It’s been a crazy week, yeah? I spent Election Day in a hotel in Conway, Arkansas, which I booked just so I could watch the election results after my gig. Regardless of result, I had hoped the end of the night would also be the end of the hatred and divisiveness swirling around this campaign season. I was surprised, and not in a good way, to see people doubling down on it all over social media the next day. It was practically inescapable.
I won’t lie, it started to get me down. I felt a weariness deep within me, one that I know was shared by lots of other folks. News of protests and riots and hateful messages sprayed on buildings began to emerge. The finger pointing and arguments between both sides reached a fever pitch. My favorite radio host, Dan LeBatard, asked a half-joking question that got to the heart of things. “Is America more divided now than it was during the Civil War?” Despite all that, I couldn’t stay discouraged for very long. Because this is how my election week looked.
Monday, I played a set at Red Brick Bar in Oklahoma, and then got to take part in a jam session with five or six super talented musicians, who welcomed me into their group without hesitation. There were a whole lot of positive vibes in the room that night; everybody just playing their heart out.
Wednesday, I was welcomed into Hot Springs, Arkansas by Larry Womack, who hosted me as a guest on Blues night at the Ohio Club. He let me sit in with the band, do my own set, and then take part in what became a big jam session at the end of the night. And then, put me up at his house.
Thursday, I drove over to Fort Smith, where I was welcomed by Matt and Jackie Dodd, friends I met at the International Blues Challenge. They let me stay at their house every time I come through. Got some more jamming in with Matt and his band.
Friday and Saturday, I was welcomed to Fayetteville by Larry Brick and Rachel Fields, who are terrific musicians that I’d never met before. Larry Womack called and arranged for me to stay with them. Not only did they give me a place to sleep, they also fed me and gave me a tour of all the cool places in town.
It was Saturday I had the epiphany. I called my parents to let them know that I was coming home the next day, and I told my dad, “I’ve stayed with musicians almost every night this week. We get bad press sometimes, but musicians are all pretty good people.” He responded, “most people are.“ It was a reminder at exactly the right moment. It’s the same story that I’ve been telling this whole year, the foundation of my new album. And yet, for a minute there, I lost myself.
It’s so easy to forget all the good things right in front of us. Is there ugliness along the edges? Yes. Are there real problems we have to face, and wounds we have to heal in our country? Yes. But I know this; music can do it.
And most people? Still good people.