As you may or may not know, we are on our second installment of “The Southern Americana Tour Journal;” a play-by-play of my summer adventures and misadventures while touring through the southland. Miles, music and mountains were all big players on the tour. At every stop, new friends, new stories and new challenges. As of my last article, I had just said goodbye to the wild, wonderful world of West Virginia. Four days of R&R in The New River Gorge is enough “re-charge” for even the most sleep deprived, starving artist.
Off to the big city of Asheville, North Carolina; highest city in the south east. Known as a forward-thinking, liberal arts and music community, coffee shops, smoke shops, organic “gastro” cafes, and small corner bars make up most of the downtown landscape. On almost every corner, you will find people “busking” (street performing). Most of the “buskers” seem to be interested mostly in the money, yet there were a few that obviously enjoyed what they were doing. After inquiring about regulations on the matter, it came to my attention that the only rules that applied, were those of general courtesy. So, find a spot, away from other performers, put out a hat, and get to “playing what you brung, and singing what you sung!”
It seemed like a good portion of the folks walking around, window shopping and listening were merely visiting Asheville. Businessmen, tourists, touring musicians, etc… Overall, the people were nice, some more interested than others. A few of the local musicians (with gear in tow) even stopped and played along to my tunes. Although I didn’t quite get rich busking that night, I did have a great time, met some interesting musicians and collected up enough cash to buy dinner (Jimmy John’s), and stay at a campsite outside of town for the night.
The Nolichucki Gorge Campground was as close to “heaven on earth” as I’ve seen in a while. WOW! Now the day was winding down, I was settled, the campfire crackling, cold beer quenching and white water river rushing by. It became clear to me: This would make a great song! So I pulled my notebook and pencil out and began writing…
“I aint’ quite sure where the rest of the world’s at tonight, but I’m right here and it’s all right, many a miles from the nearest stoplight…”
As I continued to write, the combination of the sounds and smells of nature (and possibly the cold beers) carried me off to sleep. It was a good day.
Morning came, and with it, the breathtaking views straight from the campground’s brochure. Fast paced waters carried rafters and kayakers down stream. Fly fishermen were casting into the eddies from their waist deep waders. The morning dew covered my old guitar, still propped up on the park bench that had taken the place of my office desk in the late hours of last night. Just as the natural splendor had put me to sleep, it overcame me with inspiration before my feet had even hit the grass. The sun was inching its way out between two massive mounds of Appalachian earth, protruding thousands of feet into the southern skies.
Now, it is a fact: Southwest Florida has its own “stars of the show.” We have the endless expanse of the Gulf of Mexico, the white plains of beaches, the seemingly infinite grass of the Everglades, and… how could we forget Florida’s “gold,” the sunshine, still unmatched by any other destination (if you ask me). The thing is, my whole life has been spent in “paradise,” and I have never known anything but. Sometimes it takes leaving home to realize how much it really means. Never take anything for granted, it may not be there tomorrow to enjoy.
Now that I have had my little off-topic rant, we can get back to… now.. where was I? Oh yes! As the mountain dew rose from the valleys, trying to catch the sun, my creative juices began flowing again, like the rolling river in front of me. There was no show scheduled for that night, so it was a no-brainer for me to “plan” that I would not make any plans for the day. Just relaxation, writing, fishing and a bit of swimming. That was the day this article was thought up.
It was such a great trip, I felt it would be selfish for me not to share my awesome experiences with my loyal “Music Notes” readers. As it turns out, that would be one of my best birthdays yet. Although it was spent mostly in solitary, anyone interested will be able to enjoy it with me, as I recap the “good parts.” By the mid afternoon, I had: floated a mile or so down the river, written a few good tunes, practiced up on some old ones, caught a few Nolichucki trout (for dinner), and made a few new friends, who kindly joined me around my campfire for some stories, songs and a very tasty fish fry dinner. A big thanks to Rusty, the maintenance man, who happened to own a deep fryer and offered to cook the “catch of the day” for my new friends and me.
It seems we didn’t get very far in this tweek’s story, but sometimes it’s nice to not be in a rush. Certainly, the big city will be fine without me for one more night. Besides, Friday is only a day away and it’s gonna be a big weekend. Nashville, Atlanta, and Chattanooga… Y’all ready for The Gator???
Nate Augustus is a native “Florida cracker” and a singer/songwriter from the Marco/Naples area. His band, “Gator Nate & The Gladezmen” and his “One-Man-Band” can be seen at many local venues. He has released multiple albums on his record label “SwampSong.” For more info on Nate and his musical doings, go to www.Gladezmen.com or facebook.com/NateAugustus