Key West TO Cali & Back...Jan. - July 2017
Man, has this year been a whirlwind!!!! It all began in January when I kicked the year off at Athens, Georgia's Georgia Theatre, then hit the road to California, stopping through Denver & Colorado Springs, Colorado...an obvious destination for this tour. When I arrived in California, I performed in Lake Tahoe's nearby cozy village historical Truckee @ Cottonwood (amazing food and great restaurant) where the snow storm caught me and nearly had me snowed in. I made it down to the Bay Area, slowly but surely and spent a few weeks performing around Northern California at breweries, wineries, and finished recording some vocals in my friend and vocal producer Matt Cohen's San Rafael studio.
In February, I took a mini-vacay to Thailand (my 3rd trip there) with two of my best friends, and spent 3 weeks traveling all over the country on a crazy adventure. I visited Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Patong, Phuket, Phi-Phi, Koh Samui, and got to go scuba diving for the first time in Koa Tao!!! The hiking, temples, and amazing food were some of the highlights, but the best part about this country is the generous and happy people!
When I returned to the states in March, I hit the ground running performing in California's East Bay at Cali Craft Brewery and Modesto's Other Place...then it was back to Nashville! I got the opportunity to see Martin Sexton live, and was blown away by his amazing vocals and entertained by his incredible personality at the City Winery in Nashville. I headed back into the studio with my buddy and producer Mark Burch (plays keys for Billy Currington), and we finished tracking some new songs for the upcoming album "Summer Fling," "Make A Move," and "Carolina Shore," where I played Ukelele for the first time on an album!
After playing in Georgia late April and early May with my band, including former Sugarland member Mark Van Allen on pedal steel, I ventured off back to one of my favorite places in the world: KEY WEST, FLORIDA! Early May, I performed all over town during the Key West Songwriters' Fest, including venues The Perry Hotel, Sandbar, Island Dogs, Sunset Pier, Hog's Breath Saloon, & The Waterfront Brewery. I got to share the stage with the amazing Dave Kennedy and Kristen Kelly, as well as see incredible songwriters like Jack Ingram, Skye Claire, Lance Carpenter, Dave Gibson, Bob Dipero, and more...
I hit the road back to East Tennessee to perform a private event, then drove back to the west coast mid May, performing all over from Reno, Lake Tahoe, Petaluma, San Francisco, Walnut Creek, Sonoma, Petaluma, Santa Cruz, Soquel, Los Gatos, Mountain View, South San Francisco, and many more...I even got to take some days to hike up in Lake Tahoe, Pescadero, Woodside, Santa Cruz Mountains, Marin County, San Francisco, and enjoyed sailing in Santa Cruz!
I'M SO EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE, I PRODUCED RAEGAN WILLIS' DEBUT EP ALBUM "LIKE-MINDED STRANGERS" now available on iTunes, Cdbaby, Apple Music, and Google Play!!! On May 19, 2017, the album was released, and I was so excited to not only write 5 songs for this amazing East Tennessee breakthrough artist, and this is the first record I've produced besides my own. I'm very honored to have written all 5 songs on the record with my good friends Karleen Watt, Samantha Stroh and Linde LaChance.
Tracks include: 1. Like-Minded Strangers (Lee/Watt), 2. Can't Say No(Lee/LaChance) 3. I Wish I Was Drunk (Lee/Watt) 4. You Can't Hurt Me Anymore (Lee) 5. Loving This Love (Lee/Stroh)
Late June, the Taking the High Road Tour took me out to eastern California's beautiful scenic Mammoth Lakes, where I got to hike and see some of the most beautiful lakes and areas of the world. This was my first time here, and my buddy Ryan booked me to play at his big 50th Birthday Party at the Side Door Wine Bar, and it was an epic night! I even had "Sammy," a character from Days of Our Lives in the audience!
I piled up the Subaru once again and drove back east to Illinois where my band from Nashville met me for a fun midwest run in the summer. We kicked things off at the Marina in Holiday Shores, Illinois, about 45 minutes east of St. Louis, and we had local singer/songwriter Joshua Stanley open for us. It was the first time I'd ever made an entrance to a gig via Pontoon Boat! Afterwards, we cruised up to southern Milwaukee suburb to perform on an 8000 acre wheat farm, and perform at a lovely couple's rehearsal dinner party, under a magical tent filled with more food than a Georgia family reunion in the summer, and we had a blast! The beautiful couple had everybody dancing, and I got to play them my wedding song "I Do" so they could dance to it. July 1 came quickly, and my band made it up to the small town of Gays Mills, Wisconsin and we performed at the Annual Stump Dodger Bash, opening for Matt Austin, where Sarahbeth, Brecken Miles, and Nick Hickman also performed! The weather was perfect, and we were out in the pines under the stars, and I got to meet some amazing people who were all very supportive, even tried some homemade wine made by a local with NO SULFITES! ;) They claim no hangover...
Next, we had the opportunity to perform again up in Sarona, Wisconsin, out in another green beautiful John Deere field with the most amazing view for hundreds of acres, with a silo in the backdrop marking the Perlick Vodka Distillery, where they produce Yeoman's Vodka. Show at Rummel's Tap was my 2nd annual performance, and I hope to be back there again next year!
My band made it back down alive, after I ran out of gas, (okay, stupid move I know, however, South Dakota just doesn't have enough stations by the highway!!!) and showed up back home to Nashville for the 5th day this year, just in time to write a few songs with one of my favorite singer/songwriter's Baker Grissom, Alyssa Jacey, and Madison Grace, and get to the NAMM Show, meet Miranda Lambert, Jon Pardi, and my favorite songwriter of all time Jason Isbell!!!! I've never been so star-struck in all my life! He's seriously genius, and now has his own Signature Martin Guitar, and just released one of the most amazing albums "THE NASHVILLE SOUND." I am so obsessed with this amazing collection of rockers, ballads, and mid tempo feel good songs, encompassing the lyrical prowess of a John Prine meets Willie Nelson status...I can't stop listening!
I went back into one of my favorite recording studios on music row: Catch This Music, and Buddy Hyatt is truly one of the most genuine and experienced produced in Music City. With the assistance of him on keys, Brent Mason on Electric Guitar, Steve "Skank" Hinson on Pedal Steel, Bobby Terry - Acoustic guitar, Mark Beckett on drums, and Jimmy Carter on the Bass, I had the A team rocking out my 3 latest recordings and new songs to get ready to release my 8th album...with a little "Redneck Riviera," "Mojitos," and "Love at 100 Degrees," I believe the album is finally a wrap! I headed over to newest Dad in Nashville, Zach Allen's studio to finish up vocals, in between the crazy Namm showcase, and was also able to hang out with the amazing Barry Grzebik, owner and Luthier of Grez Guitars! Barry is a friend from northern California who makes his magical axes in Petaluma, combining salvaged redwood trees for the beautiful tops and Honduran Mahogany to create these lightweight 5lb. beauties that sound as rich and gorgeous as they look!
I also got to stop by the Breedlove Booth and meet some of the staff there!!! I'm excited this year I am officially a Breedlove Artist!! Click here for the OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT!
I'm back in Key West this week, ready for some more fun in the sun, and more inspiration for new songs! This place always makes me smile, and I love the people, venues, and scenery here...oh and don't forget the "Mo-mo-mo-mo-mo-mo-mo-mo mojitos!)
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www.facebook.com/EricaSunshineLee for the latest and greatest updates on my #takingtheHighRoadTour