What is this 50 States in 50 Days tour all about?
The following is the press release for the 2008 50 States in 50 Days tour.
To heck with the road less traveled, Kevin Montgomery aims to traverse them all More than 20 years ago, when he was just 15 years old, singer/songwriter Kevin Montgomery read the book, A Walk Across America, which chronicles writer Peter Jenkins’ travels around the United States by foot and the people he met, lived with, and worked beside along the way.
In 2005, Montgomery was touring Europe when he started thinking about the book again. “I was on the German Autobahn in a six-berth campervan doing about 80 miles an hour to keep from being run over, and I remembered A Walk Across America,” Montgomery says. “My life had ended up being so similar to author Peter Jenkin’s life. I can be in an airport and meet someone and two months later I’m welcomed into their home to do a house concert for 200 of their closest friends. I learn about their lives from the inside. I’ve played these shows from France to Denmark to the drought-stricken Australian Outback for 100 farmers who drove from as far away as 250 kilometers. Jenkins walked across America making friends along the way and kept an open spirit about each person being the next person who could bring new meaning to his life and that is the spirit in which I’ve traveled the world recently.”
Jenkins’ adventures inspired Montgomery to set up a series of concerts in 2006 that were held solely in the homes of fans and friends throughout Europe and the U.S. He intended to do 364 shows in a row but ended up completing 71 consecutive shows on two different continents before concluding the tour to deal with unexpected family matters.
Three days after the tour ended, Montgomery was back in his hometown of Nashville and dining at a small and nearly empty Mexican restaurant when a man sat down next to him and opened up a map of the United States. “I’m thinking why did this guy just sit down right next to me when there are all kinds of empty tables available,” Montgomery says. “But then I decided to be nice and I asked him if he was just starting his journey or passing through.” The man explained that he and his son were readying to take a seven-week motorcycle ride across the West. Montgomery told the man that he had traveled extensively and offered some high points for the pair to see. “I suggested going to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico but the man said he’d already been there. So I mentioned driving up the 666 to the Grand Canyon, but the man had done that too. Then I threw out the idea of taking the 550 down through Telluride and Montrose, Colorado, and the man said he’d been along that road as well,” Montgomery says. “I told him that it sounded like he’d traveled everywhere. And then the man explained that about 30 years before he walked across America and, once he reached the 550 just below Montrose, he lived for a year and wrote a book about his experiences. “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Montgomery recalls. “I asked him, ‘Was that book A Walk Across America?’ And the man, who by now I realized was Peter Jenkins, said, ‘Yes.’ We both were taken aback by what had just occurred. I hadn’t thought about that book in 20 years, he could have sat anywhere in that empty restaurant, but he chose to sit down right next to me. Finally Mr. Jenkins said, ‘Well, there is a reason why we met today.’ My task was to figure out why.”
Inspired by the chance encounter, Montgomery decided to launch a new tour, 50 States in 50 Days, in order to explore his own country more deeply and in support of his latest CD True, a collection of country rockers and ballads. The CD includes a song called “Nothing” that Montgomery penned about the tragic loss in 2004 of his infant daughter, Ava.
Montgomery’s sister also told him about a book she’d been reading. “It’s called When God Winks and she said that I had just had a God’s wink moment. As I thought about Peter Jenkins, our meeting made a lot more sense. We had not run into each by chance.” What the encounter provided Montgomery with was a chance to give something back, not just to his fans but also to complete strangers. “I’m very fortunate,” Montgomery says. “My friends and fans have been so kind to me and their support has helped me through some really low times.
This tour is being cobbled together by their generosity and by their belief in what I do.” Like many independent musicians, Montgomery is relying heavily on social networking sites like MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/kevinmontgomery2), and Facebook (http://www.new.facebook.com/profile.php?id=516944536) to get the word out about the tour, both beforehand and during the fifty days. “I’ll have a daily video log page on my official website (www.kevinmontgomery.com) so that fans can follow along with the tour in real time. The future for most indie artists like me is to become very hands-on and involved in our own careers and make the experience something more than just the music,” Montgomery explains. “To me this tour is about challenges: a man reaching for his dreams, the difficulty of being separated from family for a long stretch of time, the daily struggles of being on the road, and getting the music out in a very organic but hard way. I’m ready to take it on.”
Appropriately, the tour kicks off with a house concert in Montrose. From there, Montgomery will make his way by to the northwest before crisscrossing the country to other homes as well as some traditional concert venues. He expects to cover 13,000 plus miles with his sidemen by the tour’s conclusion in late-November. “I want to get out there on the road, meet new people, make new friends, hear other people’s stories, and find some new God winks moments,” Montgomery says.
As i planned the tour, and added dates daily i was approached by Jill Jackson to go on the tour. I was reluctant at first, but after persistant phone calls on Jill’s part……i finally answered my mobile, and said, “you are a persistant thing, aren’t you”…..she replied that she really wanted to go on the tour. I was reluctant to take a female on the road for 60 days………mainly, because they can be a little more high maintenance, if you will! Ha! I told her there would be nights when we would not have a hotel room, and would be traveling through the night, and i could not guarantee her comfort, and she stupidly said she would do it! So, on Sept. 23rd, 2008…….i met her at Heathrow Airport in London to fly to Denver to pick up my truck and start the tour. I didn’t recognize her at first…….she died her hair black, and had a few more tattoos. We had a great flight, and then drove to my friend’s house in Silver Cliff, Colorado. My friend’s Brian and Jill Wall had become really close to me after a chance meeting with Jill on a flight to Key West. We exchanged details, and i gave her a cd, and then a year later……happened to run into them again at the Hogsbreath Saloon. Since that meeting……they been to the UK twice to visit my tours, and Crete twice for the Songs in the Sun week. They are great friends.
Here is the first videologue from the tour. We started in Silver Cliff, and drove to Montrose to do an un-official house concert at my myspace friend Yvonne Meek’s house. We met on myspace, and had an immediate connection. She too lost a child, and related to Ava’s song, “Nothing”. She has a lovely family, and we spent the night in a neighbor’s campervan that was parked in front of the house. The following day we drove from Montrose down one of my favorite roads in the world…..the 550 in Colorado……truly spectacular. We drove through dramatic scenery all day, and made it to Kingman, AZ where we spent the night in a travelodge-the first of many. Sept. 24th found us starting the day in Kingman, AZ, and ending up in Los Angeles. Somewhere along the way i discovered that Jill is a “Slim Jim hater”. I think Slim Jim’s are the staple of the American traveler. I know they are for me. When i’m a little hungry, but don’t want to “eat”……i eat a Slim Jim….yes, i know they are disgusting, but they do the trick. We ended up the day at Jerry’s Deli in the valley. I spent countless nights in that place when i lived in LA……..with headphones on……listening to music, and writing lyrics. I wrote most of “Fear Nothing” while sitting in Jerry’s Deli……sometimes until 4am. I loved that place. I could sit there and watch all the drunks, and clubbers come in from their nights out…….getting ideas from watching the people. They’ve since re-modeled it…..and it is cold and aweful. i loved it then because you could really feel “old” Hollywood when you went in there. Check out the video from the day: Sept. 26th-Jill and I went to visit my second parents, Jerry and Annette Fuller. Jerry wrote songs like “Travelin’ Man” for Ricky Nelson, “Young Girl” by Gary Pucket and the Union Gap, and later produced Colin Raye. When i lived in LA i spent probably 4 nights a week at their house……sitting on their couch…..talking about the record business. He is one of the last Mavericks……..truly. Annette is always willing to listen, and give her wise advise…….two of my favorites in the world. We went for a lovely Italian dinner at the oldest Italian restaurant in the valley. The lounge singer in the video had really annoyed me by speaking of my parent’s divorce. Apparently, my father produced some sides on her at one point, and she then became an expert on my parent’s personal life, and began talking about it when she realized who i was…..i eventually feigned receiving a phone call on my mobile phone, and walked away to diffuse the situation. She came back off course, and “serenaded” me. I was so annoyed, but tried to be a good sport. She will remain un-named. Here is the video: Sept. 27th-The first official day of the tour started with us in LA. We drove to Santa Barbara and did a WeSpark Benefit for Cancer victims, and then left at 1am for Portland. Sept. 28th-We drove 15 hours from Santa Barbara, CA to Portland, OR for a house concert set up by Xilia Faye. I met Xilia on myspace, and she agreed to set up a house concert. Turns out she is one of the most brilliant photographers i’ve ever met. You can find her work on http://www.flickr.com/photos/xiliafaye. Here are some shots she took:
We ended the day at Pastor Steve Johnson’s house in Portland. Steve found me on facebook through my sister. He was their pastor in NYC at the NYC Church of Christ. I knew him then, but not well. He reached out to me, and said he would bring a bunch of people to the show. We ended up spending the night at his house with his family. A great guy, and a real friend to me on some of the long drives……..inspired me to keep up the energy and actually do the videologues. Here is the video: Sept. 29th-We drove from Portland, Oregon to Nampa, ID for a house concert that was hosted by a myspace friend named Sunny. Her family has a company called http://www.freedomfootbags.com. Some old friends came out of the woodwork to join the party. The video: Sept. 30th-After going to bed around 2am……we woke at 5am and started driving to Billings, Montana for a show set-up by another myspace friend who runs a radio station there. We drove about 10 hours that day……through Yellowstone National Park, and others. The videologue of the day seems to be one of the most popular. We were very punchy……only slept for about 2 hours, so we were both in that zone……where everything is “funny”. Oh, and the two characters at the counter of the diner were both “loud talkers”, and that is why they were on the receiving end of whatever we were dishing out. It had nothing to do with them being “small town” folk, or anything like that…..my whole family is just like that guy. Anyway, here it is: Oct. 1st-We started at the top of Yellowstone National Park, and i succeeded in getting us pulled over for doing 80 mph in a 55mph zone in Yellowstone. I was speeding because we were an hour behind because i mistakingly thought Salt Lake City was on west coast time! The cop let us go when i explained our mission. Later in the day when we were almost to Salt Lake City i caught on film the breaking of our windshield by a stone from a truck…….frustrating as hell. Cost me $200. The house concert was hosted by a friend of my sister’s named Sam Bracken. She has written a book with him about his life story……it is going to be huge. You can find him on http://www.sambracken.com. Here is the video: Oct. 2nd- We went to sleep at 1am in Salt Lake City, and woke up at 4am to get on the road to Pierre, South Dakota……a very long drive. Again, we seemed to do our best comedy when we are completely tired. The host was a guy named Ryan Beck. He emailed me after seeing my video on Great American Country. I found his email in my bulk email while on vacation in the Canary Islands a couple of weeks before the tour started. We confirmed the date with our Blackberry’s……me on the beach! I love my blackberry! He put together one of my favorites shows on the tour, and was a consumate host! The video: Oct.3rd-We drove to Omaha, Nebraska for a show at a place called Mick’s……great venue. We had a great show. We drove after the show toward Lander, Wyoming and found a hotel. We were serenaded along the way by my best friend Gary Jenkins……..see video: Oct. 4th-We drove to Laramie, Wyoming for a show at the firehall. The host was a girl that i met when i opened for Reckless Kelly in Texas. She moved to Wyoming, and when i sent out the email about the tour she responded and said she would host one. It was a saturday night at the firehall, and we thought we would be playing to a crowd of 100, but we had 7 people there……but they were a small, but mighty crowd with lots of banter……which made for a good show. We went to bed at 1am, and were up at 4am. Here is the video: Oct. 5th-We slept from 1am to 4am, and were on the road early for the 10 hour drive to Casselton, Wyoming. This show was setup a few days in advance by a friend from myspace called True Hard Core. He very early on said he would host one, but i thought i had a traditional venue lined up, so kept putting him off. He persisted, and i finally said yes. He set it up at the Club 97. I thought we would get in there at about 7ish, but Jill drove for awhile while i slept, and i woke up to find that we were running an hour late……………she said there was a “cow” in the road, and she didn’t want to “disturb” it, so she sat in the middle of the road until it decided to move. We were running late all day, but i made up as much time as i could. When we arrived to the Club 97……there were about 20 people there..very intoxicated……..we set up and started to play, and within two songs there was a fight……we kept playing……………….. Here is the video: Oct. 6th-We played in Elk River, Minnesota at a mspace friend’s house. I was too exhausted to film during the day. We both were sort of in survival mode at that point………so the videologue reflects that: Oct. 7th-We drove to Kansas City, and stopped along the way in Clear Lake, Iowa to show Jill the Surf Ballroom. Wayne from the Surf gave us an amazing tour. The Surf Ballroom is the last place Buddy Holly played. He was my dad’s best friend, so i have a bit of an emotional connection to the place. Here is the video: Oct. 8th-The Wichita show was alot of fun. It was a house concert setup by a promoter that promoted a show for Robert Earl Keen that i opened. Barney Byard and his wife, Linda were the perfect hosts. I hope to see them again: Oct. 9th-Remember two days before when we stopped in the Surf? Well, my Iowa show had cancelled due to the host’s ill health, so i was desperate for a show. Laurie from the Surf came through for me and agreed to host us. It was a special night. Jill was thrilled to actually be able to play a show at the Surf, and i got a little emotional when i took a walk in the deserted Surf Ballroom where the guys saw their last hours before the plane crash………took me off guard. Here is the video: Oct.10th-We drove from Clear Lake to Champion, Wisconsin for a show hosted by Carlton Laes. Oct. 11th-We played a house concert hosted by a myspace friend called Bonnie Conte. She brought some great people to the show, and it was one of the best. We had a relaxing day before the show, and i finally got my windshield fixed! The video: Oct. 12th-Evansville, Indiana…………Wendy was the star of this videologue……….she had been watching all the videologues up to that point, and knew of all of our likes in terms of creature comforts…….and supplied them at the end of the night. We rolled on after the after party, and made a pretty good video at Denny’s while rolling. The video: Oct. 13th-Lake, Michigan…….Margaret from myspace set this show up two days in advance. I had a show working in Michigan, but these two girls disappeared on me……so i had to come up with something quick. It ended up being a great night. The video: Oct. 14th-Cleveland, Ohio……this show was set up by Colleen…..she is Keith Hanna’s sister. He played bass for me last year in Europe, and has a band with Aaron Beavers called Shurman. The show was a big success due to Colleen’s superior organization skills…….one of my favs. His brother Elmer sat in on piano, and absolutely blew me away! The video: Oct. 15th-We drove through Pennsylvania to New York City…..and played a place called The Living Room. Jill took off for dinner with friends, and so i had sush alone, and filmed the deli where “Sally” of “When Harry Met Sally” had her famous orgasm. It wasn’t the same with some fat, tattoo’d italian guy sitting in her seat though. I just got out of there. I spent the night in my truck in multi-story parking garage so i could guard the sound system and guitars……..while Jill slept in the comfort of her sister-in-laws house!! The video: Oct. 16th-We started out the day in New York City……..the video starts literally about 5 minutes after i woke……we drove to the VFW in Montpelier, VT to one of my favorite shows on the tour…….mainly for how it went down. I did not have a show set up, and my friend Maria from myspace got on the phone and started calling VFW’s in VT. She found this one, and was SO cool. The people were wonderful…..listened and bought alot of cds and t-shirts…..and we got a great steak dinner cooked for us before we left by Norm. Here is the video: Oct. 17th-We played in Presque Isle, Maine. We were so far north that even the moose spoke French. Again, Maria set this show up with some work friends who very kindly hosted the show. It was an interesting show. The after show antics were more fun though……see video: Oct. 18th-Union, CT-This show was set up by a friend that i met when i opened for John Hiatt this past summer. Jacquie put the show on in her local hall, and it was one of Jill’s favorites……..the area was one of the most beautiful that i’ve been to. See video: More videologs coming in the following days……….takes time. If you’d like to donate to my endeavors……then please consider putting some money in my “tip jar”. You can do that here:
Oct. 19th-We were very relieved to have a very short drive to Fall River, Mass……..easy. The video: Oct. 20th-Again, we had a very short ride to our next show in Middletown, Rhode Island. Maria stepped in and found us another VFW to play……they were very kind to have us…….but we literally played for the bartender, a really old fellar at the bar that kept coughing……we were actually afraid he might keel over right there, and one myspace friend that drove from CT. We had fun though, and had fun editing the videologue from the night. One thing i learned…………wherever there is a pool table……….i probably don’t want to play! The video: Oct. 21st-Concord, NH The video: Oct. 22nd-Aliquippa, Pennsylvania was our next destination…….set up by another myspace pal at a bar in the bottom of a bowling alley……really nice people. The video: Oct. 23rd-Wilmington, Delaware…….we were hosted by Gene and Ellyn D’Amico. What a night……..great people…..really listened, and then as the wine flowed the party moved to the piano room where i played a little Jackson Browne……and then we had drum “therapy”……… The video: NEW!!!! Just edited June 1st, 2009-Germantown, Maryland from Oct. 25th, 2008 Oct. 24th Oct. 25th Oct. 26th Oct. 27th Oct. 28th Oct. 29th Oct. 30th Oct. 31st Nov. 1st Nov. 2nd Nov. 3rd Nov. 4th……i was too exhausted and tired, and decided to prioritize surviving the tour, and making sure we had all the dates covered. I will edit the videos for these dates in the coming days and post them when i can. Nov. 5th-Madisonville, LA- We traveled to LA for a show with an old friend from my childhood, Carmen. She wrote songs for my father, and as a child………i thought she was the most beautiful creature i had ever seen. We became friends on myspace, and she said she would host a house concert……it was wonderful. They made real gumbo, and then we were taken to the swamps to look for alligators…….curiously, they attached a toy poodle to my neck and encouraged me to go swimming……some kind of local ritual. Anyway, here is the video: Nov. 6th-North Little Rock, Arkansas……found us doing a house concert at a new friend’s house, Stacey. She is a friend of a friend, and heard we needed a host in Arkansas. She held it at her father’s house……he was a card, and has a feature in the videologue. Fun night. The video: Nov. 7th-Dallas, Texas-My house concert host in Lubbock, Texas completely disappeared on me. This guy had confirmed about six months before, and we spoke multiple times, but as the date approached he went underground, and would not answer phone, texts, or emails. I hope he is ok, because i still have not gotten an apology. He singlehandedly almost ruined the 50 States tour. My friend Krista came to my rescue and ended up hosting one of my favorite house concerts on the tour. The video: Nov. 8th-Enid, Oklahoma-My friend Kyle hosted this house concert…….but it was held at a hole in the wall bar…..with the dreaded pool table. When we loaded in…..we both thought it was going to be a difficult show………because of the pool tables………but it ended up being one of our favs on the tour……the people really listened, and the laughed at everything we said!!! I love that kind of crowd. We had a hell of an after party…..attended by Todd Ellis…..from my first band. The video: Nov.9th-Santa Fe, New Mexico-Video coming soon!!!! Nov. 10th-Boulder, Colorado-We drove from Santa Fe, NM to Boulder, CO……through some serious snow…….before we went through a particularly bad stretch….i told Jill that she should buy some food in case we got stranded, and that i would not hesitate to eat her…..and SHE PULLED A KNIFE ON ME!!!!!! The show was hosted by my myspace friend, Dave. We arrived to a beautiful stone house in a mountain gorge…….fantastic place. Lovely people. The video: Nov. 11th-Scottsdale, Arizona-The journey from Boulder, CO to Scottsdale, Arizona began at about 11:15pm after the show. It was probably the most difficult journey we had. I drove for the first hour or so, and then Jill took over. I awoke about 2 hours later to Jill doing about 35 miles an hour on the interstate in the worst fog i have seen in awhile. We literally could not see 5 feet in front of the truck. We decided to get a hotel room. We were around Colorado Springs. It would have put us seriously behind if we got a hotel room……so i looked online at the weather report in Santa Fe. I saw that it was completely clear, so i surmised that the fog would lift soon if we could just get down the road a bit. I started driving and sure enough about 30 minutes later it went completely clear. I continued driving until about 5am, and then pulled over and slept upright while Jill slept across the backseat. I slept for a little over an hour, and then started driving again……watching the most beautiful sunrise. Jill took over after the sun came up, and i slept again for awhile. We arrived in Albequrque at about 9am……….got some huevos rancheros, and then took off again. We were doing about 80 on the 1-40 just west of Albequrque when i felt and heard a loud bang…….i had a blowout. I was so annoyed. I had just purchased two new tires, and on my truck……they are pretty expensive. I didn’t get road hazard. It took me about an hour to change the tire…….i got a new tire when we arrived in Scottsdale, and barely made the show…..with about 2 hours of sleep under my belt. It ended up being one of my favorite shows. Wendy Ring wrote my press release, and has been an enthusiastic supporter and friend along the way. Perfect hosts! The video: Nov. 12th-Las Vegas, NV-Video coming soon. Nov. 13th-Kirkland, Washington-Another myspace friend, Justin, set this show up. He called on his friend Misha to host the show at her house. Wow! What a place! I should have been a dentist. Dentists have the best houses in America…..i’m convinced now. The video: Nov. 14th-Wasilla, Alaska-I would say that i was most excited to visit the state of Alaska. I had never been there, and felt that i was going someplace like no other in the US. Before we even left the airport we saw a moose! The show was hosted by Ana Hartman, and she and her son, Joe, drove an hour or so from Wasilla to pick us up in Anchorage at about 2:30pm. We did the show and then flew towards Hawaii at 2:48am!!! She drove us back to the airport, too……..lovely family. We played their music store. The video: Nov. 15th-Waikiki, Hawaii-Wow! We made it. We flew all day from Alaska……arriving in Honolulu at 7:15pm…….and were onstage at 11pm…….completing our mission. The next day i spent the entire day in my hotel room…..only leaving to get a starbucks in the store below the hotel…….and then i emerged to catch the sunset. Later that evening Jill and i went for a celebratory sushi, and then found a collection of senior citizens playing mandolins, steel guitars, guitars, and dobros….some in wheelchairs…..singing “Aloha ohi”, and doing Hawaiian dance……it was a special moment, and the perfect ending to a wonderful tour. The video:
We ended up driving about 21,000 miles in my truck, and then flying the last four dates……..Las Vegas to Seattle to Anchorage, and then to Hawaii. We made some wonderful friends, and i’m looking forward to doing another 50 States in 50 Days tour in 2009. Please get in touch by email if you would like to host a show in your state! If you have been inspired by this tour, and the videologues, and want to contribute to the tip jar……..you can do so here!
Thank you, and let me know if you would like to host a house concert on the 2009 50 States in 50 Days tour?
See this post for more information on what a house concert is.
These are the tools i used while on the 50 States in 50 Days tour……….to make the videologues, and survive: