and yelled over the roar of the crowd…”You’re Beautiful!” He reached out and grabbed both sides of my head kissed me and for some reason, I didn’t feel threatened. In the back of my mind, I knew this had to be someone who was a friend of the band and it didn’t surprise me that it was one of Willie’s officer friends from the Bristol VA Police Department. Thank God he kissed me on the check too because if it hadn’t been for that, I might have felt violated. But this guy was a tank and he seemed to be having a good time and there was no reason or benefit for me to change the direction of the moment. I didn’t catch his name though, but his stock and his nature lends me to believe that someone has referred to him as a “Bull” and maybe this wasn’t the first time. Truth is, he was way too big for me to react and thankfully what happens at Halo – stays at Halo.

The bar angel gave me another shot of 1800 (“with training wheels”) and we finished up our last set sometime near 1.00 am.

Johnson City was busy tonight too with Ansley Roberts producing a show with Since October and Pale Orchid at Gatsby’s right down the street. The Hideaway was stirring up plenty of thunder too and had a line out the door at 8.00 as Downfall was performing. I was kidding Lance earlier in the night that Johnson City had all the ingredients of GenX, GenY and the hippie baby-boomers tonight. We were the hippes for the night and we had plenty of friends who seemed to enjoy our long jams into the night.

Everyone in the band seemed to feel pretty good about the show too. A lot of hard work though for $40 each, but that’s the price you pay for being a musician these days. I’ve also wanted to perform at Halo at least once and especially enjoyed seeing Rob Russell perform here several times as Halo is one of his favorite hangouts. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to play again. Clear’s next performance returns us to Damascus for Trail Days in early May and can’t wait to hang out with the guys as we continue to create a new sound and hope we can log more performances through the summer. I’ll keep my fingers crossed on that one.

It was close to two when the bartender yelled “Last Call” into the dim light of the bar. Outside the door, there’s an artist who lives down that street that chooses to run his speakers out into the streets and some crazy soundtrack was playing. I had to dodge two biological “piles” while loading the gear into the car and the wind was whipping into the morning air as the temps were just below freezing.

With my gear packed tightly into the Jeep, it was another trek to Perkins for the early morning club. For me…good memories, Jack Kerouac and a plate of pancakes would close the door and another night for a piano player in Kingsport. My cat was still happy to see me despite the fact it was 4am, but she’s ready for a meal anytime too.