Steve Writes A Blog

Let's Start Year 2 

One year ago yesterday I left New York late in the morning not knowing what was ahead of me. I didn't know where I was going to live, I didn't know what I was going to do for money, I didn't know who I was going to meet, I didn't know what music I was going to make. I only knew where I was going and that I had to go. I spent that night in a shady, rundown Motel 6 in Wytheville, VA, following a mediocre meal at Applebee's (redundant?), and an emotionally and physically draining trip.

The next day - September 24th - I woke up, loaded back into the Manilow Van, and drove the final five hours west. My first stop in town was Panera Bread on 21st Ave. South, right by Vanderbilt University. It was a beautiful fall day, and after lunch I had an appointment to meet the owner of a house in Germantown and look at a potential room for rent. We ended up hanging out for two hours, talking about our common New York roots and influences, and listening to some music, and it became clear that this place immediately felt like the right place. I left there feeling excited and hopeful, and headed to the Airbnb that would be my home for a week. This was my first day living in Nashville, TN.

Recently, the changing weather and the smell of the fall air has been eliciting all sorts of memories of my first few weeks here. Hanging out in my Airbnb room with nothing to do, catching up on The Walking Dead. Going to my first Nashville open mic. Eating three meals at Applebee's thanks to a gift card. Seeing my first show at The Listening Room. Getting food for the first time at Martin's BBQ Joint. Joining the Nashville Songwriters Association. Eating four meals at Panera thanks to a gift card. Walking around Centennial Park. Discovering new supermarkets. Sleeping on the floor of my new room before my POD was delivered.

It's hard to believe that I've already been here a year, but today I have a much better understanding of the things I didn't know when I first arrived. The people that I've met, the experiences that I've had, and the music that I've been lucky enough to be a part of has all made it obviously clear how correct my move to Nashville was, and continues to be. I'm a better musician, I'm a better songwriter, I'm a better person.

Let's start year 2.

The Days Just Get Away From Me 

It's true, and it's the reason I haven't posted here since March 2nd. The days just get away from me.

After that last post we had a few last days of winter weather here, followed by apartment searching. Then it was final daily rehearsals with Bearing Torches before hitting the studio March 13-15.

Pictures from our time recording at Blackbird Studios, March 13-15, 2015.
Posted by Steve Schultz on Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I fully intended to write my first time recording in a top-of-the-line professional Nashville studio, but then I was jumping through hoops trying to actually secure the apartment we wanted and set up things like cable, electricity, etc, followed by getting my limited amount of belongings ready to move and doing some incremental moving since my leases over-lapped. Then I was up to New York to pick up a truck, finish packing up my girlfriend's apartment, and drive her and her stuff down here to Nashville (1 day/950miles)...since that was the whole point of getting the new place! Then we've had issue after issue to deal with here at the apartment. The management company has been helpful, but quite honestly they've had to be helpful a lot. And I had to jump right back into rehearsals with Bearing Torches because we're back in the studio next week to finish recording the record!

Two days after the drive down we got to see Stevie Wonder, which was equal parts exciting and boring, and last week we went to the Opry - because they were both just regular Tuesday nights in Music City! Last weekend we went to Louisville, KY, to visit my former roommate and check out Thunder Over Louisville, the kickoff of the Kentucky Derby Festival. And we also stopped at the Jim Beam Distillery for a great tour and tasting.

So, like I said - the days just get away from me. But I'll try harder now. Lots of exciting stuff coming up.

The Psychic From Las Vegas 

I've been having a some pain in my right hand. It's not a debilitating kind of pain, its just some pain. I first noticed it in my wrist when I was doing push-ups, and now notice it mostly in my hand when I'm trying to cut through something tough, like a block of cheese. I bought a big block of cheese a few weeks ago. Colby Jack, as a matter of fact, along with some Fire-Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil Triscuits and pepperoni. I'm all for eating healthy, but you know what? Sometimes you just want some cheese, crackers, and pepperoni. Or some chocolate. And cookies. And ice cream. And it really hits the spot, often times as an appetizer while I'm cooking dinner, or a snack in the afternoon. But I digress.

I really want to talk about my parents. And Las Vegas. You see, my parents love Las Vegas. It's their favorite place to be, and when they're there they're always out on the town, seeing shows, and hanging out with friends from all walks of life that you might never think my parents would walk in. They were just there recently, and my dad called me. It was before noon in Vegas, but like all good people there they were at the bar. And then he proceeded to tell me a story. He explained that the night before, my mom had gone to a party at a friend of a friend's house, and the party featured a psychic who was the host's daughter. Apparently, each guest got a chance to sit with the psychic for a number of minutes and get all psychic with her.

He then said, "She says you should put your right hand in ice water."

"Who said that?" I asked.

"The psychic said that you should put your right hand in ice water."

True story.

Grinding To A Halt 

Last winter was pretty brutal. Lots of snow, wind, and temperatures that often times dipped into the single digits and below. I remember one morning my car doors wouldn't open and - frustrated from weeks and weeks of the frigid onslaught - I proceeded to kick my car, hoping that would get me in. And I succeeded! I manged to get my driver side door open, and my passenger side door came open while I was driving down the road on the way to work. In recent years Poughkeepsie has been notorious for having terribly treated roads (and terrible other things thanks to the guy in charge), and I had two road incidents last year: once where my car slide into a light pole while trying to make a turn, and another where it couldn't handle a slick off-ramp, which forced me stay straight and travel over the bridge. Neither incident occured while there was actual, you know, precipitation falling from the sky, but both had me telling myself that that winter was going to be my last in the northeast. In my mind I was planning a move to Los Angeles or Nashville - warmer climates, and warmer winters. Talk about some bullshit.

Last week I was able to be back in Poughkeepsie for my friend Brett's funeral, and subsequently my niece's birthday and Valentine's Day, as well. And surprise - it's another brutal winter in Poughkeepsie (and all of the northeast). The snow, the wind, the below zero temps? Yup, they were all there. While I was home Poughkeepsie set a record low of -14 degrees. I'll write that out for you: negative fourteen degrees. That's seriously cold, and it was seriously windy. So windy, in fact, that I changed my flight home from Sunday to Monday because of predicted 50mph winds in White Plains.

And then Winter Storm Octavia decided it was going to come right across Tennessee, hit Nashville with an ice storm, then proceeded through the upper south, hitting Charlotte, which was my connecting city. Apparently all that terrible winter weather that I chose to leave in the northeast decided to come visit me in Music City - only I wasn't there. So, I changed my flight from Monday to Wednesday, and hunkered down while the storm brought Nashville to a halt. Shows were cancelled. School was closed for the entire week. All while I cooked dinners, and hung out with my girlfriend and my family. And I did not have a guitar or a keyboard, but I was able to be at least a little productive in other ways.

When I did finally get back to Nashville on Wednesday, the interstates I rode home on were clear, but the side roads were not. In fact, even though I know the area isn't as experienced with this weather, and even though I know everyone here is working overtime as best they can, as a person from the northeast I still find the conditions of the roads to be...well, let's just say surprising. Imagine a road with two lanes in each direction and a turning lane in the middle, with the four main travel lanes relatively cleared and the middle turning lane not cleared at all. Imagine streets cleared only where the wheels of the cars actually hit the road. Imagine cars sitting at the bottom of driveways because they can't make it up the hills to the house. My street is on a small hill and I had the tires on my GMC Safari spinning the day I got home. One Friday on the way home from rehearsal I took a detour and found myself in two precarious positions: one where I had to back up very slowly to avoid the iced-over street ahead of me, and another where I was sliding, foot on the brake, down a slight hill toward an intersection, hoping I would stop in time. Luckily, I did. My housemate slide into the curb and had his hubcap knocked off.

The point is...winter sucks. All the way around. Except for maybe in Los Angeles? Well, I still think I made the right choice. Time to get the wheels moving again.

To My Friend, Brett 

Mulligan's Irish House in Poughkeepsie became kind of like my unofficial home base. From my monthly solo/acoustic shows, to my bi-monthly solo/acoustic shows, to my Over The Edge Album Listening Party (and even to a bachelor party I threw there one time), my appearances at Mulligan's Irish House were epic - often epically under-attended, that is. But more often than not, you would find, sitting at the bar drinking a diet soda, my friend Brett. He would show up, hang out, make jokes with the rest of the regulars who would frequently come out to see me, and proceed to heckle me from the bar like Waldorf & Statler. And he could never get enough of constantly requesting that I play "MMMBop," by Hanson (which I never did), getting on the mic for background vocals in "Free Fallin'," by Tom Petty (which he did numerous times), and singing along to "Forever Young," by Rod Stewart (which I had learned just for him).

But my history with Brett extends back much further than shows at Mulligan's Irish House - more than 20 years, in fact. Brett and his brother, Dan, were my camp counselors when I attended YWCA Camp Cedarcliff - a small summer day camp that I always went to because my mom worked at the YWCA, and at which I ended up as a counselor myself for my first job. Every two weeks or so at camp there was an event called "Parent Sharing," where the families of campers would come and the different groups of kids would perform skits or songs, sometimes based on a theme. One time, under Brett's direction, my group performed an infamously bad rendition of Rod Stewart's "Forever Young," which has become the stuff of legend and inspired me learning the song for him. It was always performed tongue-in-cheek.

When I was younger, my family and Brett's family were both mutually close with my brother-in-law's family, so he would always be around. Summer parties, holiday meals, New Years celebrations, and late-night movie screenings thanks to my brother-in-law's movie theater connections (I still can't believe that he didn't like Galaxy Quest, by the way - I mean seriously), and even though he was a decade older than me and had been my camp counselor, as time went on and I got older he became much more of a peer and a friend than a "grown up." Maybe that was because I was growing up, or that he had such an irreverent sense-of-humor, or an affable personality, or his closeness to my brother-in-law, or a combination of all of it. Brett was a "brother from another mother" to my brother-in-law, so just like my brother-in-law's actual brother he because a part of my extended family. When my sister got married in Vermont in 2006, Brett and I shared a room at the inn. A couple years ago when he directed a sanitized, age-appropriate version of the play Election at the middle school where he worked, I was there to support him the way that he had always been there to support me at Mulligan's.

We got word yesterday that Brett suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, and it's shocking for everyone who knew him - friends, family, and friends who were family. It's surreal, to be sure, and being so far away from home all I can really do is share a few memories of my friend. And maybe have a diet Pepsi in his name.


In an mmmbop...
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