July 7, 2006
Going from Maui to the heart of Texas is probably hard to wrap your mind around. I’m traveling with Harmonic Tribe, which is comprised of Willie Nelson’s sons, Lukas (guitar) and Micah (drums); also Andrew Kloppel (bass), Donny Smith (guitar), Tato Melgar (Percussion), and myself on lead vocals.
Try to imagine a rock band with a Latin percussionist and a reggae singer trying to sing the blues in front of 15,000 die-hard, shit-kickin’, country music fans at Willie Nelson’s 33d annual 4th of July picnic in Ft. Worth, Texas. Don’t underestimate the Texas audience, though. We had them out of their lawn chairs, waving their peace signs and singing along.
What makes our acceptance by this crowd even more mind-boggling is the fact that we had to follow acts like Shooter Jennings and Leon Russell, who are both musical giants in the South.
Focusing on songs from our first CD, The Awakening, the highlight of our set was when Willie joined us onstage for his song, “Whatever Happened To Peace On Earth,” which was a serious moment during a day of 4th of July fun in the Texas sun. He stayed onstage as we tore into our closing song, “The Harder They Come” from his reggae album and had all 15,000 in attendance skanking to the beat.
What a start to our summer tour with our hero and host. From here we are off to Youngstown, Ohio as we make our way through the states as the opening act for Willie’s summer tour. Please check our MySpace profile at www.myspace.com/harmonictribe for our tour schedule, photos and updates. Feel free to leave us some comments from home. We would love to hear from y’all and look forward to our return.
July 13, 2006
Checking in again. Here we are, 10 days and nine shows into the tour. Every show has been sold out, from Texas to Ohio, all the way to Indiana. People really seem to be responding to our mix of blues and reggae.
It is amazing to witness the range of ages at Willie’s concerts. Whether it’s people from age eight to 80-year-olds, everyone is personally touched by the experience.
We’ve played at a variety of venues including the sublime Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and had the whole crowd singing in three-part harmony to our song, “Pray For Them,” which in a predominantly Republican State, was quite a feat.
When we took the stage in Canton, Ohio, we knew this was not “our” audience. But the Vibe of Maui shined through our performance, and the audience was soon singing and dancing to our songs.
Being from Maui is a great calling card, and it also doesn’t it hurt to have Willie’s own sons in the band. But sons of the headliner or not, this band pegged the crowd and gave from its heart. Even though no one here has ever heard of us, I get the feeling we would be welcome back.
In Louisville, Kentucky, the warmth and acceptance was the same. From my years of doing this, I know when people really like something and when they are just being polite. We were shaking hands with 50-somethings, who said things like, “Your songs took me right back to Hawai’i” or “You guys stepped out of another decade.”
The morale of the group is high as we head to West Virginia. More stories from the road next week… MTW