Driving down Interstate 81 at 3am in the morning with the windows down is quite a feeling – especially after a great performance with two amazing bands in one night. As a musician, there are few days so satisfying.

Last night, the ladies were dressed in those marvelous summer dresses and even the guys with Folk Soul Revival were ‘Prompting the Dapperness’ as they were appearing at one of the Tri-Cities best venues for live entertainment, food and social experiences.

Of all the stages in the Tri-Cities, the 620 Stage is probably the most accommodating and professional of its kind. Unlike many area venues, this restaurant has been constructed with the focused intent on creating a extraordinary place for live music. Although the restaurant has a great outside dining area, beautiful tables and a spectacular bar, the stage is the center piece. It’s big, there’s plenty of outlets, amazing LED lighting and enough monitors and sound gear to address any performance – a hallowed place for any musician.

The restaurant was already at capacity when we arrived about 8.30 to set the stage. We had a little trouble finding a parking spot, but once settled, the mood was exciting as plenty of people were already walking up State Street.

I was standing out front with Jared, Vanessa, Mike and Lance McCloud when Charles Fontaine and Daniel Davis from Folk Soul came outside to meet us.

I gave Charles a hard time about the upcoming Killers show he’s going to attend this week in Asheville. Dan pulled his iPhone out of his pocket and and was sharing the new final mix for ‘Jawbone Blues’ that will appear on the new album getting ready to come out. Best news though was the invitation to play with the band for Fun Fest this coming Friday as they have a opening spot for Travis Tritt.

Inside 620, Adam Graybeal was a big help setting the stage. Adam is a very talented guitarist and heads up the audio at this Bristol stage. It doesn’t seem that long ago we were together in a small Elizabethton apartment playing music in the early days with Jared Bentley. Since then, he’s been playing with several projects around the region and it’s good to have a guy like him working with everyone tonight.

As mentioned, the guys in Folk Soul were indeed ‘Prompting the Dapperness.’ Charles smiled from from the other side of the stage when I was amused by their vest and ties. Evidently, a few text messages were sent out earlier in the day. I wasn’t surprised to see Justin and Daniel hanging tight to their casual approach.

After loading in my gear, I’d worked up quite a sweat because my car was parked a good ways behind the building. While adjusting the last cords on keyboards, I caught Dave Carter in front of the stage. Dave’s a good media friend and supporter of live music with his radio show on WETS’s Studio One and my only regret was not getting to spend a few moments catching up with him.

After the stage was set, I finally got to the bar and ordered a single barrel glass of Jack Daniels and was eagerly trying to find a breeze. The humid July night, coupled with a thick room of anxious music fans was taking its toll. Nevertheless, after a couple of drinks and a stroll outside, we were ready to debut JV Squad in Bristol.

We had a short set for our first night. Vanessa looked great in her black dress and Jared was confident as usual as we started the night with the Hayes Carl song ‘It’s a Shame.’

One of the things I like so much about playing with Jared Bentley is his powerful soulful voice. He’s a natural talent and the only voice that can go toe-to-toe with him – he married her. That’s why the combination of Jared and Vanessa make this project so appealing to me. They both sang their asses off last night and I couldn’t have enjoyed the set more. We’re still trying to find our voice in the middle of a variety of style that includes R&B, soul and we even tossed in a latin song last night which seemed to go over quite well.

We played for about 45 minutes and as usual, I like to get out of the way for the next band so I started to take down the Virus and the Nord.

I just about got everything packed up and Dan Witt asked if I was going to set in with Folk Soul. As much fun as I’ve had with these guys, I wasn’t about to overstay my welcome, but when Daniel Davis mentioned it – I couldn’t resist because these guys are a lot of fun. Besides, the congregation was out front and they were ready to sing.

There are a couple of new things I enjoyed about tonight’s performance with Folk Soul. First, they play hard. Second, they are down to earth souls with a real appreciation for their fans and friends.

From my perch on the stage, I get to sit behind Davis. I always enjoy hearing him sing and he packed a bunch of guitar strings with him this night and on cue, he broke an A string, but continues to improve his NASCAR tuning when this happens.

Dan Witt kicked his drum set so hard tonight, there was no way for an encore because he broke his kick drum pedal on the last set. I was right next to him tonight and once he starts playing, there is literally no way to stop this band from stomping through their set of original music. We especially enjoyed jamming to an old Bill Wither song ‘Use Me.’

Looking back, it was an amazing night. Completely satisfying for both bands and standing out on the street cooling off after the second set, it was humbling to talk to several people who enjoyed both shows.

Despite the fact I still lead a monastic musical lifestyle, nights like this make it all that much more enjoyable. I know my neighbors are all asleep when I pull into the garage at 3am, but there’s something satisfying about a rich night of experiences with some of my favorite friends doing what we love the most.