Leaving Las Vegas/Buying a House of My Own
LEAVING LAS VEGAS – FIRST SHOWS OUT OF THE GATE!
Well, we did it, folks. We got those pesky first shows out of the way. Actually, they were pretty damn fun! For those of you who were there (you know who you are), I know you get what I’m saying! Actually, I really like playing at The Joint at the Hard Rock.
It’s a pretty small venue, compared to some of the other spots that we play. I think that’s why I enjoy it so much. There’s something really cool about being able to look out in the crowd and actually see everyone. It’s almost like you’re able to feel more of a connection with the audience because you’re that much closer. It’s an intimate show. I mean, it was a rocker, don’t get me wrong! Maybe “intimate” wasn’t the right word.
Before the Show
We rolled to Vegas fresh out of rehearsals and had a nice warm-up to the Joint shows by playing a corporate event. Believe it or not, the Hard Rock was pretty subdued on Wednesday/Thursday. That all changed, though, as we got closer to the weekend. I think it was maybe the combination of St. Paddy’s Day (my favorite!), the NCAA tournament and apparently there was some guy named Kenny playing a gig for a couple of nights. He’s kiiiiiiiiind of a big deal.
My Down Time
I had more downtime than normal in Vegas, which could have been good or bad. I don’t, in fact, have a gambling addiction, so it leaned more towards the good side. Of course, we had to scope out some of our favorite Wheel of Fortune machines. That’s my game, y’all! I think I ended up breaking even in the end, which was way better than it could have been.
Boy, $20 bucks can disappear real quick in those slots! We also got a quick stop in for lunch to one of my all-time favorite sandwich shops, Capriotti’s. If you haven’t been, I recommend seeking one out. I usually get the Bobbie, which is like a Thanksgiving meal between two delightful pieces of Italian bread. Yum! I never take the time to do this, but I actually had a few hours of spa time with some girlfriends on Saturday.
I need more spa days in my life. The only problem was, I needed some coffee before getting ready for the show because it was WAY mellow! And was worth it.
Unfortunately, it was way too chilly on this visit to spend time at the pool. I mean, the 50’s! They still had a big ol’ St. Paddy’s Day pool party on Saturday. I guess if you drink enough, the cold is relative.
The shows were Friday and Saturday night and I thought it was a great way to start the Trip Around the Sun Tour. Hopefully, all of you who were there felt that way, too. I think we were all ready to play in front of an audience. Rehearsals are great, but it’s so different to play to a loving crowd! It’s a great way to feel out the flow of the show, too. See what works, move stuff around, etc.
Some highlights & interesting moments from the shows:
- So many people bringing out custom license plates to give to Kenny. He lost them all in hurricane Irma and is ready to start collecting again.
- SO many birthdays in the crowd! What an awesome way to celebrate.
- Of course, the two guitars that were handed out. I remember the kiddo on the second night because she had been waving from my side of the stage and was so excited to be there, with her cute little red pigtails. J
- After-show photos with fans at Lucky’s Diner. Y’all are awesome.
- Pulling out a song that we’ve never played live before. You might hear it again this year!
- Singing “Setting The World on Fire” with Kenny and looking down to see all of you guys singing along and smiling.
- My technical difficulties with the bass right out of the gate during “Beer in Mexico” on night 2. It got fixed super quick, thanks to our amazing techs, and I remained calm. It was probably only 30-45 seconds, but it felt like an eternity! Definitely an “interesting moment” and NOT a “highlight”!
What’s up Next
For now, it’s back to rehearsals to get ready for the big one….our first stadium show in Tampa at Raymond James! Thank you to all of you who made the trip out to Vegas to see the first show and say hello. I love seeing all of the pictures on Facebook and it was nice to meet all of you who came up to say hello while we were wandering around the Hard Rock.
Too bad they didn’t let me borrow Ringo’s green sequin suit for St. Paddy’s Day. Maybe next time.
I can’t really end this post without saying how weird it was for us to all be back in Vegas after the shooting that happened this past October. It was surreal to see the Mandalay from afar and realize how much that shook the town, the music community, the fans….everyone.
I try not to forget that it so easily could have been us up on that stage. Cherish every day and be nice to each other. Life’s too damn short for hate.
BUYING A HOUSE OF MY OWN – THE PROCESS, THE PITFALLS, AND THE ULTIMATE WIN
As of a couple of days ago, I am the proud owner of a place in my hometown of Austin, TX. Woo-hoo! I’ve purchased a couple of homes in the last 5 or 6 years, but this was the first time I did it all on my own. I have to say, it feels pretty good! It also came with its own set of holy crap, can I afford this on my own, and who do I go over homeowners insurance quotes with, and I guess I need to reach out to other friends about being a landlord for the first time.
All in all, it was a really good feeling to know that I did it on my own. I don’t want to get all Frank Sinatra, “My Way” on you guys, but, yeah. Like that.
Life Growing Up in Texas
I’ve now lived in two different cities other than my hometown. Nashville and San Diego, where I currently live and love. You guys may have a different opinion on this, but I feel like there may always be this pull to go back to where you’re from. I guess technically I was born in Shreveport and spent lots of years as a little kid in the piney woods of East Texas, but I spent the most number of years and experienced middle school, high school and college in Austin.
Starting the Hunt
I learned most of what I know about music and being in a band there, so it definitely has a special place for me. I guess my point is, no matter where I live, I’ve been thinking that I wanted to buy a place in Austin again to get my foot back in that door because I’ll always have a tie to that city.
The thought turned into a real conversation during one of my last visits back a few months ago. I was enjoying an afternoon visit with some of my favorite Austin girlfriends: our “book club” as we call it, where we mostly drink wine, enjoy snacks and talk about life and music.
I told them that I had really been longing to buy back in again and wanted to find a clever way to do that so that I would have a space to come back to while being able to pay my mortgage: either with a duplex or a house with a back apartment.
Three of my friends there recommended an agent who I had never met, which was odd because she was totally tapped into the Austin music scene. When I looked her up on Facebook, her cover photo was a picture of the word “Harmony” and she was originally from San Diego. Ummmm, hello sign from the Universe!
Finding the Perfect House
Anyway, fast forward to me getting in touch with her once I was back in San Diego, talking about what I was looking for in a property, what I could afford, the area I wanted to be in, and getting pre-approved with a loan officer (who was also super tapped into the Austin Music scene).
I would get properties every day through an app that her firm used and I started to get an idea of what specific neighborhoods were priced at. When you start going down that road, you really start to evaluate what’s important to you and what you can live without.
For instance, is it more important to be closer in but have a smaller house or more of a fixer, or would you rather move a little further out and have something, pretty turnkey? I asked myself these questions over and over and I ultimately ended up with a good compromise of both: not too far out (still in South Austin) and pretty well turnkey, plus it just so happened to have a guest house in back that was completely redone.
Score for me!
The Hard and The Easy
Let me just tell all of you how hard it is to try buying a property in a super hot market when you don’t actively live in that city. Houses were going pending within a day. All cash offers. You can’t compete with that when you need to finance your house. Unless you get lucky. This particular house had been on twice and had gone pending both times, ending back on because of financing issues.
My agent and I had seen it before it got taken off and I said: “that would be perfect for me!”. I got discouraged once it seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. After it got taken off the second time, my agent called the listing agent and they were having to drop the price by about $30K and having to redo some marketing before listing it again.
She basically said, if your client wants to put in an offer, we’ll hold off on listing it again. Success!
The House is Pending!
The weeks to follow were filled with a last-minute trip to Austin (my first time booking a flight the night before!), ordering an inspection, getting estimates on roof and electrical work, sending in SO many documents in to underwriting to get full-approval on my loan, and then more documents just when we thought we were done, researching homeowners insurance, meeting a mobile notary while I was working in Nashville to sign closing documents….the list goes on and on.
I forgot exactly how much went into this process as the home buyer.
Getting it to SOLD
It’s way more personal than being an agent for someone buying a house. Thankfully, I had some awesome folks on my team during the process, which is SO crucial. You have to trust your agent and know that they have your best interest in mind and you have to be on it with getting loan docs to your loan officer, who was also amazing.
All in all, I think it went super smooth and, as of this past Wednesday, I am officially a homeowner again! In fact, as I sit here typing this blog I’m looking at some very beautiful congratulatory flowers. Now, for some wine!